This year, there are two changes on-deck for Wyoming’s National Elk Refuge fall hunt. If you’re planning on participating in the 2021 elk hunt program, which runs Oct. 12 through Dec. 12, then take note: there’s an extended archery only area and a change to field-issued permits.
For 2021, the Refuge is extending its archery only area to the entire western boundary “in response to a hunter’s stray bullet hitting a parked vehicle during last year’s hunt,” according to Buckrail. Hunters with firearms will need to follow a “designated route” and keep their weapon unloaded when traveling through the archery only area to the northwest area of the Refuge.
Field-issued permits will also change this year. Unlike prior years, there will no longer be any field-issued permits for the later hunt periods, according to Buckrail. Those will now be managed online through the Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s (WGFD) Access Yes! Program as alternate refuge permits. If you’re interested in getting one of these permits, you have until Sept. 22 to apply for the draw.
However, there are two other ways to grab a tag if you aren’t lucky in the draw. You can buy a leftover tag (if there are any) on Sept. 24, beginning at 8 a.m. or you can buy an alternate refuge permit that will be available Oct. 22. These permits are valid for hunt periods that start on Oct. 26 and “are typically valid for three days,” according to Buckrail. To apply weekly for the alternate draw, visit WGFD’s Access Yes! Program between Friday at 9 a.m. and Sunday at 11:59 p.m. for your chance at an alternate refuge permit.