Top Three States for Trophy Pronghorn Antelope
Statistics show you’re more likely to harvest large pronghorns in certain areas.
As with any other big game animal, there are those who are only interested in chasing the biggest antelope that can be found. Let’s start by looking at what antelope are. Pronghorn antelope are a species of mammal indigenous to North America, found primarily in the interior West and central portions of the U.S., the only surviving member of about 12 antilocapid species that used to roam North America. Surprisingly, their closest living relatives are actually giraffes. Their scientific name is Antilocapra Americana.
The first people to describe these amazing creatures were Spanish explorers during the 16th century. Lewis and Clark were the first to give us real insight about what pronghorns are. They discovered them between 1804-1806 at the mouth of the Niobrara River, in what is now Nebraska. Clark was the first person in the expedition to harvest a pronghorn antelope. He described them as about the height of a deer, with a shorter body and soft horns with forks ⅔ up and sharp arches. He went on to describe the gray above the eyes and black behind the ears down its neck and face. The white around its neck, sides and rump.
Lewis and Clark also stated that of all the animals they had seen, the antelope possessed the most wonderful fleetness. They described them as shy and nervous, choosing to hang out only on ridges, which allowed them a 360 degree view of any approaching predators.
We now know a lot more about these amazing creatures. They are the fastest animal in North America, and the second fastest animal in the world, second only to the cheetah. But one difference between the two is, antelope can run faster and for longer periods of time. They can run 55 MPH for up to half a mile, but can maintain a speed of 35 MPH for up to four miles. That means they can be four miles away in about 7 minutes if they feel threatened. Their large windpipe, heart and lungs enable them to breathe in large amounts of air while they are running. They go under fences, not over them. Their extremely large eyes give them a 320 degree field of view.
Their horns are basically a thin, flattened piece of bone growing out of the frontal bones of their skull with a keratinous sheath that is shed and grows back every year. They are branched with a forward pointing tine, thus the name pronghorn antelope. That horn is usually 5-17 inches long. Now let’s figure out where to go to find pronghorns with the best keratinous sheaths.
The largest antelope ever recorded scored 96 4/8″, taken by Mike Gallo in New Mexico in 2013 and currently exhibited in the Boone and Crockett National collection. The minimum score for awards is 80 inches, and for all time is 82 inches. All these scores are net scores after deductions and a 60 days drying period. In total, there have been 3,859 entries into the all time records book, 33% of those coming from Wyoming, 18% from New Mexico, 10% from Arizona and 8% from Nevada. Over 26% of those entries have occurred in the last 10 years. Of the 100 best pronghorns taken in the last 10 years, 20% came from Arizona, 15% from Nevada, 26% from New Mexico and 23% from Wyoming. That’s a whopping 84% from just four states!
Now I remember a time when a pronghorn with horns 15 inches long was considered a trophy. Then I heard the cries of “80” saying that a pronghorn with a gross score of 80 was the new definition of a trophy. Time went on and then it happened, the call for a pronghorn scoring 90 began to ring out. Let’s look at the facts. Only 78 antelope have been entered into the books that scored 90″ or more……EVER! There have been 97, 230″ or better non typical mule deer taken in the last 10 years. There have also been 131 Rocky Mountain elk scoring 380″ or better entered in the last 10 years. That means that you’re 3 times more likely to kill a 230″+ mule deer and 4 times more likely to shoot a 380″ bull elk than you are a 90″ pronghorn.
Let’s look at the positives though. 42% of all pronghorns scoring 90 or better have been taken in the last 10 years. 77% of those 78 animals were taken in three states. If you’re looking for the biggest pronghorns in the world, your best chances are in Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming.
by Casey Jensen
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