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Wyoming - Hunters Beware
Hunters beware in SW Wyoming in the Bridger National Forest. The FS has decided to strictly enforce their 14 day camping regulation. We were told to leave or face a fine and one year loss of use of the National Forest. We have never had this issue in any other National Forest in any other state. Email Patricia O'Conner at email@example.com to voice your opinion.
Good, I hate it when people park their campers all summer and make their own little cabin and prevent others from using it. I turn people in all the time for doing this and the FS doesn't do anything about it.
If you have rules, they should be enforced. I know of one camper that has been in one spot the entire summer.
I had a discussion with a seasonal Forrest Service employee when he pulled out his phone and showed me the new regulations. This was on the Big Horns. It states that the 14 day restriction is now the new norm even during the archery season. At the end of it you have to move your camp 5 air miles which in some areas would move you out of your hunt area. There is a lot of other regs. that will also be in affect concerning how far off a maintained road you are parked and what you are doing such as gathering firewood or just camping. I can let you know the discussion I had with the Ranger did not end on a positive note. Some of those restrictions including the 14 day limit end I believe on October 1st. which does nothing for the archery seasons. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Great. I wish it was enforced everywhere.
It has always been a rule to the best of my knowledge, and it is enforced to the extent on officer covering millions of acres can enforce. I understand a new vigilance in enforcement and will be a strong supporter of such enforcement.
The trend here this summer has been for costal city folks to buy a $75K truck and a $100K camper and come here to social distance for the summer. Campgrounds are full, gated roads have campers parked in front of the gates, wide spots in the road have as many campers as you can squeeze in parked there. There are no parking spots at trail heads because people park there and set up a tent in the woods. It is bizarre just saying, and now that summer is over and school started, yeah they are not gone.
Awesome news for those headed to Wyoming.
Dollar Bill why do you see this as a bad thing?
I see trailers that have been in the NF since June or July. Usually they don't move them until after elk rifle season ends. This has been going on for years. I just spent 32 days straight in the NF and never saw one Forest Service employee. They'll usually leave a note telling you have 14 days from the notice to move. I don't see them really enforcing it very hard.
Sometimes we have to take turns with other members of the public.
About time they enforced the rules.
I agree with the camper issue 100% that it is out of hand. My comments are mainly directed what this will do for hunters during archery season which last the month of September. I did ask the Ranger if I set my wall tent up and brought up horses for the season would it still apply for me to pick up and move my camp 5 air miles even if not parked beside a road and he said yes. Granted I don’t hunt every day of the season because of work obligations. I’ve never seen a patrol ranger out away from the roads so not sure how this would pan out. When talking to him about the same problem on the north end he said it was a different district so he had no jurisdiction.
I understand the reason behind the 14 day limit, but when you are the only camp (dispersed camping) and ask to finish out the hunt (3 more days) and are met with "leave or get fined" I find it a bit much. Some of our group drove over 23 hours to hunt in Wyoming and spent a lot of money on tags in addition to money spent in Wyoming for food, gas, and supplies. I am only asking for a little consideration by the FS.
I will concede that if you are horse packed into the wilderness, a 5 mile move is extreme.
Are you allowed to leave a campsite unattended for more than a 24hr period?
Over the summer I noticed quite a few empty campsites set up in the NF, and I got the feeling that a majority were just set up to "stake a spot".
Well if you got say 1000 campers and 500 spots and 500 camper are there for many of times 30+ days. But are only used for 10 days. I do see a problem. What about the other 500 campers that can't camp???
The times have changed, used to be if you wanted a campsite, you drove up Thursday and left you camper in the site you wanted and you were good for the weekend.
Now you have to have reserved a campsite on the internet months in advance.
There is a thing going on now called RVRBO? (not sure of the web site) Where locals pull their camper up to a campground and rent it out on an internet site. Tourists will fly into town, rent a car and drive to the campground and stay for the 14 day limit, then fly out, the owner goes and retrieves the camper, cleans it up and hoping to move it to another campground for more renters.
Glad they enforced it. In our area the residents pull up their campers before the season and leave them there for the entire month of September. Sometimes they don't come back for a week or so after the prime spots are taken. Wouldn't be such a big deal but there are limited spots on a dead end road. Also if I know the number of camps I can move according to the pressure but if they are just parked there you are left guessing how many hunters are really there.
Good news, but 5 miles is harsh. I don't see any need to force a move of 5 miles. There are lots of unoccupied camps out there that need to stop taking up spaces, prime or not.
Do outfitters have an exception to this rule? Don't many of them leave up camps setup from archery through all of rifle?
Problem is you can't let someone else stay an extra few days and then not let others - then were do you draw the line? You have to treat everyone the same... The BigHorns get so bad it's hard to find a spot to even do dispersed camping - and half the rigs are empty just parked... Glad to see they are enforcing it with some teeth!!! Hopefully they continue to do so.
Outfitters are required to get permit from BLM, Forest, State, whatever, to operate. The permit is based on duration of stay, location of stay, etc. So Outfitters may very well be able to camp longer, but they have paid for a permit...
I have no problem with them enforcing the 14day stay.
Keep in mind when you say you’ve never seen rangers get back off the roads that now with the use of drones, those same rangers can easily get back off the roads if they really want to enforce the regulations.
John most outfitters have to pay a fee and have a specific area to hunt, so it doesn't apply to them.
I have always liked the rule and it needs to be enforced. No exceptions. You should know the rules before you camp and figure out how to obey them.
You can thank all the Covid Campers for the Forest Service FINALLY enforcing their own regulation
Most NF have the 14 day rule. It was never instituted to limit "campers" stay, but to keep people from squatting on public land. Many years ago I had a dialogue with the FS about this rule limiting hunters ability to hunt for our allotted time. When I asked about outfitters being able to camp for the seasons, they also gave the excuse of permitting and fees. I got no logical response when I offered that maybe they could offer permits for a fee for private hunters also. When you consider that backcountry campers can camp for their activities year around, basically giving them unlimited use as long as they use a different area every 14 days, it seems pretty unfair that they harass hunters for the only time and place it works for them. If things are getting that crowded, maybe they should close the back country to everyone without a valid hunting license during hunting seasons. Yeh, right!.
Back when we were setting up a horse camp in the middle of a CO wilderness area, it would stay in from just before the season, to not over a week after the end. There were maybe a half dozen of us that would use the camp throughout the season, coming and going as our schedules and luck would allow. Often, it would be unoccupied for a few days. We basically ignored the rule and were never harassed and never had our camp vandalized. If someone showed up hoping to camp there, which happened occasionally, they were invited to stay and camp nearby.
Recently, they have also been closing many dispersed camping areas (and for good reason, with most not taking care of their shit properly), forcing much worse crowding into the remaining areas.
One of the main things I've always enjoyed about hunting was getting away from people. I could go on a 5 day solo bivouac hunt and not see ANYONE else for the entire time. I'm so glad I was able to do that before overpopulation has gotten so out of control. Too many people has taken most of the enjoyment out of hunting. So many younger hunters have no clue how good it was even 20 years ago.
How do the rangers know how long the camp has been in a spot? In Michigan, you need a permit to camp on state land but not on NF land.
BigHorns this year has been NUTS, every site full, it's been crazy.
Consideration. Only. Lol
Outfitters camp in mandatory assigned spots throughout the whole season and don't have the luxury of camping elsewhere.
Wish they would enforce this in Utah.
This needs more enforcement, not less
About damn time! Every time I’ve been to western Wyoming it’s every spot you can think to even park a camper or pitch a tent, is occupied with another camp. A huge portion of these never have anyone there. They are simply occupying a spot for rifle season. Some of the most prime spots are taken for months by jerks that only use them for a few days here and there, or just a week. If you’re going home, take your camp with you.
Agree some consideration would be nice in the instance a hunter is not “overly” abusing their stay. However, I agree with many others here, I have seen folks grossly abuse the 14 day rule by leaving a camper well before season till after season in order to claim “their spot” in a limited entry elk unit here in Utah. This is not a rare occurrence either. From everything I have seen, generally speaking I would prefer more enforcement not less.
"I have always liked the rule and it needs to be enforced. No exceptions. You should know the rules before you camp and figure out how to obey them." Agree 100%. Time to stop the "space hogs" from tying up so many good spots. They park their trailers weeks before they plan to hunt and then go back to town.
i wish they would enforce it in colorado. dudes set up elk camps as soon as the snow melts
My last elk hunt in Utah had a group that had camped all summer in the same place. A local in our group said they had been there for 3 months. They had corrals built for their horses and had setup permanent for the summer at least. In todays high pressure use of public land it's getting harder to find a place to camp that isn't occupied.
I heard multiple stories this fall about Mennonites and Amish families coming out west and setting up camp for weeks. All The men, wives, kids, dogs, goats....
Wow. Guess I did not expect the responses that were posted. I too am in favor of stopping the "grabbing a prime spot" prior to the season and also limiting the stay to 14 days if the area is high demand, however, our camp site was the only camp on the 5 mile long road so I don't believe we were keeping anyone from camping in the area. Like someone mentioned, maybe the FS can issue hunters who plan to exceed the 14 day limit a permit (fee based) much like they do outfitters.
DANG! That's a long ride in a truck......................................can't imagine doing it in a horse and buggy! : (
I don't think more pay to play is the solution. Reduce the 5 miles to say 2 or maybe even 1, and that would eliminate a lot of the problems (if enforced), yet still allow hunters the ability to hunt a certain area with maybe a little more effort. Mennonites only use the h&b for show; quite frankly a lot of "Amish" too.
Dollar bill, I agree with what you’re saying. There could maybe be some discretion used by the ranger. The problems being described here are the extreme stuff that people are doing. There’s way too many folks just leaving camps up all summer and fall. I think the 5 miles is a little extreme. The main issue as I see it, is the unoccupied camps for long periods. 5 miles or 2 miles won’t likely make a difference for these folks.
Why should a hunter get an exception over anyone else? Just because you want to hunt a specific spot doesn't make you special. There are also no many hunt areas in WY that a 5 mile move puts you out of the area. But since it is air miles 3 miles would probably be ok.
I know it was the rule in the Missouri Breaks and they had enforcement officers.
I like it. Idaho would have tents parked with cots for weeks prior to the openers.
Thats funny rut nut,,,all of the Mennonites i ve ever worked for drove f350s ...lol
My dad has been reminded of this nicely a few times - more of just mentioned it. I wish it were 3 weeks - I rarely would stay over 2 but there are times I might. He got the impression they might turn a blind eye for a couple days. I think it should be longer but it is the law/rule so I am ok with them enforcing it.
I grew up in the Pa Dutch Country so I’m well aware of the differences between the 2. But he did say Amish.............. ;-)
Seems to me 14 days should be plenty of time to fill some tags. The regs are out there online and with signs as you enter the NF, not every road I'm sure though. You should have known going in you had 14 days in one spot.
14 days is plenty for all activities including hunting/camping. To be honest, if you haven't killed anything in 14 days, maybe it is time to move (Regardless of FS rules).
GLAD TO HEAR IT. I emailed Patrick to voice my support of enforcing an existing federal law that has been on the books since early 1900's but rarely enforced. Another companion law is you cant leave a campsite unattended for more than 48 hours. I'm tired of people "claiming" a campsite by leaving their camper there for the whole archery season, but only showing up on the weekends.
To answer John Mc's question on outfitters. They are working on a permit on National Forest (much like the ski industry) which allows the to leave a temporary camp through a date range.
Stix- Funny you mention unattended camp sites. (It had this typed with my original post but removed it.)
Several years ago, I was hunting in BH's. I glassed a wall tent from several miles away. Fast forward a couple of weeks. I spike into that area. The wall tent was set up adjacent to an old corral. Some old cut wood also. The tent had not been used at all. It had an old dusty cot, camp chair and a wood stove (not assembled). Owner had a couple of straw bales anchoring the door/flaps. Appeared to be set up for October gun season. He/she had horses as there was no way to get that much stuff in on your back (EX Straw bales) Each night I pitched my BA tent inside to minimize wind, scent and frost. I disassembled my tent every morning and left it as I found it. The only thing I used was the camp chair to set my pack on. Left everything as I found it. Never saw the owner. Did this person have the right to claim the location in perpetuity? (Or as long as they saw fit?)
Was this wrong of me? Obviously I don't think so. Flame away.
Z, I think what you did is not only perfectly legal but smart. If someone is going to essentially abandon their camp on public land I think the public should be able to use it. I do realize this opens up a whole host of issues about what is considered abandoned but in the example above I agree with his actions.
"Did this person have the right to claim the location in perpetuity? (Or as long as they saw fit?)"
Obviously he didn't "claim" anything. In fact, you took advantage of his gear. Like most of the posts on here, the only way these folks "claim" a spot is if you let them. If they're there, introduce yourself in a friendly way and start a dialogue. If it's obvious they haven't been around in a while, set up next to them if you must. If you're concerned about your own gear being vandalized while you're out hunting, take photos, get license plate numbers, document the filth they leave behind, etc., and report them. In most situations, I don't think there will be a confrontation, unless YOU give the impression that you have more of a right to the spot than they do.
"14 days is plenty for all activities including hunting/camping. To be honest, if you haven't killed anything in 14 days, maybe it is time to move (Regardless of FS rules)."
Not necessarily. Not everyone just drives into camp. Horse packing in a camp often takes at least a couple of days to set up and take down. Moving a camp like that is a major chore. Also, as in our case (back when we used that type of camp), it served up to about 6 hunters, all on different schedules for a 30 day season. We all pitched in to set up and take down, but we all might not be there at the same time during the season. The 14 day rule doesn't accommodate that.
Also, it's getting to the point that if you find a place to camp, you don't want to risk a move. It's getting so crowded, you might not find another place that's unoccupied, unless it's in the nearest Walmart parking lot.
In short, the real problem that no one wants to acknowledge, and that will never be addressed is, there are just too many people wanting to access limited public land. Best to just get used to it.
Yep, get used to it and move your camp when you are supposed to.
"In short, the real problem that no one wants to acknowledge, and that will never be addressed is, there are just too many people wanting to access limited public land. Best to just get used to it."
Ziek, I think the USFS has acknowledged it and addressed it with the 14-day limit. This allows more people to enjoy a particular area, not just one camp of people.
Is the 14 day limit based upon the camping structure or the occupant or both or either? And how long do you (or the structure) need to be gone before the 14 day timing resets?
Example 1: Hunter goes hunting each weekend of the season and sets up a tent on Friday night and takes it down Sunday evening each time. If he sets up camp in the same place each weekend is he violating the 14 day rule on the third Saturday?
Example 2: Same scenario but he sets up camp in different spots each weekend but all are within 4 air miles of each other. Is he violating the 14 day rule?
Example 3: Hunter sets up camp the day before the season, hunts 10 days, breaks camp and goes home for 7 days. Comes back, sets up camp in the same place and hunts 10 more days. Is he violating the 14 day rule?
Example 4: Same as example 3 but he only goes home for 1 day. Is he violating the 14 day rule?
Example 5: Hunter sets up his camper and hunts for 14 days then takes camper home. Buddy borrows same camper and goes back to the same area the next day and sets up in the same spot. Is he violating the 14 day rule?
Example 6: Same as example 5 but instead of taking camper home Hunter leaves the camper there for his Buddy to use. Is he violating the 14 day rule?
Example 7: Same as example 5 but the buddy sets up 4 miles from the other site. Is he violating the 14 day rule?
Example 8: Hunter A sets up his camper and hunts for 14 days then takes camper home. Buddy takes different camper and goes back to the same area the next day and sets up in the same spot. He sees lots of elk so he calls Hunter A and convinces him to come back out. Hunter A comes out but sleeps in his Buddys camper. Is he violating the 14 day rule?
Aspen Ghost, this should answer all your questions for Medicine Bow Nat'l Forest. This year was particularly ugly. Since damned near all of the Snowies south of Hwy 130 burned up with the Mullen fire, everyone's going to be funneled into the areas that didn't burn. We'll see if they start to enforce this regulation, cuz they haven't for the 35yrs I've been bowhunting there. Next year's really gonna suck!
Here's the rules for the Bighorn National Forest: From June 1 through September 30 of each year, no person, group, or organization shall camp at, use, store equipment at, or otherwise occupy any single location for a period of not more than 14 days within any period of 28 days. The 14-day limit of stay may be used either through a number of separate visits or through 14 days of continuous occupation during the 28-day period. After the 14th day of occupation, campers must relocate to another site at least five air miles from the previous location. Once the 14-day limit of stay has been reached in a given site, use shall not occur again until 14 days have lapsed from the last day of use.
So examples 1 and 2 above are ok The rest are not ok. (USFS would consider Hunter and Buddy a "group" in examples 5 and 6 since they are using the same equipment).
However, if you move camp to a different site before the 14 day period lapses you do not need to relocate the full 5 miles. The 5 mile move only kicks in after 14 days at a "single location". You can simply move to a different nearby "location" before the 14 days elapses.
Interesting that in the Bighorn NF the weekend hunter is ok but in Medicine Bow NF he can't return to the same site for 30 days.
I left NW colorado and decided to take 130 through the Snowies on September 30th. I didn't know about the fire till I hit the pass on Hwy 70 and started down to Encampment. The whole valley was filled with dense smoke. Every trail south of 130 was closed. Sad situation.
So, for all of you that think this is a good idea, do you actually check the regs (or even know where to look) for the NF you plan to hunt in? Every NF has its own regulations. For instance, here is one example in Colorado; "No camping at any location within the same 20-mile radius for more than 14 days within any continuous 30-day period." That could easily put you out of the unit. And don't forget to keep track of your scouting trips close to your hunt. It's "14 days in a continuous 30-day period" not 14 continuous days, in this case.
I always check the FS regs on the individual NF website, don't you? The example above by Ziek is very likely an overreaction regulation, probably brought about by people that ignore the regs.
Is it mainly the locals/res's that are staking up these spots in advance of the season? Could it be non-hunters staying longer than 14 days during the start of the hunting season?
AG above seemed to have identified a loop hole with the below??? It would seem if you moved your camp on day 12 or 13 a half mile or mile down the road, that would restart the 14 day clock. Yes???
"However, if you move camp to a different site before the 14 day period lapses you do not need to relocate the full 5 miles. The 5 mile move only kicks in after 14 days at a "single location". You can simply move to a different nearby "location" before the 14 days elapses."
That's the rule in 8 NF in Colorado. Three in AZ are similar without the 20 mile restriction, and many others have restrictions that almost EVERYONE ignores.
I agree that some take it way too far, leaving "camps" months in advance of when they intend to use them. But most of these restrictions also take it too far.
This is great! Now if we could limit the size of the hunting party per tag. Hey only 50 people drew, cool. Get there and there is 550 people there. Oh ya all my buddies wanted to help. Now its like an OTC unit in Colorado
JMO, just remember Two Things...
Behind every “stupid” regulation, there is an egregious offender who got off on a technicality.
The Law is just the lowest standard of conduct that society will tolerate without imposing fines and/or jail time.
A lot of guys here seem to be trying pretty hard to figure out how to get around this one, but you DO realize that if some other guy figures out the same gambit and gets there first, there would be plenty of talk of these “D-bags” who moved in and screwed up the whole area for everybody else....
I just got home from a week hunting in Wyoming and the same big 5th Wheel 38-40 ft Vortex was in the same spot it has been all summer long when I went up scouting and in the same spot during the time I was up bow elk hunting.
The only time I've seen anyone at it is when the horse trlr is there and horse.
Real nice set-up for sure
Maybe they tow it down off the mountain to MT the Black & Grey water and to Fill the fresh water tank and then tow it back up?
4 degree's Real Feel 1 morning last week on the mountain so I hope they have some heavy duty winter/4 season camping package!!
Good luck, Robb
“A lot of guys here seem to be trying pretty hard to figure out how to get around this one, but you DO realize that if some other guy figures out the same gambit and gets there first, there would be plenty of talk of these “D-bags” who moved in and screwed up the whole area for everybody else....”
Now hold on there! Your making too much sense! Lol .......now enter any of the latest technology gadgets, E-“Motorcycles”, Nose Jammer, 120 yard pins, etc. etc. same principle?
All tongue in cheek !
Like I always say - the rules always seem fair enough when you’re winning.