June 21st was the day we had been waiting on for months; it was finally the day of antelope tag draw! I had marked it on every calendar that I had access to. I even blocked the time off on my calendar at work as “busy” so I wouldn’t have any meetings scheduled during the time the draw would be published. I hunkered down and I was ready.
Much to my chagrin, we did not draw tags for either area we applied to… This sparked three days of emotional ups and downs for Tyler and I. I was the first of us to see both of our draw results. I broke the news to him, and at first we were incredibly confused. We thought we had applied to an area where, based on the quota that Wyoming Fish & Game makes public, would have granted us a tag.
Our emotions at first circled around “how did we not draw tags?” The math didn’t add up… Tyler called the Wyoming Fish & Game department and was assisted very kindly by a member of their department who offered to put him into contact with a supervisor. Tyler never called the supervisor because he figured out we had actually applied to a different area as our first choice that offered only 30 odd tags with over 300 applicants listing it as their first choice. This made us feel slightly better.
We had discussed earlier in the year the possibility of us not drawing tags. After all it is a lottery system and there was no guarantee that we would get the tags we wanted. Initially, we had decided we would go West no matter what, the reality of that initial discussion was soon to change.
We looked at changing plans and going to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for the week but after a lot of looking and trying to plan it just didn’t seem to fit into the budget we had in mind and by early October some of the options of things to explore have diminished. We then decided to look into a road trip of Western Montana. We were to fly into Billings after all and Montana looks beautiful and seems to have a lot to offer wanderers such as ourselves.
As we looked at what locations to stay and for how long Tyler looked at our flight information. It turns out that one of our flights had changed drastically and would no longer be as direct or as short of a flight as it initially was. Tyler called the airline and asked what our options were. The airline was originally not going to refund us for the tickets but after looking at the change in our flight they decided otherwise.
We decided we are no longer going westward in October and I have finally made peace with that. Instead we have opted for a few more mini-vacations closer to home, none are hunting oriented but we are excited to spend time with one another and travel.
As for applying for hunts in the future… I definitely think we will try again. Although it was frustrating hoping, getting excited, and planning a trip for months for everything to suddenly change in one day, it was all a great learning experience. We had figured out how to travel with a rifle, we had planned on how to get the meat home, we had done our research that will still be valuable and helpful for other hunts in the future.
I’m excited to now truly be able to focus on deer season. My first deer season I learned so much just through the experience of hunting by myself and this year I’m ready to put that knowledge to the test. I’m also excited to spend some quality time with Tyler traveling outside of areas that are our normal comfort zone.
Even though we are no longer going to Wyoming this year, I have a good feeling we will be going there in the future!