The Black Hills of Wyoming host the most popular deer season in the Cowboy State. This November that story will continue, but with lower deer numbers. Each year hunters attempt to fill nearly 10,000 licenses chasing mule deer and white-tailed deer throughout the Black Hills in Hunt Areas 1 through 6. This accounts for nearly 20% of the deer harvested annually in Wyoming.
Last year, Black Hills deer hunters carried 9,300 licenses into the field, and we expect something similar this year. However, both mule deer and white-tailed deer populations have declined. We conduct our annual Black Hills deer surveys during the last two weeks of October. To date, these efforts suggest a 15% drop in deer numbers.
Last winter was a tough one in the northeast corner of the state, and fawn mortality is estimated to have run about 30% above normal. The good news is that forage production this year has been incredible. Consequently, the deer are in excellent shape. The number of bucks is in line with the long-term average, but deer are more spread out and will be harder to find this fall due to the abundant vegetation and water. Overall, deer hunters will possibly need to work harder to fill the freezer.
Unfortunately, for those trying to fill doe/fawn tags limited to private land, local Game and Fish personnel do not have a list of landowners taking new hunters. Instead, hunters will need to find willing landowners on their own in advance of their hunt. The Crook and Weston counties assessor’s offices can be a valuable resource for landowner contact information.
For information on the Black Hills deer season, read the 2019 Antelope, Deer and Elk regulations.