Every year I look forward to hunting Pronghorn Antelope in western Kansas. The herd is relatively small so success rates for archery hunters are quite low. The season is always during the second half of September and the bucks are usually rutting heavily at this time making for an exciting hunt. Decoying and spot and stalk are the primary methods I use to hunt in Kansas. Sitting a water source can be effective, but with such small numbers it makes for some very long days.
The only drawback to antelope season is that it coincides with primetime in the mountains chasing rutting bull elk. I was fortunate enough to draw elk tags in two states and didn’t expect much time to match wits with the elusive speed goats of the high plains. I went ahead and purchased a tag for the short Kansas archery season just in case I had time to hunt.
After 8 days in the majestic mountains of Colorado I headed home to regroup and see my family for two days before heading to Wyoming. After a day of relaxing I headed out to try to find some goats to chase. I hadn’t spent much time scouting during the summer because I was busy preparing for my elk hunts. I had nothing to lose, but with only one day to hunt before leaving, my expectations were low. After close to three hours of driving I had only turned up three does. I had covered close to 100 miles when I finally spotted a small herd with several bucks. The dominant buck was busy trying to keep the satellite bucks away from the does when I spotted them. This would be an ideal set up, but there was one problem, they were using a pancake flat wheat stubble field.
I had permission to hunt were they were but decided to call an adjacent land owner in case I needed to continue pursuit onto his property. I was still trying to devise a plan to approach the herd and show the decoy when I got ahold of the landowner. While we talked he mentioned that the antelope had been using a water tank in his pasture. As I mentioned earlier I usually avoid sitting water, but noticed that a lone buck was headed towards the tank.
The buck was a long ways off and the heat waves were terrible so I decided to use my Heads Up Decoy as cover and angle my way towards the water tank. I figured the odds of getting a shot were slim to none, but I had time to kill and the herd in the wheat stubble wasn’t going anywhere. I made it to the tank with the buck still in the distance. The initial target buck had moved off in the other direction, but I noticed another buck headed my way.
I was able to tuck in by a cattle feeder near the water tank. The buck angled my direction, but continued past the tank in an adjacent crop field. I decided to hang tight for a little bit, but figured he was headed towards other antelope I hadn’t seen. After a short wait I was getting ready to head out and go try my luck with the stubble buck when I saw the lone buck approaching from the south. He had circled downwind, but a cross wind kept the buck from entering my scent path.
I sat motionless as the buck nervously approached the water. When he was close to the tank there was a gust of wind and the buck spooked slightly. I couldn’t see him because of the feeder blocking my view, but was surprised when he came into view again, headed to the tank. He started drinking and was standing slightly quartered away at 35 yards. This would have been perfect, but I couldn’t shoot because my arrow would have hit the tank. Having to buy a new tank wasn’t a gamble I was willing to take so I waited. After raising his head several times and me having to let down my draw once after anticipating his departure prematurely, he finally decided to leave. I immediately came to full draw and the buck cooperated, stopping just long enough for me to let an arrow loose! I still can’t believe my good fortune and that it actually worked! I would have bet money that my walk to the water tank would have a very slim chance of resulting in a shot, but it never hurts to try.