Wyoming Game And Fish To Open Dubois Antler Hunt Early; Try To Reduce Stress On Wildlife

Mar 22, 2021

Photo of Spence and Moriarity WMA
Credit Tom Toman, RMEF

For the past couple of years, antler hunting has become very popular. In the Dubois area, Spence and Moriarity Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Kirk Inberg/Kevin Roy Wildlife Habitat Management Area (WHMA) are no exception.

Jason Hunter, the regional wildlife supervisor for the Lander Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said last year there were at least hundred cars lined up on the road the first day of antler hunting season.

"Individuals separate to look for antlers in different places," said Hunter. "They're moving the wildlife around kind of, between each group of antler hunters out there."

Hunter said the wildlife end up in places that are not ideal for them, like private property, which could lead to conflicts.

The department has decided to test out whether opening the Dubois antler hunting area one day earlier could potentially help the animals disperse more easily. Hunter said they are offering 25 permission slips through a random draw. Every individual who gets a slip will be able to bring up to three people with them. Hunter said the idea is to introduce fewer people at the start.

"Everybody's going in the same place, and then spreading out from there should have that directional impact of vehicles and people moving in the same direction and not allowing wildlife to bounce between different groups," he said. "So it's a focused effort rather than people coming in from all sides."

Hunter said overcrowding from antler hunting is a problem around the state. If this new approach works, it may be applied to other areas. From April 13 to April 30, anyone may apply for a free permission slip through the Game and Fish Access Yes program to access the area on May 15.