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Antelope Advice for Beginners (WY Unit 21)

Bam Bam

Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2021
Messages
54
Location
Eastern Wyoming
I believe that it is important to share info on this forum, and not just collect it, so here is a report on my first season Antelope hunting in Wyoming. I am hoping that Antelope beginners will glean some info from my story, even if it is a bit depressing. Feel free to PM me for more advice, but remember-this was my first time doing this, I am by no means an expert. While we don't usually post unit numbers on this forum, I posted mine, because it will add some needed context and I don't plan to hunt there again, if I can help it. I apologize if I take too many characters typing my story...

I began planning this trip in 2020 when I moved to Wyoming, and I invited 4 non-resident antelope hunters from 4 different states to join me on my first trip. Because WY lists very high success rates on Pronghorn hunts, I figured that we could apply for tags in a 2-point unit (Antelope Unit 21 in 2021) and we'd have plenty of fun, while each taking a nice buck, if we all hunted hard. Some of us also applied for GEN Y deer tags. All 5 of us are seasoned public land Whitetail hunters, but new to Pronghorn. We were shocked on opening day to find that there were people literally everywhere. Parking lots had 4, 6, or even 10 vehicles parked on access points to public land. Every trail had hunters walking it, and almost every high ridge had an orange hat sitting on top of it behind a spotting scope. We hunted hard-each one of us walked for many miles each day, but no one in the group was able to harvest an antelope for the first two days. On day 3, my group had began to catch on to a couple things. Number one, walking a mile from the truck would be a good hike back East, but even heavy people do it in Wyoming. We needed to begin hiking deeper onto public if we were going to escape the masses. The problem with that, was that there were only 5 or 6 public land "chunks" in the entire unit where we could even attempt it. (Looks like there should be more than that on Unit 21, right?) Number 2, the Antelope were not scattered onto every piece of public land out there. They were concentrated on private land, and just one or two pieces of public that we could access. We found these areas when we began driving dirt roads, just glassing from our vehicles. It felt weird, because road hunting is looked down upon back East, but that was really the best way to cover the miles, until we could locate some Pronghorn herds. I still remember when my Dad and I first located Antelope on public land, 3 days into the season. I set up my spotting scope next to a fence on the border of public, and immediately located a group of about 20 Pronghorn, at least a mile away. My heart started pounding, but before I could even call out to my Dad to come look, I saw a hunter crawling toward the herd. He was clearly within a few hundred yards. Scanning to the right and left with my spotter, I found 3 more hunters, all in the vicinity of the herd. I was too far away to hear a shot, but I saw the herd bolt suddenly, and knew that the closest hunter must have fired. Dad and I, excited at just seeing Antelope on public land, got back into the truck and drove down the dirt road, deeper onto that piece of public land. We stopped at the next hilltop, and this time when I jumped out and began glassing a huge basin, I could barely count the Antelope that filled my binoculars. I hollered to my Dad as I counted 4, 5, 6 groups of moving antelope anywhere from a half mile away, to as far out as I could see. However, there was a problem as well. As I continued scanning, I saw about 10-15 hunters all hiking, or watching, or crouching and walking toward the various groups of Antelope. Not one group of Antelope was still. Each group, small or large, was moving out of the way of hunters. My Dad and I watched the show for several minutes, trying to figure out what to do. The basin was like a massive pin ball machine. All of the Antelope groups were "bouncing" between hunters, trying to stay away from all of them. Most of the hunters walked toward whatever group of Antelope was closest to them at any given time. How could we hunt in such a zoo? Long story short, we ended up entering the "zoo", because we hadn't anywhere else to check for public land Pronghorn (this was day 3 remember), and we were not about to give up without trying. We learned a lot about Pronghorn that day. We learned that crawling more than 200 yards will show you just how in shape you aren't, and about several different cactus plants that hate mankind. We also learned that sneaking up on Pronghorn is not rocket science- watch the wind, plan before you start your stalk, and crawl when necessary. Antelope have awesome eyesight, but they can't see through dirt. Just stay low. However, it is impossible to stalk Pronghorn that are constantly on the move, and almost impossible to intercept an animal that can see you from almost a half a mile away (no joke, I think that they can). Did we get a Pronghorn that day? Yes, we got one. Although we had a stalk end in frustration (because of another hunter) we did end up with a yearling doe when 2 young ones got split off from their herd and ran almost right to us. My Dad dropped her at 187 yards, and as it turned out, he was not that close to a public land pronghorn for the rest of the trip. I continued on hunting for the next several days, putting on 4 more stalks, and getting frustrated by other hunters 4 more times. On the fifth stalk, some well-mannered hunters from KY saw what I was doing and hung back, allowing me to crouch-walk within 150 yards of a lone bedded buck. Although he was a small buck, I got one of my tags filled, and was very grateful to those 3 hunters for not jumping in and trying to get him for themselves. Nice guys too- they were doe hunting, and stopped in to chat after I killed the buck. All in all, each member of my group filled one Antelope tag, and one guy also shot a 3x3 mule deer with about a 17 inch outside spread. We hunted hard for a week, and earned every kill. All of our harvests were well away from any roads. Only one guy shot a non-yearling buck, and it was the admiration of us all. Its beams measured over 13 inches, and it had about 5 inch prongs. It is at a taxidermist in Cheyenne, now. Am I going to Antelope hunt next year? You had better believe it. It was some of the most fun that I had ever had, and I'll be a resident hunter next year- which means that I'll be able to apply for some units that issue less than 500 tags, and have more public land to hunt. However, it was frustrating, and disappointing in many respects, and I think that many new Pronghorn hunters are like me- they look at public land maps a little too optimistically, watch Randy Newberg on YouTube, and figure that Antelope hunting is more fun than work. It might be sometimes, but that was not my initial experience. From now on, I will encourage my buddies to stack up 4 or 5 preference points before coming to WY to Antelope hunt- I understand that this means they'll have to wait a few years, but it seems that with Antelope hunting, you get what you pay for. Questions or nuggets of wisdom to add will be welcome.
 

Matthew57

New member
Joined
Aug 12, 2021
Messages
15
Thanks for the report. I was thinking about applying for this unit next year but i'm definitely thinking twice about doing that.
 

Bob-WY

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Joined
Feb 24, 2020
Messages
482
Come back in week 2, 3 or 4, as late as you can and it gets better.

Wife and I had doe tags in an easy to draw zone. Won't even bother the first week. Mid way through week 2 I went, covered 5 miles on foot, nothing. End of week 3 back to back days we filled tags, hunters gone antelope back in sight.
 

ccc23454

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Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
1,866
Location
Wyoming
Bob is correct, later usually is better or crazy thought just apply in a better unit! I seen one other hunter (assume it was hunter) on my buck lope tag this year. I dont hunt weekends also helps. As far as hunting with nonres friends, its going to be a good many years before you hunt bucks together again likely unless you secure private access in certain units. Do group hunts in better units with multiple doe tags and maybe overlap a deer tag or cow elk tags if you want to hunt groups, apply for lope bucks as individuals maybe someone hits random and eventually they draw on points if not.
 

westbranch

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Joined
Sep 11, 2017
Messages
675
Location
ID Panhandle
My friend and I hunted a unit (with a ton of BLM) a few weeks after it opened and it was great hunting. Saw a couple hunters on the weekend, but they were just chasing some groups close to the roads. There had also been some snow in the prior week which I think helped push some of the pronghorn down into one main area. Still tough stalks with big open areas and skittish animals that were watching us at 800+ yards. But we still managed to fill two tags on bucks in 2.5 days.
 

Seamaster

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Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Messages
159
It is nice to read such an honest and direct hunting report about how things really are sometimes on public land in the easily drawn units. I think that many new pronghorn hunters expect too much from their first hunt in these units based upon what they have read on the internet sites.

Well done!
 
Last edited:

littlebighorn

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Joined
Feb 20, 2021
Messages
22
I'm guessing most of us Westerner's would have a similar experience if we headed East for the first time after Whitetails.

The "school of hard knocks" is a tough teacher on any first time around hunt, but it appears that you got a passing grade by not giving up in that tough environment.
As a NR of Wyoming, I've hunted "lopes" a dozen times or so (I'm really old and hunted lots back when tags were easy to come by)and I've learned that saving points to hunt less crowded units and not hunting the opener, has made antelope hunting a great "relaxing" experience. Last year my son and I cashed in our 8 Wyoming NR pts. on a good unit, hunted mid week, two weeks after the hunt opener, and passed up hundreds of bucks before we filled our tags. We didn't see but a handful of other hunters in 4 days. I think that is still possible in many units in Wyoming, but the down side is, we won't be doing it again soon. We are already banking points.

Excellent report Bam Bam. Cherish your resident status in the Cowboy state, because the hunting opportunities up there make most of us pretty envious!
 

Jrwhunting

New member
Joined
Dec 7, 2020
Messages
12
I'm guessing most of us Westerner's would have a similar experience if we headed East for the first time after Whitetails.

The "school of hard knocks" is a tough teacher on any first time around hunt, but it appears that you got a passing grade by not giving up in that tough environment.
As a NR of Wyoming, I've hunted "lopes" a dozen times or so (I'm really old and hunted lots back when tags were easy to come by)and I've learned that saving points to hunt less crowded units and not hunting the opener, has made antelope hunting a great "relaxing" experience. Last year my son and I cashed in our 8 Wyoming NR pts. on a good unit, hunted mid week, two weeks after the hunt opener, and passed up hundreds of bucks before we filled our tags. We didn't see but a handful of other hunters in 4 days. I think that is still possible in many units in Wyoming, but the down side is, we won't be doing it again soon. We are already banking points.

Excellent report Bam Bam. Cherish your resident status in the Cowboy state, because the hunting opportunities up there make most of us pretty envious!
Absolutely, here is Missouri most of the public land is a zoo early in the season but like out west find a big enough area and go where others will not and you find deer. We are also lucky in Missouri to have several areas designated as archery only or archery/muzzleloader only which really helps with the number of hunters. Even on the hardest hit areas the pressure really drops off after opening day and late season you are likely to be the only one in the parking lot.
 

Dr. Vette

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Joined
Apr 22, 2015
Messages
75
Location
Michigan
I hunt Area 21 as a nonresident as well, but have the benefit of having access to private lands.
I have visited all of the Area 21 public areas, and have never quite figured out why anyone would come to this unit to hunt these pieces.

You did well. Congratulations.
 

Bam Bam

Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2021
Messages
54
Location
Eastern Wyoming
Thanks for the report. I was thinking about applying for this unit next year but i'm definitely thinking twice about doing that.
If you do apply for it shoot me a pm, and I'll give you a hand. We hunted that unit for about 8 days, so I know some of it very well.
 
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