Gillette Visitors Center hosts Hunter Assistance Program tomorrow

The annual Hunters Assistance PRogram will be tomorrow from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Gillette Visitors Center.

With opening day just hours away, the Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau organizing an event for Thursday, Sept. 30, to get hunters of all ages and skill levels ready to for their pursuits.

The annual Hunters Assistance Program will be tomorrow from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Gillette Visitors Center located at 314 South Gillette Avenue. It’s a chance for the new and experienced hunters alike to get in-the-know about all things hunting before hitting the trail starting opening day on Friday.

Rusty Bell of Rusty’s Taxidermy will be available throughout the program with samples. Also, Koehler’s Processing will be there to give out information and answer questions regarding processing.

Erika Peckham, our local Wyoming Game & Fish Wildlife Biologist, will be on hand to answer any and all hunting and license questions. Remember, if there is an subject or law you’re not sure about, be safe and ask. Peckham has your answers.

In 2019, Peckham was named Wyoming Game Wardens Association Wildlife Manager of the Year for her dedication to the wildlife resource of northeast Wyoming. She began work with Wyoming Game and Fish in 2008 as a habitat extension biologist and started as the Gillette wildlife biologist on Jan. 1, 2012.

Erika Peckham, our local Wyoming Game & Fish Wildlife Biologist, will be on hand to answer any and all hunting and license questions. (Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Game & Fish)

Since that time, she has become very involved in the local community, working with area landowners, assisting with various education programs, helping new Gillette wardens learn about the area and implementing wildlife conservation and management activities.
“Erika has always been willing to help with hunter safety classes taught within her biologist district and is a favorite among students for her enthusiasm, knowledge and passion when it comes to teaching wildlife management and helping with range days for students,” said former North Gillette Game Warden Kristen DaVanon who nominated Peckham for the award. “Erika also staffs multiple check stations throughout the fall hunting season around Gillette, Buffalo, Kaycee and most notably, the Devils Tower check station. Working these check stations, sometimes by herself, Erika contacts hundreds of sportswomen and men every year. The best part of working side by side with Erika is that you can see her passion for wildlife in everything she does”

The Gillette Visitors Center will have those important BLM maps available for purchase at the Hunters Assistance Program.

About Wyoming Game & Fish

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The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has a statutory responsibility to manage over 800 different species. It takes many hardworking individuals with a variety of jobs to preserve Wyoming’s natural resources.   Wyoming Game and Fish personnel work with people, solve problems, analyze information, and make decisions day in and day out in order to protect Wyoming’s natural resources.

Fish and wildlife biologists manage wildlife populations and the habitats that support them. Understanding wildlife physical characteristics, populations, behaviors and the impacts humans have on wildlife and wildlife habitat are all important in managing wildlife. Fish and wildlife biologists have many duties including planning and conducting surveys and projects, analyzing results, evaluating development proposals and recommending methods to minimize impacts, writing reports, and preparing hunting season recommendations.

Some frequently questions asked to Wyoming Game & Fish regarding small game

Do I need an archery license to hunt rabbits with bow and arrow?

An archery license is required only for big and trophy game during the special archery season. You don’t need a archery license to hunt small game, birds or predators. To hunt rabbits all you need is a small game license and conservation stamp.

Why is the limit so high for cottontail rabbits and why is the season so long?

The cottontail season runs Sept. 1 through March 31. Over the years there has been little indication that hunting seasons or bag limits have anything to do with the dramatic population fluctuations that frequently occur with cottontail rabbits. Leading causes of death include harsh winters, heavy spring storms and disease. With that being the case, whatever harvest that takes place during the hunting season has a negligible effect on the viability of the population. Cottontails are extremely prolific and may have two or three litters during spring and summer averaging about four bunnies per litter. It may take several years following severe population declines for the population to rebuild. In high population years the 10-rabbit limit is often easily obtained. In down years, hunters do well to bag two or three rabbits and there are fewer hunters. The limit and season length is of little consequence.

Do I need a license to hunt coyotes and jackrabbits?

Coyotes and jackrabbits are legally classified as predators along with raccoons, red fox, porcupines and skunks. Under Wyoming law, these animals may be taken year-round and no license is required. However, hunters must still abide by other laws pertaining to the taking of wildlife, i.e. prohibition of shooting from roads, fulfilling hunter safety requirements, hunting using artificial light etc. Further explanation of the dos and don’ts regarding these and other laws is contained in any Wyoming hunting regulation pamphlet.

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Do I need a license to shoot gophers?

When people talk about shooting gophers, they are almost always referring to ground squirrels. In this context, the word “gopher” is a catch-all name for several varieties of ground squirrels found in Wyoming. The Richardson’s or Wyoming ground squirrel, sometimes called a “picket pin,” is the most common ground squirrel and is frequently called a gopher. Wyoming also has several species of gophers but these animals are seldom seen above ground. Ground squirrels and gophers are classified as nongame animals and are among the nongame species which can be legally taken in Wyoming. There is no closed season and no license is required.

Do I need a license to hunt badgers?

Badgers are classified as furbearers in Wyoming and a trapping license is required. Keep in mind that trapping laws require that traps be checked every 72 hours and all traps must have name tags. The season on badgers is open year-round. Trappers and hunters should check the regulations for seasons on other furbearers.

DO I need a hunter education to hunt jackrabbits and prairie dogs?

Yes, if you hunt the animals with a firearm. Wyoming law says anyone born after 1965 hunting any wild animal with a firearm — whether nongame, game or predators — must have passed hunter education. The exception is hunting with archery equipment or persons hunting on land owned by their family.

Is it legal to hunt rabbits with a pellet gun?

There are no laws restricting the type of weapon that may be used to hunt cottontail rabbits or snowshoe hares. Cottontails are commonly taken by a variety of weapons ranging from archery equipment to .22 handguns. From a practical standpoint, the limited range of a pellet gun dictates that only close shots should be taken and hunters are advised to try for head shots to insure a clean kill.