3 Shooting Tips for Pronghorn Adventure

Although the majority of pronghorn hunts have high hunter success rates, that doesn’t make them a slam-dunk. Here are a few tips to get you closer to the rim.

3 Shooting Tips for Pronghorn Adventure

Photo: twildlife/iStock

As a resident of Arizona — a draw state for pronghorn — I had only hunted pronghorn once in my lifetime. And since I consider myself a bowhunter that rifle hunts, that year I spent all of my draw points on an archery tag. My point: I had not had the opportunity to hunt pronghorn with a rifle until recently. 

When I received an invitation to rifle hunt pronghorn in Northwest Colorado, I was excited to say the least. On the down side, I had little time to prepare properly, and it would require two longs days of driving to get there. On the bright side, it was going to allow me to field test some new gear — untested by me — prior to a Coues deer adventure in New Mexico later in the year. 

My rifle choice for this hunt was a custom 7mm Remington Magnum that had been in the field just once and that had not fired a shot at an animal. My scope choice was Sig Sauer’s new SIERRA3BDX 6.5-20X BDX riflescope, coupled with their KILO2200BDX rangefinder. Together, the two electro-optics and the Sig BDX App comprise Sig’s new BDX system. The three pieces work in concert. The app allows the shooter to create a ballistic profile for the specific ammo used in the rifle either by downloading an existing library item or by manually entering load data. Once a profile is created, a simple range taken by the KILOBDX sends data to the SIERRA3BDX, which in turn provides an illuminated aiming point for the appropriate distance on the vertical post of the crosshair.

The author after a successful pronghorn hunt in Colorado.
The author after a successful pronghorn hunt in Colorado.

 When I arrived at hunting camp in Colorado, I was offered a chance to spend time on the range. After making a small adjustment for my first hit, the second hit was just a tick high at 100-yards. Finally, I was able to perform a quick long-range test of the BDX system with a 280-yard shot at the gong. The resounding thwack confirmed the equipment was good to go. Of course, the real test would unfold over the coming days of hunting. 

The following day, I received my chance. I failed miserably. I missed a buck at a mere 240-yards. Again, the equipment worked fine, but the rest I took on a tripod while standing was outside of my comfort zone. Although I was dejected, we continued our pursuit. After enduring a torrent of rain, a second chance presented itself and offered redemption. On the short stalk for a shot opportunity, I carried the soft-sided rifle case I was using for transporting my rifle. This time my shot was 380-yards. From a seated position, I rested the front of the gun on the same tripod. Additionally, I folded the rifle case in half and used it to support the rear of the rifle. 

As I flipped the safety off, I heard the words, "Give it some wind.” Unfortunately, the words were heard, but not applied. I held right behind the front shoulder and fired. The shot echoed, followed by the undeniable thump of a hit. However, the 10-15 mph wind had pushed the bullet enough to make the hit less than favorable. Fortunately, a follow-up shot ended the ordeal and the hunt. Overall, the hunt was a success, yet could have gone smoother. 

Below are three tips that I hope will help you shoot better on your next pronghorn hunt. 

1. Pre-hunt Preparation

 It’s become all to cliché, but you have to practice shooting. This doesn’t mean sight-in your rifle; it means you should practice shooting in hunting conditions. I do this regularly with my bow, but I neglected to do so on this hunt. I ended up taking a cooler full of goat home but a little practice would have went a long way in making the task easier.  

2. Getting Into Position

 Pronghorn have amazing eyesight. Even if you are prepared to shoot at long-range — over 500 yards — getting in range is not a simple endeavor. From my experience, using topography to your advantage is the best method of getting within range and into a shooting position. Obviously, making an approach on non-moving (bedded) animals is easier than triangulating an intercept point. Regardless of that, dropping on the backside of a hill or using the bottom of a drainage (coulee or arroyo) to get from point A to point B works well to close the distance. 

3. Get the Right Rest

 Now that you’re finally in position, it’s merely making a shot, right? Wrong! Pronghorn reside in open country. It might seem like a great location for taking a shot from a prone position. However, open country does not always mean void of vegetation. More often than not, tall grass or sagebrush will make it difficult for attempting such a shot. Make sure you take a shot where you are comfortable with the rest.

Final Thoughts

 Several western states offer pronghorn hunting. This hunt was a guided hunt, outfitted by RTS Hunting. A guided hunt offers several benefits such as lodging, meals and transportation. In this case, it also meant a guaranteed tag and that’s not always the case in the West. If you prefer the DIY experience, no problem states like Colorado offer OTC tags and there are private ranches in a few states that offer access via trespass fee. Alternatively, do a little research, pick a state or two and start building bonus or preference points. You may have to wait a few years, but I guarantee the wait will be worth it! 

Hunt and gear info.

Riflescope: SIERRA3BDX 6.5-20X52 MM

Rangefinder: KILO2200BDX 7X25 MM

Sig BDX App: iOS, Android

Hunt: RTS Hunting, Craig CO

BONUS: Before Going on Your Western Hunt

Interview: Joe Fruechtel, Senior Product Manager-Optics

DC: What advice do you have for BDX users to consider prior to leaving for a remote hunt?

JF: If you are not bringing your phone with you I would definitely preset your environmental data for what you believe will be your most likely settings. Fresh batteries is never a bad decision. We have quite a few built in power saving features in the scope so that your batteries can last quite a while. Those are the two main suggestions I would give.

DC: How often is the SIG BDX app being updated to accommodate new operating system versions?

JF: The app is constantly being updated. We are currently on rev. 73 if that tells you anything. When Android or Apple push out [a] new OS, we will work in their beta version to check compatibility prior to their launch. There are always one off quirks between new OS and different consumers’ hardware. I think we do a good job of staying on top of it though.

DC: What is a good definition of a reflective target at various yardages?

JF: In the rangefinder world, a reflective target is literally a mirror. It is going to pass the vast majority of the laser signal from the rangefinder back to the rangefinders sensor. In the real world windows work really well typically. Dirt, trees, and animals tend to absorb more of the laser signal. That is why you will notice that your ranging capabilities on these surfaces is lower than on buildings. Highway signs work really well for reflective targets as well. They are retroreflective so that directed towards them reflects directly back at the source (so that they light up bright with your headlights from any angle). This makes them great test targets for reflective ranging yardages. They are also usually fairly large.

DC: Can you provide scenarios to use the various range settings (best or last)?

JF: These settings refers to which signal that is returned to the sensor the system choses to display. Essentially, every time you range the sensor in the LRF gets a ton of data back. The processor has to sort through that data and determine which range it should display. Best means that the system displays the highest peak signal that is returned. This is good if you are ranging steel targets. They will likely be one of the more reflective surfaces that you are hitting in this scenario. The last setting should be used if you are ranging through tall grass or bushes that may interfere with your laser. The processor will filter out some of the closer signals that it receives back and chose the furthest one that is receives.


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