The author with his 2021 archery antelope.
Archery antelope across the west is one of the first hunts of the year for some. Here, in Montana, it opens up on the 15th of August. I've been fortunate enough to knock down great antelope the last couple of years, and I’ve comprised a small list of “must haves” and some strategy when it comes to trying to fill one of the hardest tags of the season. Since I typically hunt antelope with a bow solo spot and stalk, this will help many of you, but there are also items included that can be used for those who opt to use a ground blind.
Now I’ve combined all the glass required since well, quite frankly, this is going to be your best odds of leveling the playing field. Since antelope essentially see in high magnification, you need to see them before they see you. Typically, this needs to be from afar since they are extremely paranoid and cagey. Options such as the Swarovski ATX eyepiece and 65mm spotter are great options due to the clarity for their packability. For those who are looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Vortex Razor HD 11-33x can work in a pinch, although I prefer the upper range of the spotter to be closer to 50x. Being able to judge a mature buck from distance isn’t easy, so having extra magnification helps. Along with a spotter, you’ll also need a good set of binoculars and a top-notch rangefinder. I typically find myself low crawling through the mid-day sage trying to pick apart the stalk once I find a good goat. I frequently use my binoculars to look through vegetation to see the very tops of the horns before they see me. I’ll also use the same method with my rangefinder, which can be a 2-for-1 option. My rangefinder is 7x magnification which means once I’m in closer than about 150 yards, I can not only identify the animal but also can get a range at the same time making my stalk that much more efficient. Movement is everything once you start the stalk, so being able to minimize movement by utilizing the rangefinder for two tasks is ideal.
A good lightweight pair of pants is a major benefit when stalking, especially performing stalks all day with the sun beating down or even when staying put in the ground blind waiting for antelope to approach water. The Stone Glacier DeHavilland LITE pant has all the great features of the original DeHavilland pant but obviously just a lighter material. The ability to vent the pants to stay as cool as possible is a huge benefit. Also, with the Lite pant, you have the availability for adding knee pads. If you’ve ever stalked antelope in the West, you know how important kneepads can be. If you haven’t low crawled for antelope just yet, or you are planning on it in the future, take my word for it and get the knee pads. There’s nothing worse than when you’ve planned the perfect stalk just to send your knee into a cactus and have the stalk blown.
Trail Kreitzer's Bonus Item: When deciding to hunt antelope from a blind, choose a black hoodie to blend in with the darkness inside the blind. Trail recommends the Sitka Core Lightweight Hoody or the Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie. I can attest that the Echo hoodie is a great option for extremely hot days.
These were a game changer in my efficiency while also increasing my number of stalks per day. The way that I hunt comprises an amount of driving around checking out all kinds of public land from small chunks to vast ranges in the middle of nowhere Montana. Having the ability to get out the day before the opener with my maps already downloaded makes life a whole lot easier once I see a buck and create a pin where I see them. Throughout the day of scouting, I drop a pin everywhere I saw a buck and use the Notes section of the waypoint for additional information such as: approximate size (shooter vs non-shooter), direction headed, time seen, amount of does, etc. Once my day of scouting is completed, I zoom out and see where the majority of bucks are congregating, so I can spend my time more efficiently in the denser areas. Then, if things get slow, I can go to where the stranglers were at and see if I can relocate. Don’t forget to use the “Water” waypoint to your advantage; you will probably see a trend with more antelope near the areas with available water.
Decoying antelope can be very successful, especially closer to the rut. The Montana Antelope Decoy can be stowed on the exterior of your pack and can be easily deployed when you find yourself with an alpha male. I know of guys that have decoyed from as far as a half-mile (due to the fact that an antelope's vision is impeccable). Now, I will say that it's quite a bit easier when you have your hunting buddy decoying while you focus on the shot but nonetheless, it can still be done solo.
Once you’ve done all the work to get it done with the stick and string, the work begins. The GOHUNT Kill kit with the Argali M.O.B game bag set includes everything you will need to take care of the meat properly to ensure you enjoy steaks once you’re back at the homestead. It includes everything from electrical tape, game bags, cordage, contractors' bag (to place meat on instead of dirt), wet towelettes, gloves and everything else except the kitchen sink. All of that is conveniently placed in an ultralight pullout keeping it nice and organized waiting for use.
Archery antelope is no easy feat, but when you make it happen it’s a glorious feeling. Hunting antelope is a game of strategy, as well as stalking ability, but with a few of these items, it should hopefully increase your odds of success when your hunt rolls around. Be sure to add your archery antelope gear favorites below in the comments!
Be safe and hunt hard!