Yep, it’s that time of year again, and I’m super pumped to rekindle the flames of my “Life Of A Bowhunter” blog. Last year I limited my blog to whitetail and turkey seasons, but this year I’m kicking it off a few days prior to the August 15 Colorado pronghorn archery opener and running it through the end of December. I have some great hunts planned, and it’s sure to be a wild ride. Along the way I will be updating you with daily goings-on; innovative, difference-making gear; how-to tips and tactics, as well as throwing up a few cool videos. Be sure to stay tuned to our Grand View Outdoors Facebook page and our website at www.grandviewoutdoors.com for daily blog updates.
Let’s kick things off with one of my favorite critters to chase with a stick and string: the pronghorn. I’ve been running trail cameras since the first of June over a number of tanks and ponds on both public and private land, and now have my choices narrowed down to five select spots. Each spot, as of August 9, has a ground blind situated and staked down between 25 and 35 yards from the water source.
Regardless of what you may have read or seen on outdoor television, it’s important to get your blinds up at least one week before the opener. This gives thirsty pronghorn – pronghorn who’ve likely been using the water source for an extended amount of time – time to get used to and accept the new addition to their refreshment stand. If time doesn’t allow you to get a blind up early (this happens to me often on out-of-state hunts), blend it in as best you can and place it 35 to 40 yards off the water source. Approaching goats seem to find blinds less intimidating when they’re placed farther from the water. If you’re setting up a blind the day before or the day of your hunt, you can try to locate a tank or pond with old windmill parts, rusted feed bunks and the like scattered about around it. Use these items to break up your blind, and the goats will never know the difference. I’ve done this countless times over the years.
Currently, my top water source is a small pond on public dirt. Yes, I’ve been running a trail camera on it since June 1 and hammered my blind in on August 8. Could it get stolen? Yes, of course, but I like to think most hunters are ethical and will see that another hunter has already laid claim to this particular water source and move on. According to my cameras and hours of hands-on recon, five different bucks (three shooters) are using the water source daily. If nothing changes, this will be my top choice on Monday, August 15.
Gear: I get a lot of questions about the cameras I use over my tanks and ponds. Here’s my answer: The PlotWatcher Pro from Day 6 Outdoor Products (www.day6outdoors.com) is one of my favorites. It allows me to view the entire tank or pond and a good chunk of the vast prairie beyond it. Using this particular time-lapse camera allows me to monitor dawn-to-dark activity around the tank, and because it covers such a broad area, I can see where the goats are coming from and set my blinds accordingly. I consider this camera a must-have archery pronghorn tool.
My other two pronghorn camera choices include Stealth Cam’s (www.stealthcam.com) G30. This is an economical little camera that promises great video and photo clarity. For pronghorn, I push the G30’s 80-foot range to the maximum to give me a better field of view, slide the dial to the pre-set Q3 mode (which shoots 10-second video with a 30-second delay) and walk away. This is a top-notch game camera, and one I like to run on public land because of its economical price tag.
Lastly, I’ve had great success with Moultrie’s (www.moultriefeeders.com) M-880i Gen 2 Mini Game Camera. Triggered by heat and movement within 50 feet of the camera, this little beauty is a great choice for those small stock and tire tanks. I set the time-lapse mode, which disables the PIR sensor and can be set for one or two different periods per day. I set my time=lapse interval between each image capture, and it works great.
When it comes to blinds, I’ve narrowed my choices to two over my long pronghorn tenure. You’re going to be spending lots of time in your ground fortress, so break out the wallet and drop a little coin.
The Double Bull Bullpen and Double Bull Deluxe from Primos (www.primos.com) are simply amazing. They blend in well with the arid landscape, offer ample room, allow for 180-degree shooting via Silent Slide window closures and are built to last. Currently, three of my five tanks have a Double Bull staked down nearby.
I’ve also had excellent luck with Ameristep’s (www.ameristep.com) Carnivore Hunter, which boasts a slightly cheaper price tag than the Double Bull. In the past, my big issue with Ameristep was the fabric. The sun, in a very short time, stained the fabric reddish pink. Not good. Ameristep has remedied this problem with its Durashell RuggedShield HD fabric. I also like the fact that the blind is roomy and boasts a ground skirt, which helps keep the elements out and scent in.