Longtime, avid hunter for all species, Parrey Cremeans, provides his list of equipment for a successful and comfortable antelope hunt. Creameans is from Redding, California, he first started hunting antelope in 1985 and is a member of Mossy Oak’s ProStaff.
If you’re planning to hunt from a blind, you need a quality pop-up blind. Remember that antelope are very wary animals, so I strongly suggest you put your blind up a day or two before you plan to hunt from it. The good news is that every critter in the desert must drink water. The antelope are methodical about coming to the same water hole every day at about the same time. Once the antelope become accustomed to your blind being near a water hole, they’ll usually follow the same general pattern they do every day. I prefer to leave my blind up at least for a week or two before I actually hunt out of it.
Heavy Blind Stakes
Another piece of equipment you’ll need is stakes for the blind. Don’t rely on the stakes that come with the blind. Often if a strong wind comes through the area where you’re hunting, if you haven’t used heavy-duty tent stakes, you may find your blind upside down well away from the water hole. I usually brush my blind in too, at least some.
This year I plan to wear Mossy Oak Eclipse that was especially designed for ground blind hunting. This pattern is black with some of the Break-Up Country pattern in it. You totally can vanish in a blind by wearing Eclipse. Check your local Walmart for Eclipse gear.
Hiking Boots and Snacks
You’ll also need a quality pair of hiking boots. Most of the time, I’ll hike to where I’m setting up 2-3 miles from my truck before I start hunting. I also bring plenty of water and snacks and know beforehand that I’m going to get very hot sitting in that blind. So, I can’t say enough about staying hydrated.
Comfortable Chair and eBooks
Take a comfortable chair to sit in, if you’ll be hunting from a blind. Make sure you download either several eBooks or video games on your phone and take an extra charger with you to have something to do in the blind when you’re not seeing antelope. Don’t count on having internet service out in the desert. That’s why you need to pre-load your entertainment before you get in your blind.
I also suggest that you download onX maps that you can use, even if you don’t have cell phone service. The main reason I like these maps is because they’re easy to use. When you turn on the map, it will show you where you are, and the track you’ve taken to reach where you are. It also shows you public and private lands in the area where you’re hunting. So, if you’re hunting on the border of a unit, these maps let you see that you’re in the right place in the unit and not on private property. It also allows you to mark the spots you want to hunt and gives you weather conditions and water features.
Bow and Broadhead
Another question I’m asked is what broadhead and bow do I shoot for antelope and why. I shoot a Bowtech Realm X, one of Bowtech’s new bows that has 65-percent let-off. I always shoot my bows at 65 pounds with a Shuttle T-LOK, a fixed broadhead that I’ve been shooting for about 11 years. I like this fixed broadhead for a couple of reasons; it makes a big hole, and it flies exactly like my field points. I’ve had many hunters tell me that they tune their bows to their broadheads. I don’t believe a hunter should have to do that. If your bow is tuned and shooting right, and you’re shooting a 100-grain broadhead and a 100-grain field point, both the broadhead and the field point should hit in the same spot.
ThermaCells, Ozonics and a HECS Garment
The bugs generally aren’t too bad when hunting antelope, except in the evenings. I like a ThermaCell to keep the bugs off me. I also run an Ozonics unit in my blind and wear a HECS garment under my Mossy Oak Eclipse. The HECS is an energy-concealment system and blocks your magnetic pulse. I wear a HECS suit every time I’m hunting. I’ve had some crazy experiences with animals coming very close to me when I’m wearing the HECS suit and never realizing I’m there.
Packs and Coolers to Care for Wild Game Properly
If I’m not very far from my truck, I’ll field dress the antelope, put him on my back and carry him out. But if I’m some distance from my truck, I’ll bone out the antelope, put the meat and head in my Tenzing TZ 6000 pack and get the meat out of the desert as quickly as possible to get the meat cooled down fast. If someone ever tells you that he or she has eaten an antelope or deer or other game animal that’s tasted gamey, more than likely the reason that meat tasted gamey is due to its not being cared for properly in the field. I usually keep a big cooler full of ice in the back of my truck. If you’re close to a grocery store and don’t have any ice in your cooler, buy some dry ice to place in your cooler. But make sure you put cardboard between the dry ice and the meat. If the dry ice touches the meat, it will freezer burn it. However, dry ice will freeze your meat quickly.
With any game animal, I try to cut it into butterflied steaks and grind the rest of the meat into burger. I use 10-12 percent of beef fat when I grind my wild meat into burger. My favorite coolers to use when I’m hunting antelope to leave in the truck is a K2 cooler or a Mammoth cooler. The big ones usually will keep ice for 3-4 days or longer in the back of my pickup truck out in the desert.
When you’re hunting antelope, you never know how you’ll hunt them. For instance, if I see a big buck out in the desert not near a water hole. I won’t hesitate to use the spot-and-stalk method of hunting. So, I always have a pair of knee pads with me. I like the pads that Velcro onto my knees.
Depending on what part of the rut I’m hunting antelope, I may or may not use a decoy. The reason an antelope decoy works is because if a buck is with a group of does and sees another buck (the decoy), the first thing he’ll do is attempt to run off that buck. He’ll come in close to the decoy and give you a shot. But if I’m not hunting when the rut’s on, an antelope buck has no reason to come to a decoy. When I use a decoy, I like a Montana fold-out decoy that’s easy and compact to carry.
Water – Last But Not Least
The main item that you must think about all the time when hunting antelope is water. You can easily become dehydrated in the desert. You may think you’re not sweating if your shirt and undershirt isn’t getting wet. But by being in the desert where the atmosphere is so dry, your sweat almost evaporates as quickly as it comes to the surface of your skin. So, at all times make sure you have plenty of water when hunting in deserts. I carry 10-liter water bladder in my pack and also a gallon of water. I’ll drink all of that water in a day of hunting. I freeze the one-gallon jug of water, so that over the period of a day it melts gradually, giving me good, cool water to drink.