Monday, November 10, 2014

Second Installment

Against most odds, A drew an pronghorn permit through the public draw for the second year in a row. In New Mexico, most of the pronghorn are found on lands that are either private or that are private, state, and BLM in checkerboard. Decades ago, the State pioneered trapping and translocating pronghorn to take advantage of available habitat. Eventually, to encourage landowners in pronghorn-friendly practices, the Game and Fish Department developed a system whereby landowners who permitted hunters from the public draw on their property to hunt pronghorn are given a number of transferable license authorizations that they can give away, sell, or keep in their discretion.

Over time, as the very good hunting for pronghorn in New Mexico became better known and the market drove prices for the private land authorizations up, the allocation of tags has shifted to ever-more landowner tags and fewer available for public draw. As a result, drawing an antelope hunt through the public lottery is a rare event and two in a row is extraordinarily fortunate.

Last year, we hunted barely broken country with quite a bit of creosote bush and other low cover.  This year, A's assigned area was almost all grassland, broken up into low ridges and hills.

Some of it was pretty flat.

Also in contrast to last year, there were relatively few antelope on the property. We saw a couple of medium sized bucks and one barely legal animal while scouting, but once the hunt started we only found the barely legal buck until another medium sized fellow popped up with a doe. We first saw them when driving from one area to another and they spooked at over a mile distant, so we kept on driving until over a hill, then stopped and got out to circle through a low draw to see where the pair had gotten to. Where they had gotten to was out of the immediate vicinity. Lots of migrating raptors, though.

After that, we got up on a ridge, walked to different vantages, and glassed for a while with no pronghorn coming to view, then decided to drive to the other end of the area. While on the way, the buck and his doe stood up, then ran a big circle around us. A got out and got a little way before they popped up over a ridge and the buck had to good grace to stop, whereupon she finished her hunt with a single well-placed shot.

After that, it was a quick drag, field dressing, skinning, quartering and a night to rest before getting on with the processing.

All told, a very nice hunt- not as many chances for stalking up on animals as last year, but some good time out in the country, a clean kill of a nice buck, and some prime protein in the freezer.

If she draws pronghorn again next year, I'm going to insist she starts buying lottery tickets!

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