The outlook for Wyoming elk hunting this year is good. The wolves have been knocked back in some very critical elk areas, and the weather has been very, very good for elk over the past twelve months. The fall moisture and good winter snow pack this year, should equate to very good habitat for Wyoming’s elk herd when spring and summer arrive to deliver those ever, critical antler growth months. The desert units (22, 24, 108, 111, and 118) in the center of the state seem to be still reeling a little bit from the horrendous drought year in 2012, which displaced some of the elk in these units into neighboring areas. The hunter success rates in 2012 still remained very high in our top (Blue Chip, see EHJ MRS Section for full listing) elk areas, with an average of 63%, based on a five-year average of around 59%. Wyoming’s top elk areas seem to be doing very well, and I expect the hunter success to be very high for the 2013 season, as the mountain units received a very heavy snow during the October hunting season, which pushed the bulls down from the high country where hunters could easily capitalize on the situation.
Below are what I consider to be the Top 5 Wyoming elk hunts for the 2014 hunting season. Keep in mind, these take into account historic data as well as what I consider to be the up and coming future potential for the area based on what I hear from the field and from the WY Game and Fish personnel. Also note: these are not the only good elk hunts in Wyoming and a Wyoming General Elk tag is still better than most other state’s limited quota elk tags. But for those of you who have plenty of preference points and want the best of the best, the cream of the crop, here they are…
1) Area 54, Type-1
2) Area 24, Type-1
3) Area 51, Type-1 (UPDATED 1.31.14)
4) Area 100, Type-1
5) Area 124, Type-1
Possible Sleeper (Up and Comer): Area 45, Type-1
Over-Rated on the Way Down: Area 30, 31 and 32, Type-1
Area 54- This area has been redefined for 2014 by combining most of area 121 and all of area 65 into the unit. With a new October 1st hunting season opener, an expanded area, and an over abundance of bulls, this area will be extremely hard to beat this year.
Area 24- The Green Mountain area is one of the best of the desert elk units. During the drought of 2012 many of the elk from Area 118 moved north into 24 making it even better. The season is short here, only 14-days long but the bowhunting is as good as it gets in Wyoming. The success rates area a bit sporadic but seem to be climbing each year, as is the trophy quality
Area 51- This area is in the heart of the Beartooth mountain range, and is comprised of some very rough country. With only 20 tags and the entire month of October to hunt, this area has been getting better and better each year. This unit produced one of the largest bulls in the state last year (2012). With very limited hunting pressure, and less wolf pressure the elk hunting here is on the upswing for sure.
Area 100- This is probably the easiest elk hunt in the state of Wyoming. With extremely high, hunter success rates, almost 90% over the past five years, this area is very, very hard to beat for opportunity. Up until recently the trophy quality lacked in this area, and most of the mature bulls where in the 300-320 range, but that has since begun to change. The drought of 2012 pushed some bigger bulls from the neighboring areas of 24 and 118 into the area and the genetics have thus received a boost so to speak putting this unit on the board for both opportunity and possible quality. A 350+ type bull is not out of the question in here any longer.
Area 124- Purely based off of opportunity and hunter success rates, this area is hard to pass up. With historic hunter success rates, on branch antlered bulls sitting right at 83% this area is as close to a slam-dunk for a mature bull as it gets in Wyoming. Although the trophy quality might be a bit low in this area, it seems to be getting better each year, as this area sits directly across the state line from one of Colorado’s most coveted limited draw elk areas (CO Areas 2 and 201).
Possible Sleeper: Area 45- This area is one of the best areas that Bighorn Mountains has to offer up in my opinion. The hunter success rates have been hovering around the 30%-40% range over the past ten years, but they seem to be climbing as of lately and the bull quality is as good as ever here. With plenty of rough, remote public land to hunt, no wolves and no grizzlies this area could become one of the best elk areas in the state of Wyoming in a few years, if the trend continues.
Most Over-Rated: Areas 30, 31 and 32– This trifecta of areas can still offer up a very good elk hunt, but the state is trying to reduce the elk numbers in these areas in an effort to improve the mule deer habitat here. This has in my opinion reduced the quality of the elk hunt slightly from years past.
I hope this helps to clarify some of your Wyoming elk choices. As always good luck in the draws and keep researching hard.