Guy’s Top 5 WY Picks – Deer and Antelope
Wyoming Mule Deer Picks
1) Area 102
2) Area 105
3) Region G
4) Area 101
5) Area 89
Best area with 3 points – Area 117
Best 0 point options – Areas 78, 79, 80/83, 81 and Region F
Wyoming’s mule deer herd has had a very rough and turbulent past few years. Since the bad winter of 2010 and the horrendous drought of 2012, the deer herds in the Cowboy State have struggled to rebound. If you are banking on max or one shy of max points I would highly consider holding back on the draw this year. I do think 2014 will show some marked improvement over the past few years, but the deer hunt quality will continue to lag behind historic averages.
That said, if you are determined to apply for Wyoming, these are the best five areas to apply for at this point and time. Although Area 89 (#5) has certainly not been what it once was, I think with the good moisture and a heavy tag quota reduction, this area should produce some good bucks this fall.
Coming in at #4, Area 101 is a very good chunk of deer country, and with a very skimpy 50-tag quota this unit should put some good bucks on the ground this year, if you can find them. This is a very big unit for only 50 tags.
The famous and ever-hyped Region G takes the #3 spot. With lots of hunters and some very rough country, this area always tends to produce the biggest bucks in the state. With good moisture, a decent winter and a good harvest last year, this general region is well worth three points if you are capable of hunting that type of country.
Area 105(#2) has been getting better and better each year. With a November rut season and only 50 tags, this hunt seems to be producing some very nice wilderness bucks as they drop out of the high country in search of does. The feed and habitat here should be as good as it gets this summer and I expect some very nice deer to hit the ground here next November, weather depending.
And of course there’s always Area 102, my #1 pick. This area has the potential to be the very best our state has to offer on a good year. Although I think the quota is way too high here (400 tags) this area has the deer herd to support a lot of hunting pressure. If the winter continues like it has and the spring and summer bring good moisture, this area should produce some very, very nice deer this October for those who get the tag and know how to hunt this very unique piece of country.
Wyoming Antelope Picks
1) Area 61
2) Area 60
3) Area 67
4) Area 96
5) Area 94
Best Area with 3 points – Area 75
Best 0 point options: Areas 25, 42 and 43
Wyoming’s antelope herds have also struggled to rebound from the crazy weather events the state endured during 2010 and 2012. This has made selecting this list harder than it ever has been before. The Red Desert has been very slow to rebound but the potential for a big buck or two is always still present there. A max point holder is going to have his work cut out for him selecting a hunt this year.
I have to say, if I where sitting on max points this year, I would surely be very cautious with my choice and more than likely would opt out for a point. I know what type of hunt Wyoming is capable of producing and these last few years are certainly nowhere near cost of seven or eight points. But, if you really need to hunt antelope this year, or you have faith in the weather and horn growth this year, here is where to apply.
Area 94 (#5) has begun to rebound nicely; in fact I passed through here last October and saw some very nice bucks chasing does in the deep sage. I think coming off a wet fall and good snowfall year, this area should become a decent producer again.
Area 96 (#4) is much the same scenario as 94. With a bit higher country to summer in, I think the antelope here are going to summer out very nicely and should have some good horn growth to prove it by August.
My #3 pick, Area 67, has had decent antelope numbers over the past few years but the trophy quality has suffered quite a bit. But, I think with the moisture and good winter here, the bucks will be in better shape this year and this area could produce some nice records book heads this year if everything continues according to plan weather-wise.
Area 60 (#2) is a bit of a gamble. These units have suffered a lot to bounce back, but I am giving the weather and moisture from last fall the benefit of the doubt here and letting the world-class genetics speak for themselves. The same goes for Area 61 (#1) which in my opinion has some of the best antelope genetics anywhere in the country. Add to that a nice improvement in the habitat, less competition for feed, and a reduced tag quota, and this area could be very solid hunt, even with a bit of a gamble involved. Keep in mind, some of Wyoming’s largest antelope are killed when the herd numbers are at their lowest point. The moral of the story here is, when in doubt go with the genetics every time. These two areas could just be the best bets Wyoming has for a big antelope next fall, which may not be saying much, particularly when looking back at the 2008 and 2009 season, but that’s just the world we are living in right now. I guess.
As always, I hope this helps you make a good application choice this year no matter where you decide to apply or if you decide to apply. Or this information could just be worth what you paid for it – predicting these hunts can be tougher than predicting the weather or the stock market. Good luck and keep hunting hard.