There is a deer type critter that dwells in the great open prairie land of North America found nowhere else on earth. From southern Albert clear on down to Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas, Oregon to the Dakotas this critter calls home amongst the far stretching grasslands and sage lands of this continent.
It is among the fastest land animals on earth, yes faster than a sprinting cheetah! Reaching upward of 70 mph (110 km/h) for as long as 3 to 5 minutes. Regular jaunting speeds of 30 mph (50 km/h) for upward of 15 minutes is easy for this incredible mammal. Adults can measure around 40 inches tall, almost 5 feet in length with males weighting in between 100-140 pounds and females 75- 110 pounds. They can leap around 20 feet (6 m) in a single bound!
Who is this, the fastest mammal on earth? Why none other than the Pronghorn. Commonly called and mistaken for antelope, the pronghorn is in no way related to an antelope. Antelope do not live wild in North America and Pronghorn are only found here in the western hemisphere. Pronghorn are a species all to their own. Though they resemble in sorts the Cervid family (deer), they are not deer but belong to a species called Antilocapra Americana. As usual the Latin name does it no justice and points to wrong origins, because unlike its Latin name it is neither an antelope or goat, which is what Antilocapra means. The Pronghorn is in-fact a singular species upon the earth. Their historical family dates back around 20 million years!
The pronghorn have horns, not antlers. The horns are covered in keratin and grows during its whole life, which is about 10 years. Each year the shell over the actual horn sheds off like bark and the core horn continues to grow. The horn has a single stem which branches near the top to give it a double appearance. They are brown/tan in color with white rumps and a black band on its face that reaches down to its nose from its eyes and then another black patch on its neck. They also have white patches on their face. You will have to google some images to see their true colorings.
Pronghorn have stout powerful legs jutting up from soft hoofs much like those of deer. The tracks they leave look kind of like two elongated and curved tear drops side-by-side with the main drops nearing one another and the points slightly spread out front. Their eyes are quite large and expand out from their head so they can see in all directions with great clarity. Living on the open prairie they are highly alert animals difficult to walk up on. This is especially enhanced by their habit of living in groups/herds and being active both day and night. The simply nap here and there amongst a watchful herd.
Like many deer they breed in the autumn from September through October. Young are born in May and June and number between 1 and 3.
No matter the pronghorns amazing speed and incredible alertness, they are typically not very intelligent. What they gain in speed they lose in smarts. Pronghorn will not jump over anything. Even though they can jump 20 feet, the will not leap over fences. Instead they look for a hole under the fence in-which to slide. This poses issues when running from potential predators and finding themselves facing a fence, pile of rocks or thick brush they could not run through, but could leap over. Their other downfall is their curiosity. Hunters of old knew of this and took advantage of it. They knew it was a real chore and a time consuming one trying to sneak up on a pronghorn to get a good shot. What they would do instead is use the pronghorn’s weakness against them, their curiosity. The hunter would jam a skinny stick into the earth with a strip of cloth tied at the top to create a small flag. The hunter would lay flat near the flag. As the prairie breeze played with the flag the pronghorn would grow more and more curious and slowly approach. They would approach close enough for a clear, clean shot from the hunter’s weapon. Even though they are very wary, their curiosity overpowers their wariness and becomes a weakness.
The medicine of the pronghorn speaks of “Right Action” and knowing when to act rather than hesitate, procrastinate and wait. It speaks of knowing when and how to act from the core of the self, through your own spirit and without the need for logical thought interference. A high level of psychic ability allows the pronghorn medicine to flow evenly, smoothly and directly from the core source within the person so the actions are always true and properly timed.
Let us look to the swift pronghorn in gratitude for its life, its place and spirit upon this earth with us all. They are brothers and sisters to every life-form upon this planet and have lessons to teach for those patient enough to listen.