Deer Hunting

 

Game and Fish folks close to the action believe even with favorable weather, it’ll be three to four years until the Wyoming Range between Big Piney and Afton and Kemmerer and Alpine is back up to the caliber of deer hunting it’s famed for. 

OK. Even though it’s already been mentioned, let’s be up front about the bad news.

Game and Fish folks close to the action believe even with favorable weather, it’ll be three to four years until the Wyoming Range between Big Piney and Afton and Kemmerer and Alpine is back up to the caliber of deer hunting it’s famed for. That’s just the reality of losing at least 80 percent of the mule deer fawn crop plus more adults than usual to winter, in addition to sending surviving does into spring in pretty puny condition. The same can pretty much be said for the Sublette Mule Deer Herd of the Hoback Drainage and west side of the Wind River Range and the Uinta Herd of the extreme southwest corner.

Cody coordinator Tim Woolley says winter nailed the east side of Yellowstone National Park, too. “While the winter was not as bad as the Wyoming Range, hunters can expect fewer mature bucks this season and for a few years to come on both the North and South forks of the Shoshone River,” Woolley says.

But again, thank goodness for the land of diversity. As you go east prospects not only improve, some are the best in years.

The west slope of the Bighorn Mountains, although still striving to rival their heyday of the early 2000s, are looking up from recruiting good fawn classes in 2014 and 2015.

Drop down south and Daryl Lutz, Lander wildlife coordinator, says Beaver Rim, area 90, is knocking on the door of reclaiming its old renown and the Ferris Mountains are really worthy of praise. “Mule deer have really taken advantage of favorable mild winters and spring moisture to recruit fawns,” Lutz says of hunt area 87. “So we nearly doubled licenses in 2017 and expect the lucky 125 hunters to have a great experience.” He also judges Green Mountain to have mounted a “fairly decent comeback” for general license hunters.

Further to the south, Mark Zornes predicts hunters will see a lot of mule deer in the popular Baggs country of hunt areas 82 and 100. But he alerts hunters the areas are 4-point-or-better restriction this season to pump up the buck/doe ratio. Unlike the 3-point restriction in a few other hunt areas of the state, Baggs is 4-point because of the country’s ability to raise yearling deer sporting 3-point racks.

Head northeast and you can hear the elation in Martin Hicks voice talking about Laramie Range mule deer. “We’ve got the highest buck ratios in many years thanks to three years of above average fawn production,” Hicks says of hunt areas 59 and 64. “So, we’ve extended the season to the end of October to give hunters a chance to hunt pre-rut bucks that are more active.”

On to the Black Hills, and... “Things are looking very promising in the state’s premier hunting locale for white-tailed deer,” says Joe Sandrini, wildlife biologist for the unique country where eastern and western biomes merge. Like his other colleagues east of the Continental Divide he cites several years of high fawn recruitment and over-winter survival for the upbeat forecast. But drawing on his 22 years in northeast Wyoming he tempers the forecast with these caveats: Finding trophy-sized whitetails, especially on public land, is still a long-shot and there’s a chance of a hemorrhagic disease outbreak before it freezes due to the hot, dry summer.  

Here’s something all field correspondents are reporting: a noteworthy increase in cheatgrass this year. Plus, the exotic, invasive grass with pesky awns is being spotted at higher elevations – upwards of 7,000 feet. Except for chukar partridge, which originated from western Asia with cheatgrass, the plant has little if any value for North American wildlife. The concern for hunters is the grass burns much more readily than native grass, so be careful with fire hunting and camping this fall. The awns can also work their way into dog’s ear canals inducing considerable pain and veterinarian costs.   

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.
 

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