The Disappearing Antelope

I am no expert on pronghorn antelopes, my experience being completely limited to chance encounters on my recent trip to Wyoming. From Laramie to Pinedale and back, I estimate that I saw between eighty and a hundred of the critters. So as not to contaminate my views with those of persons who quite likely know a great deal more than I do, I have not read anything about them or made any attempt to converse with others, excepting the chance conversations Randa and I had about the pronghorn. I offer the following, therefore, as my own observations from a vehicle moving between seventy-five and eighteen miles an hour:

1) They are vividly marked yet somehow can completely disappear in an endless field of sage and sand as soon as you lift a camera. It’s uncanny and no doubt a critical survival skill.

2) They each carry a large white pillow attached to their rear end. Apparently the life of antelopes involves an awful lot of falling on their butts and the Good Lord has seen fit to provide them with this protection.

3) The antelope has but three mental/emotional states with an accompanying physical pose for each.

The antelope, while grazing (assuming that eating sagebrush is appropriately called “grazing”), is completely indifferent to the entire hemisphere about him or her. He or she will browse about, happily munching without lifting his or her head at all. In this state, I can imagine an antelope stumbling off the edge of a cliff or plummeting over the utter edge of the earth, which I constantly suspected must be in very close proximity during the entire time that I was driving through Wyoming’s less densely populated parts. “Less densely populated” referring to anything beyond city limits.

When the antelope is not grazing, she or he is perpetually completely astonished and transfixed by some phenomenon completely obscured to human vision. She or he will stand in absolutely rigid pose, head chiseled in place, eyes riveted upon some distant disturbance in the universe: “Hey, I think that’s a sage bush on the side of that mountain about eighty miles away,” or “Did that rock just move? I think it moved. Did you see it move? I’m going to watch it for a few hours just to be sure.”

In their third mental state, the antelope has concluded that the camera is a nuclear weapon, or the rock is about to leap up and swallow it from six hundred yards away or there is fresher sage on the other side of the Continental Divide. In any of these cases, or perhaps all of them at once, the antelope runs in a completely unpredictable manner, leaping over tall fences and across entire canyons without any visible effort.

Even though I have already told you everything of significance there is to know about the antelope, I really do recommend that you go and see for yourself. You will gain incredible respect for my powers of observation and, if you carefully disguise your camera as large boulder or small sage bush, or better yet, as a large boulder surrounded by sagebrush, I personally guarantee that you will probably get dozens of pictures that almost have antelope in them.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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