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WGFD adds special youth seasons to deer areas

Apr 19, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Low numbers of big game drove the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's Lander Field Office to recommend lower quotas of elk, deer and antelope for local hunt areas this year.

Regular general license areas were unchanged from 2012.

The agency also added special youth seasons to deer areas near Lander with the hope that it will help children be more successful and want to continue hunting.

"They've been doing something similar out of our Green River region, and they've had good success and a lot of support," Lander regional wildlife supervisor Jason Hunter said about the youth seasons. "So were offering some additional opportunity for youth, hoping to recruit them (to be lifelong hunters)."

Children can buy a youth license if they are 12 to 17 years old. The special seasons would only be in four hunt areas south of Lander and covering Green Mountain.

The youth seasons would last a week or two longer than the regular general license season in the area and would be for any deer in those areas.

Adult general license holders are restricted to harvesting buck mule deer with three or more points on one side or any white-tailed deer in those areas. Relief from the three-point restriction is nothing new for young hunters, however.

Those holding a youth license have been able to harvest any deer in areas with the restriction for the past several years, Hunter said.

Game and Fish hopes young hunters will have more success without the three-point requirement and that bagging a deer in turn gets them excited to hunt in the future, Hunter said.

He also hopes giving them more time to hunt increases their success rate.

"In the past we heard only allowing a weekend to hunt isn't enough time," Hunter said.

Many general license deer areas are only open for one week. Many youths cannot hunt on weekdays because of school, leaving them only the weekends to go in the field.

Residents in Lander had asked his office for additional weekends for youths to hunt, Hunter said, and the idea was popular at a meeting in the county seat on the proposed seasons.

Reduced quotas

Proposed seasons hit antelope quotas hard, dropping the total tags across the field office's territory by 21 percent to about 3,500. But the reductions are not universal. Area 65, southwest of Lander, for instance, would see a 40 percent increase in tags to 175.

Hunter said recent dry years produced little forage for big game to eat, causing the populations of those animals to shrink. Small numbers of game led the local office to recommend lower quotas.

Proposed general license seasons were unchanged for deer and elk hunt areas that had them.

Recommended quotas for elk and deer in hunt areas near Fremont County were also lower than 2013's. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission would have to approve the quotas.

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