Contributors to this thread:
Wyo antelope numbers
I took a drive through Central-South Central Wyo last weekend and was somewhat shocked at the few antelope I saw. Where I used to see hundreds there were only a few scattered groups. I was wondering if anyone else has noticed this?
They've had relatively mild winters the last few years but I'm blaming the drought for a large chunk if it. I imagine fawn recruitment has been super low the past couple years in response to the drought. I don't think predators could impact herd numbers that severely but imagine they haven't helped.
After my drive I was happy that WG&F cut tag numbers in most of those units this year. Even though I saw quite a few fawns I have a feeling tag numbers will remain low in those units in 2015. Just keep your fingers crossed there isn't a severe winter or antelope numbers could plummet!
I think you are spot on. I discussed this with BB and it was his thought that the drought has been hard on them. He explained to me how few fawns he saw last year and the year before if not mistaken BUT he also told me that he saw quite a few does with fawns this year.
I think the daily stress of constantly hearing about global warming and climate change has affected the breeding and family dynamics of the little antelope families . Unemployment and drug and alcohol abuse have hit the younger bucks pretty bad in that area also. Instead of providing for their families , they herd up and head to the Indian gaming establishments and end up losing what little they have.
The does stay at home and are constantly under stress. They don't know if tomorrow brings continued drought, fires, tornados, polar vortexes, hurricanes, or flooding.
It's just hard to have good fawn recruitment with conditions like this.
Gobbler I wish I wrote that
The apparent lack of left over tags in 26 according to the outfitted speaks volumes
Pete lower tag numbers leave less leftovers
I was there a couple weeks ago and I noticed pretty much the same thing. This was the first time I had been out in the middle of summer. I usually see all kinds of antelope in the high desert and plains, but this year saw few to none. I did see several groups when I got to the upper ends of river/stream valleys at a little higher elevation. Maybe this is normal for time of year?
Antelope usually concentrate around water during the summer. I've been seeing antelope but not near the numbers around water. Depending on the area...in super droughty years they may need to head higher to find water and feed.
Here in Colo I noticed that antelope in the NW corner of the state near Craig pretty much moved from BLM to adjacent large acreage subdivisions closer to town where there was stock tanks and water. You can drive miles and miles in units 2, 3 and 301 without hardly seeing an antelope on BLM. Once you get closer to Craig where there is water there are antelope all over the place. Around 15 years ago the BLM West and North of Craig was overloaded with antelope and now there are hardly any. Extreme winters, drought, and predators really took a toll on antelope there and their numbers on BLM have never returned....thus a fraction of tags once issued. I sure hope this doesn't happen in Wyo!
How is the winter looking at helping/not helping the antelope numbers in Wyoming?
I am assuming it is pretty early to tell as far as how much winter will harm. My guess is it will be more apparent by late January.
Where are you planning on hunting Bear Track?
Last fall (2014) we saw far more Antelope than the previous fall (2013) and most of the Does had twins with some even having triplets, so I believe the numbers are starting to rebound but it will be another year or 2 maybe more before we see the numbers we are all use to seeing.
The opposite could be said of all the stinking Wild Horses up in this part of the state.
We need a wild horse hunt, MT, Co, Wy, NV and whereever else this non-native species is endangering the native flora and fauna.
Is the wild horse problem due to the price if feed and the low market price for horses? Have people just turned horses loose instead of feeding them?
Rock, same in Colorado too, saw quite a few triplets. I think weather and the fact mange is in full effect is helping out.
Wild horses do effect the land and most of the antelope range is grazed by livestock of some sort but that still is not the problem. Here in Wyoming there has been a epidemic of blue tounge or hemorrhagic fever in the last 5 years with the worst year being two years ago 2013. This effected our whitetail numbers throughout the state also. I travel across the state for work every two weeks and in the last month the bigger herds of goats are starting to be visible as winter has set in for for a little while. I think last years fawn crop will help but we need a few more good years to recover.
Vernon Edeler, are you saying that blue tounge or hemorrhagic fever affects Antelope and is responsible for the low numbers?
When I was stopped by a warden this fall while hunting in the central portion of the state, he was rejoicing at all of the moisture and the great fawn crop. He stated that the previous year much of the state had experienced nearly 100% mortality with the fawn crop. The does were so stressed that they kicked the fawns off long before they could survive on their own. He said that most of the does had twins or even triplets in spring 2014 and the state needed 2 more years of near normal precipitation to really see a significant rebound in numbers.
I think the last to summers have been great for the herd in Wyoming. Lots of rain....tough on hunting but great for the herd. Hopefully we get another good year. I am hoping that there are periods just dry enough to help out those hunting but that overall the animals are not stressed in the least and have plenty of water.
Having only antelope hunted one time in my life, my experience is extremely limited. I hunted Spearhead Ranch the 1st week of September. On the drive to and from Douglas I lost count of how many antelope I saw. But, I would say it was many hundreds. During my 5 day hunt, the worst day I only saw 1. My best day I saw 36. The vast majority of the antelope I saw were does and fawns. The does all seemed to have twins with a few triplets thrown in. I was surprised when our guides told us the antelope numbers were down. I think all the other guys in camp that week felt the same. I commented to the guides that if antelope numbers are down, I would love to see them when they are good.
I was there a week ago and saw a few. Here's a group of about 150
I did stress them a bit and there is one doe missing from the herd in that last shot ;) This is my favorite shot of the year, not much of a challenging bloodtrail. Still got one more tag, gotta love december lope hunting!
What about mining practices? When I was last there two years ago the rancher was going to sell water for fracking. The first year I hunted there was 2004 or 2005 and the landscape was littered with pronghorn and they were slowly declining since then. By 2012 they were getting to be pretty scarce and the ranch that had been in operation since the 80's took no hunters last year. They used to take in 30-40 bowhunters every year. I don't really know about the entire state, since this area is between Gillete and Douglas. But it just seemed to be more and more mining activity going on and I wonder how that affects their winter/summer migration patterns. I do know the deer were hit pretty hard with EHD in 2011/2012, primarily the whitetails. We found several full racks/skulls in the Cheyenne river bottoms, where the years before we never found any.
Rock yes I am saying EHD had a big effect on antelope. It is not the sole reason but it played a big part in antelope numbers declining.
A close friend of mine was (he died a untimely death almost a year ago) the G&F biologist here in Northern WY for the last 20 years and had been tracking such things. Just in this area during the bad years EHD was around 30% cause of antelope die off. Knife2sharp is very correct in 2012 and 2013 EHD killed alot of game here in WY and if it is killing the deer then antelope are dyeing also.
The mining practices for sure have some effect on all wild things but not enough to make a drastic impact in such a short time.
OTCWill - That is a sweet pic. An actual "you might be an idiot" blood trail. What broadhead were you using?
Regardless, I'm burning my 4 points on my last Antelope Bowhunt. I told my buddy, you gotta drive yourself cause I'm staying until I kill a Buck or the season closes (No Does for me). Will be public land, we just haven't decided on a unit yet..
I had the chance to spend several weeks hunting Wyo elk and antelope this year and came to the same conclusionas what I noticed last summer. Antelope numbers seem to be down from previous years. There was more moisture this year than for a long time. From what I saw fawn recruitment was up this year and antelope where I spent time likely went into the winter in great shape. There has been decent moisture off and on this fall and winter that ought to also help. Just keep your fingers crossed that there isn't deep, crusty snow through the remainder of the winter/early spring.
I actually drew a premier antelope unit in Central Wyo this year. Although buck numbers were fairly good I hardly saw any bucks that got me excited. In fact, I've been more excited about bucks I saw in 2nd choice units in year's past compared to the mediocre quality of bucks I saw this year. Hopefully things improve in the near future!
OTCWill - I have a pic like that :) Hope the numbers rebound again over the next couple years. Want to get back out there and hunt pronghorn again with my Dad while I can still talk him into it! Pete