Wild Bison License Application Process

License Application Timeline and Method

Starting from the year 2014, the process for applying for a wild bison license underwent a significant change. Previously, applicants were placed on a priority list. However, this system has been replaced by a new method. Now, applicants must pay the license fee during the designated application period, which runs from March 1st to March 31st each year. Following this period, a random drawing takes place to select the successful applicants. This change aims to streamline the application process and ensure fairness in the selection of successful applicants. Notifications for successful applications are typically sent out by mid-May of the same year.

Age Requirement for Applicants

An important eligibility criterion for applicants is the age requirement. Individuals must be at least fourteen years old before September 15th of the hunting season for which they are applying for a wild bison license. This age requirement is in addition to other standard requirements that must be met by all applicants. This stipulation ensures that hunters are of a suitable age to participate responsibly in the hunting season.

Application for National Elk Refuge Hunting Permits

Applicants who are successful in the wild bison license drawing have an additional opportunity. They can apply for a permit to hunt in the National Elk Refuge. This unique opportunity allows hunters to engage in a different hunting experience within the same region. The application process for these hunting permits is carried out in collaboration with the National Elk Refuge and must be completed before the hunting season begins.

Applications for the National Elk Refuge hunting permits are accessible through the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's website. This website hosts the AccessYes Access Program, which provides detailed information and the necessary forms for applicants. Moreover, alternate permits are available in the fall for each hunt period. These permits can also be obtained through the Department’s website, offering more opportunities for hunters who were not initially successful or who seek additional hunting experiences.

Bison Identification for Hunters

Understanding Bison Sex and Age Class

Identifying the sex and age class of bison is crucial for hunters, especially when hunting with a license specific to a particular sex, such as a Type 4 female/calf wild bison license. Differentiating between bulls and cows can be challenging, particularly when comparing a one to two-year-old bull and a mature cow. It's important to note that profile views are not always reliable for determining these characteristics.

Key Characteristics of Cows and Bulls

  • Cow Bison:

    • Head Shape: Cows have a narrow and elongated head, appearing linear.
    • Horns: Their horns are thinner and typically curve inward at the tips.
    • Belly Hair: A tuft of hair is visible on the underside, but not a penile sheath.
  • Bull Bison:

    • Head Shape: Bulls feature a more massive, blockier head compared to cows.
    • Horns: The horns are heavier, with a larger diameter at the base, and they tend to grow outward rather than curving inward.
    • Penile Sheath: Older bulls will display a penile sheath, a distinguishing feature absent in cows and younger bulls.

Visual Identification Tips

  • Young Bulls:

    • They are identified by their heavy-based horns and blocky heads, distinct from cows.
    • The horns do not curve inward, which is a key feature to look for.
  • Adult Cows:

    • They have thinner, more curved horns, especially as they age.

Shot Placement for a Clean Kill

  1. Heart/Lung Area Shot:

    • Located slightly above the animal’s knee.
    • Benefits: Larger lethal area, easier to hit.
    • Drawbacks: Bison, particularly bulls, may require several shots in this area before being downed.
  2. Neck Vertebrae Shot:

    • Positioned approximately six inches back from the base of the horn.
    • This shot is more challenging but can be effective.

Recommendations for Hunters

  • Practice Patience and Precision: Take your time, use a solid rest to steady your gun, and take a shot you are comfortable with.
  • Study Bison Anatomy: Familiarize yourself with the skeleton and vital organ location of a wild bison for effective shot placement.
  • Use Resources: The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) website offers additional information and an interactive bison ID exam, which can be accessed at WGFD Bison ID.

 Bison Horn Growth

Wyoming Bison Hunting Information

Bison Identification Exam

  • To further aid in identification, the WGFD provides an educational quiz consisting of 14 multiple-choice questions. This quiz is designed to help hunters recognize the sex and age of bison in the field. It's recommended to take this quiz to enhance your understanding and identification skills.

Bison Hunting Maps

Wyoming Bison Hunting Information

Wyoming Bison Hunting Information

Bison Hunting Regulations in the National Elk Refuge

Compliance with State Regulations

  • Primary Guidelines: Hunters must adhere to bison state regulations for all hunting activities within the Refuge. These regulations provide the foundational legal framework governing bison hunting.

Utilization of Bison Hunt Map

  • Navigation and Planning: A dedicated bison hunt map is available for hunters. This map is an essential tool for navigating the Refuge, identifying designated hunting areas, and understanding the specific zones where bison hunting is permitted. Hunters are encouraged to consult this map thoroughly to plan their hunt effectively.

Post-Harvest Retrieval

  • Immediate Access to Retrieval Roads: After successfully harvesting a bison, hunters are granted immediate access to designated retrieval roads within the Refuge. This provision is made to facilitate the efficient and safe transportation of harvested bison from the hunting area.

Hunting Party Regulations

  • Assistants Permitted: Bison hunters are allowed to have multiple assistants to aid in their hunting endeavor. This allowance is designed to ensure the effective management of the hunt and the safety of all parties involved.

  • Compliance Responsibility: The primary hunter is responsible for ensuring that their entire hunting party, including any assistants, complies with all Refuge regulations. This includes adherence to safety protocols, hunting area boundaries, and specific hunting practices as outlined by the Refuge and state regulations.

Essential Resources for Bison Hunting

Official Resources and Maps

  1. National Elk Refuge

    • National Elk Refuge Official Website: Comprehensive information including maps and regulations specific to the Refuge.
    • National Elk Refuge Regulations and Additional Information: Detailed guidelines for hunting within the Refuge.
  2. Bridger Teton National Forest

  3. Wyoming ORV and Snowmobile Information

    • Wyoming Trails: Essential resource for ORV and snowmobile maps, information, and permit purchasing in Wyoming.

Bison Identification and Mapping Tools

  1. Bison Identification by WGFD

    • Wildlife ID – Bison: A guide to bison identification, crucial for ensuring compliance with hunting regulations.
  2. Avenza Maps

    • Avenza Maps: A platform for downloadable GIS and mapping resources, useful for navigation and planning in hunting areas.
  3. GPS Map Card for Garmin

    • WGFD Store – Hunt Premium GPS Chip: Purchase a GPS map card specifically designed for Garmin devices, enhancing navigation during hunts.

Weather and Webcams

  1. Local Weather Forecast for Jackson

  2. Elk Refuge and Kelly Webcams

    • Elk Refuge Webcam: Live feed providing a view of the Elk Refuge.
    • Kelly Webcam: Webcam feed from Kelly, Wyoming, offering real-time views of the area.

Road Conditions

  1. Wyoming Road Conditions
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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.