By Chance Thompson
It’s early in the morning, you get tucked in behind your keyboard and log onto the Wyoming Game and Fish website. Today is the day you find out your draw results. You’ve waited a long time for this. You just know that you drew that premium Pronghorn Antelope tag you applied for way back in March. You type your information in and read that magical word. UNSUCCESSFUL! How can it be? You had it all planned out; your first western big game hunt on the wind swept prairies of Wyoming. Now what? Wait another year and try again or give up on the idea all together? Absolutely not. There are still literally thousands of opportunities available this year for both residents and nonresidents to hunt antelope in Wyoming.
Every year after the preliminary draw has taken place thousands of tags are still available in units that are considered sub-par or that have private land issues. The fact is that a majority of these units offer excellent opportunities and have ample public land on which to hunt. It takes a lot of research and planning but it is entirely possible to hunt antelope on a yearly or bi-yearly basis. By purchasing these tags after the draw, your preference points are still yours to keep which allows you to build valuable points for a future hunt in one of the premium trophy units in Wyoming that may require several years’ worth of points to draw. Another great aspect is hunting these units is you are allowed the opportunity to study antelope behavior under real field/hunting conditions. This knowledge will become invaluable when you finally obtain the trophy quality tag.
There are several steps to get your research process headed in the right direction. The very first step would be to look at the leftover list and narrow it down to a minimum of 3 units that interest you. The units may share a border or they may be several hundred miles apart from each other. You need to see how many tags are leftover in each unit. Sometimes units may have only a handful, others may have hundreds. There is a narrow window from the time the leftover list is printed to the time when the tags actually become available for purchase. So it is important to get your research done and make a decision on which unit you would like to hunt. Some of these tags will be sold within minutes of being available. Others are available right up until the season starts.
An invaluable tool to help narrow down your search is a good map. BLM maps are very good tools to determine exactly how much public land is available in the units you are interested in. These maps can be purchased from the BLM field office in the area that you are interested in hunting. These maps are cheap (typically under ten dollars) and really help you get a feel for the land ownership status in the area. When looking at the maps you want to find blocks that are brown, green, or blue in color. Brown indicates BLM land, green indicates national forest land, and blue indicates state land. These three types of land are public and can be hunted by anyone. The white sections of the map indicate land that is privately owned and permission must be obtained from the land owner in writing before you can legally hunt these lands.
The next step would be to get on the phone and contact the Local Chambers of Commerce and the Game and Fish Department offices and request a list of private land owners in the area who allow hunting on their land for free, or a very small trespass fee. We at HuntAddicts.com are also available via email to discuss your plans and get you pointed in the right direction for your next hunting adventure in the high deserts of Wyoming. Stay tuned to the huntaddicts.com featured articles section for more in depth articles to help you make the most of your western hunting opportunities.
Chance’s buck taken on a leftover license in Wyoming’s unit 25