A Better Water Plan for Pronghorn

Planning a bowhunting trip out West for speed goats? A great idea, so long as you have an effective water plan.

A Better Water Plan for Pronghorn

Every year, I see bowhunters head out West only to have their pronghorn dreams dashed because they threw a dart on a map, selected a water source and then camped on that source for the duration of their hunt. Don’t do that. Heed these tips and develop a waterhole plan that will put you at full-draw on a thirsty buck.

Get a paper map of the area you plan to hunt and look at the map’s legend. Note the symbols used for stock tanks, ponds and springs and then locate these water sources on the map. Try to find areas with limited water. The more limited the water, the more concentrated the pronghorn activity will be.

Use an app like onX Hunt to locate your chosen water sources. Focus on ponds and stock tanks with overflows first. Pronghorn are nervous creatures and their anxiety often spikes when they come in for a drink. If they can sip water off the ground, they can keep their eyes up and scan the prairie for danger.

Use the app’s Line Distance Measuring Tool to measure the distance between water sources.

Look for a waterhole in a flat, open area. Pronghorn like to see and will often avoid ponds and tanks that require them to walk down into them or are surrounded by trees.

Also, pay attention to cattle trails coming and going to and from the tank or pond. If the aerial image shows trails coming to the tank in a 360-degree circle (top photo), that means pronghorn can approach the tank from any direction and often indicates the tank is in a flat, open area.

Scouting for pronghorn sign around waterholes is key to determining which water sources are currently being used by animals.
Scouting for pronghorn sign around waterholes is key to determining which water sources are currently being used by animals.

Have three or four water sources identified and go directly to these sources when you arrive for your hunt. Pay attention during your drive in. Watch for live pronghorn as well as tracks and scrapes. If you’re hunting a stock tank, the dirt around the tank can be like cement and won’t give up many tracks. Take a walk down the cattle trails leading to and from the tank and look for tracks and scrapes.

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