In South Central Wyoming we’ve got some more famous deer country in the Red Desert around Rock Springs and Green River, and in the Southwest around Kemmerer as the main hubs in Regions G, K and W. There is a tremendous amount of public land in these units, primarily BLM, but also some National Forest. Much of this will be open country that can be effectively hunted from the main roads.
Region W contains much of the Red Desert, a huge area (about 6 million acres) that no water drains out of. It’s primarily sagebrush country with incredible visibility in some parts. Public land is in no shortage here, but some of it can be a real pain. Along I80, there is vast checkerboard of BLM lands, where literally every other square mile is public for over 200 miles east to west and over 50 miles north to south. You need to be good with a map here to stay out of trouble.
Only 6 units make up the entire area, but three of them are entirely limited draw units, and 82 also has a limited later season. All of these hunts require maximum points to draw (presently 4, but likely 5 for 2011). If you have the patience the limited draw hunts here are worth it. However, due to the reputation of the area, the Region W general tag isn’t a great option. It can be drawn about 60% of the time with no preference points, but the success rates are low, hunting pressure is fairly high, deer density is low, and trophy potential in the general units isn’t great.
Deer density is better closer to Baggs in units 82 and 84, but barely 1 per square mile in unit 131 which makes up the northern half of the Red Desert. The units near the Flaming Gorge don’t have very high deer densities either. Of the general units, 82 is your best bet here, but with nearly 2,000 deer hunters, you won’t be alone. Save your points for the limited hunts, or look elsewhere.
In the Southwest corner of Wyoming, west of Green River, south of Kemmerer, and surrounding Evanston, we have Wyoming’s Region K. These are the foothills of the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains in Utah. As with Region W, the reputation of the area exceeds its quality. The units are all general units, with no limited quotas, and a preference point is required for nonresidents to draw the general tag.
Deer densities are much better here than in the Red Desert and Flaming Gorge country in Region W (although 132 does have half of the Flaming Gorge). But still, at just 9 per square mile, you can do much better. The real downside to these units is the resident pressure. Only 220 nonresident tags are issued, but over 3000 deer hunters descend on these 4 units each fall. The sex ratio is in the mid 20s right now, but has been as low as 18 bucks per 100 does as recently as 2007. This herd needs time to recover before it produces older age classes of bucks.
Public land access is generally fine, with the exception of unit 133, south of Evanston. 132 has a small amount of Wasatch National Forest. Some large Hunter Management Areas do exist, but due to the fickle nature of private land access programs, check to make sure the Coyote Creek, Knight Ridge, Medicine Butte and the 250,000 acre Bear River Divide HMA are still available before applying.
I’m really not sold on any of the units in Region K. For 1 preference point, I’d rather guarantee a draw in a better region in North Central Wyoming, or some limited tags elsewhere. The success rates for all of these units average just 40%. While that’s certainly better than most places in say, California, it’s merely average for the Rocky Mountain West. And given the 2 years it will take to draw Region K, I’d rather spend my time elsewhere. Yes, some good deer can be had here, but they can be had in other places that are easier to draw, have better deer densities, more public land, less pressure and higher success rates.
In Wyoming’s Region G, you now get to the toughest region to draw. It takes two preference points for a nonresident to draw the Region G general tag. And like Region K, it’s no longer worth the wait. This is a much publicized area, but since the tags are all general tags, the pressure detracts from the hunt. There are just 350 nonresident tags, but nearly 5,000 total deer hunters. Let the residents have it.
Region G, north of Kemmerer and south of Alpine Junction contains the southern end of the Bridger Teton National Forest, as well as some large expanses of BLM. There is no unit within the region that is devoid of public land to hunt, but deer hunters also exceed the square mileage of public land.
As I stated earlier, this Region is overrated. The deer density is less than 8 per square mile and run in the mid 20s to mid 30s. The sex ratio is still quite high, despite the pressure, but probably reflective of the tougher hunting conditions and lower success rates. Region G deer hunts are far removed from the rut and the migration, with most units opening September 15th. September is a great time to be in the mountains elk hunting, but not a great time for a deer hunt unless you’re able to get into some alpine country.
Sorry to be such a downer on some pretty famous deer country, we’ll get back into some country that represents a better value in my next article.