CHEYENNE - Even though many big game seasons are still a few weeks to more than a month away, hunters can get the fall hunts started with season openers for a variety of small game and upland and migratory birds.
Seasons for blue and ruffed grouse, often referred to as mountain grouse, open Sept.1. Blue grouse are found in most mountain areas throughout the state on both Bureau of Land Management and national forest lands. Ruffed grouse are found in western Wyoming in the Shoshone, Bridger-Teton, and Targhee national forests. The season is long, ending Nov. 30. Many birds are taken each year incidental to deer and elk hunts. The hunting season for sharp-tailed grouse also opens Sept. 1 and the season ends Dec. 31.
Mourning doves are found throughout the state, and the quality of hunting is weather dependent. With the first cold snap, doves will head for warmer climes, but if the weather stays mild, dove hunters often have opportunities throughout much of September. Dove hunters should be aware that Eurasian collared doves are being seen with increasing frequency in Wyoming especially around towns and farmsteads in the eastern part of the state. Eurasian doves are an exotic species and are larger than mourning doves and can be identified by a black band on the neck and a squared tail. Since Eurasian doves are not listed as a Wyoming game bird, there is no closed season, no bag limit, and no license is required. Snipe and rail seasons also open Sept. 1 as does the Canada goose season in Wyoming’s Pacific Flyway, which runs through Sept. 8.
All migratory bird hunters are reminded to have the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit in their possession while hunting. The HIP permit is available for free on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov or for 50 cents from license selling agents. All duck, goose, and merganser hunters 16and over are reminded to also purchase the federal Migratory Waterfowl Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or “duck stamp,” which is available at post offices and some license agents.
Like mourning doves, small game animals are also found throughout much of the state. In Wyoming, animals legally classified as small game include cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares, and red, gray, and fox squirrels. The small game season is long, opening Sept. 1 and running through March 1. License requirements for small game and birds vary with the age and residency of the hunters. Hunters 14 years and older are required to possess the proper small game or bird license. Resident youth under 14 do not need a license to hunt small game or birds. Nonresident hunters under 14 years of age also do not need a license if hunting with a licensed adult, and their bag limit is applied to and limited by the small game or game bird licenses held by the adult in his company. Youth under 14 can also hunt wild turkey, but a separate wild turkey license is required.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)