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Author Topic: Field judging Antelope?  (Read 1734 times)

Offline Doublelunger

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Field judging Antelope?
« on: July 16, 2018, 04:22:25 PM »
Any antelope experts around? I don't know much about antelope or how to judge them so I started doing a little research online. Of all the articles and threads I found on the subject this one struck me as being the most concise and informative.

http://www.rokslide.com/speed-judging-speed-goats/


Offline Doublelunger

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2018, 04:24:56 PM »
Speed Judging Speed-Goats – Scoring Antelope on the Fly

Guest Contributor – Travis Bertrand

 

I was making the long drive home from Wyoming after taking an exceptional buck when I realized I really needed to improve my antelope field judging speed and accuracy. I had just harvested my best buck, but I didn’t have a good feel for what he might score before or after I pulled the trigger. I didn’t think he would touch the 80″ mark, but my curiosity and anticipation grew with each passing mile marker.

After I got home and measured my buck I was surprised that he easily surpassed my initial impressions and goal for the trip. He grossed 82 1/8″ green and is the biggest antelope I have harvested to date. He has given me the bug to better myself as an antelope hunter and motivated me to improve my field judging capabilities so I won’t be tempted to pass a trophy like him in the future.

 

Antelope horn length seems to be what most people judge a quality trophy by. Similarly, people often judge mule deer by how wide they are. While mule deer width and antelope horn length are both important and noteworthy measurements, neither are good indicators of the animal’s overall trophy potential. The Boone and Crockett (B&C) scoring system takes into account three different aspects of antelope horns to determine score. Mass (circumferences), horn length, and prong length.


Mass is the most critical element of a pronghorn’s score. According to B&C statistics, 49% of the average record book pronghorn score is due to the circumference measurements. That figure does not account for the mass that is also part of the prong measurement. Prongs account for an additional 13% of the score and horn length accounts for the remaining 38%.

 

Statistically speaking, mass is king, then horn length, and finally prongs. However, most experts think that length is the least important element since most trophy bucks will be in the 15 – 16” range and it takes an extremely long horn to make up for poor mass. A horn with ¼” larger circumferences will score the same as a buck with a full inch of extra length. Prongs are usually considered second most important since they will make or break the score of a buck with good length and good mass and they are often overlooked and hard to see unless you have plenty of time to watch the antelope.

 

Quick Comparison:

I measured several mounted bucks to give me references I could quickly compare to an antelope’s horns in the field. I found that the eye typically measures two inches in length or a little over. The ear is in the ballpark of 6” long but may vary depending on where you are hunting. I use these measurements to help me judge pronghorn on the hoof.

MASS:

Circumferences are measured at four equal quarter points of the horn. Measurements are taken at the base, at the ¼-length, ½-length, and at ¾ of the full length of the longest horn (See D1-D4 in the B&C diagram). For example, if the longest horn is 16″, you would take circumference measurements at the base, then at 4”, 8”, and 12”.You can use the width of the eye and the ear to gage the mass at the base of the horn. A trophy buck will have bases that appear nearly 1.5 X wider than the eye. A great trophy’s first two circumferences (D1 & D2) will measure close to 7”. To double check mass, make sure the horn from base to prong appears wider than the flared or widest part of the antelope’s ear.

 

High prongs are a desirable trait in trophy antelope. When the third circumference (D3) lands on the prong, it forces the measurement to be taken at the widest point of the upper horn, just above the prong. This can boost your trophy’s score and push a borderline buck over the top. Use the eye width again to evaluate the mass above the prong. If the horn just above the prong appears nearly as wide as the eye, then the buck will have a very good upper circumference measurement at D3. Ideally the horn will not taper down too quickly toward the tip and the two circumferences above the prong (D3 + D4) will add up to almost 7 inches.

 

PRONG:

Prong, shovel, digger, cutter, scraper… There are plenty of names, but only a few considerations to keep in mind when judging the prong. An exceptional prong is over 6”. The prong is measured from the back edge of the horn to the tip of the prong along the top edge (E). Because of this, curved prongs tend to measure out much longer than they appear. Bucks with exceptional mass above the prong will generally have better prong length as well since the width of the horn is part of the prong measurement. Since the ear is approximately 6” long it can be used to judge trophy prongs. A prong equal to or exceeding the ear length is what you hope for.

 

HORN LENGTH:

The method I use to measure horn length is fairly universal among antelope hunters. I imagine the ear being moved up to the base of the horn. Then I see how many ear lengths I can mentally stack along the length of the horn. Similar to the prongs, the more the horns curve, the more length they will tend to have. Add up the ears and you will have the approximate length of the horn. The average B&C trophy typically has at least 15 ½” horns so you want to be able to see 2.5+ ears of horn length.

 

PRACTICE:

Nothing can replace practice when it comes to becoming proficient at judging antelope. The easiest way to get some repetition is to judge antelope at sport shows, sporting goods stores, and taxidermists. Magazines and websites can also help, but certain features like prong curvature and the curve at the tips of the horns can only be evaluated accurately when seen from a couple different angles. That’s why it is a great idea to take photos and video while you’re scouting. You can analyze the video with friends back at camp to help get a group opinion on potential trophies. Freeze-frame the action when you have the best view of each feature so everyone can comment. You can also have a contest where each person guesses the score.

With practice this information can help you make better decisions in the field and will also help you get a better idea of what makes a trophy antelope in your mind. Boone and Crocket sets the official standard, but the real value and size of a trophy is in the eye of the beholder.

Offline shanevg

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2018, 04:29:36 PM »
By no means am I an expert, but my best advice after going on my first hunt last year is to look at a LOT of antelope before you even consider pulling the trigger.  I think I shot the 75th buck I saw on the first day of the hunt (I did not have a lot of time to hunt) and was just starting to feel like I had a good feel for what is big and what isn't. 

Definitely a good article though.

Online DOUBLELUNG

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2018, 05:19:22 PM »
I have some experience.  The article is spot on with regard to mass>prong>length, although if you are shooting for the record book all three are important.  One place I will take exception to the author is the contention that "most" trophy antelope have 15-16" horn length; my experience is most book antelope are 14-15", and I've seen book antelope as short as 12 1/2".  I've also seen antelope over 16" that are shy of the mark (even one 18").  There is more to antelope hunting than trying to get into the book, but most of the rest of what I have to say is about inches.

It is very important to get a view of the horns from the side and straight on to judge mass.  Some horns are wide from the side but narrow straight on, others are much rounder.  A pronghorn's eye socket is about 1.5", a horn base seen from the side should be noticeably wider than the eye socket, and at least as wide as the eye socket straight on.  This is your most important measurement, it is rare that a buck with heavy bases won't score well.  Be cautious of a buck that appears to flare up from the base, they look really big at first glance but if the 1st quarter is heavier than the base it is usually because growth slowed.  Antelope horns grow from top down, the base is the last part to grow. 

Once you are confident he has heavy bases, the prong is next.  Here you really need both those views, some prongs are flat while others will curve up to 90 degrees.  Here you are looking for a prong with the length forward of the shaft at least two eye socket widths long.  After a good base and prong, you are looking for a 1st quarter measure that is equal to the apparent size of the base; the shaft below the prong should appear uniform, not tapering.  The prong measurement is from the tip along the top surface to the back of the shaft, so if he has a good base and a comparable 1st quarter, you can be pretty confident that prong measurement is going to be at least 5-6".  If he has all three of those factors going for him, he is a really good, solid buck - as long as he has both prongs and tops intact, he will score well. 

Now, if you really have your heart set on making it into the book - and assuming there are antelope of this caliber in the herd - in addition to the above look for prongs that start above the ear, and horn length above the prong at least as long as below.  Pay attention to the tips - horn tips that point down are deceptively long, whereas those that have tips that point up look really tall but aren't as long as you think.  The variation in the 2nd and third quarters is quite small, the variation in mass between those 4 measurements in total is usually only a couple of inches.  It is unlikely you will have enough great bucks to look over to have the luxury of selecting for the greatest mass above the prong unless you are in a select draw unit in the southwest.   

Antelope horn growth starts after the horn sheaths are shed in November and stops by late July.  Really serious trophy hunters who have the luxury can scout their unit for a couple of months and know the potential and have the best bucks picked out.  Most Washington hunters don't have that luxury,  but there is a lot you can infer by looking at the climate data for the previous year.  Optimum horn growth occurs when above normal summer/fall precipitation is followed by a mild to normal winter and normal to above normal spring/summer precipitation.  This is because antelope store much less fat than deer and are more dependent on forage for survival; they are the first to die in a severe winter, and also the first to rebound.  A drought summer/fall is going to impact length of the top half and prong, a hard winter impacts prong length and length and mass of the 2nd quarter, and a dry summer MAY impact the length and mass of the first quarter, depending on whether they have irrigated or riparian foraging areas available.  Antelope horns are modified skin, not hair like true horns (bison, sheep and goats) or bone like the deer family, and growth is more affected by annual climate variation than either of those groups.  If you are serious about score, and are building points, there is little you can do about the spring/summer precipitation, but some serious trophy hunters will gauge the previous fall moisture and winter severity when deciding whether to burn points.       

If you are hunting Wyoming in a public land area or on a large private ranch, I'd encourage you to look at at least 100 bucks before thinking about pulling the trigger on your first hunt - really.  That is really very doable in most units and is one of the great fun factors hunting antelope.  Once you have judged a bunch of bucks in your area and have a better idea of what the potential is, apply the criteria above and you will take at least a good buck, and maybe a great one.   
As long as we have the habitat, we can argue forever about who gets to kill what and when.  No habitat = no game.

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2018, 06:27:10 PM »
Take your kids into the outdoors. They are our future. Support conservation by joining and participating in future through NRA, SCI, RMEF, Wild Sheep or any of the other great organizations.

Offline NRA4LIFE

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2018, 07:46:07 PM »
I hunted them for 15 years, but have not for a while.  My rule of thumb for a really good buck was to look for his prongs well above his ears, 6" or so.  That will be a 15-16" buck, most likely.  Another thing to look for is mass.  That will get you a good scoring buck. 
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Offline CaNINE

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2018, 06:42:56 AM »
I recommend picking up a copy of Mike Eastman’s antelope hunting book.  Excellent field judging chapter with photos for comparison.  Good general hunting and specialized gear recommendations too.
The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.

Proverbs 12:27

Online Bill W

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2018, 07:26:05 AM »
Biggest one I shot scored 79 7/8's and the longest one was 15 3/8'.   The 15 3/8" one looked like a jackalope while I was stalking it.

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2018, 07:29:05 AM »
I second getting Mike Eastman's book on hunting trophy antelope.

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2018, 07:41:51 AM »
DOUBLELUNG that was a really good write up on judging pronghorn antelope!  :tup: :tup:
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Offline Doublelunger

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2018, 07:53:54 AM »
DOUBLELUNG that was a really good write up on judging pronghorn antelope!  :tup: :tup:

 :yeah: :yeah: Thanks!!

Offline Eric M

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2018, 08:15:03 AM »
Tag for later

Online Bob33

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2018, 08:47:37 AM »
Every antelope hunter could benefit by having one of these on his bookshelf:

https://www.amazon.com/Hunting-Trophy-Antelope-Mike-Eastman/dp/0977883760
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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2018, 08:49:43 AM »
DOUBLELUNG that was a really good write up on judging pronghorn antelope!  :tup: :tup:
Thanks Bearpaw, means a lot coming from you!
As long as we have the habitat, we can argue forever about who gets to kill what and when.  No habitat = no game.

Offline Bwana Bob

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Re: Field judging Antelope?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2018, 08:54:16 AM »
DoubleLung

Great write up. And like you said, an antelope doesn't have to be 15-17 tall to make the book if he has mass and big prongs. My best buck is only 13 7/8 inches tall. He was missing a bit of his ivory tips on both sides, maybe an inch in total. He scored 79 7/8 inches. With the tips he would have scored a bit over 80 inches , a better than average buck

 


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