Wyoming’s mule deer continue to have a very rough and tough go. Winter after tough winter have put the deer on the western side of the state in peril. Of the 140 total mule deer hunt areas, less than 20 of them are over objective when it comes to population counts. The logical side of my brain wants to make all five of my top picks, “points only”, but I know some guys are going to want to hunt anyway so this is what I have come up with as my top five picks making the best of a bad situation in some regard.
Keep in mind, while the numbers of deer are down drastically state wide, there will still be some big bucks killed in Wyoming this fall, there always is. Good bucks will just be harder to find than ever this year.
5) Region-G (Grey’s River): Anything big deer related in Wyoming usually boils down to this single region of the state. Even with the deer on a very steep decline, it is always hard to count out this very prolific big deer producing region. The seasons have been drastically shortened in this part of the state in an effort to increase big buck escapement but keep in mind, the resident hunters can buy this tag over the counter every year. That said, the hunting pressure in this area is very, very high and you will need to find a place as far away from the crowds as possible. Some big bucks will certainly be had this year as the moisture in this region has been very, very high with a very late spring. A true 200-inch deer is certainly possible here. Antler growth should be very solid here this year. Points needed to draw: (7)-regular draw, (6)-special draw. Area hunt score: 80/100.
4) Area-90, Type-1 (Muskrat): With only 75 tags on quota and a four-week season during the entire month of October, this hunt is a very welcome sight when it comes to lack of hunting pressure. With nearly 90% public land and 60,000 acres of Walk-In area to hunt this area has plenty of room to roam for the less than 100 hunters with a tag here. The buck to doe ratio is a paltry 28/100 and the deer herd is less than half of the target objective. Although there are way fewer deer in here than there should be there are some good bucks to be had as nearly half of the bucks checked in here last fall were over 25” wide. This hunt is a very good place to put a tag on a 160 to 180-inch buck. Points need to draw: (11)-regular draw, (13)-special draw. Area hunt score: 85/100.
3) Area-102, Type-1 (Aspen Mountain): This hunt has certainly had its issues over the past decade. With way, too many elk and more than enough wild horses, deer habitat in this area has struggled to expand and improve. This area has seen plenty of moisture over the past three winters and this should help. Although the deer numbers are down here, I believe the antler growth will be very solid this year. The buck to doe ratio is here is expanding with more than 38 bucks per 100 does and growing fast, which indicates an improving deer herd. I think a good hunter here should be able to take a buck in the 170 and above class this year. Points needed to draw: (12)-regular draw, (12)-special draw. Area hunt score: 87.5/100.
2) Area-87, Type-1 (Ferris): The Ferris hunt is probably one of the best deer hunts Wyoming has to offer at this point in time. A recently increased quota of 175 tags should make the draw odds on this hunt a tick better than in years past. The buck to doe ratio here is nothing short of spectacular with 64 bucks per 100 does and expanding fast with a deer herd that is only 12% below objective this hunt is a very, very solid prospect, on paper anyway. In reality, this should be a very fun hunt with a great chance to kill a buck pushing 180 inches if you hunt hard and catch a lucky break. The area consists of 70% public ground and a hunter success rate of nearly 90% on some years. Points needed to draw: (12)-regular draw, (12)-special draw. Area hunt score: 92.5/100.
1) Area-101, Type-1 (Black Butte): Nearly everyone that I have sent into this area after big bulls has come back with a story of a giant buck deer they found while elk hunting in the Black Buttes. This area is a huge sea of sage and bucks are certainly not around every corner in here, but there are some giants, particularly on the East side of the unit. With only 50 tags on quota and big area to hunt, this is a very high quality and low-pressure hunt. With nearly 80% public land and a solid buck to doe ratio, the 101 hunt is a very good place to find a 180+ buck, and probably the best place in the entire state of Wyoming at this point to find a big buck in my opinion, hence the #1 ranking. The winter was a tick tougher than normal here, but the moisture and resulting antler growth should more than make up for any winter loss in this deer hunt area. Estimated points needed to draw: (15)-regular draw, (15)-special draw. Area hunt score: 95/100.
Best low point option- Points only, or Area-79/161 (Kennady Peak/St. Mary).