The American Antelope

“The American antelope, or pronghorn, is the purest type of Plains animal, and seems to have developed only in the Great Plains of North America. It is not a member of the antelope family of Europe and Asia. Its true common name is pronghorn, and its scientific name is Antilocapra americana. It seems to occupy an intermediate position between the goat and the deer. Its horns are hollow, like those of cattle or goats ; yet it sheds them like the deer. It has the caution and timidity of the deer and the curiosity of the goat. The habitat of the pronghorn extends from Saskatchewan to Mexico and from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains, and in the north to the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington. It bas its abode solely in the Plains country, and has a special antipathy for the woods and canons.

The antelope is peculiarly well fitted for its chosen environment. First, its sense of sight is such that it can” detect danger at an immense distance.” Secondly, it is the swiftest runner among the wild animals on this continent and can be pulled down only by the greyhound. But with the antelope, curiosity and caution are strangely mingled. It wants to observe any unusual object, and this makes it a mark for hunters. In the primitive state of nature this characteristic led to no fatal results, but with the advent of man and the high-powered rifles it became disastrous.2 Thirdly, the antelope is equipped with a signal system which enables it to communicate danger at great distances. This is the white patch on the rump, lighter in color than the body. When frightened or interested in anything unusual the antelope contracts its muscles and the patch becomes a flare of white. . . .

Fourthly, the antelope, like all Plains animals, possesses a great vitality. Dodge says that “antelope will carry off more lead in proportion to their size than any other animal.”