Regional Offices > Laramie Region > Laramie Region News > Excellent hunting outlook for southeast Wyoming

Excellent hunting outlook for southeast Wyoming

August 28, 2018
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Increasing numbers of elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope should result in excellent opportunities for big game hunters in southeast Wyoming for the 2018 season.

Laramie -

Along with more animals, abundant moisture levels have provided good forage, meaning that many big game animals are heading into the fall season in good body condition and with good horn and antler growth. Southeast Wyoming also boasts one of the premier moose hunt ares in the nation. Hunting for other species, such as game bird and small game, should prove successful as well. 

Pronghorn antelope
Most of the Laramie Region’s pronghorn herd units are at or near their population objectives as a result of several years of good fawn production. The region received heavy spring and summer moisture, so pronghorn ought to be in good body condition. Much of the land in southeastern Wyoming is privately-owned, which limits access in some hunt areas. Hunters should refer to Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S Forest Service (USFS), or GPS maps to determine land ownership. The Department’s Access Yes program continues to provide access for pronghorn hunters on both private and public lands throughout the region.
Mule deer populations are increasing in most herd units in the Laramie Region. In many hunt areas, buck ratios are the highest they have been in over a decade. Increased precipitation this spring and summer will contribute to good body condition and increased antler growth in bucks. The increased fat reserves from better habitat conditions should improve mule deer survival over the coming winter. White-tailed deer hunters in southeast Wyoming should enjoy high success rates, especially for those with access to private land. White-tailed deer populations have been increasing over the past few years and hunters with access will have plenty of opportunity.
A majority of elk herd units in the Laramie Region are above 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. Elk avoid areas with high hunting pressure, but plenty of good elk hunting is available away from well-traveled roads and trails. A few Access Yes areas provide opportunities in the region but, as with other species, access to private lands is limited in many hunt areas. Hunters should plan ahead for places to hunt. Beginning in November, the Laramie region will again have a Hunter Management Assistance Program (HMAP) in Elk Hunt Area 7.
Moose Hunt Area 38/41 is one of the premier moose hunt areas in the nation. Moose are found scattered throughout the Medicine Bow National Forest and adjacent lands. For hunters willing to venture away from roads, ample opportunity exists to harvest a trophy bull. 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 moose. The Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department continue to collaborate on moose research projects in the Snowy Range. Any hunters that observe a collared (collars are white or brown, and the moose 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 GPS coordinates for the observation. If a collared moose is harvested, the collar should be removed without destroying it so it can be re-used. Please return collars to the Laramie Regional Office (1212 South Adams).
Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn sheep hunting in the Laramie Peak herd is exceptional. Public access can be difficult, but some public land opportunity does exist. Ram ratios are good and lamb production has increased over the past several years. The future looks bright for this herd and hunters can expect an opportunity to find a trophy ram this fall. Bighorn Sheep Hunt Areas 18 and 21 will be open for the 2018 season and will provide sufficient opportunity to harvest a mature ram.
Upland Game Birds & Small Game
Spring and summer moisture resulted in decent nesting and brood-rearing cover for all upland game birds within the Laramie Region. Brood observations for most upland game birds look promising. 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, as field observations suggest a productive year, in the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre Mountains. 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.
Far fewer turkeys were seen this spring. Turkey hunters should expect to see fewer birds than in past years.
Migratory Game Birds
Wyoming’s spring weather was considered to be normal and contributed to local breeding conditions within the state being ranked as good. Re-nesting efforts by mallards and other species which failed their first attempt at nesting was likely also good due to favorable conditions. Hunters can expect better than average local populations of ducks across the state. Migration chronology and weather, as well as the efforts of scouting for birds and obtaining permission to hunt private land when necessary, will ultimately influence the success of migratory bird hunters throughout the state.
The annual May breeding survey was again conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2018. This year’s results produced high numbers of breeding ducks across the survey area. Wetland conditions were similar or had improved across the survey area from last year. Overall, production and the fall flight are expected to be similar to last year.
Dark Geese
Canada geese harvested in the state come from two populations. The Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) which can be found west of the Continental Divide, in the Wind River and Bighorn River Basins, as well as in western Carbon and Natrona counties. The RMP population increased again in 2018 and is at a all-time high. Large geese found in eastern Wyoming belong to the Hi-Line Population (HLP). The HLP also increased in 2018 and the population is at the third highest level ever recorded. Generally, Canada goose numbers across the state will be good to great.
Mourning Doves
Call-count data show mourning dove numbers have increased slightly in Wyoming over the last 10 years. Production within the state in 2018 was very good to excellent. The majority of doves will 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 still be found after the first few days of the season.
Sandhill Cranes
Cranes which migrate through eastern Wyoming (Crane Hunt Area 7) are primarily from the Mid-Continent Population, which has been relatively stable since the early 1980s and exceeds the established objective range of 349,000–472,000. Cranes which breed and stage in central and western Wyoming (Hunt Areas 1-6, and 8) are from the Rocky Mountain Population. The fall pre-migration survey in 2017 counted 19,592 cranes which was slightly below the 2016 count but within the population objective of 17,000-21,000 cranes. However, the 3-year average used to determine harvest allocation decreased, resulting in a reduction of 50 permits available for Wyoming in 2018. Cranes in Areas 4 and 6 roost and feed in the same general locations every year. Roost locations in Hunt Area 4 are Hidden Valley, Riverview Valley, and the south side of Ocean Lake. Roost locations in Hunt Area 6 are located north of Worland, the Otto area, from Powell to Ralston, and Ralston Reservoir. For best success, scout for cranes prior to the season and obtain permission to access the fields they are using.

- WGFD -

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