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Editorial

Game and Fish


Hunting Outlook for the Season



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09/01/2010 - Hunters shouldn't have to travel far from Casper to find good hunting this season, as the outlook for most big game animals is very good.

PRONGHORN

Pronghorn hunting throughout the Casper Region (Natrona, Converse, Niobrara, Weston and Cook counties) will be good to excellent this fall. Pronghorn numbers in the northeastern portion of the region around the Black Hills remain at relatively low levels; while throughout the grasslands and the Lusk area numbers are much stronger and hunters can expect high success. This is especially true in the Lusk area, where walk-in access has been hugely successful. The western portion of the region around Casper is a mixed bag. Pronghorn numbers to the south and east remain at average levels; however, the areas to the west and northwest of Casper hunters will enjoy expanding populations with very strong numbers of trophy class bucks in the Rattlesnakes, especially in hunt area 72.

DEER

White-tailed Deer: The epi-center of white-tailed deer range in Wyoming is the Black Hills. Public land hunting on the Black Hills National Forest continues to provide reasonable numbers of white-tailed deer though that largely depends on weather conditions, primarily snow depth. Outside of the Black Hills, white-tailed deer are largely found on private lands along the creeks and rivers. So while hunters can expect good hunting opportunity, they need to secure permission in these areas.

Mule Deer: In general, mule deer numbers are relatively stable throughout the Casper Region. The moisture received the last two springs have improved habitat conditions somewhat, so we may see some improvement in fawn productivity and some modest increase in deer numbers. Seasons are relatively unchanged and hunters can expect success similar to last year. Buck numbers are probably the strongest in the Rattlesnake Hills and the predominately private land areas throughout the region. The Bates Hole area is popular with hunters and continues to provide a good general license hunting experience. The Black Hills, most noted for white-tailed deer, hosts limited mule deer hunting opportunity on the national forest with better expectations of success on private lands in the lower elevations.

ELK

Elk numbers in the Casper Region continue to provide outstanding hunting opportunities. All elk areas in the Casper Region remain limited quota and season limitations, including opening dates and season lengths, are nearly identical to last year's. Elk hunters should continue to enjoy remarkable numbers of elk and good hunting success, especially if the weather cooperates.

BIGHORN SHEEP

Bighorn sheep hunting in the Casper Region is somewhat limited to a relatively small portion of the Laramie Range and the Elk Mountain area south of Newcastle (new sheep area 20). After the successful inaugural sheep hunt in 2009 in Area 20, we anticipate another successful and quality hunt in 2010. Hunters typically enjoy high success in the Laramie Range, but it requires a bit of time and effort.

UPLAND GAME BIRDS, SMALL GAME

Sage grouse numbers continue to decline in the Casper Region. This is likely due to the wet, cool weather impacting chick production the past few years. Nevertheless, grouse numbers should remain at relatively good levels and hunters shouldn't have much trouble finding birds.

Blue grouse may also have been affected by the wet, cool spring in the Casper Region this year, resulting in smaller and fewer broods. So their numbers will likely be down, making hunting a bit tougher.

Chukar and Hungarian partridge levels continue to be near normal levels in the Casper Region, so hunting should be fair for these species.

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