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1ST Antelope Hunt , Ochoco Unit

Discussion in 'Northwest Hunting' started by Savage 223, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. Savage 223

    Savage 223 Klamath Falls, Or New Member

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    My son and I just drew our first antelope hunt after 13 years, for the Ochoco Unit. We have hunted most big game, deer, elk, bear and big horn sheep in Eastern Oregon. This will be our first hunt for antelope and our first hunt in the Ochocos. CAN'T WAIT. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. We hope to make our first scouting trip in a couple weeks to the area. Thanks for any help or advice, Steve
     
  2. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Can't help much where the Ochocos are concerned, but I'm a fair hand at Antelope (mostly in Montana, but make the pilgrimage each year to Gerber Res for the bowhunt).

    What would you like to know?

    Boys in the Band.jpg
     
  3. Savage 223

    Savage 223 Klamath Falls, Or New Member

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    For starters, is this mostly a drive, glass from a vantage point, spot and stalk type hunt? Are decoys of much use? I,ll probably be using a 7MM , my thought, due to it's long flat, long range shooting, not sure of a good weight bullet, any suggestions? Maybe a different caliber? Any suggestions on scouting areas Post, Big Summit Prairie, Mitchell ???? The price of gas, hope to get pointed in the right direction. Thanks, any help is better than none. Steve
     
  4. Savage 223

    Savage 223 Klamath Falls, Or New Member

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    Spitpatch, I also meant to say AWESOME mounts, best collection I've ever seen!!! Thanks again, Steve PS I hope you got my reply I think I sent you a minutes ago with my questions.
     
  5. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the compliments. I never counted them, but a cowboy buddy came over a month or so ago, and counted 27 Pronghorn heads in the house. (that includes the european skull mounts as seen).

    The terrain will dictate your style of hunt. Having never hunted the Ochocos for goats, I'll go with what I know. Of course, first task is finding the buggers, and with your scout trip planned, you are well on your way there. Antelope tracks will be more "triangular" than deer, (fat at the rear, pointy at the front), and in soft soil, no dew claws will show (they have none). They need a water source, but travel easily and far to drink if they are suspicious at one source. They will drink usually only once a day, getting their fill within a minute or two, and just like African animals, they KNOW they are vulnerable when drinking: very nervous. Humans aren't the only predators using water as bait. My experience is that waterhole hunting (for the reasons here) is not all its cracked up to be (unless, of course, you are at the ONLY water).

    The standard method of Pronghorn hunting is drive till you locate a herd. Stopping more frequently to glass than you think you should. You should get tired (if you're doing it right) of stopping the truck, turning off the key, and examining each new piece of ground as it is revealed, then restarting the truck only to drive for a short distance. With a herd located, keep your distance and verify with good optics that there is a desirable buck. The monsters are almost without exception ALONE, and not associated with a herd, so harder to locate. In all cases, a good buck will be somewhat separated (50-200 yards) from the main body of the herd, and bucks are lazy: when the rest of the herd is up and feeding, and you can't see a mature buck, examine closely for just his horns and ears above the sage and grass, where he has reclined. First to lay down, last to get up. (Usually: NO absolutes here.)

    If your scouting trips are successful, or in the first day or so of your hunt, you locate an area frequented by the goats, I'd hunt that district strictly on foot: the difficulty and effort is almost always rewarded with less jittery animals, and more animals seen. I quit hunting antelope from the vehicle (as I was taught when young) in 1984.

    Traveling, the buck is again lazy. Very often the last goat in the line. Big bucks when loping, have what we've come to call the "rocking horse" gallop: his body seems to pivot on an axle in his ribs as he gallops. Although both sexes have horns, the does' horns are extremely diminutive (unless she's a grandma), and it is very easy to pick out a buck at great distance: the black coloring the nose and sideburns of the head are a dead giveaway for the male.

    If you are in good walking shape, (a sheep hunter, so I'd assume so), once having located a shooter in a herd, I'd suggest completely giving up on the vehicle, regardless of how far away they are. Closing the approach (even mildly) with the vehicle could blow the whole deal. The eyes of the Pronghorn are NOT 8X binoculars, as the old hunting magazines used to say. Rather, they are much like eagle's eyes, in that they are capable of extreme DEFINTITION (rather than magnification), picking up on the slightest movement. Do not overlook the capability of their nose, either. As good as any whitetail's. Plan your approach with complete communication and detail where your partner is concerned. Your best weapon is NOT the gun in your hand, but your ability to convey your future plans to your partner, and in coordination, see those plans work as predicted. Prior to the advance on the herd, examine the terrain and all features that might offer cover to you. During the stalk, when you've exhausted all cover features, you should expect to spend some time on hands and knees (where you have sagebrush), and on your belly (when there is nothing but grass) to close for the shot.

    Weaponry: as many opinions as there are antelope hunters. 7mm is very good in my opinion, for the ranges you might encounter, but more power than I prefer for a 100lb animal. Perhaps the best ideal cartridge for Pronhorn ever devised is the .25-06. I would suggest an acid test for you in that you practice to 300 yards, and take the gun that you can shoot best (from prone and sitting positions). It might well be something closer to a .243 than a .284 diameter bullet. The 300 yard-plus shot at antelope (in my experience) is the exception rather than the rule. (Maybe its because of my method of hunting; shunning any vehicle approach.) My favorite cartridge for Pronghorn? The .250-3000 Savage. Light recoil, assisting in extreme accuracy, and the guns it comes in (came in) are light for carry.

    Hope some of this helps. Good hunting!

    P.S.: A word on bipods: add weight to the gun, change the balance of the gun, and not very versatile when time is of the essence. My preference for this accessory is the shooting sticks. Mine are aluminum tubing (much like for arrows), shock-corded and collapsible. Fast, adaptable, and instantly adjustable for elevation, merely by bringing the gun back or forward as the sticks pivot from less elevation to more. Ideal for shots taken from the sitting position (my favorite). Prone shots are taken off the fanny pack for a rest.
     
  6. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry: you asked about decoys. I certainly would not discount their usefulness (especially when regarding an area I've never hunted), but my experience with the decoy method has been of mixed results. Never the dramatic, unspooked, careless approach toward my decoy that is seen on the hunting shows. I cannot say (in 8-10 times of trying decoys), that I killed an antelope as a result of him being attracted to my decoy. I can say that hiding behind a decoy while I traversed an open piece of ground DID get me in position for the kill. More valuable to me (and especially for traversing open ground) is a piece of perforated, leafy camo netting: Draped over one (or two) hunters, you can pretend you are vegetation and cross open ground with some success if done carefully.

    My Montana partner and I have speculated about investing in a cow suit. Can't agree on who takes the rear position.
     
    Savage 223 and (deleted member) like this.
  7. Savage 223

    Savage 223 Klamath Falls, Or New Member

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    Thanks for all the info. I will print this out and pass the info. along to my son. I might consider packing a lighter gun, but my 7mm is such a tack driver. I normally hunt with a set of homemade tripod shooting sticks. They are fixed length, light weight and rubber wrapped for quiet. They have a rubber ring that slides up and down with one hand to quickly adjust gun rest height. At about 4ft. they also double as a hiking stick. This sounds like less wheelchair hunting and more hiking than I was first lead to believe. Hunting roadless and road closed areas is what we normally hunt for deer and elk, just have to start working out ond the tread mill sooner.
    Thanks again, great info. as the hunt progresses I'll keep you posted. Steve
     
  8. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Gladstone, OR Member

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    I've hunted and shot a Lope in that Unit. Lots of Bigger heards in Big Summit Prairie, but it's private land (partly owned by the Schwab Ranch). I got mine in the woods, South of the Prairie, as has every hunt I've been along on. All successful. Lots of meadows among the timber there, and you might be suprised how close your shot might end up. Maybe., but we never had any problem finding animals in that area. I've heard of success in the Walton Lake area, but have no personal experience there. Road closures have changed since I last hunted it, but I'd drive the gravel roads a little South of the Prairie if still possible, then get out and hike to the open meadows, and always be ready as I've seen them on the move in there also. Good luck. Nice Country and not near as crowded as during Deer and Elk in that area. Actually, all my information is at least 7 yrs old so take that into account. I'd definitely get up next month and Scout.
     
  9. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Well, Mike came up with what you needed that I could not provide. With his info, at least you can concentrate on smaller districts for the scout.
     
  10. Savage 223

    Savage 223 Klamath Falls, Or New Member

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    Thanks guys, you both have been a big help in different ways. Is South of the Prairie a named location or just south of Big Summit Prairie? I,ve ordered about every map that I think would possible be useful so I can locate these areas and get a plan of attack. I also talked to the Biogist today and said herds were in fair condition with normal counts, although he did say the coyote population was the HIGHEST in 15 years that he's seen. This won't effect the mature buck count much now, but of course take it's toll especially hard on antelope young where their the first in spring to be born. Thanks guys for all the advice and welcome more as it is shared. Steve
     
  11. rdb241

    rdb241 Puyallup Washington Gold Supporter Gold Supporter

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    Very impressive collection of speed goats.
     
  12. Shawn the Locksmith

    Shawn the Locksmith The Dalles, Or Member

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    Congrats to you and your son. My friend and i put in for that same hunt with no luck. We were going to cruise and camp in the Grasslands area and go from there. Don't know much else to tell you. Cept "Git er Done"! :)
     
  13. Savage 223

    Savage 223 Klamath Falls, Or New Member

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    Shawn, Thanks for the reply. Not sure where the Grasslands area is, but I have about every map I could get my hands on and will look it up. Have you ever hunt the area before? Ever hunted antelope? This hunt took us 13 years. Also if you didn't see the pics that Spitpatch posted above, they are most impressive.
     
  14. orduckhunter

    orduckhunter Springfield, OR Member

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    regarding decoys: they can be quite effective at times, but I'd strongly advise against being near one during rifle season
    could be a recipe for disaster!
    good luck on the hunt - speedgoats are my favorite to hunt, and on the table when handled correctly
     
  15. Savage 223

    Savage 223 Klamath Falls, Or New Member

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    Point well taken. I was thinking more on the lines of a gilley suit to try and move in open area for a stalk if needed. Hope to try it out on scouting trip in a couple weeks armed with a camera and see if it is worth packing.
     
  16. salmonriverjohn

    salmonriverjohn N.W Oregon coast, Gods country Well-Known Member

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    This is what I love about NWF. Advice was asked for, and received. There is some very good stuff here from some obviously very experienced Pronghorn hunters. Nice, Good luck.
     
  17. donaldej

    donaldej or New Member

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    I shoot a nice cow just east of Big Summit Prairie last fall. Go scouting, there is a pretty decent map just after you get into the Ochocos at the sign that shows what roads are open and which aren't (these should be at all entrances). It ended up being the most useful map i had. There are a couple of roads that go south of Summit Prairie that cover a lot of ground.
    I use to hunt antelope in Montana many years ago and sneaking up on them is the most satisfying/frustrating hunting you can do LOL. They really are a lot of fun to hunt but they can see forever. I also found that they make some of the best jerky you can make. My best advice would be to go camp up there this summer and just drive all over.
     
  18. Savage 223

    Savage 223 Klamath Falls, Or New Member

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    Cover a lot of ground is what we did. We just got back from 3 days of our first scouting trip. Started at Ochoco resv. on the 42 rd.heading east. First real stop to look for Antelope was Big Summit Prairie. I know it's all Private, but just wanted so see the speed goats for starters. After doing due diligence at several vantage points along the 42 rd. with bino's and a spotting scope, Nothing. Ok there was cattle, lots. Circled North around the East end of Big Prairie and east of there for a day. Hiked up on some scab flats, glassed and glassed, Nothing. End of first day. Next day worked East on the 42rd. North and South past Deep Creek, Nothing. Meet a Botanist for the USFS out in the woods, she said had she had not seen Antelope except for a stray one in the last few weeks, no explaination why when a month before they were abundant. Suggested we go further East. Crawled over every rock and ditch as well as hiking to a few vantage points to glass and made camp about Rager Ranger Station. Did meet another Botanist for the USFS, her story was about the same, had seen VERY few in the last few weeks. Suggested further East and maybe up around Dayville. Ok, we went further East the next day, all on the back roads. This time sitting on top of a large rock pile in middle of some scab flats with great visability, I spotted a USGS surveyor hiking cross country. Jumped back in the truck and finally cut her off. Asked if I could give her a ride back to her rig and if she had seen any Antelope during her travels in the area. "Well were usually are out here at light of dawn setting up on these scab flats because there so open and I haven't seen ONE." So we decided to head over to the John Day River and up the East Boundary to Dayville. YAHOO, we finally saw 2 small speed goats run across the road a few hundred yards in front of us. Got to Dayville, after getting gas I spoke to store owner who supposed has hunted area for years. Said he saw saw some goats last DEER season! By now were were just happy to be back on pavement, although we did see some great country and found a special place to camp along the John Day River. Made our way up to Mitchell with a couple more detours out on the prairie to do some more glassing, but spotted nothing but cattle. We'll try to make one more scouting trip before the hunt. Any suggestion?
     
  19. Shawn the Locksmith

    Shawn the Locksmith The Dalles, Or Member

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    Maybe...just maybeee wait until the USFS people are out of the area and the goats might not be spooked? From what i read..every place that had goats in the area now has people walking around and where you seen the Antelope you didn't see no USFS. Ask the USFS when their people will be out of the field and start your scouting over. Just a thought
    Great effort and you will have good luck.
    shawn
     
  20. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    A big healhy smack on the back for you guys! You really attacked this scouting effort, and especially with your "networking" the scientists in the area.

    Now: this is what you DON'T want to hear: Years ago, in conjunction with applying for my yearly Gerber Bow goat tag, my girlfriend put in for a muzzleloader hunt in the area near Chiloquin, and drew. We spent 4 days scouring that area (just east of Crater Lake). Being of "moderate" goat-chasing experience, I was confident that we'd be able to locate them. We did NOT expend effort in a scouting trip (as you so admirably did), but went on the opening, and I will be the first to say that MIGHT be where we dropped the ball. We saw no goats, did locate old sign (VERY old sign---at least a year old, perhaps older). Your experience was eerily similar, as we did locate a biologist team out of the park (Crater Lake), and a survey crew that had been working in that area for nearly a year. Survey crew said they'd seen none, biologist (National Park Service, NOT ODFW) said he'd seen ONE goat in that area 3 years ago, high in the timber near the Park boundary. NONE of this area looked like antelope country to me (relatively dense pine forest), except for a very few open sagebrush spaces where we concentrated our search.

    My theory as a result of that miserable experience (and this is thinking the worst of ODFW:something I was reluctant to do), was that they sold tags in an area that had MINIMAL antelope in order to gather revenue. This thinking is based on my belief that a limited-weaponry hunt (muzzleloader/bow) area should hold an ABUNDANCE of the intended quarry as compared to an area that would be open for rifle. Perhaps this is a Pollyanna view, but I believe it is a correct way of thinking.

    You DID locate goats, so they actually DO exist in your area (more than I can say for the area we hunted). So, concentrate further efforts there, get an ODFW guy on the phone that is familiar (and perhaps assigned) to that area or goats in particular, and grill that person, especially with reference to your hard effort. If that person is vague or noncommital, then I hate to say you might consider my theory (I hope I am horribly wrong, but I've had ODFW intentions and efforts exposed negatively based on hard fact before.)

    Another note: I might tend to believe that a Forestry botanist could very well be a "granola" in the sense that they might not be fully behind the idea of hunting. You are the best judge of their demeanor and answers, and if they seemed genuinely helpful, then my suspectful pessimism toward their sincerity is entirely unwarranted.

    I wouldn't lean toward "human activity" in the area being of much consequence toward making a healthy population of Pronghorns completely disappear. Human activity that is not threatening (at least in my "moderate" experience) is never of much concern to antelope. They adjust and coexist with it regularly, and become quite comfortable where such activity is constantly happening (ranchers feeding cows, herding sheep, fixing fence, etc.). A pickup truck that does not stop and dispense humans with obvious attention toward getting closer is rarely given a second glance from the antelope community where they exist in even moderate numbers.

    Again, you deserve special recognition for your work so far, and in my mind should have received a much more significant reward for it.

    Postscript: In your conversations with ODFW, I'd play your ace card heavily: that of this being an early hunting experience for your son. Want to show him a good return for his efforts, you'd be more proud that he was allowed at least one good stalk than any interest for yourself, hate to discourage the boy, etc. Your residency (away from Portland) should also be mentioned to any contacts (especially locals). Even a reluctant ODFW employee might give you better treatment than "Billy Bob and Joe Six-Pack from Portland" seeking the same information.