2017 is coming to a close. I’m still getting a lot of interest and questions regarding DIY WY antelope hunting on public land. Wyoming still has the best opportunity for non-resident hunters in terms of antelope populations and success rates. However, since my last post two years ago a couple of things are worth noting.
Winterkill – The winter of 2016/2017 was really hard on game animals in parts of Wyoming. Western and parts of central Wyoming were hit with record snowfalls. Mule deer were impacted especially hard but some areas saw higher than normal mortality rates for antelope as well. I looked at the 2017 quotas for some of these units as compared to 2015. Many units did not change. Unit 94 stayed at a quota of 41 and unit 95 stayed at 26, Some units were reduced by a few tags; unit 93 went from 36 to 30. Some were significant; I noticed unit 57 went from 21 down to 3. Some units also went up a few tags as well. Biologists review population trends and adjust tags annually, so these changes are not necessarily all due to the winter.
However, with fawns having the highest mortality rate it would not surprise me if we see more reductions in tags for these units in the next couple of years as the loss of fawns becomes an issue moving forward. The best advice I can give here is to look at the yearly draw odds at https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Hunting/Drawing-Odds and look at the quotas for units your interested in. If quotas are declining over the last three years it probably reflects a reduction in population. Also, call WY Game and Fish and ask to speak to the biologist for that unit. They will be able to give you the best information regarding populations in that area.
2018 Draw Odds – I continue to get questions from non resident hunters regarding the best units for a Wyoming DIY antelope hunt. Often, these folks have no points, or maybe one or two. The unfortunate fact is that all units in Wyoming with decent public access and good antelope populations are requiring more points to draw. I took a look at 2017 odds for a few units and compared them to 2015. Unit 87 went from 3 points to 5 points to draw; unit 69 went from 3 to 5, unit 71 from 2-3, etc. Almost every unit saw an increase of at least one to two preference points to ensure 100% draw odds. I don’t have a crystal ball for 2018 but if 2017 is an indication of what we can expect then it will require at least 3 preference points to hunt with a regular license, and those are the less popular units. Most units with decent public access are now requiring 5-9 points with the “trophy units” requiring 11 in 2017. If you want to hunt DIY WY antelope, its best to have a 3-6 year plan, so start accumulating preference points as soon as possible.
I cannot say enough about the quality of information available on Wyoming’s Game and Fish website. Learn your way around the vast pool of information regarding draw odds, harvest statistics, maps, etc. and put a hunt plan together, even if it’s 4-5 years down the road!
Read parts 1-6 under “Hunt Planning” on my website, n4thehunt.com, for more details on DIY Wyoming antelope, and contact me at email@example.com if you have questions. I’m always glad to help.
Good hunting ! Mark