Guy’s Top 10 Wyoming Deer Picks (2020)
By Guy Eastman
You hear it every year, and this one is no different, Wyoming’s deer herd is in pretty rough shape and that has not changed for this year. I do, think we are headed in the right direction over-all however.
With some help from Mother Nature, we have now had two very mild winters in a row. This winter was very mild in throughout the state with the only exception being the southwest corner in parts of Region-K. Add to this a very moderate spring with warm temperatures and very little moisture and we have a very solid recipe for the beginnings of a rebound. After talking to the biologist in Region-G my confidence is elevated for this fall somewhat. The deer wintered out very well and the fawn recruitment has been very, very strong for two years in a row now.
Although Wyoming’s deer may not be at historic highs or even close at this point, there could still be some very solid deer hunts to be had this fall in a handful of areas. Most hunters will see plenty of younger bucks but may struggle to find the older mature survivor bucks of the brutal winter of 2016.
This year I have built out a top 10 listing for Wyoming’s deer hunts with a few additional potentials that could offer up a good hunt for those willing to put in the time and effort without the large preference point burn.
10) Region-H: This hunt barely makes the list but could offer up a good hunt for a bigger, older age class buck that managed to survive the rough winter of three years ago. This region is rough, rugged and remote but also has a solid reputation for big deer that is hard to overlook on any given year. A great lower point option (3 or 4) with lots of potential and plenty of public land country to hunt in.
9) Area-34-1: With some very gentle sagebrush country and plenty of deer to pick over, a hunt in this area can be a very good option for not overly experienced mule deer hunter or an older hunter wanting to get out and get after a good four-point buck. With a nine-point draw and a very high success rate this hunt is a good hunt for a nice 20”-26” buck deer.
8) Area-141-1: For those who wish Regions-G & H had less hunting pressure to deal with, this could be just what the doctor ordered. This limited quota notch out of the famed Region-H is a very good mountain hunt with very limited hunting pressure with only 80 total deer tags available. The season dates here are during the entire month of October and the potential is very good for a really big buck. This can be rough country however and there is some Wilderness to deal with in this hunt area.
7) Region-G: The outlook for Region-G this year is mixed to say the least. I find it very hard to deny this hunt purely based on its reputation and track record for big mule deer. This hunt still remains one of the top mule deer producers of giant Boone and Crockett class bucks in the entire country. Even though the winter of 2016 was devastating to this deer herd, there are always survivors. This hunt should provide an opportunity to see plenty of younger age class bucks this year, and for the hunters that really hit it hard and do the time, this hunt can still produce a big, older age class buck. This hunt will cost you this year however, requiring eight or nine preference points.
6) Area-128-1: As somewhat of a rut hunt with very limited pressure, this hunt has managed to claw back into the list for this year. With only 50 deer tags available and a very generous season during the first three weeks of November, this hunt is pretty hard to deny as a great option for a big buck. Far from a slam dunk, this hunt can have mixed results and is somewhat weather dependent. Max points will be needed to even begin to consider this hunt.
5) Area-102-1: This hunt seems to be on an ever so slight rebound as of the last few years. The hunt in 102 has benefited from a very reduced tag quota. This area is known as a buck factory with very solid mule deer habitat. The area is very accessible and easy to hunt in most portions. This would be another very solid hunt for an older group that might have some trouble humping the mountains after bucks. Thirteen points or more will be needed to hunt here this year. A hunter here should be looking for a nice four-point buck in the 22”-27” range.
4) Area-90-1: Area-90 has somewhat of a local reputation. This hunt country is very mild in nature and again would be a great choice for an older hunter or younger first-time deer hunters. The bucks in here can be exceptionally large, but very hard to find. I have seen bucks in here tipping the score sheet over 190” but these types of deer are certainly not the norm here. With only 75 tags available and long four-week October season, this hunt is very desirable and should take between 12 and 13 preference points to draw.
3) Area-87-1: The Ferris deer hunt can be a bit unpredictable as the quality of the bucks here can be very weather and moisture dependent. I really think this year could be a very solid year here given our mild winter and warm spring. As long as the summer sees a steady stream of thunderstorms, this area could be a very solid buck producer for the state of Wyoming this year. Bucks in the 160-190 class can be had here for those that hunt hard and do their homework.
2) Area 101-1: The Black Butte buck hunt is always one of the top buck producers for Wyoming. With only 50 tag on quota and season that runs the final two weeks of October this hunt is about as good as it gets for Wyoming at this point in time. The country here is very gentle and there is piles of it to pick through to find a big buck. Nearly 80% of the hunters here find success and bucks in the 180”-200” range are not out of the question here. Max points will be needed to hunt here, but the wait could well be worth it if this year’s weather cooperates. This area is about 65% public and access can be a tick more difficult that some of the other areas, but well worth the effort.
1) Area-130-1: The Big Sandy late hunt is as good as it gets for Wyoming right now in my humble opinion. This hunt is latter part of October when the bucks are staging for the upcoming rut. I say a legit 190” plus typical in here last fall while hunting elk in October. With only 15 tags on quota and 90% public land to choose from this hunt will provide a very memorable experience, not to mention the highest success rate in the entire state when it comes to mule deer bucks. This hunt is of course a max point endeavor but might be well worth the time. The country here is relatively mild and a bit of weather will help.
Honorable Mentions and Sleepers: These three hunts may be good lower point options and all three should produce relatively good results for those that hunt them properly.
Area-112-1: This is a new late season hunt in the North Fork of the Shoshone River drainage. This hunt also encompasses Areas 113 and 114 as well, leaving the lucky 25 hunters that draw here plenty of options to find a big buck. This trifecta of areas can produce bucks in the 180”-200” class on occasion and only took about one or two points to draw last year. As a newer hunt that should be much higher this year- in the four to five-point category if I had to guess.
Area-84-1: As a very solid ten to twelve-point option, the Atlantic Rim hunt has always entrigued me personally. The success here can be somewhat unpredictable, but the buck quality and potential is certainly there on the right year. With limited hunting pressure of only 75 hunters to compete with, this hunt could be one of the real sleepers in the famed Carbon County.
Area-22-1: The Douglas deer hunt can be a good option for those that can do their homework and find public access in tough to access areas. This hunt only takes about two points to draw but is shackled by only 21% public land. There are some “Walk-In” and HMAs in this area to research as well, but there could be some very good hunting for decent four-point bucks here if you dare.
Area-60: The Pole Mountain hunt offers some very good options for hunters who want to get after it with only one or two points. This hunt will be a bit crowded but the season extends into the first week of November as a bonus. Only 30% public land is a bit of a challenge for this area, but there is still some potential to make a good hunt here for little to no preference points. Nearly 60% of the hunters here manage to fill their tags on mule deer bucks.