SHERIDAN — The start of hunting season means game wardens’ schedules become a little more hectic, especially come Oct. 15 when several seasons open wide for deer and elk hunters.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department game warden Dustin Shorma said the season is chugging along. Archery seasons for elk have come and gone, but rifle season for elk and deer starts Oct. 15 in nearby hunt areas.
WGFD public information specialist for the Sheridan region Bud Stewart said the department sets seasons to harvest a certain number of animals in a particular area.
To help regulate certain areas, WGFD will extend seasons beyond normal. This year, the cow elk season was extended in Hunt Area 36, reaching southern Sheridan County and northern portions of Johnson County. Hunters will be able to rifle-hunt for cow elk until Dec. 31, extending two weeks past last year’s season.
Stewart said overall a successful hunting season includes harvesting a variety of ages of game.
Overall, both Stewart and Shorma foresee a fairly normal hunting season. Stewart said the WGFD Sheridan office fielded a few calls expressing concerns from hunters struggling to find public lands on which to hunt. Stewart said they do warn hunters that access to some areas can be difficult.
Shorma and Stewart reported seeing healthy animals and trophy deer. Shorma reported happy hunters pleased with the quality of animals harvested.
Weather also plays a part in the enjoyment and success of hunters throughout the season. Shorma said hunting seasons might see some overly warm, 90-degree days, but this season has stayed mild. Other than rain making it difficult to get around sometimes, Shorma said the weather conditions have been conducive and comfortable.
While most individuals are law-abiding, ethical hunters, there are those who do not always follow the rules. Shorma said he has experienced somewhat of a heavier season of paperwork due to hunters not following season regulations. He said while he hasn’t written tickets to every hunter he’s seen, this season has included some egregious incidents WGFD is still working to resolve. One of the bigger issues wardens run into are hunters not understanding the regulations that come with purchasing a particular license. WGFD provides extensive literature online for each season, but sometimes wading through the paperwork proves confusing.
“We try to not have very complex seasons, but our season structure is designed to reduce wildlife damage like specifically with whitetail deer,” Shorma said. “If you buy a license, make sure you know what that license is good for.”
For those still confused about regulations, Shorma encouraged them to call a local game warden for a rundown on the rules.
Shorma also sees hunters become frustrated or not thinking clearly before taking a shot.
“Honestly, I think people get buck fever and common sense goes out the door and they go into primeval, reptilian brain mode,” Shorma said.
He’ll write tickets for hunters shooting on the road or out the window of a truck. He said he believes they often just don’t think before reacting to the game that sits right in front of them.
Game wardens know mistakes happen during the hunting season. Shorma encouraged hunters to just call if issues arise. They might not be immediately available, but they make a point to return calls.