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Stalking Pronghorn with a Camera

Pronghorn, due to the fact that they live in herds, have excellent eyesight and a live in wide-open country, with few trees to hide in or behind, are difficult to stalk.

My son, who enjoys bow hunting, has taken two with the spot-and-stalk method, one which would score high enough to make the Pope and Young book. “He scored 70 points,” Paul told me. “And I shot him at 70 yards.”

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But, this article is not about bow hunting, it is about camera hunting.

We have a healthy population of pronghorn on our ranch. Taking my camera, I take it as a challenge to stalk as close as I can get photos of these fleet, beautiful animals.

A few days ago, I saw a small herd, a buck, two does and two fawns, moving across the meadow above my house. I knew where they were heading, and thought I might be able to stalk up a brushy draw and get close enough to get a photo.

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It must have been a calm, lazy day in pronghorn land. I walked across the meadow, and came to the draw where I had last seen him grazing.

 

Just by luck he had his head down, grazing, and I saw his tan-colored back before he saw me. I crawled for about 20 yards until I was within about 70 to 80 yards of the buck. He still had no clue. I snapped several photos, then he suddenly realized that he wasn't alone. Up came his head, and he looked right at me. For about 5 minutes there was a stand-off. He looked at me, not exactly knowing what I was. Then, he leaped into action, and ran off up the hill.

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But pronghorns are curious. Back in the early days of settling the country, hunters could wave a white handkerchief and
the pronghorn would walk closer and closer, trying to find out what that funny white thing was. 
My pronghorn was obviously a throwback to those early-day pronghorn. He didn't run away,
nor did his family, but he circled around and came back, checking me out to see just what the heck I was.

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A few steps. Stop, snort, a few more steps, stop, look, snort. All the time I slowly carefully, snapped more photos. Some of him, some of the does and fawns. Finally deciding he didn't need to get any closer, he turned and trotted off, moving faster when I stood up and walked the other way.

I chalked it up to an enjoyable encounter, and went away feeling pretty good about how close I had gotten to a wild creature, who didn't seem to be terribly concerned about the 'two-legged' creature getting so close to him. Of course, he knew that he could easily outrun me, and didn't waste time running when he thought it was necessary.

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