Elk Hunter Planner – Part I – Wyoming – by Ryan Hatfield

This article was originally featured in the premiere issue of Elk Hunter MagazineTo order your copy of the first issue, head to the subscribe page.

Wyoming Nonresident Deadline (Jan. 31)

Wyoming is perhaps the single best option for the nonresident hunter looking to take a good, mature bull. Nonresident quotas are generous and elk are generally plentiful. Prices can be steep, but if a person is smart about how they apply, getting a decent tag in Wyoming every 4-8 years isn’t unreasonable.

How to Apply: A nonresident can apply for either a general tag or a limited entry area, and all applications can be done online from Jan. 1 – Jan. 31. The resident application period is Jan. 1 – May 31.

Regular vs. Special Tags: For the nonresident hunter, Wyoming has two different price structures – regular ($591) and special ($1071). The split is 60% of allotted nonresident tags into the regular pool, and 40% into the special pool, with the theory being that drawing odds will be better for those willing to pay more. Most times this is the case, but not always, so do research before you apply to ensure you’re not throwing away $480.

Preference Points: The chance to take a big bull on a relatively frequent basis is excellent in Wyoming, and we definitely recommend applying. Wyoming has a point system where you will be awarded a point if you apply but don’t draw. Also important to note is that Wyoming also has a period from July 1 – September 30 when you can purchase a point for $50 if you didn’t actually apply for a tag in the spring. This is an excellent way to go, as within 3-8 years, you will have enough points to be hunting in a great elk area.

Top Units: There are a few prime areas that reliably produce big bulls, but as you might guess, those drawing odds are usually the toughest. Some top Wyoming areas for big bulls include all the limited entry units on Yellowstone’s east flank (54/65, 55, 58, 59, 61, 62, 63/64); the well-known Area 7 near Laramie, which has good bulls but has heavy hunting pressure; limited entry units in the southwest near Flaming Gorge (areas 30, 31, & 32); and some limited entry units in south-central Wyoming.

between Farson, Rawlins, and Wheatland (areas 16, 19, 22, 24, 100, 111, 118). The units east of Yellowstone produce the best hunting and largest bulls, but be prepared for extreme country, both in steepness and size, as well as a ridiculous amount of grizzlies and a fair share of wolves.

Nonresidents and Wilderness: Wyoming requires that nonresidents hunt with a registered guide in designated wilderness areas. This is a significant issue to be aware of when planning backcountry elk hunts.

General Areas: Chances of drawing the general license are better than 50/50. Wyoming has dozens of general hunt areas, which provide excellent opportunities for both rifle and bow seasons. Don’t overlook this option for getting to know Wyoming elk habitat.


Ryan Hatfield’s 2011 Wyoming Bull

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One thought on “Elk Hunter Planner – Part I – Wyoming – by Ryan Hatfield

  1. Terry Throckmorton

    Just watch your show on bow hunting elk in grizzly country. I live in southwestern Montana and I am now 57 years old That show brought back so many memories of hunting elk at 8000 and 9000 feet and watching them go up into goat country. It has always amazed me what elk will do to get away from danger. I know what kind of shape you guys must be in. It separtes the men from the boys. I now Know you are the real deal. Just ordered your magazine.

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