Elk Hunter Planner - Part I - Wyoming - by Ryan Hatfield
This article was originally featured in the premiere issue of Elk Hunter Magazine. To 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.