Hunting Wyoming: Big Horn County Has Whitetails Down Low, Elk Up High

Outdoors writer Mark Heinz is doing a series on hunting in all 23 counties in Wyoming. In Big Horn County, there's a good mixture of lowland habitat for upland game birds, waterfowl and whitetail deer, while mountain slopes are teeming with elk.

Mark Heinz

November 20, 20234 min read

Hunting county big horn

Like neighboring Park County, Big Horn County has a good mixture of lowland habitat for upland game birds, waterfowl and whitetail deer, and mountain slopes teeming with elk.

One of the county’s gems is the Yellowtail Wildlife Habitat Management Area near Lovell. Yellowtail Reservoir draws in ducks and geese, and the dryland sections host pheasants, turkeys and whitetail deer.

Yellowtail sits at the base of the Bighorn Mountains – which have healthy herds of elk running from the Montana state line southward the entire length of Big Horn County.

Whitetail Invasion

Local hunter Sean Miller said the deer hunting – for whitetails and mule deer – has been slow this year.

“I went out and saw only one little mule deer buck and three mule deer does,” he said. “From what I’m hearing people have been slaying mostly tires and fuel.”

Miller has spent a lot of time hunting in Big Horn County. He grew up in neighboring Washakie County and works in the sporting goods section at the Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply store in Powell.

Big Horn County has always had a reputation for great deer hunting, he said.

He recalls that when he was growing up, it was mostly mule deer. But whitetail have since taken over many places. Though smaller than mule deer, whitetail are more aggressive about taking territory and are prolific breeders.

“Last year, I shot a whitetail buck all the way up on top of the Bighorns,” he said.

Elk In The Bighorns

Just about anywhere along the slope of the Bighorns is good for elk, Miller said. It’s a matter of finding the herd and avoiding the crowds.

Cow elk tags are plentiful. There also are a good number of bulls, but the Bighorns don’t have a reputation for breeding monster trophy bull elk, he said.

“There are some fairly nice bulls up there, but I think you’d be hard pressed if you’re a serious trophy bull elk hunter,” he said.

Getting Birdy

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department regularly stocks pheasants in the Yellowtail area and elsewhere in Big Horn County, Miller said.

“I’ve had a lot of people coming into the store telling me that’s the pheasant hunting has been great this year,” he said.

The waterfowl hunting has been off to a slow start, he added. Possibly because of relatively warm weather, ducks migrating in from up north haven’t been showing up in mobs yet at Yellowtail.

“The geese have been around, but the ducks haven’t really started coming in yet,” he said.

Other Hunting Wyoming Features

Hunting Wyoming: Park County Retains Great Big Game, As Well As Bird Hunting

Hunting Wyoming: Sheridan County Deer And Antelope Down, But Elk Thrive

Hunting Wyoming: Johnson County Busting At The Seams With Elk, Not So Much Deer

Hunting Wyoming: Campbell County Known For Antelope — If You Can Get To Them

Hunting Wyoming: Elk Doing Well in Sweetwater County, But Deer, Antelope Down

Hunting Wyoming: Weston County Famous For Its Mountain Lions And Turkeys

Hunting Wyoming: Winterkill Hits Carbon County’s Trophy Herds Hard

Hunting Wyoming: Albany County Waits For Cooler Temps To Heat Up Hunting

Hunting Wyoming: Fremont County Great For Elk, If You’re Willing To Work For It

Hunting Wyoming: Teton County Has Great Outlook – Just Watch For Grizzlies

Hunting Wyoming: Elk Superb, Deer And Antelope Down In Sublette County

Hunting Wyoming: Come For the Big Game, Stay For The Birds In Natrona County

Hunting Wyoming: Larmie County Thick With Antelope, Small Game

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter