Pronghorn, mule deer could see fewer hunters this fall

Jackson hunters got a glimpse of possible season dates and tag limits for the upcoming season for a number of species at a recent open house.
Mule deer are one of many big game species the Wyoming Game and Fish Department manages in the state. The herd in the Jackson region saw drastic population declines in recent seasons. (Jon Nelson/CC by 2.0)

by | Mar 27, 2024 | Environment

Teton County and northwest Wyoming draw hunters from around the state and country.

“I mean, this is about, in my opinion, as good as it gets for big game hunting in this country,” said Mark Gocke, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department employee. 

He helped gather hunter feedback on proposed hunting regulations for the upcoming fall season at a recent open house event in Jackson.

“Quite honestly, we’re pretty fortunate right here,” he said. “Hunting is a big deal to most people in this community.”


Mark Gocke at the March 21 open house. Gocke was one of several Game and Fish officials discussing the proposed regulations with local hunters. (Dante Filpula Ankney/KHOL)

Game and Fish drafts hunting regulations and season dates for many different species to present to a governor-appointed commission for approval annually. And next fall, Wyoming could see fewer hunting tags for two big game species, pronghorn and mule deer, since both populations were particularly hard-hit the last few seasons. 

“It’s not all about hunting,” said Brian Taylor, a third generation Jacksonite, outfitter and local landowner.

He said guides like himself may see some business shortfalls with a reduction in hunting tags and a one-week shortening of the season for some species, but he said the regulations are necessary.

“To me, I enjoy being out there,” Taylor said. “I’m entering my 41st year as a backcountry guide outfitter and if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t still be doing it. A successful hunt doesn’t necessarily mean you fill your tag. It’s the people you meet and the experience you have.”

Brad Hovinga works for Game and Fish and said hunters are vital to the department and conservation throughout the state.

“Their contribution, through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and permits, directly funds this agency and our ability to manage wildlife,” Hovinga said.

Outside of funding, he said hunters also help the wildlife department keep species healthy by limiting overpopulation. Ultimately, Hovinga said, regulations are developed by leveraging hunter input and science.

Final guidelines are expected to be approved by the game and fish commission in mid-April. Current proposals are available to view online on the state agency’s website.

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