Wyoming Leftover Licenses
As of last Friday, Wyoming’s drawings are now complete. The drawing odds reports are now available, and the leftover lists are already posted. Leftovers will go on sale July 6th at 8:00 mountain time. The licenses can be purchased over the internet. As you’d expect, most of the licenses that made it to leftovers have an asterisk beside the unit number, implying difficult public access. That does not mean access is impossible, as Wyoming also has two excellent private access programs for the public in the Walk In Access areas and Hunter Management Areas.
Your options are most limited with elk tags. The general bull license for nonresidents draws out completely, as do most all of the good limited bull tags, leaving a good selection of cow tags, plus a handful of bull or either sex tags.
I won’t delve much into the asterisk units for elk as there are a few units that pop up with have either sex tags available and at least according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, have sufficient public land access. Most of these will be archery tags, but rifle tags are also available. First on the rifle list is unit 88, which is a teeny-tiny unit near Alpine Junctions at the confluence of the Greys, Snake and Salt Rivers, known as the Greys Feedground. There is a small piece of the Bridger-Teton National Forest plus the Greys River Wildlife Habitat Management Area.
Unit 96 is much better option in terms of total land area to hunt. It’s just north of Pinedale, around New Fork and Willow Lakes. There is some wilderness that will be off limits to nonresidents without a guide though. Unit 97 is an even larger area, but has even more wilderness. It too, is just outside of Pinedale.
Now, the archery tags are available for some pretty good areas. Most of them will have some wilderness restricting your access as an unguided nonresident, which is probably why they go to leftovers. Amongst your options are unit 50 outside Clark, along the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River and portions of the Beartooth Highway, 51 on the south side of the Clarks Fork, units 52 and 53 along the famous Sunlight Creek, 55 along the North Fork of the Shoshone, and 56 north of the main Shoshone River, 59 south of the Shoshone River and 60 tucked up against the southeast corner of Yellowstone National Park. The way I see it, as a DIY hunter, the main factor in deciding whether you want to take on one of these archery tags is whether or not you will be limited by wilderness areas.
In the case of these archery tags in some great elk country, you’d have to completely scratch off unit 60 as the entire unit is wilderness, 55 is almost as bad, so is 53, 51 is probably 75% wilderness and 59 is about 65% wilderness. That leaves 50 and 52 as legitimate options where you aren’t overly limited by wilderness. But the success rates in these units tend to be far below the more wilderness heavy areas. So, you’ve got a tough decision to make here if you’re willing to attempt an archery hunt in Wyoming. I’d probably lean towards 59 as the best compromise here.
I’m really not excited about any of the limited access areas. The unit 47 tag is the only one that could interest me, but the Copper Mountain Hunter Management Area is only open to antlerless elk hunting.
Your buck antelope options, as with the elk are pretty limited in areas with large amounts of public land. However, there are two solid units available. Unit 77 and 114 surround Worland and offer some excellent antelope hunting. No, the tags available aren’t for the opening weekend, but so what, these are easily the best of the leftover tags. Buck tags typically take 2 to 3 points to draw here for the opening weekend and you’ve now got a chance to essentially steal one of these as a leftover. There’s only 7 unit 77 tags and 20 unit 114 tags available, so don’t dilly-dally if you want one.
The list units with buck tags available with limited amounts of public land is pretty extensive, and sorting through those with decent Hunter Management Areas and Walk In Hunting Areas is probably a topic for another article. While just perusing the lists, units 18, 24 and 29 jump out as units with portions of the Thunder Basin Grasslands that you can hunt. Units 16, 17, 22 and 23 have some BLM access along the Powder River, some of which is decent antelope country, but a lot of it is more suited to deer hunting. Unit 44, the BLM foothills of Red and Jelm Mountains above the Laramie River always have a few scattered antelope in the area. Unit 70 is a screwy, skinny unit, but there is enough public land and enough antelope on the BLM and state lands near Alcova to give this unit serious consideration. Another spotty area to consider (though you’ve only got a week to think about it) would be unit 76 outside of Thermopolis. My choice among the leftovers would be not to fool around with the spotty public lands, and just grab the unit 77 or 114 tag. But if you wait too long that won’t be an option, so the Thunder Basin Grasslands units would deserve the next round of consideration.
For deer tags, we’ve got a lot of options among the region general tags. Regions B, C, D, F, J, M, T and Y have leftover buck tags and are all regions I’ve written about before. Of these, I’d probably avoid Regions B and C unless I had an antelope tag (there are deer here, but its better antelope country). Region T just doesn’t have enough public land or even walk in areas to interest me for any reason when I have better options. I’ve successfully hunted Region J before in the Laramie Mountains on National Forest land, though those are a little spotty too. But it’s F, M and Y where your best options lie. All of those are solid; you just have to decide what kind of country you’d rather hunt. If its mountains and foothills, take a look at Y, if you’d prefer the plains/basins/badlands country consider Region M. Region F offers a mixture of both high mountain country and low elevation basins and several productive canyons.
As for the other limited deer tags, there are a few options available, but they are mostly just whitetail only. Of those whitetail tags, I wouldn’t be interested in any of them. But if you forced me to make a decision, maybe the unit 34 or 121 tag would make some sense, but I think you’d struggle finding whitetails on public land in those units.
Anyway, there’s a pretty brief overview for you to work with when considering your buck and bull leftover options in Wyoming, and some of them are quite good. Most of these have only a few leftovers, so if you’re wanting one of these tags for a public land area (except the Region General Deer tags, those should last a few days to a few weeks), you’d better be ready to purchase those tags the instant they become available.