Nevada Antelope - Opening day or wait a week?

npaden

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 3, 2011
Messages
3,775
Location
Lubbock, Texas
Okay, I drew a 2nd choice Nevada antelope tag and have been really trying to figure my plans out.

I have some scheduling conflicts at work that make being there early to scout and be sitting on a good pronghorn on opening day pretty much an impossibility. If it meant the difference between a great hunt and a so so hunt I might make it work though.

In my limited pronghorn hunting experience (Montana, Wyoming and New Mexico) hunters aren't always the best judge of pronghorn trophy quality and many times are going to be out there on opening morning shooting the first 12 or 13" buck they see and not really spending the time to look over a lot of animals to find the few really good ones in the unit, so not being there on opening morning doesn't indicate that all the trophy animals are going to be taken before I get there based on my previous limited experience.

With that said, in Montana the antelope get much more skittish as the season progresses and by the time to you get into the 3rd week of the season they seem to be off and running on smoke and mirrors. My one antelope hunt in Wyoming it didn't seem that way and in New Mexico it was a 2 day season so there really wasn't a choice.

Any input on this in Nevada? If I wait and get out there the first week in September am I going to be dealing with really skittish animals with most of the trophy bucks already taken? That would sure fit my schedule a lot better.

If it helps any, I'll be hunting Unit 31 up on the Oregon border. Largest town is McDermitt which isn't very big. The quota for the unit is 140 but it looks like a pretty big place on paper anyway. Reading what little I can find on the net it sounds like if you are willing to get out and do some walking, some of the spots up in the foothills can hold some good pockets of animals and I'm thinking that last week of the season there is probably a really good chance that a lot of them will be pushed up in there. I have a map of the guzzler locations provided by a guy here on HuntTalk and that at least gives me start. I have the GPS chip for land ownership and all that fun stuff.

So any thoughts on whether missing out on opening day is going to be a big hurdle in trying to get a decent buck? This isn't a super quality unit anyway, but it is a long drive from Texas if I'm limiting myself dramatically in my opportunity to shoot a mid to upper 70's buck. My largest pronghorn is a 78" buck out of Wyoming a couple years ago. A goofy horn buck would be awesome too, but I think those genes are a little west of this unit.

I'm generally long winded on my posts so I put the important stuff in bold.

Thanks in advance for any input.

Nathan
 

1_pointer

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 20, 2000
Messages
18,109
Location
Indiana
IME, yes they'll be a bit more skittish. No, most of the trophy bucks won't be taken. If it fits your schedule better I would go then.
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
12,529
Location
Where the Wild Things Are
I hate opening day of antelope season. I killed my biggest buck in Montana on the last day of antelope season. Yes, they're more skittish, but I didn't really find that it affected my hunt all that much.

Later in the season I've had almost the whole area to myself.
 

sagebrush

Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
595
Location
Wittmann, AZ
My experience in NV, you want to kill on opening day. On my hunt in a different unit, I missed the first three days of the season. Saw several nice dead bucks, many herds with does only and only two live bucks. Stalked in on the first buck and passed. Came back 3 days later and made the kill. My wife had a tag also that year. Went up a scouted for two days. The antelope were pretty easy to find. We saw several in the 80" range but none of those bucks seemed to be locked down on a rutting pasture. My wife opted for a good buck that wasn't moving and took her best antelope after a three hour stalk, 78 5/8. She would never admit it, but she wanted to give me the most time to find a good buck in my unit by killing on opening day. We helped a first time big game hunter in the afternoon of opening day. Told him of some areas we had seen good bucks moving through. One walked by him and he brought it to our camp. Wanted advice if he should have it mounted, 80 3/8.

Go a few days early and kill on opening morning. NV isn't WY or MT when it comes to numbers of antelope.
 

huntbux

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 30, 2011
Messages
1,335
Location
Nampa,ID
Do not worry about when you go so much, just go and have fun. Anywhere in Nevada that I have hunted antelope I have found an abundance of them. If you dont have time to scout, focus on water with the drought that has been happening out west. You should be able to find a good antelope in the mid to upper 70's some in the 80's. Focus on having fun on the trip and making it in and out safe as this area of Nevada is known for flat tires so make sure you bring spares for everything with tires.
 

jims

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Messages
317
Bring lots of water, possibly 2 spare tires, good glass, a giant cooler.....and did I say lots of water!
 

dainer

New member
Joined
May 24, 2011
Messages
317
Location
NE Nevada
IMO, the bucks will start rutting towards the tail end of the hunt. September 1st always has a cold snap. I know this because that's when dove season opens, and they vanish around here. On the last 7 NV antelope hunts I have been on, 4 have been killed on the first day(2 opening morning, 2 opening afternoon). 3 were into the 2nd week of the season(including the 2 largest of the 7 bucks). Unless you have been babysitting a big one, I wouldn't sweat it.....
 

npaden

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 3, 2011
Messages
3,775
Location
Lubbock, Texas
Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm strongly leaning toward just hunting the first week of September now. It will be more enjoyable knowing that my work stuff is not an issue.

My current plan is to bring 1 spare tire and some plugs and an ATV in the bed of the truck (with more plugs and a mini air compressor). A large cooler with as many frozen milk jugs as I can get accumulated is also in the plans.

I do plan on activating my DeLorme InReach since I will be out there solo.
 

treedagain

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2011
Messages
393
my plan is to hunt the 1st couple days and if needed come back the last few. my only other Nevada hunt I was able to scout it a couple days and tagged out on opening morning with a book goat (84 and change) this time no time to scout so we will see what happens the 1st weekend... so to that point anyone with info on 72,74 and 75 I would appreciate it..thanks
 

Attachments

  • jeff goat.jpg
    jeff goat.jpg
    45.2 KB · Views: 525
Last edited:

Baerman

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2008
Messages
1,396
Location
Boy-see
Wowza! That is one huge speed goat! I really thought I was going to draw NV this year but struck out. At least I drew in WY. Should be a great year in the norther part of NV with all the moisture they have been getting. Good luck guys!
 

treedagain

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2011
Messages
393
I hope your right. I will be a bit picky on the goat i take wanting to kill a good one not really caring if i burn it. It will be fun regardless
 

npaden

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 3, 2011
Messages
3,775
Location
Lubbock, Texas
Well, it looks like maybe I should have gone ahead and been out there on opening day. I hunted hard for 5 days and couldn't make it happen. The density of antelope was pretty low and I only saw one decent buck and that was on the first full day and I just couldn't talk myself into really going after him. In retrospect he was by far the best buck I saw by a long shot and I should have gone after him, but I was hoping for a "wow" buck and never saw one. He was probably an upper 70's buck, good mass, length and wide, he just didn't have much at all for prongs.

Ended up with 3,020 miles on the pickup with the vast bulk of that just being the trip out there and back. Put a little over 100 miles on a new friends UTV and 120 miles on my ATV over 5 days of hunting. It was dusty!

Here's the back of the UTV after the first morning.

dusty.jpg


Spent a lot of time around Sentinel Rock. Pretty neat looking.

sentinel_rock.jpg


Spent a lot of time looking around this area. It is amazing how much a water source means in that country. Once you get 2 or 3 miles from water there isn't much of a point in even looking around, nothing is out there.

no_antelope.jpg


Moved to a different part of the unit and spent some time in this type of country.

Granites.jpg


Put 80 miles on the ATV one day and was only able to turn up 15 antelope. Only 3 bucks, 2 were tiny and 1 was just small.

ATV.jpg


More interesting hills/mountains/peaks/rock formations or whatever you want to call them. I think this one was called "Little Peak".

little_peak.jpg


little_peak_2.jpg


There was plenty of water in this part of the unit. I found the source of the "Kings River", it was crazy it just came out of the side of a dry desolate mountain flowing a stream about 3 feet wide and 9 inches deep.

Somehow the came up with the name "Stone House" for this area.

Stone_House.jpg


These antelope seemed to really enjoy the hills more than the flats. There are actually 3 antelope does in this picture. One of them was standing up on the top of the rock outcropping in the top of this picture.

3_antelope.jpg


This picture does a pretty good job of showing the country I was working. Looks promising, but just wasn't turning up much.

panoramic.sized.jpg


Here's a link to the full size panoramic picture if you are interested - http://padens.com/v-web/gallery/albums/album07/panoramic.jpg

I hunted pretty hard and saw less than 100 antelope in 5 days. I think the most I saw any day was just over 20 and the least I saw was the last day when I only saw 2. I probably saw a dozen unique bucks with the one decent buck probably around 15" and upper 70's and then after that about 4 different 12 - 13" bucks that would score in the upper 60's or very low 70's and then about 6 barely legal type bucks.

I was pretty beat down and decided to come home a few days early and skip the last couple days of the season.

Here's what a combination of suncreen and dirt looks like after 5 days of hunting.

selfie.jpg


I did see a TON of Chukar, at least 200 on one day alone when I was riding my ATV around. Lots of pretty country and met a guy that drove over from Reno to show me around the area and spent a couple days hunting with me.

Overall a good experience, although I was pretty disappointed in the relatively low numbers of antelope I saw.

Never have spent so much time glassing just looking for antelope. Usually I only end up glassing to see how big a buck is or to determine if that white rock is an antelope or not. I spent several hours on this hunt just sitting there glassing the country trying to turn up an antelope.

I did see quite a few mule deer too, although no monsters. I saw more decent mule deer bucks than antelope bucks though. Saw a ton of coyotes. The last morning I was there I saw a group of 5 coyotes all together and a total of 7 that morning compared to only 2 antelope.

Last picture was a neat sunset on one of my last days out there.

Sunset.jpg


One thing I didn't do was spend a lot of time checking out the alfalfa fields on the private land in the river bottoms. I might could have filled my tag that way, but I think I had a better time roaming the hills looking for public land bucks than I would have shooting one off a crop circle even if it was a decent buck.

Oh well, kind of a long follow up to this post but I thought I would close the loop. I now know that it is probably a pretty good idea to start paying attention to those 3rd and 4th choice units as I get more points built up in Nevada. I would had to burn a bunch of points on a marginal unit for elk and I've been thinking about applying for some.

That's it for now. Nathan
 

cornfed

Active member
Joined
Mar 19, 2006
Messages
1,113
Thanks for the update and pictures. Always fun seeing new country and looking for antelope.
 

kansasdad

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2011
Messages
4,969
Location
Wichita
Sounds like you really worked hard for your adventure. You may find remnants of that dust three years from now in some isolated corner of your pack or ATV. That is a dry and thirsty land.
 

Big Fin

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2000
Messages
15,122
Location
Bozeman, MT
That country can take a lot out of a guy. I wish it would have provided a better outcome. You surely gave more than most guys would.
 

1_pointer

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 20, 2000
Messages
18,109
Location
Indiana
Bummer on not notching the tag, but as you found out that high desert country is pretty fun to roam around in.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
94,534
Messages
1,408,992
Members
29,650
Latest member
SDBowhuntr
Top