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Laramie Region offering ‘excellent’ bighorn sheep, moose hunting this fall


CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department have released their “2020 Fall Hunting Forecast.” The Laramie Region has a strong forecast for several species.

“Bighorn sheep hunting should be excellent throughout the Laramie region,” Game and Fish said. “Hunt Areas 18 and 21 are open for the 2020 season following closure in 2019. Hunters typically experience over 90% success in the Douglas Creek, Encampment River and Laramie Peak herds. The same is expected in 2020.”

The department also forecasts “excellent” hunting opportunities for moose in the Snowy Range herd.

“Harvest success across both Type 1 and Type 4 licenses continues to be exceptional at 98, and the herd maintains both high bull ratios and good calf production,” Laramie Region Wildlife Management Coordinator Embere Hall said.

Elk hunters may also be in luck in the region.

“Elk populations remain above objective, with ample harvest opportunities throughout the region,” Game and Fish says. “Given hunting pressure on public land, hunters should be prepared to pursue elk in areas that are a fair distance from well-traveled roads and trails.” 

Hall added: “Look for additional access opportunities on hunter management areas and walk-in areas; be sure to secure a corresponding permission slip.”

Hunters with pronghorn or mule deer licenses face more mixed prospects.

“Pronghorn population trends and corresponding hunting opportunities vary substantially across the region,” Game and Fish said. “Grassland herds in the north and east, including Iron Mountain, Meadowdale, Hawk Springs and Dwyer have declined the past four years, along with notable decreases in fawn production. Game and Fish reduced licenses in hunt areas 11, 34 and 103. In addition, Hunt Area 38 Type 6 licenses will open Nov. 1, a month later than usual. Decent buck numbers remain in these herds, but older animals will be harder to find.”

Hall added: “Hunters should expect pronghorn populations in the Laramie Valley to be similar to previous years with comparable hunting opportunities.”

But in the Medicine Bow and Elk Mountain herds, pronghorn “experienced above-average losses over the last two winters and subsequent poor to fair fawn production.”

Game and Fish said that hunters may notice a decrease in pronghorn numbers among these herds, “especially in portions of herd units adjacent to the Interstate 80 corridor.” 

Hall said: “Prolonged winter conditions paired with poor spring and summer moisture means hunters likely will encounter bucks with fair horn growth, but trophy quality animals may be difficult to locate. Due to low summer precipitation in much of the region pronghorn likely will be concentrated near wet meadows and other water sources.”

Mule deer populations are “stable to slightly increasing” in the Sheep Mountain, Platte Valley and Shirley Mountain herds.

“The general season was lengthened by four days in the Sheep Mountain herd to align buck ratios with recreational management guidelines, and should provide hunters with additional harvest opportunities,” Game and Fish said. “Buck ratios remain high across the Platte Valley.” 

Hall offered the following advise: “If moderate weather conditions continue into the fall, hunters will most likely locate deer in  higher-elevation summer and transition ranges.”

Chronic wasting disease and poor fawn production in the Goshen Rim and Laramie Mountain herds have continued to suppress mule deer populations among those herds.

“Hunters may struggle to find older deer, and should be prepared to hunt harder than normal if they are looking for a trophy buck,” Game and Fish said.

Hall added: “Game and Fish will be present throughout the season to collect samples for CWD testing. If you harvest an animal, especially from the Goshen Rim or Sheep Mountain herds, please submit a sample or contact the Department for assistance.”

The forecast for other regions around the state are available online.

Game and Fish add that they are asking hunters to help with chronic wasting disease management this fall. Hunters can provide assistance toward these efforts by providing lymph node samples from deer, elk or moose for CWD testing.

“These samples are important to determine and monitor CWD prevalence for the health of the herd,” said Game and Fish Deputy Chief of Wildlife Scott Edberg. “Follow all carcass transport and disposal regulations  to help limit the spread of CWD, both within Wyoming and other states. Hunters are a key part of CWD management. Please read all you can about CWD, how you can help and the requirements for hunters on our website” 

Game and Fish add that new hunters who haven’t completed a required hunter safety course are able to participate in the department’s hunter mentor program.

“The program gives new hunters or those who have been unable to attend a hunter education course the opportunity to hunt under the close guidance of an experienced mentor,” the department says. “Forms are available on the Game and Fish website.

Game and Fish add:

Hunters finalizing plans can use the Game and Fish Hunt Planner for maps and previous year’s harvest statistics. Maps are available for offline use, making the hunt boundary and land status lines clear for even the most remote hunt areas. As always, big game hunters are reminded that hunt areas denoted with an asterisk (*) have limited public hunting access and are largely comprised of private lands.”

Hunting regulations are available on the Game and Fish website. Public access information is available through Access Yes, including walk-in hunting areas and hunter management areas.

Those with questions about regulations or licensing can call (307) 777-4600. Wyoming Game and Fish Department

This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.