I graduated from undergrad in 2016 and promptly moved into full time work. I work a typically 5 day a week 7 – 8 hour day. My boyfriend is finishing his undergrad degree and currently has more time on his hands than I do. That being said, it shouldn’t have surprised me when I came home one day from work to the question “You want to go to Wyoming and hunt antelope?” At first I kind of laughed and said “Sure…” But then I realized he was serious.
Have we watched Steve Rinella’s MeatEater on Netflix about a dozen times and wished we could hunt really cool species that we don’t have in WNC or travel to a new place? Absolutely we have, but I didn’t think he was serious until a few days later when he approached the subject again, more seriously. I honestly didn’t put a lot of thought to the location or to the species but, my boyfriend did. He did lots of research before deciding on Wyoming and antelope.
His reasoning for the location was based off of the fish and game websites for varying states out West. Neither of us have really explored the West, and it’s something we both want to do.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s website is fairly user friendly, compared to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website which isn’t intuitive. Our communications with Wyoming Game and Fish has been exceptional. Their staff have been quick answering emails from us that are filled with questions about hunting, tags and applications, and the state itself.
Now for the antelope. Wyoming has more antelope than any other place on the continent with hunt success rates at about 85%. For Wyoming, we had to apply for tags. On their website it will show you the hunting areas where you can apply and also provides information on previous years quotas for tags, number of applicants who got those tags as their first or second choice, and the percent probability of a successful hunt for that area. In most of the areas there are a wide variety of tags (buck, doe, private land only, etc.) that can be applied for without having to purchase preference points (if you don’t know what preference points are please watch this video by Randy Newberg, he explains preference points better than I can!)
While looking at tags, he also looked at the price. For us, as non-residents of the state, we could apply for a doe tag for $50 per person. If we were planning on applying for an any antelope tag, which would mean we could shoot a buck, our price would have gone up to $340. For us, this hunt will be about the experience and because of this we didn’t apply for a buck tag. Horn isn’t what is important to us with this hunt.
We figured out what areas we were going to apply for by looking at a few different criteria. One of the most important, in my opinion, was the ease of access to public land. In certain areas out west, and in Wyoming, public land is locked in by private land, or there’s so much private land that you have to pay a fee to a landowner in order to hunt on their property in an area that would provide a hunter success. We also looked at the draw success for certain areas compared to the quota of tags as well as the hunt success rate. For us, we found two areas that have access to public land near Gillette where we could draw tags with ease and would have good potential for a successful hunt.
It’s also our first hunt outside of North Carolina and we aren’t hiring a guide. We are actually doing everything ourselves. Budgeting, booking airfare, finding places to stay, figuring out how to get a rifle out and back, and how to bring back the meat if we are successful. We are viewing everything, not just the hunt, as a learning experience.
Stay tuned for more on our road to Wyoming! Subscribe to the right if you would like notifications on new posts.