The National Elk Refuge 2017 elk hunt program begins next week, scheduled from Saturday, October 14 through Friday, December 15 this season.
The National Elk Refuge 2017 elk hunt program begins next week, scheduled from Saturday, October 14 through Friday, December 15 this season. Hunting on the wildlife refuge is managed through a cooperative effort between the National Elk Refuge, Wyoming Game & Fish Department, and Grand Teton National Park, with the goal of achieving and maintaining population objectives.
The most notable change in this year’s Refuge elk hunt is the move of a Youth Only hunt period to later in the season when it is more likely there will be large numbers of elk present on the Refuge. Historically, the Youth Only elk hunt has been held during the first week of the season, typically in early to mid-October. Over the past decade, however, there has been a decrease in the number of animals harvested during the first few hunt periods due to a later fall migration and a transient elk population that tends to regularly move onto and off the Refuge throughout much of October and early November. Refuge hunt records show that only one elk was harvested during the Youth Only hunt in the last seven years compared to 37 total elk taken from 2007 through 2009. This season, the Youth Only hunt is being offered from Thursday, November 23 through Saturday, November 25.
The change to a later Youth Only hunt opportunity is outlined in the Refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP), noting that recruiting young hunters into hunting programs is critical for continued public support of hunting as an accepted wildlife-dependent recreational activity, continued use as a wildlife management tool, and maintaining the primary funding source for modern wildlife management.
The move also aligns with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s Secretarial Order 3356, signed on September 15, 2017, which is intended to support and expand hunting and fishing, enhance conservation stewardship, improve wildlife management, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. The new order came days after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a survey that found there are 2.2 million fewer hunters in America now than in 2011. Secretarial Order 3356 puts a new and greater emphasis on recruiting and retaining new sportsmen conservationists, with a focus on engaging youths, veterans, minorities, and other communities that traditionally have lower participation in outdoor recreation activities. More information on Secretarial Order 3356 can be found in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s press release at https://on.doi.gov/2x1Z5YD.
A four-page information and regulations brochure for the National Elk Refuge’s 2017 elk hunt, which can be downloaded from this web link, includes further information on the Youth Only hunt as well as general hunt information and instructions on how to obtain a Refuge hunt permit and access the designated hunt areas.