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Preparing for the Ultimate Off-Road Adventure: All-Weather Pronghorn Hunt

Hunt success on the high plains of the west goes hand-in-hand with preparedness – from rifle and optics to 4x4 hunting rig and tires.

Preparing for the Ultimate Off-Road Adventure: All-Weather Pronghorn Hunt

This would be the first pronghorn hunt for my good friends from the East Coast, Linda Wainen and veterinarian George Pinkham. Doc was an experienced hunter, but Linda had taken just one big game animal – a whitetail – so far in her budding avocation. We had all drawn tags for central Wyoming and secured permission to hunt an enormous ranch in the Powder Valley area west of Casper. The prospects for a great adventure were exciting!

If you have not hunted pronghorn, you should give it a try. This rates as top-notch enjoyment among western big game hunts. The animals are not difficult to locate; however, they have remarkable eyesight, so getting close enough for a shot is another matter entirely – especially when using a bow!

Hunting Success Begins with Preparation

It is often said that the most important factors in real estate are location, location, and location. And, while we had drawn a great location for our hunt, experience has shown me that the true keys to success in hunting, particularly for these speedsters of the plains, are preparation, preparation, and preparation! To get the most out of an adventure and have an enjoyable experience, one needs to be properly prepared.

Weeks before the hunt, my “need-to-do” list nearly filled the 2-foot by 3-foot whiteboard in my office. George and Linda were not bringing rifles, so I had to prepare rifles suitable for their use. Those included a new rifle in 28 Nosler, sent to me for testing, as well as my wife’s light recoiling 7mm-08 that I thought would be a good fit for Linda. After changing riflescopes for higher magnification models, ammo preparation, and a few hours testing at the range, three rifles were ready for action.

Off-Road Ready: Preparing Your Vehicle for Any Terrain and Weather

Next up was readying my hunting rig for the 1800-mile roundtrip from my home in Arizona. This important part of the necessary preparatory work is often overlooked. If you're not sure where to start, begin by researching off-roading. For intermediates and experts, focus on weather, trail conditions, and route details. Beginners should learn about their vehicle, tires, terminology, techniques, gear, and etiquette. Off-roading can be dangerous and unforgiving if one is not prepared. To navigate successfully, it’s essential to not only understand trail conditions but also have a capable vehicle equipped with the right modifications and tires.

I had my 4x4 truck’s engine serviced, chassis lubed, hoses and belts checked, wiper blades replaced, and both the heater and air conditioner tested – remember, we were heading to Wyoming in the fall! My truck has a long-travel suspension for off-road use, and wears hybrid on-road/off-road tires, like Falken Tires’ new Wildpeak R/T, fitted on strong, forged wheels. This combination is ideal for my vehicle, which frequently sees heavy off-road use, but also makes lengthy interstate trips, often while towing a trailer. Tire and wheel inspection included both spares (yes, two!) and valve stems, and proper inflation pressures were set.

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Falken Tires’ new Wildpeak R/T

Other Gear Must-Haves

Before long, it was time to assemble all the necessary gear and pack up. Here’s the extensive list: rifles and cases, ammo, shooting sticks, bipods, target board, GPS, binoculars, rangefinder, spotting scope, window mount, tripod, camera, ground blind, chairs, trail cameras, steel t-posts, 6-foot transport pole, frame packs, day packs with hydration, coolers, water jug, tarps, shovel, hand saw, knives, game bags, game processing kit, paracord, and field wipes. Already present in the truck for use as needed were a Hi-Lift Jack, tow strap, spiked recovery boards, tire inflator, jump starter, battery cables, fire extinguisher, hand tools, axe/pick, nylon rope, ratchet straps, tire repair kit, flares, first aid kit, duct tape and zip ties. This was enough gear to completely fill the bed and half the back seat! Thinking ahead, I decided (wisely) to take a lightweight, hitch-mounted carrier, hinged and folded upright to ride neatly behind the tailgate … just in case.

On the Road, Preparation for the Hunt Continues

The drive to Wyoming was pleasant and uneventful. With temps hitting the low 70s, some air conditioning was necessary en route. This contrasted dramatically with rain the second day, where the new wiper blades got a good workout, and heavy snow with a 24-degree low on the final day, where warmth from the truck’s heater was welcomed by all!

Preparation for our hunt continued with my arrival in Wyoming, a full day ahead of George and Linda. Scouting the terrain and looking for pronghorn began after navigating to the remote ranch property access using GPS coordinates. Some of the best observation points required negotiating rough, rocky two-tracks. Thankfully, my hybrid, rugged-terrain tires, aired down from 60 to 30 pounds, proved up to the task. And, the tough, armored, 3-ply sidewalls resisted puncture from ever-present cacti, a significant concern on every turnaround. We located a spot suitable for a makeshift rifle range on BLM land near the ranch. This was essential for my friends to become comfortable with the rifles they would use for the hunt.

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Hunting Speed Goats in Rain, Shine, Sleet, and Snow

The following day in Wyoming was typical for fall–windy! We shot the rifles first thing and to my surprise, Linda chose the heavier recoiling 28 Nosler over the 7mm-08. Atta girl! It wasn’t long before we spotted pronghorn and made several stalks, but no shots were fired. The next morning, we awoke to rain and slick roads. I suggested we leave the hotel in Casper early for the 45-mile drive to the ranch, intent on slipping unnoticed into a large canyon that held lots of pronghorn the day before. Somehow, we avoided spooking the 50-plus speed goats in the canyon, as we sneaked 1 1/2 miles under cover in a small drainage and set up on a sagebrush flat overlooking an active waterhole shortly after daylight.

With the animals feeding heavily, nothing much happened the first few hours. Then, as if someone flipped a switch, 5 or 6 bucks showed up and it really got exciting, with some of the most intense rutting activity I have ever witnessed. Linda was up first, and when her opportunity came, she was cool as a cucumber. Sitting in the open and motionless behind the rifle, she was prepared when two nice bucks stopped broadside at just over 100 yards. At the sound of her shot – which dropped a beautiful buck, splitting the top of its heart – came total chaos, with pronghorn racing in every direction. George tried to pick out a buck for a shot when one paused, but there was just no way in the melee.

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A threatening weather front was quickly approaching, so there was just enough time to take a few photos and hightail it out of that canyon. While George field-dressed Linda’s buck, I hauled gear to the truck and fetched the 6-foot pole. We lashed the buck to the pole with paracord and carried it out native-style. The sky opened up in a downpour as we reached the truck, so we quickly tarped the buck and strapped it to the cargo carrier. Driving through 15 miles of mud to reach the paved highway, we were thankful that I decided to bring the carry pole and cargo carrier. Ahh, preparation!

The next day dawned clear and bright, but there was trouble in the forecast, with heavy snow expected late that night. Like the weather, the pronghorn were unsettled and extremely difficult to approach. Multiple stalking attempts failed. In the early afternoon, we spotted a nice buck in a position where George thought he could slip in for a shot. Despite the gusting wind, Doc filled his tag with a nice shot from 177 yards. After taking photos and field dressing, we pole-carried the animal to the truck and headed for the meat locker in Casper. On the drive out, we spotted a nice buck tending a dozen does. The group was in a favorable position, but the only approach path would place me upwind. The wall of black approaching from the north forced our hand. With the predicted high volume of snow, the ranch could be inaccessible the following day, despite having a capable 4x4 truck and aggressive tires. Tomorrow was also the final day of our hunt…

Decision made, Linda and George climbed a small knob to watch, while I took off on a half-mile stalk. After crawling more than 100 yards through cacti and rocks, I found myself still 400 yards away. Given the windy conditions, I wanted to get closer, but just as I started moving again, the pronghorn winded me. They were nervous but did not bolt, settling somewhat after a few minutes. The hunting gods were with me, as the gusting winds paused just long enough for me to make the shot. Soon we had two bucks strapped to the cargo carrier, and made it to town just as the snowstorm hit.

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The weather forecast proved accurate. With all three tags filled and more snow on the way, we left for home the following morning. George and Linda grabbed an earlier flight, although it was delayed due to the weather, and I packed up and headed south. It was a miserable drive. Despite several hours under the guidance of electronic, on-demand 4-wheel drive on icy snow-packed roads, I made it home safely. The hybrid tires on my truck were an asset that should not be underestimated in terms of performance and safety.

Falken Tires’ Wildpeak Rugged Terrain Tires

The Wildpeak family of premium tires from Falken Tires must have been designed with outdoorsmen in mind. They are engineered for excellent off-road performance, regardless of weather conditions. Tread designs deliver three different levels of aggressiveness – from all-terrain to rugged-terrain to mud-terrain – without sacrificing handling characteristics or a decent ride on hard surfaces.

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Falken Tires’ All-Terrain A/T4W is suitable for light off-road duty, with “street manners” to give a smoother, quieter ride on pavement. Plus, it comes with up to a 65,000 limited tread-life warranty. The Rugged-Terrain R/T is a hybrid design – more aggressive than an all-terrain – with an ideal combination of off-road traction, durability, and on-road longevity, with a 50,000-mile limited tread-life warranty to boot. If you are constantly off-road, you need a tire with aggressive tread that can handle the harshest conditions – rocks, sand, mud and even snow – yet deliver a satisfactory ride on pavement. With wide, open shoulder tread blocks and sidewall armor, this is where the Mud-Terrain M/T excels.

The Wildpeak family of off-road tires covers the spectrum from mild to extreme. Be prepared. Don’t leave home without them.




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