I had always held the opinion that hunting outside of my home state of Utah was likely not a possibility due to time and cost. I had briefly researched a handful of the surrounding states and came to the same conclusion with each state when I looked at the table or list of fees, “Ouch, yikes… no thanks.”
That is, until a couple years ago. Friend of the blog Doug, then a Utah resident, had struck out on drawing his usual Utah general rifle deer tag and was now eternally bitter. We began to investigate other opportunities and I was perusing the Wyoming Game and Fish website. I found that in relation to surrounding states the antlerless (cow/calf & doe/fawn) opportunities were “cheap” and with a little bit of effort and research tags could be had with relative ease.
Doug, myself, and a handful of other friends have successfully drawn doe/fawn pronghorn tags in Wyoming every year since. In my opinion, any hunter looking to come out west and have a fun and easy hunt should look at cutting their teeth on one of these antlerless hunts. The amount of opportunity is sky high between cow/calf elk, doe/fawn deer, and doe/fawn pronghorn and for me the price is right. For two doe/fawn pronghorn tags, all costs included (application fee, permit fee, and conservation stamp) the cost is right around $110… that makes a per tag cost on par with any resident general tag or antlerless tag that I can acquire here in Utah.
The Wyoming Game and Fish website is excellent and their “Hunt Planner” makes it quite easy to find all the information that you’d need to research where to apply and access. These are often the two greatest hurdles to overcome as a non-resident… and their website brings everything to within the click of a mouse. Interpreting drawing odds is very straightforward because there are is no point system for WY antlerless hunts… it really is as easy as looking at the number of tags offered and comparing that to the number of applicants to get a feel for your chances of drawing a tag.
The Hunt Planner also makes solving the access riddle easy. On the interactive map as you zoom in and investigate individual units the map will show you land ownership but it will also show you any Hunter Management Areas (HMAs) and Walk-In Areas (WIAs) within the unit. HMAs and WIAs are private lands that are made available to public hunters through the Access YES! Program. This program has played a vital role in my success in both drawing and filling my tags. I will forever champion the HMA and WIA programs… there is even an option during the Wyoming application process for donations to help fund Access YES! which oversees the management of the HMA and Walk-In Area. I would strongly encourage any who apply for tags in Wyoming to donate.
There is a real possibility of finding a diamond in the rough here and locate units where tags can be had easily on an annual basis with sufficient access to the general public hunter through Access YES!. This is where your individual research will be critical depending on where you are coming from and how far you are willing to travel. The general trend is that tags on the eastern side of the state are easier to get but access can be more difficult… this is where finding those HMAs and WIAs is critical. Areas in the central and western parts of the state tend to be more difficult to draw but seem to have more or better access to the public hunter.
My friends and I have been able to figure out Wyoming in just a few short years and it has provided us with a number of great memories and full freezers. Pronghorn, when cared for in the field properly and cooled quickly, is some of the finest game meat that I’ve ever had.
Don’t be intimidated, Wyoming has put all the necessary information right at your fingertips to have a fantastic hunting experience and there’s really no better way than a low cost but high entertainment doe/fawn or cow/calf hunt. If my group of friends and I can figure it out… anybody can.
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