Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

Western Wyoming Hunting Tips
"Region G & Region H Mule Deer Hunting"
Updated 4/28/2016
Written by Brian Latturner,

Western Wyoming backcountry is my favorite place to do my backpacking, especially because there are a few big bucks to look at from time to time. If you love backpack hunting, or using horses, llamas or goats, this is an area you're sure to enjoy. So much of it is rugged, steep and simply awesome in beauty.

Deer hunting tags in region G and region H are limited for non-resident hunters, but both regions are part of the resident hunters general season areas. So, unlimited numbers of resident hunters can hunt these areas every year. However, because of the ruggedness of the mountains and thickness of the dark timber, bucks can hide and avoid being harvested, therefore can get older and grow bigger antlers. There are some trophy mule deer in Western Wyoming.

In recent years, hunt tags have become increasingly more difficult to draw in these areas because of the increasing publicity and some of the trophy bucks that are harvested and pictures shared on this website, other sites, in magazines and at hunt expos. At the present time, it takes about 5-6 points to draw region G and 1-2 for an H tag. Region G is the better unit, especially for non-resident hunters. Region H has more non-resident tags, and because of the wilderness restrictions, less places for non-residents to hunt.
Yep, wilderness restrictions for those of us from outside of Wyoming. The law came about many years ago in an effort to force non-residents to hunt with a guide, and it's never been changed. Silly, I know, but it is what it is.

Hunt Consulting and Scouting
Even though it takes some years to get a tag, that's the easy part. The tough part is finding a big buck to hunt, finding a water source for you and/or your pack animals and understanding the terrain and where bucks might hide after being pushed around. I've said on the site here for many, many years, that scouting Western Wyoming is so very important if you want to have the best hunt possible. Of course you can just show up a day or two before the hunt and hike in somewhere, but when hunters do that, they run a high risk of being in an area with very limited water and possibly no really big bucks around. Yes, there are bucks in pretty much all that high country, but most are going to be young bucks and/or average sized mature bucks (20-24 inch wide 4x4). If that's what will make you happy, then just about anywhere in that country could be good. But if you want a real trophy, you've got to hunt where a trophy lives.

Scouting is where the hunt really begins for many guys wanting to make the absolute most of their Western Wyoming hunt adventure. 5-7 days of scouting can make a huge difference, and even more days could greatly improve your chances of finding one of the absolute best bucks in those mountains. July is typically when a person would want to begin their serious scouting. By July, most of the snow is melted and the bucks are in that alpine country feeding on all the new, green growth, and they're visible.
Personally, I do the vast majority of my scouting with a backpack on my back, but sometimes I will use horses from Yellowstone Horse Rentals if I take my wife, friend, dad or one of the kids. I'm not a huge fan of dealing with horses, and I like the workout I get backpacking, so I avoid horses when I can.

Once in the high country, I make heavy use of my optics. I glass a canyon, a distant slope, or basin and then move onto the next one. In a single morning, I often look at 3-5 different canyons, basins and distant slopes. My goal when scouting is to look at as many bucks as possible. The more I see, the greater the chance of finally seeing a whopper. So I cover ground, often moving camp every day, looking at a spot for an evening and morning, then on to another location until I find what I'm after.

Once you've located a buck you'd like to hunt, then you'll want to figure out all the details....where to camp, where water is, and how to most effectively hunt the buck. Camp location is important. I like to be close to the buck I'm hunting, but not too close. Too close and you could alert him that you're there before the hunt even opens. In most cases, I end up camping about 3/4 mile from where the buck lives.
Then comes water. I don't know how many times I've ran into guys in the high country who are looking for water. Often they've never been into the Wyoming high country and don't know how scarce water can be in some places. Quite often the nearest water source is 1600 vertical feet and a mile or more below them. So, one must plan on where to get water, how often, etc. I like to try and find a hidden seep or creek that comes out of the ground for a hundred yards or so near the top where I want to camp. Sometimes they can be found, other times not. If not, then you're going to need to pack your water to the top if that's where you want to camp. Or, what most guys do, is camp in the bottoms and hike or ride up in the mornings. I'm not a fan of that. I like to be close to the buck I'm hunting.

Now on to the hunt, and this is where the real mental challenge begins. On opening day, even before daylight, you're almost sure to see flashlights on ridges, hear guys on horses riding by or a horse whinny right out on the ridge you're headed to. Fact is, there are a good number of people who hunt Western Wyoming, but on opening morning you know there's a big one there and you know where he lives, where he likes to feed and where he might hide once he knows people are in the hills. You have the advantage.
This is where the mental challenge comes in......don't let the other hunters running around get you down. Head for your spot, setup where you have already determined would be the best spot and hunt like you would if you had it all to yourself.

Opening morning is anyone's best chance of killing the buck they're looking for, but sometimes, actually often times, that doesn't happen. But that's okay, because not always are bucks aware that people are in the woods on opening morning. Sometimes it takes several days before that buck feeding in a little avalanche chute realizes there are hunters hiking around on the ridges above. So often, you have time to hunt that buck that isn't yet wise to the fact that the hunt is on. Some could be oblivious for 3-4 days!
But at some point, most older bucks realize there are people in the woods and they bugger off those open slopes and quickly become a new animal altogether.

Hunting those big boys after they've been bumped or smelled the stench of people, can be much harder, but they're not impossible to get. You must keep after it for all the days you can. You also must keep reminding yourself that your buck lives there and he's close by. That mental challenge will test you. Many people give up after just a few days of hunting. They convince themselves that between all the people and the fact they haven't seen their buck, that he must have left the country or been shot. When buggered, they typically don't go very far, usually they just drop down into thick timber and turn into logs. They spend much more time bedded and do as much feeding in the thick timber as possible. Sometimes they have been shot, but never assume it. Them old bucks are good at the game.

Yellowstone Horse Rentals
Western Wyoming Horses
So your buck seems to be gone? He probably isn't. You just need to keep after it. Be sure every morning you are where you need to be BEFORE daylight, that you glass the pines and the edges of the pines very well, as often you can spot them bedded in those north slope pine trees. Hunting as much during each day as possible is important, but you also want to make sure you're eating good, have plenty of water and rest. If you allow your body to get run down, your motivation will take a nose dive. I personally head back to camp at some point during mid-day to nap and try to recharge myself. I think it's important. You'll last longer on the mountain if you keep your hunt enjoyable, even when it's soaking wet, you're not seeing your buck, people everywhere, your back hurts, etc. Do what you can to recharge your body and mind.

Once you're several days into your hunt, and your buck hasn't shown himself in the open and maybe your hunt is nearing the end, trying different tactics can be the answer. Drives and still hunting the timber are two methods that many hunters and guides use to dig those bucks out. Drives are popular amongst guides late in a client's hunt. They'll often setup the client in a place where he can take a shot, and then ride or hike across a hillside making a little racket, but not too much. They want to move the bucks, get them to roll around an open slope to another stand of pines, or cut through an avalanche chute where their hunters are waiting. If you're hunting with buddies, this can work. But do it at the end of your hunt, because the more you bump and bugger the bucks, the deeper they'll dive into thick steep stuff and the less likely they are to even feed along the edges of the timber.
Still hunting can also be a good option. Like drives, it requires you to go right into that timber where you think the buck might be. Once you start going in there and taking the chance of being seen or smelled, the more likely you are to send that buck deeper into the timber, so again, use this tactic near the end of the hunt.
I typically like to give it 4-5 days before I start walking through the timber where I think my buck is hiding.

Western Wyoming really is a neat place to hunt, but it can be a tough place to hunt also. After waiting all those years for a tag, be sure to make the most of it and have a good time.

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

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