Cody – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing changes to 2019 deer hunting seasons in the Upper Shoshone mule deer herd (Hunt Areas 110-115) and the Clarks Fork mule deer herd (Hunt Areas 105, 106, 109).
The 2019 proposals take into consideration biological data, harvest data, historical hunting season structures and diverse feedback received at recently held public input meetings in Cody and Powell and other public outreach efforts conducted last summer. The proposed changes will now go through the regular season setting process and public comments can be submitted to Game and Fish online, in writing at a local meeting or by mail through April 1.
Wildlife Biologist Tony Mong said both herds have undergone severe population declines due to tough winters and poor fawn production and recruitment. Game and Fish began implementing changes to the seasons last year by reducing doe harvest opportunity to maximize the ability of the herd to rebound and four-point antler restrictions to reduce buck harvest.
The 2019 proposed changes are intended to further decrease buck harvest to address future hunt quality and number of bucks. “Essentially, we are trying to shorten the time frame in which hunt quality and the number of bucks in this herd will be impacted while the population rebounds,” Mong said.
In the Clark’s Fork herd, Game and Fish proposes to reduce the general season by seven days in hunt areas 105 and 106 and reduce limited quota licenses by half in hunt areas 105, 106, and 109. “The reduction in days should reduce buck harvest and protect the low number of migrating bucks in that herd,” Mong said. “We also decreased the potential of harvesting migrating doe deer in hunt area 105 after they potentially mix with resident deer by shortening the November general doe season and making it valid on private land only.”
In the Upper Shoshone mule deer herd, Game and Fish proposes to shorten the general season by seven days, but add a conservative limited quota late season opportunity to both the North Fork (Hunt Areas 110-111) and South Fork (Hunt Areas 112-114).
“The intent is to decrease overall buck harvest, while still allowing for limited opportunity later in November. Reducing days in November protects bucks when they are most vulnerable on migration routes and as they are going into the rut,” Mong said. “It was clear from our discussions with the public that if there was a reduction of days in the November general season, a majority of folks wanted to see some limited opportunity continuing later into November.”
“Hunting mule deer in November is a long tradition in Cody and people would like to see that tradition to continue,” Mong said. “Because of the importance of this tradition, Game and Fish managers are committed to increasing general hunting opportunity if the buck numbers, population and hunter satisfaction rebound to a level that is biologically and socially acceptable.”
The proposed changes can be viewed online at wgfd.wyo.gov by clicking on the Get Involved tab, then the Public Comments/Meetings tab. As part of the annual season setting process, Game and Fish holds public meetings and opens a comment period to gather input on proposed big game, wild turkey, upland game bird, small game, wild bison, migratory game bird and light goose conservation order hunting seasons and the general hunting regulation.
To discuss proposed changes, please attend the local season setting meeting from 6-8 p.m. March 18 in Powell at the Park County Fairgrounds or March 28 in Cody at the Park County Public Library.
Written comments shall be accepted through 5 p.m. April 1 at public meetings or by mailing: Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Regulations, 3030 Energy Lane, Casper, WY 82604 or online at http://wgfd.wyo.gov. Written comments shall be presented to the Game and Fish Commission prior to the public hearing at their April 23-24 meeting Riverton.