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Winter of 2023 factors into proposed big game seasons

• Game and Fish holds SV meeting.  Commission will meet April 16-17 to finalize seasons.

The winter of 2023 was still on the mind of many sportsmen when they checked in with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department at a season setting meeting in Thayne during March.

“This is our annual season setting meeting,” explained Game and Fish Biologist Gary Fralick in an interview with SVI Media. “There’s quite a bit of input on big game seasons and everyone is keyed in on the effects of the 2023 winter.”

He said new seasons will acknowledge the problems that came with a winter known for it’s abnormally deep snow and extended cold temperatures.

“Our season adjustments will account for that downturn in population with shorter seasons and fewer non-resident licenses,” he said. “The 2023 winter was one of the most cataclysmic winters we have ever seen for young range deer herds; there is no doubt about it. The losses were dramatic with the buck ratios and doe fawn ratios.”

Fralick continued, “We want to make sure we have a system in place; a deer management program that will address those ratios and address the recovery on the big winter ranges in LaBarge, Cokeville and Evanston.”

Noting a mild winter with the past 2023-2024, he advised the importance of shifting the focus on rebuilding the wildlife population.

“We are thinking this is a good winter to start off,” he said. “The best advice I have been giving folks is, ‘let’s look at one winter at a time. That will be the key in the recovery of the Wyoming Winter Range Deer herd.’ ”


For elk; the numbers are promising, according to the G&F. “With elk, we are at our population objectives in the Afton Elk herd in the Greys River, Salt River and those places, we are not proposing any changes from last year,” said Fralick. “People can still find good numbers of elk to hunt.”

He recalled, “When I flew the native winter ranges in February in Greys River I counted almost 600 elk. Lots of elk made a go of it in the native winter ranges of Big Greys and Little Greys which is always good to see.”


For the pronghorn numbers, you’re going to see very restricted regulations for southwest Wyoming, said Fralick. Here is a summary of seasons for 2024.

In the upper Green River Basin, the Pinedale, Big Piney, Daniel areas, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 and 101, all licenses are Type 1 and Type 2, which are “Any” Antelope license types. There are no Type 6, “doe or fawn only.” Licenses proposed in these areas in 2024.

In the Hoback Basin, Boundurant, Area 86, licenses will be Type 1, “any antelope” season. No doe/fawn, only hunts proposed in 2024.

The only area that is proposed to be closed for antelope in 2024 is Area 85, north of Jackson.

In the lower Green River Basin and Bear River Basin (Kemmerer, Cokeville and Evanston), areas 93, 94, 96 and 1000, all proposed 2024 licenses are Type 1, “any antelope.”

There are no doe/fawn hunts (Type6) proposed in 2024.

He said adjustments are important based on the 2023 winter.


“Deer, we are looking at a shorter season and people should be prepared for that,” Fralick advised. “Four-point hunt that we are also proposing is really essential to protect some of those young bucks.”

He added, “Lastly we are proposing a reduction in non-resident licenses in region G and E. We think that will protect some of those bucks.”

Road to recovery

“This winter is when we start this road to recovery for our mule deer and pronghorn population.” Fralick concluded. “If you have been traveling to Evanston or Big Piney and LaBarge you know those winter ranges are open and relatively snow free. We are expecting high over the winter survival.”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will meet April 16 and 17 in Riverton to finalize the big game seasons.

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