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Field Judging Pronghorn Antelope

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Poll Question: how would YOU judge this buck in the field?
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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 04 October 2006 at 15:50

Is It A Trophy?

If your goal is a trophy buck, you must have the patience and willpower to pass up “average” opportunities and wait until you find a true monster. The trouble is, you might not have much time to observe and make that determination before the critter is alerted to your presence and runs away. Is the pronghorn shown above and below a real trophy, or simply an average, mature buck? 

Next week, we’ll take a look at some basic field judging techniques in order to determine if this buck is a true wall-hanger.

TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tikkabuck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 October 2006 at 16:51

  I have a weird idea of trophy game animals.

  My thinking is if you put in the time all year,make sure your shooting skills are right on the money,done your scouting,got your plots ready basicly worked your butt off for your game and you call it a trophy and it's what you want then it's a trophy.

  Me that lope's a wallhanger,I don't get to hunt lope's anymore,so yes he'd stand my hair(what little I have left) on end, and yes I've seen bigger.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote crazy2medic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 October 2006 at 23:28
I'm with tikka on this, if you crawled on your belly for 200yds to get inrange of a nice buck, then he's a trophy! he's a trophy because you worked hard for the shot!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CB900F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 October 2006 at 03:58

Taz;

That's a good mature buck, but whether or not he'd make book, I don't know.

I'm with Tikka & Crazy though.  I'm my case the one I paid to have mounted & hanging on my wall isn't big enough to make the book.  But I made a 470 yard shot on him, & that's the reason he's made my wall.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mtmiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 October 2006 at 10:34
In my book I would not call it a trophy or a wall hanger, but that shouldn't take away from the experience if I decided to kill it.  For me, it would have to be bigger to put the head on the wall, but I would be proud to display a nice field shot of the critter and put it on my vanity wall.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote waksupi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 October 2006 at 12:42
For some reason, I just have never given the antelope the respect it deserves as a trophy. I enjoy hunting them, and have some good sized horns sitting around. The only pair I have hanging up, is one set on the front of the cabin. Inside, I have deer antlers, and elk antlers on the walls. The antelope horns sit forlornly in piles on the safe, and in corners.
I guess I need to take them more seriously. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dave Skinner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 October 2006 at 17:21
Needs more valentino to be a trophy, capisce? But a shooter, the more so the closer to the end of the season. If it was a cold day, fairly close range, not much of a droughtie and farm land close, BANG.
Now, if it was in Sagebrush Toolie country, hot, droughty....naaaah. There's not enough A-1 in the world for me in that case.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 October 2006 at 03:47

I hunt with a bow..it is a very good trophy in my book.  It is larger than the 'lope that is mounted in my office (with the arrow sitting on its horns).

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 October 2006 at 07:48

 

 

Accurate field judging is really only possible when you get a good, long look at a standing buck. You can use the eye diameter of the buck (about 2 inches) to judge horn mass, and the ear length (about 6 inches) to judge horn and prong length. After a bit of practice, you’ll be able to judge this buck as having horns measuring about 12 inches; prongs, 3 inches and mass (at the base) 5-1/2 to 6 inches. This young buck will be much larger next year.

 

From Pronghorn Hunting, by Toby Bridges and Don Oster

 

Even the most experienced antelope hunters can have trouble field judging trophy animals. Once on the ground, pronghorn bucks have provided the successful hunter with plenty of surprises, both pleasant and not so pleasant, as the measuring tape reveals the truth. So-called “ground shrinkage is reasonably common with all big game animals, but tends to occur more where antelope trophies are concerned.

 

Hunters who aspire to bag a trophy buck must be have the dedication, time and patience to inspect, stalk and pass up many good animals until they fine one truly exceptional head. The hunter must be prepared to carry home an unused tag if waiting for the right opportunity results in no antelope taken.

Following are a few tips to more-accurately judge pronghorns in the field. These tips should give you some insight to the class of buck you are looking at through your optics.

 

·        The most difficult judgment is the length of the main beam, due mostly to extreme variations in their curvature and shape. Bucks with nearly straight horns often appear bigger than a buck with very inward- or backward-hooked tips. Begin to determine horn length by comparing the length of the horn to the length of the ears. The average adult pronghorn buck’s ear – from base to tip – generally measures 5-1/2 to 6 inches in length. Provided you are looking at a buck with horns that appear to be 2-1/2 ear-lengths long, you’ve found a really good buck with horns of around 15 inches. A good cross-check is to establish where the bottom of the prong is in relation to the tip of the ear. If it sits well above and there is as much main beam above the prong as below, you’re onto a trophy with real potential.

·        Judge prongs by ear length. If the prong, measured from the rear of the main beam to the tip, appears to be nearly equal to the length of the ear, you’ve found a buck with great prongs.

·        An antelope’s eyeball is approximately 2 inches in diameter. Horn bases that are 1-1/2 eyeballs wide indicate a very good buck that is probably well-within trophy territory.

·        The area from the base of the horn to the tip of a mature buck’s nose regularly measures about 8 inches. The measurement can be used to reinforce estimates of both horn and prong length.

·        Time in the field is your best training for quick and accurate judging. Most of the time, a buck doesn’t stand broadside and pose, waiting for you to size him up.

TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 October 2006 at 07:50

From The Art of Hunting Big Game in North America, By Jack O’Connor

[T]here is only one way to train the eyes in the judgment of big game trophies – and that is by seeing many sets of horns and antlers and by intelligently evaluating them….

 

Anyone can read about horns and antlers until he gets spots before his eyes, but unless he has seen and compared many heads and knows what an exceptional head looks like, evaluating trophies is a laborious business.

 

The first time anyone hunts a new species, he simply cannot judge the heads unless he has done a good deal of homework…. Reading helps, but seeing is the important thing….

 

To me, one of the rules of trophy hunting is that to the man who knows something about the various animals, the really outstanding head knocks his eye out. He doesn’t have to look at it hard and long to know it is good, just as a young man would not have to study a beautiful girl for some time to realize she was pretty. The heads that do not turn out well are the ones the hunter thinks about, hopes are good, tries to make grow, looks for an excuse to take.

 

[W]hen a hunt is planned for any…trophy, the would-be…hunter should carefully study pictures…and look carefully and critically at every mounted head he sees.

 

In the Case of Pronghorn Antelope….

 

[T]he horns of buck antelope are very easy to classify. Those of an immature buck do not give the impression of blackness. If the hunter gets a good look at them, they appear rounded, unfinished. The prong is not prominent or well-developed.

 

 

The horns of a mature buck are much more massive. The prong is well-developed and conspicuous. They look black. They project far beyond the ears. If the hunter gets a good chance to look over a buck with a high-powered binocular or spotting scope, he should notice the tips. Sometimes, they are not greatly curved. At other times, they are curved on the ends like fishhooks and are ivory-tipped. Estimating how far the horns project above the ears doesn’t do too much good because many handsome heads have much of their length in the hook. A horn that looks very black, looks heavy and massive at the base, has a well-developed prong and a pronounced hook, and with a length approaching that of the face, is a very good head. Anyone who looks for these three characteristics and who does not shoot until he sees such a head will get a perfectly satisfactory trophy with a horn length around the curve from 14-15 inches.

 

Most mature antelope have horns measuring about13 to 14-1/2 inches. In any fairly good antelope country anyone content to wait a while and not shoot until he sees something that looks pretty good should be able to come home with a trophy in this class.

 

 

Any head with a well-developed prong and over 15 inches in length is a very good head and one to be proud of. If it is massive enough and has a good enough prong, it stands a good chance to get in the record book. Anyone who has seen some antelope heads and is lucky enough to run into a real buster will know it immediately. As is the case with almost any other trophy of top quality, the horns will jump out and hit you in the eye.

 

 

Any head with a curve of 17 inches is very, very good…. A heavy, well-developed head that is 18 inches around the curve is really getting up there.

TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 October 2006 at 07:53

So – About That Antelope….

 

A couple of weeks ago, we showed you two pictures of a pronghorn buck as it might be seen in the field. By the field judging techniques mentioned in the Quick Tips for last week and this week, the buck pictured would be a good mature buck, but not an exceptional trophy, at least “by the book.”

 

Exactly what defines a trophy animal is a subjective, individual thing; perhaps it was best said by world-renowned big-game hunter and author Robert C. Ruark: “The value of a trophy is computed directly in terms of the personal investment involved in its acquisition.” An animal you’ve harvested might be your own personal best; maybe it’s exceptional when compared to the average game found in the area. Perhaps the hunt itself makes it a trophy; your toughest stalk ever, a final hunt with your grandfather, a first hunt with your daughter. Maybe it’s the longest shot you’ve ever made or the only chance you’ll ever have at this game animal if you’ve had to travel far to hunt it. If it’s a trophy to you, then measurements and record books be damned, it is a trophy!

 

TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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