When it comes to elk, Wyoming continues to be a very consistent state to hunt. With an ever-growing, lengthy list of hunt options, a stabilizing elk herd and a very consistent management plan, Wyoming is the quintessential elk opportunity state. The state Game and Fish Department has not made many changes to the statewide elk management plan and this year is no exception. It seems as though Wyoming has its elk herds figured out and maximized for the perfect balance between trophy quality and overall opportunity.
Historically, Wyoming is a very good place to gather preference points to hunt for a good bull. Wyoming remains a very consistent place to hunt for elk and we don’t see that fact changing anytime in the near future. Statistically speaking, Wyoming is a very strong elk state even when it comes to record book bull elk entries. The Cowboy State remains in the top four states to kill a book bull elk all-time and is still in the top five states to find a Boone and Crockett bull over the past 15 years, further proving the fact that Wyoming’s best elk hunting days are not in the rear-view mirror. Even with Wyoming’s wolf and grizzly bear problems, the state still manages to produce some very good hunting for some big bulls. Nearly six record book bulls per year have been taken in Wyoming the last few years. The next one could be yours.
So without any further comment from me, here are my top three units according to my research for the MRS. This year I have included the chart that covers those units. We also decided that we would sweeten the pot a little, when you buy the 2016 MRS Annual we will email you a full copy of the Wyoming MRS, for free. Good luck in the draws!
The Shirley Mountains have always been a very solid and consistent elk hunt for a good 280 to 320-class bull. The occasional 350 or 360-class bull has been taken here from time to time on a good year, but these types of bulls are certainly not the norm. The access here can be very problematic, but if you can find a place to hunt, mostly with an outfitter, your chances of killing a bull are very high – over 80% on a good year. This area will take about 8 or 10 points to draw a tag. The Type 2 tag available for the late season November hunt has over an 80% rate of success but my sources tell me that the earlier Type 1 hunt is the better hunt to kill the bigger bulls as the rut lingers on well after the October 1st rifle opener. The Type 1 rifle hunters and bowhunters here can expect to have a good chance at a nice 300 to 330-type bull, while the late season and Type 2 elk hunters may expect to have a good chance at a 280-320 class bull. The Shirley Mountain unit may be one of the best chances in Wyoming for an elk hunter to kill a nice six-point bull with relatively little effort.
Area 22 (Ferris)
With an elk herd way over objective, a high bull to cow ratio of nearly 60 bulls per 100 cows and very few tags, this elk hunt could be one of the best in the state when it comes to hunter satisfaction. With a recent increase in quota to 40 elk tags up for grabs and an October 8th opener, this elk hunt can produce a very high quality elk hunting experience for a good bull in the 320 and up category. This area is very small and the elk are somewhat concentrated. With almost 90% public land in the unit and up to an 85% success rate on a good year, this hunt is very high up on the list for opportunity and hunt quality. On a good year like we had in 2014, the bulls in here can exceed 350, but a dry year can drop that down to the 320 class. A nonresident applicant will need maximum preference points to even think about hunting here. This elk hunt would be a bowhunter’s dream come true, if you can manage to draw the tag.
Area 30 (Aspen Mountain)
Of the Flaming Gorge trifecta of areas – Aspen (30), Little Mountain (31) and Pine Mountain (32), this area is probably the most consistent producer of the three. With a recent increase to 40 tags on quota and a long four-week season, the entire month of October, this area can be second to none when it comes to hunt quality and limited pressure. The past five years have seen the bull quality here drop slightly from 340 to about 320, however easy winters and plenty of spring and summer moisture seems to have that trend turned around as of the last few years. I think a 350-class bull here is a very strong possibility.
Good access and extremely high hunter success rates, an unbelievable 93% in 2015, have this elk area as one of the top units for a guy who wants to hunt elk in easier country with little to no hunting pressure. The elk habitat here is very concentrated and it is a glasser’s paradise with stable elk numbers and a very solid bull to cow ratio (44). With only five nonresident tags available the wait for a tag might just be too much for most of us as you will need way more than 11 preference points to even begin to think about hunting here.