Pronghorn Season scheduled to open tomorrow
The general pronghorn season for the northeastern region of California will open on August 24, 2017. It closes on September 1, 2019.
Thus, if you did not follow or check on upcoming seasons and Big Game Drawings, you already missed the train. Every year, thousands of hunters apply for pronghorn tags. Only 245 are available to be awarded through a CD-sponsored Big Game Drawing for the six available pronghorn hunt zones.
As so often, archery hunters got a jump on other competing hunters. They benefited from an early pronghorn season between August 10 and August 18. Archery hunters would argue that they deserve this head start. Why? Because their success rate was 48 percent compared to a 86 percent success for rifle hunters.
In 2018, a total of 201 pronghorn antelope were taken by licensed hunters with a pronghorn tag. Because of the high success rates pronghorn hunters face stiff competition for the tags. About 18,000 hunters applied for pronghorn tags in 2018. To better their odds, another 8,700 hunters applied for preference points for future years. Only one non-resident tag is available each year.
Pronghorn live in open mostly treeless habitats with rolling hills and sagebrush. They rely on speed to keep a safe distance between themselves and predators. Their main predators are cougars, wolves, coyotes, and bobcats.
The American antelope can run at speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour. That’s almost as fast as a cheetah (61 miles), the fastest animal on earth.
Despite their scientific name “Antilocapra americana”, they do not belong to thegroup of African antelope, but rather to a species that includes goats and oxen. Male pronghorns have horns not antlers. They shed their horns after the rut, usually around October to December, when new horns grow underneath.
Once commonly found in suitable habitat throughout California, nowadays these speed devils are mostly confined to the northeastern parts of the state and the Central Valley because of habitat loss and over-hunting in the past. Pronghorn population centers are on the Carrizo Plain National Monument in eastern San Luis Obispo County and in the hills to the west of there extending northward into Monterey County.
Fortunately, under the protection of CDFW, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, small transplanted herds have taken hold in new territory. In addition, wildlife biologists from CDFW have noticed signs of a natural expansion of the herds into suitable habitat. However, there is no reason for celebration yet because the habitat loss is still continuing throughout the state.
If you live in or around Los Angeles, just think of ‘Antelope Valley’. Lancaster and Palmdale experienced an unprecedented growth of real estate developments because of the exorbitant rents in Los Angeles proper. Antelope Valley was once a stronghold of the antelopes. They were wiped out by market hunting in the 1880s or transplanted to safer habitats for survival.
Hunters like to claim to be the first conservationists. And rightfully so as far as contemporary hunters are concerned. Let us keep it that way instead of complaining about low quotas for the pronghorn season.