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The 30/30 Winter Range Cold Snap

Anytime the winter range in western Wyoming gets the 30/30 as I call it (thirty inches of snow and -30°F temperatures) bad things usually happen. For those who don’t live in the area, it might be news to you that we’ve already had one 30/30 event this year. Last week, Bondurant, Wyoming got hammered with a thirty-inch blizzard followed by a week long -30°F deep freeze. At this point, there is no way to assess the damage if there was any, but it certainly couldn’t have helped the deer and antelope at all. I am somewhat fearful of what the remainder of the winter might bring over the next four months.In the past few weeks, I have been getting pounded with email questions from guys asking my advice on where to apply in Wyoming for deer and antelope. My response has been somewhat the same, just hold your horses pard – we don’t know what the winter might deliver to us just yet.This scenario is one of the primary reasons the Wyoming Game and Fish staggers the draw deadlines for deer and elk. Elk are much hardier animals when it comes to wintering conditions. It takes a very substantial winter event to kill off an elk herd. It’s a running joke around the office that you could place three lone cow elk on the North Pole in October and come back in June to three cows and three calves – just ask any rancher out West.However, deer and antelope are a completely different story altogether. The Wyoming Game and Fish drops their deer and antelope draw deadlines on March 15th so the biologists can assess the winter damage before setting the quotas. My advice is to sit back, do the homework and wait until March before we actually commit to an area because nothing is worse than burning a bunch of preference points on an area that had a winter kill disaster.

Make sure you review the MRS section in the Feb/Mar 2013 issue of EHJ before you apply for a Wyoming deer or antelope tag.

Good luck in the draws and keep hunting hard!

Guy Eastman
Editor-In-Chief – Eastmans’ Hunting Journals

About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. Well, this is really bad news… I have been hunting Wyoming the past three years and have taken a trophy mule deer, a nice pronghorn, and two bull elk. After hunting Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, and Montana for the past two decades, I think Wyoming is the best … If this winter does result in a substantial kill, I will pass on hunting Wyoming in the fall to let the game come back. It would be a shame…

  2. Not what I wanted to hear. I took this year off from Wyoming, but planned on heading back out next fall. Hopefully the rest of their winter eases up.

  3. Thanks for the heads up Guy..

  4. Guy, do you think hunters should consider instead of a Wyoming mule deer hunt next fall…a coyote / mountain lion hunt come late winter when the ole bucks are at their lowest capability to handle the stress and the does are starting to carry more weight and nutritional drain from pregnancy ?

  5. This would be a good time to GPS bread crumb map some game trails to areas normal trail followers would never pressure…if you find a shed so much the better..some of these ole bucks find wind swept openings to hole up near and never migrate out. Hell, Guy’s 30/30 may mean you find the whole coyote scattered skeleton near the rack but if its a good honey hole another smart ole buck will take up residence soon enough.

  6. As someone that lives in norther British Columbia and has seen how winter kill combined with over harvesting can depleat a deer herd. My suggestion is, don’t always trust the government to do the right thing. You have a voice let it be heard. Join a wildlife club that is active in assisting biologists in managing wildlife.and if ya got the time predictor hunting is a great outing and the fawns of the spring will thank you!

    Bc Scott

  7. Yes we may have had a 30/30 winter, but only the deer and elk that stayed in the Mtn will be the ones that may be hit hard. The lower elevations and desert areas (where most of the Deer and Antelope winter) have been way way way mild. I think if the deer and elk got out of the high country and out onto the desert there will be a above normal survival rate again this year. The weather in Western Wyo has been very abnormal this winter, with above normal levels of snow up high and nothing or rain down low. Unless there are some very bad spring storms I see the Western Wyo deer and antelope herds doing very well this year!

    • Jeff, thank you for the information.
      In Guys article he indicates the winter is pretty harsh in Evanston drivi9ng the deer as low as they can go.
      Would you have knowledge of this and would you agree with Guts information?

      Thank You for any information you may have.


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