North Central Wyoming Deer Hunting: Regions C, Y & M
As we head up towards North Central Wyoming, our public land deer hunting options become much better. In some parts, the BLM parcels get much larger, with fewer private lands. The creek bottoms are not always going to be private as in Eastern Wyoming. Portions of the Thunder Basin Grassland extend into Region C, but we’ve also got the 1.1 million acre Bighorn National Forest offering true mountain hunting, especially around the 189,00 acre Cloud Peak Wilderness in portions of Region M.
Region C will have the greatest percentage of private lands of the three Regions being covered. But there are still far more options than in say, Region T. The Thunder Basin Grasslands, BLM, state lands, Hunter Management Areas and Walk-In Areas all combine to offer enough opportunity that one should not feel too handicapped. Most of the Walk-In areas are fairly small, but there are a few in 3-4,000 acre range. There are no limited draw areas in Region C, and the regional general tag is virtually guaranteed for a nonresident with 0 preference points. This region does draw out, so there will not be a chance for leftovers.
All units begin their deer seasons in Region C on October 1, with either October 10th, 14th or the 20th being the end date for mule deer hunting. For those with an interest in whitetails, the Region C general tag is also good in November for either sex. If you were coming to Wyoming to hunt whitetails, Region C would be one of the best options. The whitetail bucks don’t grow particularly old, but in their limited habitat along the lowlands, they are still quite numerous.
Deer densities are highest in units 17, 18, 23 and 26 and mule deer outnumber whitetails about 5 to 1, but they combine for a deer density in excess of 13 per square mile. Sex ratios are quite high for mule deer, but quite a bit lower for the whitetails throughout Region C. Hunter densities are middle of the pack for Wyoming. With the fairly open country and moderate amount of public land, some of the parcels closer to Buffalo and Gillette will seem quite crowded. For an area without any limited quota units, there is an astoundingly low percentage of the available mule deer bucks being harvested in all of the units. If you’re willing to give yourself some time to let the young deer walk, you do stand a chance at bagging a mature buck in these units.
Region Y contains the east half of the Bighorns in units 25 and 28. The Cloud Peak Wilderness Area straddles both units, as well as unit 46 in Region R on the west side. Don’t forget, nonresidents are not allowed in the wilderness areas without a guide. At the southern end of the Bighorns there is a pretty extensive network of BLM lands. Walk-In and Hunter Management area are few and far between, but WY G&F is a little too liberal in the pronouncement of units with poor public access in this region. There’s plenty of or Forest Service to hunt with the exception of units 24 and 27.
There are no totally limited quota areas in Region Y, and the region general tag is almost guaranteed, with 98% of those with no preference points drawing the tag. There are no leftovers, and no second choice tags here. So if you want the tag, you must put in for it with your first choice. The units at the very southern end of Region Y have only a one week season; most of the other units have 15 day seasons for mule deer.
This region has some of Wyoming’s top mule deer densities, as most of the units range between 14 and 15 per square mile. The trophy potential is better in the northern units, but either way you slice Region Y, you’re still looking at a pretty low rate of harvest of mule deer. Sex ratios are in the mid 30s, which is good, but not quite as good as some of the units in Region C. Hunter pressure is quite tolerable in the Bighorn National Forest, but surprisingly high on the BLM units.
With Region M, we hit some very good value units. These units in the BLM-heavy sagebrush basins southwest of the Bighorns do not typically draw out, and can be had on second choices. Here you can have your cake and eat it too by building a preference point and drawing a good quality tag. Unit 37 is the only limited quota unit in the Region. It’s just outside Thermopolis and an excellent choice if you have 2 preference points. There’s no shortage of BLM in Region M, but if you want access to some of the more productive creek bottoms, check out the walk-in areas around Worland and the Bighorn River. Avoid unit 35, as there just isn’t much for publicly accessible land.
All of the seasons here open up on October 15th. Typical seasons here are 15 days, with the exception of Unit 36, which lasts just one week.
With exception of the major tributaries, this is big, windy, rugged cold desert and shrubby foothills country. Deer densities aren’t as high as in Region Y, but at around 10 per square mile, it’s still quite good. Hunting pressure is quite low, especially in the vast BLM tracts in unit 36, east of Shoshoni. Whitetails aren’t quite nonexistent here, but they’re outnumbered 20-plus to 1. As with the rest of North Central Wyoming, you stand a chance at seeing some pretty nice, mature deer if you’re patient.
Of the 3 Regions covered here, it’s difficult to say anything bad about any of them. But for my hunting style, which tends to involve more hiking than driving, I’d lean towards Region Y. It’s got great deer densities, only gives up a little in trophy potential to Region C, has the most high elevation public land and with a mid October season opener there is not much risk of getting snowed out. However, if I were trying to build points and hunt every year, I’d give Region M a hard look. Every one of these regions are better options than the previous units covered, unless you just want to see a lot of deer, then give Region A a shot.