Elk Hunting


We are happy to say, that this year’s hunting seasons for elk have not changed much. This is just another year in a historically good elk hunting era.

No doubt, last winter claimed more elk than usual in western Wyoming, but unlike deer, not enough to alter seasons or significantly downgrade the forecast. The Game and Fish is confident elk hunting will be good, particularly with an October snowstorm or two. Wolves have also sometimes complicated elk hunting by displacing the animals from one drainage to another.  

“Wolves have made elk hunting more feast or famine in western Wyoming,” says Dean Clause, wildlife biologist in Pinedale. “Elk tend to be in bigger groups, even in September.” He’s seen that phenomena first hand from being afield as a bow and rifle elk hunter.  

He says there are ample animals for a good elk season in his district on the west slope of the Wind River Range from Green River Lakes to the Big Sandy River. “With hunters facing a very tough deer season in western Wyoming, elk fortunately are here in healthy numbers as a reliable fall back,” he adds.

Out of the Lander region Daryl Lutz is straightforward about 2017 prospects: “The elk forecast is exactly what it has been for several years – good to excellent from Dubois to Rawlins.” He’s quick to qualify, like other colleagues, that snow is a great elk hunting assist, especially in the Dubois area.
Cody’s Tim Woolley believes all the mountains surrounding the Bighorn Basin also have the potential for a good season – particularly with some weather and hunter effort. He adds the Gooseberry Herd (elk areas 62-64) is leveling off after several years of record harvest, and antlerless hunters can expect to see fewer animals. The Game and Fish is checking for brucellosis all across the Bighorn Basin and hunters are urged to help by getting a blood sampling kit from field reps or the Cody Office.

Hicks reports great forage conditions are prompting noteworthy antler growth in the coveted area 7, which includes Laramie Peak. “I’ve already seen some phenomenal bulls,” he said in late July. Aspen rejuvenation from fires in 2002 and 2012 is also a plus for the herd. With the robust elk numbers in the Laramie Range, the Game and Fish has enrolled nearly 200,000 acres of hunter management area access for antlerless elk. Check the Game and Fish website for details.    

The expansive general hunt area 129 in northeast Wyoming, with its lengthy Sept. 1 to Nov. 30 season may catch the eye of some hunters. But Thiele explains the hunt area was created to give landowners flexibility to address the growing number of elk on predominately private land in an area not managed for an elk herd. “But, while elk are still very scattered across the region, public land is limited and hunters should understand it’s not a ‘destination hunt,’” Thiele says. 

Edible portions of big game

1. Front quarter – meat of the front quarters as far down as the knees

2. Hind quarter – meat of the hindquarters as far down as the hocks

3. Backstrap – meat along the backbone between the neck and the hindquarters

3. Tenderloin – tenderloins are located inside the body cavity

Elk Management Stamp

Elk hunters are reminded that an Elk Management Stamp is required to hunt those elk hunt areas associated with elk feedgrounds, which includes most hunt areas in the Jackson and Pinedale regions.

Specifically, an Elk Management Stamp is required to hunt elk in Hunt Areas 70, 71, 74, 75, and 77-98. These stamps can be purchased for $12.50 at any license vendor.

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