My first question is if someone would be willing to help a guy out in exchange for some hunting/fishing here in South Dakota.
I am not a spring chicken but still young enough to wait a few years and apply for preference points for a better unit.
Basically I am looking for a hunting buddy to help me out. THanks guys!
One thing to consider is that Wyoming doesn't have many (maybe not any?) mule deer tags that are only good for archery. In most cases you need to draw an any weapon tag and then for a small extra fee you can hunt the archery season, which comes before the rifle season (usually the special archery season is in September). Because of this it makes it relatively difficult to draw a tag since you are competing with all the rifle hunters.
Wyoming also has both general and limited quota tags. The general consensus recently is that the general region G and region H tags are at least as good as the limited quota tags if you are looking purely for size. The limited quota tags will offer less hunting pressure, but may not have the quality or quantity of region G and H.
Currently the region H tag can be had for 2 to 3 points, while the region G tag will take 5-6. As scrappy mentioned, you can still buy a preference point this year through the end of October, such that you could potentially pull a region H tag by 2018 or so.
I have also hunted in CO, NV and UT, which all have their pros and cons. If I could only choose one place to hunt archery mule deer, it would probably be CO, but I'm very much looking forward to trying out Wyoming too!
You should buy a point for sure. It makes a big difference in your opportunities in WY.
I have been lucky enough to draw deer tags in WY and hunt in Region H, 102 (when it was really good!), 82, and General tags for around Baggs. I have also hunted moose, elk and antelope up there. I have seen good mule deer in most every part of WY that I have been in. I love hunting in WY!
That being said, the mule deer numbers in WY are still in a slump and some areas are in worse shape than others with respect to mule deer numbers.
There are only a handful of really good individual units for mule deer and they will take a lot of points to draw. Probably not worth the effort to build points trying to ever catch up to the crowd. Looking at the point totals out there for the guys ahead of you, you most likely will never catch up.
Regions G & H are both very good for big bucks. One thing you have to deal with in G or H is the early rifle start date in both of those units - usually the middle of September. It can affect how much time you can hunt as well as how the big bucks respond to pressure. They are both very popular with the residents and those guys will be up there scouting and then hunting pretty early.
There are good mule deer in a number of other areas that you could look at that get less pressure and require less points to draw.
There are some areas in eastern WY that offer great deer hunting and can be drawn on second choice (also closer to S Dakota!). There is a lot of private land, but there is also public land access available (State, National Grassland, BLM and "Access Yes" Programs). You (and a lot of other hunters) might be surprised at how big the mule deer are in eastern WY. They are overlooked by most because the western side of the state really draws the attention.
If you really want to hunt the mountain country, look at some of the areas that don't get as much attention. Regions E or F both have some very scenic mountain country and good deer hunting. Unless you hire a guide or find a WY resident to go with you, you will not be able to hunt the wilderness areas, but there is plenty of good deer country in National Forest and BLM in those areas.
Try to pick an area that you can draw every year or two and spend more time there. The more time you spend in an area, the more you get to know what is there and start to meet others that can give you great info on where to hunt.
If you do a little bit of research, you will start to find some areas in CO that have great numbers of mule deer in the high country as well as top end trophy potential that can be drawn every year and even a few that can be pulled for second choice (so you get a point and a tag!!).
Pretty sure that every county in the mountains and a large number of the counties in the plains of CO has produced multiple B&C bucks.