Editor’s Note: Jim Stephan of Cody, Wyoming has been a member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for the last 10 years. He moved to Cody, because of the tremendous hunting opportunities the area provides. According to Stephan, “The biggest advantage of living in Cody is that you can hunt some kind of critter there 12 months of the year. I hunt antelope in September. As winter comes on, I hunt elk, deer and bear. In the spring, I hunt ducks, turkeys and predators. So, if you love to hunt, find a job in Cody, Wyoming.”
In 2015, antelope season opened on August 15 in Wyoming. I started hunting antelope that day. Through the years, I've been fortunate enough to take three really-nice buck antelopes. The antelope that I'm mounting right now scored about 77 inches. Three keys are involved in finding and taking really-big antelope - a lot of scouting, a lot of scouting and a lot of scouting. One of the frustrating aspects of antelope hunting is if you're riding down a road between two different wildlife units – let’s say one of those units is Unit 55 on the left-hand side of the road, and the other is Unit 56 on the right-hand side of the road. Perhaps the trophy antelope always seems to be on the side of the road in the Unit where you don’t have a tag. Also, remember you may spot a trophy antelope in a big pasture early one morning, and the next morning that antelope may be 7 miles away in another pasture.
While my buddies are watching fireworks on the Fourth of July, I’ll be out in my truck riding hundreds of miles, looking for antelope. After turkey hunting, antelope is my second favorite critter to hunt here in Wyoming. Like the turkey, the antelope has superman quality vision. I really enjoy the spot-and-stalk hunt that you have to make unless you sit over a water hole. We call antelope hunting a gentleman’s hunt, because you don’t have to get up before daylight and hike 2 – 3 miles before you start hunting. Antelope do not like to get wet. So, when the dew is on the sagebrush, often the antelope will sleep-in. They seem to like to have the sun burn off some of that dew before they get up and walk around in the sagebrush. Unlike elk hunters, the antelope hunter doesn’t have to be in great shape, and it’s a great hunting sport for the physically handicapped.
If you want a real challenge, hunt antelope with a bow. If you're on the other side of hunting, and you enjoy taking animals at long range, the antelope is a prime target for the hunters who like to shoot out past 300 yards. Hunters can take antelope out to 700 or 800 yards, if they have rifles that can shoot that accurately, and they don’t have to deal with much wind drift. For all of us who like to take antelope at 250 yards in, you can find bucks that you can take at that range.
I drew a pretty-good tag near Cody in a town called Thermopolis, that has a lot of wide-open land with canals and drainages running through them that can provide cover for a hunter to sneak out into those open plains without being seen. The afternoon before opening day of antelope season, we’ll set-up camp, so we’ll be ready to hunt on opening day. We saw a couple of pretty-nice bucks that had horns taller than their ears. In June and July, I had spotted a really nice rack on a buck that had a weird spotted design on his left front chest.
We hiked up to the top of a little hill overlooking a flat. We lay on our bellies and started glassing. We spotted a large herd off to the east. We went down the hill and started moving toward this big herd. The temperature was in the 90s, and I told my hunting partner, “If we’re lucky enough to get a nice antelope, we’re going to have to hustle to field dress him and get him back and into a cooler.” My friend said, “What about that buck right there?” When I looked where my friend was pointing, the buck had horns that were unbelievably wide and tall. Quickly, I got in the shooting position, aimed and fired from 427 yards. Looking through my scope, the antelope didn’t even move. Then, all of a sudden, that buck took off running and ran in a giant circle. When he turned sideways, I could see that his entire side was red. When we got to him, I couldn’t believe what a fine buck he was. I hope to have him mounted by September, 2015. On this hunt, I took my biggest antelope, and the hunt was one of the most-fun hunts I'd ever had.
To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oaks Pros Know Bucks and Bows” – go to . You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.
For information on making jerky from your elk and other big game animals to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from http://johninthewild.com/free-books.
Tomorrow: Mossy Oak Pro Jim Stephan’s Garden Muley