First and Foremost to those of you whom have drawn a 2015 California Pronghorn Antelope Tag, Congratulations. It truly is a coveted tag by many of us. It's looking like the stars might align and you have drawn a great tag on a great year to have it. So Sweet and So Stoked for you all.
It took me 23 years to draw my first California Pronghorn Antelope Tag and when we did, we did it up right. Shelley and I had drawn as a party for Hunt Code 760, Zone 6 Surprise Valley, we had pulled 2 of the 10 tags in the unit, pretty crazy. Well it gets crazier, we did our homework, spent all of our time scouting and we checked two B&C California Pronghorn bucks straight into the "Smackdowner Hotel". We were able to take an 83" pronghorn and an 85" buck during those 9 days. It was a spectacular hunt and we got to enjoy with our daughter, 11 at the time and my dad, who's an pronghorn junkie in his own-right! Whats the secret to our success, but it is pre-season scouting and "PMA" positive mental attitude.
Whenever someone draws a tag for anything, sheep, elk, deer or pronghorn, we instantly begin our pre-season preparation. We order maps and start putting in the groundwork necessary for success. Put your time in frequently and furiously, cover ground, evaluate goats, try to figure them out. Be prepared to have a few other public land hunters mess up your plans, but that's okay, they are trying to do the same as you. Just have both the patience and mental fortitude to pick up the pieces, move to plan B or C and have success.
It's a great time to see some speed goats, size them up and feel the heat and dusty dirt roads you'll like cover. Write a list of what you need for your hunt and the logistics in getting there. Decide on setting up camp, or finding a local motel to hunt from, due to the remoteness of some herds the latter maybe a little harder to do. You may even consider hiring a guide or an outfitter.
You have drawn a coveted tag, you have done your pre-season scouting or you have hired an outfitter, now is the time to prepare your self for success. Shoot your rifle, from 100-400 yards as often as you can, you should become extremly comfortable and familiar with your rifle. Most pronghorn hunting requires some longer shooting and you need to be able to make that shot when the time comes.
Walk everyday at least a mile or two, while usually not super rough country it still can be rugged and long. Stay hydrated, you will sweat hunting pronghorn no way around it, it can be miserable fun but fun none the less.
Understand what type of Trophy Pronghorn are you looking for on your hunt. For some it's any legal buck for others, it's the best possible buck they can find. Some like unique horns, others want the classic style, some seek mass, others see length, know what will make you happy with your hunt, there is no catch and release in hunting. Take the time to evaluate the buck before you pull that trigger, if your lucky he'll grow instead of shrink on your way to him.
Northeastern California Pronghorn hunting can produce some magnificent scenery, history and weather. If you are prepared and take time to enjoy everything that is presented to you on your hunt, the lasting memories will always be so much more vibrant. The afternoon thunderheads building are impressive and the lighting storms are natures fireworks. You'll encounter old homesteads of yesteryear, which always cause reflection and questions about what it was like back then. You'll see velvety mule deer bucks, coyotes, cranes and maybe some chukar and sage grouse. The high desert has a unique diversity of fauna and flora, take it all in.
In the end, I hope that you are successful with taking a California Pronghorn that is a trophy in your eyes, the only eyes that matter. I also hope that you have enjoyed your hunt for that crazy speedgoat we call Pronghorn.
Congratulations on your 2015 California Pronghorn Tag, we wish you the best hunt possible.
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