CHEYENNE - Even though many rifle big game seasons are still a few weeks to more than a month away, hunters can get a the fall hunts started with season openers for a variety of small game and upland game birds.
Seasons for blue and ruffed grouse, often referred to as mountain grouse, open Sept.1. Blue grouse are found in most mountain areas throughout the state on both Bureau of Land Management and national forest lands. Ruffed grouse are found in western Wyoming in the Shoshone, Bridger-Teton and Targhee national forests and the Black Hills in the northeastern portion of the state. The season is long, ending Nov. 30. Many birds are taken each year incidental to hunts for deer and elk.
Sharp-tailed grouse are found in eastern Wyoming predominantly on private lands. However to make access easier, thousands of acres are available to sharptail hunters in a number of eastern Wyoming counties including Sheridan,Johnson, Campbell, Goshen, Platte and Laramie Counties. Hunters can go to the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov and look up the walk in areas where access to hunt sharptails is provided.
Mourning doves are found throughout the state, and the quality of hunting is weather dependant. With the first cold snap, doves will head for warmer climes, but if the weather stays mild, dove hunters often have opportunities throughout much of September. Licensed mourning dove hunters are reminded to have the federal Harvest Information Program permit (HIP permit) in their possession while hunting. The HIP permit is available free on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov. The HIP permit is no longer available at license agents.
Like mourning doves, small game animals are also found throughout much of the state. In Wyoming, animals legally classified as small game include cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares and red, gray and fox squirrels. The small game season is long, opening Sept. 1 and running through March 1. Dove hunters should be aware that Eurasian collared doves are being seen with increasing frequency in Wyoming especially in the eastern part of the state. Eurasian doves are an exotic species and are larger than mourning doves and can be identified by a black band on the neck and a squared tail. Since Eurasian doves are not listed as a Wyoming game bird, there is no closed season, no bag limit and no license is required.
License requirements for small game and birds vary with the age and residency of the hunters. Hunters 14 years and older are required to possess the proper small game or bird license. Resident youth under 14 do not need a license to hunt small game or birds and nonresident hunters under 14 years of age also do not need a license if hunting with a licensed adult and their bag limit is applied to and limited by the small game or game bird licenses held by the adult in has company. Youth under 14 can also hunt wild turkeys, but a separate turkey license is required.
(Contact: Al Langston: (307) 777-4540)