field judging

Field Judging Pronghorn Antelope with Randy Newberg

Field judging pronghorn antelope can be a tricky deal. If you're after a big scoring animal you need to examine him from different angles.

Scoring a pronghorn on the hoof can be a tough thing to nail down. Correctly field judging a 'lope is a challenge, especially if you don't take the time or have the time to examine a buck closely and from several angles.

There are different factors that can skew your assessment of a trophy antelope, and you need to be aware of them if you are to get as accurate a read as possible. But, sometimes it's just not feasible. I mean, antelope are not always willing to give you the angles and time you need to make a good judgement.

And that's okay too. That's part of what makes hunting them fun.

Here, Randy Newberg goes through several pronghorn mounts of animals with radically different horn configurations.

He compares the horns of a couple of good scoring mounts that are relatively easy to judge, because from almost every angle they look thick, high and have sweeping hooks. Antelope like these make the decision to shoot pretty easy.

But when he compares two skulls with virtually identical scores, you can really see how challenging it can be to properly and effectively score a buck in the field. One looks like a good bet when viewed from the side, with its long, back-curving tips. While the set of horns on the other rack curve inward instead of backward, making you think that perhaps they're not so great when viewed from the side.

But view both racks from the front and the picture changes dramatically. Suddenly the second buck's prongs and sweeping hooks become apparent. The second buck actually scored about an inch larger than the first. Body size, horn mass, sweep, character are all something to consider when trying to score a pronghorn.

But Newberg emphasizes, more than once, that we ought not get obsessed with scoring or with shooting a big rack. A meat animal can be every bit the trophy of a big set of horns.

"Please don't get hooked up on score," he asserts. "Don't make it the emphasis of what and why you hunt. It's fun. Pronghorn is just meant to be fun."

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

NEXT: Hushin's Utah Antelope Hunt: Two Pronghorn in One Day