By Mark Heinz, outdoors reporter
Blazing heat during the opening week of many of Wyoming’s archery seasons has made hunting more difficult, but shouldn’t ruin it, some hunters and a Wyoming Game and Fish Department official said.
“Heck, it’s going to be 95 degrees today, at least down here in town; it’s probably a little cooler up in the mountains,” archery hunter Josh Masek of Lander told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.
Temperatures across the state soared into the 80s and 90s, even as many archery seasons for elk and other big game opened on Sept. 1. Temperatures remained unseasonably high on Tuesday.
Masek said he frequently hunts in the Wind River Mountains this time of year but has opted to wait it out so far.
“First, I don’t want to run the risk of spoiling the meat. And also, I just don’t want to hunt in this heat, said Masek, who is the general manager of the Wind River Outdoor Company in Lander.
Cade Maestas said he has heard a few success stories, despite the scorching temperatures. He’s an avid hunter and the co-owner of the Maven Outdoor Equipment Company in Lander.
“You need to modify your tactics to water holes and wallows, and getting the meat taken care of is even more imperative than in cooler temperatures,” he said in a text message to Cowboy State Daily. “But people are having success already this season, so it is possible.”
Staking out near wallows can be a wise hot-weather tactic for early season archery hunters, according to some tips posted online by the National Rifle Association’s American Hunter magazine. Wallows are areas where seeping from streams creates bogs and mud holes. Elk like to cool off by laying down in soggy spots or rolling in the mud.
Elk are likely to stay at higher elevations or hunker down in thick timber when it gets too hot, Masek said.
“Generally speaking, the animals just go into the deepest, darkest forests they can find,” he said.
Keep The Meat Cool
Planning ahead will pay off for hunters who make kills during the heat wave, Wyoming Game and Fish Department public information officer Sara DiRienzo said in an email to Cowboy State Daily.
“That means having coolers with ice, game bags and help ready from friends to pack out all edible portions of meat quickly,” she said. “Hunters must take the meat from the front quarters as far down as the knees, meat from the hindquarters as far down as the hocks, and the meat along the backbone between the neck and hindquarters including the loins and tenderloins, excluding meat on the ribs and neck.”
It’s best to skin the carcass, hang meat in shady spots and perhaps cool it with water from streams, DiRienzo said.
And keep evidence of the game animal’s sex readily available for game wardens to inspect, she said. That could include such things as external sex organs, or the head and antlers.