Guy’s Top Wyoming Deer Hunts: 2018 Edition
The mule deer outlook in Wyoming remains somewhat bleak. Keep in mind, that a large proportion of our biggest deer reside on the Western side of the state and this area was hit very, very hard during the brutal winter of 2016-2017. The effects of that winter will be lingering for years to come, in all reality probably three more at least. Given this very tough situation I have again chosen areas outside the nucleus of the area hardest hit by the weather last year. I do think there still remains some very good mule deer to be had in Wyoming, however, the volume of deer will be noticeably lower than usual again this year. Another fact to keep in mind when talking about Wyoming’s big bucks is the basic premise that Wyoming does not really manage for huge deer and older age class bucks like Colorado or Arizona does. Wyoming’s biggest bucks generally come out of the general regions on the Western portion of the state. Regions such as G, H and K contribute the most, big bucks to the pool for Wyoming. The sad part is these are the regions that were the most devastated from the winter. The top five hunts for Wyoming deer this year are mostly concentrated around the central and southern regions of the state. Any of these five hunts will more than likely produce a good hunt for a good buck even on a year like this. Bucks in the 160-190 class can be expected on any of these five hunts.
“Deer hunting will still be difficult because of last year’s winter — that’s why we shortened the deer season, reduced the nonresident quota, and implemented a 3-point or better restriction in 2017.” -Doug McWhirther, WY G&F Jackson Area Wildlife Coordinator
1) 87-1 (95/100)- Again this year we expect the buck hunt in Area-87 to be the best deer hunt the state has to offer given the current weather and habitat situation. This area sits right in the heart of Carbon County, one of the country’s best big buck producers. Now with 125 tags available ten or more points will be needed to hunt here. The buck to doe ratio here is an outstanding 58/100 and growing while hunter success remains solid at around 82%. The last two weeks of October season should be good for a nice staged up 170+ buck for those that hunt hard.
2) 101-1 (94/100)- The hunt in this area remains very solid with limited hunting pressure and only 25 tags available in 2017. The buck to doe ratio here is also very high at 47/100 and hunter success has also climbed to over 90% the past few years. A nice buck in the 160-180 class should be the reality here with the potential for a giant in the 190 to 200-inch class possibly in the mix. This area has the best potential to produce a true giant buck. A mild winter and wet spring could be just the ticket to create such a monster buck on a year like this.
3) 89-1 (89/100)- The mule deer hunt in this area just seems to get better and better each year. Coming off a very drastic drop in 2012 this area continues to rebound nicely. A buck to doe ratio of 38 and holding is a sign of a stabilized deer herd. Hunter success here has rebounded back to the 90% range and the state has increased the quota here to 125 tags recently, a further sign of a rebounded area. Access here is very good with over 138,000 acres of Walk-In and 60% public land to hunt on. The two-week season at the end of October could be a bit tough as the bucks being to stage for the rut in the brush and the weather becomes more unpredictable. I expect this hunt to be a very solid option in the 8 to 10-point range for a nice 160-180 class deer. The bowhunt in this area should be very solid as usual.
4) 102-1 (87/100)- Creeping back into good graces, this area seems to be getting a little bit better each year as the deer population rebounds and the habitat improves from the 2012 drought. The wild horse and elk explosion in this historic big buck haven have not done this area any favors over the past twenty years. The buck to doe ratio here has climbed back up to 47/100 but the deer population here still remains down from the objective by nearly 52%. A quota of 200 tags and a hunter success that has crept back up to over 80% shows yet again that the Area-102 hunt can be a very relaxing hunt for a good Wyoming buck. I would expect a buck hunter with max points to kill a nice buck in here this year in the 170” and up category. The occasional monster buck might be lurking the juniper country in this area with such an easy winter and mild spring.
5) 128-1 (85/100)- As much as it pains me to do so, this area has finally made its way back on the list this year. Mostly due to the lack of other, better options available. With very limited hunting pressure, excellent access and a very favorable season, 128 can be a very fun hunt, with lots of deer and some decent bucks to choose from. This hunt is somewhat weather dependent and can produce some surprises. Max points will be needed to hunt here causing the expectations for this hunt to be artificially high in most cases. A very low buck to doe ratio here could have the bigger bucks searching hard for does if there are any wilderness giants left in the backcountry that sits above this unit. Expect to do a lot of glassing here and patience is a must, but with a little luck and some weather a 180-class deer is possible here.
Guy’s “Low-Point” Picks: 10-1 (75/100), 80/83-1 (70/100), 118-1 (60/100), Region-C (75/100)- These hunts should be decent mule deer hunts for those who wish to get out with only a few points in hand and have a chance at a nice four-point buck on public ground. Any of these four should have you in the hunt for a good 150 and up class buck with zero to three preference points. Both the 10 and the 80/83 hunt have a very solid buck to doe ratio in the 40s and 50s/100 and good hunter success (+/- 60%) with good access. The upside potential of any of these three areas could produce a good 170” or 180” buck but the realistic potential is in the 150 to 160 class. All three would be great mule deer hunts for the first timer, a family or an older group that doesn’t want to work too hard for a decent buck in excessively rough country.