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My First Pronghorn
By Steve Mahurin
     

In 1988 my wife gave me a very special birthday present. It was a hunt for an animal I'd always wanted to hunt.This animal was what the residents of the area it occurs in call the Goat, but is better known as the Pronghorn Antelope. The Pronghorn is not really a true antelope and is the sole member of he Antilocapridea family. It is a native to North America and occurs naturally nowhere else.

It was a long drive from our home area about six miles from the coastal town of Galveston, Texas. We did enjoy the views of other native animals along the roadway as we made our way to our destination of Marfa, Texas. For miles before we got there, we were amazed at the number of Pronghorn, just behind those fences along the road. We also saw a large number of Mule Deer and many big patches of Prickly Pear Cactus. The ranch we were to hunt is located about 20 miles from the picturesque and historic town of Marfa, Texas. Let me change that, the road to the ranch is 20 miles from town.

As usual my wife, Shirley, accompanied me on this hunt, especially since she gave me the hunt. We were to stay in a very historic hotel on the square, called the Olympia. This place had been in continuous use for over a hundred years and proved to be in near pristine condition and very nostalgic. They did make a couple of exceptions to progress though with phones and air conditioning window units. After we got settled in we figured it might be a good idea to make a dry run to find the road leading to the ranch. We were able to find it okay and made our way back to town for a hot meal and some rest.

The harsh jangling of the alarm clock shook us awake at 4:30 a.m. and let us know it was time to start our adventurous hunt for my first ever Pronghorn hunt. We quickly got it all together and got on the road. Way out in the boondocks like this, once we got away from town it was pitch black, except for the tunnel of light punched through the blackness by the truck headlights. We finally found the road to the ranch and turned off the hardtop road. This road was really not much more than a fairly deep sandy trail about half again as wide as my truck. This road seemed to go on forever. Actually we clocked it at 22 miles of seeming wilderness, until we reached the ranch headquarters of the 55,000 acre. Brite Ranch. As hunters arrived from either town or mostly from the ranch bunkhouse we were told that at daylight today, 10 -1 - 1988 the season was officially open. We were welcome to hunt on our own or make arrangements for a guide. As I had no experience with hunting Pronghorn I had made arrangements when I had booked the hunt for a guide. As it turned out my guide was one of the owner's son's by the name of Beauregard "Beau" Brite. As we stood in the darkness waiting fir the dawn to arrive you could look above you and see what seemed like a solid carpet of stars twinkling down at us from a black velvet sky.

Shortly afterward we loaded our gear into Bo's truck and headed out into what looked like an endless flat grassy plain, but soon proved to be very bumpy indeed. About an hour or so after starting out we saw a pretty good buck that my guide estimated at 13 to 14 inches long and I bailed out to try for a shot. I was able to get a rest across the hood of the truck at the buck, which was standing nearly broadside to us. It was a clean miss and he was off at high speed never to be seen again. A couple of hours later we saw a big buck in the 15 inch range go over a hill about a half mile away from us. We drove to the base of the hill and started a stalk. About three fourths of the way to the summit we heard a shot that sounded pretty close. You guessed it, another hunter had taken the buck we had followed. A little later in the day we had stopped to glass for animals and a cool drink when a strange thing happened. Shirley was sitting in the center of the truck seat and pretty as you please a huge Bumblebee flew into the truck window and settle on her right eyelid, behind her sunglasses. Give the lady credit for cool nerves, because she sat there for better than five minutes after we eased her glasses from her head, and waited until the bee decided it was needed elsewhere. I can just about guarantee that I don't think I could have sat there for that long.

As we traversed more of those 55,000 acres than my rump was happy with, we saw off in the distance at about 300 yards, a coyote running parallel to us. Beau said, jump out and take a crack at him. You guessed it, another miss. I was beginning to wonder about my marksmanship big time. We talked about it and Beau said it was probably because of the mostly wide open spaces with no landmarks for reference, that gives lots of first timers hunting in that type of terrain a hard time. Shortly thereafter we spotted a good representative buck hotly pursuing a doe. We drove at a diagonal path to his and spent over an hour trying to get within some sort of range for a shot. After six or eight busted stalks we finally got within long range of him as he stood broadside, head down, breathing heavily from his exertion. I was able to get a good solid rest and at the sound of the shot the buck dropped in his tracks. By the way the buck never did catch that female and that made me kind of sad for him. We stepped off 325 long strides from where I shot to the buck, so I guess my uncertainty was unfounded. I had my "Goat" that measured nearly 13 coal black inches long. Guess what, I was hooked on hunting these speedsters and promised myself that I would be back someday to take up the challenge of these oddities of the plains.

Written by Steve Mahurin on March 18, 2000.

     
     
Pronghorn
     
     

Steve Mahurin
25 North Heights
La Marque, Texas 77568
409-935-9673

Email: samahurin@comcast.net

Copyright 2001 - 2011


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