Upland Bird and Small Game Hunting

 

Bird hunting throughout Wyoming is variable and dependent on weather and habitat that supports nesting success and chick survival.

For sage grouse hunting, head to the Casper area to see a modest uptick in the small, isolated population of birds, and plenty for hunting. Green River and Laramie areas saw less numbers on leks this spring, so expect lower numbers.

For other nesting birds, like blue grouse, Hungarian partridge, chukars and ruffed grouse, hunting will be average, with some pockets of good hunting, again variable based on moisture and over-winter chick survival. For those conditions, head to the Laramie area, where spring and summer moisture resulted in decent nesting and brood-rearing cover for all upland game birds. For a later hunting window, the Green River area boasts a one-month extension on ruffed and blue grouse seasons this year and in Pinedale where the season for blue and ruffed grouse has been extended to December 31. Late season hunters should be abreast of seasonal range closures.

Game and Fish managed pheasant hunts are shaping up for the typical annual fun. Bird farm pheasants will again be released at the Sand Mesa and Ocean Lake Habitat Units through November. The Downar Bird Farm near Torrington produced 15,000 birds for hunters on designated walk-in areas throughout Goshen, Laramie, and Platte Counties and the Springer and Glendo special permit hunts. Pheasants from the Sheridan Bird Farm will again be released on some walk-in areas and other public lands throughout in the Sheridan Region.

Youth-only pheasant hunts are scheduled again statewide. The youth hunt provides an excellent opportunity for hunters under the age of 14 to experience upland bird hunting; see the regulations for more details:

• Sand Mesa - Saturday, Nov. 17
• Bud Love- Saturday, Nov. 17
• Springer-Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 28
• Glendo, in Hunt Area 9- Sundays on Nov. 4, 11, 18, and 25.

Cottontail rabbits are currently low to average in many areas of the state, but hunting should remain fair. The exception is in the Lander and Laramie regions where populations are abundant.

Head to the Wyoming Range, Uinta, and Sierra Madre mountains and the Bridger Teton National Forest for snowshoe hares. They receive little harvest pressure and could be a fun hunt in higher elevations.

New for this year, small game hunters will be able to hunt through the end of March across the state. With this new, extended season, National Forests, Game and Fish and BLM lands are closed to winter access beginning in November and December for big game winter range protections. Small game hunters should check with local land management agencies for details of these closures when planning their hunts.

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