Hunters, get ready: Wyoming big game populations are healthy and ready for the upcoming seasons! While spring green-up was slow, a cooler and wetter summer has produced ample vegetation for antelope, elk, mule deer and other wildlife across the Cowboy State.
“I’ve never seen it this green this long,” Lee Knox, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife biologist in the Laramie region, told the Casper-Star Tribune. “We expect antler growth and horn growth to be phenomenal this year, and hopefully high fawn survival.”
According to the Casper-Star Tribune, here’s what to expect:
Due to chronic wasting disease (CWD), hunters are encouraged to test any animal harvested from the Laramie Mountain herd, which is already under objective due to loss of habitat, CWD and weather.
Regardless of what species you’re after, there will be plenty of hunters out on public land during opening day and weekends. Good luck! Here’s to a successful season!
Antelope herds are near objective. Expect an increase in licenses in Hunt Areas 78, 81 and 82 near Carter Mountain. (Hunt Area 80 has fewer available licenses due to a decline in antelope in that area.) Expect more doe-fawn licenses in some areas to help with agricultural damage issues and more opportunity in the Green River area. According to Justin Binfet, wildlife manager for Casper, hunters can expect “good hunting conditions with an increased number of antelope licenses.”
Elk herds are over objective in many areas of the state, particularly around Casper, Cody, Sheridan, Pinedale, Laramie and the Green River region; however, private land in the Laramie Range and Black Hills will require landowner permission. Also, be aware: some areas in Cody will require you to pick up a brucellosis testing kit.
Mule deer populations are still below objective and hunters should expect “a mixed bag” depending on where they are hunting. Casper may be low in numbers, but the Black Hills herds are growing and whitetail deer are at “extraordinarily high densities” on public land within the state. Low fawn recruitment has impacted hunting in the Upper Shoshone and Clarks Forks herds; however, mule deer hunting in Cody will be similar to last year and whitetail hunting will be “liberal” in the Bighorn Basin and Cody region. Expect buck-only hunting in the eastern part of the Green River region and, despite low fawn production, a regular season for those hunting in Lander. There should be an extended whitetail season for the South Wind River and Dubois areas.