Biologists with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are deeply concerned about our state’s wild residents this year. The spring and summer months have been hotter and drier than they’ve been in a long time, and wildlife have a tough time making a living even in good years. Even if we don’t get a brutal winter, it’s pretty likely we’re going to lose a lot of deer, elk and antelope before next spring comes around.
There’s just not much food out there for the big game species that live here. Even more troubling is the lack of water. One strategy hunters often use is to stake out water holes, where the animals will likely show up at some point in the day.
But doing that can be hard on the herds. It will certainly make it easier for you to get your animal, especially in a drought year, when those water holes are fewer and farther between. And if you put an arrow or a bullet in an antelope, that critter’s not going to care that there was a human sitting there when it came to get a drink. But all the other animals in that herd will be disturbed by your activity, and some of them might not make it to the next water hole.
Make sure if you camp in the backcountry that you set up your camp well away from springs, streams and other water sources, too, and you should make sure your camp isn’t near a trail that leads to a water hole. Going into the winter, the animals that don’t get harvested need to save up as much energy and fat as possible, but if they have to go miles out of their way to get to water, they’ll be at a severe disadvantage when the weather turns colder and the snow starts to fly.
Do your part to ensure we have plenty of big game animals to hunt next year. Don’t go for the easy pickings at the water hole.