How a Flock of Birds Got Me My First Pronghorn Buck

What on earth does a flock of birds have to do with harvesting an antelope? Typically, not much… but during my 2016 rifle season, a flock of birds turned my antelope hunt into an antelope harvest.

Hunting background

Dad and I have been hunting buddies since the time I could walk.

We have shot deer, elk, birds, geese, and ducks together… but up until last season, we had never shot an antelope together.

That’s not to say we hadn’t tried…

In previous years,  we bow hunted for them without a blind. No luck.

One time I was rifle hunting and got within bow range and I couldn’t find him in my rifle scope. Oops!

So my 2016 successful pronghorn hunt was one that I had worked hard for, over the course of several years.


“Dad, I just saw a herd of antelope run over that hill!”

It was the weekend after the 2016 antelope season opened, and Dad already shot his buck the weekend before.

The day we hunted for my buck, we drove around and glassed the fields only to find the animals were all on private land.

We tried one last spot before we headed home. It was a small chunk of state land that was leased out to a cattle rancher.

I glassed and glassed, and saw nothing. Then, for a split second, I saw a flash of white take off along the horizon of a rolling hill. I thought I had found some antelope!

Dad wasn’t as convinced as I was, but either way, I persuaded him to go for a hike.

We walked in to the chunk of land and as we walked over the hill, I realized that Dad was right, and the flash of white I saw earlier was a flock of birds flying over the hill. BAHAHA!

Blonde moment…

FullSizeRender 7

WARNING: shooter buck alert!

But that blonde moment quickly turned into a epic moment when I started glassing again, now 3/4 of a mile off the road.

There was a small butte-like hill about 1000 yards away from where we stood, and as I glassed behind it, I saw HIM.

A lone antelope in the field behind the hill. Even from 1000 yards away, I could tell he was a shooter.

We ducked down quickly, not wanting to spook him as we discussed how to go about our stalk.


The stalk and the shot

The biggest problem we faced was… there was cattle EVERYWHERE in this chunk of land.

We didn’t want to walk through the cattle because we thought that would create a commotion that might spook the buck.

However, going around the cattle would put the buck completely out of our sight.

Without another option, we walked around the cattle, and they remained fairly calm.

Our next move, I decided, was to creep up over the butte-like hill and see if the antelope was still there.

Very slowly and quietly, we crept up the hill…very quiet, the wind in our favor.

Once we were almost to the top, we started belly crawling. We belly crawled almost 100 yards until I finally saw him. My heart started racing.

The brush on the ground was too high to shoot from where I laid, so my dad watched from behind me while I belly crawled another 30 yards or so and set up for my shot.

I ranged the buck at 270 yards, checked my drop chart, took a deep breath in, put my crosshairs right behind his front shoulder, let my breath go, and squeezed the trigger…

He ran for about 10 yards and fell over…

Dad jumped up with a yell, a fist pump, and a high five! (I think he also might have yelled f*** ya! LOL!)

The hunt was perfect!

As I walked up to my first pronghorn buck, he was larger than I expected. I felt truly blessed as I probably would have shot any buck I saw that day.

He was an old and mature, and from the looks of his horns, had participated in many fights throughout his life.

I tagged him, field-dressed him, and Dad ran back to the truck to grab the game cart.

I started dragging him a couple miles back to the truck, taking in each moment, and hardly containing my excitement as I smiled from ear to ear.

Had I not mistaken a flock of birds for a herd of antelope, I would have never had the chance to see that buck that day. Funny how things work out sometimes, right?


A few months later…

I decided to turn the skull into a european mount… and a local friend did the work for me.

When the mount was finished, we noticed my buck probably wouldn’t have made it through the winter.

On the roof of his mouth, we discovered a rotten tooth. The food he was eating was going up through the roof of his mouth and into his sinuses.

His sinus cavity was severely infected, and he probably was unable to breath out of it, let alone smell.

How painful right?


Call to action

My first successful antelope hunt is one I will remember for a long time.

I’d love to hear your “first hunt” story! Drop a comment below and share with me!

If you liked this article, please scroll to the bottom of the page and hit the subscribe button on the bottom left side.

Thanks for reading!

Until Next Time,

Maranda Ratcliff


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