Western Fall Elk Forecast

With elk hunting starting in just over a week in Oregon, now’s as good a time as any to get a head’s up on this fall’s prospects for wapiti in the Beaver State and elsewhere around the West.

According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s annual hunting forecast, Oregon and Washington’s herds are believed to be stable, and while certain herds in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have taken definite hits from wolves, there are still around 100,000 elk in the Gem State, 150,000 in the Treasure State and 120,000 in the Cowboy State — 20,000 more than this time last year, and 40,000 above state objectives in that latter state alone.

MIKE AND JACK DONAHUE OF SEATTLE WITH MIKE'S FIRST ELK IN 20 YEARS OF HUNTING, SHOT IN KITTITAS CO., WASH., LAST FALL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

“Generally speaking, elk populations are in great shape and hunters have much to look forward to across the West, as well as in several Midwestern and Eastern states,” says David Allen, president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in a press release. “A mild winter, much needed spring and summer moisture and our habitat conservation successes all factor into our optimism for the upcoming hunting season.”

He does note, however, that wolves continue to be a growing concern in regions where they share habitat with elk and other big game herds. In some areas, elk calf survival rates are now insufficient to sustain herds for the future.

EASTERN OREGON BULL ELK. (ODFW)

RMEF says the urgent need to control wolf populations is a localized wildlife management crisis now compounded by a recent court decision to return wolves to full federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. RMEF has asked Congress to intervene and grant management authority to the states.

A Montana Congressman has joined a Texan in cosponsoring legislation to remove wolves from the species that can be protected under ESA.

A statement on RMEF’s Web site above their hunting forecast addresses what became a war of letters earlier this year, where wolf activists “blatantly cherry-picked, manipulated and misrepresented the following population estimates to bolster their case for having more wolves in more places throughout elk country.”

Meanwhile, here is a state-by-state and province-by-province breakdown for the Western U.S. and Canada, straight from RMEF:

ALASKA
·       Elk Population: Kodiak Archipelago (GMU 8), 650; Etolin (GMU 3), not available
·       Bull/Cow Ratios: Not available
·       Nonresidents: $85 hunting license plus $300 elk tag, and must hire a guide
·       Hunter Success: GMU 8, 17 percent; GMU 3, 5 percent

Think you’re tough? Resume chest-thumping only after you’ve hunted GMU 3’s South Etolin Wilderness for a week in southeast Alaska. Rainfall exceeds 90 inches per year and the thick cover hides some of the world’s largest brown bears. Recent success rates hover around 5 percent with an annual average of six bulls killed for the entire unit. While bulls in the lower 48 average 700 pounds, bulls here can get up to 1,300. Consider yourself successful just for giving it a try. Zarembo Island northwest of Etolin has remained closed to hunting since 2006 because of low elk numbers.

For GMU 8 in southern Alaska, the odds are considerably better at 17 percent, though rest assured you’ll be hunting the fringes of hypothermia. Managers are trying to grow the herd to around 800-1,000 animals. Not bad when you consider in 1929 only eight elk were imported to the area from Washington’s Hoh Valley.

Fifteen years ago, these big-bodied bulls had comparatively tiny antlers. That all changed when herd numbers crashed with the winter of 1998-99. Lower herd numbers allowed more forage to flourish, and bulls took advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet. Now, GMU 8 in southern Alaska gives you a shot at some mighty big Roosevelt’s. Area biologist Larry van Deale says some recent trophies would have made the record books had the hunters cared to enter them.

ALBERTA

·       Elk Population: 33,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: Not available
·       Nonresidents: $255, must hire a guide
·       Hunter Success: Not available
In the eyes of the record books, elk here live in the shadow of the province’s monster whitetails and beastly bruins. Yet there are opportunities for some fine elk hunting as elk expand east and south onto the prairies and parkland. As they migrate, managers establish more hunting opportunities—last year alone saw three new areas open to elk hunting. Some of the biggest bulls are in these new units. The northern-most units have hunts well into January, and landowners typically welcome responsible cow hunters with open arms.

The best (and only) shot for a nonresident is to go through an outfitter, as they are allotted roughly 10 percent of draw tags.

ELK ON THE WILD HORSE WIND FARM, KITTITAS CO., WASH. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PUGET SOUND ENERGY)

ARIZONA
·       Elk Population: 25,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 34/100
·       Nonresidents: $121 hunting license (nonrefundable to enter drawing) plus $595 elk permit
·       Hunter Success: 30 percent
This mega-bull state allows hunters the chance to chase elk 365 days per year—and you don’t need a Governor’s tag to do it. These over-the-counter hunts are designed to help keep elk numbers in check where they are less-than-desirable, like the North Kaibab Plateau. One catch, though—there are generally not a lot of elk in these areas and hunt success is low, but at least you don’t have to blow any bonus points on the hunts.

For hunters looking for more traditional seasons, opportunities abound. Even though the state claims 25,000 elk, its mesas and arroyos could be hiding upwards of 40,000, says Brian Wakeling, Arizona’s game branch chief. They conduct elk counts in August and September, and the thick tree cover makes it tough to get accurate counts with aerial surveys. Overlooked elk means better odds of success for you.

With abundant moisture this winter and little winterkill, elk herds are flourishing. Last year saw little daylight rut activity, with bulls bugling only by moonlight, which held bowhunter success to around 25 percent. Logic says those big bulls that survived merely got bigger for this season. Also bettering your odds is Fish and Game’s goal to get bull/cow ratios down to 25/100 to create more hunter opportunity. That translates into more bull tags.

A great resource on Arizona harvest data, drawing odds and hunting pressure is “Hunt Arizona” available on the department’s website at www.azgfd.gov.

BRITISH COLUMBIA
·       Elk Population: 50,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 20/100
·       Nonresidents: $189 hunting license plus $262.50 for elk permit. Must hire a guide.
·       Hunter Success: Not available
With 15 big game species to hunt, this province is a hunter’s paradise, boasting a thriving population of Rocky Mountain elk and some of the biggest Roosevelt’s bulls in the world, says Stephen MacIver, wildlife regulations officer. To hunt Roosies or Rocky Mountain elk in the province, one must first hurdle the odds of drawing a limited-entry tag. The odds are roughly 35:1. But, anyone, including nonresidents, can hire a guide, and lucky for you, guides are allotted a percentage of the tags.

If you watched the Olympics, you have an idea of what the winter was like for the entire province—mild. And that’s good news for elk. Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast in the far west have strong populations of Roosevelt’s. For Rocky Mountain elk, your best bet would be the Kootenay region in the southeast, which boasts the province’s highest success rates. Most of the area requires a minimum of six tines or more on one antler. So many bulls live long enough to reach their full antler-growth potential. Another good option is the agricultural zones in the Peace River region.

Visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw.

CALIFORNIA
·       Elk Population: 1,500 Rocky Mountains, 6,000 Roosevelt’s, 3,900 tules
·       Bull/Cow Ratios: 20/100 to 90/100
·       Nonresidents: $145 hunting license (nonrefundable to enter drawing) plus $1,173 elk permit
·       Hunter Success: 75 percent
Conditions are ripe for a world-record tule, says Joe Hobbs, California Fish and Game elk coordinator. For the East Park Reservoir Unit, good spring rains this year and a low harvest of old bulls last year have left the environment in top shape for antler growth. That’s the good news. The bad news? Your odds of drawing a bull tag there are 1 in 350. If you’re feeling really lucky, apply for Grizzly Island with bulls just as big and draw odds more than twice as bad (1 in 1,000). To add insult to injury, only one nonresident tag can be issued through the draw annually.

But other chances abound if you’re willing to shell out the cash for a number of auction tags: one for Grizzly Island, one for Owens Valley, a multiple zone tag, and tags offered by RMEF at Elk Camp. If odds and auctions aren’t your thing, private landowners receive a limited number of hunts to do with as they please, like sell it to you.

Forest fires over the past few years have herds in other parts of the state doing very well. The Marble Mountains unit in the northwest—much of it in the spectacular Marble Mountain Wilderness—is one of those areas, with 35 bull tags, 10 antlerless and 5 late-season muzzleloader/archery either-sex tags. It’s also an area worth looking into if you’re a first-time applicant, as 10 of those tags (9 bull, 1 either-sex) are randomly drawn, while the other 30 are based on preference points. Odds there hover around 2 percent— 8 percent if you have max points.

If the odds have you down, this might help. Talks are in the works to reestablish a free-ranging herd on 200,000 acres of grassland in the Central Valley. Plans are still in the feasibility stage, but that could mean more habitat, more elk and more elk hunting opportunity. In the northeast corner, elk that walked in  from Oregon and Nevada are now thriving, including some of the biggest bulls in America. To help ease a sometimes thirsty transition onto the Modoc National Forest, the RMEF helped pay for and install four 1,800-gallon wildlife guzzlers, which will improve year-round habitat in an area that already has one of the most sought-after elk permits in the state.

COLORADO
·       Elk Population: 286,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 30/100
·       Nonresidents: cow $354, any elk $544
·       Hunter Success: 23 percent
Let’s be honest, the land of the fourteeners is the land of plenty for elk and elk hunters, but it isn’t currently known for producing behemoth bulls. But that could be a different story this hunting season. The past two falls have been cursed with warm weather, leaving elk up high and the ground firecracker dry. In the northwest where many of the really big bulls roam, elk migration didn’t even begin until after regular rifle seasons were over. Couple that with abundant spring and summer moisture producing high-quality forage, and you have the perfect setup for high-quality bulls. Of course, you’re not going to be alone, as the state sees more than 200,000 hunters afield.

Those more than happy simply to go elk hunting and take home a couple hundred pounds of the world’s finest meat will notice the $100 fee increase for cow tags. Why? Elk populations have been carefully trimmed to at or near objectives in many places in the state. Colorado DOW has also recommended cutting 1,500 cow/either-sex rifle tags across the state. Places where herds remain above objective, such as the Gunnison Basin, will see more rifle tags available. For archery hunters there, over-the-counter licenses for units 54, 55 and 551 have been nixed. It’s all limited-entry now, as masses of bowhunters were pushing the elk onto private ranches where they remained the rest of the season.

In the west on the Uncomphagre Plateau, (GMU 61 to the west and 62 to the east) the best of both worlds awaits hunters. GMU 61 is a limited-draw area, while 62 sees quite a lot of hunters in this over-the-counter area. To help ensure the area stays full of elk and hunter opportunity, the Elk Foundation helped fund a habitat enhancement project, removing dense stands of pinyons and junipers. The scrubby pines proliferate due to fire suppression and choke out native grasses.

To get you started on the hunt or to jumpstart your to-do list for this season, check out DOW’s elk hunting videos on the web: http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos.

IDAHO
·       Elk Population: 101,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 25/100
·       Nonresidents: license $155, tag $417
·       Hunter Success: 20 percent
Since 2007, Idaho’s elk population has fallen by 24,000. And for the second year in a row, out-of-state tag revenues in the state have mirrored that trend. Hunters list wolves, the economy and nonresident tag prices as factors. This isn’t ideal for state wildlife coffers, but it could be ideal if you’re looking for elk hunting all to yourself.

Wolves have hit elk populations in the classic elk country of the Lolo, Sawtooth and Selway areas hard, and the state has capped tags. Bull:cow and cow:calf ratios are in tough shape, and the statewide population could fall below 100,000 for the first time in decades. But the declines are by no means across the board. 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.

It’s no secret that wolves can hammer elk populations, but the most lasting damage is done by the jaws of subdivisions and mini-malls devouring habitat. When conservation-minded landowners want to see their land protected, the Elk Foundation is there to help. Donna Standley’s 350-acre ranch in the northern panhandle provides year-round elk habitat and she wanted to see it stay that way forever. So in 2009, she placed her property in a conservation easement with the RMEF.

Those elk populations around Donna’s ranch, and along the western and southern borders of the state, continue to be strong. 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.

Visit fishandgame.idaho.gov.

MONTANA
·       Elk Population: 150,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 5-25/100
·       Nonresidents: $593
·       Hunter Success: 22 percent
There are plenty of elk in many pockets of Big Sky country. In fact, Montana continues to boast the second highest elk population of any state by a margin of 30,000 animals. But some populations have plummeted in the past five years. The northern Yellowstone herd is down to 6,000 animals from 19,000 in 1996. Areas north of Yellowstone National Park have seen permits cut and over-the-counter tags change to a draw. Populations in the West Fork of the Bitterroot River and the lower Clark Fork River are 60 percent below objective, with just 7 calves per 100 cows. All antlerless tags have been cut, and bulls will be hard to come by. Elk populations are well below objectives throughout much of Region 1 in the northwest. Hunters will find elk widely dispersed and wary throughout their traditional ranges in the western third of the state where wolves howl.

But the farther one goes east of the Continental Divide, the more elk appear. Most of the eastern portion of the state is 20 percent above population objectives. And the Elk Foundation is doing its part to ensure those herds continue to flourish. The RMEF helped fund prescribed burns in the rangeland and timbered coulees of the Musselshell Breaks in 2009 to improve forage on BLM land for elk and other wildlife. In ranges like the Tobacco Roots and Gravellys, elk populations are healthy. Hunters venturing into antelope country might do well to explore the Little Belt Mountains for elk. Also be on the lookout for new Elk B tags sold over the counter in some units with too many elk.

The big bulls are most definitely out there. A mild winter and moist spring should make for optimum antler growth. But it’s doubtful they’re going to run in front of your truck. Lace up those boots, hump a few miles in, and you’ll encounter elk on their terms.

Visit www.fwp.mt.gov.

NEVADA
·       Elk Population: 12,300
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 32/100
·       Nonresidents: $142 hunting license plus $1,200 tag
·       Hunter Success: 44 percent
This year’s “baby boomer” award goes to the land of craps tables and bordellos. In the past two years, the elk population there has grown nearly 30 percent. The opportunities for hunters to chase them have followed suit. A few hundred tags more than last year will be issued this season, for a total of 3,350. Ten percent of those tags go to nonresidents who are looking at pretty decent 1:44 odds to draw a bull tag.

Elk herds here grow as sagebrush and bitterbrush succumb to drought and wildfire. Then grass takes their place. The mule deer aren’t happy about it, but the elk love it. The quality of bulls in the harvest remains high with more than 67 percent of bulls reported being six points or better. Landowners seem content as well. The state’s Elk Management on Private Lands Program distributed 66 tags to property owners to do with as they wish. Estimated revenue generated from those tags topped nearly $500,000 for the landowners. So if you don’t draw in the lottery, you can always track down a landowner—though they may not take plastic.

Visit www.ndow.org/hunt.

NEW MEXICO
·       Elk Population: 75,000-95,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 42/100
·       Nonresidents: $27 nonrefundable fee to enter drawing, plus $562 standard bull tag or $787 quality bull tag
·       Hunter Success: 30 percent
With a little bit of everything, the Land of Enchantment allows hunters to stalk alpine elk during a blizzard or drop down to the Chihuahuan desert and sweat it out chasing wapiti through mirages. Most hunters though seem content enough to stay nestled right in-between in the mixed conifer and pinyon-juniper stands.

Last year’s harvest tallies were average, and the state picked up great winter moisture. The hills greened up nicely this spring, providing herds plenty of forage.

Out-of-staters looking to hunt here will find no over-the-counter tags. Those who didn’t draw may be able to contact a landowner for one of their tags (be ready to write a fairly hefty check). The state has no bonus or preference point system, so—love it or hate it—every year, everyone has the same chance. Residents get the bulk of the tags, 78 percent.

The state’s units are broken into “quality” and “opportunity” hunts. The former will get you a better chance at bigger bulls, but odds are steep. You can only apply for three units in one season. Looking for close to a sure thing? The state offers four Enhancement Tags. Some go to raffles, others go to auction. Money from the tags goes back on the ground for landscape-level projects, like those found on the Gila in the southwest. The Gila elk herds make up around 20,000 elk, and the RMEF is pitching in funds to help the Forest Service return fire to nearly 95,000 acres. Doing so will remove understory debris, improving the forage in this quality- management unit regularly producing bruiser bulls.

Visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us.

NORTH DAKOTA
·       Elk Population: 2,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: Not available
·       Nonresidents: One auction tag available
·       Hunter Success: 42 percent
Big news this year is the potential for culling elk inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park using park volunteers. With 950 elk, the park is looking to control elk populations, possibly killing 275 elk for the next five years to get populations between 100-400.

For the rest of the state’s elk, things are pretty much status-quo. Managers issued 561 tags—with 245 any-sex and 315 antlerless tags, the same as last year. Almost all hunting is now in the western Badlands, but elk may be moving south from Canada into the Turtle Mountains in the state’s north-central portion. No hunting is currently permitted there, but in the future anything can happen with the right habitat.

Visit www.gf.nd.gov/hunting.

OREGON
·       Elk Population: 120,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 15/100
·       Nonresidents: license $140, tag $500
·       Hunter Success: 13 percent
Due to budget constraints, biologists aren’t exactly sure how many elk they have as aerial surveys have been limited. But they think herd populations are stable. And this year, managers plan to issue nearly 1,000 more permits than last season.

OREGON BOW ELK SEASON BEGINS AUG. 28. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

Rocky Mountain elk dominate the east side of the Cascades while Roosevelt’s reign to the west. Most hunting in the steep and dark west is open to all comers with over-the-counter tags, while eastern Oregon is draw-only for rifle hunters. Bowhunters can still hunt most of the east side with a general tag. Those eastern elk have some new neighbors, as a couple wolf packs have established themselves in the northeast corner. Individual wolves are also dispersing into the state from Idaho.

A great new resource for both resident and nonresident hunters is an interactive map system (www.oregonhuntingmap.com). The map not only provides contours, Forest Service roads and trails, it also allows you to readily locate all the state’s wildlife management units and hunting access areas. It even includes a write-up for all access areas, along with a hunting report. Let’s hope every state gets on board with this one.

Visit www.dfw.state.or.us.

SOUTH DAKOTA
·       Elk Population: 5,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 75/100
·       Residents only
·       Hunter Success: 50 percent
So you want to hunt elk in South Dakota? If you don’t live there, better stick to pheasants, as elk tags are only available to residents. But as game managers look to build up herd numbers, you never know what the future may hold.

The state’s largest herd in the Black Hills National Forest numbered as many as 5,000 animals back in 2003. Aggressive management knocked that number down to the current 3,000. Public attitudes have shifted and there is once again a cry for more elk and more hunting opportunity. To reach a goal of 4,000 in the Hills, managers have had to cut rifle tags again this year to 1,065—a drop of 300 from last year. It’s all a means to an end, though, as “hunters want more elk, and I want more elk,” says Ted Benzon, big game biologist.

As part of a 12,000-acre, landscape-scale effort in the Black Hills, the Elk Foundation is working with landowners to protect their land from development. In 2010, the RMEF completed a 9-year effort to acquire 2,400 acres of private land adjacent to the Black Hills National Forest and Wind Cave National Park from willing landowners and transfer it to the Forest Service, forever protecting the finest elk country in the state snd creating 2,400 acres of new public land.

Unit 2, the state’s biggest unit, is managed as a trophy area. A third of the bulls killed are 6-points or better, some of them massive. In the past, the average has been 40-50 percent, and that’s what managers want to see again. Residents’ odds of hunting a bull in the Black Hills are a solid 1:10. If you pull a tag, make the most of it, as you have to wait nine years to apply again.

Want to hunt elk in your home state this year? Put in for a cow hunt as your first choice; you’ll get the tag.

Visit www.sdgfp.info/wildlife/hunting.

UTAH
·       Elk Population: 68,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 15-80/100
·       Nonresidents: $65 hunting license, plus $388 general tag, $795 limited-entry tag or $1,500 premium limited-entry tag
·       Hunter Success: 17 percent
Statewide, hunters kill bulls that average around 6½ years. At that age, you’re looking at a jaw-dropping wall-hanger or a nice-sized bull; it all depends on what the elk have been eating. Luckily, Utah has seen good moisture this past winter and spring, keeping the hills green and lush. Translation: healthy brutes with big headgear.

Before you start packing the truck, odds of drawing a limited-entry tag are going to be tough. Odds for residents to pull a limited-entry tag are 1:16. Nonresidents, 1:44. But as the state’s herd slowly grows, so grows tag availability. Consider that in 2003, there were around 60,000 elk and 86 nonresident, limited-entry tags. Now, with 68,000 elk there are three times as many tags available.

It’s going to be a tough draw for the most popular units, such as San Juan and Fillmore Pahvant, but there are over-the-counter options out there, especially for archery hunters who are willing to hike into wilderness. With an any-bull tag in their pocket, hardcore backcountry archers just might find the big boys without the big crowds.

Visit wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/hunting.html.

WASHINGTON
·       Elk Population: 55,000-60,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 12-20/100 in most units
·       Nonresidents: $432
·       Hunter Success: 8 percent
With more hunters per elk than any other state, you’d think the state’s woods would be overrun. Well, if you’re hunting near a road, they probably are. Venture five miles behind a gate or into wilderness, and chances are you’ll have the place all to yourself—except for all the elk of course. Managers help control densities by making hunters choose either westside Roosevelt’s or eastside Rocky Mountain elk. Both hunters and elk are split about 50/50.

Generally, herd numbers are stable this season, as they are coming off a very mild winter. Traditionally an elk stronghold, the Yakima herd has seen a drop in recruitment, thus special permits for both branch-antlered bulls and cows have been cut 30-40 percent. Good news, though, for that herd and others in the area between Yakima and Wenatchee. Thanks in part to facilitation from the Elk Foundation, the state swapped 21,000 acres of checkboarded land for 82,000 acres of private timberland. Both properties were valued at $56.5 million. The final product: 61,000 acres open to all as a new state forest.

While it may take some time for the Yakima herd to rebound, the state has plenty of other hot spots like the classic elk country of the Blue Mountains. This area in the southeast corner has seen an increase in bull permits the last few years. The southwest is another winner for OTC permits, especially on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Mt. St. Helens where managers are trying to knock down herd numbers.

CALLIE GUYOTA WITH ANICE WESTERN WASHINGTON ROOSEVELT. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

And finally, wolves have established at least two confirmed packs on the eastside. After three years of crafting, with much citizen input, the Division of Fish and Wildlife plans to submit a final wolf management plan to the State Fish and Wildlife Commission this fall.

Visit wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/.

WYOMING
·       Elk Population 120,000
·       Bull/Cow Ratio: 23/100
·       Nonresidents: $577 for permit, $288 for cow-calf permit, $1,057 for special permit
·       Hunter Success: 43 percent
It’s true. Some places in Wyoming have seen significant 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. That area is home to the Shoshone National Forest where aspens are losing ground to encroaching conifers because of fire suppression. To give elk a boost, the RMEF helped pay for conifer removal across aspen stands in the greatest danger of disappearing. The landscape around Jackson Hole and the Gros Ventre and Teton Wilderness Areas will see tightened seasons and antler-point restrictions to try
and boost bull-cow and cow-calf ratios.

But outside the northwest corner, the state’s cup runneth over with elk, with the population up 15,000 from last year and many units far above their population objectives. The statewide objective is 80,000 elk. That’s 40,000 less than where the herd now stands. You’ll be hard pressed to find better odds of filling the freezer with a choice cow, and the state expects to have lots of leftover antlerless licenses. Aggressive seasons have been set in many places, including the Snowy Range, Laramie Peak and Sierra Madre.

Last year, the state shifted to a first-come/first-served online licensing system. Out-of-staters can now search for leftover licenses without having to wait in line (in Wyoming) for reduced and full-price tags. For those more interested in hunting bulls, the state allots 16 percent of its limited quota and general licenses to nonresidents. If you’re holding one of those tags, you have a very real chance of taking the bull of a lifetime. As always, regional wildlife managers offer great insights. After all, they’re the ones on the ground day in and day out.

Visit gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/hunting.

ELK ON THE TURNBULL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE OUTSIDE SPOKANE WILL BE HUNTED FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS FALL; 73 SPECIAL PERMITS WERE AVAILABLE THROUGH A DRAWING. (TURNBULL NWR)

For prospects in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentuck, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Yukon Territory, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania, please see RMEF’s full forecast.

The organization has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.8 million acres, as well as works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

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