HUNTING IN WYOMING

WYOMING 2017 STATEWIDE HUNTING SEASON FORECAST Revised 9-12-2017

The statewide hunting forecast provides hunting information on all game species on a region by region basis. Click the links below to find out more about the species you are interested in.

Big Game

Pronghorn (antelope)
Deer
Elk
Moose
Bighorn Sheep
Mountain Goat
Bison

Upland Game Bird, Small Game

Upland Game Birds - Small Game
Turkey

Migratory Game Birds

Ducks
Dark Geese
Mourning Doves
Sandhill Cranes

PRONGHORN (antelope)

Casper
Throughout the Casper Region, antelope herds are continuing to rebound after substantial winter losses six years ago and subsequent poor fawn production.  Fortunately, fawn production and survival has been good to excellent since 2014 and led to three consecutive years of herd growth throughout most of the region.   As a result, antelope populations have noticeably increased in most areas.  However, antelope numbers remain below management goals in some areas that experienced more substantial losses between 2011 and 2013, particularly in Hunt Areas 30, 31, 71 and 72.  Antelope are faring a little better in northeast Wyoming (Hunt Areas 4-9, 27 and 29) where strong fawn production and good over winter survival has fostered modest population growth, although even here antelope densities are still below desired levels.  One exception is in Hunt Area 73, where antelope numbers have grown considerably and now significantly exceed the established population objective. 
 
For 2017, antelope hunting seasons in the Casper Region are designed to modestly increase hunting opportunity while still permitting population growth in most hunt areas.  The exception to this is Hunt Area 73, where a very liberal season was prescribed with high doe/fawn license issuance to decrease this herd down toward objective following significant population growth.  Hunting seasons are remaining very conservative to allow for maximum population growth in Hunt Areas 31 and 70-72 where antelope numbers remain well below desired levels.  Following drastic reductions in license issuance from 2011-2015, hunting success should continue to improve in 2017 as hunters will see noticeably increased antelope numbers compared to recent years. 
 
Along with overall herd growth in most areas, buck numbers are also improving.  Hunters should see a lot more pronghorn bucks throughout the Region compared to the past 5 years.  The excellent moisture received this spring and summer has resulted in improved pronghorn habitat going into the 2017 hunting season, which has also translated into good horn growth and trophy quality.  While climatic conditions were fairly harsh during the early 2016-17 winter, conditions became fairly mild from February on, which enabled pronghorn to devote more energy to horn growth as the energetic demands of winter survival were reduced.  Given the majority of horn growth occurs during winter and early spring months for pronghorn, bucks were able to get a good head start, and received an additional boost throughout the summer.
 
Cody
Pronghorn hunting in the southern Bighorn Basin will likely be better in 2017 compared to 2016. High fawn production during the past three years has translated into more pronghorn and improved hunter opportunity and success. Although pronghorn numbers are slightly below target levels in both the Copper Mountain herd (Hunt Areas 76, 79, 114, and 115)  and the Fifteen-Mile herd (Hunt Areas 77, 83, and 110),  populations are increasing so a few more Type 1 and Type 6 licenses are being offered in most hunt areas.  Type 1 or 2 licensed hunters shouldn’t have a problem finding a good buck to harvest in both Copper Mountain and Fifteen-Mile herds.
 
The pronghorn population in the Carter Mountain herd (Hunt Areas 78, 81,and 82) is above target population levels, which means antelope hunting should be good in 2017. Even though the 2016-17 winter was more severe than average, higher than normal over-winter mortality has not been documented, allowing for hunting opportunity to be maintained or increased  through more Type 1, 6, and 7 licenses. 
 
Type 1 license hunters in Hunt Area 80 shouldn’t have a problem finding a reasonable buck to harvest. Fewer doe/fawn licenses in Hunt Area 80 are being offered this year because damage issues caused by pronghorn on private crop lands has subsided and winter mortality is thought to be higher than normal for this herd, so extra tags are not warranted. 
 
Green River
Hunters will find a mixed bag in the Green River Region this year concerning antelope hunting.  Some herds and hunt areas, including Hunt Areas 53, 57, 58, 59, 95, 99, and 112 will see similar or higher opportunity when compared to last year due to increased populations and relatively light winter losses. 
 
Antelope were more heavily impacted by winter conditions this year in the remaining areas of the Green River Region, including Hunt Areas 92, 93, 94, 96, 98, and 100.  License numbers, especially doe/fawn licenses, were adjusted down to accommodate elevated levels of winter mortality.  However, winter losses, even in the areas most affected by severe winter were lighter than those seen in mule deer.  A few winter-related, and large scale vehicle caused mortality events occurred in these areas during the 2016-17 winter.
 
Jackson
In the Jackson Region, the northern subunit of the Sublette Antelope Herd includes Hunt Areas 85 and 86. Although hunter success is good, Hunt Area 85 (Gros Ventre) offers very limited hunting opportunities, as there will only be 20 licenses offered for the 2017 season.    In Hunt Area 86, hunter access is limited and the majority of the hunting opportunities are located on private lands in the Bondurant area.  License numbers remain unchanged from 2016 in Hunt Area 86.
 
Lander
With increased fawn production and survival in 2016 pronghorn populations in the Lander Region have increased.  Of the Region’s six pronghorn herds with population size objectives, three are at objective, one is below objective, and two are above objective.  Pronghorn classifications in 2016 revealed fawn productivity, yearling buck ratios, and the overall numbers of pronghorn generally improved in 2016.  This was attributed primarily to improved moisture and habitat conditions the past three consecutive years after two years of extraordinary drought in 2012 and 2013.  It is anticipated buck quality is likely to be similar or slightly improved compared to 2016.  Mature buck ratios vary throughout the region, but are still good and hunters drawing a license should expect good to excellent harvest success. 
 
Laramie
The Laramie Region received good fall precipitation this past year, and good spring and late summer precipitation this year.  The region experienced good precipitation in the first few weeks of August. Habitat is in good condition across the region given good spring and late summer moisture.  Based on preliminary pronghorn classification data, fawn ratios are highly variable across the region.  The far eastern portion of the region is showing low fawn ratios, while the central and western portions of the region are showing fair to good fawn ratios. Pronghorn should be entering the fall in very good body condition and, thus, should have good overwinter survival. Pronghorn hunters should expect hunting to be better than last year based on our increased pronghorn population estimates across the region.  Additionally, pronghorn buck ratios are relatively high, so there should be plenty of bucks available for harvest this year. Pronghorn hunters should expect to see better horn growth on bucks this year as a result of favorable habitat conditions this year for much of the region.  Many (90%) of the region’s pronghorn herd units are at or near their population objectives as a result of several years of good production and habitat conditions.  Pronghorn licenses were increased for bucks in several hunt areas across the Laramie region for the 2017 seasons due to an increase in pronghorn populations, and higher observed buck ratios. 
 
Much of the land in southeastern Wyoming is privately-owned, which limits access in some hunt areas.  Good buck ratios and horn growth will provide a good hunting experience for hunters who can find a place to hunt.  Hunters should refer to Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S Forest Service (USFS), or their GPS maps to determine land ownership.  Access for pronghorn hunting on private land in the region continues to improve, but can still be problematic.  Private Lands Public Wildlife (PLPW) Hunter Management Areas and numerous Walk-In Areas provide access for pronghorn hunters on both private and public lands throughout the region.
 
Pronghorn hunters are encouraged to review their 2017 pronghorn regulations prior to going afield. 
 
Pinedale
In the Pinedale Region, the northern portion of the Sublette Antelope Herd includes Hunt Areas 87-91, and 101.  Population estimates for this herd are below desired levels, and will dip lower following the effects of the 2016-2017 winter. The 2016 fawn ratio was 60:100, below the previous five-year average (2010-2014) of 66:100, while the total buck:100 doe ratio of 71:100 was above the previous five-year average of 56:100.  Although the population grew during mild winter conditions from 2014-2016, mortality associated with the 2016-2017 winter will be high, and licenses have been reduced accordingly.   For the 2017 hunting season, the Pinedale Region reduced permit levels substantially from 2016.  Type 1 and Type 2 any antelope licenses have been reduced by a total of 275 (16% reduction), while Type 6, 7, and 8 licenses have been reduced by 325 (22% reduction).   
 
Sheridan
Pronghorn fawn production during 2016 in the Sheridan Region was significantly lower in most herd units compared to the past couple years.  Herd units across the northern part of the region had only 58 to 69 fawns per 100 does while herd units near Buffalo and Kaycee still had more than 80 fawns per 100 does.  The winter of 2016-2017 had record cold and snow in portions of the region during December and January resulting in some fawn loss.  However, conditions improved during February and March giving pronghorn a break.
 
Most herds remain near management objectives.  In spite of lower fawn production and the harsher winter, populations are able to sustain a similar harvest to 2016. Therefore available license quotas in many hunt areas will be the same as last year with minor adjustments in localized areas.
 
The majority of antelope hunting in the Sheridan Region is on private land.  Access to private lands and landlocked public lands continues to be difficult in portions of some hunt areas where fees for hunting access are high and little or no hunting is allowed.  Leasing of hunting rights to outfitters continues to limit access for hunters wanting to hunt without a professional guide or outfitter.  Those hunters who are able to gain access to private land will have high success. Hunter densities on many accessible tracts of public land can be high, especially on opening day and weekends. Hunters that plan hunts later in the season often see fewer hunters.
 
Hunt areas in herd units with robust populations will have large numbers of licenses available in an attempt to slow or reverse population growth.  In past years, hundreds of  limited quota doe/fawn and limited quota any antelope licenses have gone unsold in the Sheridan Region during the initial draw.  The large number of unsold licenses have given potential hunters the impression there might be easy access to private lands where landowners want to reduce antelope numbers, but that is not necessarily the case.  Hunters desiring to hunt private land are strongly encouraged to secure permission prior to purchasing a license.
 
In Hunt Area 24, a Type 2,  any antelope license, and a Type 7, doe/fawn antelope license, were added that will only be valid on private land.  In the past, leftover Type 1 and Type 6 licenses were purchased by hunters that crowded onto limited areas of public lands.  The new license types will focus harvest on private lands where additional harvest is desired.  Limiting the number of licenses that are valid on public lands should reduce hunter density and improve the hunting experience.  This license strategy was implemented in Hunt Area 23 during 2016 and found it to be successful.
 
Doe/fawn seasons beginning September 1 on private land are again in place for Hunt Area 102 and a portion of Hunt Areas 22 to address recurrent damage situations.  These seasons provide hunters who secure access the opportunity to fill doe/fawn tags before hunting pressure increases with the opening of the regular hunting season.

DEER
 
Casper
Throughout the Casper Region, mule deer populations have rebounded some over the past four years following long term gradual decline since the 1990s.  As with antelope herds in the Casper Region, most mule deer populations have experienced good to excellent fawn production in recent years.  Although mule deer numbers remain below objective in some herds in the Region, they have grown significantly over the past four years.  This is especially notable in the Black Hills where mule deer numbers have exceeded the established management goal.  While additional years of good fawn production and survival will be necessary to build some populations to objective levels and meet public desires in the remainder of the Region, the outlook for mule deer in the near future throughout the Casper Region is brighter than it has been for a long time.  
 
Throughout most of the Casper Region, deer hunters in general license areas should continue to see more mule deer bucks this fall as recruitment of young bucks has remained strong.  Because fawn production and survival improved dramatically beginning in 2014, there is now a strong cohort of 3-year old mature bucks in many areas, with relatively high ratios of yearling and 2-year old bucks.  These strong cohorts of younger-age class deer will only result in improved hunting for the next couple of years throughout much of the Region.  However, hunting seasons in these areas will remain conservative with short season lengths, with only harvest of antlered deer being permitted to continue to allow for maximum population growth.  The exception being in the Black Hills, where mule deer numbers have exceeded management goals for the most part, and mule deer are hunted in November with white-tailed deer.  In Hunt Area 66, the antler point restriction was removed for 2017 after being in place for the past four years.  In this area, conservative buck harvest coupled with good fawn production and surival the past four years has resulted in substantially increased buck ratios and overall buck numbers.  Mule deer hunters in the Douglas and Lusk areas will continue to experience improved hunting and trophy availability on private lands, but should continue to expect low harvest success on public lands given limited availability resulting in hunter crowding.  Doe/fawn license issuance for mule deer has long been eliminated throughout most of the Region outside of the Black Hills.   
 
The limited quota deer hunt areas in the Casper Region continue to have conservative license issuance as these areas are managed for high mature buck ratios and harvest success.  These areas will continue to provide good opportunities for harvesting mature mule deer bucks.  Of note, biologists and wardens report mule deer hunting in Area 10, which is largely comprised of Thunder Basin National Grasslands in northeast Wyoming, is continuing to improve as buck numbers and quality are increasing.     
 
In the Black Hills, where the state’s largest concentration of white-tailed deer occur on public lands, the population has increased substantially over the past 4 years.  Local managers hoping to reduce this white-tailed deer herd from current levels have thus maintained relatively high Region A and Type 8 license issuance.  Continued high white-tailed deer densities should provide for relatively good hunting quality and harvest success for Black Hills deer hunters on both public and private lands.  However, hunters are again reminded that doe/fawn harvest is restricted to private lands in the Black Hills, and that hunter densities on National Forest lands will remain high.
 
Outside of the Black Hills, white-tailed deer numbers have also began to increase following several years of being depressed.  Increased fawn production and survival have led to modest population growth throughout the Lusk, Douglas and Casper areas.  Hunters are reminded that, outside of the Black Hills, white-tailed deer primarily occupy private lands along creek bottoms and irrigated meadows, and that hunters should obtain permission to hunt private land before planning a white-tailed deer hunt in these areas. 
 
Cody
Mule deer hunting in the southern Bighorn Basin should be better in 2017 compared to last year.  Although mule deer numbers still remain below target levels, we are seeing improving habitat conditions along with good fawn production in most hunt areas.  Because of improving deer numbers, some hunt areas will have more licenses available for both buck and anterless deer hunting. Limited quota areas such as Hunt Areas 37, 119 and 125 should see good hunting, while areas such as 116, 118, 120 and most general license areas will likely be better than past years.
 
White-tailed deer numbers have improved in many areas of the Bighorn Basin so hunting opportunity and success is improving. Increases in Type 3 and 8 licenses in many areas have been made to increase opportunity where possible. Because of public input during the Owl Creek/Meeteetse mule deer initiative and concern over expanding white-tailed deer numbers, more white-tailed deer hunting opportunity has been offered in Hunt Areas 116-120 in the past few years.
 
For the northern portion of the Bighorn Mountains, while buck numbers have been on the rise, the overall population still has not increased to numbers observed in the mid-2000s. Buck hunting should be fair to good, and antlerless deer hunting opportunity will be similar to last year in the Paintrock herd (Hunt Areas 41, 46, and 47).  Some anterless deer hunting with a general license is being allowed in Hunt Areas 41 and 47 after the buck season to address damage issues.
 
The Greybull River deer herd (Hunt Areas 124 and 165) and the Shoshone River deer herd (Areas 121, 122 and 123) should have similar hunting conditions compared to 2016 with the normal 10-day general seasons and Type 6 and 8 licenses restricted to private or agricultural lands. The Shoshone River deer herd still has doe/fawn licenses available despite fewer damage complaints.
 
Game and Fish predict slightly more difficult hunting for bucks in the North and South Forks of the Shoshone River herd in 2017.  A fair proportion of older age class adult bucks in the population should be available for harvest in 2017 since good buck ratios (29:100) were observed post season in 2016.  The severe winter of 2016-2017 likely will cause high fawn mortality that will affect future buck hunting in the next several years.  In the Clarks Fork herd, opportunities to harvest a mature buck deer in Areas 105 and 106 should still be good in both the late general season and the November limited quota season. Again, there will be higher than normal fawn mortality due to the severe winter that could reduce bucks in the future. 
 
Green River
As with pronghorn, hunters will find varying opportunities for mule deer in the Green River Region due to a combination of factors, primarily winter related.  Winter losses were very high in the Uinta and Wyoming Range Herd units (hunt areas 132-135 and 168 for the GR Region), and hunters will see significantly fewer deer on the mountain in these areas.  Fawn losses were very high in the Wyoming Range Herd based on radio collared fawns, and adult losses have been significantly higher than normal.  Fetal rates remained normal in pregnant does, but development of those fetuses and average date of birth was delayed this summer.  It is expected fawn mortality will likely be higher than normal due to this.  Deer losses were also very high in the Uinta Herd, as well due to winter conditions. 
 
Deer hunters will see fewer impacts in the eastern portion of the Green River Region due to much milder winter conditions and fewer winter losses.  Areas affected less by winter severity include our two limited quota areas, 101 and 102, and the two general license areas in the Baggs Mule Deer herd (areas 82 and 100).  Winter losses were light to normal in these populations. 
 
All general license areas in the Green River Region will have an antler point restriction for the 201 Hunting Season.  Hunters are encouraged to carefully review their regulations, since some antler point restrictions are 3 or more points on either antler, while other areas have a 4 point restriction.  Use of a 4 or more points antler point restriction will be employed in the Baggs Herd unit (Hunt Areas 82 and 100) because of a significant reduction in buck ratios, and in Area 131 due to very low deer numbers.  Areas 132, 133, 134, and 168 continue to have a 3 or more points antler point restriction based on public desire for maintaining this restriction in Uinta County, and Area 135 has been added this year to that list.  Antler point restrictions will have limited effect in 2017 in the Uinta and Wyoming Range Herd due to loss of last year’s fawn crop. 

Jackson
The Wyoming Range Deer Herd (Hunt Areas 134, 135, and 143-145)  is designated as a special management strategy herd which focuses on providing high quality hunting opportunities, mature  age class deer, and high buck:doe ratios (30-45:100).  Post season surveys in December 2016 indicated that fawn survival through summer was low with only 58 fawns:100 does. This follows the poor fawn recruitment of 61:100 seen in 2015.  Buck ratios continue to remain at some of the highest levels documented in Wyoming. This year observed buck:doe ratios were 36 bucks:100 does. By 2016, deer numbers had increased after three years of high over winter survival among all age/sex classes.  The extremely severe winter of 2016-2017, however, caused unprecendented mortality in all age classes, but particularly fawns and older deer. Hunters should anticipate seeing substantially fewer deer during the 2017 hunting season.
 
The southern portion of the herd unit will offer eight days of antlered deer hunting in Hunt Area 134 and 6 days of antlered deer hunting in Hunt Area 135.  Both areas  have  an antler point regulation that will allow hunters to take antlered mule deer with three points or more on either antler or any white-tailed deer.  General license hunting opportunity for antlered mule deer will run from September 15-October 6 for Hunt Areas 143-145. A three-point or better regulation will be in place for these areas in 2017 as well.  In Hunt Area 145, a total of 50 limited quota Type 3 licenses valid for any white-tailed deer will be in place from September 15 to November 15, and unused Type 3 licenses valid for antlerless white-tailed deer will continue from November 16 to  January 31. 
 
Due to the severity of the 2016-2017 winter and associated deer losses, the nonresident quota was reduced 200 licenses in Region G, , resulting in a total of 400 nonresident licenses. 
 
The northern portion of the Sublette Deer Herd includes Hunt Areas 146, 150-152, 155, and 156 in the Jackson Region. Similar to the Wyoming Range,  high deer mortality caused by severe winter conditions in 2016-2017 will mean fewer deer for hunters to encounter during the 2017 hunting season.  Seasons in the Jackson area will run from September 15-October 6.
 
In addition to mule deer hunting opportunities, “any white-tailed deer” seasons will again be offered, as white-tailed deer numbers along many of the major river corridors appear to be stable to increasing.  In Hunt Area 145, a total of 50 Limited quota Type 3 licenses valid for any white-tailed deer will be in place from September 15 to November 15, followed by a November 16 to January 31 season for antlerless white-tailed deer for unused Area 145 Type 3 licenses.
 
The Targhee Herd (Hunt Area 149) is a small population on the west side of the Teton Range that is managed to provide recreational hunting opportunities.  Population growth of this herd is limited by winter range and habitat loss from residential developments.  Most crucial winter ranges are situated in Idaho and options to allow this population to grow are limited. In 2016, hunters reported a 35% success rate.  Hunting seasons in 2017 include a general license season for antlered deer from September 15 through October 6.  A Type 8, limited quota license will be offered again in 2017, valid for doe or fawn white-tailed deer.  Fifty licenses will be available. A new, Type 3 license will be offered in 2017, valid for any white-tailed deer. Fifteen Type 3  licenses will be available in 2017 and both the Type 3 and the Type 8 seasons  will run from September 15 to November 30.
 
Lander
 
Similar to pronghorn, mule deer populations had markedly declined over the last several years due to poor fawn productivity until increased fawn production (and likely survival) were realized starting in 2015.  As many as 92/100 fawns were observed in the Ferris Herd Hunt Area 87 and an average 67/100 fawns were observed in the Lander Region.  Of the five herds within the Lander Region with population size objectives, all remain below objective, though three are near, after the 2016 hunting season.  Concurrent with increased fawn survival, generally throughout the region buck to doe ratios increased.  That is not the case in the Sweetwater Herd unit (Hunt Areas 96 and 97) where the buck ratio declined to 19/100.  Once again, hunters observed more deer in 2016 than in previous years.  Similar observations should be realized in 2017 if winter survival is near average.  Hunters will have opportunity for additional buck harvest (mostly young bucks) as mule deer numbers have increased.  Despite increased fawn production some mule deer populations in the Lander Region continue to struggle and is likely attributable to relatively low fawn survival.  A case in point is the Sweetwater Herd Unit where the past two years fawn ratios have been 90/100 and 72/100, yet this population remains stable. As a result seasons are similarly conservative in 2017.  Hunters will continue to experience shorter seasons and markedly reduced doe/fawn licenses. 
 
Continued any white-tailed deer seasons are in place in the Dubois, Lander, Riverton, and Jeffrey City areas.  Extended seasons in the South Wind River Herd unit (Hunt Areas 92, 94, and 160) for white-tailed deer offers more hunting opportunity.  However, throughout much of the region white-tailed deer numbers remain relatively low due to an apparent epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) epizootic three years ago and have yet to recover.  As a result, license issuance for white-tailed deer specific licenses remains similar to that in 2016. 
 
Laramie
Hunters should expect to see improved deer hunting throughout the Laramie Region compared to last year. Mule deer populations have been increasing for the past few years, and buck ratios in many hunt areas are the highest they’ve been in over a decade, averaging in the mid 40’s per 100 does.  Mule deer herds across the region experienced good to average over-winter survival rates. Additionally, increased precipitation this spring and late summer has improved habitat and will contribute to good body condition, increased fawn ratios, and increased antler growth in bucks. The increased fat reserves from the better habitat conditions should improve mule deer survival over the coming winter. 
 
White-tailed deer hunting in southeast Wyoming should be good, especially for hunters with access to private land.  White-tailed deer populations have been increasing over the past few years.
 
Hunters are encouraged to review the 2017 deer hunting regulations.  Hunt Areas 74,75,76,and 77 have removed the 3-point or better regulation and are now any buck, and has gone from a seven day season to a ten day season. Hunt Areas 59 and 64 have increased the season length by one week for an October 15 – 31 season. Hunt Area 70 has also changed from a 3 point or better to an any buck season, and has added an additional day to the season to allow hunters to hunt the entire weekend
 
Pinedale
Portions of two mule deer herds are managed in the Pinedale Region: Sublette, and Wyoming Range.  Both are large populations with special management strategies designed to provide high quality hunting opportunities, older age class deer, and high buck:100 doe ratios (30-45:100 ).  For the Sublette Herd, this population decreased below the post-hunt population objective in 2004 following significant winter losses when fawn mortality was estimated at 75% and adult mortality at 20%.  This herd unit has remained below desired population objective levels since that time.  Despite improved spring moisture and improved shrub productivity from 2009 to 2011, deer losses were extreme during the 2010-2011 winter, with an estimated 70% fawn loss.  Dry conditions during 2012 and 2013 resulted in poor production on winter habitats followed by improved moisture and forage production in 2014 and 2015.  Good fawn survival during the past three winters has resulted in population growth, but losses during the 2016-2017 winter will create a setback for population recovery efforts.
 
Post season surveys in December 2016 indicated that fawn survival through summer was low with only 61 fawns:100 does.  This follows the relatively poor fawn recruitment of 65:100 seen in 2015.  Observed buck:doe ratios were within the desired range at 41 bucks:100 does.  By 2016 deer numbers had increased after three years of high over winter survival among all age/sex classes, but the extremely severe winter of 2016-2017,  caused significant mortality in all age classes, but particularly fawns and older deer. As a result, hunters should anticipate seeing substantially fewer deer during the 2017 hunting season. 
 
The goal of the 2017 hunting season for the Sublette mule deer herd (Hunt Areas 130, 131, 138-142, 146, 150-156, and 162) is to minimize buck harvest to maintain postseason buck:doe ratios above 30:100, while still allowing hunting opportunity.     The nonresident quota in Region H dropped from 800 licenses in 2016 to 600 licenses in 2017, while General License seasons  will  run from September 15 through October 6. A limited quota, Type 3 any white-tailed deer license will be again be offered in Hunt Areas 138-140, and 142-143 from October 1 to November 30.
 
The Wyoming Range Deer Herd (Hunt Areas 134, 135, and 143-145)  is also designated as a special management strategy herd focused on providing high quality hunting opportunities, mature  age class deer, and high buck:doe ratios (30-45:100).  Post season surveys in December 2016 indicated that fawn survival through summer was low with only 58 fawns:100 does.  This follows the poor fawn recruitment of 61:100 seen in 2015.  Observed buck:doe ratios were within the desired range at 36 bucks:100 does. By 2016, deer numbers had increased after three years of high over winter survival among all age/sex classes.  However, the extremely severe winter of 2016-2017 has caused unprecendented mortality in all age classes, but particularly fawns and older deer. As a result, hunters should anticipate seeing substantially fewer deer during the 2017 hunting season.
 
In the southern portion of the herd unit will offer eight days of antlered deer hunting in Hunt Area 134 and 6 days of antlered deer hunting in Hunt Area 135.  Both areas  have  an antler point regulation that will allow hunters to take antlered mule deer with three points or more on either antler or any white-tailed deer.  General license hunting opportunity for antlered mule deer will run from September 15-October 6 for Hunt Areas 143-145. A three-point or better regulation will be in place for these areas in 2017 as well.  In Hunt Area 145, a total of 50 limited quota Type 3 licenses valid for any white-tailed deer will be in place from September 15 to November 15, and unused Type 3 licenses valid for antlerless white-tailed deer will continue from November 16 to  January 31.
 
Due to the severity of the 2016-2017 winter and associated deer losses, the Region G nonresident quota was reduced  by 200, resulting in a total of 400 nonresident licenses.
 
Sheridan
Mule deer populations in the Sheridan Region are well below the population management objectives in all four herds.  However good fawn production in 2014 and 2015 resulted in growing populations.  Fawn production in the Sheridan Region during 2016 was lower in three of four herds. These same herds  had between 66 to 74 fawns per 100 does while in  the Powder River mule deer herd only 62 fawns per 100 does were observed. The winter of 2016-2017 had record cold and snow in portions of the region during December and January resulting in some fawn loss.  However, conditions improved during February and March melting off snow covered areas giving deer a break.
 
Continued concern about mule deer populations is evident from responses to landowner and hunter harvest surveys conducted following the 2016 hunting season.  Many landowners stated that mule deer populations were below desired levels and they wanted the same or more conservative seasons.  Observations by Department personnel during harvest field checks and classification surveys confirm that mule deer populations are still lower than desired in several parts of the Sheridan Region.
 
Access to hunt mule deer, particularly buck mule deer, has become severely limited as much of the private land and access to landlocked public land has been leased by outfitters.  Several ranches that used to take nonresident hunters willing to pay access/trespass fees and that allowed some hunting by residents, no longer are available.  Conversations by field personnel with some landowners indicate that hunting opportunities will again be limited in 2017.   Even though mule deer populations may be lower than desired, overall buck to doe ratios in Sheridan Region Herds are quite high because of the relatively few bucks being taken on private land.   Hunter densities on many accessible tracts of public land can be high, especially on opening day and weekends. Hunters that plan hunts later in the season often see fewer hunters.
 
To address concerns regarding deer populations and hunter access to private and public lands, mule deer seasons have been designed to provide needed flexibility.  Seasons will allow harvest of does and fawns on private land situations where there are damage concerns.  Attempts will be made to match the number of hunters with access to private lands, while keeping hunter numbers and harvest at more reasonable levels on accessible public lands.   The region C and region Y nonresident quotas were maintained at the same level as in 2016.
 
White-tailed deer in the Sheridan Region experienced disease die-offs in 2006, 2007, 2011 and again in 2013.  Because of the die-offs, very liberal seasons, and some harsh winters the number of white-tailed deer is lower in parts of the region compared to a few years ago. However, in some places there continues to be high densities of white-tailed deer and populations have the ability to rebound quickly.
 
We have again set liberal white-tailed deer seasons with the hope of continuing to apply pressure on the population. The Hunt Areas 23, 26 Type 3 license quota was increased 50 licenses and the Hunt Area 24 Type 3 license quota was increased 100 licenses.  Due to recurrent damage situations, doe/fawn white-tailed deer seasons will again begin on September 1 in Hunt Areas 24, 27, 29, 30 and 33.    Doe/fawn white-tailed deer seasons will end on December 15th.  In Hunt Area 24 near Sheridan an “unlimited” number of Type 8 doe/fawn licenses will be available, which means hunters and landowners will not have to worry about available licenses selling out. Hunters can again purchase an unlimited number of Type 8 doe/fawn licenses after the draw in certain hunt areas to address damage situations.
 
Some ranches are catering more toward outfitted white-tailed deer hunts which makes it more difficult for residents to find places to hunt white-tailed deer, especially bucks.   

ELK

Casper
Elk numbers remain at or above objective levels in all herds in the Casper Region.  Elk season recommendations therefore continue to be extremely liberal in terms of season length and license issuance.  In recent years, elk harvest has approached or exceeded record levels in many Casper Region Herds.  The Casper Region continues to provide excellent bull elk hunting opportunities, with many areas continuing to have strong harvest success on any-elk licenses and good trophy quality.  Antlerless elk hunter success continues to be good in most of the Region, although high hunter densities on public lands often result in reduced hunter success in the early fall.  Overall, season structure for 2017 has continued to emphasize female elk harvest throughout the Casper Region, while also providing good trophy quality in most areas.  Those hunters willing to expend the effort should continue to enjoy remarkable numbers of elk and good success if the weather cooperates.
 
In the Laramie Peak/Muddy Mountain Herd (Hunt Areas 7 and 19); overall elk harvest continues to be very strong as excellent cooperation with landowners has resulted in good hunter access for cow elk on private lands along with expanding Walk-In-Area and Hunter Management Area opportunities.  Elk hunting in the Laramie Range should continue to be good this coming fall, although hunter success on public lands during October and November rifle seasons has diminished in recent years as many elk tend to congregate on private lands with restricted hunting access.  Availability of elk on public lands during September archery seasons continues to be excellent.  Antlerless elk seasons will again run through January in both Hunt Areas 7 and 19. 
 
Antlerless hunting opportunities will extend through mid-December in Hunt Areas 23 and 120 until the end of December in Hunt Area 122.  Overall, elk harvest success in Hunt Area 23 continues to be limited as the vast majority of elk tend to congregate on one large ranch with little to no hunting pressure.  Over the course of the season, elk do occasionally leave this property and become available on adjacent public lands, or can be found in small groups in other portions of the hunt area.  This results in moderate elk harvest over the course of a long season, although hunters typically expend more effort per animal here than in other hunt areas within the Casper Region. 
 
Elk hunting in the Black Hills continues to be a mixed bag.  Hunters with access to private lands, where the majority of elk occur, have been doing well while public land hunters in Hunt Area 116 have had little success.  The General License season in Hunt Area 116 was designed to increase elk harvest on private lands while allowing for some opportunistic elk harvest on National Forest where elk numbers are low.  Elk densities on the Bearlodge portion of the Black Hills National Forest have always been low during the fall as hunting pressure and human activity quickly displaces them to private lands.  Expectations of harvesting an elk on National Forest in Hunt Area 116 should therefore be tempered.  Hunting in Area 1 will likely remain a little challenging as overall harvest success has been lower than desired in recent years, although it did modestly improve in 2016.   Finally, in Hunt Area 117, increased opportunity for antlerless elk harvest has been provided for early and late season hunters on select private lands to reduce elk damage. 
 
Cody
Based on 2016 and 2017 winter trend counts, elk numbers in the Gooseberry herd (Hunt Areas 62-64) are approaching herd population objectives due to record high harvest during the past several years.  Although elk numbers are closer to the objective, we are still offering additional hunting opportunity. Elk numbers in the South Bighorns herd (Hunt Areas 47-49) are still very productive.  Based on winter counts, we are still over objective levels but are trending towards our objective, but will again offer ample opportunity for elk hunting in the South Bighorns elk herd. Hunters are reminded to collect blood from their harvested elk for brucellosis sampling and can get blood sampling kits from Game and Fish field personnel or the Cody Regional office. 
 
The North Bighorns elk herd remains healthy and productive and there should be a good opportunity to harvest an elk again in 2017.  Game and Fish have checked many older class bulls in the past years’ harvest and predict it should be good again for those hunters with a Type 1 tag.  Based on our 2016 and 2017 winter trend counts, elk numbers in Hunt Area 40 have increased in the past two years and a few more Type 1 and Type 9 licenses are being offered.  Harvest success; however, usually depends on the arrival of cold and snowy weather to move elk to accessible locations.  Hunting seasons in Hunt Area 41 is being restructured to help increase success and simplify regulations.  A Type 1 license valid in October, a Type 4 license valid in October and November, and a Type 6 license valid in December is being offered to help alleviate hunter crowding, which should also help increase hunter success. 
 
Most elk populations near Cody are near population objectives and the majority of the season recommendations adopted in 2013 (during the Cody Elk working group process) for Hunt Areas 55, 56, 59, and 60 will remain in place for 2017. Ample opportunity in Hunt Area 66 is again being offered with liberal general seasons and Type 6 licenses to reduce elk numbers on agricultural land along and adjacent to the Greybull River.   As a reminder, elk hunt areas northwest of Cody (Areas 51, 53, and 54) were changed dramatically in 2014 to better manage migratory and non-migratory elk population segments.  Please review the 2017 elk hunt area map closely prior to hunting or call the Cody Regional Office for a more detailed explanation.   
 
Green River
The Green River manages six elk herd units and 12 hunt areas, under varying management schemes.  With the exception of the West Green River Herd, most are above the post-season population objectives, some significantly so.  Most general license herds in this region have liberal “any elk” seasons, followed by general license “antlerless” seasons, and also have liberal numbers of antlerless licenses or additional cow-calf licenses.  General license herd units in this region include: West Green River (Hunt Areas 102-105), Uinta (Hunt Areas 106 and 107), and Sierra Madre elk Hunt Areas 13, 15, 21, 108, and 130).  Hunting will remain good in all of these areas, but seasons are becoming significantly more conservative in West Green River given we are now at objective, and licenses/seasons are being reduced in the Sierra Madres as elk numbers are reduced.  That being said, we will continue with liberal seasons in both the Sierra Madre Herd and Uinta Herd units until objectives are achieved.  Elk herds above objective have a potential to negatively impact other species, and are often in conflict with agriculture.  These conflicts range from direct loss of stored crops to disease concerns, primarily brucellosis.  Elk seasons have been dramatically liberalized during the past decade in an effort to check growth and return numbers to appropriate levels.  However, we can expect some level of dissatisfaction in all general license herd units as populations are reduced given the public has become accustomed to above average elk hunting throughout the region. 
 
The Green River Region also manages two herd units under limited quota special management, and an additional limited quota herd designated as “recreational management.”  In reality, due to public desires, all three are managed under the special management criteria, meaning high bull ratios and older-aged males.  Both the Steamboat (Hunt Area 100) and the South Rock Springs (Hunt Area 30-32) Herds are under special management guidelines and we specifically harvest these at relatively conservative levels to maintain a quality experience for the hunting public.  Both herds are very popular with the hunting community.  In the case of the South Rock Springs Herd, we are constantly balancing the needs of this species with the needs of the South Rock Springs mule deer herd, also under special management.  While one likely has negative impacts on the other, the need for this balance is difficult to achieve.  We have been much more aggressive in managing both herds in recent years, with significant cow harvest.  We had begun to taper off and become more conservative in both herds due to herd status estimates.  However, recent data suggest we had become much too conservative, and significantly more licenses are proposed this year in Steamboat, especially for antlerless elk to address the population and landowner concerns.
 
Opportunity in the Petition Herd unit (Hunt Area 124) was increased for both bulls and cows in 2012 and 2015 in response to public comments and concern over growing elk numbers and impacts to deer and pronghorn.  It appears increased harvest has begun to have some impact on bull quality and licenses will be adjusted downward to address this. We keep liberal cow hunting opportunity on and around the Tipton Hunter Management Area (HMA) to reduce landowner conflicts.
 
Jackson
With the Fall Creek Herd at the desired population objective, antlerless hunting opportunities have been scaled back and  a limited number of cow/calf licenses will be available. In order to increase antlerless elk numbers throughout the herd, the general, any elk season will open September 26 and close on October 9.  General license antlerled elk, spikes excluded hunting will continue through October 31.  With a 25 bull to 100 cow ratio, hunters should have a reasonable opportunity to harvest a bull elk.  In addition, this is the fourth   year of general license hunting for any elk, with a spikes excluded restriction.  This limitation will allow more yearling bulls to be recruited into the population. Additional Type 6 and Type 7 cow or calf only licenses will continue to be valid through January  to address damage to private lands along the Snake River.
 
In the Afton Herd, Hunt Area 89,  the lower Greys River, hunting seasons for antlered elk will again be extended through October 31. The increase in hunting recreation in the lower Greys River is a result of higher numbers of elk counted on the Greys River feedground at Alpine and on native winter ranges in Greys River.  In Hunt Area 90, liberal seasons into November and limited quota cow or calf tags are again being proposed to address an increase in elk numbers in the Upper Greys River.
 
In the Jackson Herd, 10,766 elk were counted during the February 2017 mid-winter survey. While the population is near the objective of 11,000, portions of the herd that migrate from Yellowstone National Park, the Teton Wilderness and the Gros Ventre drainage continue to exhibit low calf recruitment. Elk that summer in southern Grand Teton National Park and near residential and agricultural areas close to Jackson have nearly  double the calf recruitment as the long-distance migratory elk from backcountry areas.
 
Conservative hunting seasons  for Hunt Areas 70, 71, 79, and 81-83 are necessary to address low calf recruitment while trying to maintain bull numbers.  In the southern portion of the herd unit in Hunt Areas 75, 77, 78 and 80, liberal antlerless elk seasons are  needed to address growing elk populations that  summer along the Snake River corridor in southern Grand Teton National Park and subdivisions in Hunt Area 78. In Hunt Area 78, Type 1 licenses will be valid off national forest beginning on August 15, and will be valid in the entire hunt area beginning on September 26. There will also be a Hunt Area 78 Type 2, any elk license valid on private lands from August 15 to October 31 to target resident bulls that cause damage in late summer and early fall.  Similarly, , a general license  is being offered in Hunt Area 78 in 2017, valid for antlerless elk on private lands only from August 15-October 31.  The hunting season in Hunt Area 78 is structured to harvest elk that are causing chronic damage to agricultural lands, disperse animals, and reduce elk numbers through cow harvest.  Hunt Area 75 will have 75 Type 4 licenses and 525 Type 6 licenses available in 2017. The season will  open six days later in 2017 (on October 28) due to very low harvest during opening week in recent years.  Type 4 license holders will be able to hunt in Hunt Area 79 from October 28 to 31 this year. The area known as the Snake River Bottom in Hunt Area 75 will be closed again this year. The Department’s Hunter Management Access system will again be used to allocate permits for the National Elk Refuge (Hunt Area 77). The youth hunt on the National Elk Refuge has traditionally occurred on opening weekend in mid-October, however few elk are on the Refuge in October.  Therefore, this year the youth hunt will  occur from November 23 to 25  during the Thanksgiving school break.  Youth hunters holding general or full price limited quota elk licenses can apply for a permit to access the National Elk Refuge during that time.
 
It is anticipated that the 2017 hunt season will focus hunting pressure on southern segments of the Jackson elk population that exhibit high calf recruitment and contribute to high numbers on the National Elk Refuge.  In addition, lower calf production observed in long-distance migratory segments over the past several years will continue to influence recruitment and contribute to the conservative hunting seasons proposed for the backcountry segments of this population. 
 
The Targhee Herd (Hunt Area 73) is a small population on the west side of the Teton Range that is managed to provide recreational hunting opportunities. Most crucial winter ranges are situated in Idaho and options to allow this population to grow are limited.  In 2016, hunters reported a 27% success rate.   Hunting seasons in 2017 include a general license season for antlered elk, spikes excluded from September 20 through October 25.  A new, Type 6 license is also in place  for 2017, which would be valid for cow or calf elk on private land only from August 15-January 31 to address chronic damage along the state line.  There would be 25 licenses available.
 
Lander
Like much of Wyoming, elk populations are doing well across the Lander Region.  Calf production remains on par with previous years and should result in continued robust elk numbers. Similarly, observed bull to cow ratios remain strong over most of central Wyoming.  If favorable weather conditions are realized during this fall, hunters should experience excellent harvest opportunity and success in all hunt areas.  With elk herds either at or above objective in almost all locations, all are being managed to provide hunter opportunity at elevated levels to continue moving these populations toward management objectives.
 
Laramie
A majority of the elk herds in the Laramie Region are above their population objectives and should provide hunters with excellent hunting opportunities.  Elk populations across the region have high bull ratios (greater than 25 bulls: 100 cows) and productive calf ratios (greater than 30 calves: 100 cows), demonstrating healthy elk populations with plenty of bulls available for harvest.  Hunters should read regulations for their hunt area, as some seasons have changed from the 2016 season. 
 
Elk have learned to avoid areas with high hunting pressure, but plenty of good elk hunting should be available away from well-traveled roads and trails.  A few Public Land, Private Wildlife Hunter Management Areas provide access opportunities in the region but, as with other species, access to private lands is limited in many areas.  Hunters should plan ahead for places to hunt.  The Laramie region will again have a Hunter Management Assistance Program (or HMAP) in hunt area 7 this year beginning in November.  
 
Pinedale
There are four elk herds managed in this region.   Liberal seasons have been in place for several years and are designed to drive populations down to objective levels, while maintaining at least 15 bulls:100 cows in the post-hunt populations. 
 
The Piney Elk Herd continues to exceed the population objective as it has over the past several years. In an effort to reduce elk numbers, liberal seasons are again planned for the 2017 hunting season.   Hunt Areas 92 and 94 will open October 1 for limited quota Type 6 cow or calf only hunting and extend to November 23.  These licenses will extend to the end of January for a portion of Hunt Area 92.  A Type 7 cow or calf only license will allow hunters to take advantage of the month of November to harvest an elk north of Middle Piney Creek in Hunt Area 94. There will be a total of 800 Type 6 cow or calf licenses available in Hunt Areas 92 and 94   and another 100 Type 7 licenses in Hunt Area 94.    
 
Elk numbers in the Pinedale Herd (Hunt Areas 97 and 98) remained similar from 2015 to 2016, despite  hunting seasons  designed to increase antlerless harvest and lower population levels.  The 2017 seasons are again designed to target anterless elk and lower population levels.  With the exception of a slightly longer general license antlerless season (closing November 12 in 2017 instead of November 10 as in 2016), and an increase of 50 Type 6 licenses in Area 97, all hunting seasons for anterless will remain the same in 2017.
 
The 2017 hunting season in the Hoback Herd will offer general license any elk hunting through October 31 in Area 86 and south of Highway 191 in Hunt Area  87.  In Hunt Area 87 north of Highway 191, any elk hunting will run from October 15 to October 21 and antlered elk hunting will run from October 22 to October 31.  This herd is being managed to provide recreational opportunities while mainting bull:100 cow ratios.  The 2017 season will remain conservative for the north portion of Hunt Area 87 in attempt to build elk numbers there, while general license anterless harvest opportunities will be trimmed slightly  in the remainder of the herd unit to close November 5.  
 
Due to increasing elk numbers in the Upper Green River Herd, 2017 hunting seasons will include more antlerless elk hunting opportunities, specifically increases in Type 6 licenses in Hunt Areas 95 and 96.  This herd is slightly above the stated objective of 2,500 elk, and is managed with a combination of general and limited quota licenses to meet management objectives.
 
Sheridan
The Sheridan Region contains part or all of four elk herd units.  Elk seasons are designed to provide ample opportunity to harvest elk in areas where populations are over objective, while still considering those hunt areas within herd units that have numbers near desired levels.  Limited access to private lands for elk hunting has been the primary factor contributing to herds exceeding management objectives.  Hunters who gain access to hunt or cross private lands are expected to have high success.  Mature bulls are available in all hunt areas and hunters have a reasonable chance of harvesting a “trophy” bull.
 
Along the Bighorn Mountains, elk find refuge on private lands.  In Hunt Area 37, several hundred elk avoid hunters by moving to private lands.  The Type 6 cow or calf season will open off the Bighorn National Forest on September 1 with the entire hunt area open on October 1 and closing on November 30.  Because the Type 6 season will only be open off the Bighorn National Forest in September, the Type 9 archery only licenses be valid in the entire hunt area.  A Type 7 cow or calf elk season will offer late season opportunity from December 1-31 off the Bighorn National Forest to target elk on private lands.
 
In Hunt Areas 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, and 38, some antlerless or cow/calf elk hunting seasons will run until December 31 to provide opportunity to harvest elk as they move to winter ranges.  In Hunt Area 33 near Kaycee, the Type 6 cow or calf season will again open later to spread out hunting pressure.  In Hunt Area 34, the Type 6 season will again open earlier in a portion of the hunt area to address damage issues on private land.  In Hunt Area 38, the Type 4 season will be open October 1-10 for the entire hunt area and then after a short closure, reopen on October 15, also for the entire area.  The Type 6 cow or calf season will again be open from November 16 to December 31 on private land to address damage issues.
 
Hunt Area 2 is also known as the Fortification Elk Herd.  We have tried to design seasons for this hunt area to balance license numbers with landowner tolerance for both elk and hunters. Currently the elk population is over the management objective and there are more elk than most landowners desire, however landowners are not willing to allow enough access on or through their private land to reduce the elk population toward objective.
 
In the Rochelle Hills Elk Herd, Hunt Area 113 will be open in 2017 with both Type 1 and Type 4 licenses available.  License demand for this hunt area will be high because of the availability of trophy elk on public land. Hunt Area 123 will also be open for Type 1, Type 4, and Type 6 license holders.   Licenses in this hunt area are also highly sought after but hunters need to be aware that access to hunt is on or through private land in most of the hunt area.
 
Hunt Area 129 is again open for general license elk hunting.  The general season be open for any elk during a portion of the season and antlerless elk during the remainder.  The Type 6 reduced price cow/calf season is open from September 1 to November 30 with 250 licenses, an increase of 50 licenses from 2016.  Elk are in small, scattered herds throughout this hunt area mostly on private land.  Finding access to hunt is very important prior to going hunting in Area 129. Area 129 is not considered a “destination hunt” for most hunters, but rather offers more of an opportunity for hunters living nearby to harvest elk when they become available.
 

MOOSE

 Cody
The moose population in Hunt Areas 9 and 11 in the Absaroka Mountains are still at low densities, but hunters who are lucky enough to draw a license should have good success for a bull. Recent aerial trend counts have indicated a slight increase in overall numbers since the mid 2000’s. Harvest success for these moose areas still runs above 90 percent, with most hunters harvesting a mature bull.  The 2017 season should again have good success with older mature bulls being available.
 
Green River
Moose populations declined in the mid-2000s throughout the Green River Region and other herds in western Wyoming for unknown reasons, most likely parasite related.  Similar population declines have been observed in many moose populations across North America and the northern hemisphere, but to date, scientists have been unable to determine the exact cause.  The Green River Region responded to declining populations by eliminating all antlerless moose hunting opportunities.  Antlered moose hunting was significantly reduced as well, and continues that trend.  Until moose populations rebound, moose hunting will remain conservative in southwest Wyoming, including Hunt Areas 26, 27, 33 35, 36, and 40 (season is closed in Hunt Areas 33 and 44 for 2017). 
 
In the Green River Region, moose numbers (and opportunity) are highest in the Lincoln Herd unit (Hunt Areas 26, 33, 36, and 40), especially in Hunt Area 26.  A few very large (50+”) Shiras bulls are harvested in this herd on an annual basis, and hunters enjoy selecting from a good number of bulls.
 
Jackson
In the Sublette Moose Herd, management direction in the past has focused on maintaining or building moose numbers in Hunt Areas 10, 20, 21, and 23.  Mature bulls, that are four years of age or older, are consistently being harvested in these areas.  The opportunity to harvest a trophy class Shiras moose has increased in recent years in Hunt Areas 10, and 20. Throughout these hunt areas the average antler spread continues to approach 40 inches.   In order to maximize success, hunters should plan on hunting when temperatures are the coolest and moose are likely to be feeding at first light and early evening.  Due to a desire to implement more conservative with hunting seasons, license holders in Hunt Area 21 will also be allowed to hunt in Hunt Area 10, and vice versa.  License numbers have been reduced in Hunt Area 10.  License numbers for antlered moose in Hunt Area 23 have also been reduced slightly, from 20 in 2016 to 15 in 2017.
 
The Targhee Herd has been designated for special management and conservative hunting seasons will be maintained in 2017 in the combined Hunt Areas 16 and 37. Hunter success was high in 2016 (100%), and average days per animal harvested was low at 2.4, compared to 13.5 last year. However, low moose densities remain a concern in this herd unit.  Hunting seasons in 2017 will offer five antlered-only licenses for the combined Hunt Areas 16 and 37.   
 
The Jackson Herd continues to be a concern.  Due to severe winter conditions, large numbers of moose were concentrated and highly visible in valleys and riparian areas during the February 2017 survey. Therefore, 346 moose were classified this year, an increase of over 60% over the number of moose counted last year (213).   Calf ratios increased again in 2017 to 47 calves per 100 cows. The last time the calf ratio was this high was in the mid 1990s in this herd. Although overall moose numbers remain very low, the sustained increase in the calf ratio in recent years is a promising sign that this herd may be increasing. License quotas in the Jackson Herd have decreased from a high of 495 in 1991 to 10 in 2013.  In 2011, Hunt Areas 7, 14, 15, and 32 were closed because of low calf:cow ratios and declining population trends.  Hunt Areas 17 and 28 were combined in 2012 and will again offer five antlered moose licenses in 2017.  In the upper Gros Ventre drainage, Hunt Area 18 will remain at five licenses for antlered moose and open on October 1.  Conservative seasons are again proposed to address low herd numbers. This herd will be closely monitored in future years to evaluate population numbers and determine whether additional licenses can be offered.
 
Lander
Populations in both of Lander Region’s moose herds are below desired levels and continue to struggle.  Though with heavy snow in the high country personnel counted more moose this year than last in the Lander Moose Herd Unit (Hunt Area 2 and 30).  This population has declined over the past four years and observed calf and bull ratios were similar to that seen in 2016.  Winter counts in the Dubois country yielded similar numbers of moose as was seen last year.  The Dubois Herd unit (Hunt Area 6) seems to be stable.   Overall herd performance and population size in both herd units continue to be concerns for Department personnel.  In 2017, moose licenses issued in the Lander Herd Unit are valid in both areas 2 and 30 and were reduced from 10 (5 in Area 2 and 5 in Area 30 in previous years) to 5 total.  Season dates in 2017 are identical to those in 2016 and hunters fortunate enough to draw a license should expect reasonably good harvest success depending on their trophy expectations.
 
Laramie
Hunting should be excellent for those hunters with a Hunt Area 38/41 moose license.  This hunt area is one of the premier moose areas in the nation.  Moose are found scattered throughout the Medicine Bow National Forest and adjacent lands.  Ample opportunity exists to harvest a trophy bull for hunters willing to venture away from roads.  This herd has high bull ratios, with over 100 bulls per 100 cows.  Good calf production in this herd can sometimes make it difficult for antlerless moose hunters to locate a cow without a calf at her side.  Hunters are encouraged to avoid highway corridors and popular tourist areas when pursuing their moose.
 
The Wyoming Game and Fish and the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in partnership with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department began a moose research project in March of 2015 with the capture of 30 cow moose.  This project is focused on mosoe response to beetle killed timber in the Snowy Range.  Another moose study has been initiated in the Snowy Range to address additional questions that came from the previous study, with 30 GPS collared moose.   
 
Any hunters that observe a collared (collars are white ,some brown, and have colored ear tags) cow moose in the Pole Mountain, Snowy Range, or Sierra Madre Mountains are asked to contact WGFD with the following information: total moose observed, gender of moose, age (calf/adult), and a GPS coordinates for the observation.  If hunters harvest a collared moose, the Department asks that they do not cut the collar off, and return it to the Laramie WGFD office at their earliest convenience.   
 
Pinedale
The Pinedale Region manages the majority of the Sublette Moose Herd Unit  which is designed to provide recreational opportunities and maintain high bull: 100 cow ratios.  Mid-winter aerial counts for the Sublette Herd show a stable to slightly increasing population trend since 2006, although trend counts dropped in 2014 and 2015.  The decline in the observed number of moose in those years was most likely due to low snow levels and the timing of the aerial survey and not reflective of declining moose numbers.  Although the 2016 trend counts returned to levels prior to 2014, the population continues to be slightly below  desired  objectives.  The 2017 seasons are designed to maintain quality bull ratios (+50:100) while encouraging the popualtion to grow.  Permit reductions for the 2017 season include a reductions of five antlered moose licenses each in Hunt Area 10, Hunt Area 22,  Hunt Area 23, and Hunt Area 24.  Also included for 2017 are reductions in antlerless moose licenses of five in Hunt Area 25, and closure of the antlerless moose season in Hunt Areas 5 and 24. 
 
Sheridan
The Sheridan Region will have moose seasons in both Hunt Areaa 1 and 34 of the Bighorn Moose Herd during 2017.  Five Type 1 any moose licenses, a reduction of five  from last year, were issued in Hunt Area 1.  In Hunt Area 34, five Type 1 any moose licenses were again issued.  There will be no Type 4 antlerless moose licenses available in Hunt Areas 1 and 34 this year because of an ongoing research project.    Hunt Area 42 is part of the Bighorn Moose Herd but located in the Cody Region on the west side of the Bighorn Mountains, will be open with five Type 1 any moose licenses available. Governor’s moose licenses will not be eligible for use in the Bighorn Mountains in 2017 because no hunt area has more than than 10 licenses.
 
Cow moose visibly accompanied by calves will continue to be excluded from harvest in all areas.  However, it is very unusual for a person with a Type 1 any moose license to harvest a cow moose in the Bighorn Moose Herd Unit.  Hunting seasons over the past several years are believed to have successfully reduced the population of moose. This was done to address concerns about heavy use of willows. Those individuals fortunate to draw a license for any of the Bighorn moose hunt areas have a good opportunity to harvest a moose and it is expected some large, mature bulls will be taken.  Access to hunt is excellent as most moose in the herd unit are found on  the Bighorn National Forest.

BIGHORN SHEEP
 
Casper
Bighorn Sheep Hunt Area 20 encompasses the Wyoming portion of the South Dakota/Wyoming interstate Elk Mountain bighorn sheep herd.  Between 2009 and 2013 one sheep license was issued each year on the Wyoming side.  Since 2014 two licenses have been issued each year.  Since inception of a hunting season in Hunt Area 20, hunters have experienced 100% success, with most hunters harvesting very nice rams.  In fact, most harvested rams from Hunt Area 20 have met minimum Boone and Crockett scoring requirements.  Given hunter success the past eight years, good sheep distribution on publicly accessible lands, and a very high mature trophy-class ram ratio, the Department again issued two licenses (one resident and one non-resident) for the 2017 season.  These two lucky hunters should experience good hunter success and excellent trophy availability again this year.    
 
 
Cody
Overall, bighorn sheep hunting in the Absaroka Mountains should be good again in 2017 for those lucky enough to draw a license.  In 2016, the average age of harvested rams in Hunt Areas 1-4 was between 7-8 years old, with many older age class rams checked.  License adjustments made in Hunt Areas 4 and 5 have helped preserve the age distribution of rams and appear to have maintained hunter success. 
 
Between 2011 and 2013, classification/trend flights conducted in Hunt Area 5 suggest a 40-50 percent decline in the number of sheep compared to the previous 10-year-average. Since then, we have seen a slight increase in the number of sheep during winter classification flights, and along with improving hunter success and harvest for 2017, an additional eight licenses are being offered in HA 5.  Hunters lucky enough to draw an Area 5 license will have good opportunity to find and harvest a ram.   Although sheep numbers are down in Area 5, successful hunters harvested good rams in 2016, with an average age of 7-8 years.
 
In Hunt Area 12 (Devils Canyon), the bighorn sheep herd continues to do well, and we are continuing to offer six licenses are again being offered in 2017.  Past hunters have all harvested mature rams (6-8 years) so hunting should be very good for the four resident and two nonresident hunters lucky enough to draw one of the coveted licenses for this small herd.
 
Jackson
The Targhee sheep herd is small, and until recently, estimated at approximately 125 sheep.   However, the last three surveys (2014, 2015, 2016) have all yielded observations of less than 60 sheep.  From 2006 to 2011, one ram was harvested each year, no rams were harvested in 2012, and one ram was harvested each year from 2013 to 2016.  Average age of harvested sheep is 6.5 years old for the last five years, and hunter success is limited by the difficult terrain, low sheep numbers, and movements into Grand Teton National Park.  This herd appears to be limited by poor quality, high elevation winter habitat.  Sheep hunting opportunities for the Targhee Herd will again be offered in 2017 with two resident licenses. Significant efforts are currently being directed at understanding the current status and trend of this population.
 
In the Jackson Sheep Herd, managers began detecting pneumonia in the sheep population in early summer 2012.  Some winter ranges in the Jackson and Gros Ventre areas may have experienced a 30% decline in the overall number of sheep during that outbreak.  Lamb:ewe ratios also declined from 50 lambs:100 ewes to 21:100..  However, the population has rebounded quickly in recent years. The 2017 mid-winter trend count indicated the population is doing well, with a lamb:ewe ratio of 34:100 and 371 total sheep classified. Ram:ewe ratios remain adequate at 36:100. Forty-eight rams were observed with > ¾ curl horns during the survey.  Hunter success in 2016 remained high at 92%.  The 2017 hunting season will  offer 12 licenses in Hunt Area 7. 
 
Lander
Lamb production in the Whiskey Mountain bighorn sheep population was alarmingly low at 18/100 in 2017 and continues to be a concern.  Lamb productivity has been depressed in the herd unit for over 20 years and while it has certainly impacted population growth, there are still plenty of rams for harvest.  So, hunter success in 2017 shouldn’t be impacted.  In fact, the ram to ewe ratio in 2017 was identical to that in 2016 and remains strong at 47:100 and is slightly above average.  No changes in license quotas are slated for 2017 hunting seasons in an effort to continue building quality into this herd. Sheep hunting in area 9 can be extremely difficult and will require a lot of effort to locate mature rams. 
 
Hunt Area 22 (Dubois Badlands) will once again be open for hunting any ram in 2017.  Four licenses will be valid in Hunt Area 22 from September 1-30.  After September 30, these licenses will also be valid in Hunt Area 5.
 
Hunt Areas 17 (Ferris/Seminoe Mountains) and 26 (Bennett Mountains) will be open for the fifth year in 2017.  We are allowing the harvest of two rams (both to resident hunters).  The Ferris/Seminoe Herd has been doing well since the supplemental releases in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, and most recently in February, 2017.  With this latest augmentation it is estimated there will be ~200 sheep in the population after the lambing season.  It is expected the license recipients will have excellent opportunity to harvest a ram.
 
Laramie
Timely precipitation benefitted bighorn sheep in the Laramie Region. Bighorn sheep hunting in the Laramie Peak area was very good last fall and should be again this year.  Ram ratios in Hunt Area 19 are very good and lamb production has increased over the past several years.  The future looks bright for this herd and hunters can expect a good opportunity to find a trophy ram this fall.  Bighorn sheep Hunt Areas 18 and 21 are closed for the 2017 season. 
 
Pinedale
There is one sheep herd (Darby Mountain) plus a portion of the Whiskey Mountain Herd managed by Pinedale regional personnel.  In 2016, the Darby Mountain Herd (Hunt Area 24) was opened for the first time since the season was closed after the 2011 hunting season.  In 2017, Hunt Area 24 will once again be open with one license for any ram.  There are no proposed license changes for Whiskey Mountain Hunt Areas 8 and 23, as permit levels will remain at 12, but the two areas have been combined and will be designated Hunt Area 8.  In 2016, the season length was extended to October 31 (September 1-October 31) to provide additional hunter opportunity. 
 
MOUNTAIN GOATS
 
Cody
Mountain goats are currently doing well and populations are remaining relatively stable in some areas (Hunt Area 1), while increasing in other areas (Hunt Area 3). Hunt Area 3 has increased hunter opportunity for hard to access backcountry areas where  increasing goat populations now exceed mountain goat numbers estimated in Hunt Area 1. To minimize hunter crowding in Hunt Area 3, we are again offering a Type 2 license valid only for the month of October in 2017.  Access to goats in the late season can be tricky, but this Area 3 license should provide opportunity again for those willing to put in the extra effort.
 
Jackson
Hunt Area 2 encompasses the Palisades goat herd which is an extension of Idaho’s Palisades mountain goat population that has expanded into Wyoming.   A hunting season was initiated in 1999 with 4 permits.  In 2015, permits increased from 8 licenses to 12 licenses, valid for any mountain goat with the season running from September 1 to October 31.  The hunt area was expanded in 2014 to include lands north of Wyoming Highway 22 and west of the Grand Teton National Park. The same season structure will be maintained for the 2017 hunting seasons.  The expanded area was created to address mountain goat expansion into the area. 
 
A winter survey in 2017 showed very low kid survival, so licenses were reduced from 12 to 8 for the 2017 season.  Reproductive rates over the last several years indicated the population was very productive and remained above the population objective.  Future surveys should help understand the impact of this past winter, and when licenses can be increased again.  During the last several years, record book goats have been taken in this herd unit.   Hunters should expect to find goats in steep, rocky terrain with long trips of more than 10 miles from any roads.  

BISON
 
Cody
Game and Fish is proposing a hunting regulation that will allow bison hunting in Hunt Area 3 (North Fork drainage) so a few tags can be offered in 2018.  Hunters should check on the Cody Regional web page or newsletter next winter to get an updated forecast on this hunting opportunity.
 
Jackson
The Jackson Bison Herd was within 20% of the 500 population objective after the 2016 hunting season. This was the result of over 10 years of hunting seasons designed to reduce herd numbers from over 1,000 bison to 500. Hunter success was extremely high in 2016 at 98%. The February 2017 classification survey found 546 bison in the herd unit. Therefore, hunters can expect significant changes to the 2017 hunting season to shift from the goal of reducing the herd to a goal of stabilizing the herd.
 
Hunters can expect the regular season to run from August 15 to January 1, 2017.  Like last year, the season will continue from January 2 to January 31 with National Elk Refuge (NER) permits available on a daily basis through the WGFD Jackson Regional Office through the end of the month or until supplemental feeding on the NER is deemed necessary.  This will allow for additional hunting opportunities should forage and weather conditions delay the onset of supplemental feeding of elk and bison on the Refuge.   A total of 70 Type 1 licenses and 50 Type 4 licenses will be issued in 2017. This is a slight increase in Type 1 licenses from 50 to 70 and a drastic decrease in Type 4 licenses from 245 to 50.  The post-season calf:cow ratio remained high this year, at 68:100, and the bull:cow ratio rebounded from a low of 55:100 in 2015 to 139:100 this winter.  However, most of the bulls in the population are in younger age classes, therefore bull licenses will remain relatively conservative in 2017 to maintain bull quality in the herd and adjust the bull:cow ratio closer to the desired 100 bulls:100 cows. 
 
Draw odds are expected to decrease in 2017 due to the reduction in overall bison licenses available. However, hunter experience on the NER should be exceptional due to fewer hunters and reduced crowding. Cow/calf hunters should be aware that almost all of the harvest on the Type 4 license occurs on the NER.  Harvest success was exceptionally high in 2016, at 98% and days per animal was low at 3.0 days per animal harvested. The majority of the harvest occurs during late December and January.  Hunters wishing to hunt on the NER will have an opportunity to apply for a Refuge permit on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s web page beginning in July.  Additional information on NER permits will be available to successful applicants by contacting the Jackson Regional Office.  

UPLAND GAME BIRDS - SMALL GAME
 
Casper
Sage-grouse numbers have increased significantly in the Casper area over the past four years as they have been on the upswing within their population cycle.  Following substantial decline for several years, sage-grouse numbers have rebounded over the past 4 years with improved chick production and survival.  Unfortunately, chick production was relatively poor last year, but hunters should still expect to see good sage-grouse numbers this fall as populations have grown throughout central Wyoming, especially in areas west and south of Casper.  Sage-grouse populations in northeast Wyoming are relatively small and isolated, with very conservative hunting seasons in place in some counties while other areas remain closed.  Blue (dusky) grouse numbers in the Laramie Range have been fair to good over the past three years, and should continue to provide good hunting opportunity this upcoming year.  Hungarian partridge numbers have declined in the Casper Region over the past two years, although hunters may be able to find a few in select areas scattered throughout the Region.  As a general rule, upland game bird hunters should not expect to see high densities of “huns” in this part of the state as much of the Casper Region is not considered to be good Hungarian partridge habitat.  In the Black Hills, ruffed grouse numbers also increased in recent years, and will continue to provide modest hunting opportunity on National Forest, although this can be highly variable from year to year.  Hunters willing to work hard and hunt aspen and birch dominated areas should be able to find a few ruffed grouse for the table.
 
After several years of almost unfettered growth resulting in a recent peak in their population cycle, cottontail rabbit populations have declined in much of the Casper Region, which was expected due to their cyclical nature.  Regardless, hunters should still experience decent cottontail hunting opportunities even if they have to work just a bit harder. 
 
Cody
Spring and summer moisture typically helps Bighorn Basin upland bird populations so hunting may be better in 2017 compared to 2016. Upland bird hunting in 2016 was down compared to previous years, with many hunters finding scattered numbers of huns, chukars, grouse and pheasants. This past winter was relatively severe through February, so there should be fewer carry-over  birds from 2016 to help with the 2017 production. Bird hunters need to remember, hunting has little to no affect on upland bird populations, and that weather and habitat play a much more significant role than hunting by influencing nesting success and chick survival.
 
Green River
The 2017 upland game bird seasons for the Green River region are similar to last year.  Forecast is subject to change since annual production of young has such a great influence on upland game and small game populations. 
 
Sage grouse hunting in the Green River Region should be good throughout much of the region due to past increases in grouse numbers, and good brood production this summer.  Mountain grouse (ruffed grouse and dusky (blue) grouse) will vary by locality, although some pockets of good hunting are likely to occur.
 
Cottontail rabbits appeared to have peaked throughout much of the region last year.  We have observed some areas of localized population reduction, and rabbit numbers are beginning to cycle downward, a regular event.  Parents should take advantage of this opportunity while it lasts, because cottontails are cyclic and numbers will soon begin to decline rather rapidly.  Significant areas of winter mortality occurred during this past winter, but sme areas of high densities remain.  Snowshoe hares, a species that receives very little harvest pressure in the Green River Region, are numerous in some of the higher elevations of the southern Wyoming Range, Uinta, and Sierra Madre mountains, providing additional hunting opportunity.  The Green River Region has limited opportunity for squirrel hunting, with the exception of red squirrels.
 
Jackson
Severe winter conditions likely had a negative impact on over-winter survival of upland game birds. However an early spring could result in a good start to the nesting season in 2017.  Similar to other years, sportsmen will likely find localized populations of grouse that have reproduced well during the year.
 
There is a healthy population of snowshoe hares within the Region; however, several areas of the Bridger Teton National Forest are closed to winter access beginning either December 1 or December 15.  Hunters should check with the Bridger Teton National Forest for details of their winter travel plan.
 
Lander
Seasons for upland game birds will be similar to previous years.  Overall,  blue and ruffed grouse numbers remained stable during 2016.  Of particular note were the increased numbers of chukars and hungarian partridge observed by hunters and Department personnel during the 2016-2017 hunting season.  With near normal winter conditions we’ll likely see similar or increased numbers in 2017-2018.  Depending on spring moisture and temperature sage grouse numbers throughout the region will likely remain similar to that observed in 2016 and hunters should expect similar success. 
 
The Sand Mesa and Ocean Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Areas, and the one-day youth hunt at Sand Mesa continues to be very popular with pheasant hunters and will be continued in 2017.  This year’s youth hunt will occur on Saturday, November 18th, 2017.  Bird farm pheasants will again be released at the Sand Mesa and Ocean Lake Habitat Units through November.
 
Cottontails, snowshoe hares, and red squirrels appear to be similar to that in 2016 within the Lander Region.  For those interested in pursuing these animals, hunting conditions should again be good in 2017.
 
Laramie
Spring moisture and heavy rains in early August have helped improve nesting and brood-rearing cover for all upland game within the Laramie Region.  Brood observations for most upland game birds showed promising numbers.  Good pheasant production (~15,000 birds raised) at the Downar Bird Farm will provide hunters the opportunity to hunt pheasants on designated walk-in areas throughout Goshen, Laramie and Platte Counties, and the Springer and Glendo special permit hunts. Blue grouse hunting should be similar or better than last year for the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre Mountains as field observations suggest a productive year for blue grouse.  Sage grouse lek counts were down this spring, indicating fewer birds than last year.   Sharp-tailed grouse lek attendance was similar to last spring.  Sharp-tailed grouse hunters should have a similar hunt to last year.   Cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares remain abundant throughout the Laramie Region.
 
Pinedale
The 2017 upland game bird seasons for this region are similar to last year.  Sage grouse seasons will again run later in September in an attempt to reduce the vulnerability of hens with broods.  Blue and ruffed grouse seasons are the same as in past years.   
 
Sheridan
Upland game bird hunters seemed to have had fair success in 2016. Blue grouse hunters found fair numbers of birds in the Bighorn Mountains.  Sharp-tailed grouse and Gray Partridge populations were also at good levels.  The harsh winter of 2016-2017 may have negatively impacted game birds in parts of the Sheridan Region.  However, wet weather during the 2017 nesting and brood rearing season likely reduced nest success and brood survival resulting in lower populations this fall.  A three day sage grouse hunting season in Hunt Area 4 has again been set for September 16-18, 2017.
 
Pheasants from the Department’s Sheridan Bird Farm will continue to be released on some Walk-In Areas and other public lands in the Sheridan Region.  A youth only hunt day will be held for the second time in the Sheridan Region on November 18, 2017 on the Bud Love Wildlife Habitat Management Area near Buffalo.  The initial hunt in 2016 was successful and it is hoped more youth will participate in this special activity.

TURKEY

Casper
Following an extended period of relatively low turkey numbers in the Black Hills, hunters will be happy to see increased numbers of birds in this part of the state.  Poult production has been fair to good over the past three years, with  good over-winter survival.  While turkey numbers are still below those of their last peak (in 2006-2007), turkey hunters should expect to see a few more birds during the 2017 fall and 2018 spring seasons.  Given the majority of spring harvest is comprised of 2-year-old toms, hunters should notice an uptick in spring gobbler numbers as poult production was also good in 2016. 
 
In the remainder of the Casper Region, wild turkey densities remain at moderate levels, and most of these birds are found on private land.  Turkey populations have noticeably increased over the last two years in the Douglas and Lusk areas, and can provide some good hunting opportunity in the Laramie Range and on private land along cottonwood bottoms in the Cheyenne River drainage. 
 
One change for wild turkey hunters throughout the Region this year will be the addition of an early fall archery season.  Hunters will be provided the opportunity to take wild turkeys with archery equipment between September 1 and September 30 pursuant to the fall season restrictions on the license type they hold; and no special archery license is required.
 
Cody
General license spring turkey hunting season will again occur in 2017 for Hunt Area 4, and despite a more liberal spring season, we continue to see an expanding population of turkeys into new areas of the Bighorn Basin.  There will be a limited quota fall turkey season in Hunt Area 4 again to control numbers in a specified area, and have some early archery opportunity.  The hunt area limitation will be east of the Bighorn River to focus harvest on those increasing numbers of turkeys in the Shell, Paintrock and Upper and Lower Nowood River drainages. Hunters who scout and ask for landowner permission beforehand should be able to find a place to hunt turkeys.
 
Laramie
Turkeys should be plentiful for fall and spring hunters based on high quality habitat and average poult production.  
 
Sheridan
Fall (2017) and spring (2018) wild turkey general license seasons are recommended for Hunt Areas 1 and 3.  Campbell, Johnson and Sheridan counties comprise Hunt Area 3.  For the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018, Type 3 licenses will again be available in Area 3. Hunters will be able to obtain the Type 3 license as a second or third turkey license. Type 3 licenses provide additional opportunity for hunters that have access to private land where turkeys are present. This year, the fall wild turkey season in Hunt Area 3 will open September 1 allowing all hunters an additional month of hunting.  In Hunt Area 1, a September season will be open for archery hunting only.
 
Turkey populations appear to be at a moderate level in the Sheridan Region.  Some damage complaints have been received in the Sheridan Region and some landowners have expressed a willingness to take hunters.  However, access to hunt turkeys is more difficult as ranches have turned to outfitted hunts.  Almost all wild turkeys in the Sheridan Region are found on private land, so getting access to hunt is one key to success.
 

MIGRATORY GAME BIRDS - 2017 FALL HUNT PREVIEW

STATEWIDE OVERVIEW

Generally, the spring was about normal. Local breeding conditions within the state have continued to improve with good moisture throughout the state. However, spring rains and rising water due to snow melt may have flooded out some nests in Western parts of the state. Re-nesting effort by mallards and other species was likely good due to good conditions. In general, hunters can expect better than average local populations of ducks across the state. It is important to keep in mind that migration chronology and weather as well as effort put into locating birds and obtaining permission to hunt private land when necessary ultimately will influence the hunting success throughout the state.
 

DUCKS


The May Breeding Survey is conducted each year by the USFWS. This year showed high numbers of breeding ducks again across the survey area, and wetland conditions were generally improved across the survey area. Production is expected to be similar or slightly higher than last year. That said a similar fall flight is expected.

DARK GEESE

Canada geese harvested in the state generally come from 2 populations. The Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) which can be found west of the continental divide and in the Wind River and Bighorn River Basin’s as well as western Carbon and Natrona counties. The RMP population saw a slight dip from record counts in 2016. However, the count was still the 3rd highest all-time. Large geese found to the east generally belong to the Hi-Line Population (HLP). The Hi-Line population also saw a slight decline. However, populations are still quite high. Generally, Canada goose numbers across the state will be good to great.

MOURNING DOVES

Call-count data show mourning dove populations have increased slightly in Wyoming over the last 10 years. Production within the state in 2017 was generally average. Increased precipitation in western parts of the state should have improved surface water availability as well as seed production, which may improve hunting. The majority of doves migrate out of the state with the first cold snap, which usually occurs between late-August and mid-September. However, doves from northern areas migrate through the state in mid-September, and good hunting can be found after the first few days of the season.

SANDHILL CRANES

Cranes that migrate through eastern Wyoming (Crane Hunt Area 7) are primarily from the Mid-Continent Population (MCP), which has been relatively stable since the early 1980s and exceeds the established objective range of 349,000–472,000.  Cranes that breed and stage in central and western Wyoming (Hunt Areas 1-6, 8) are from the Rocky Mountain Population (RMP).  The fall pre-migration survey in 2016 counted 22,264 cranes which was similar to 2015. This is above the population objective of 17,000-21,000 cranes. The 3-year average that determines harvest allocation increased, allowing an additional 80 permits to be available in Wyoming.
Cranes in Areas 4 and 6 roost and feed in the same general locations every year.  Roost locations in Hunt Area 6 are located north of Worland, the Otto area, Powell to Ralston, and Ralston Reservoir.  Roost locations in Hunt Area 4 are Hidden Valley, Riverview Valley, and the south side of Ocean Lake.  For best success, scout the birds prior to the season and obtain permission to access the fields they are using.
 

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