By far the most asked question on the show tour this winter has been, “How tough has the winter been in Wyoming this year?” So here is my synopsis thus far of our winter conditions here in Wyoming. For the most part, if I had to sum up the winter conditions in the Cowboy State in a single word it would be, “MILD”. Our winter was very late to come this year. I have never seen rain in Jackson Hole in December before, but we saw it this year. We did get a cold snap in mid-January where the temps dropped below zero in most of the state for about a week or ten days. The western side of the state did see temps in the -20 below zero range or better. This cold snap probably did take out a few deer and antelope, but thankfully it came early enough in the year that a vast majority of the wildlife was still strong enough to manage the cold blast without detriment.
Beyond that cold snap the winter has been extremely mild with very mild temperatures and sporadic snow storms followed by warm winds and thawing temperatures. The over-all snowpack in Wyoming has been light this year, with a statewide average snow pack of about 84%. The northern third of the state, near the Montana border, has an average snowpack of about 90% or better with the center third sitting at about 70% to 80% of the historic average snowfall. The southern third of Wyoming has been very mild and considerably dry with average snowpacks sitting in the mid 60% range. This could spell more trouble for drought conditions in the I-80 corridor in the southern end of Wyoming where the drought was the worst ever recorded last year.
I did drive through the winter ranges of western Wyoming last week and the although the winter range is in horrible shape from a feed perspective, the snow levels are very minimal with extremely mild temperature ranges. The deer and antelope look to be in relatively decent shape thus far, but we still have some weather still to come. If the spring continues to be on the mild side with warmer temperatures and no huge spring storms the herds should do okay this year. We do need a warm wet spring and a cool summer with steady consistent rainfall to bring back the brush and grass for next winter. Cross your fingers and hope for continued mild conditions which will help our deer and antelope herds through the remainder of the winter.
At this point I expect the deer and antelope hunting in Wyoming to tick up a bit from last year. But that could all change.