One of the questions I am frequently asked is what should I hunt out west? Now I am an elk outfitter, so my natural response is elk, but it is what I rarely recommend to a newbie western hunter that wants to also introduce his children to western hunting. I recommend antelope. Antelope are abundant on the plains of the great American west and offer an exciting fun filled hunt. The physical demands are not nearly as strenuous for elderly or a newbie western hunter such as a child when compared to mountain hunting. In most venues, antelope can be accessed with a lot less drive time than the rocky mountain west, saving both time and money. Additionally, antelope can often be hunted on private land just for the asking, as many ranchers consider them a liability. It is one of the few hunts left that knocking on doors really is effective. Even if one cannot secure private land, there is literally millions of acres of public land that you can hunt. Simply drive out park your camper right on BLM land and hunt out your front door!
Years ago when my son was 12 we got tags and planned an antelope hunt. We brought along our fishing poles and shotguns as well and hooked up the camper and headed east to the Montana plains. After two days of hunting we both had shot our bucks and had a ton of fun doing it. It was my sons first big game trophy and he still proudly displays the antelope skull today. We then spent the next few days fishing and bird hunting. It was truly a dream hunt shared by father and son and filled with action at a fraction of the cost of other hunts. The bird hunting on the plains is fantastic as well, pheasant, chukar, partridge and grouse can all be found and offer amazing shooting opportunities.
“Perhaps the most attractive component to antelope is it is very family friendly.”
It is not politically correct for me to say, but antelope really doesn’t require the expense of an outfitted hunt. Antelope are abundant and a newbie western hunter can enjoy very high success rates on a cost effective DIY hunt with plenty of places to hunt. Wyoming offers great success and opportunities, as does eastern Montana. Camping is free on public land but you will need a generator. Perhaps the most attractive component to antelope is it is very family friendly. If you blow a stalk on a buck, you simply spot another herd and begin another stalk, it is truly action packed and fun for kids. In fact, pound for pound, antelope hunting is probably the most action packed of all big game hunting. I have spent all day doing nothing but stalking critters. For kids hunting animals all day and not searching for animals is very enjoyable and makes for a better quality experience.
When you factor in the proximity of antelope country, the ease of getting tags, the low cost and action packed high success, antelope cannot be beat. I shot my first antelope decades ago with my father in law, after I made a nice shot at 300 yards my father in law said ” He is getting back up, hit him again.” I shot the second time standing up freehand. The loper crumbled to the ground again. When we retrieved my trophy there were two exit holes and one entrance hole, my father in law was amazed. He doesn’t give compliments easy, but he sure did that day. I told him I practiced a lot and was a competent shot. I know that hitting the same spot twice was blind luck, but I figured no sense in letting him know that. When my wife felled a speed goat on a full run at 200 yards, my father in law just shook his head, he still thinks we are the best husband/wife shot team he has ever seen. My wife and I know better.