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Planning first DIY Pronghorn hunt
I am planning my first hunt out West thinking about doing a pronghorn hunt in South Dakota or Wyoming to get my feet wet in Western hunting next year. I've been looking around Buffalo Gap National Grassland or the Black Hills area. Does anyone have any suggestions that might be better options for a first timer? Also looking to backpack and camp for the trip to keep costs down. I've been doing a lot of searching, but probably best to ask advice from people who have actually done it before. Thanks for any tips or suggestions.
Looking at doing the same with my wife. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.
Eastern Wyoming has a great population of goats, but it's mostly private. If you can find a place that charges " tresspass " fees, the DIY hunt can be done at a reasonable cost. That's getting harder to do though, and easy draws ain't so easy anymore.
I would prefer Wyoming since it seems to have the best population numbers, but tags are getting harder to draw there. South Dakota looks like it has the most public land options in that southeastern part of the state, but not really sure how hard it gets hunted or if its any good.
Get a Wyo point bought before Oct. 30. No need to backpack, just camp at the truck. Roads everywhere. See what you can draw with one point that has a good chunk of public or private walk in areas. Make some phone calls to the area game warden, biologist, sporting goods stores, etc. Head west and have a blast.
Great advice to get the WY point asap and apply next year in the spring. Camping is very easy, any public land just camp.
Lots of public land and state access on private. Most landowners dislike antelope there so very easy to get free permission. Sometimes the local game warden will give you names to call who let you hunt for free. Willingness to pay a trespass fee will open a lot of areas.
If you plan to hunt SD, I suggest the NW part of the state not the SW. Lots of public land and a decent number of antelope. That is all relative though and with that said my daughter and I have bought points in WY. The herd is so much better there it is worth it for us to travel a little further. If stuck on SD let me know and I can answer a bunch of questions and cut down the learning curve a bit. Good luck in whatever you decide to do!
A lot of areas in WY are checkerboard private/ public. It has been my experience that many of these are owned by energy companies and as a default are open to public hunting, with roads everywhere. Of course verify with local game warden.
I have hunted Wyoming Pronghorn many times....my last time was in Gillette where EVERY one draws a tag. Many claim there are not good animals there but we all took excellent goats and mine being a 15 1/2"er my best goat to date. There are ranches that have trespass fees....I can try to dig up a locals name and number that has #`s to various ranchers. We paid $700 each for the week....camped on the property and hunted 14,000 acres. We actually tipped the homeowner extra.
Buy a point, call wy game and fish and head out there. Ive camped all three of my trips and I also pre-cook and freeze my food so that all i have to do is drop it in boiling water to heat it. This helps me keep costs low.
For gear, bring layers and some rain gear and some good boots to ward off the cactus. If you're hunting public a gps and onXmaps chips is worth its weight in gold! Ive killed 2 antelope on three trips and they have all been on public ground.
In SD I think you'll see the most goats north of Bella Fourche on the west side of 85 clear to the WY boarder. Lots of deer there too. Not so many goats in Buffalo Gap but there are large bands of Big Horn sheep there and worth driving around to see the country. Go to Wall and turn south. They can be right in the prairie and in the road. Dumb sheep. If you get there first thing in the morning, you might be able to get some close ups of the mountain goats at Mt Rushmore as well. They come down out of the hills at night but head back up when the people start showing up in the morning. SD has a lot going on.
I hunted Harding County this year and camped in the Reva campground. I was shocked by the amount of hunters versus years past. Couldn't get away from em. They were everywhere, driving everyroad, parked on every entrance, etc. Not exaggerating. Just too many people for my taste and the animals were very spooky. I've hunted Fall River county in years past and it can be crowded as well but not as bad. Problem down there is your camping options are limited unless you want to move camp everyday which I have done. Less antelope down there also but they are there. Never hunted another state for antelope so I have nothing to compare it to.
Make sure you do a Bowsite Antelope search as there is a TON of info from us over the years. I mean a lot!
My reco would be to find a trespass fee or semi-guided hunt. They are dirt cheap and unless you live in the state can be a huge benefit.
You can absolutely do a DIY hunt but that first year may be a huge learning curve.
Start scouting water now because that's what you are going to be hunting. Have at least 10+ spots as many will have blinds already on them. Don't even think about S&S unless you have time and can do it during the rut but even then success is probably the lowest of all animals outside of a cougar or wolf.
My other reco would be to hunt after deer and elk have opened if you can - it weeds a lot of hunters out and much less crowded.
Antelope hunting is more about being prepared and having options.
Thanks for all of the advice especially getting that WY point this year. As far as camping can you just drive your truck out on public land and make camp around it? Probably will pre cook meals and then heat them up. I would like to try spot and stalk like 2 days and then probably will end up sitting over water the rest of the trip.
Get a point and hunt Wyoming. It's lousy with antelope.
You can Camp anywhere on BLM. DIY is very doable.