CHEYENNE - Most big game seasons are winding down, but there is still plenty of hunting opportunities in the Cowboy State –especially for bird hunters.
Bird seasons for a few species such as sage grouse have closed and the season for blue and ruffed grouse will be closing Nov. 30 along with turkey season in Area 1 (Black Hills). But, pheasant seasons in most areas remain open through Dec. 31 as do seasons for sharp-tailed grouse and wild turkeys in most hunt areas. Waterfowl seasons are still open and seasons for chukar and gray partridge remain open through the end of February.
The Game and Fish Department is available to support those heading out on bird hunts and reminds those afield that some laws such as those involving trespass violations, and prohibition from shooting from a road or vehicle is the same as big game hunting. But, a number of the questions asked of Game and Fish personnel are specific to bird hunting. Some of the more frequently mentioned topics are as follows:
• Hunter Orange —Wearing of hunter orange is recommended for most upland game and small game hunting but is required when hunting pheasants on Game and Fish wildlife habitat management areas or Bureau of Reclamation lands on and bordering Glendo State Park.
• Nontoxic shot —Nontoxic shot is defined as any shot type that does not cause illness and death when ingested by birds and its use has been a federal requirement for hunting waterfowl since 1991. In addition, it is required when using a shotgun to take small game or game birds on lands within the Springer and Table Mountain Wildlife Habitat Management Areas and on all national wildlife refuges open to hunting. Steel is the most common type of nontoxic shot, but Bismuth, various tungsten shot alloys and a few other non-lead shot types also comply with the nontoxic shot regulation.
• Shotgun Shell capacity —In Wyoming most game birds that require a shotgun for take, excluding blue and ruffed grouse, may only be taken with a shotgun that is plugged to admit no more than one (1) shell in the chamber and two in the magazine (3 shot total).
• Tagging turkeys —Same procedure as big game, and as with big game, turkey licenses come with a tag (carcass coupon) attached. When a turkey is bagged, the carcass coupon must be detached from the license, signed and dated before leaving the site of the kill. It is permissible to remove the coupon when the turkey is being transported to prevent its loss.
• Be aware of season dates —Season opening and closing dates may vary with the species and hunt areas. Wyoming Upland Game Bird and Late Migratory Game Bird regulations contain opening and closing dates for each species.
• Evidence of species and gender —Excluding pheasants, one fully feathered wing is to be left attached to the carcass of game bird while in the field and during transportation. For pheasants, the feathered head, a feathered wing, or the foot is to be left attached on the carcass. For waterfowl, a fully feathered wing or the head is to be left attached as a means of identification.
• Licensing requirements —Resident Youth under 14 do not need a bird license to hunt upland birds with the exception that persons of all ages must have a license to hunt turkeys. For pheasant hunting, with few exceptions, all persons regardless of age, need the Pheasant Special Management Permit on select Game and Fish habitat management areas, and most walk-in areas open to pheasant hunting. A listing of specific areas where the permit is required is found in the pheasant hunting section of the bird regulations. For waterfowl, the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (duck stamp) is required for persons 16 years of age and older.
Complete regulations for both Late Migratory Birds and Upland Game Birds and wild turkeys are available at Game and Fish offices, license agents and on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov. Click on hunting then on “WGFD regulations” and scroll down to the appropriate regulation.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)