Wyoming Expert Analysis

Written by Guy Eastman

Projected Application Dates & Deadlines

Species Date Type Resident Nonresid Taghub Data Access
Elk Application Deadline May 31st January 31st January 14, 2022
Draw Results Available June 17th May 20th
Deer & Pronghorn Application Deadline May 31st April 14, 2022
Draw Results Available June 17th
Moose, Sheep & Goat Application Deadline February 28th January 28, 2022
Draw Results Available May 6th
Bison Application Deadline February 28th January 28, 2022
Draw Results Available May 6th
Dates are subject to change. Please check the regulations.

Licenses Costs & Fees

Species Resident Nonresident
Elk $62 $707 or $1,283
Deer $47 $389 or $677
Pronghorn $42 $341 or $629
Moose $157 $1,997
Sheep $157 $2,335
Goat $157 $2,177
Bison (Bull) $419 $4,417
Bison (Cow) $265 $2,767
Conservation Stamp $15.50
Archery License $18 $30
Application Fee (Non-refundable) $5 $15
Prices are subject to change. Please check the regulations.

Preference Points Cost

Species Resident Nonresident
Elk N/A $52
Deer N/A $41
Pronghorn N/A $31
Moose $7 $150
Sheep $7 $150
Goat N/A N/A
Bison N/A N/A
Youth Points N/A $10
Prices are subject to change. Please check the regulations.

Agency Information

Wyoming Game & Fish Department Offices
Cheyenne 307.777.4600
Casper 307.473.3400
Cody 307.527.7125
Green River 307.875.3223
Jackson 307.733.2321
Lander 307.332.2688
Laramie 307.745.4046
Pinedale 307.367.4353
Sheridan 307.672.7418
Draw Results: 307.777.4655
Guides/Outfitters: 800.264.0981
WY BLM Office: 307.775.6256
U.S. Forest Service
Western Region 801.625.5306 Eastern Region 303.275.5350

2022


Overview
Why Hunt Deer in Wyoming
Mule Deer Analysis


Overview

“The deer and antelope outlook for Wyoming continues to be spotty at best. With the rough winters of 2016 and 2017 behind us, we have now been hit with three drought years in a row which have taken their toll on our antelope and low land deer herds.”

“Wyoming’s mule deer herds have suffered significant declines statewide over the past decade.”

“It is very important to keep in mind that a boatload of preference points will not easily buy you into a 200” deer in the Cowboy State.”

Ike_2021_WYDeer_sm

Wyoming’s mule deer woes continue to plague the Cowboy State. Coming off back-to-back beyond-rough winters in 2016 and 17, the deer herds have suffered yet another climate event with three straight years of historic drought conditions to even further damage what once was one of the most prolific mule deer herds on the face of the earth. However, with a statewide snowpack level sitting right around 80% of normal and a very mild winter there is some hope for a rebound ahead. Add to that the fact that some of the deer herds west of the Continental Divide may already be on the cusp of a rebound of historic proportions, the outlook might not be quite as bleak as we previously thought.

I have talked to the Region G biologist regularly throughout the winter months and from what they have seen so far, the deer in that region are looking very, very good. Very high doe to fawn ratios and nearly unheard of, pre-winter fat reserves have things certainly headed in the right direction in that area of the state. We also spent some time on the winter range this year filming bucks, and I can honestly report that the buck quality this year was very solid to say the least. This information is further backed up by the biologist check station from last fall’s hunt where the state saw some very good quality in the bucks they did in fact check through the hunter checkpoint, as well a very solid older age class of bucks. I think the rebound in Region H is probably two years behind Region G and Region K may be a year or two behind that. It’s beginning to look like the 2016 winter is far enough behind us now, that we are finally starting to see a higher quality age class of bucks in the four to five years of age range hitting the hills. And so far, it looks like this year should be even better.

The limited quota areas continue to struggle however. With most of these units located in the lower, more arid country, the drought has taken its toll hard on these deer herds. Most of these areas have seen some drastic tag quota reductions and shortened seasons as a result. Along with quota reductions come stiffer draw odds. Many of the historically high-quality areas have seen point creep on steroids over the past few years. Some areas that have historically taken 6 or 7 points are now taking ten to 12 points to draw.

The state has yet to update the hunter success statistics from the hunt last fall, but I predict those numbers to be lower than normal again this year. Because of the lack of this critical piece of data I was not able to put a final grade on many of the hunts yet for next fall when it comes to chip color. Once the state publishes this data I will make some final adjustments to the hunt grades for both antelope and mule deer. If you are a member of our TagHub digital MRS service you will be able to access these changes before you apply. But for the most part, many of the areas have remained downgrades similar to last year.

One important thing to remember when it comes to Wyoming mule deer is the fact that the State of Wyoming does not manage for true trophy mule deer like some other states might. Wyoming manages for herd numbers and hunter satisfaction, which means the big game managers and biologists in Wyoming want a healthy population of mule deer and a fair number of bucks that hit maturity. In a nutshell, Wyoming does not manage for six and seven-year-old bucks, period. The winters here are too severe and the state does not want to leave too much resource on the table when a rough winter strikes, which occurs about every five to seven years.
With that said, at this point in time, the fact remains that the vast majority of the areas you will study in this section are managed to an at-or-near objective herd level, and a buck to doe ratio in the 30-40 per 100 range. This is not the Arizona Strip or the Henry Mountains folks, and for that reason, a boatload of preference points will not easily buy you into a 200” deer in the Cowboy State.

There are two different types of draw hunts in Wyoming to apply for. The first is the general region-wide tag. These are big regions consisting of a dozen or so individual hunting units. A tag draw for the region allows a hunter to hunt bucks in any open general hunt area within that region. Believe it or not, this is where the vast majority of Wyoming’s biggest deer are killed each fall. To kill a big buck here, you are going to have your work cut out for you however. Historically speaking, the best general regions for big bucks are; Region G, H, K, D and L in that order. Regions G and H are very rough and rugged and can offer up a very tough hunt for big bucks, but the payoff can be exceptional here if you hunt hard and get lucky on the right year. To draw a tag in either of these regions can take anywhere between 8 and 9 preference points for the likes of Region G and only 4 or 5 preference points for Region H. There are three 200” bucks hanging in our office, all three of which are products of Wyoming’s general region hunts. Keep in mind however, these hunts can be very heavy with hunting pressure because resident hunters can purchase these tags over-the-counter every year without restrictions.

The second type of hunts are the limited quota only hunts. Most of these hunts are for individual hunt areas with a limited number of tags available for both residents and non-residents alike. These hunts have limited hunting pressure with later season dates during the middle of October generally. Throughout the entire state of Wyoming there are now 33 limited quota mule deer hunts, which is somewhat scarce when compared to the nearly 70 limited quota elk hunts and 123 limited quota antelope hunts available for Wyoming. Of these 33 total hunts, a very small handful of them are what I would consider blue-chip grade hunts or top-quality areas for this year. Most of the high point holders will hold out for these hunts. These hunts tend to be a bit easier to find bucks in, but sometimes lack in the over-all top end buck potential.

More than 75% of the records book quality bucks in Wyoming are taken in a general hunt region, and not in high profile limited quota areas like some may think. But, if you desire a higher quality hunt with easier country and limited hunting pressure for a good buck in the 160” to 190” class the limited quota hunts are probably your best option.

All deer hunts in Wyoming are any weapon hunts where a hunter can hunt both the archery and rifle seasons with their deer license. Wyoming does not offer any archery only or muzzleloader hunts for buck deer at this point in time.


Why Hunt Deer in Wyoming
The state has sliced the quotas in most of the core general hunt regions over the past few years and shortened many of the hunting seasons in an effort to help the deer rebound faster. Over the past ten years, Wyoming has removed nearly 30% of the nonresident general region tags from the draw, this equates to over 9,000 nonresident mule deer tags. This fact alone is the main reason a Region G tag has shot up to an astronomical 8 preference points to draw. Region G alone had a quota of 3,500 nonresident tags available when I graduated high school in 1990. Today that total is a measly 400 tags and holding steady. At 2008 tag quota levels alone, Region G would only require 3 or 4 points to draw. Region H has also seen drastic cuts in quota but still remains a 3 or 4 preference point hunt, which seems much more in line with the quality of the hunt available.

As for the Wyoming limited quota mule deer units-there have also been drastic tag quota cuts causing draw odds to plummet. Many of these areas contain very arid sagebrush habitat and have been hit very hard by the drought and winter conditions of the past three years and counting. Most of these 40 mule deer hunt areas have seen drastic decreases in mule deer populations and buck to doe ratios over the past few years. The average buck to doe ratio in the limited quota units, based on recent 2020 surveys, is about 28 bucks per 100 does - a nearly 12 buck drop in the past 24 months. On average Wyoming mule deer herd sits below the state objective level by over 30% statewide.

Historically speaking, Wyoming does have some very good big buck potential. Wyoming remains the fourth best state to kill a records class buck behind only the historic mule deer powerhouses of Colorado, Idaho and Utah. When it comes to a pure county-by-county breakdown, Wyoming holds two of the top ten counties in the entire country, Lincoln and Carbon. Only the mule deer mega-mecca of Colorado has more top ten counties for monster bucks over the past 20 years.

The snowpack this year has been slightly below normal in most areas. The snowpack statewide is sitting about 80% of normal and is confined to the higher elevations where it belongs for the most part, all great news for our deer. As usual by this time of year, we will see what the late spring and summer hold.

The top general region mule deer tag, Region G took 8.5 preference points to draw in 2021. We fully expect this tag to take nine and maybe even 10 points to draw this year. The next best general regions of H and K took 5 and 3 points respectively to draw last year.

If you want to hunt a top-quality general unit you need to plan for about 5 or 6 preference points, but if you want to commit to a top-quality limited quota area, plan on sticking with the system for about 12 years or more.

A quick draw tip for the wise: the vast majority of the remaining general region tags can usually be drawn as a second choice, therefore saving your preference points for another year, particularly in the more expensive “special” draw.


Mule Deer Analysis
Purely on a statistical basis, the chances of killing a Boone and Crockett mule deer buck in Wyoming is about 4,000 or 5,000 to 1, Colorado provides a 10X better chance to kill a monster buck. Two of the biggest bright spots in Wyoming are Carbon and Lincoln Counties. Carbon County alone has 26% of the total records book entries for Wyoming, and more than 30% of them have come in the past 15 years alone.

The newly formed limited quota areas in the heart of Carbon County, Areas 78, 79, 80, and 81 are fairly easy to draw and keep getting better and better each year. There could be a real diamond in the rough sitting inside this block of relatively new limited quota hunt units in my opinion, particularly for those who don’t have a massive amount of preference points.

When you look at the master deer chart for Wyoming it is very important to keep in mind that last year, as a conservative measure, I downgraded a lot of mule deer hunts from blue chip to green and I have chosen to keep this trend in place for another year. Since the chart is mostly based on historical data, most of these areas will look much stronger on paper than they actually are at this point in time in reality. The only exceptions to this would be Areas 87, 101, 128 and 130, which are the only three mule deer hunts I think even warrant a blue-chip rating for this year.

I highly suggest you check out and join our TagHub online research tool and service. Through that application we are able to take questions and concerns as well as hand out advice regarding hunt areas in all the western states. There you will also find the charts in their entirety along with additional information not found in the magazine for space reasons, helpful data such as herd and horn data, terrain data, and additional hunts not listed in the magazine pages. TagHub.eastmans.com

GO TO MAP & CHARTS

Deer Table - Recently updated March 25, 2022

2022_WY_DEER_Master_Tables1_25Mar2022 2022_WY_DEER_Master_Tables2_25Mar2022

 

WY Tag Allocations Deer & Pronghorn

Zach Even WY Bull
Elk like Zach Even’s big Wyoming bull exist in virtually every elk unit in Wyoming and Eastmans’ MRS and TagHub can help you find them. (See EBJ i126 for Zach’s feature.)
Changes for 2021 | Wyoming Elk Outlook & Overview Why Hunt Elk in Wyoming? Preference Points Applying for Elk in Wyoming Blue Chip Units Area 16 (Shirley Mountains) Area 22, 111 (Ferris) Area 30 (Aspen Mountain) Area 31 (Little Mountain) Area 53 (Dead Indian) Area 54 (Bald Ridge) Area 56 (Wapiti Ridge) Area 58 (Sage Creek) Area 59 (Boulder Basin) Area 61 (North Greybull River) Area 100 (Steamboat) Area 111 (Seminoe) Area 113 (Rochelle Hills) Area 124 (Powder Rim) Changes for 2022 | Wyoming Elk

For the 2021 elk hunt, the state of Wyoming made only a few major changes. The more notable being a late-season limited-draw hunt in the Black Hills Area 116 and a new limited Type-2 hunt in Area 100, which allows the 25 elk hunters to hunt within the Farson-Eden Irrigation Project starting in August through the year and into the end of January. Also, hunters who draw the very limited Ferris hunt (Area 22) can now also hunt in Area 111 after November 15th. 

As for changes for 2022, we do not have any indication yet of any major changes for the upcoming Wyoming elk season. However, the state will not release much information if any regarding the 2022 season until after the new year. With a print deadline of December 15th, these changes will not be available for this issue of the magazine. As a result, I would highly suggest subscribing to our digital research platform, TagHub, where more up-to-date information and data will be housed. Well worth the extra few bucks if you want to be kept up to date on such changes and additions for any of the Western states we cover in the MRS.  

Outlook & Overview

The overall elk herd estimate in Wyoming continues to hover around a 20-year high at over 120,000 animals and holding steady according to the latest state estimates. To give a little perspective, in 1987 the Wyoming elk herd hovered right around 65,000 animals, given the latest estimate of nearly 120,000 elk, which represents a growth rate of nearly 85% over the past 35 years. Elk are definitely a bright spot for Wyoming wildlife management. The question now remains: How is the trophy quality of the bulls in the Wyoming elk herd? Aside from the past two drought years, the data show that over the long haul, the state of Wyoming is not only growing its elk herd but also growing the quality of the bulls as well. With the onset of more limited quota areas, more elk, better habitat and improved management, Wyoming has secured its place as one of the best blends of opportunity and quality of any state in the West in my opinion.   

From a records book standpoint, Wyoming elk hunters are putting nearly twice as many bull elk into the Boone and Crockett records book as they did in the 1990s. Big bull powerhouse states like Arizona, Utah and Montana still manage to enter twice as many elk into the books as Wyoming, but not many elk states can offer up the volume of elk tags and elk country that Wyoming can. With roughly 88 limited elk hunts to choose from, in addition to a somewhat easy-to-draw general elk tag option, Wyoming has a very good system in place for the elk hunter who wants to get out and hunt for a nice bull on public land. Elk opportunity continues to be king in the Cowboy State.

Wyoming does, however, tend to struggle when it comes to the mega-bulls versus some other states. Contrary to the beliefs of some, bulls in the 400-class are extremely rare in Wyoming. The hunt areas in Park County can produce bulls in the 340-380 class each fall, but many of those hunts are hard to draw and tend to be very physically demanding. However, when it comes to records book bulls, Wyoming does produce more than its fair share of qualifying specimens, topping the great state of Colorado and sliding right in underneath the historic monster bull factory of Utah. Fact of the matter is, the state of Wyoming is the fourth best place on the entire continent to kill a records book bull elk.  

Most of the best elk states in the West have only a handful of counties that produce most of the biggest bulls in their state, and the state of Wyoming is no different. The two counties bordering Yellowstone National Park (Park and Teton) alone account for more than half of Wyoming’s largest bulls. These two counties encompass the entire northwest corner of the state. Add to that the bordering counties of Johnson, Fremont and Sublette and you have the five counties in Wyoming that consistently produce the largest bulls in the state by far. These five counties account for over 75% of the records book bulls from the state of Wyoming. In fact, Park County, Wyoming is now the third best county on the continent to find a big bull elk, only trailing the likes of the famed counties of Coconino County, Arizona and White Pine County, Nevada. 

With the elk herd in Wyoming hovering near an all-time high and trophy quality continuing to remain solid, Wyoming is without a doubt a “must apply” state when it comes to elk applications and elk preference points. Wyoming is one of the most stable elk states in the entire West. The Game and Fish Department in Wyoming has a very stable, consistent and time-tested management strategy for elk. This strategy continues to produce plenty of good elk hunting opportunities for hunters, resident and nonresident alike. Even with Wyoming’s wolf and grizzly bear issues, the state still manages to produce some very good hunting for some very nice bulls, many of which are on public lands. 

Why Hunt Elk in Wyoming? The overall elk herd estimate in Wyoming continues to expand beyond the 20-year high to over 120,000 animals. To give a little perspective, the Wyoming elk herd in 1987 hovered right around 65,000 elk; this represents a growth of nearly 85% over the past 34 years. Elk are definitely a bright spot for Wyoming wildlife management. The question now remains, how is the trophy quality of the bulls in the Wyoming elk herd? Aside from the past two drought years, the data shows that over the long haul, the state of Wyoming is not only growing its elk herd, but also growing the quality of the bulls as well. With the onset of more limited quota areas, more elk, better habitat and improved management, Wyoming has secured its place as one of the best blends of opportunity and quality of any state in the West. From a records book standpoint, Wyoming elk hunters are putting nearly twice as many bull elk into the Boone and Crockett records book as they did in the 1990s. Big bull powerhouse states like Arizona, Utah and Montana still manage to enter twice as many elk into the books as Wyoming, but not many elk states can offer up the volume of elk tags and elk country that Wyoming can. With over 88 limited elk hunts to choose from, in addition to a somewhat easy-to-draw general elk tag, Wyoming has a very good system in place for the elk hunter who wants to get out and hunt for a nice bull on public land. Elk opportunity is king in the Cowboy State. Wyoming does however tend to struggle when it comes to the mega-bulls like some other states. Contrary to the beliefs of some, bulls in the 400-class are extremely rare in Wyoming. The hunt areas in Park County can produce bulls in the 340-380-class each fall, but many of those hunts are hard to draw and tend to be very physically demanding. However, when it comes to records book bulls, Wyoming does produce more than its fair share of qualifying specimens, topping the great state of Colorado and sliding right in underneath the historic monster bull factory of Utah. Fact of the matter is, the state of Wyoming is the fourth best place on the entire continent to kill a records book bull elk. Most of the best elk states in the West have only a handful of counties that produce the biggest bulls in their state, and the state of Wyoming is no different in that regard. The counties of Park and Teton alone account for more than half of Wyoming’s largest bulls. These two counties encompass the entire northwest corner of the state. Add to that the bordering counties of Johnson, Fremont and Sublette and you have the five counties in Wyoming that produce the largest bulls in the state on a very consistent basis. These five counties alone account for over 75% of the records book bulls from Wyoming. In fact, Park County, Wyoming is now the third best county on the continent to find a big bull elk, only trailing the likes of the famed Coconino County, Arizona and White Pine County, Nevada. With the elk herd in Wyoming hovering near an all-time high and trophy quality continuing to remain solid, Wyoming is without a doubt a “must apply” state when it comes to elk applications and elk preference points. Wyoming is one of the most stable elk states in the entire West. The Game and Fish Department in Wyoming has a very consistent management strategy for elk. This strategy continues to produce plenty of good elk hunting opportunities for hunters, resident and nonresident alike. Even with Wyoming’s wolf and grizzly bear issues, the state still manages to produce some very good hunting for some very nice bulls. Preference Points Wyoming has a robust and yet complicated preference point system for the nonresident applicant. There is no preference point system for resident hunters for elk, deer and antelope. For the nonresident applicant, the point system in Wyoming offers a split opportunity to draw a tag with both a preference points draw chance and a random draw chance if unsuccessful in the preference point draw. See the sidebar for clarification on how the nonresident draw actually works in Wyoming. In 2020 the total nonresident preference point pool for elk continued to rise dramatically to over 103,000 applicants. This is a far cry from the “good old days” of 2017 when there were only 67,000 nonresident applicants with elk points in Wyoming. This huge influx of applicants is most likely a result of other big game state systems becoming jammed up with applicants which causes them to become more and more stingy with their tags, which in turn creates drastic drops in draw odds resulting in increased applicants in the more robust and more “just” Wyoming system. This is one of the drawbacks to running one of the most equitable and fair draw systems in the entire West. This is my opinion but can be backed up with facts as well. No other state even comes close to giving out the percentage of nonresident elk tags that Wyoming does. Point creep could become a serious issue in the years to come if most of these applicants end up continuing to hang on, “deeper” into the system hoping to vie for better tags versus going after the much easier to draw general elk tag. Historically, about half of the low point holders are continuously flushed through the system after only about three preference points or less in the general elk draw. Of the remaining higher point holders, roughly 1,000 applicants should go into the 2021 draw with maximum preference points of 15. With roughly 800 bull elk tags from the best (blue and green chip) elk areas going to nonresident applicants each year, these ultra-high point holders should actually move completely through the Wyoming draw system over the next three or four years. Less than 10% of the Wyoming elk applicants have more than ten (10) preference points for the elk draw. The sweet spot where point holders seem to drastically drop off is currently around 5 or 6 points. Another point to keep in mind when looking at the preference points chart is the fact that nearly 75% of the max point holders are applying for the preference points-only option, leaving less than 25% of those max point holders even competing for an actual elk tag in the draw in the first place. There could be as many as 800 of the 1,000 max point holders remaining patient and banking their preference points for the perfect season and the perfect year. If we remove the ultra-high demand areas such as Areas 22, 30, 31, 100 and 124, where nearly 70% of the remaining max point holders apply, the draw odds are not as bad as they may appear on the surface. Wyoming does allow nonresident hunters to purchase preference points for $52 up until the 1st of November on the Game and Fish Department website (wgfd.wyo.gov). Only one point or tag per year can be purchased per sportsman. I would highly suggest you explore this option even if you are not quite ready to actually apply for a tag. The point here is clear—if you want to hunt elk in the West, Wyoming continues to be your best bet when it comes to both opportunity and quality.

In the draw, 75% of available licenses in each hunt area and license type will be allocated to the preference point drawing. In Wyoming, preference points rank applicants’ pools. The remaining 25% of available licenses will be allocated in a random drawing, regardless of preference points. The random drawing is intended to provide everyone who applies a chance of drawing a license, regardless of their preference point total.

“Every applicant is in the preference point drawing even if they have no preference points. After the preference point drawing is completed, all unsuccessful applicants will then participate in the random drawing.”

Youth can start to collect preference points, but he or she has to be at least eleven (11) years old at the time of submitting an application for a big game limited-quota license in the initial drawing and must be at least 12 years old when in the field hunting. Youth can apply for preference points when they are 11 years old at the time of submitting a preference point-only application and must be at least 12 years old by December 31 of that year. 

- Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Wyoming has a very robust and somewhat complicated preference point system for the nonresident applicant. There is no preference point system for resident hunters for elk, deer and antelope in Wyoming. For the nonresident applicant, however, the Wyoming preference point system offers a split opportunity to draw a tag, with both a preference point draw chance and a random draw chance if unsuccessful in the preference point draw. See the sidebar for clarification on how the nonresident draw actually works in Wyoming. In 2021 the total nonresident preference point pool for elk continued to rise dramatically for the fifth year in a row, to nearly 150,000 total applicants. This is a far cry from the “good old days” of 2017 when there were only 67,000 nonresident applicants with elk points in Wyoming. This huge influx of applicants is most likely a result of other big game state systems becoming jammed up with applicants, which causes them to become more and more stingy with their tags, which in turn causes drastic drops in draw odds causing more and more applicants flooding into the more robust and more “just” Wyoming system. This is one of the drawbacks to running one of the most equitable and fair draw systems in the entire West. This is my opinion but can be backed up with facts. No other state even comes close to giving out the percentage of nonresident elk tags that Wyoming does. Point creep could become a serious issue in the years to come if most of these applicants end up continuing to hang on “deeper” into the system, hoping to vie for better tags versus going after the much-easier-to-draw general elk tag. Historically, about half of the lower point holders are continuously flushed out the bottom of the system after only about two or three preference points in the general elk draw. Of the remaining higher point holders, roughly 1,000 applicants should go into the 2022 draw with maximum preference points of 16. About 300 of these high point holders are drawing each and every year, so the ceiling for WY elk points should top out about 20 points if this current trend holds. In addition, with roughly 800 bull elk tags from the best (blue- and green-chip) elk areas going to nonresident applicants each year, these ultra-high point holders should actually move completely through the Wyoming draw system over the next three or four years. As a point of comfort to some, only about 10% of the Wyoming elk applicants currently have more than 10 (eight) preference points inside the Wyoming system. The sweet spot where point holders seem to drastically drop off is currently around four points. Another point to keep in mind when looking at the preference points chart is the fact that nearly 75% of the max points holders are applying for the preference points-only option, leaving less than 25% of those max point holders to compete with for an actual elk tag in the draw. If we remove the ultra-high demand areas such as Areas 22, 30, 31, 100 and 124, where nearly 70% of the max point holders generally apply, the draw odds are not as bad as they may appear on the surface. Wyoming does allow nonresident hunters to purchase preference points for $52 up until the 1st of November on the Game and Fish Department website (wgfd.wyo.gov). Only one point or tag per year can be purchased per sportsman. I would highly suggest you explore this option even if you are not quite ready to actually apply for a tag. The point here is clear: If you want to hunt elk in the West, Wyoming continues to be your best bet when it comes to both opportunity and quality. Applying for Elk in Wyoming Once an applicant decides it is time to actually apply for an elk hunt in Wyoming, the first question to be answered is to apply for a general elk tag or go for a more coveted limited-quota elk tag. As it currently stands, a general elk tag will take two or three preference points to draw, making this an option that can be had every few years if so desired. The general elk tag in Wyoming is a great option for the hunter who is willing to hire a guide and venture deep into the wilderness areas in search of adventure and have a decent chance at a nice bull with the outside chance at a 320+ type bull. The general hunts also offer good opportunity for the hardcore backcountry bowhunter who wants to experience a backpack or horseback hunt for a nice bull elk in some rugged and remote country. With low elk densities and plenty of grizzly bears in most of the better general areas, the general tag is a good option for those with some sort of an edge on the general hunting public, i.e., horses, experience or tenacity. If you don’t find yourself in this category or you are after something beyond the ordinary when it comes to a big bull, then a limited-quota hunt will most likely be the best route for you. These hunts offer a much better elk hunting experience with less hunting pressure and better bulls on average when it comes to quality. The general elk tag in Wyoming gives an elk hunter a very wide spectrum of area options to choose from. With plenty of public land to hunt elk on, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department also does a very good job of garnering public access to private property with very robust and effective Walk-In Area (WIA) and Hunter Management Area (HMA) programs. Even the general elk hunts in Wyoming usually average nearly 20% success rate on branch-antlered bull elk, much higher than most comparative states such as Colorado, Idaho and Montana. The top 10 general elk areas in Wyoming have an average hunter success rate on bull elk of over 32%, an impressive statistic that I would put up against almost any general elk hunting state in the country. A good limited-quota elk tag in Wyoming can usually be had for about eight or nine preference points. A really high-quality hunt will cost you more along the lines of 13 or 14 points. The average limited-quota elk tag in Wyoming takes about eight preference points to draw. The average “blue-chip” area will take you 14 points to draw, and the average “green-chip” elk area is in the eight- to nine-point range. This should give you a better idea of a target to aim for when it comes to wait times inside the Wyoming draw system for a good elk tag. Wyoming has a very good mixture of seasons, including some very prime rifle hunts during the tail end of the rut and a very favorable, not to mention a lengthy, bow season in most areas, which stretches through the entire month of September. A majority of the limited quota elk hunts in Wyoming open around the 1st of October, leaving a little bit of hardcore elk rut action on the table for the rifle hunter who wants to have a chance at a big bugling bull. One drawback to applying for an elk hunt in Wyoming is the cost. Wyoming has basically three options for nonresident elk applicants. First, just apply for a preference point only. This can be done easily online any time after July 2nd up until the 1st of November at a total nonrefundable cost of $52. The other two options are to apply for either the “regular” or the “special” elk drawing. There is no difference in the tag once drawn. The only differences are the odds and the PRICE. The regular elk tag will cost $759 to apply for, with a preference point included and the application fee of $15. The more expensive—and slightly easier to draw in most cases—special elk tag will add an additional special fee of $576 to the regular elk tag cost for a total special elk tag cost of a whopping $1,335. A few additional drawbacks to the Wyoming license and draw system are the draw process can be difficult to figure out at times, and nonresident hunters cannot hunt in designated wilderness areas without the use of a registered guide or outfitter. Wyoming has no muzzleloader elk seasons and very few archery-specific elk tags available (17 total bow-only hunts), leaving hardcore bowhunters to swim in the regular drawing along with the rifle hunting masses. As of recently, the cow elk tags and cow seasons in Wyoming continue to be very abundant, which can make hunting a big bull that much tougher when the elk herds are being banged on for months on end in some of the best elk hunt areas. These are just a few minor things to keep in mind when applying for an elk tag in Wyoming. The Wyoming draw system makes nearly 12,500 limited-quota elk tags available to hunters each and every fall, of which nearly 2,500 will end up in the hands of nonresident hunters. Not many other states, if any, can say they offer up nearly 6,000 total nonresident bull elk tags (limited-quota and general) to nonresident hunters through a draw process. Wyoming allocates 16% of the total elk tags to nonresident hunters each fall, which is very generous considering many competing states only allocate 10% or less to nonresidents. When it comes to nonresident tag allocations, the state of Wyoming makes other states just look bad in comparison. With all this said, the fact remains, Wyoming is probably the best place to apply for an elk tag in the West. Always keep in mind that education and research are the keys to understanding and maximizing the process of taking a good bull elk in the Cowboy State. Blue Chip Units With a total of 88 limited-quota bull elk hunt choices to choose from, Wyoming gives a prospective applicant a wide array of possibilities to choose from including a very robust general-tag choice that offers some very solid elk hunting particularly on a guided wilderness type backcountry hunt. The blue-chip bull elk hunt lineup for this year has been slightly expanded to 17 total any-weapon hunts along with two additional archery-only hunts. I have high confidence that any of these 17 hunt areas and 19 total hunts can in fact produce a 350-class bull or better on a good year for a hunter who hunts hard and is able to dig deep and get things done. We predict the following blue-chip elk areas are the very best bull elk hunts Wyoming has to offer for the 2022 hunting season. Let’s take a bit closer and more detailed look at these 17 “best of the best” Wyoming elk hunts. Area 16 (Shirley Mountains) The Shirley Mountains have become the running definition of elk hunting consistency in the state of Wyoming. This hunt continues to be a very, very consistent producer of 300- to 330-class bulls. The Game and Fish Department of Wyoming offers two different hunts for bulls in this hunt area. A type-1 hunt during October and a type-2, late-season hunt during the entire month of November. The later hunt has a bit better success rate (84%), but the earlier October hunt (70%) tends to produce the larger bulls on average, mostly due to the fringe rut hunt dates and broken bulls found in the late season. The type-1 rifle hunters and bowhunters here can expect to have a good chance at a nice 300- to 330-class bull, while the late-season, type-2 elk hunters may expect to have a good chance at a 280-320-class bull. The access here can be somewhat problematic, but if you can find a place to hunt, mostly with an outfitter, your chances of killing a good bull are very high. The fact there are three HMAs in this unit to look into for public access is a bit more encouraging. This area will take in the 13- or 14-point range to draw out in. The Shirley Mountain Unit may be one of the best places in Wyoming for an elk hunter to kill a nice six-point bull with relatively little physical effort on a normal year. This unit is capable of producing bulls in the 350-inch range on a good year. Area 22, 111 (Ferris) The Ferris elk area in Wyoming has become somewhat of an all-star when it comes to elk hunting in the Cowboy State. With an elk herd way over objective, a bull-to-cow ratio that is nearly unheard of (60:100), and very few tags (60) available, this elk hunt could be one of the best in the state when it comes to hunter satisfaction. With an October 8th opener, this elk hunt can produce a very high-quality elk hunting experience for a good bull in the 320 and up class. This area is very small and the elk are somewhat concentrated. However, starting in 2020 this elk tag is also valid for hunt Area-111 during the late season. This is good news, as the elk tend to wander between the two hunt units during drought years during the late winter season. With almost 90% public land in the unit and a 76% hunter success rate, this hunt is very high on the list for both opportunity and hunt quality. On a good year like we had in 2014, the bulls in here can exceed 350, but a drought year like we experienced in 2020 can easily drop that down to the 320 class. A nonresident applicant will need maximum preference points (16) to even think about hunting here. This elk hunt would be a bowhunter’s dream come true, if you can manage to draw the tag. Area 30 (Aspen Mountain) Of the Flaming Gorge trifecta of areas—Aspen (30), Little Mountain (31) and Pine Mountain (32)—this elk area, Aspen Mountain (30), is certainly the most consistent producer of the three. With a long, four-week season, the entire month of October, this area can be second to none when it comes to potential bull elk quality and very limited hunting pressure. By all reasonable estimates, the past five years have seen the average bull quality here drop slightly from 340s to about 320s. The summer drought here over the past few years has the bulls in pretty rough shape. I think a 350-class bull here is again a very strong possibility if we see adequate moisture this spring and summer. Good access and extremely high hunter success rates—at nearly 80% over the past three years—have this elk area as one of the top units for a guy who wants to hunt elk in mildly-rugged country with very limited hunting pressure. The elk habitat here is very concentrated, and it is a glasser’s paradise with stable elk numbers and a now expanding bull-to-cow ratio (43:100). With only eight nonresident tags available, the wait for a tag here might just be too much for most applicants, however. This elk hunt is yet another max-point (16) application unit. Area 31 (Little Mountain) The Little Mountain elk hunt area is the second outstanding hunt of the Flaming Gorge Trifecta. This hunt is the little brother of the Aspen Mountain hunt and nearly identical in every aspect measurable. With a few more tags available for this hunt (75), the draw odds here are actually tougher than the Aspen hunt. Max-point holders here only had a 12% chance of drawing this tag last year. The hunter success here is nearly as good as Aspen, with 76% of the hunters here taking branch-antlered bulls over the past three years and counting. This area has the highest public land percentage of the three at over 90% and contains some varied elk habitat throughout the unit. A good bull here is in the 330 to 350 class, and on the right year, some very large bulls can be found in this area. The elk herd in this entire region is right at objective, with a very solid (43:100) and growing bull-to-cow ratio. Area 53 (Dead Indian) As a reentry to the list, the Dead Indian hunt can be a very solid elk hunt choice for those who can truly relish a backcountry endeavor. This hunt is not for the faint of heart when it comes to backcountry elk hunting. This hunt is rough, rugged and chock-full of grizzly bears to boot. The hunter success here is a bit lower than most blue-chip areas at just under 50%; however, the upside potential is very high here. This area can produce monster bulls. Most of the herd bulls in here are in the 330 to 340 class with a few 360+ giants roaming around fairly consistently. About 12 to 14 points will be necessary to draw here next year. Keep in mind someone with only one point did draw this elk tag in the “Special” draw in 2020, which was probably a fluke occurrence. This area has produced records book bulls in the past. The elk herd here is slightly below objective with an anemic bull-to-cow ratio (16:100), but the area seems to be bouncing back as of the last few years. I expect to see this area improve consistently over the next few years, as will the neighboring area which is next on the list. Area 54 (Bald Ridge) As the Dead Indian hunt’s big brother, this elk hunt is about as good as it gets for Wyoming on a good year. Make no mistake, however, just like Area 53, this is not an easy elk hunt; buyer beware in that regard. With three total hunts available— North, South and archery-only—this unit has about anything a guy could ask for when it comes to mountain elk hunting. The South unit, with an incredibly long season of two months in October and November and a limited-tag quota of only 50 tags, is a very high-quality elk hunt. The elk numbers and bull-to-cow ratio here has waned in recent years a bit, but there seems to be the possibility of an error in the counting process when the latest survey was conducted. This area is one of only a few in Wyoming with the potential for a 380-class bull on the right year. Be prepared to cuddle up with a grizzly bear each night here, however. The bear concentrations in this region are some of the highest anywhere in the Lower 48. Access can be a bit tricky, but with some hard hiking or horse stock, the situation is more than manageable. A boatload of points will be needed to hunt again next fall. The North hunt, Type-2, is not nearly as good as the South hunt. With rougher country and fewer elk to the north, the southern end of the unit is certainly the more desirable of the two. About 14 points should be necessary to hunt the South hunt, while the North hunt could only require six or seven points, which could be a very solid deal in my opinion. Area 56 (Wapiti Ridge) The Wapiti Ridge area is one of Wyoming’s last remaining late-season migration-type hunts. With a late November and into December season, weather is of the essence here—the colder the better for this hunt. A low-pressure weather pattern will bring the big park and high-country resident Wilderness bulls down to the lower windswept slopes and ridges where a hunter can get to them a bit more easily. The success rate here has dropped over the past few years to settle in around the 50% mark on average. The potential for a giant bull has this area clinging to the blue-chip list, however. With only 10 tags available, a nonresident will need a lot of points to hunt here, as there are only two nonresident tags available in the draw for this hunt. If you are willing to hire a guide with good horse stock and a solid knowledge of the area, a 350+ bull is certainly possible on this hunt. Area 58 (Sage Creek) Area 58, or Carter Mountain as the locals call it, at one time was the best elk hunt in the entire state. A falloff in elk numbers, bull quality and access have made this area a bit of a tougher sell to applicants as of recently. However, a now increasing elk herd—beyond objective levels—and an expanding bull-to-cow ratio (48) may have this area back on the right track. As further proof of a comeback, the hunter success rates in this area have begun to steadily climb back to above 80% on branch-antlered bulls. As it sits right now, this area is probably one of the best places I know of to consistently kill a 350-inch bull with some effort. With a skimpy tag quota of only 35 tags available and a very long two-month season during the entire months of October and November, this area is a very solid hunt with very little hunting pressure. This area is inside the grizzly bear zone, and some caution should be used here. If you are looking for a good bull and have 15 or more points to burn, this area should definitely be on your application radar. Area 59 (Boulder Basin) This is the second area of the few remaining late-season elk hunts left in the state of Wyoming. In the right hands, this can be a hunt for a real monster bull. The state opens this hunt on the 1st of November for two weeks. This gives one of the 10 lucky elk hunters the chance at a big wilderness bull that is finally vulnerable to the weather conditions and has come out of the nasty backcountry that the upper reaches of this area contain. There is an early-season general hunt in this area, but the big bulls don’t usually get hunted very hard during that hunt. The bull-to-cow ratio here is very high at almost 50/100, and the herd is over objective by about 30%. Keep in mind, many of the biggest bulls killed on this elk hunt migrate out of the neighboring hunt area (Area 61) on the back side of the ridge, which is very remote and very limited when it comes to hunting pressure. Some snow and a cold snap in November can push the big bulls out of the wilderness; this area can produce a 360-class and better bull given the right conditions. The success rates on this hunt have been getting better and better each year and now average over 80%, with the 2018 season producing a fantastic result where 91% of the hunters here filled the bull tag. I believe this hunt continues to be one of the state’s up-and-coming big bull producers. Area 61 (North Greybull River) With two separate hunts to choose from, the North Greybull River unit continues to be one of the most consistent listings on the blue-chip list over the past decade. With very high success rates sometimes in the neighborhood of 70%, this area is a go-to for resident hunters who want a decent chance to kill a 350+ bull. The country can be rough, tough, straight up and full of grizzly bears, but the odds of seeing a big bull here are very good. The Type-1 early tag is a wilderness-only tag, so a nonresident will need a registered and licensed guide, hence the easier draw odds that usually require about 12 points. A little-known fact however is that a hunter who draws the wilderness-only tag (Type-1) can hunt the non-wilderness end of the unit during the archery only season. This gives a bowhunter a fantastic chance at a big bull during the September bow season with about 12 preference points. The later, Type-2 hunt (October 7th – November 15th) is actually the “blue-chip” hunt and is good for the entire unit and should require about 13 or 14 points to draw in 2022. The elk herd here is 30% over objective and the bull-to-cow ratio is increasing rapidly and now stands at over 48/100. I think it is safe to say that good things will continue to be in store for those who hunt elk here in the near future. A good solid 330- to 350-class bull is definitely a good possibility here. Area 100 (Steamboat) This hunt is the best elk hunt in the state once every aspect is considered. The Steamboat elk hunt is the only elk hunt in Wyoming that scores a perfect 100 out of 100 on every single aspect we measure in an elk hunt. I actually had the chance to hunt this unit a few years ago, and I can honestly say, the reputation this elk hunt carries is in fact true. The Area 100 elk hunt is the easiest elk hunt in Wyoming for a six-point desert bull. This hunt has incredible hunter success rates, well above 90% on most years and 95% on average over the past three years. The elk numbers here are exploding to nearly twice the stated objective, and the bull-to-cow ratio is extremely high here as well, with 52 bulls per 100 cows. To hunt here, however, a nonresident applicant will need a bundle of preference points, well more than max at this point to be guaranteed a tag. Fortunately, the state has doubled the tag quota here as of 2019 and again increased that by 50% in 2021, which has taken some of the pressure off the draw odds for this hunt. This hunt still remains one of the highest demand elk hunts in the entire state, however. The country here is very easy to hunt and requires quite a bit of glassing in the open sagebrush and sand dune terrain. This elk area is massive—larger than Yellowstone National Park—but the elk here can be very pocketed, and it often takes some scouting to find them. Historically, this hunt was the perfect place to kill a 300-inch bull with minimal physical effort, but as of late, the bulls here continue to get larger. A 340- to 350-class bull is certainly a possibility in Area 100 if you know where to find them and put in the time. This elk area offers a very good bow hunt during the September archery season. Area 111 (Seminoe) There have been some changes on this hunt starting in 2020. The state now allows the tag holders here to also hunt in Area 22 with this tag during a later season hunt for bulls that runs from November 15th to December 15th. I think this is a play to try and kill some of the bigger bulls that migrate out of the private holding later in the season and tend to travel back and forth between the units based on weather and moisture conditions. This could be a very intriguing hunt for those who do not find a big bull during the earlier season with their Area 22 or 111 elk tag. With a recently and slightly increased quota to 70 tags, the demand for this hunt has diminished slightly over the past few years. A hunter can now draw this tag with only 13 preference points. However, the success rates here have become a bit erratic over the past few years, with only 58% of the hunters here killing a bull during the 2019 hunting season, hence the changes. The success rate overall here still remains very solid at over 73% and with the addition of the new late-season hunt here, the hunter success seems to be again clocking in at well over 80% (85% in 2020). The bulls in here seem to top out at about the 340-inch mark on a normal year, but on a good year, there could be a few giants running around in the junipers here. With good access to the 50% public land, this unit holds plenty of elk and a very high bull-to-cow ratio (63:100); along with limited tags available, a bow hunt here would be a very high-quality experience. Area 113 (Rochelle Hills) Not as much is known about this area. The state used to only give out bull tags every three years here, but it looks like they may have increased that frequency to every other year recently. If this frequency continues on that track, there should NOT be a bull elk hunt available in this area for the 2022 hunting season. Wyoming has recently increased the amount of bull elk tags available here to 75 in recent years, and I expect that to possibly even increase again for the 2023 hunting season. The access can be a bit tough but the success rates are extremely high here (up to 95%) while the bull quality should continue to be good. While I don’t think this is a great place for a monster bull, this hunt is in all likelihood a good place for an easy shot at a 320-class bull or better. Keep in mind, the area is 65% public land, so you may want to do some research before hanging your 13 or 14 points out on a limb for this hunt. The bowhunt in this area should be about as good as it gets in Wyoming, with a massive bull-to-cow ratio that is over 50 bulls per 100 cows and an elk herd that is nearly 10% over the objective for this elk hunt area. Area 124 (Powder Rim) This hunt is one of my favorite elk hunts that Wyoming has to offer. There just isn’t much not to like on this hunt, even with a now three-year drought in the books. Right across the border from some of Colorado’s best elk units, this open sage country contains a very solid elk hunt for those who can cover country and glass. With a massive area to hunt and a very pocketed elk herd, this hunt can be tough, but the success rates are extremely high, some of the best in the state in fact, often reaching well over 80%. Most of the hunters who hunt here get a shot at a branch-antlered bull during the very liberal six-week hunting season, which lasts from the middle of October all the way through the month of November. The later you hunt, the better it seems to get here mostly because of the terrain and Colorado’s season structure right across the border. You might want to keep in mind, at this point the state is showing a very low bull-to-cow ratio here (13:100) and a slight falloff in elk numbers, mostly due to the drought conditions. I think many of the elk have moved across the border and into other higher elevation areas due to the drought, but once the rains return, so will the elk. Until the last three drought years, every year over the past five years prior a hunter has managed to kill a 370+ bull out of this desert and sage unit, but I would say that is much more the exception than the rule here. Most of the bulls here are in the 290-350 class. Loads of points will be necessary to put you in this area with a tag in hand (16+), but the wait could be well worth it in the end. A bowhunt here is probably better than nearly any elk hunt in the entire state of Colorado. Back to Top GO TO MAP & CHARTS

Elk Table - Recently updated December 17, 2021

2022 WY_Elk_Tables_2 2022 WY_Elk_Tables_2 Maptitude Mapping Software Image
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WY_ElkPointTotals_2022 Wyoming-ELK(Guy Eastman):WY General Elk Area Success Rates On Bulls WY NonRes Pref Point 2020Draw

Overview
Why Hunt Antelope in Wyoming?
Wyoming Antelope Analysis
Carbon Region (Areas 53, 55, 56, 61, 62 and 108)
Sweetwater Region (Areas 57, 58, 59, 60, 90, 91, 92, 93 and 96)
Central Fremont Region (Areas 64, 65, 66, 67, 74 and 75)
Natrona Region (Areas 69, 71, 72, 73, and 75)
Northern Bighorn Region (Areas 80, 83, 114, and 115)


Overview

“Antelope hunting in Wyoming has been a bit of a struggle over the past few years to put it mildly. With three back-to-back to back droughts and coyote populations exploding, the antelope herds in Wyoming have suffered tremendously over the past three years and we have no reason to believe that this year will be any different.”

Historic drought conditions and predator problems have caused a downward spiral in Wyoming’s prolific antelope herds. These factors have forced the State Game and Fish Department to drastically cut antelope tag quotas over the past two years, and we may not have seen the end of that trend. I fully expect the Game and Fish to further slash antelope tags again for this year’s draw. 

The cuts have been nearly statewide and have resulted in reductions that range from 10% to 30% depending on the area and region. The hardest hit regions are those in the center of the state in Natrona, Fremont and Campbell Counties. The net result is nearly 6,000 buck antelope tags being cut from the state hunt quota over the past two years. I fully expect given the lackluster hunt results and reports from last fall that the state might yet again cut more tags from the quota for the 2022 hunt draw when it is all said and done. 

The disappointments for Wyoming pronghorn hunting continued during the 2021 hunting season. Coming off a very lackluster year in 2019 and again in 2020, a very dry spring, summer and fall in 2021 continued the downward trend for antelope hunters in the Cowboy State. Both trophy quality and herd quality suffered substantially over the past 18 months causing drops in quotas, hunter success rates and hunter satisfaction levels.  

It is always good to keep in mind however, that just because there are less antelope tags and less antelope available does not necessarily mean there still can’t be some big bucks roaming the plains of Wyoming come fall. If we can manage to get a nice wet spring and summer, there could be some good bucks available for hunters to chase come September. No matter the weather, Wyoming seems to always produce a few big bucks somehow. 

Time will tell of course, but again this year I would personally be very reluctant to burn more than 10 preference points on an antelope tag, under most circumstances. 

For the 2021 season Wyoming allocated about 32,000 buck pronghorn tags for the big game draw which was a significant decrease in tag quota versus the five-year high set in 2018 of nearly 38,000 pronghorn tags. I fully expect the buck antelope tag quota to be further reduced again for this year. We could see fewer than 30,000 buck antelope tags in Wyoming for the first time in nearly five years. 

The average blue chip antelope unit in Wyoming took about 10 points to draw in 2021, while the average green chip unit took 7 points to draw, about the same as the previous year. However, these averages are drastically higher in point total than only a few years ago, mostly due to the downgrades in trophy quality which turned a lot of blue-chip units to green. Historically, on average, 5 or 6 preference points for Wyoming pronghorn will put an applicant into a very good antelope hunt, but with the massive number of downgrades over the past few years this number has settled in at about 8 or 9 points for a good antelope hunt. 

On a more normal year, the sweet spot for antelope preference points seems to be right around the 5 or 6-point mark. With 5 or 6, big buck country such as Carbon, Fremont or Natrona counties comes into play. These antelope hunt areas usually offer up a very good hunt with plenty of public land to hunt on and loads of antelope bucks to sort through. If you want a hunt for a true monster buck with little hunting pressure I would look into a county such as the better hunts in Hot Springs, Washakie or Park counties or of course the core top antelope areas in Sweetwater and Carbon counties. This may not be the case this year however. I see a much more spotty antelope landscape for this year versus normal with a few blue chip units sprinkled across Wyoming’s historic big buck areas.


Why Hunt Antelope in Wyoming?

 Even as dark as the current landscape is regarding antelope, make no mistake about it, Wyoming is, and continues to be, big antelope country. With nearly as many antelope as residents, Wyoming is not only a go-to for the bulk of the West’s pronghorn, the Cowboy State also persists as the prime destination for big, records book class bucks. 

When it comes to pronghorns, there is little argument where you should be applying or buying points and that is Wyoming. Wyoming has put more big antelope into the records book than any other state by a massive margin. To put things in perspective, Wyoming has put more than 1,500 bucks into the Boone and Crockett records book, while the likes of Arizona has only entered about 400. More than 1/3  of all the pronghorn bucks in the records book have come from Wyoming. Surprisingly to me, Wyoming also competes very well for the biggest of the big when it comes to pronghorn bucks. Of the total bucks in the book that score 90” and above, Wyoming accounts for nearly ¼ of those entries as well. Only Arizona can top this statistic with more than 30%. 

If we look at the top pronghorn counties nationwide, the Cowboy State again comes up big, with four out of the top five counties in the entire country. The counties of Carbon, Sweetwater, Fremont and Natrona have produced nearly ¼ of all of the records book antelope ever recorded in known history for this continent! These four Wyoming counties alone account for nearly 73% of Wyoming’s massive haul of records book antelope. 

With over 30,000 buck antelope tags available, a very liberal five-week season and more than 1/3 all the records book entries, Wyoming cannot be denied when looking to enter your name into the records book next to a monster pronghorn. One of the drawbacks when it comes to Wyoming pronghorn hunting is the fact that it has so many antelope that finding a big buck is not as easy as it looks on paper. The bulk of the big bucks seem to come from very specific regions of the state and are very, very diluted in a sea of small to mediocre class bucks. This said, you will probably need to hunt in Wyoming three or four times to finally connect with that buck of your dreams, so spend your points wisely. 

The concentration of monster bucks in Wyoming isn’t nearly as high as it is in states such as Arizona, Texas or California. To find a true monster of a buck here, you will have to be in a good unit on a good year, covering plenty of country, glassing hundreds of bucks and know what you are looking at when it comes to field judging a big buck. When it comes to the perfect trade-off between opportunity and quality, on a good year, an antelope hunt in Wyoming is probably about as good as it gets. 

If you are in search of a very large buck antelope, this year might be too much of a risk with your preference points. If you have been banking more than ten preference points, in my opinion you may consider riding out this drought and hold out for better days. The good news is that antelope populations tend to bounce back fast and once we do get the right conditions, this situation could remedy itself in only a few short years.


Wyoming Antelope Analysis

Coming off a very mild winter in 2021, followed by an extremely dry spring, summer and fall, the Wyoming antelope herds headed into this winter in a bad way. Both horn growth and herd size were significantly diminished by the record-breaking drought conditions and increased predator numbers nearly statewide. At this point we do not know how long this trend will last but generally speaking antelope bounce back very fast, and the downward trends in Wyoming for antelope tend to last only three or four years in total. With this being our fourth year of the current trend, we are hopeful this will be the end of the downward cycle for the current decade. So far, our winter has been extremely mild with the months of March and April still to come. The reports from the winter range for our mule deer herds are record-breaking for fawn survival and fat reserve measures and I am more than hopeful this trend will hold steady for the antelope herds as well. If we can manage to get dealt a wet summer and spring things could be looking up again by next year.

The antelope blue chip areas for this year are slim and mostly concentrated around the historic big buck producing areas in the southern portion of the state. Some of the early rebounding areas are now in the Sublette County region in hunt areas in the 90s and 100s. The drought hit areas seem to be the worst in the northern and the central portions of the state. More on that below. 

Wyoming now has 124 total buck antelope hunts to choose from, some better than others. For the best researchers among us, it is still possible to draw a buck antelope tag in Wyoming as a second choice but those options are getting ever more rare. 

We simply do not have the room to print the entire master antelope chart for every single hunt area, but the brand-new digital research tool, Eastmans’ TagHub (taghub.eastmans.com) does contain the expanded master chart with all 124 antelope hunts along with plenty of additional herd and harvest information to pour through in your search for the right area for you personally. 

If you want to try and choose a good second choice antelope unit and maintain your preference points this year this might be a good place to start to find such an option. Also, make sure you subscribe to our FREE online newsletter for up-to-date winter range conditions and antelope area picks. Now, let’s get into the specifics with regard to some of Wyoming’s best antelope regions.


Carbon Region (Areas 53, 55, 56, 61, 62 and 108)
This group of units makes up the historic big buck core of Wyoming antelope hunts. These six units alone comprise the wheelhouse of the famed antelope mecca of Carbon County. More big bucks have been killed in these six antelope hunt areas than any other six units in the entire country over the past 10 years. The winter in this region has been very mild so far this year, however the southern end of this region did experience a rough winter in 2020 and the drought here last summer was substantial. For this reason, I have downgraded the units on the southern end of this region and kept the units on the north end as mostly blue chip hunts. Areas 53, 61 and 62 are probably the least risky of the bunch here. Area 62 is one of the most consistent records book producing areas in the state of Wyoming and maybe even the entire country. These hunts will generally take about 8 to 12 points to draw. The outlying Areas 46, 47 and 48 can also produce good results with fewer preference points (6 or 7 points) for a hunter that is willing to work hard or hire an outfitter.


Sweetwater Region (Areas 57, 58, 59, 60, 90, 91, 92, 93 and 96)
This region has seen a very mild winter so far. Due to the elevation of this region the drought here was somewhat mild last year and the antelope have slowly begun to rebound here over the past year or two. I think this region is probably one of the few possible standouts for a good antelope hunt again for the 2022 hunting season. There were some downgrades in these units this year because of the drought and tag reductions. The antelope here have continued to rebound slowly and steadily from the deadly winter of 2017-18. I do think there will be some bigger than average bucks out here again this year. The best of the bunch here this year will probably be Areas 60, 92 and 96 if I had to guess at this point. The overall buck quality here should still be good this year and if the spring and summer turn off nicely I think there could be some very solid antelope hunting in this region for this upcoming fall. These areas are in very high demand historically and max or near to max points will be needed to hunt here.


Central Fremont Region (Areas 64, 65, 66, 67, 74 and 75)
This region represents the main core area of the horrendous drought conditions we have seen over the past few years. Many of these areas have been downgraded for this year along with some pretty drastic tag quota reductions over the past few years. Again, mild winters and summer drought have placed this antelope region as one of concern for this fall’s hunting season. Historically speaking, this core cluster of six antelope areas has continued to produce some very solid results over the past ten years and counting. Fremont County is probably the least high profile of the big four Wyoming antelope counties. Fremont County has slipped to the #3 spot recently mostly due to the increase in giant antelope killed in the Sweetwater units over the past few years. This region still continues to produce however even after some fairly serious drought conditions seen in the past decade. Fremont county with its massive public land tracts consisting of vast high desert terrain sit in the weather shadow of the Wind River Mountain Range making it relatively insulated from Wyoming’s historically brutal winters. The tag quotas here have been decreased from historic highs making for an improved hunting experience for the antelope hunters here. At this point in time Area 64 is the only remaining blue chip unit in this region. The points required to hunt here are somewhat reasonable, only taking about 5-7 preference points to draw a tag.


Natrona Region (Areas 69, 71, 72, 73, and 75)
As the fourth best county in the entire country, the Natrona region represents some very good deals when it comes to the trade-off between big antelope and easy draw odds.  Areas 71 and 72 are the best deals taking less than 5 preference points to draw. This region has vast public land tracts and potential for big bucks on the right year. These units are very susceptible to drought conditions making a good spring and summer very critical to quality horn growth here. This region should produce some very mixed results this fall for those who draw here.


Northern Bighorn Region (Areas 80, 83, 114, and 115)

This region contains most of the outlier historic monster buck producers. On a good year these four antelope hunts can be magnificent and don’t hit the radar on some research lists. The Area 114 hunt is probably one of the best antelope hunts in the entire country in my opinion. These areas all have plenty of public land to hunt, very limited tag quotas, low hunting pressure, lengthy season dates and consistent big buck potential. Due to the low tag quotas these areas sometimes do not hit the radar like the big counties do for records book entries, but believe me, the antelope hunting here can feel like heaven on earth for those that want to feel like they are hunting alone for the potential at a monster buck. On a good year these four areas will enter more than five records book antelope bucks into the books, not bad considering the relatively small tag quotas here. On a normal year, a good 77” to 80” buck with the occasional 83” type buck here should be very doable. Nearly all of these units have produced bucks pushing the 90” mark in the past. Ten points or more will be required to hunt the best two areas of 80 and 114. Area 115 could be a potential sleeper alternative that would require only 5 or 6 preference points to draw a tag for. Keep in mind however, that hunt Area 83 has drastically diminished in quality over the past few years due to over-hunting and drought conditions.

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Table - Recently updated May 12, 2022

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Outlook & Overview
Why Hunt Moose in Wyoming?
Wyoming Moose Analysis

Outlook & Overview

The moose hunting in Wyoming seems to have continued its very slow and steady stabilization. With some core areas actually seeing herd increases, along with a continuous slightly increasing hunter success rate, things could be looking up for moose hunters in the Cowboy State. Even though the state has seen an extremely alarming nose dive in moose populations over the past 25-years, in many cases the actual quality of the bulls taken in Wyoming has remained very solid, even increasing in some areas.

Over the past three decades Wyoming has been forced to reduce the overall moose hunting quota by nearly two-thirds, and close eight moose areas altogether in a desperate effort to find a new balance as the moose herd drastically spiraled down. What once was nearly 1,200 moose tags available in the draw has now become an anemic offering of only 305 bull tags. Needless to say, this has had a drastic consequence on the Wyoming preference point system. A system that was once thought to never see the light of 12 preference points, is now climbing to 25 points and counting for many hunt areas.

Significant declines in quality moose habitat along with a disease outbreak have both been partially to blame for the decline in Wyoming’s moose herds. But any resident will tell you, this one included, that super-predators – wolves and grizzly bears, have been the most significant factor in the moose management disaster that has become our reality over the last nearly 30 years. With a continued two-year drought, the moose habitat in Wyoming has continued to suffer. Now with our wolf season continuing to reduce the wolf population at an accelerated rate thanks to a doubling of the wolf quota a few years ago, we are hopeful this will continue to lend a helping hand to moose calf recruitment in key critical moose areas around Yellowstone National Park.

For 2022 there will be an expanded count of now 23 good to excellent moose hunts identified in the state of Wyoming for the fall hunt. Regions such as the Bighorn Mountains and the Sierra Madre continue to produce some outstanding bulls as well as a steadily growing moose population.


Why Hunt Moose in Wyoming?

Even with the drastic moose declines the Cowboy State has seen over the past three decades there still remains some very good moose hunting in Wyoming if you can manage to draw a tag. The state of Wyoming continues to produce some very large Shiras’ bull moose.

With more than 400 records book Shiras’ moose recorded, more than any other state, Wyoming continues to be the undisputed king of big bull moose. If a truly massive Shiras’ bull moose is on your list then you should seriously consider the states of Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and Idaho in your application process.

Wyoming uses a hybrid preference point structure with both a random pool and preference point pool for applicants to draw from. A random draw moose tag is possible in those areas with enough moose tags in the quota to allow such a draw. This random draw possibility for those nonresidents with few preference points is possible in areas; 5, 24, 25, 26 and 38/41 only. If you have a decent bank of preference points built up, there are some very solid moose hunting opportunities available for the nonresident hunter with 18 or 19 preference points.

The resident preference point system seems to have stabilized, mostly due to the large number of tags available (about 250) each year, creating a situation where the breaking point for resident applicants to find their way into a good moose tag has settled in at about 15 points. But if you want to hunt the very best moose areas Wyoming has to offer, you are going to need 18 points or more.

Due to the cycle of tag reductions seen over the past 15 years the nonresident pool is experiencing some very significant point creep. In 2015 alone, nonresident moose applicants saw the breaking point for them to get into a good tag increase by four points. The new breaking point for nonresident moose hunters is now about 17 points and climbing by about a single point each year. Something to think about, just like the Wyoming elk draw, of the more than 10,000 nonresident moose applicants with points, only about 1,500 of them are actually applying for a tag. That means more than 85% of the applicants are only buying preference points and not even entering the draw.

If the residents of Wyoming get their way in reducing the nonresident quota for moose tags down to 10% rather than the current 20%, the point creep would effectively skyrocket. This could turn a 17-point moose area into a 36-point moose area. At this point we are not sure if this will happen or not, but if you are sitting on a boat load of moose points in Wyoming you might want to consider burning them in the next few years.

Like most states, Moose hunting in Wyoming can be very expensive for a nonresident applicant considering you have to front the entire cost of the tag ($1,997) just to apply. For this reason, I highly suggest nonresidents simply buy the preference points ($150) each year until you accumulate about 12 points or so. The random draw pool odds just don’t outweigh the costs in my opinion until 12 points are reached for nonresident applicants.

Something to keep in mind when applying for moose and sheep in Wyoming is to choose your area wisely when you do apply. Literally hundreds of nonresident applicants each year apply for areas that do not even have tags available for the random draw, literally giving them a zero percent chance at drawing their moose tag.


Wyoming Moose Analysis

The best moose hunting in Wyoming continues to occur in and around four core areas or regions: the Gros Ventre near Jackson Hole, the South Wind Rivers around Pinedale and Lander, the Big Horn Mountains just west of Sheridan and of course the famed Medicine Bow on the Colorado border near Laramie.

At this point in time, my sources, stats and people on the ground have all confirmed that the best moose hunting in the state continues to be on the southeastern border near Colorado. These would be Wyoming moose areas; 38 and 41. These moose were transplanted when I was a kid in the 1970s from the Moosehead Ranch near Moran, Wyoming in the heart of Teton Park. The transplant was completed just across the Wyoming border in northern Colorado. The moose have since slowly expanded to the north and back into their native state of Wyoming. This relatively new Wyoming moose herd has taken hold and the genetics of these moose is as good as it gets – world record class.

Another bright spot when it comes to Wyoming moose is the Bighorn Mountains, which comprise Areas 1, 34 and 42, or the “Bighorn Trifecta,” as I call it. These three areas have become a very good and consistent bet for a big Wyoming bull moose. Area 1 is probably the best moose hunt of the three here followed by Area 42 with can be a real solid bet for a very large bull but can be a tough hunt where horses may be necessary. Both areas have success rates nearly 100% while Area 1 boasts nearly half of the bulls taken having over 45” in spread. Area 42 has produced bulls well over 50” in the past but these are certainly more the exceptions than the rule. Both Areas 1 and 34 have an average spread of over 40” the past three years.

The Gros Ventre area, just to the east of Jackson Hole sits in the middle of the historic breadbasket of big bull moose country, Teton County. Although the moose have struggled with predators and habitat deterioration here, the big bulls seem to be fighting through the adversity. The big moose core of this region basically is made up of one single hunt that stands out from the rest. Areas 17 and 28 are a combined hunt with a near perfect success rate (93%) and some very big bulls including a monster sporting a rack of nearly 60.” The average bull here was just a tick shy of 43” and more than five years old. There is a fair amount of designated wilderness area in this unit so an outfitted hunt may be a good insurance policy for a nonresident hunter who draws this tag.

The final bright spot for Wyoming moose is the Piney region on the west slope of the Wind River Mountains South of Pinedale, Wyoming. This cluster of areas, 2, 3, 4, 24 and 25 still manage to produce some good moose, and lots of them. With plenty of 40” bulls and good success rates in the 90% and above range, this moose region is a great place to hunt for a good moose if you lack the maximum points required to hunt in the Bighorns or the Medicine Bow. Most of these areas are a mixture of lower sage country, aspen pockets and rough rugged high country, depending on the unit.

A very important thing to keep in mind when conducting your moose research in Wyoming is the fact that there are some very good moose hunts in the green chip moose listings. Areas like 5 and 26 can be very good moose hunts for solid Shiras’ bulls in the 36” to 45” class. The hunting here is a bit tougher, but the possibilities for a big bull still do exist with success rates that are very strong on average.

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Moose Table - Recently updated May 12, 2022

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2022 WY Moose Trophy Forecast

Total Wyoming SHIRAS' MOOSE Preference Points_Apr22

Historic Wyoming SHIRAS' MOOSE Bull Harvest


Overview
Why Hunt Bighorn Sheep in Wyoming?
Wyoming Bighorn Sheep Analysis

Blue Chip Units
Area 2 (Trout Peak)
Area 5 (Franc’s Peak)
Area 12 (Porcupine, Bighorn Canyon)
Area 17, 26 (Ferris-Seminoe)
Area 18 (Douglas-Encampment)
Area 19 (Laramie Peak)
Area 20 (Kouba Canyon, Black Hills)
Area 24 (Big Piney)


Overview
The sheep hunting in 2022 should be about the same as it was in 2021 and 2020. With a bit of a mixed bag situation on a continued basis, many of the traditional sheep hunting bastions such as Areas 1, 3 and 5 continue to see sheep herd declines while other non-traditional newer herd units like Areas 12 and 19 continue to see sheep hunting opportunities increase as the herds take hold and expand after successful reintroduction efforts. With 17 total sheep hunts to choose from and 180 bighorn ram tags available, Wyoming continues to be a “go to” state for many sheep hunters and applicants. Due to the hard work from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department as well as the Wild Sheep Foundation, Wyoming’s sheep transplant projects have put more sheep onto the mountains in some less traditional sheep country in the more arid portions of the state. These new populations have taken hold and begun to expand nicely to the point of finally offering some additional sheep hunts with some very solid results.

For both sheep and moose applicants over the last few years the point creep has become an ever-growing reality. A hunt that took 14 points to draw only a few years ago now takes 20 points or more to draw. The average sheep tag in Wyoming will take just under 22 points to draw for a nonresident applicant. There are now a total of 127 nonresident applicants with over 21 preference points and only five max point holders, so the system is beginning to look toward a possible stabilization.

Those nonresident applicants with high point totals should pay very close attention to the new movement in Wyoming to reduce the nonresident tag set aside from 20% to 10% of the total tag quota. If this does in fact happen, the net effect could be a doubling of the total points required to draw making most sheep tags well out of the reach of most applicants.


Why Hunt Bighorn Sheep in Wyoming?

The state of Wyoming is and probably never will be a good place to kill a very large bighorn ram. However, Wyoming continues to be a very solid location to kill a nice ram in some very scenic and classic bighorn sheep country. While Montana is the place for the uber-trophy wise sheep hunter, Wyoming continues to be excellent for opportunity when it comes to sheep hunting, offering up more nonresident sheep tags to hunters than any other state by far.

The fact of the matter is, although Wyoming does not tend to produce boatloads of Boone and Crockett entries like the states of Montana and New Mexico, Wyoming is a very good place to apply and draw a sheep tag for a good ram within your lifetime. The average sheep tag in Wyoming is drawn with about 22 preference points.

The preference point system in Wyoming does allow a nonresident sheep applicant to draw a tag even with zero points in Areas 2, 3, 4 and 5 only. It is very important to analyze this chart in an effort to not become one of hundreds of applicants each year who apply for areas that don’t even have a random draw sheep tag available. Long and short, nonresident sheep applicants with fewer than 15 points should only be applying for these four areas.

The nonresident preference point pool begins to fall off significantly by about 21 points, leaving only about 130 nonresident applicants in the pool with more than 21 points. Resident applicants are not quite so lucky however; a falloff is not seen in the resident pool until the 25-point mark!

Based on the way the Wyoming preference point system works, I would highly suggest a nonresident applicant with less than 15 points simply buy points until at least the 12-preference point mark is obtained. A preference point only for sheep can be purchased in Wyoming “post-draw” up until the 2nd of November without entering the draw and therefore eliminating the hefty upfront tag fee associated with actually applying for a sheep tag. The cost for the point-only option is $150 for nonresident applicants and $7 for Wyoming resident applicants. This can be a great way to go for some applicants given the very limited and stiff odds of drawing one of the only four random sheep tags for nonresident applicants. If drawn, the sheep tag itself will cost an astounding $2,335 this year which will again have to be fronted in full.


Wyoming Bighorn Sheep Analysis

The core of Wyoming’s second largest sheep herd resides just west of Cody. Again, this year there are only two blue chip units (Area 2, and 5) in this area instead of the historic four or five from years past. Areas 1, 3, and 4 have continued to see quality and quantity steadily decrease over the past few years. Area 3 however, is seeing some signs of a bounce back and could be back on the list after the results from the 2021 season are compiled and released by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologists. Keep in mind all three of these hunts can still be good sheep hunts, they just don’t seem to be producing at their full potential like they did five or ten years ago. This slide is a culmination of both reduced quality and a slip in hunter success rates over the past few years. Reduced quotas along with continued Department oversight should continue to help the situation.

The rams in some of the more nontraditional areas such as Area 12, 17, 20 and 24 are beginning to produce better opportunities and bigger results each and every year. Without question, Area 12 near Bighorn Lake continues to be the best all-around sheep hunt in the entire state. This hunt has produced four B&C rams over the past five years alone, placing this area in the top ten big ram producing areas in the entire country! Over the past five years, the average ram in Wyoming has sported about a 33” horn while Area 12 has produced multiple records book and state record class rams including a ram sporting a massive 42” curl. Areas 9, 19 and 24 have produced the best rams on average at right around 35” in length while the heaviest rams seem to come out of Areas 17 and 20 with bases nearing the 16” mark.

If you are looking for a really big ram by Wyoming standards, Areas 3, 12, 17 and 19 are your best bets. All three of these areas have produced at least one ram over 40” in length in the past three years. That is something no other sheep area in Wyoming can boast. If you just want a good chance at a good ram, Areas 12, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 24 have all had 100% success on rams for the past three years and counting.


Blue Chip Units

For those of you with plenty of Wyoming sheep points or high hopes for the future, let’s take a little bit deeper look at the seven Wyoming “blue-chip” sheep areas which on average will cost you about 24 preference points to draw this year, up one point from last year, thank you point creep.


Area 2 (Trout Peak)

The Trout Peak sheep unit in the North Fork of the Shoshone drainage has continued to rebound from a few years of lackluster results. These “spotty” results could be caused by the quality of the resident hunters who have drawn the majority of these sheep tags in the past few years however. Either way, the ram quality and success here has been relatively stable over the past few years. The average ram in this area is seven and a half years old, with an average length in the 33” range and a top length just shy of 40”. The average ram here is about 160” while the largest ram was nearly 187”. The sheep habitat here is abundant and there are plenty of rams roaming these hills inside the wilderness so a guide is almost a must for an out of state hunter. Twenty or 21 points will be required to draw one of the recently reduced 20 sheep tags in this area again this year. This area also has sheep tags available in the random draw but they come hard with a less than a 1 in 300 chance of drawing.


Area 5 (Franc’s Peak)

After a few years off the “blue-chip” listing this area has seen some slow and steady improvement over the past few years which has placed it back on the list. This is mostly due to some tag quota reductions in the area, which have increased the quality and quantity of the rams here as well as an increase in hunter success. With rough and remote country, this area is very, very large. A majority of these sheep winter deep within the area so little is known about the exact quality of the rams here from one year to the next. Twenty-two preference points should garner a tag here and there are a few tags in the random draw for this area for those with less than 22 preference points. Hunter success hovers around 85% in this area and 40” rams have been taken here in the past, however the average ram here is in the 32” range but is nearly eight years of age. Just like Area 2 the average ram here is about 160” with a top ram taken being in the 185” range. This area produces a lot of sheep and is a very solid choice for a DIY guy or someone who just wants a very respectable representation of the species with above average success.


Area 12 (Porcupine, Bighorn Canyon)

This area continues to be a shining star for the Cowboy State when it comes to sheep management and sheep reintroduction success. With yet again six total tags available, Area 12 is probably one of the easiest and the best sheep hunts in the entire state for a big ram, but the draw odds are beyond tough, requiring 25 or more preference points to draw. This area just seems to get better and better. To put it into perspective, area 12 has produced four records book rams in the last five years alone. Further proof that the rams in here do score well and based on my information, I think the largest rams roaming this unit have yet to be taken. With no wilderness, no wolves and no grizzly bears, this hunt would be a great DIY bowhunt. The rams in here have averaged over 34” curls with one giant sporting a nearly 42” horn. Particularly impressive considering the average ram taken here is 7.5 years old. The average ram taken on this hunt is also nearly 170”. The success rate on rams in area 12 has always been 100%. If I were an out of state sheep applicant sitting on max points, I would probably be applying for this sheep hunt.


Area 17, 26 (Ferris-Seminoe)
Just like Area 12 this sheep hunt seems to be getting better and better each year. This sheep herd is young and still maturing and I think the future holds some very good things for this area. A true giant of a ram was taken here in 2020 with a bow which may be a sign of even better things to come. Sporting a perfect track record, this hunt boasts a 100% success rate for the last seven seasons and counting. A sheep hunter has never gone home empty-handed on this hunt. The rams in this area have been gradually getting larger with an average of nearly 36” in length and over six years of age. This is a significant improvement when compared to only two short years ago. The rams in this unit can sport bases over 17” and therefore score very well. The average ram here scores the highest of any in the entire state at nearly 175” B&C. If you have a lot of points to burn and want a nice bighorn ram in fairly mild country, then this could be the hunt for you. Near to max points of 27 will probably be a requirement to hunt this area.


Area 18, 21 (Douglas-Encampment)
A new area to the blue-chip hunt listing this year, the Douglas hunt has continued to improve and now outshines many of the other hunts on this list. With a very robust and expanding sheep herd, this hunt boasts a 100% success on rams with an average ram now pushing the 160” mark on average over the past three years. The largest ram killed in this area was 175” and sported a 38” longest horn. With only two tags available here and no nonresident sheep tags available yet, a resident applicant will need to have 26 preference points to draw here. With some good fortune and solid management this hunt could see steady tag increases over the next few years that may allow for a nonresident tag to be available for this hunt each and every year.


Area 19 (Laramie Peak)
As a new hunt to the blue-chip list in 2020, the Laramie Peak hunt has finally matured and is continuing to excel as a sheep hunt for the state of Wyoming. The rams here represent a solid age class at 7.5 years old. This includes two rams that were taken who were twelve years old. The hunter success on this hunt has continued to run 100%. A successful applicant here will need 25 preference points or more to be awarded a bighorn tag for this hunt. Rumor has it, there continue to be a few giants roaming this unit that have yet to be taken, so there could be some very solid potential upside for a draw here. The largest ram taken over the past 10 years here was nearly 190” which is the largest of any area in the entire state of Wyoming. With only 35% public land, the access here could represent a few challenges for this hunt. This would be a very good DIY hunt with no grizzly bears or Wilderness to worry about, and a DIY bowhunt here would be even better.


Area 20 (Kouba Canyon, Black Hills)
This area borders the Black Hills sheep unit in South Dakota, which can be a very, very good sheep hunt by anyone’s standards. Again this year, 24 or 25 preference points will surely be required to hunt this area. The sheep hunting here is fairly easy as the sheep habitat is very concentrated in a relatively small area. Hunters here hunted barely three days to kill their sheep. With an impressive 100% success rate, the rams here are very heavy with nearly 16” bases on average and can pack horns beyond the 35” mark in length. This sheep area has the second largest average ram in the state with rams here being in the 171” range. The access here can be a little bit of a concern but the country is relatively mild as far as sheep standards go. I’m confident there are some very large rams still roaming the Black Hills unit for the next person who draws a tag here.


Area 24 (Big Piney)
With only one sheep tag available this hunt is a bit of a wildcard. The Area 24 sheep hunt used to only see a sheep hunt about every third year on average but seems to be producing better results of late with an increased tag frequency. The rams here tend to pack light bases but good horn length. This hunt will no doubt require max points for a hunter to draw, but I would venture a guess that the lucky hunter here should be able to kill a 170” or larger ram. The average ram taken here is nearly eight years of age and should score in the upper-160s. There is not a lot of data on this sheep hunt to digest but I have seen the sheep in this area during a deer hunting excursion before and there are some big rams here. Every hunter in this unit over the past five years has killed a ram here. If you draw the tag, call the sheep biologist for the unit and I’m sure he would be more than happy to fill you in on the details of where to find the rams.

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Bighorn Sheep Table - Updated May 12, 2022

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2022 WY Sheep Trophy Forecast

Historic Wyoming BIGHORN SHEEP Ram Harvest_Apr22 Total Wyoming BIGHORN SHEEP Preference Points_Apr22

Why Hunt Goats in Wyoming?
Wyoming Rocky Mountain Goat Analysis
Area 1
Area 2
Area 3 (Type 1)
Area 3 (Type 2)
Areas 4 & 5 (Type A)

The bulk of the Rocky Mountain goat population in Wyoming continues to be slightly over objective as the State’s efforts to curb the growth and expansion of the goat herd has begun to pay off. With goats now expanded into the inner reaches of Grand Teton National Park, where they are not welcome, the State continues to employ some fairly drastic methods to reduce or even eliminate these new herds in Areas 4 and 5. While these two relatively new areas do offer up some increased opportunity, the nearly over-the-counter nature along with access issues make success on these hunts very difficult and applicants should beware of the financial pitfalls of drawing a tag for these hunt options.

With only six total options available and no preference point system in place an applicant need not spend too much time bogged down in research here. The long and short of it, there are really only four high-quality goat hunt options in three legitimate goat hunt areas in Wyoming. These remain the “non-cull” hunts in Areas 1, 2 and 3.

First a little background history on the situation: during the 2019 hunting season, Wyoming implemented a very aggressive strategy to reduce and possibly even eliminate the goat populations in two new goat areas within the state. The goats in Areas 4 and 5 were hunted very aggressively with very high quotas and aggressive season dates in an effort to cull the goats from the critical bighorn sheep habitat in the Absaroka and Teton mountain ranges. These two areas were initially set up to be over-the-counter hunts, but once the Game and Fish Department ran into some legislative hurdles that could not be overcome the Department offered instead a very aggressive quota to ensure the goats would be significantly reduced by hunters. I would not recommend these hunts as a high-quality experience by any means, particularly for the nonresident hunter who would face the sticker shock of a nearly $2,200 tag all for at best a 20% chance at killing anything with goat DNA in its cells. These two hunts could be on the docket to be eliminated altogether in the near future if the federal government gets its way and decimates these goat herds with the use of helicopter gunners. This is a very controversial situation as you can imagine and time will tell.

These two areas aside, the goat hunts in Areas 1, 2 and 3 can be just the opposite; a very good experience with some great opportunities for respectable billies, if you take your time and hunt hard and most importantly know what you are looking at.

Although Wyoming is still not a mountain goat powerhouse like British Columbia or Alaska, in my opinion the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has done a very solid job at managing the very limited goat populations that the state does have. The goat habitat in Wyoming is somewhat limited and the overall size of the billies in Wyoming is not quite as good as some states.

However, the frequency of big billies killed in the Wyoming high country does seem to be accelerating as of recent years as the goat herds begin to mature, to the point that I would now put Wyoming nearly in the same category as Colorado and Idaho when it comes to overall trophy quality. There are only six states/provinces that have produced more B&C billies over the past ten years than Wyoming.

The cost to apply in Wyoming however is steep, while the odds of drawing a tag are even steeper, in the range of 4% and less. Nevertheless, Wyoming is still a very good place to hunt for a Lower 48 billy if you can manage to draw a tag.

As the goat harvest graph shows, over the past ten years the goat population and goat harvest has increased dramatically during the first fifteen years of the century (2001-2016). However, the graph now indicates that Wyoming’s goat population has leveled off and found a balance as the goat harvest in Wyoming seems to be steadily hanging in the range of 50-60 goats each year for the past three years now.

BOTTOM LINE | The Rocky Mountain goat herds in Wyoming are doing very well. If the current trend holds true, Wyoming could be hunting more than 60 mature billies each year from here on out which could do wonders for the draw odds.


Why Hunt Goats in Wyoming?
Wyoming continues to produce more and more large billies each and every year. The Cowboy State is now the 10th best state place to find a records book goat. Add to that, nearly 60% of the records book goats taken in the state have been taken in the last ten years. In the past, Wyoming goat hunters struggled to put a single goat into the records book about every decade. Now a records book goat hits the ground in Wyoming just about every year, a significant improvement by nearly any measure.

Just like most states, a goat tag in Wyoming is extremely hard to come by and very expensive to apply for. With no preference points system in place for goats, all applicants will have to front the entire sum of the tag ($157-R/$2,177-NR), and hope for lightning to strike and deliver one of the nearly 60 limited Wyoming goat tags available.


Wyoming Rocky Mountain Goat Analysis
The Rocky Mountain goat herd in Wyoming essentially consists of two separate and distinct genetic pools. The Northern Beartooth herd, which resides in hunt Areas 1 and 3, and the Western Snake River herd which calls Areas 2 and 4 home. As a general rule of thumb, the Snake River herd has a bit better and a slight feed advantage. As evidence to this fact, the top half of all the B&C records book goats taken in Wyoming have all come from Area 2. When it comes to big Wyoming goats, nearly all of the largest goats in the state have come out of Area 2. If you really want a shot at a big goat, with no wilderness to worry about, Area 2 should be your choice.

Area 3 is a bit of a wild card, with lots of goats in some very steep and remote country. This is probably the toughest of the three hunts, but Area 3 also offers the best draw odds, particularly on the later hunt during October. Let’s take a little closer look at each area individually based on the pros and cons.


Area 1

Snug against the Montana border and just north of Cody, this area is the classic, steep, rocky and rugged goat habitat that most goat hunters would expect out of a Rocky Mountain goat hunt. Area 1 is a very good choice for bowhunters and guys who want to hunt in some of the most picturesque country on the entire continent. With a tag quota of eight tags, this area offers draw odds of less than 1%. Area 1 is the easiest goat hunt of the three however, and the odds of killing a billy here are better than most, about 65% over the past three years and climbing.


Area 2
Area 2 has produced the largest goats in the state on average over the past ten years. Nearly half (50%) of the total goat entries in the Boone and Crockett records book, and six out of the top seven Wyoming goats have come out of Area 2. The Snake River range is not as rough as the other areas, but the country is deep and very roadless, causing a hunter to expend more energy just getting up to the goats than a hunter in Area 1 generally does. The hunter success in Area 2 is somewhat solid, with 85% of the hunters killing goats and of those 65% were billies. The draw odds here are pretty rough however, and tend to hang right around that 0.25% mark.


Area 3 (Type 1)
Area 3 is basically the north fork of the Shoshone River drainage and Crandall and Sunlight Creeks. The goats here are of good size and this area generally produces decent numbers of billies (roughly 50%). The goats here can be a little bit pocketed in some very deep country with some groups of goats not seeing much hunter pressure at all. A hunter with a ton of grit and good lungs could have the hunt of a lifetime here. A lot of the goats in this area tend to hang out in the wilderness, so a nonresident DIY hunter might want to steer clear of this selection. The hunting season on this hunt spans the entire unit and runs the entire months of September and October. An increased tag quota in this unit from 16 to 28 has helped the draw odds jump to about 3%.


Area 3 (Type 2)
This hunt is a little bit later in the season, after the 19th of September. The Type 1 hunters can also hunt here during October, but most of them will probably be filled out by the time the month of October rolls around. The billy success here is somewhat marginal at only 48% over the past three years. For the nonresident hunter, this hunt might suit you a bit better as the later season snow might drop some of the goats down out of the wilderness areas. The draw odds here are a tick more attractive at about 4%.


Areas 4 & 5 (Type A)
With extremely high quotas, these two hunts seem to be “cull” type hunts and are not recommended for trophy goat hunting without some very diligent research and solid information before applying. With very expensive upfront application costs and a massive wilderness area and a national park to contend with, nonresident applicants should be very cautious with these two options. Success here is very low at less than 20% on average for billies.

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Mtn Goat Table -  Updated May 12, 2022

2022_WY_RMGoat_12May22_1

2022_WY_RMGoat_12May22_2

2022 WY Mtn Goat Trophy Forecast


Outlook & Overview

As a balanced and stabilized population, Wyoming’s bison hunt continues to be solid.

After nearly a decade of high harvest and hard hunting pressure, Wyoming seems to finally have the Teton bison herd in check with a somewhat reasonable yet sustainable, on target population size.
With only three total hunts to choose from, one of which will likely have no tags available again this year, the options for Wyoming bison hunts are very simple. The hunt area will again be Area 2 and the choice will simply be any/bull (type 1) or cow (type 4).

Even though the options are very simple, Wyoming still seems to be a very solid spot for a big bull bison if you really desire one. While not as prolific as it was 5 or 10 years ago, Wyoming is still producing a few really big bulls each and every year but they are getting harder and harder to come by. The really big bulls are very old and very wise with very high escapement during the season. With the massive Grand Teton National Park bordering the hunt area, many of the older bulls seldom drift from the safety of the park borders. This situation makes for a very large safe haven to protect some bulls from being over-hunted and allowing them to grow to a full maturity age of 10 years and older.

Second only to the state of South Dakota, Wyoming has a total of 116 records book bison entries all-time, nearly half of which have come in the past 10 years alone. Today, Wyoming is one of the few but ever-growing list of places in the Lower 48 where a hunter can hunt fair chase bison. Other states include Montana, South Dakota, Utah and Arizona.

An applicant for Wyoming bison must front the entire cost of the tag which is a total cost of $419 for a bull and $265 for a cow tag for residents and a whopping $4,417 for a bull and $2,767 for a cow for nonresidents. In my humble opinion, given the other options available now for a bison hunt, the cost of entry for a nonresident for this hunt is way too high and probably not worth the cost given the draw odds and success track record.

The bison options in Wyoming will be very simple for the 2022 hunting season. With only one area (Area 2) to hunt there are only two hunting options, a cow/calf Type 4 tag and of course the highly sought-after Type 1 any/bull bison tag.

The Wyoming bison season is very lengthy, August 15 to January 31, nearly five months long, but the tag quota for the bull hunt remains very limited, with 125 any/bull and only 25 cow/calf tags up for grabs in 2022. The 2022 tag quotas are not available yet, but I do not expect much change versus last season. Nor do I expect there to be a bison hunt available in Area 3 which is the best hunt area by far yet again this year.

Because Wyoming has hunted the bulls in the Jackson herd so hard in the past five years, many of the oldest age class bulls have been taken out of the herd. The exception to this would be if the Teton Park buffalo leave the park with heavy snow and weather and move onto the adjacent Bridger Teton National forest land or the National Elk Refuge.

Historic hunter success on the bison hunt in Wyoming has steadily fallen over the past five years, with about half of the hunters now filling their bison tags over the past three years. The Game and Fish Department has not updated the hunter success data for the 2020 or 2022 season, so we do not have concrete results to go by for the past few years. If I had to guess, I would venture to say I think the success has dropped over the past few years particularly on the bull hunt.
The new draw deadline for both residents and nonresidents is March 31st, and both can apply after March 1st. An option to hunt the National Elk Refuge is available in a separate drawing for successful Wyoming bison tag applicants and is highly recommended.

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Bison Table - Updated May 12, 2022

2022_WY_Bison_12May22

Historic Wyoming BISON Harvest

Archived Analysis | 2021

Overview Why Hunt Deer in Wyoming Mule Deer Analysis Overview The winter in Wyoming has been very mild, although the month of February was tough nationwide. Wyoming essentially experienced an entire winter in one single 30-day period. This said, the deer and antelope seemed to have fared very well as they went into the month of February in excellent shape. The snowpack statewide is right around 90% on average as the majority of the snow has been somewhat isolated to the higher regions of the state. The weakest regions for winter moisture so far are in the central portions of the state around Riverton, Casper and Gillette with accumulation totals running around 75% of normal so far. Keep in mind, a few good spring storms could bump these totals easily toward a more normal snow accumulation number. The bright spot is the northwest corner of the state near and around Jackson and Cody with snowpack averages running 100-110 percent of normal. From a winter moisture perspective, we are looking very solid going into the spring season, which can tend to drop heavy snow loads on our landscape during the months of April and May. The months of April and May can be a very critical time frame for our big game herds and we have yet to see what lies ahead in regard to our late spring weather and moisture. However, if the current trend holds, we should see very limited winter kill on our deer and antelope this year with a few very specific exceptions. The outlook for mule deer hunting in Wyoming this fall continues to be marginal at best. Highly out of the ordinary and unique weather events seem to have had a continued negative effect on our mule deer populations statewide. Wyoming is currently running more than 30% under the overall statewide mule deer herd objective. This could mean the equivalent of over 30,000 deer have been eliminated from the total deer herd over the past six or seven years, since the recent high seen in 2014. A massive drought in 2012, followed up by two rough winters in 2016 and 2017 followed up by a drought-stricken spring, summer and fall in 2020 have taken a toll on our deer and antelope in the Cowboy State. The one bright spot is the historically high deer density region of the western corridor known as Regions G and H. This region has continued to slowly bounce back from the two back-to-back disastrous winters and continues to do so according to my sources on the ground in those regions. These deer are somewhat insulated from drought conditions due to the high elevations they inhabit during the spring, summer and fall months. These deer have wintered out very well so far this year and the fawn recruitment from last year still remains very high. I expect the deer hunters in Wyoming this fall to see somewhat lower deer numbers lacking the mature age classes of the four, five and six-year-old bucks in most of the state’s deer hunt regions. Deer hunters in the Regions of G and H should see improved deer densities overall with some very solid up and coming age class bucks with older age class deer still remaining few and far between. Some large buck potential could be seen this year with the bucks born after the rough winters of 2017 and 2018 finally hitting the magical age of four and a half. Keep in mind, a buck from this region can easily hit the 30” mark at four and a half. A benchmark that a buck in the central part of the state may not see until the age of six, if ever. The antelope outlook for the Cowboy State is also a rough one. The drought conditions of the past few years have had a very rough effect on Wyoming’s antelope herds statewide. The severe weather and drought conditions seen over the past few years have taken upwards of 20% of the antelope herd out of the equation in Wyoming over the past few years. The tag quota was reduced by about 10% for the 2020 hunting season and I fully expect there to be additional tag quota cuts for the upcoming 2021 hunting season. The hunt areas on the western side of the continental divide have fared better than most other areas in the state. As well as the antelope hunt areas in the north central portion of the state. The hardest hit areas seem to be those that hold the majority of our antelope, which would be those around the cities of Riverton, Rawlins, Casper and Gillette. Although the antelope hunting was very tough last fall, both from a number’s perspective and a buck quality perspective, I think there will still be some very solid antelope hunting this fall in Wyoming. However, some additional research and risk may be required to be successful on an antelope hunt in Wyoming this fall. The 2021 hunting season will be one of mixed results for both trophy buck antelope and trophy mule deer this hunting season. With overall herd numbers waning and trophy quality dipping due to habit and age class deficiencies, high point applicants will need to be aware of what they are getting into on many of the tougher to draw hunts this year. The struggle continues. Wyoming’s mule deer have been through the wringer over the past ten years. Another tough winter in 2020 along the I-80 corridor followed up by a very serious drought the following summer and fall have put further pressure on an already wavering deer herd. We have not received the 2020 hunter success numbers from the State at the point of this writing, but I am fairly confident the overall hunter success statewide will be down from already historic lows seen over the last few years. There are however some bright spots on the horizon in some key areas. The general regions of G and H have seen some increased productivity as these key mule deer herds continue to bounce back from the disastrous winters of 2016 and 2017. These two deer regions continually produce the largest bucks in the state year after year with very predictable consistency. The word on the ground is the deer in western Wyoming have wintered out very well and the fawn recruitment continues to be very high for the third year in a row now. I believe 2021 will be a more solid year than the past few have been for western Wyoming deer hunters. While the remainder of the state will be a very rough road to travel for deer hunters, the Wyoming general regions of G and H should be one of the best bets to make for a good deer hunt for 2021. The fall of 2019 was a rough one for both deer and hunters. With barely more than 20,000 mule deer bucks harvested, a near 20-year low, hunters had a very hard time filling their tags on bucks. Add to this the fact that 2020 could have even been worse, and you start to see the mule deer picture developing on the horizon in Wyoming. The reports I have gotten from hunters in the best mule deer units in the state is that while deer numbers seem to be increasing ever so slightly at best over the past few years, there still seem to be more and more younger bucks, while older age class deer are getting ever more difficult to find. One important thing to remember when it comes to Wyoming mule deer is the fact that the State of Wyoming does not manage for true trophy mule deer like some other states might. Wyoming manages for herd numbers and hunter satisfaction, which means the big game managers and biologists in Wyoming want a healthy population of mule deer and a good number of bucks that hit maturity. In a nutshell, Wyoming does not manage for six and seven-year-old bucks. The winters here are too severe and the state does not want to leave too many resources on the table when a rough winter strikes, which happens about every five to seven years. That said, at this point in time, the fact remains that the vast majority of the areas you will study in this section are managed to an “at-or-near” objective herd level and a buck to doe ratio in the 30-40 per 100 range. This is not the Arizona Strip or the Henry Mountains folks, and for that reason, a boatload of preference points will not easily buy you into a 200” deer in the Cowboy State. There are two different types of draw hunts in Wyoming to apply for. The first is the general region-wide tag. These are big regions consisting of a dozen or so individual hunting units. A tag draw for the region allows a hunter to hunt bucks in any open general hunt area within that region. Believe it or not, this is where the vast majority of Wyoming’s biggest deer are killed each fall. To kill a big buck here, you are going to have your work cut out for you however. Historically speaking, the best general regions for big bucks are; Region G, H, K, D and L in that order. Regions G and H are very rough and rugged and can offer up a very tough hunt for big bucks, but the payoff can be exceptional here if you hunt hard and get lucky on the right year. To draw a tag in either of these regions can take anywhere between seven and eight preference points for the likes of Region G and only three or four preference points for Region H. There are three 200” bucks hanging in our office, all three of which are products of Wyoming’s general region hunts. Keep in mind however, these hunts can be heavy with hunting pressure as resident hunters can purchase these tags over-the-counter every year without restrictions. The second type of hunt is the limited-quota-only hunt. Most of these hunts are for individual hunt areas with a limited number of tags available for both residents and nonresidents alike. These hunts have limited hunting pressure and shortened hunting seasons for the most part. Throughout the entire state of Wyoming there are now 33 limited quota mule deer hunts, which is somewhat scarce when compared to the nearly 70 limited quota elk hunts and 123 limited quota antelope hunts available for Wyoming. Of these 33 total hunts, a very small handful of them are what I would consider blue-chip hunts or top-quality areas for this year. Most of the high preference point holders hold out for these hunts. These hunts tend to be a bit easier to find bucks in, but sometimes lack in the overall top end potential. More than 75% of the records book quality bucks in Wyoming are taken in a general hunt region, and not in high profile limited quota areas like some may think. But, if you desire a higher quality hunt with easier country and limited hunting pressure for a good buck in the 160” to 190” class the limited quota hunts are probably your best option. The winter of 2016-17 was a brutal one and the deer herd in western Wyoming suffered the consequences of the wrath. Regions G, H, K and F were the hardest hit by far. With overall deer mortality of at least 30%, a fawn mortality of nearly 100% and an older age class of deer making up the remainder of the loss, the hunting was off again here last fall. The overall hunter success for both Regions G and H dipped into the 20% range, well below the historic 35% or better mark the region has previously been known for. Our deer did go into the winter this year in great shape with very high fat reserves all while facing a very mild start to the winter months following the rut. All indications at this point are the winter of 2019-20 will not cause much winter loss on our deer herds. Why Hunt Deer in Wyoming The State has sliced the quotas in most of the core general hunt regions over the past few years and shortened many of the hunting seasons in an effort to help the deer rebound faster. Over the past ten years, Wyoming has removed nearly 30% of the nonresident general region tags from the draw, this equates to over 9,000 nonresident mule deer tags. This is the main reason a Region G tag has shot up to an astronomical eight preference points to draw. Region-G alone had a quota of 3500 nonresident tags available when I graduated high school there in 1990, today that total is a measly 400 tags and holding steady. At 2008 tag quota levels alone, Region G would only require three or four points to draw. Region H has also seen drastic cuts in quota but still remains a three or four preference point hunt, which seems much more in line with the quality of the hunt available. As for the Wyoming limited quota mule deer units, these hunts are in very tough shape right now. Many of these areas contain very arid sagebrush habitat and have been hit very hard by the drought and winter conditions of the past few years. Most of these 40 mule deer hunt areas have seen drastic decreases in mule deer populations and buck to doe ratios over the past few years. The average buck to doe ratio in the limited quota units, based on recent 2019 surveys, is about 28 bucks per 100 does - a nearly 12 buck drop in the past 24 months. On average, the Wyoming mule deer herd sits below the State objective level by over 30% statewide. Historically speaking, Wyoming does have some very good big buck potential. Wyoming remains the fourth best state to kill a records class buck, behind only the historic mule deer powerhouses of Colorado, Idaho and Utah. When it comes to a pure county-by-county breakdown, Wyoming holds two of the top ten counties in the entire country, Lincoln and Carbon. Only the mule deer mega-mecca of Colorado has more top ten counties for monster bucks over the past 20-years. The snowpack this year has been about normal in most areas for the sixth year in a row. The snowpack statewide is sitting about 90% of normal and is confined to the higher elevations, where it belongs for the most part. All great news for our deer. We’ll see what the late spring and summer hold. The top general region mule deer tag, Region G again took eight preference points to draw in 2020. The next best general regions of H and K only took about three points to draw. Again, reaffirming the fact that if you want to hunt a top-quality general unit you need to plan for about five or six preference points. If you want to commit to a top-quality limited quota area, plan on sticking with the system for about 12 years or more. A vast majority of the remaining general region tags can usually be drawn as a second choice and therefore saving your preference points for another year, particularly in the more expensive “special” draw. Mule Deer Analysis Purely on a statistical basis, the chance of killing a Boone and Crockett mule deer buck in Wyoming is about 4,000 or 5,000 to 1, Colorado has a 10X better chance to kill a monster buck. Two of the biggest bright spots in Wyoming are Carbon and Lincoln Counties. Carbon County has 26% of the total records book entries for Wyoming, and more than 30% of them have come in the past 10-years alone. The newly formed limited quota areas in the heart of Carbon County, Areas 78, 79, 80, 81 and 83 are fairly easy to draw and keep getting better and better each year. There could be a real diamond in the rough sitting inside this block of relatively new limited quota hunt units in my opinion, particularly for those who don’t have a massive amount of preference points. When you look at the master deer chart for Wyoming it is very important to keep in mind that as a conservative measure I went ahead and downgraded a lot of mule deer hunts again this year from blue chip to green. Since the chart is mostly based on historical data, most of these areas will look much stronger on paper than they actually are at this point in time. The only two exceptions to this would be Areas 101, 128 and 130, which are the only three mule deer hunts I think warrant a blue-chip rating for this year. GO TO MAP & CHARTS Deer Table - Recently updated April 16, 2021 2021 Wyoming Deer Table 2021 Wyoming Deer Table


Blue Chip
Units 076, 077, 079, 081, 091
Units 021, 022
Unit Group 012-014
Unit 015

TagHub Exclusives
231
091
078, 105-107, 109
221 - 223
075

As of this writing, 2020 stats are the most recent details that I could get for print. My plan is to update this for TagHub as soon as data comes out, and one piece I am hoping for is an improvement in the number of 15-inch bucks. 2020 is down to 27%, and in 2019 it dropped from 2018 by 1%. My gut says that this is drought related, as the forage available to bucks during the growing season has been rough at best.

Nevada remains a solid place to build the bonus points with the hope of acquiring a good tag. Across all seasons and weapons types, 2,826 antelope were harvested in 2020, and bear in mind that 27% of them had horn lengths longer than 15 inches. Is that the best Nevada has ever been? Well, 34% is the highest number in their documentation in 2011, but in the grand scheme of things, that is pretty steady and strong.

One thing that I did find alarming in the 20/21 status book is the overall population trends. There are just shy of 30,000 pronghorns living in the state, with 9,970 classified during the 20 counts. The overall trends suggest that the population is in a downward trend. The overall population ratio looks like 33 bucks:100 does:31 fawns. The fawn numbers are what were concerning NDOW. Harvest stats and winter 22 surveys will be very telling in regard to whether this is a blip in the radar or a three-year pattern that can qualify as a trend. One thing is for certain—a wet spring would help out the summer forage build up and in turn help more fawns survive.

Here is where things start to get interesting. Nevada has not been immune to the overall rise in applications for big game hunting opportunities. In 2019 there were 32,960 people who applied for an antelope tag. In 2020 there were 37,887, which is quite an increase. We will see if the trend continued into 2021; my guess is that it did and likely won’t stop until we settle down economically and vacation time is tougher to come by due to the work from home options now available.

Overall trophy projections for 2022 are going to be directly tied to NDOW’s steady hand in managing the herd, drought and of course the trend in each unit with the 15-inch plus horn data. With all of that in mind, if you draw a tag, you can expect to have a fun hunt, look over good bucks and probably take home a quality animal. My personal prediction is that we will see a fairly flat look on the 15-inch plus charts. NDOW takes a very steady hand approach and will evaluate tag numbers accordingly. In three years when the 19 and 20 crop of fawns are approaching maturity will be when we see tag numbers start to get cut down.

This year a little bit less water means that knowing guzzler and other water source locations will be very important. If you are a resident who draws a tag, take advantage of your locale and scout the water holes.

Scouting water can be the make-or-break-it difference in drought years, especially for archery hunters. Personally, I enjoy spot-and-stalk antelope hunting with a bow a lot more than sitting over a water hole. However, sitting a water hole may be a productive strategy for archery hunters, and with some scouting, rifle hunters could enjoy success watching travel routes to and from a buck’s territorial areas.

On to the blue-chip units!

When looking in TagHub and in the heat maps, you will notice that north and both the eastern and western borders have the best trophy forecasts. If you have quite a few points, I would stack your applications from hunts in the northernmost third of the state. Hunts there seem to produce very well!


Blue Chip


Units 076, 077, 079, 081, 091
In 2019, this unit group had a success rate of 79% overall, and 68% of those animals had horns better than 15” tall. In 2020 success was up to 90%, and 52% had 15-inch or better. Three seasons ago the numbers were slightly better, with an overall success rate of 85%, and 64% of those bucks had antlers better than 15”. In 2017, 55% of hunters harvested bucks that broke the 15” mark. The hunt was down in the 15-inch category but still a solid performer.


Units 021, 022
Three-year increments are how I judge an antelope unit group’s trophy rating, and this 100% public land unit group does well across all weapons types. Overall, success has been good, with 52% in 2017, even better in 2018 with 88% and holding steady in 2019 with another 88%. How did these units do in 2020? 88% for the any-legal-weapon-hunt; putting this hunt on your app is well worth it!


Unit Group 012-014
Last year, I threatened to move this hunt to green if improvement didn’t come. Well, it rebounded, and the 15-inch category improved by 4% up to 24% overall. From 2016 to 2017, the harvest of 15”-or-better bucks here dropped by 10%. The fall of 2018 saw this stat climb slightly to 30% and then drop back down to 22% in 2019, and it swung back up again in 2020. My gut says that this will still be a solid performer worth putting in your app on the backend.


Unit 015
We look for trends here at Eastmans’, and this newcomer to the blue-chip list is trending well. In the fall of 2019, 31% of the bucks here had horns that broke the magic 15” mark and the two falls prior had 15” + scores of 26% and 41%. That is great consistency, and in the last 10 years, there has only been one outlier at 10%. 2020 saw 33% of the bucks break that 15+ mark, all in all keeping this hunt in my top recommendations.


TagHub Exclusives


231
The late hunt for this unit will likely be on my application this year. This unit has earned more fame for its mule deer hunting, but there are big bulls here to be had with 61% of the 167 animals harvested here being 6 point or better and 34% of them having main beams longer than 50 inches.


091
In 2019 there were nine bulls harvested here, and 44% of them had main beams longer than 50 inches. Low odds, but a good chance at killing a very nice bull!


078, 105-107, 109
These units performed well this year, with a composite of 48% of the bulls having main beams over 50 inches.


221 - 223
This hunt is a stalwart that saw 39% of the 90 total bulls harvested break the magic 50-inch main beam mark. Lots of country to cover; be prepared to scout.


075
Well, I was wrong on this hunt. The data suggest that the trophy quality here was not as strong as it has historically been. 24% of the bulls here had 50-inch or better main beams; if those numbers stay in that range, I may have to call this a marginal hunt next year.

Overview Why Hunt Antelope in Wyoming? Wyoming Antelope Analysis Carbon Region (Areas 53, 55, 56, 61, 62 and 108) Sweetwater Region (Areas 57, 58, 59, 60, 90, 91, 92, 93 and 96) Central Fremont Region (Areas 64, 65, 66, 67, 74 and 75) Natrona Region (Areas 69, 71, 72, 73, and 75) Northern Bighorn Region (Areas 80, 83, 114, and 115) Overview The winter in Wyoming has been very mild, although the month of February was tough nationwide. Wyoming essentially experienced an entire winter in one single 30-day period. This said, the deer and antelope seemed to have fared very well as they went into the month of February in excellent shape. The snowpack statewide is right around 90% on average as the majority of the snow has been somewhat isolated to the higher regions of the state. The weakest regions for winter moisture so far are in the central portions of the state around Riverton, Casper and Gillette with accumulation totals running around 75% of normal so far. Keep in mind, a few good spring storms could bump these totals easily toward a more normal snow accumulation number. The bright spot is the northwest corner of the state near and around Jackson and Cody with snowpack averages running 100-110 percent of normal. From a winter moisture perspective, we are looking very solid going into the spring season, which can tend to drop heavy snow loads on our landscape during the months of April and May. The months of April and May can be a very critical time frame for our big game herds and we have yet to see what lies ahead in regard to our late spring weather and moisture. However, if the current trend holds, we should see very limited winter kill on our deer and antelope this year with a few very specific exceptions. The outlook for mule deer hunting in Wyoming this fall continues to be marginal at best. Highly out of the ordinary and unique weather events seem to have had a continued negative effect on our mule deer populations statewide. Wyoming is currently running more than 30% under the overall statewide mule deer herd objective. This could mean the equivalent of over 30,000 deer have been eliminated from the total deer herd over the past six or seven years, since the recent high seen in 2014. A massive drought in 2012, followed up by two rough winters in 2016 and 2017 followed up by a drought-stricken spring, summer and fall in 2020 have taken a toll on our deer and antelope in the Cowboy State. The one bright spot is the historically high deer density region of the western corridor known as Regions G and H. This region has continued to slowly bounce back from the two back-to-back disastrous winters and continues to do so according to my sources on the ground in those regions. These deer are somewhat insulated from drought conditions due to the high elevations they inhabit during the spring, summer and fall months. These deer have wintered out very well so far this year and the fawn recruitment from last year still remains very high. I expect the deer hunters in Wyoming this fall to see somewhat lower deer numbers lacking the mature age classes of the four, five and six-year-old bucks in most of the state’s deer hunt regions. Deer hunters in the Regions of G and H should see improved deer densities overall with some very solid up and coming age class bucks with older age class deer still remaining few and far between. Some large buck potential could be seen this year with the bucks born after the rough winters of 2017 and 2018 finally hitting the magical age of four and a half. Keep in mind, a buck from this region can easily hit the 30” mark at four and a half. A benchmark that a buck in the central part of the state may not see until the age of six, if ever. The antelope outlook for the Cowboy State is also a rough one. The drought conditions of the past few years have had a very rough effect on Wyoming’s antelope herds statewide. The severe weather and drought conditions seen over the past few years have taken upwards of 20% of the antelope herd out of the equation in Wyoming over the past few years. The tag quota was reduced by about 10% for the 2020 hunting season and I fully expect there to be additional tag quota cuts for the upcoming 2021 hunting season. The hunt areas on the western side of the continental divide have fared better than most other areas in the state. As well as the antelope hunt areas in the north central portion of the state. The hardest hit areas seem to be those that hold the majority of our antelope, which would be those around the cities of Riverton, Rawlins, Casper and Gillette. Although the antelope hunting was very tough last fall, both from a number’s perspective and a buck quality perspective, I think there will still be some very solid antelope hunting this fall in Wyoming. However, some additional research and risk may be required to be successful on an antelope hunt in Wyoming this fall. The 2021 hunting season will be one of mixed results for both trophy buck antelope and trophy mule deer this hunting season. With overall herd numbers waning and trophy quality dipping due to habit and age class deficiencies, high point applicants will need to be aware of what they are getting into on many of the tougher to draw hunts this year. The disappointments for Wyoming pronghorn hunting continued during the 2020 hunting season. Coming off a very lackluster year in 2019, a very dry spring, summer and fall in 2020 continued the downward trend for antelope hunters in the Cowboy State. Both trophy quality and herd quality suffered substantially over the past 18 months causing drops in quotas, hunter success rates and hunter satisfaction levels. For the 2020 hunting season the Wyoming Game and Fish big game managers lowered the antelope buck quotas statewide by nearly 4% while stating an overall drop in statewide antelope numbers of more than 10%. Given the fact, we saw drought and excessively hot conditions during the summer and fall months last year, I fully expect the state to further drop the antelope tag quotas for the 2021 hunting season. Keep in mind however, just because there are fewer antelope tags and antelope available does not necessarily mean there still can’t be some big bucks roaming the plains of Wyoming come fall. If we can manage to get a nice wet spring and summer, there could still be some good bucks available for hunters to chase come September. I’m just not 100% confident that the winter range was in very good shape for our antelope even though the winter itself was relatively mild. Time will tell of course, but I would personally be very reluctant to burn more than 10 antelope points on a tag this year, under most circumstances. For the 2020 season Wyoming allocated about 35,750 buck pronghorn tags for the big game draw. This total was a decrease from the over 38,000 buck tags allocated for the 2018 hunting season. Even though this was a reduced tag allocation this is still a substantial number of antelope tags, particularly considering only five years ago the state doled out less than 28,000 buck tags total. The average blue chip antelope unit in Wyoming took about nine points to draw in 2020, while the average green chip unit took seven points to draw, a relatively drastic increase versus the previous year, mostly due to the downgrades in trophy quality which downgraded a lot of blue-chip units to green. Historically, on average five or six preference points for Wyoming pronghorn will put an applicant into a very good antelope hunt, but with the massive number of downgrades this year this number will settle in about eight or nine points for a good antelope hunt to draw. On a more normal year, the sweet spot for antelope preference points seems to be right around the five or six preference point mark. With five or six points an applicant can find their way into a very solid antelope hunt in key big buck counties such as Carbon, Fremont or Natrona. These antelope hunt areas usually offer up a very good hunt with plenty of public land to hunt on and loads of antelope bucks to sort through. If you want a hunt for a true monster buck with little hunting pressure I would look into an off county such as the better hunts in Hot Springs, Washakie or Park counties or of course the core top antelope areas in Sweetwater and Carbon county. This may not be the case this year however. I see a much more spotty antelope landscape for this year versus normal with a few blue-chip units sprinkled out over the core big buck regions of Wyoming’s historic big buck areas. If you find yourself in the “little to no preference point” boat and not much of a hunt budget situation, then an application into the regular random draw in hunt Areas 47 Type 2 or 62 Type2 is your best bet at a random drawing with about 10% odds of drawing. If you can manage to up your budget the extra $288, an application for hunt areas 73 or 72 in the special draw will increase your odds of drawing a random antelope tag. Why Hunt Antelope in Wyoming? Even as dark as the current landscape is regarding antelope, make no mistake about it, Wyoming is big antelope country. With nearly as many antelope as residents, Wyoming is not only a go-to for the bulk of the West’s pronghorn, the Cowboy state also persists as the prime destination for big, records book class bucks. When it comes to pronghorn antelope, there is little argument where you should be applying or buying points and that is Wyoming. The state of Wyoming has put more big antelope into the records book than any other state by a massive margin. To put things in perspective, Wyoming has put nearly 1,500 bucks into the Boone and Crockett records book, while Arizona has only entered about 400. More than one third of all the pronghorn bucks in the records book have come from the state of Wyoming. Surprisingly to me, Wyoming also competes very well for the biggest of the big when it comes to pronghorn bucks. Of the total bucks in the book that score 90” and above, Wyoming accounts for nearly one quarter of those entries as well. Only the likes of Arizona can top this statistic with more than 30%. If we look at the top pronghorn counties nationwide, the Cowboy State again comes up big, with four out of the top five counties in the entire country. The counties of Carbon, Sweetwater, Fremont and Natrona have produced nearly one quarter of all of the records book antelope ever recorded in known history for this continent! These four Wyoming counties alone account for nearly 73% of Wyoming’s massive haul of records book antelope. With over 35,000 buck antelope tags available, a very liberal five-week season and more than one third of all the records book entries, Wyoming cannot be denied when looking to enter your name into the records book next to a monster pronghorn. One of the drawbacks when it comes to Wyoming pronghorn hunting is the fact that it has so many antelope that finding a big buck is not as easy as it looks on paper. The bulk of the big bucks seem to come from very specific regions of the state and are very, very diluted in a sea of small to mediocre class bucks. You will probably need to hunt in Wyoming three or four times to finally connect with that buck of your dreams, so spend your points wisely. That said, if you are in search of a very large buck antelope, this year might be too much of a risk with your points total, if you have been banking more than eight to ten preference points in my opinion. The concentration of monster bucks in Wyoming isn’t nearly as high as it is in states such as Arizona, Texas or California. To find a true monster of a buck here, you will have to be in a good unit on a good year covering plenty of country, glassing hundreds of bucks and know what you are looking at when it comes to field judging a big buck. When it comes to the perfect trade-off between opportunity and quality, on a good year, an antelope hunt in Wyoming is probably about as good as it gets. All the data points to the fact that if you have a big antelope buck on your bucket list you need to be applying or at least buying preference points in the Cowboy State diligently each and every year. Wyoming Antelope Analysis Coming off a fairly rough winter last year, and heading on into a substantial drought year, the antelope herd in Wyoming is working its way through a downward trend currently. At this point we do not know how long this trend will last but generally speaking antelope bounce back very fast and the downward trends in Wyoming for antelope tend to last only two or three years. This said, we could be headed out the other end of this trend possibly next year. So far, our winter has been relatively mild with the month of February being somewhat rough, but March is turning off very mild which bodes well for a possible turn around for our pronghorn herds. If we can manage to get dealt a wet summer and spring things could be looking up again by next year. The antelope blue chip areas for this year are very spotty and spread out throughout the best regions of the state. I think the hunt areas in the northern portion of the state will see very solid results as will the often drought insulated region of northern Sublette County and the region around the Continental Divide in south central Wyoming. Wyoming has 123 total antelope hunts to choose from, some better than others. For the best researchers among us, it is still possible to draw a decent buck tag as a second choice but those options are getting ever more rare. We simply do not have the room to print the entire master antelope chart for every single hunt area, but the brand-new digital research tool, Eastmans’ TagHub (taghub.eastmans.com) does contain the expanded master chart with all 123 antelope hunts along with additional herd and harvest information. If you want to try and choose a good second choice antelope unit and maintain your preference points this year this might be a good place to start to find such an option. Also, make sure you subscribe to our FREE online newsletter for up-to-date winter range conditions and antelope area picks. Now, let’s get into the specifics with regard to some of Wyoming’s best antelope regions. Carbon Region (Areas 53, 55, 56, 61, 62 and 108) This group of units makes up the historic core of Wyoming’s best antelope areas. These six units alone comprise the wheelhouse of the famed antelope mecca of Carbon County. More big bucks have been killed in these six antelope hunt areas than any other six units in the entire country over the past 10 years. The winter in this region has been very mild so far this year, however the southern end of this region did experience a rough winter in 2020 and the drought here last summer was substantial. For this reason, I have downgraded the units on the southern end of this region and kept the units on the north end as mostly blue-chip hunts. Areas 53, 61 and 62 are probably the least risky of the bunch here. Area 62 is probably one of the most consistent records book producing areas in the state of Wyoming and maybe even the entire country. These hunts will generally take about 8 to 12 points to draw. The outlying Areas 46, 47 and 48 can also produce good results with fewer preference points (5 or 6 points) for a hunter that is willing to work hard or hire an outfitter. Sweetwater Region (Areas 57, 58, 59, 60, 90, 91, 92, 93 and 96) This region has seen a very mild winter in 2021 and due to the elevation of this region the drought here was somewhat mild last year. I think this region is probably one of the few standout regions for good antelope hunting for the 2021 hunting season. The antelope here have continued to rebound slow and steady from the historically deadly winter of 2017-18. I do think there will be some bigger than average bucks out here again this year. The best of the bunch here this year will probably be areas 60, 92 and 96 if I had to guess at this point. The overall buck quality here should still be good this year and if the spring and summer turn off nicely I think there could be some very solid antelope hunting in this region for this upcoming fall. These areas are in very high demand historically and max or near to max points will be needed to hunt here. Central Fremont Region (Areas 64, 65, 66, 67, 74 and 75) A mild winter and summer drought have placed this antelope region as one of concern for this fall’s hunting season. Some areas in this region have managed to come out ahead of many other regions in the state. Historically speaking, this core cluster of six antelope areas has continued to produce some very solid results over the past ten years and counting. Fremont County is probably the least high profile of the big four Wyoming antelope counties. Fremont County has slipped to the #3 spot recently, mostly due to the increase in giant antelope killed in the Sweetwater units over the past few years. This region still continues to produce however, even after some fairly serious drought conditions seen in the past decade. Fremont County, with its massive public land tracts consisting of vast high desert terrain sit in the weather shadow of the Wind River mountain range keeping it relatively insulated from Wyoming’s brutal winters. The tag quotas here have been decreased from historic highs making for an improved hunting experience for the antelope hunters here. Areas 67, 74 and 75 are probably the top three units in this grouping. The points required to hunt here are very reasonable, only taking about five to seven preference points to draw a tag. Area 74 is a potential sleeper unit in this region in my opinion for a hunter who is willing to step out on a limb and gamble five or six points on the potential for a good high-plains antelope buck. Natrona Region (Areas 69, 71, 72, 73, and 75) As the fourth best county in the entire country, the Natrona region represents some very good deals when it comes to the trade-off between big antelope and easy draw odds. Areas 71 and 72 are the best deals taking less than four preference points to draw. This region has vast public land tracts and potential for big bucks in the right year. These units are very susceptible to drought conditions making a good spring and summer very critical to quality horn growth here. This region should produce some very mixed results this fall for those who draw here. Areas 73 and 75 are the best of the bunch and should take about five or six points to secure a tag. These two units are the best of the best here and should be a decent gamble for the upcoming hunting season given a tag increase in Area 73. Northern Bighorn Region (Areas 80, 83, 114, and 115) This region contains most of the outlier monster buck producers. These four antelope hunts can be magnificent and don’t hit the radar on some research lists. The Area 114 hunt is probably one of the best antelope hunts in the entire country in my opinion. These areas all have plenty of public land to hunt, very limited tag quotas, low hunting pressure, lengthy season dates and consistent big buck potential. Due to the low tag quotas these areas sometimes do not hit the radar like the big counties do for records book entries, but believe me, the antelope hunting here can feel like heaven on earth for those that want to feel like they are hunting alone for the potential at a monster buck. On a good year these four areas will enter more than five records book antelope bucks into the books, not bad considering the relatively small tag quotas here. On a normal year, a good 77” to 80” buck with the occasional 83” type buck here should be very doable. Nearly all of these units have produced bucks pushing the 90” mark in the past. Ten points or more will be required to hunt the best two areas of 80 and 114. Area 115 could be a potential sleeper alternative that would require only three or four preference points to draw a tag for. Keep in mind however, that hunt Area 83 has drastically diminished in quality over the past two years due to overhunting and drastic drought conditions. GO TO MAP & CHARTS Table - Recently updated March 2, 2021 2021 WY ANTELOPE Table 2021 WY ANTELOPE Table
Sam Davis EBJ i118
See Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal, Issue 118 for this Sam Davis' Feature.


Outlook & Overview
Why Hunt Moose in Wyoming?
Wyoming Moose Analysis

Outlook & Overview

The great stabilization. After nearly a 20-year slide, the moose herds in Wyoming seem to have stabilized. After drastic tag cuts and faltering hunter success rates, the bottom seems to have finally been hit. But bear in mind, although the quantity of moose has taken a nose dive in the past decades, the quality of the bulls taken has actually improved in many areas around the state.

Over the past three decades Wyoming has been forced to reduce the overall moose hunting quota by nearly 2/3, and close eight moose areas altogether in a desperate effort to find a new balance as the moose herd continues to spiral down. What once was nearly 1,200 moose tags available in the draw has now become an anemic offering of only 305 bull tags. This is actually an increase over the past few years however. Needless to say, this has had a drastic consequence on our preference point system. A system that was once thought to never see the light of 12 preference points, is now climbing to 20 points and counting for many hunt areas.

Significant declines in quality moose habitat along with a disease outbreak have both been partially to blame for the decline in Wyoming’s moose herds. But any resident will tell you, this one included, that super-predators – wolves and grizzly bears, have been the most significant factor in the moose management disaster that has become our reality over the last 25-years. With a recent string of normal, deep snow winters and wet cool summers, the moose habitat has begun to rebound. The massive record-breaking back to back snow years we experienced in 2016 and 2017 have added to that equation. And now with our wolf season back in place with a double wolf quota, I think the moose in Wyoming are finally headed toward a brighter future. At this point it’s all about solid calf recruitment.

Again, this year there are 18 good to excellent moose hunts identified in the state of Wyoming for the fall hunt of 2021. Regions such as the Big Horn Mountains and the Sierra Madre continue to produce some outstanding bulls as well as a steadily growing moose population, an outcome that is now the cause of a slight increase in hunting opportunity as twenty-five more tags were available for moose hunts versus last year, very good news.


Why Hunt Moose in Wyoming?

Even with the drastic moose declines the Cowboy State has seen over the past two decades there still remains some very good moose hunting in Wyoming if you can manage to draw a tag. Wyoming is producing some very large bull moose again which is a very welcome sight to us all. 

With more than 400 records book Shiras’ moose, more than any other state; when it comes to big moose, Wyoming is still the undisputed king. 

Wyoming uses a hybrid preference point structure with both a random pool and preference point pool for applicants to try and draw from. A random draw moose tag is possible in certain moose hunt units even with little to no points, in areas; 5, 24, 25, 26 and 38/41 only. If you have a decent bank of points built up, there are some very solid moose hunting opportunities available for the nonresident hunter with 18 or 19 preference points. 

The resident preference point system seems to have stabilized, mostly due to the large number of tags available (about 250) each year, creating a situation where the breaking point for resident applicants to find their way into a good moose tag has settled in at about 15 points. But if you want to hunt the very best moose areas Wyoming has to offer, you are going to need 18 points or more. 

Due to the cycle of tag reductions seen over the past 15 years the nonresident pool is experiencing some very significant point creep. In 2015 alone, nonresident moose applicants saw the breaking point for them to get into a good tag increase by four points. The new breaking point for nonresident moose hunters is now about 16 points and climbing by about a single point each year. Although I do think the recent cost increase will eventually stifle this growth sooner rather than later.  Something to think about, just like the Wyoming elk draw, of the more than 10,000 nonresident moose applicants with points, only about 1,500 of them are actually applying for a tag. That means more than 85% of the applicants are only buying preference points and not even entering the draw. 

Moose hunting in Wyoming can be very expensive for a nonresident applicant considering you have to front the entire cost of the tag ($1,997) just to apply. For this reason, I highly suggest nonresidents simply buy the preference points ($150) each year until they hit about 12 points. The random draw pool odds just don’t outweigh the costs in my opinion until 12 points are reached for nonresident applicants. 

Something to keep in mind when applying for moose and sheep in Wyoming is to choose your area wisely when you do apply. Literally hundreds of nonresident applicants each year apply for areas that do not even have tags available for the random draw, literally giving them a zero percent chance at drawing their moose tag.


Wyoming Moose Analysis
The best moose hunting in Wyoming continues to occur in and around four core areas or regions: the Gros Ventre near Jackson Hole, the South Wind Rivers around Pinedale and Lander, the Big Horn Mountains just west of Sheridan and of course the famed Medicine Bow on the Colorado border near Laramie.

At this point in time, my sources, stats and people on the ground have all confirmed that the best moose hunting in the state continues to be on the southeastern border near Colorado. These moose were transplanted when I was a kid in the 1970s from the Moosehead Ranch near Moran, Wyoming in the heart of Teton Park to just across the border in Colorado. They have since slowly expanded to the north and back into Wyoming. The herd has now taken hold and the genetics of these Wyoming native moose blood lines is as good as it gets – world record class.

Another bright spot when it comes to Wyoming moose is the Bighorn Mountains, which are comprised of Areas 1, 34 and 42, or the “Big Horn Trifecta,” as I call it. These three areas have become a very good and consistent bet for a big Wyoming bull moose. Area 42 is the best of the three if you want a really big bull, with two bulls coming out of this area with over 50” spreads in 2014 alone. But the hunting can be tough here as the country is very deep and horses are somewhat of a necessity to hunt here effectively. Area 1 is probably the easiest moose hunt of the three, but the success, quota and quality in this area has seen a slight decline in the past few years but did see very solid results again in 2019 following a tag quota reduction. This area is probably the best bowhunt in the state for a big bull moose.

The Gros Ventre country, just to the east of Jackson Hole sits in the middle of the historic breadbasket of big bull moose country, Teton County. Although the moose have struggled with predators and habitat deterioration here, the big bulls seem to be fighting through the adversity. The big moose core of this region basically is made up of one single hunt that stands out from the rest. Areas 17 and 28 are a combined hunt with a near perfect success rate (93%) and some very big bulls including a monster sporting a rack of nearly 60”. The average bull here was just a tick shy of 43” and more than five years old. There is a fair amount of designated wilderness area in this unit so an outfitted hunt may be a good insurance policy for a nonresident hunter who draws this tag.

The final bright spot for Wyoming moose is the Piney region on the west slope of the Wind River Mountains South of Pinedale, Wyoming. This cluster of areas, 2, 3, 4, 24 and 25 still manages to produce some good moose, and lots of them. With plenty of 40” bulls and good success rates in the 90% and above range this moose region is a great place to hunt for a good moose if you lack the maximum points required to hunt in the Horns or the Medicine Bow. Most of these areas are a mixture of lower sage country, aspen pockets and rough rugged high country, depending on the unit.

A very important thing to keep in mind when conducting your moose research in Wyoming, is that there are some very good moose hunts in the green chip moose listings. Areas like 5 and 26 can be very good moose hunts for solid Shiras’ bulls in the 36” to 45” class. The hunting here is a bit tougher, but the possibilities for a big bull still do exist with success rates that are very strong.

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Moose Table - Recently updated August 22, 2021


Overview
Why Hunt Bighorn Sheep in Wyoming?
Wyoming Bighorn Sheep Analysis
Area 2 (Trout Peak)
Area 5 (Franc’s Peak)
Area 12 (Porcupine, Bighorn Canyon)
Area 17, 26 (Ferris-Seminoe)
Area 19 (Laramie Peak)
Area 20 (Kouba Canyon, Black Hills)
Area 24 (Big Piney)


Overview

The sheep herd in Wyoming continues to be somewhat of a mixed bag when it comes to herd health and numbers. Many of the traditional sheep hunting bastions such as Areas 3 and 5 continue to see sheep herd declines while other non-traditional newer herd units like Areas 12 and 19 continue to see sheep hunting opportunities increase over time as the herds take hold and expand after successful reintroductions. With 17 total sheep hunts to choose from and 180 bighorn ram tags available, a slight increase by the way, Wyoming continues to be a go-to state for sheep hunters. Due to hard work from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department as well as the Wild Sheep Foundation, Wyoming’s sheep transplant projects have put more sheep into less traditional sheep areas in the more arid portions of the state. These new populations have taken hold and begun to expand nicely to the point of finally offering some additional sheep hunts with great results. 

For both sheep and moose applicants over the last few years the point creep has become an ever-growing reality. A hunt that took 14 points to draw only a few years ago now takes 20 points or more to draw. The average sheep tag in Wyoming will take just under 19 points to draw for a nonresident hunter. There are just over 100 nonresident applicants with more than 22 preference points inside the system now, and only five max point holders, so the system is beginning to look toward stabilization possibly. 


Why Hunt Bighorn Sheep in Wyoming?

Ever more expense aside, the simple fact remains that Wyoming has never been a great place to kill a monster ram, and probably never will be. However, Wyoming continues to be a very solid location to kill a nice ram in some very scenic and classic bighorn sheep country. While Montana is the place for the uber trophy-wise sheep hunter, Wyoming continues to be the go-to for opportunity when it comes to sheep hunting, offering up more nonresident sheep tags to hunters than any other state by far. 

The fact of the matter is, although Wyoming does not tend to produce boatloads of Boone and Crockett entries like the states of Montana and New Mexico, Wyoming is still a very good place to apply and draw a sheep tag for a good ram within your lifetime. The average sheep tag in Wyoming is drawn with about 20 preference points. 

The preference point system Wyoming uses does allow even a nonresident sheep applicant to draw a tag even with zero points in Areas 2, 3, 4 and 5 only. It is very important to analyze this chart in an effort to not become one of hundreds of applicants each year who apply for areas that don’t even have a random draw sheep tag available. Long and short, nonresident sheep applicants with fewer than 15 points should only be applying for these four areas. 

The nonresident preference point pool begins to fall off significantly about 22 points, leaving only about 130 nonresident applicants in the pool with more than 22 points. Resident applicants are not quite so lucky however; a falloff is not seen in the resident pool until the 25-point mark, lucky me! 

Based on the way the Wyoming preference point system works, I would highly suggest a nonresident applicant with less than 15 points simply buy points until at least the 12 preference point mark is obtained. A preference point only for sheep can be purchased in Wyoming “post-draw” up until the 2nd of November without entering the draw and therefore eliminating the hefty upfront tag fee. The cost for the point-only option is $150 for nonresident applicants and $7 for Wyoming resident applicants. This can be a great way to go for some applicants given the very limited and stiff odds of drawing one of the only four random sheep tags for nonresident applicants if drawn, the sheep tag itself will cost an astounding $2,335 this year which will again have to be fronted in full in order to apply.  


Wyoming Bighorn Sheep Analysis

The core of Wyoming’s second largest sheep herd resides just west of Cody. Again, this year there are only two blue chip units (Area 2, and 5) in this area instead of the historic four or five from years past. Areas 1, 3, and 4 have continued to see quality and quantity steadily decrease over the past few years. Area 3 however, is seeing some signs of a bounce back and could be back on the list after the results from the 2020 season are compiled. Keep in mind all three of these hunts can still be good sheep hunts, but just don’t seem to be producing at their full potential like they did five or ten years ago. This slide is a culmination of both reduced quality and a slip in hunter success rates over the past few years. Reduced quotas along with continued Department oversight should help the situation.

The rams in some of the more nontraditional areas such as Area 12, 17, 20 and 24 are beginning to produce better opportunities and bigger rams each and every year. Without question, Area 12 near Bighorn Lake is the best all-around sheep hunt in the entire state right now. This hunt has produced four B&C rams over the past five years alone, placing this area in the top ten big ram producing areas in the entire country! Over the past five years, the average ram in Wyoming has sported a nearly 33” horn while Area12 has produced multiple records book and state record class rams including a ram sporting a massive 42” curl. Areas 9, 19 and 24 have produced the best rams on average at right around 35” in length while the heaviest rams seem to come out of Areas 17 and 20 with bases nearing the 16” mark.  

If you are looking for a really big ram by Wyoming standards, Areas 3, 12, 17 and 19 are your best bets. All three of these areas have produced at least one ram over 40” in length in the past three years. That is something no other sheep area in Wyoming can boast. If you just want a good chance at a good ram, Areas 12, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 24 have all had 100% success on rams for the past three years and counting. 


Area 2 (Trout Peak)

The Trout Peak sheep unit in the North Fork of the Shoshone drainage has continued to rebound from a few years of lackluster results. These “spotty” results could be caused by the quality of the resident hunters who have drawn the majority of these sheep tags in the past few years however. Either way, the ram quality and success here has been a bit unpredictable as of lately. The average ram in this area is seven years old, with an average length in the 33” range with a top length just shy of 40”. The sheep habitat here is abundant and there are plenty of rams roaming these hills inside the wilderness so a guide is almost a must for an out of state hunter. Twenty or 21 points will be required to draw one of the recently reduced 20 sheep tags in this area this year. This area also has sheep tags available in the random draw but they come hard with a less than a 1 in 500 chance. 


Area 5 (Franc’s Peak)

After a few years off the “blue-chip” listing Area 5 has made a return to the list of best sheep units in the state. This is mostly due to some tag quota reductions in the area, which have increased the quality and quantity of the rams here as well as an increase in hunter success. With rough and remote country, this area is very, very large. A majority of these sheep winter deep within the area so little is known about the exact quality of the rams here from one year to the next. Twenty-one preference points should garner a tag here and there are a few tags in the random draw for this area for those with less than 21 preference points. Hunter success hovers around 85% in this area and 40” rams have been taken here in the past, however the average ram here is in the 32” range but is nearly eight years of age. This area produces a lot of sheep and is a very solid choice for a DIY guy or someone who just wants a very respectable representation of the species with above-average success. 


Area 12 (Porcupine, Bighorn Canyon)

With six tags available, Area 12 is probably one of the easiest and the best sheep hunts in the entire state for a big ram, but the draw odds are beyond tough, requiring 25 or more preference points to draw. This area just seems to get better and better. To put it into perspective, this area has produced four records book rams in the last five years alone. Further proof that the rams in here do score well and based on my information, I think the largest rams roaming this unit have yet to be taken. With no wilderness, no wolves and no grizzly bears, this hunt would be a great DIY bowhunt. The rams in here have averaged over 34” curls with one giant sporting a nearly 42” horn - particularly impressive considering the average ram taken here is seven years old. The success rate on rams on this hunt has always been 100%. If I were an out of state sheep applicant sitting on max points, I would probably be applying for this sheep hunt.  


Area 17, 26 (Ferris-Seminoe)

A fairly new sheep unit to the scene, this area is getting better and better each year. This sheep herd is young and still maturing and I think the future holds some very good things for this area. A true giant of a ram was taken here last fall with a bow which may be a sign of good things to come here. Sporting a perfect track record, this hunt boasts a 100% success rate for the last five seasons and counting. A sheep hunter has never gone home empty-handed on this hunt. The rams in this area have been gradually getting larger with an average of nearly 35” on the length and over six years of age. This is a significant improvement when compared to only two years ago. The rams in this unit do boast bases over 17” on average and therefore score very well. If you have a lot of points to burn and want a nice bighorn ram in fairly mild country then this could be the hunt for you. Near to max points of 25 or 26 will probably be a requirement to hunt this area. 


Area 19 (Laramie Peak)

A new hunt to the blue-chip list this year, the Laramie Peak hunt has finally matured as a sheep hunt for Wyoming bighorn hunters. The rams here have nice age on them, at over twelve years old on the two rams taken here over the past three years! The hunter success on this hunt has continued to climb back to 100%. A successful applicant here will need 23 preference points or more to be awarded a bighorn tag for this hunt. Rumor has it, that there are a few giants roaming this unit that have yet to be taken, so there could be some very solid potential upside for a draw here. With only 35% public land, the access here could represent a few challenges for this hunt. This would be a very good DIY hunt with no grizzly bears or wilderness to worry about. And a DIY bowhunt here would be even better. 


Area 20 (Kouba Canyon, Black Hills)
This area borders the Black Hills sheep unit in South Dakota, which can be a very, very good sheep hunt by anyone’s standards. I am thinking 24 preference points will surely be required to hunt this area again this year. The sheep hunting here is fairly easy as the sheep habitat is very concentrated in a relatively small area. Hunters here only hunted barely three days to kill their sheep. With an impressive 100% success rate, the rams here are very heavy with nearly 16” bases on average and can pack horns beyond the 35” mark in length. The access here can be a little bit of a concern but the country is relatively mild as far as sheep standards go. I’m confident there are some very large rams still roaming the Black Hills unit for the next person who draws a tag here. 


Area 24 (Big Piney)
With light bases but good horn length, the Area 24 sheep hunt used to only see a sheep hunt about every third year on average. But as the sheep have begun to thrive here it looks like the Fish and Game biologists have upped that frequency to one tag each year. This hunt will no doubt require max points for a hunter to draw a tag here, but I would venture a guess that the lucky hunter here should be able to kill a ram in the 170” or higher range. The average ram taken here is eight years of age and could have horns nearing the 40” mark.  There is not a lot of data on this area to digest but I have seen the sheep in this area during a deer hunting excursion before and there are some big rams here. If you draw the tag, call the sheep biologist for the unit and I’m sure he would be more than happy to fill you in on the details of where to find the rams.

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Bighorn Sheep Table - Recently updated July 27, 2021

Why Hunt Goats in Wyoming?
Wyoming Rocky Mountain Goat Analysis
Area 1
Area 2
Area 3 (Type 1)
Area 3 (Type 2)
Areas 4 & 5 (Type A)

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has expanded the Rocky Mountain goat options over the past few years. With goats now expanded into the inner reaches of Teton National park, where they are not welcome, the State has struggled to drastically reduce or even eliminate these new expansion herds in what is now Areas 4 and 5. While these new areas do offer up some increased opportunity, the nearly over-the-counter nature and access issues make these hunts very difficult and applicants should beware of the financial pitfalls of drawing a tag for this type of hunt.

With only six total options available and no preference point system in place an applicant need not spend too much time bogged down in research here. The long and short of it, there are really only four high quality goat hunt options in Wyoming. These remain the “non-cull” hunts in Areas 1, 2 and 3. 

During the 2019 hunting season, Wyoming implemented a very aggressive strategy to reduce and possibly even eliminate the goat populations in two new goat areas within the state. The goats in Areas 4 and 5 were hunted very aggressively with very high quotas and aggressive season dates in an effort to cull the goats off of critical bighorn sheep habitat in the Absaroka and Teton mountain ranges. These two areas where initially set up to be over-the-counter hunts, but once the Game and Fish Department ran into some legislative hurdles that could not be overcome the Department offered instead a very aggressive quota to ensure the goats would be significantly reduced by hunters. I would not recommend these hunts as a high-quality experience by any means, particularly for the nonresident hunter who would face the sticker shock of a nearly $2,200 tag. These two hunts could be on the docket to be eliminated altogether in the near future if the federal government gets its way and decimates these goat herds with the use of helicopter gunners. Time will tell. 

These two areas aside, the goat hunts in Areas 1, 2 and 3 can be a very good experience with some great opportunities for respectable size billies, if you take your time and hunt hard, and most importantly know what you are looking at. 

Although Wyoming is still not a mountain goat powerhouse like British Columbia or Alaska, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has done a very good job at managing and expanding the very limited goat populations that the state does have. The goat habitat in Wyoming is somewhat limited and the overall size of the billies in Wyoming is not quite as good as the neighboring states of Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Utah. 

The frequency of big billies killed in the Wyoming high country does seem to be accelerating as of recent years as the goat herds begin to mature, to the point that I would now put Wyoming in the same category as Colorado and Idaho when it comes to overall trophy quality. There are only six or seven states/provinces that have produced more B&C billies over the past ten years than Wyoming. 

The costs to apply in Wyoming however are steep while the odds of drawing a tag are even steeper. Nevertheless, Wyoming is still a very good place to hunt for a Lower 48 billy. 

As the goat harvest graph shows, over the past ten years the goat population and goat harvest has increased drastically during the first fifteen years of the century (2001 – 2016). However, the graph now indicates that our goat population may have finally leveled off a bit and found a balance as the goat harvest in Wyoming seems to be steady hanging in the range of 35-50 each year for the past four or five years now, once we deduct the cull hunt numbers from the data. 

Bottom line | The Rocky Mountain goat herds in Wyoming are doing very well. If the current trend holds true, Wyoming could be hunting more than 50 goats each year from here on out which could do wonders for the draw odds. 


Why Hunt Goats in Wyoming?

Wyoming continues to produce more and more larger sized billies each year. The Cowboy State is now the 10th best place to find a records book goat. Add to that, nearly 60% of the records book goats taken in the state have been taken in the last ten years. In the past, Wyoming goat hunters struggled to put a single goat into the records book about every decade. Now a records book goat hits the ground in Wyoming just about every year, a significant improvement by nearly any measure. 

Just like most states, a goat tag in Wyoming is extremely hard to come by and very expensive to apply for. With no preference points system in place for goats, all applicants will have to front the entire sum of the tag ($157-R/$2,177-NR), and hope for lightning to strike and deliver to you one of the more than 100 total Wyoming goat tags available.


Wyoming Rocky Mountain Goat Analysis

Wyoming’s goat populations basically consist of two distinct and separate gene pools. The Northern Beartooth herd, which resides in Areas 1, 3 and 4, and the Western Snake River herd which calls Areas 2 and 4 home. As a general rule, the Snake River herd has a bit better genetics due to the Idaho origins of their genetics and better feed conditions. In fact, the top half of all the B&C goats taken in Wyoming have all come from Area 2. If you really want a shot at a big goat, with no wilderness to worry about, Area 2 should be your choice. 

Area 3 is a bit of wild card, with lots of goats in some very steep and remote country. This is probably the toughest of the three hunts, but Area 3 also offers the best draw odds, particularly on the later hunt during October. Let’s take a little closer look at each area individually based on the pros and cons. 


Area 1

Snug against the Montana border and just north of Cody, this area is the classic, steep, rocky and rugged goat habitat that most goat hunters would expect out of a Rocky Mountain goat hunt. Area 1 is a very good choice for bowhunters and guys who want to hunt in some of the most picturesque country in the entire United States. With a reduced tag quota of 8 tags, this area offers draw odds of just about 1%. Area 1 is the easiest goat hunt of the three and the odds of killing a billy here are somewhat mixed at only 48% over the past three years. 


Area 2

Area 2 has produced the largest goats in the state on average over the past ten years. Nearly half (50%) of the total goat entries in the Boone and Crockett records book, and six out of the top seven have come out of Area 2. The Snake River range is not as rough as the other areas, but the country is deep and very roadless, causing a hunter to expend more energy just getting up to the goats than a hunter in Area 1 generally does. The hunter success in Area 2 is somewhat marginal as of lately, with 89% of the hunters killing goats and of those 63% were billies. The draw odds here are pretty rough however, and tend to hang right around that 0.5% mark. 


Area 3 (Type 1)

Area 3 is basically the north fork of the Shoshone River drainage and Crandall and Sunlight Creeks. The goats here are of good size and this area generally produces good numbers of billies (roughly 60%). The goats here can be a little bit pocketed in some very deep country with some groups of goats not seeing much hunter pressure at all. A hunter with a ton of grit and good lungs could just have the hunt of a lifetime here. A lot of the goats in this area tend to hang out in the wilderness, so a nonresident DIY hunter might want to steer clear of this selection. The hunting season on this hunt spans the entire unit and runs the entire months of September and October. An increased tag quota in this unit from 16 to 24 has helped the draw odds jump to about 2.5%. 


Area 3 (Type 2)

This hunt is a later season hunt in Area 3 during late September and October. The Type 1 hunters can also hunt here during October, but most of them will probably be filled out by the time October rolls around. The billy success here is surprisingly good with 58% of the hunters here taking billies over the past three years. For the nonresident hunter, this hunt might suit you a bit better as the later season snow might drop some of the goats down out of the wilderness areas. The draw odds here are very attractive at nearly 7.5%.  


Areas 4 & 5 (Type A)

With extremely high quotas, these two hunts seem to be cull hunts and are not recommended for trophy goat hunting without some very diligent research and solid information before applying. With very expensive upfront application costs and a massive wilderness area to contend with, nonresident applicants should be very cautious with these two options.

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Mtn Goat Table - Recently updated July 29, 2021

Outlook & Overview

Wyoming’s wild bison herd remains as a balanced population. 

Following four years of very heavy bison harvest, Wyoming’s bison herd continues to be leveling off. With only three hunts to choose from one of which will likely have no tags available again this year, the options for Wyoming bison are very simple. The hunt area will be Area-2 and the choice will simply be bull (Any) or cow. 

Even though the options are very simple, Wyoming still seems to be a very solid spot for a big bull bison if you really desire one. While not as prolific as it was five or ten years ago, Wyoming is still producing a few really big bulls each and every year. Most of this has to do with the fact that many of the bison in this herd drift in and out of Grand Teton National Park, making for a very good safe haven to protect some bulls from being over hunted and allowing them to grow to a fully mature age of ten years and older. 

Second only to the state of South Dakota, Wyoming has 110 total records book bison entries all-time, nearly half of which have come in the past 10 years alone. Today, Wyoming is one of the few but ever-growing list of places in the Lower 48 where a hunter can hunt fair chase bison. 

An applicant for Wyoming bison must front the entire cost of the tag which is a total cost of – $419 for a bull and $265 for a cow tag for residents and a whopping $4,417 for a bull and $2,767 for a cow for nonresidents. In my humble opinion, given the other options available now for a bison hunt, the cost of entry for a nonresident for this hunt is way too high and probably not worth the cost given the draw odds and success track record. 

The bison options in Wyoming will be very simple for the 2021 hunting season. With only one area (Area-2) to hunt there are only two hunting options, a cow/calf type 4 tag and of course the highly sought-after type-1, any bison tag. The Wyoming bison season is very lengthy, August 15 to January 31, nearly five months long, but the tag quota for the bull hunt remains very limited, with 125 bull/any and only 50 cow/calf tags up for grabs in 2020. The 2021 tag quotas are not available yet, but I do not expect much change versus last season. I do not expect there to be a bison hunt available in Area-3 again this year. 

Because the state has hunted the bulls in the Jackson herd so hard in the past, many of the oldest age class bulls have been taken out of the herd over the past decades. The exception to this would be if the Teton Park buffalo leave the park with heavy snow and weather and move onto the adjacent National forest land or the National Elk Refuge. Keep in mind, as the tag quotas have been cut over the past few years, the age class of the bulls killed have been steadily increasing again. 

Historic hunter success on the bison hunt in Wyoming has steadily fallen over the past few years, now with about half of the hunters now filling their bison tags over the past three years. Although success, decreasing, quality has also dropped drastically over the past few years, as the herd comes back into objective levels and the average age of the bulls has been drastically lowered. 

The new draw deadline for both residents and nonresidents is March 31st, and both can apply after January 1st. An option to hunt the National Elk Refuge is available in a separate drawing for successful Wyoming bison tag applicants. 

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Bison Table - Recently updated July 7, 2021

2022_WY_Bison_Tables 2022_WY_Bison_Tables

Game and Fish to study the role of hunting and fishing in food system

Throughout June, Game and Fish will be surveying hunters and anglers about how they consume and share with others wild-harvested game meat and fish as well as foraged foods like berries and mushrooms.

6/7/2021 8:28:26 PM

CHEYENNE - The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is participating in a study to learn more about the role of hunting and angling in Wyoming’s —  and North America’s —  food system. Throughout June, Game and Fish will be surveying hunters and anglers about how they consume and share with others wild-harvested game meat and fish as well as foraged foods like berries and mushrooms. 

“Our goal is to learn more about the full benefits of hunting and angling provide to our food system, including to people who may not hunt or fish themselves,” said Brian Nesvik, director of Game and Fish. 

A random selection of Wyoming resident hunters and anglers will receive an email invitation to participate in the Wild Meat Sharing and Consumption Index survey, which focuses on hunting, wild harvested meat and the sharing of wild harvested meat. 

The study is part of a partnership between Game and Fish and Conservation Visions’ Wild Harvest Initiative®, the first science-based program to assess the full benefits of sustainable wild animal harvests in the United States and Canada. The Initiative will examine the value of wildlife and fish harvests in terms of food, livelihoods, human health, wildlife conservation and the environment. The program will also explore synergies with sustainable agricultural and ranching practices.

“We hope that by exploring how wild harvested food contributes to Wyoming that we will engage more people into the conversation about the value of hunting and fishing to our state — for food and wildlife management,” Nesvik said. “We’re glad this effort will consider overlap with our state’s robust agriculture industry as well as complement our state’s efforts to combat food insecurity with wild game.”

Results from the survey will be used to contribute to the Wild Harvest Initiative’s® first complete assessment of the significance of hunting and angling to modern society — economically, socially and ecologically. Learn more at https://thewildharvestinitiative.com. 

(Sara DiRienzo, Public Information Officer, (sara.dirienzo@wyo.gov))

- WGFD -

 

Game and Fish moves to ‘Phase II’ of elk feedgrounds public process

Phase II involves additional opportunity for the public to share their thoughts on feedgrounds and contribute to shaping the elk feedgrounds management plan.

5/10/2021 7:31:48 PM

JACKSON - The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s elk feedgrounds public collaborative, which began last fall, is now transitioning to Phase II of their public process. Phase II involves additional opportunity for the public to share their thoughts on feedgrounds and contribute to shaping the elk feedgrounds management plan. 

“We heard great feedback from the public during Phase I which will undoubtedly continue into Phase II,” said Scott Edberg, Game and Fish deputy chief of wildlife and chair of the elk feedgrounds steering team. “Phase II will be designed to have more in-depth conversations with  various stakeholder groups and provide additional opportunities for shared learning on topics the public asked to hear more about.”

The Department’s elk feedgrounds steering team, charged with developing a long-term feedgrounds management plan for the agency, provided an update to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission at their April meeting in Jackson.  A summary report of Phase I is also available online. The steering team consists of 13 Game and Fish personnel closely tied to the elk feedgrounds program along with five representatives from partnering federal agencies, which include the National Elk Refuge, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and Grand Teton National Park.

Elk have utilized feedgrounds in northwest Wyoming since the early 1900s. Approximately 12,000 elk are supplementally-fed during the winter months on 22 Game and Fish-operated feedgrounds in Teton, Sublette and Lincoln counties. An additional 8,000 elk are fed at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. High concentrations of elk create concern for the transmission of disease to wildlife and cattle. Supplemental feeding is a complicated and often contentious issue with biological, social, economic and political considerations.

In Phase I of the elk feedgrounds public process, Game and Fish held five virtual meetings with the intent of sharing the complexities of feeding elk in western Wyoming, including why elk feedgrounds began and how the feeding of elk has evolved over the years, particularly with regard to wildlife diseases such as brucellosis and chronic wasting disease. A recording of these presentations along with other information on the feedgrounds public collaborative can be viewed on the Game and Fish website.

Another goal of Phase I was to hear from the public on elk feedgrounds-related issues they are most concerned about and what Phase II of the public process might look like, including additional information needs.

To begin Phase II, the elk feedgrounds steering team will hold a series of meetings with the various stakeholder groups and general public over the next several months providing multiple opportunities for shared-learning and public input. Additional information on these meetings will be forthcoming in June.

“We want to hear everyone’s thoughts including  ideas for a path forward regarding elk feedgrounds management into the future,” Edberg said. Everything is on the table for the department’s consideration in developing the management plan.” 

The steering team’s goal is to present a long-term elk feedgrounds management plan to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission in the spring of 2023. To learn more and get involved visit the Elk Feedgrounds Public Collaborative webpage.

(Mark Gocke, Public Information Specialist - 307-249-5811)

- WGFD -

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