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.
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.
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.
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Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.