2010 Wyoming big game hunting prospects look great

Rocky Mountains Elk Foundation’s CEO David Allen’s annoying hysteria about wolves causing the “biggest wildlife management disaster since the 19 Century buffalo slaughter” is discredited-

2010 Big Game hunting forecast. By Christine Peterson. Casper Star-Tribune staff writer trib.com. Posted at the trib: Thursday, August 26



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  1. dave Avatar

    Unfortunately, this information will have zero effect on the anti-wolf loonies. They refuse to be influenced by facts. Their anti-wolf mindset is a religion to them, and, as such, is immune to reasoned discussion. Once an anti-wolf junkie, always an anti-wolf junkie.

    1. Save Bears Avatar
      Save Bears

      The problem that I see on both sides, is they can be described exactly as you have stated dave, now who is right, I guess that depends on which side of the issue you reside on..

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Save Bears and Dave,

      Of course, this will have little effect on the entrenched sides. However, one side must be right on this. I mean there cannot be both a wildlife disaster and the best hunting in quite a while at the same time in the same place.

    3. Save Bears Avatar
      Save Bears

      Awe, but there is the conundrum Ralph…which side are you on? Will determine how well the hunting season goes…

      Of course we all know, there is much more to the issue, those who get their animal, may have a small change of feeling, but again, it will depend on location and effort they have to put into that success or failure..I am sure when it is all said and done, some will get an easy elk, some will have to work very hard, some will not get anything, and we will be left exactly where we stand today..

      When it is all over, all will feel they are right!

    4. JimT Avatar

      SB, if you go out and don’t get your elk for the season, do you blame your lack of luck/skill? Wolves? Karma? Habitat? How do you think the average hunter will react this fall?

      BTW, I respect your bow hunting instead of using high powered rifles and scopes. More respectful, closer to a natural predator relying on their own “weapons”.

      And I agree with Ralph…this, logically, is an either/or situation, as much as the elk foundation would like to portray it as otherwise.

    5. Save Bears Avatar
      Save Bears


      I don’t blame anything if I don’t take an animal, to me hunting is a blameless activity. That said, it has been a good number of years, since I failed to take an animal. Being a person that lives in the woods, I do have some opportunities to continue to monitor animals and movements year around, so it is not that difficult to find an animal, also, I don’t hunt for the biggest or the best, so the first one that comes along that meets my criteria is normally the one I will take be it a bull or a cow..

    6. Save Bears Avatar
      Save Bears

      As for how the average hunter feel, I really don’t know, I am sure some will have to find an excuse if they fail to fill their tag, now a days it may very well be the wolves, some will blame weather, some will blame the game departments..and with what I am hearing from many, if they don’t fill their tag, they are sure it is because of all of the development and homes being built in their old stomping grounds..

      Wolves to me are just one part of the equation, but I think one of the major changers of movement as well as success is because prime habitat is many areas is now prime home sites under private ownership from people who have little clue about hunting and don’t allow access to their private property.

  2. jon Avatar

    sb, do you plan on going elk hunting this year? Have you been successful last few times you went elk hunting? May I ask what kind of gun you use to kill your elk? Just curious. I never tried elk before. How would you say it tastes? Do you prefer it to other meats?

    1. Save Bears Avatar
      Save Bears


      I have not decided if I will hunt this year, I am getting low, so perhaps I will go.

      As I have stated in the past many times, I hunt with a bow 99% of the time these days, I have not taken an animal with a gun for at least 10 years now, when I used a gun, I used a custom .270 Winchester caliber in a custom Mauser action gun with a Nosler bullet hand loaded and mated to the gun..

      Elk is my favorite meat, rich, lean and very tasty, it lends itself to some very nice recipes with other natural items, it BBQ’s very well without drying out and if properly prepared really does melt in your mouth, which any hunter on here, can attest to..

      Being a bowhunter sometimes will get me access to lands that are private and otherwise not available to other hunters with guns and often times, these will yield a nice grain finished animal that will beat anything you can buy in a store for both texture as well as taste, with my type of hunting, it is far more economical than purchasing meat in a store which I have often mentioned in the past.

  3. WM Avatar

    Curiously this article seems to be a compilation of summaries from each game management region. The words wolf or wolves are not mentioned- anywhere in the article. For a state that is flat out paranoid about wolves and failing to play with the other two states to achieve delisting this seems like a very odd omission. Why would this be?

    Also remember WY has a reported wolf population of 325 wolves total, and their numbers have not been increasing at the rate of ID and MT. Natural phenomenon or the product of a very quiet 3S campaign?

    It also seems WY has had the benefit of a mild winter, and wet spring in some locales. Let’s also add to that the fact that there are no/few wolves yet reported in the areas outside the core GYE, and there is still a fair amount of elk range where no wolf has set foot ….yet.

    This from the latest issue of Bugle (Sept.-Oct 2010, p. 96).

    ++It’s true. Some places in WY have seen signficant impacts from wolves and other carnivores. The eastern half of the Cody herd next to Yellowstone has seen poor calf-recruitment, made worse by predation. Once a general hunting area, it is now a limited-entry draw…..”

    Then there is discussion about trimming the 120,000 elk down to 80,000 this year, with lots of cow tags in certain areas.

    So, do we just have differences in interpretation of what the condition of the state is at present? Elk are doing well this year due to mild weather (a bad weather year can turn this around in a heartbeat), but localized predation impacts are occurring as a result of the presence of wolves and other carnivores. And is there still a fairly large portion of elk habitat where wolves are not yet present.

    And then there is Allen overstating the case, so it would appear.

    1. WM Avatar

      Additional fact: Of WY’s 325 wolf total estimate, approximately 100 are within YNP.

  4. Ken Cole Avatar

    Here is another article about Idaho’s hunting forecast. It compares hunting to 30 years ago and rates it pretty high in comparison. It seems that any reductions in hunting compared to the best years sets people off and makes them believe that the sky is falling. As Roger points out, populations fluctuate and there are many more hunters now competing for the same animals.


    1. JB Avatar


      In most states our deer populations are are 2-3 times (or more) what they were 35 years ago and still growing, and deer managers want to reduce the herds. Everyone expects a backlash if and when they finally get herd sizes down, as we have whole generations of hunters that have been raised with relatively easy deer hunting.

      Here is what the Nature Conservancy says about the threat of deer to biodiversity in Michigan:


    2. jon Avatar

      Ken, would you say elk hunting was easier before wolves were brought back in Idaho? Isn’t hunting supposed to be hard? Wolves are obviously and clearly changing elk behavior and they are acting more like elk now. Carter Niemeyer said wolves are not an excuse for not being a successful hunter. If hunters really want their animal, it will take harder work, but I think in the end, it will pay off. Competing against fellow hunters and predators will just make your hunt more challenging and a more challenging hunt will make you want to get your animal even more.

    3. jon Avatar


      Elk populations are at or above objectives in 22 of 29 elk hunt zones. And a mild winter boosted cow and calf elk survival rates across most of the state. The Beaverhead, Lemhi, Island Park, Teton, Snake River, Palisades and Tex Creek zones all have healthy herds and offer the kind of elk hunting Idaho is famous for.”

    4. Tom Page Avatar
      Tom Page

      JB –

      Mule deer populations are down from highs in the 1950’s-1980’s across the west. It’s been a long slow slide, punctuated with a few cliffs like the winters of 92-3 and 96-7. Some populations are increasing, others are stable or declining. Your comment regarding 2-3x increase in deer populations and easy hunting (while probably true for most whitetail states) doesn’t really apply in this part of the country, except for the older generations who hunted in this era.

    5. JB Avatar

      Sorry, Tom. Somehow I accidentally cut out the word “Midwestern” from my originally post. It should have read:

      In most Midwestern states our deer populations are 2-3 times…

  5. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I predict that hunting success for elk in Wyoming both at the macro and micro scales will be pretty much what it has been every year for as long as I can remember, both pre-wolf and post-wolf–between 30 and 35%.

    The claim about predation and recruitment in Bugle Magazine that WM refers to above is false. The reference is to the migratory element of the Clarks Fork Elk Herd, which summers in Yellowstone National Park and winters generally west of the Upper Clarks Fork River. There is a G&F owned wildlife habitat management area in Sunlight Basin, the old Simon Snyder ranch on Sunlight Creek (great trout fishing by the way).

    This area is not historical winter range, but rather transitional range; Sunlight Basin and the Upper Clarks Fork are too high, snowy, and cold to provide good elk winter habitat. Traditionally, elk we now classify as belonging to the Clarks Fork Herd migrating out of Yellowstone or the Upper Clarks Fork wintered in the low country of the Beartooth/Absaroka Front–the area that Wyo State Highway 120 now traverses between Cody and Red Lodge MT–but the extensive cattle operations of the last century in the low country blocked elk from their traditional migratory patterns, and they were forced to stay in the Upper Clarks Fork, at some disadvantage to survival.

    Of late, we’ve seen a new phenomenon with the Clarks Fork Herd, that of resident, non-migratory elk, mostly on private property (e.g. the Two Dot Ranch) along the Beartooth/Absaroka Front as well as out on the BLM lands to the east toward the town of Powell. Calf-cow ratios in these resident elk exceed 40:100

    The migratory element of the Clarks Fork Elk Herd is declining from a variety of factors, of which predation is but one. Calf-cow ratios are below 20:100. The cause is primarily declining habitat from on and off again drought. over the last 20 years. Brucellosis seroprevalence in the migratory segment of the herd has also increased, for reasons unknown, so brucellosis may also be a factor in the decline in recruitment. No one knows yet.

    However, the driving factor in the shift from a general license to a limited quota license for antlered elk in the area is largely due to excessive commercial take of trophy bulls, although the outfitters in the area steadfastly deny that, given their ideological anti-wolf stance. (Nothing’s ever their fault). There is no evidence for the claim.

    Wyoming G&F and a professor from the Co-Op Unit at the University of Wyoming, Matthew Kaufman, have completed a three year data collection exercise under the Absaroka Elk Ecology Project. Presumably we’ll have the results in a year or two. I will say, having a copy of the proposal for the Project, that the Project’s experimental design does not evaluate the impact of wolf predation on elk numbers, but rather on elk behavior.


  6. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Here is the 2010 update for the Absaroka Elk Ecology Project:


  7. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I find it interesting that the hunting forecast is predicted as going well. It seems interesting to me that yesterday and today (yes, I know this is anecdotal) that I managed to spot decent sized herd of elk in Grand Teton and have seen three moose there this summer (I have never seen that many in one summer) when the wolf populations are at this level. Could this mean the ecosystem is actually adapting and doing alright without human intervention?

    1. jon Avatar

      Pro, have you been to ynp in recent times? Supposedly, the elk in ynp are wiped out and so are the moose. I am sure you can guess who are making these claims.

    2. jon Avatar

      It is amazing what 2 totally different sides are seeing. You have the anti wolfers who claim ynp is a ghost town devoid of elk and moose and just filled with hungry wolves and than you have pro wolf advocates who see elk everytime they go to ynp.

  8. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Jon, I saw elk the last time I was in YNP. I saw them this weekend in GTNP as well as in May on the Elk Refuge. Unless I saw the last of the population it seems to me they must be doing okay. I don’t see elk every time I go to either place but it has been that way since I first visited them in 1991. I have actually seen more moose the last few times I’ve been to both parks than I did before the wolves were reintroduced. I find it amazing that people claim it is a ghost town since the majority of these animals I’ve seen have been from the road.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan