Hunting forecast for Jackson region looks promising

JACKSON, Wyo. — Wyoming Game and Fish released its statewide hunting forecast. The hunting opportunities in the Jackson Region look promising this year. 

Mule deer antler restrictions have been lifted, providing more opportunities for hunters. Five hunting areas were combined for white-tailed deer, creating more areas to hunt in the region. The elk herd in the region is about 17,000. Moose numbers are below desirable and pulling a tag is still difficult. Bison numbers are at the ideal 500. Hunting pressure and mild weather has created little to no movement of bison from Grand Teton National Park, into open hunt areas. Big-horn sheep and mountain goat herds are at ideal levels, while antelope herds are below desired levels. 

Game and Fish is again asking hunters to help with chronic wasting disease management by providing a lymph node sample from their deer, elk, or moose for testing, especially if hunting in a chronic wasting disease priority monitoring area. 

Mule Deer

brown deer on green grass during daytime
Photo: Mary Kapka

Portions of the Sublette and Wyoming Range mule deer herds are managed in the Jackson Region, including hunt areas 150-152, 155-156, and 144-146. “Both herds include large populations with special management strategies designed to provide high-quality hunting opportunities for older age-class bucks,” said Doug McWhirter, Jackson region wildlife management coordinator. “While recent harsh winters have complicated herd recovery, hunters willing to put in the time and effort should be rewarded with an opportunity to harvest a trophy-class mule deer buck from abundant public lands.”

Antler point restrictions are lifted so hunters will have more flexibility this year. The region also includes the Targhee mule deer herd unit area 149 and hunt area 148 of the Dubois mule deer herd, both of which contain very low deer densities and see limited hunter numbers and harvest.

White-tailed Deer

brown deer on snow during daytime
Photo: Eva Blue

Small populations of white-tailed deer may be found near riparian habitats throughout the region, and all deer hunt areas offer the opportunity for hunters to harvest white-tails during the general season. In 2020, five hunt areas were combined. Hunt areas 148-152. This new area now offers limited-quota Type 3 any white-tailed deer license holders more places to hunt during the Sept. 15-Nov. 30 season.

Elk 

deer walking on grass field
Photo: Dave Willhite

The region manages four elk herds, Jackson, Fall Creek, Afton, and Targhee. The herds currently contain approximately 17,000 elk. These areas provide a wide range of hunting opportunities, from early-season rifle hunts for branch-antlered bulls in the Teton Wilderness to late antlerless elk seasons on private lands in several areas to address elk damage to stored crops and co-mingling with livestock. 

Moose

Bison - Shrubland
Photo: Buckrail // Nick Sulzer

All or parts of the Jackson, Sublette, and Targhee moose herds are found in the region. All are managed under a special management strategy to provide recreational opportunities while maintaining a harvest of older age-class bulls. 

“While moose numbers continue to remain below desired levels, hunters lucky enough to draw a license should experience high success and have a good chance of harvesting an older age class bull,” McWhirter said.

Bison 

Photo: Nick Sulzer // Buckrail

Bison numbers are currently near the management objective of 500. Recently, mild weather and aversion to hunting pressure on the National Elk Refuge have resulted in delayed or little to no movement of bison from Grand Teton National Park into the open hunt area on the National Elk Refuge. That makes achieving harvest objectives difficult and can be frustrating for hunters. Some bull hunting occurs on U.S. Forest Service lands, but bison availability there is intermittent and low. 

Bighorn sheep

Buckrail - Argali
Photo: Buckrail // Nick Sulzer

The Jackson and Targhee bighorn sheep herds are found in the region. Sheep numbers in Area 7 are currently at management objectives, and hunter success, and the average age of harvested rams is expected to be high in 2020, as they were in 2019. Sheep in the Targhee herd exists along the crest of the Tetons and hunting access is across difficult and rugged terrain. 

Mountain Goat 

Jackson - String Lake
Photo: Nick Sulzer // Buckrail

Mountain goat numbers in Hunt Area 2 are at desired levels, and hunter success is usually high,  upwards of 90%, and made up primarily of older age-class billies. This will be the second year a Type A license is offered in hunt area 4. 

“This hunt area and license type was created to reduce mountain goat numbers in the Teton Range and minimize the expansion of mountain goats into important bighorn sheep habitats of the Targhee herd,” McWhirter said. “Unlike mountain goat Type 1 and Type 2 licenses, Type A licenses are not once-in-a-lifetime, and hunters could potentially draw a license and hunt a mountain goat every year.” 

Due to the very difficult terrain, the low number of goats that reside outside of Grand Teton National Park, and the intent of this license, hunters should anticipate expending considerable effort for a chance to harvest a mountain goat in the Tetons. 

 

Antelope 

Pronghorn - White-tailed deer
Photo: Arnie Brokling

The region harbors a small migratory segment of the Sublette antelope herd in hunt area 85. Due to the rather small number of antelope few licenses are offered. Due to the distribution of antelope and public access opportunities, most antelope hunting occurs in the Gros Ventre River drainage.

Population estimates for the entire Sublette antelope herd are currently below desired levels, but hunters lucky enough to draw a license in hunt area 85 will have a great hunt and should experience high success rates.


More information about other regions in Wyoming can be found at the Wyoming Game and Fish Website 

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