At the end of August 2011 I had the opportunity to participate in my first pronghorn hunt on the Pasamonte Ranch in New Mexico. Living in Minnesota and doing most of my hunting here, I had never experienced the thrill of hunting in wide-open areas like northwest New Mexico has to offer. For the most part, every hunting tactic I had ever used while hunting in Minnesota was thrown out the window. Even some of the tools I have used in the past for spotting, stalking and shooting an animal were useless or had a completely different application.
Here are 10 essential tools a first-time pronghorn hunter should have in their arsenal:
1. Most importantly, you are going to need a good binocular. Without them, the chance of you seeing a pronghorn before it sees you is darn near impossible.
2. A spotting scope helps reduce driving time. Even though you’re hunting in wide-open areas, pronghorns are hard to spot at vast distances; they seem to blend into the landscape rather well, especially when they lie in bare spots.
3. A good, dependable truck. Without one, you’ll never have the chance to cover ground and get close enough to a pronghorn for a decent stalk. Plus, you’ll tire-out rather quickly with the long walks and the scorching heat.
4. A rangefinder can be almost as important as your bino. In areas with no trees and vast flat land, you have nothing to help judge distances, making something closer to you seem farther away, as well as making things far away seem closer than they are.
5. Shooting sticks or a bipod on your gun. I can almost guarantee you will be taking a shot of at least 150 yards and, with nothing to rest your gun on, making a shot from that distance or greater can be really difficult.
6. Camo that blends well with your surroundings is essential. Without anything to hide behind, you have to blend in—at least to some extent.
7. A day pack comes in handy for more than one use. You need something to carry your water and other miscellaneous things. It can also be a handy rifle rest when you have the chance to shoot prone.
8. A comfortable pair of boots. Even though you will be doing a lot of driving, you still have to walk long distances—especially if you’re hunting after the opening morning (the bucks wise-up quick).
9. Sunscreen. I neglected to wear any because I was wearing long-sleeved camo, and ended up burning the tops of my ears. Ouch!
10. Sunglasses. You better believe it’s sunny out there, and when you can’t see because of the sun, you’re taking the risk of missing a Boone and Crockett buck.
I hope I have you all excited, and that you have gained a better understanding of what gear you need. I also suggest you contact your outfitter and get their recommendation of the proper gear to pack.
You will get to hear the full story about my first pronghorn hunt in a feature article that will hit HuntingClub.com later this month!
Watch a photo slideshow featuring my New Mexico pronghorn hunt below:
Is there any essential gear I left out? Let me know in the comment box below.