I have hunted antelope here in WY for umpteen years and have killed 40 or so.
Second, I have been looking at the HMA program and from what I can gather this is the only land available for certain areas... Am I wrong or right? While we are on the subject are the HMAs a good place to hunt?
HMA's can be good. Depends on the conditions.
Third, since this is our first time would it be better to hunt the first opening week or should we wait until the rut?
During the rut is my favorite time to hunt them. They get downright freaky but the down side of that is the meat has a stronger smell.
One time during the rut over by Rawlins WY I shot a doe. I was laying down prone across a ridge and the shot was good. The buck she was running with saw me get up and procede towards her and started making short charges towards me. I jacked another round in the chamber and wondered "how am I going to explain to the game warden I shot this buck in self defense". Another time I was hunting does and they knew I was there. But the buck totally ingnored me and would not let them leave. It was nice of him to keep them around for me to get a shot.
Fourth,would trying for an area in the grasslands or does it really matter?
The grasslands can be productive but a good place to hunt them is gently rolling hills. It gives you an easier stalk.
Fifth, I have been looking at the buck to doe kills posted by the WYGF and do a lot of other hunters try to get tags in those high buck kill areas and miss out on opportunities in other areas and possibly miss out on the draw?
You will have three choices so pick out 3 areas to give you the best odds of drawing a tag.
One bit of advice is to practise shooting a lot. Practise out to 400 yards. You probably won't need it but if you can hit a pie plate @ that distance you won't have any trouble getting an antelope. Range finders are worth every penny. Distances can be deceiving.