Hunting in the National Elk Refuge? For most hunters that seems like a dream come true. However, those dreams can now become a reality. Wyoming hunters than have an unused valid elk hunting license can now apply for permission slips that allow them to hunt the National Elk Refuge. Hunters interested in applying should go to the Wyoming Game and Fish Access Yes website. Below we will discuss the history of the refuge and how hunters can hunt the elk within the refuge.

The History of the Refuge

At the turn of the 20th century, many people in the Jackson area were concerned with the sick and starving elk. In 1910, Stephen Leek attracted national attention by his writings, photographs, and lectures about starving elk in the Jackson area. Leek had made name for himself by becoming a successful rancher in the area. Likewise, he became a well-known wildlife photographer. That same year, with prodding from Leek, the Wyoming Legislature appropriated $5,000 to be used to buy hay to feed the elk herd. In 1911, the Wyoming Legislature asked the U.S. Congress to work with the State of Wyoming in feeding, protecting, and preserving big game. Consequently, on August 10, 1912, Congress set aside lands for a winter game reserve in the state of Wyoming south of Yellowstone National Park.

Over the years the Refuge has provided crucial winter habitat and feed for several native Wyoming species. Recently, the Refuge and Wyoming’s feeding programs have come under fire by many. Opponents to the Refuge claim that creating such a large feeding area makes the wildlife dependant on humans for food. Likewise, others claim that having so many elk gathered close together could allow diseases to be passed more easily.

Hunting within the Refuge

Hunters looking to apply for permission slips to hunt the National Elk Refuge should be aware of the process. Likewise, hunters should familiarize themselves with the Refuge rules. Below we will list important information regarding hunting with the Refuge.

  • Hunters can apply weekly for the alternate permission slip draw by accessing the online Game and Fish Access Yes program website between 9 a.m Friday and 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
  • The first alternate permission slip application process will begin on October 23rd, 2020. Draw results will be available at 8 a.m Monday weekly.
  • During the permission slip application process hunters need to decide what time works best for them. They will need to choose to be considered for either the Tuesday – Friday or the Saturday – Tuesday permission slip for the upcoming week. Permission slips are typically valid for four days. The only exception is during the Youth Hunt. That slips give permission for Nov. 26 – 28.
  • If there are any leftover permission slips from the weekly drawings, they will be issued on a first come first serve basis starting at 8 a.m. Monday each week after the draw.
  • Hunters who were successful in obtaining an initial NER permission slip for any of the hunt periods may still apply for an alternate permission slip each week.
  • If a hunter successfully draws a permission slip for the Refuge, they need to have the following items: An unused Wyoming elk license, a conservation stamp, an Elk Special Management Permit, proof of hunter education, and your printed National Elk Refuge HMA permission slip.

A Few Refuge Rules

  • Shooting from parking areas is prohibited. Likewise, firing a weapon from public roads is not allowed.
  • Hunters may NOT possess more than seven cartridges per license per day.
  • Interfering with or harassing other hunters will result in the offending party being ticketed and kick off the Refuge.
  • Using decoys outside of the Archery Only Area is prohibited. Also using blinds that completely obstruct visible fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink garments is prohibited on Refuge land.

So, what are your thoughts on hunters being able to hunt within the National Elk Refuge? Are you going to apply for a permission slip? Let us know in the comments!


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