Deer Hunting

 
Hunting / Hunting Guide / Deer Hunting

Statewide forecasting for mule deer hunting is variable, with deer in the west and north still recovering from the significant winter impacts from 2016-2017.

The areas working through the hardest recovery are Jackson, Pinedale and Sheridan with some portions of the Green River region.

“Post season surveys indicated that fawn recruitment was low with only 54 fawns to 100 does, which is not surprising considering the poor shape their mothers were in following the 2016-2017 winter,” said Doug McWhirter, Jackson region wildlife management coordinator. “Buck:doe ratios dropped to 29:100 in 2017, a level not seen since 2004. This drop was caused primarily by the lack of yearling bucks in 2017, as almost all of them died as fawns during the 2016-17 winter.”

Surveys from the Wyoming Range Herd Unit bring good news, though, estimating 29,000 deer.  The mild winter of 2017-18 provided for good body condition and high survival of both adults and fawns, and all indications are that the fawns born in 2018 are robust and healthy.

“This year should really jump-start the recovery of this deer herd, and almost get us back to where we were prior to the severe winter with respect to total numbers of deer. It may take a little longer to recover the age structure of buck deer, however,” said McWhirter.  

The on-the-ground reports from the Pinedale area are similar to Jackson. The Sublette Herd remains below desired population objectives levels since 2004 winter-losses, but the mild winter allowed the modest fawn crop to survive the winter and  jump-start recovery of this deer herd.

Mule deer populations in the Sheridan region are well-below the population management objectives in all four herds, also suffering from the 2016-2017 winter. So, focus this season is on providing quality buck hunting opportunities while maintaining conservative antlerless deer harvest and addressing localized areas of cropland depredation. Access for buck mule deer is limited, and hunters should expect high hunter densities on public land, especially on opening days and weekends.

Hunters will find varying opportunities for mule deer in the Green River region, primarily due to lingering effects of the previous winter and its varying impacts on each deer population. Deer losses were highest in the Wyoming Range and lowest in Baggs. Antler growth appears to be good this year, and hunters should encounter some nice bucks as they take the field this fall.

Reports from the central and southeastern areas of Wyoming boast more favorable numbers. Around Lander, mule deer numbers remain rather steady, though still struggling with low fawn survival in some hunt areas. Hunters will have opportunity for increased harvest - mostly young bucks - as mule deer numbers increase and no antler point restrictions are in place.

In the southern Bighorn Basin, mule deer have seen record high fawn production in recent years, which has helped improve numbers in most areas.

“Buck recruitment has been good because of the increased fawn production, which will equate to more mature bucks in the future,” said Cody Wildlife Management Coordinator Corey Class. “Hunters should expect fair to good hunting in all hunt areas in the southern Bighorn Basin and the northern Bighorn Mountains should offer fair buck and antlerless deer hunting as well.”

However, hunters can expect a more difficult time finding older age class bucks in the North and South Forks of the Shoshone River herd; fewer bucks were observed during winter surveys.

Throughout the Casper Region, mule deer populations have rebounded over the past four years following long-term gradual decline since the early 2000’s. While several more years of good fawn production and survival will be necessary to build some populations to objective levels and meet public desires, the outlook for mule deer in the Casper Region is bright. Throughout most of the area, deer hunters in general license areas should continue to see more mule deer bucks this fall as recruitment of young bucks has remained strong. Mule deer hunters in the Douglas and Lusk areas will continue to experience improved hunting and mature buck availability on private lands, but should continue to expect low harvest success on public lands given limited availability, hunter crowding or low mule deer densities.

Hunters in the Laramie area will enjoy the highest buck ratios in over a decade. Increased precipitation this spring and summer contributed to good body condition and increased antler growth in bucks.

Predictions for white-tailed hunting remain favorable, and some of the most densely populated areas are public lands. White-tailed numbers continue to do well in the Bighorn Basin and Black Hills. Deer on private land in the Sheridan and Laramie areas promise venison in the freezer; be sure to seek permission early for these popular late-season hunts.

How to fill out a carcass coupon


IMMEDIATELY AFTER harvesting a big game animal and BEFORE LEAVING the site of the kill detach from license.
 

Frequently Asked Question

Justin, how do I get my deer, elk or moose tested for chronic wasting disease?

Justin Binfet
Casper Regional Wildlife Management Coordinator
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