One of the incredible things about Montana ranches is the vast species of wildlife you get to see. One of the most intriguing animals is the Pronghorn Antelope. I drive through a lot of Montana ranches in my job and I would say the animal I see the most is the antelope.
Funny thing is they aren’t actually an antelope. Their closest cousin is the giraffe! The pronghorns have nearly 360 degree vision. This way they can see predators trying to sneak up on them from any direction.
The pronghorn is the fastest mammal in the Western Hemisphere. They have been clocked up to 60 mph. Most the time when you have an animal that shows that high of a top speed, they have little endurance. Not the case with the pronghorn. Though they can’t run 60 mph, they can run great distances at higher speeds than most predators. They are able to do this due to large lungs, tracheae, heart and small digestive tract.
Another interesting fact about the pronghorn is you don’t just find them on Montana ranches. Their territory runs all the way from Mexico into Canada! So you are looking at an animal that survives well in temperatures ranging from -30 to 110 Fahrenheit.
Pronghorns have an interesting color palette. Tannish with white stomachs, rumps and throats. They sport forked horns that both males and females grow. The pronghorns have the only horns that shed annually and can grow up to 19” length although a 14” male is considered a trophy.
Males are called bucks and females are called does. The pronghorn life span is up to 10-12 years and will weigh up to 140+ lbs. During mating season the bucks will gather females in a harem very similar to elk. The bucks do a lot of running around and will defend their harem against other bucks trying to steal their does. This can lead to fights where the bucks use their forked horns to battle and can cause great injury with the forked horns. It is quite entertaining to be on a Montana ranch or public land during rut.
In the 1920s, the pronghorn population nationwide had dropped to the point that there were 13,000. There was a real danger that the pronghorn could become extinct. The federal government stepped in and over the next several decades the population steadily grew. Today, the count is estimated somewhere between 700,000 to One million antelope.
They are quite active animals. This is one reason it is believed that the first time does have only one baby. After the first birth it is more likely that they will birth two. The babies can outrun a human within 72 hours and steadily grow faster quickly to where they can outrun predators at a very early age.
They also still have one of the longest migrations of any North American animals. Herds of antelopes make a 150 mile migration. This just doesn’t happen for very many animals in the United States anymore.
So next time you are driving in Montana and look out on the open grass of Montana ranches or public land and see a herd of pronghorns try and take in the very unique creature and realize they can run almost as fast as you are driving!
If you want to learn more about pronghorns check these sources:
If you enjoyed this article you might try to read about the Montana Elk Rut or about Hunting land for sale in Montana and make sure and sign up to get the latest inside information and blog posts on Montana ranches for sale.
Buzz Tatom is a Partner at Venture West Ranches. He moved to Montana 5 years ago and still owns the 5T ranch in Texas. He has a BBA from Texas Tech and an MBA from SMU. He is involved in a number of business ventures and built his Printing/Marketing firm 10 fold over 24 years before selling in 2011. He also enjoys teaching part time at MSU in business and mentoring students.