Bad First WY Experience
I returned last week from my first trip to WY. We went to hunt unit 25 for antelope. Believe it or not we had 6 goat tags and did not fill any of them! Unfortunately, there was no accessible public land. I know that Eastmans warns about this type of situation which is why we tried to do as much research as possible.
I purchased the huntinggpsmaps software, which is fantastic by the way. I studied maps before the trip. I called the Game and Fish and BLM departments. My main question was how to tell a public road from a private. Basically, the answers I received were that the 2 tracks were mostly private. The BLM dept. even told me that if the road is maintained by a grader it is a public county road. Well, when we got there we quickly found out that there was only 1 public road in the entire unit with access to only 1 piece of public property!!
We are somewhat frustrated about the way the rules are written in WY, but our biggest complaint is the lack of help we were given by the state. While at the G&F office in Casper the game warden could just tell us "it's your responsibility to know what your on". How pathetic when we're there to ask HOW do we know. It almost felt as if the state was afraid to be honest for fear we wouldn't buy tags. It's either that or they're mostly just plain stupid.
We ultimately received some good guidance for future trips and I'm hoping to hit unit 19 for elk just south of Casper next year. Unfortunately, some of our group was so turned off they ready to write the state off altogether. I'd like to be able to complain officially to someone who matters but I'm not sure who and doubt it would have any effect at all.
MOHunter: I feel your pain....
In Wyoming, a good indicator if a unit has poor public access is available in the "Hunting Information and Regulations Booklet" (the annual regulation booklet). Areas that have difficult public access are clearly marked with an asterisk (*) right next to the unit number. I just looked up Unit 25 for antelope in the 2011 regulations, it has an asterisk by it. If you see the "asterisk" you know upfront it will be challenging to get hunting access. It's not to say it can't be done, but it will take a lot more work than on a unit with lots of public access.
You also mentioned that you are considering hunting elk in Unit 19. You might want to thoroughly check this area out for access as well. Unit 19 is also marked with an asterisk indicating difficult public access. It's not to say there is not hunting access in Unit 19, but it will be more challenging and really do your homework ahead of applying.
Another thing I have run in to over and over again when researching these "difficult to access" units. You might find a place to hunt, but in many of these areas, the elk know where the fence is for private land. As soon as the shooting starts, the elk move on to private in a hurry. Frustrated hunters end up seeing a lot of game, but in places they can't hunt.
Before applying for a unit indicated as "difficult public access", I would recommend getting a good map, such as the BLM map for the unit. Determine where you will actually be hunting. Make sure you have good access on "county" roads (not just any road). On a BLM map these "county" roads have county road numbers.
A general rule of thumb, if a unit is easy to draw, it usually has poor access, or poor hunting. Of course there are exceptions.
You have to be careful in many units east of the big horns. Most of the land here is private. I would think that for elk in unit 19 it will be difficult public access south of casper. Im not familiar with this area however but know that there are a lot of ranches and a ton of private land. That just means that in todays hunting world, that land will be leased by an outfitter. When you go on the website as umpqua has said, there are asterisks that are red by the units with difficult access. Then it tells you to make sure you already have permission to hunt or a place to get access into BEFORE buying your license.
Also remember that if you get into any public land that is in a unit mostly covered in private land, that there will be more hunters on that land than animals.Please dont get too frustrated at the game and fish. Trying to learn where the public land boundries and private land are in an area here you have grown up in your whole is hard enough. It changes every year. People donate to walk ins then take them away half way through the year or the next year. Most of this is due to people mistreating and abusing the land that was donated to the wia program.
I know its hard to do when your an out of stater but you really need to research the area before you hunt it. It sounds bad but it is the hunters responsibility to know where the boundries are. The game and fish should have explanied a little better to you however. To let you know, there are also roads on private land that are graveled. Not just the two tracks. eastern and central wyoming is difficult to navigate because of all the privat land. Just keep that in mind.
Please dont get too frustrated at the game and fish.
I know its hard to do when your an out of stater but you really need to research the area before you hunt it. It sounds bad but it is the hunters responsibility to know where the boundries are. The game and fish should have explanied a little better to you however.
Believe me, we definitely tried to research the area beforehand. That is exactly why I'm so frustrated. The G&F definitely misled us. If someone would have simply said, "there's only one public road and one piece of huntable property" we would have stayed away. Unfortunately, they all told us this AFTER we got there to hunt.
Someone once mentioned on this forum how useless the BLM is, and I now understand what they meant. They have been absolutely no help at all in this entire process.
I understand that it's the hunter's responsibility, but it's also the government's responsibility to make the rules accessible. It's a cop out to throw out that phrase when you don't know enough to give a knowledgable, understandable explanation of the laws.
By the way, the landowners were horrendous to deal with. We actually had one of them call the local sherriff. We were so glad to see him so we could get a straight answer, and to our pleasant surprise he was on our side. He told the landowner to chill and quit complaining. That just tells me more that the entire property/access situation in WY is really messed up.
My cousins from Utah all drew area 89 close to where I live. They all tagged out with no problem (6 antelope). There is plenty of public land in this part of the state to hunt. I would recommend staying away from difficult to access areas even if the better areas are harder to draw. In the long run you will be much happier and probably more successful. just my two cents
Please know this is not meant to be sarcastic at all...but I'm not sure how much more accessible the Fish and Game could make the information.....
When you apply for a hunt, you have to look up the hunt number and type. On page 24 of the 2011 regulations is the Unit 25 that you applied for. Next to the hunt number is an "*". At the bottom of the page it says "* INDICATES HUNT AREAS WITH DIFFICULT PUBLIC ACCESS* (please see page 44 entitled, "HUNT AREAS WITH DIFFICULT PUBLIC ACCESS" of this packet for more information)."
On page 44 it says "Hunt areas marked with an asterisk (*) on the tentative hunting season information charts are predominantly private lands or have inaccessible or limited access to public lands. If you are considering applying for a license in any of these hunt areas, you are advised to obtain landowner permission prior to making application for a license. Obtaining permission to hunt after you receive a license is often difficult or impossible. You may hunt legally accessible public lands within these hunt area, but often such lands are in small parcels, receive heavy hunting pressure and may not sustain the species of wildlife you desire to hunt. In addition, wildlife abundance and distribution are often greater on the private land portions of these areas. The inability to secure a place to hunt is not cause for a license refund or exchange of license for another hunt area. For information on access to private lands, see the WGFD website. There are numerous walk-in and hunter management areas that allow free access, but hunters should check first to determine their availability in the area and for the species they wish to hunt."
Another great resource for this is the Eastman's MRS section. In the Feb 2011 edition of Eastman's magazine it listed Unit 25 for antelope as "poor" access. The other ratings are:
Trophy quality: B
Hunting Pressure: C
Quality of Hunt: C
As others have mentioned the antelope hunting in Wyoming is crazy good in numerous units with fantastic public access. Some of the top units in the state can be drawn with no points on the "special" license.
I don't want to argue with you too. Yes, I understand it's difficult public access, which I why I tried so hard to find out what the definition of public access really is. Believe me, I've been studying the MRS for a long time. Here's the bottom line, I could not get an accurate definition of what "legally accessible public lands" meant. That is where they fall short. They do a fine job of saying it's limited, but I could not get any help in determining what "limited" really meant. Having never been to WY that's a somewhat vague and relative description. Again, now I know when they say limited they mean virtually none. By the way, I checked on HMA and Walk-In, which there was none for this unit.
Originally Posted by Umpqua Hunter
Someone from this forum advised this unit over another due to access issues. The BLM dept. told me that any road maintained by a grader is a county road, and G&F told me the only thing I could not drive on was 2 track. All of these things are false. That's not being clear in my book.
Also, paying double for a tag isn't an option for most people.
MOHunter, Im not trying to make you mad. But here in Wyoming, public land is either State land, BLM land or forest service land. If your map shows you are in a white section it is private land. If its blue yellow or green you are on public land. The eastern side of the state is very difficult. Many land owners of big ranches next to the mountains are owned now by rich people moving into the state and are just trying to make money off of their hunting land. It is very tough here to get onto private land. I lucked out this year and found a landowner let me pay only $25 for a bull elk. Everyone around him was asking for $1000 to 4000. The sad thing about hunting every where is that it is turning into a rich mans sport. I think its kinda sad that the game and fish has to round up a bunch of money each year so that they can buy land from these landowners for the WIA program. Then the land that they get isnt that good to begin with. But at least they are trying to get more land for people to hunt on. YES, limited public access means very limited or impossible to access. Next time I would really study the WIA and HMA along with the public lands before making your decision. The western side of the state has a lot more public access than the eastern.
We went to 25 as well, and were very lucky to find some public land with a few animals. We filled our tags, but access was very difficult. I would not do it again.
After a half a dozen hunts to Wyoming, I guess my point is you do what you have to do to secure a good hunt that has good access. You either spend several years and spend $30 a year building preference points, or you spend the extra $240 up front and get a great tag in a year or two. In the end its about a wash financially, and a heck of a lot cheaper than a guided hunt. It prevents drawing a tag, driving to Wyoming and not being able to hunt.
Originally Posted by MOHunter
Also I wanted to point out that you are considering Unit 19 for elk, you may be getting yourself into another bad situation, with poor access and marginal hunting. I have max points for elk and have been watching unit 7 for a couple years. Its a fantastic elk unit, but has the same private land issues. I know guys who bow hunt and backpack in a couple miles and have an outrageous hunt, however I've been told if you rifle hunt the unit you better get it done quick, because the elk will be on private land in a hurry. My wife has two points and I have researched about every special draw unit in Wyoming and if there is a shortcut to a good tag, it has usually been found.