The Top 10 States for Antelope Hunting: Your Ultimate Guide to Securing an Antelope Tag

Kenny Flermoen - TheInsideSpread

Kenny Flermoen

JUL 25, 2023

brett-sayles- States for Antelope Hunting - The Inside Spread

Category: Antelope

States for Antelope Hunting

When writing these Top 10 list, I really tried to focus on places that I would like to hunt in the future, so tag availability is a high-ranking category. In addition to tag availability, other criteria includes healthy populations, landscapes and more. Today, we’ll explore the top 10 states for securing an antelope tag and what makes each location unique.

1. Wyoming

Wyoming, known for its vast plains and rolling hills, is a paradise for antelope hunters. The state, managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, boasts the largest population of pronghorn antelope in the U.S., making it the top  states for antelope hunting.

The hunting experience in Wyoming is second to none. The wide-open spaces provide a perfect backdrop for a thrilling chase. Plus, the state’s commitment to conservation ensures a sustainable hunting environment that will continue to thrive for generations to come.

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, all Wyoming antelope hunt areas are managed under a limited quota framework, meaning there are a set number of licenses valid for each specific hunt area. All hunt areas have full-price “any” antelope licenses (Type 0, 1, 2 or 9). Most hunt areas also provide reduced-price limited quota “doe/fawn” licenses (Type 6, 7 or 8), which can be obtained separately or in addition to a full-price license.

After the license draw has been held, hunters can purchase a second “any antelope” license in specific hunt areas, if still available. “Any antelope” licenses still available after the draw are typically found in areas that are predominantly private land, so hunters are encouraged to line up access before buying the license. Hunters may purchase up to four doe/fawn antelope licenses, only two of which can be obtained through the draw.

Wyoming’s most sought-after antelope hunting is primarily found in south-central, central, and southwest Wyoming. Most hunt areas in these parts of Wyoming have ample public access on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Public land hunt areas are typically hard to draw. Antelope are also abundant in northeast and east-central Wyoming, although finding access can be difficult because the area is largely private land.

For more detailed information on Wyoming’s antelope hunt areas, including draw odds, harvest data, and tentative season information, you can visit the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s.

2. Montana

Montana, the “Treasure State,” is indeed a treasure trove for antelope hunters. With a healthy antelope population and a variety of hunting opportunities, Montana offers a unique hunting experience. The state’s pronghorn population is managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), and as of 2021, Montana’s estimated 158,000 pronghorn comprise one of the largest populations across the species’ continental range, second only to Wyoming’s.

The vast, rugged landscapes of Montana provide a challenging yet rewarding hunting environment. The state’s conservation efforts have been successful in maintaining a balanced ecosystem, making it a haven for antelope and hunters alike.

In 2020, FWP and the University of Montana initiated the Pronghorn Movement and Population Ecology project, a four-year study (2020-2024) that aims to identify seasonal ranges, movement corridors, and potential movement barriers and identify factors affecting pronghorn populations and habitat selection. This project is part of the 2018 Secretarial Order 3362, which aimed to foster collaboration between federal government, states, non-profit organizations, and private landowners to identify, improve, and conserve winter range and migration corridors for mule deer, elk, and pronghorn.

The project involves maintaining a sample of up to 60 GPS-collared female pronghorn for three years in each of the eight study populations across the state. The data collected from this project is being used to inform projects such as fence removal and modifications, habitat improvements, and conservation easements to benefit pronghorn while also being compatible with other land uses.

Montana also has the second highest pronghorn harvest in the United States. In addition to the recreation they provide to hunters and others who enjoy seeing these symbols of the Great Plains, pronghorn may also be an “umbrella” species for sagebrush-grasslands. By conserving pronghorn using information from this study, Montana private landowners and public land managers could in turn indirectly conserve the many other species living in sagebrush prairies.

For more detailed information on Montana’s pronghorn herds, including project reports and updates, you can visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ website.

3. Colorado

In Colorado, pronghorns are widely distributed throughout the eastern plains, several mountain valleys in central Colorado, and sagebrush shrublands in northwestern Colorado. As of 2021, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) estimated the total statewide population to be 78,000 pronghorns, with over 42% (33,000 pronghorns) occurring in southeastern Colorado. In 2022, CPW offered 22,000 limited pronghorn licenses statewide, of which 15,158 licenses were for game management units in the Southeast Region.

The pronghorn population in southeastern Colorado is currently robust. However, CPW faces several challenges when considering the future of pronghorn management in the region. Challenges include but are not limited to drought, management on private lands, energy and housing development, and loss of connectivity across the landscape. This document contains the Herd Management Plans for the 11 pronghorn herds in Colorado’s Southeast Region and will guide pronghorn management in the region from 2023-2033.

Pronghorns are a conservation success story. In the early 1800s, pronghorns were abundant and widely distributed throughout western North America but were almost extirpated by 1900 due to unregulated exploitation for their hides and meat. However, starting in the early 1900s, successful conservation efforts, including transplants, regulation and enforcement of hunting laws, and the establishment of wildlife refuges, brought the species back from the brink of extinction. Pronghorns now occur in grasslands and shrublands throughout south-central Canada, the Great Basin, Intermountain West, and Great Plains in the United States, and parts of northwestern Mexico.

The CPW uses a “Management by Objective” approach to manage the state’s big game populations. Management decisions within a Data Analysis Unit (DAU) are based on a herd management plan (HMP). The primary purpose of a HMP is to establish population and sex ratio objectives for the DAU. The HMP also describes the strategies and techniques that will be used to reach these objectives. During the herd management planning process, stakeholder input is solicited and collected through questionnaires, and comments to CPW staff and the PWC.

The intentions of CPW are integrated with the concerns and ideas of various stakeholders including the State Land Board (SLB), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the US Forest Service (USFS), city and county governments, hunters, guides and outfitters, private landowners, local chambers of commerce, and the public. In preparing an HMP, CPW attempts to balance the biological capabilities of the herd and its habitat with the public’s demand for wildlife recreational opportunities and public tolerance for game damage. Herd management plans are approved by the PWC and are reviewed and updated approximately every 10 years.

4. New Mexico

New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment,” is indeed enchanting for antelope hunters. The state’s pronghorn population is healthy and growing, offering ample opportunities for hunters to secure an antelope tag. The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish oversees hunting in the state, and they have made significant changes to the pronghorn rule, allowing the sale of private land pronghorn hunting licenses over-the-counter for private deeded land beginning with the 2019-2020 license year. This program is run similarly to how private land deer licenses are issued and sold.

Hunting in New Mexico is a unique experience, with its vast desert landscapes and high mountain ranges. The state’s successful conservation efforts have resulted in a balanced ecosystem, making it a preferred destination for antelope hunters. Pronghorn in New Mexico are known for their speed, reaching up to 70 MPH, and their ability to go for long periods without drinking water. They have evolved to conserve water involved in their metabolic functions.

Hunting of pronghorn in New Mexico takes place on both public and private lands. Different rules apply for public vs. private land licenses. For private land hunting, hunters must obtain written permission from the landowner and can purchase their private land pronghorn licenses over-the-counter from a Game and Fish office or a license vendor. Public hunts will continue to be administered through the public land draw process.

The state also offers a Pronghorn Conservation Recognition Program (PCRP) for landowners who are conducting and maintaining substantial habitat improvements and/or land management practices. Landowners whose applications are approved and management plans accepted may be granted alternative season dates as approved by the Department. This commitment to conservation ensures a sustainable hunting environment, preserving the thrill of the hunt for future generations.

5. Nevada

Nevada, known for its arid desert and rugged mountain ranges, is a hidden gem for antelope hunting. The state’s pronghorn population is robust, thanks to ongoing conservation efforts by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). Pronghorns are primarily found in the mountain ranges of northern and central Nevada, preferring gentle rolling to flat, wide-open topography. These habitats allow the pronghorn to spot predators from far distances and quickly escape.

Hunting in Nevada offers a unique challenge due to its harsh climate and rugged terrain. However, the thrill of the hunt and the state’s commitment to conservation make it a worthwhile destination for antelope hunters. Pronghorn antelope consume over 150 different species of grasses, forbs, and browse plants. This wide range of food allows them to occupy a variety of different habitats, including cold desert shrubland, sagebrush, and grasslands.

In the early fall, male bucks will fight for harems of up to 15 female does during a two-week breeding period. Most pronghorns mate for the first time at 15-16 months old and then breed annually. After a gestation period of about 250 days, the doe will give birth to one fawn at first birth and twins thereafter. Fawns weigh five to seven pounds at birth, but grow quickly on the extremely rich milk from their mother. At five days the fawns can outrun a man, and at three weeks they will begin nibbling vegetation.

In the mid-1800s, it is presumed pronghorn antelope were more abundant than today, but saw a decrease in number during the height of livestock and mining settlements. In the early to mid-20th century, conservation efforts, including the establishment of the Charles Sheldon Antelope Refuge, helped increase antelope numbers in the state.

For more detailed information on Nevada’s pronghorn herds, you can visit the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

6. Arizona

Arizona, with its hot deserts and pine forests, offers a unique landscape for antelope hunting. The state’s pronghorn population is healthy, providing ample opportunities for hunters to secure an antelope tag. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) manages the state’s pronghorn population, and they have made significant strides in maintaining and increasing the pronghorn population.

Hunting in Arizona is a unique experience, with its diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife. The state’s commitment to conservation ensures a sustainable hunting environment, preserving the thrill of the hunt for future generations. Pronghorns in Arizona are native to the prairies of North America and are primarily found in the northern plains of the state.

After a closed season from 1944 to 1948, pronghorn hunting in Arizona recommenced in 1949. Hunts were liberalized gradually, until 1954 when 1,600 permits were issued and 1,146 bucks were taken. Despite the issuance of a number of doe pronghorn permits between 1961 and 1975, this level of harvest has never again been equaled. Annual harvests since 1990 have varied between 500 and 700 bucks, with archers taking a proportionally larger percent of the harvest in recent years.

Plagued by encroaching subdivisions, increasing highway construction, and other land-use changes, maintaining even the present number of pronghorn is dependent on citizen involvement and an aggressive translocation program. Approximately 10 percent of the pronghorn harvest is in areas having reintroduced herds.

For more detailed information on Arizona’s pronghorn herds, you can visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

7. Oregon

Oregon, known for its diverse landscapes ranging from forests to deserts, is a prime destination for antelope hunting. The state’s pronghorn population is thriving, thanks to effective wildlife management and conservation efforts by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Oregon is home to about 25,000 pronghorn antelope, which are native to the Columbia Plateau and the High Desert shrublands of eastern Oregon.

The state’s varied terrain offers a unique hunting experience. Oregon’s commitment to wildlife conservation ensures a sustainable hunting environment, preserving the thrill of the hunt for future generations.

ODFW offers about 2,500 tags each year spread across rifle, archery, and muzzleloader hunts, plus some youth-only hunts. All hunts are controlled (limited entry), and it can take several years of accumulating preference points to draw a tag. Hunters who want to pursue pronghorn are advised to apply every year (or just get a point-saver) to ensure they can hunt these animals at least a few times in Oregon.

Almost all seasons occur in August and September. Hunters should be prepared for dry conditions and fire restrictions. Remember that all applications for controlled hunts are due by May 15. Pronghorn tags must be purchased no later than the day before the hunt begins. Applications and purchases can be made online, at a license sales agent, or at an ODFW office that sells licenses.

Controlled hunt tag numbers typically don’t change much from year to year. Tag numbers are proposed in early May and adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission at its June meeting. For more detailed information on Oregon’s pronghorn hunts, including hunting statistics and reports, you can visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

8. Idaho

Idaho, with its rugged mountains and vast wilderness, offers a unique landscape for antelope hunting. The state’s pronghorn population is healthy, providing ample opportunities for hunters to secure an antelope tag. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) oversees the state’s pronghorn population and has implemented effective wildlife management and conservation efforts.

Hunting in Idaho is a unique experience, with its diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife. Pronghorns in Idaho are known for their speed and agility, making them a challenging yet rewarding game for hunters.

Idaho offers both controlled and general season hunts for pronghorn. Controlled hunts are hunts for which the number of tags is limited and are typically held during times or in areas where unrestricted hunting might harm the population. General season hunts, on the other hand, are hunts with more available tags and are typically held in areas with more abundant game populations.

The IDFG provides a Hunt Planner on their website that includes maps that show pronghorn distribution and controlled hunt areas, as well as other useful information for planning a pronghorn hunt. Hunters can apply for controlled hunt tags, and if successful, they can purchase their tags online or at a license vendor.

For more detailed information on Idaho’s pronghorn herds, including hunting statistics and reports, you can visit the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

9. Texas

Texas, known for its vast plains and desert landscapes, is a prime destination for antelope hunting. The state’s pronghorn population is robust, thanks to ongoing conservation efforts by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Pronghorns in Texas are primarily found in the Trans-Pecos, Permian Basin, and Panhandle regions.

Hunting in Texas offers a unique challenge due to its vast size and diverse landscapes. However, the thrill of the hunt and the state’s commitment to conservation make it a worthwhile destination for antelope hunters. The regular season for pronghorn hunting in Texas typically runs from October 1 to October 16, but hunters should always check the current year’s dates and regulations.

The harvest of pronghorn in Texas is by permit only. The permit must be completely filled out and attached to the pronghorn immediately following harvest. Permits are issued to landowners or their agents in areas where there are huntable populations. It is the hunter’s responsibility to verify the permits are issued to the property where they are hunting.

As of 2022, 41 of Texas’s 254 counties have pronghorn seasons. After killing a pronghorn, hunters must follow specific regulations regarding proof of sex, processing in camp, cold storage, processing, and taxidermy. These regulations are in place to ensure the sustainable management of the pronghorn population.

For more detailed information on Texas’s pronghorn herds, including hunting regulations and permits, you can visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

10. South Dakota

South Dakota, with its rolling plains and rugged badlands, offers a unique landscape for antelope hunting. The state’s pronghorn population is healthy, providing ample opportunities for hunters to secure an antelope tag. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) oversees the state’s pronghorn population and has implemented effective wildlife management and conservation efforts.

Hunting in South Dakota is a unique experience, with its diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife. The state’s commitment to conservation ensures a sustainable hunting environment, preserving the thrill of the hunt for future generations. Pronghorns in South Dakota are primarily found in the western rangelands of the state, but herds exist in most counties west of the Missouri River and some counties directly east of the river.

Pronghorn populations in South Dakota persist at lower numbers than were historically present. Important habitat features include rolling terrain that allows good visibility and a mixture of grass, forb, and shrub forage plants. Pronghorn will also inhabit agricultural lands (e.g., wheat and alfalfa) when interspersed with grassland habitat. Public demand for hunting opportunities is strong and current populations are likely limited by weather extremes of drought and severe winters, decreasing available habitats, and social tolerance.

For more detailed information on South Dakota’s pronghorn herds, including hunting regulations and permits, you can visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

Securing an antelope tag in these top 10 states offers not just a thrilling hunting experience, but also a chance to contribute to conservation efforts. Each hunt helps manage antelope populations and maintain the balance of our ecosystems. So, whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a beginner looking to secure your first antelope tag, these states offer the best opportunities for a memorable and rewarding hunt.

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