Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

The Wyoming outdoors report


April 20, 2016

Courtesy Ten Sleep Fishery

Adam Leiferman of Ten Sleep Fish Hatchery stocks Yellowstone Cutthroat in Desmet Lake.

Fish Stocking

WORLAND- The Wyoming Fish and Game has begun their restocking efforts for the spring and summer. Firehole rainbow, Yellowstone cutthroat and brown trout from the Ten Sleep Hatchery, Clark's Fork Hatchery and Tillett Rearing Station will be used to fill Horseshoe Reservoir, Beck Lake, South Worland Pond, South Fork Dike Pond and Irma Mitigation Pond.

Below is the stock information (Location, numbers, species and length)

Horseshoe Reservoir, 495 firehole rainbow, length 12.23

Beck Lake, 353 Yellowstone cutthroat, length 22.83

South Worland Pond, 303 Yellowstone cutthroat, length 21.20

South Fork Dike Pond, 11696 Yellowstone cutthroat, length 6.20

Diamond Creek Dike Pond, 3400 Yellowstone cutthroat, length 6.11

Big Wash Pond, 502 brown trout length, 6.74

Irma Mitigation Pond, Yellowstone cutthroat, length 6.11

Spring turkey hunting forecasted

CHEYENNE - "Snowstorm one day, heat wave the next..." spring has arrived in the Cowboy state.  Not only does this time of year see the return of migratory birds, but it's also a time for hunters to return to the field after a winter sabbatical. However, it is not the call of a songbird, rather the lusty gobble of a big tom turkey that ushers in the spring hunt.  Spring hunting seasons for wild turkey are now open in all hunt areas.

Sundance game warden, Chris Teter, reports while bird numbers are down a bit, there seem to be enough around for those who showed up to hunt. "Opening weekend was really slow as far as what I saw for hunters, but just about everywhere I went, I saw a few birds around," He reported.

Game and Fish's wildlife biologist for the Black Hills, Joe Sandrini, agreed noting, "Our turkey numbers are probably a little better than half of what they were when we peaked five or six years ago, but poult production the past two years has helped us begin to rebound."

Hunter harvest data, which is one of the main ways the Wyoming Game and Fish Department tracks turkey populations, indicates participation in spring turkey hunting declined about 25 percent between 2010 and 2014, as a tough winter and several years of poor reproduction caused turkey numbers to drop statewide. The change was even more notable in the Black Hills where spring hunter numbers decreased approximately 50 percent in the face of a 60 percent dip in the wild turkey population according to Sandrini.

"Bird hunters sort of regulate themselves," Sandrini professed.  He added, "When the numbers of wild turkeys decline, fewer hunters show up to hunt; but it takes about a year or so for hunter numbers to tick up or down as the bird population fluctuates. The state has seen an overall change in the direction wild turkey populations are headed, and I am expecting a few more hunters to show up this year."

And, while the best public land spring turkey hunting prospects are found in the Black Hills, General license spring hunting opportunities are available in all five of the State's wild turkey hunt areas.

Sandrini, who also heads the Game and Fish's wild turkey working group, added, "Wild turkey populations in much of the state have followed a pattern similar to that in the Black Hills, but some areas have rebounded a bit more, with good numbers of birds being reported in locations around the Big Horn Basin and in southeast Wyoming." He added, "In these areas, and along the east front of the Bighorns, fairly decent hunting can be found; but most of the birds are on private land."  As such, he reminds hunters to seek permission ahead of time to take advantage of this resource. Hunters are also reminded to check the regulations before they head out, including the requirement to purchase a 2016 Conservation Stamp if they need one.

Spring turkey hunting can be very rewarding, even if you don't connect. Collin Smith, regional biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation, mentioned that it has often been likened to hunting bull elk in the rut. The call, the response, and the heart pounding action as a bold dominate male makes his appearance – challenging all comers. "There is nothing quite like it in terms of excitement and anticipation," he said.

And while turkey hunting is a very safe sport, because hunters are camouflaged, attempting to call birds and often use decoys and blinds, Smith noted that safe hunting practices need to be followed; and he encouraged hunters to look at the hunting and safety tips the Wild Turkey Federation posts on their website.

Spring turkey hunting is a great way to get back out in Wyoming's great outdoors and experience a thrilling hunt. As nature begins to renew itself, start off your 2016 hunt year chasing the largest game bird in the State.

Grizzly bear tracks verified northeast of Cody

CODY- Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel recently verified grizzly bear tracks on the west side of the McCullough Peaks northeast of Cody.

Bear Wise Wyoming Coordinator Dusty Lasseter said this is an area where Game and Fish would not typically expect to see grizzly bear activity and asks the public to maintain awareness when recreating in the area. 

 "This is another indication of a healthy and recovered grizzly population. As grizzly bear populations continue to grow and increase in distribution, people should be aware that they may see bears in areas they normally would not expect to see bears.  As always, it is imperative to report grizzly bear activity and conflicts to Game and Fish," Lasseter said.

"This is the time year when we typically see increasing black bear and grizzly bear activity at lower elevations in areas surrounding Cody," Lasseter said.  "Outdoor enthusiasts are reminded to be bear aware and take preventative action to avoid conflicts with bears."

Outdoorsmen should remain alert and watch for evidence of bear activity such as tracks, scat, and diggings. Hikers, fisherman, antler hunters, or anyone else recreating in areas that could be occupied by bears should take precautions, travel in groups and carry a deterrent such as commercially available bear spray.  Bears observed in or near residential areas should be immediately reported to your local Game and Fish office.


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