A Wyoming bison hunt is an experience that many hunters will not get to experience but when they do they will never forget this hunt. The Bison is a majestic animal and have been hunted since the days of early settlers in Wyoming. The following article describes Wyoming bison hunting, as well as what to expect while on a Wyoming bison hunt.
Table of Contents
- Bison Vs. Buffalo: What’s the Difference?
- Free Range Wyoming Bison Hunting
- Wyoming Bison Hunting Season
- How To Get A Bison Tag In Wyoming
- Where Can I Hunt Buffalo In Wyoming
- What To Expect On A Wyoming Bison Hunt
- Tips For The Best Wyoming Bison Hunt Experience
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions
Bison Vs. Buffalo: What’s the Difference?
The terms bison and buffalo are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two animals. Bison are actually a subspecies of buffalo. The main difference between the two is that bison are found in North America while buffalo are found in Africa and Asia. However, for this article, I will be interchanging the two terms.
Free Range Wyoming Bison Hunting
Wyoming is home to a large population of bison, and this provides one of the only opportunities for hunters to take part in a free-range buffalo hunt in the United States. The bison population in Wyoming has been managed carefully over the years to ensure that there is a healthy herd, and this has resulted in some of the best bison hunting in the country.
Wyoming Bison Hunting Season
The Wyoming bison hunting season typically runs from August 15th to January 31. However, this hunt does have some restrictions on where you can hunt. Hunters can expect to see a good number of trophy bulls during this time, but you must pay attention to where the buffalo are so you are not hunting in a restricted area.
How To Get A Bison Tag In Wyoming
Wyoming is one of only a handful of states in the US where bison hunting is still allowed. The state issues a limited number of bison tags each year for the Wyoming buffalo hunting season, and the demand for these tags is high.
- If you’re interested in hunting free-ranging, wild bison in Wyoming, you must enter the Wyoming bison tag lottery. The lottery is held each year, and applications can be submitted between March 1 and March 31 each year. Please remember that applications must be entered by 5 pm Mountain Time on the 31st in order to be entered.
- Wyoming residents have a better chance of being drawn for a bison tag than non-residents due to a higher tag quota, but both groups are given an opportunity through the random drawing.
- Wyoming Game and Fish does not offer preference points for buffalo tags.
What Does A Wyoming Bison Tag Cost?
If you are drawn for a Wyoming bison tag, the cost varies based on residency status and the type of tag you draw.
Costs As Of 2022
- Nonresident Any Bison Tag – $4,402.00 (In addition, there is a $15.00 application fee).
- Nonresident Cow/Calf Bison Tag – $2,752.00 (In addition, there is a $15.00 application fee).
- Resident Any Bison Tag – $414.00 (In addition, there is a $5.00 application fee).
- Resident Cow/Calf Bison Tag – $260.00 (In addition, there is a $5.00 application fee).
Types Of Bison Tags In Wyoming
Wyoming offers two types of bison tags- Any Bison and Cow/Calf.
- The Any Bison tag allows the harvest of either a bull or cow bison. This is the Type 1 Tag. According to Wyoming statute, if a hunter is successful in harvesting a Bull they become ineligible to draw the Type 1 tag again. This makes this a once in a lifetime tag for successful hunters. However, if the hunter harvests a female or calf, they become ineligible to draw a Type 4 tag for five years.
- A Cow/Calf tag is only valid for the harvest of a cow bison or a calf. This is the Type 4 Tag. According to Wyoming statute, if a hunter is successful in harvesting a female or calf, they become ineligible to draw a Type 4 or Type 1 tag for five years.
Wyoming Buffalo Hunt Draw Odds
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department maintains a webpage that includes a helpful section that lists draw odds back to 2010. The 2021 draw odds were as follows:
- Any Bison Tag – 6.05%
- Cow/Calf Bison Tag – 15.15%
- Any Bison Tag – 7.55%
- Cow/Calf Bison Tag – 6.04%
Where Can I Hunt Buffalo In Wyoming
Public Land Hunting
Most Buffalo hunting in Wyoming takes place on Bridger-Teton National Forest and National Elk Refuge. Most bison will stay in Grand Teton National Park where they are safe for most of the hunting season. Occasionally throughout the season bison, typically bulls, will cross onto lands where hunting is permitted. Cows, calves, and trophy bulls sometimes wonder onto the National Elk Refuge very late in the season. Make sure you are familiar with all of the boundaries and seasonal closures of the land management agencies. This will keep your buffalo hunt legal.
Private Land Hunting
There are some opportunities to hunt on private land but they are VERY rare. On occasion, landowners will contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Jackson Regional Office (WGF-JRO) to arrange for some limited hunting opportunity.
Hunting on private lands can only be done if the hunter has landowner permission.
Grand Teton National Park
Hunting in Grand Teton National Park is PROHIBITED at all times and this includes buffalo hunting.
National Elk Refuge
You MUST Obtain a Permission Slip To Hunt the Elk Refuge: These permission slips are only issued on a limited draw basis for hunting from August 15th – December 31st.
The application period for permission slips is as follows:
- July 12th – 28th (for the August 15th – November 2nd hunt period)
- August 1st – September 22nd (for the November 2nd – December 31st hunt periods).
If you are drawn for a permission slip, they can be printed starting on July 30th for the first draw. Permission slips for the second draw are available to print on September 24th. In addition, any leftover permission slips from this second draw are available starting September 24th beginning at 8:00 a.m M.S.T on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Permission Slips For January 1st to the 31st:
Due to seasonal closures for snow and feeding of elk, permission slips for this time period are only issued on a daily basis. These permission slips are issued by the Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s Jackson Regional Office (307-733-2321).
What To Expect On A Wyoming Bison Hunt
Wyoming bison hunts are conducted during the fall and winter months when the animals are typically concentrated in lower elevation winter range. The majority of Wyoming bison hunts take place on public land. Most Wyoming bison hunters use rifles, but a few hunt with bows or muzzleloaders.
These animals are much larger than most people imagine and recovering one if you are successful is very difficult. It may be necessary to contact an outfitter to help you with recovery. Currently, there is only one approved outfitter that can do recoveries on the elk refuge. I would recommend that you contact Tag’NDrag and let them know you will be hunting so they can plan meat recovery efforts.
Tips For The Best Wyoming Bison Hunt Experience
The best way to increase your chances for success on a Wyoming bison hunt is to:
- If you are not comfortable trying this hunt by yourself, use a reputable outfitter that knows the areas well and can place you in the right spot.
- Scout the area prior to your hunt. This can include talking to the local biologist and hunters from previous seasons. Doing this will help you know where the herds are likely to be during hunting season.
- Be in good physical shape. Wyoming bison hunts are often long, may be conducted on horseback, and are physically demanding.
- Have a good rifle or bow and know how to use it. Wyoming bison are large animals and you will need a weapon that can take down a buffalo.
- Be patient. Wyoming bison hunts can sometimes be long, so it is important to be prepared for a lengthy hunt.
- Be prepared for the weather. Wyoming can have extreme weather conditions, so be sure to pack appropriate clothing.
- Have a good attitude. Wyoming bison hunts are challenging, but they are also very rewarding. The key is to enjoy the experience and be patient.
With these tips in mind, you will be well on your way to having a successful Wyoming bison hunt. So get out there and enjoy the challenge of hunting one of America’s great animals.
Wyoming buffalo hunts are challenging, but they’re also very rewarding. Wyoming is one of the last remaining states in America where it’s legal to hunt free-range, wild bison on public land and this presents a unique opportunity for hunters who have dreamed of taking down one of these majestic animals since childhood. Buffalo hunting requires more than luck; you’ll need physical fitness, patience, and the proper equipment. But if you’re up for the challenge, Wyoming buffalo hunts can be an experience you’ll never forget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a bison season in Wyoming?
Yes, Wyoming has a bison hunting season that runs from August 15th to January 31st.
Can you hunt bison in Wyoming?
Yes, Wyoming is one of the last remaining states in America where it’s legal to hunt free-range, wild bison on public land.
Where can I hunt buffalo in Wyoming?
There are many ranches in Wyoming that offer buffalo hunts but they are not wild buffalo. Wild buffalo can be hunted in Teton County in the Bridger Teton National Forest and The National Elk Refuge.
How much is a bison hunt?
The cost of bison hunts in Wyoming can range from a few hundred dollars for a DIW hunt to several thousand, depending on the outfitter you choose and the type of hunt you want.
Are there any wild buffalo in Wyoming?
Yes, Wyoming is home to the largest population of free-ranging, wild bison in the United States. The majority of Wyoming bison are found in Teton County in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the National Elk Refuge.
How much is a bison tag in Wyoming?
A bison tag costs between $260 and $4402 depending on the tag type and residency staus of the hunter.
What do you hunt bison with?
The best weapon to hunt bison with is a high-powered rifle or a bow. Wyoming bison are large animals and you will need a weapon that can take down a buffalo.
Can you eat bison meat?
Yes, bison meat is lean and nutritious. It is often considered a healthier alternative to beef.
Is Wyoming bison hunting dangerous?
Wyoming bison hunts can be dangerous if you are not prepared. Wyoming bison are large, wild animals and they can be unpredictable. It is important to be in good physical shape and have the proper equipment before embarking on a Wyoming bison hunt.
What are the chances of success on a Wyoming bison hunt?
The success rate for Wyoming bison hunts varies depending on the outfitter you choose and the type of hunt you want. However, the general success rate for Wyoming bison hunts is between 30 and 40 percent.
How many buffalo tags are in Wyoming?
The number of tags is determined each year by Game and Fish depending on herd size and carrying capicity.
How do I get a buffalo tag in Wyoming?
You can apply for a Wyoming bison tag through the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Featured Photo by Jonathan Mast on Unsplash