Night hunting is an enjoyable activity for some outdoor enthusiasts. It lets them target specific animals that are active at night and less on-edge.
If you live in the adoringly named Equality State, you may be wondering if night hunting in Wyoming is legal. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this practice and the legalities behind it.
Is Night Hunting in Wyoming Legal?
No. Night hunting in Wyoming is illegal. State law prohibits anyone from taking wildlife using artificial light or night vision technology.
On the surface, this regulation may seem simple enough. However, there are some exceptions you should know:
Raccoons are the one animal you can hunt at night, but you can't use artificial light or go it alone. You must use a hand light and have a raccoon hunting dog in your presence. If you don't meet these conditions, state law describes the practice as poaching.
You may not use any lighting device to take the life of a wild animal at night. However, this strict rule only applies to Wyoming game and fish residing on public land. With private land, you have a little more freedom.
You may take the life of Wyoming game and fish that live on private land. However, you must first obtain written permission from the owner — a verbal agreement won't cut it.
Even if you know the owner personally, it's best to get a written statement before participating in any hunting activity. This way, you can provide yourself with some solid legal protection if the owner tries to bring a case against you.
Once you get written permission from an owner of private land, you can hunt legally at any hour of the day.
However, if you're on public land, the hunting hours are from one-half hour before the sun rises until one-half hour after the sun sets. Violators can:
- Receive hefty fines
- Have their hunting license revoked
- Face jail time (for severe or repeated offenses)
Why Is Night Hunting in Wyoming Illegal?
Night hunting in Wyoming is illegal because it poses a threat to everyone involved. Hunters can:
- Trip, fall, and injure themselves;
- Mistake a state-protected animal for a predatory one;
- Accidentally hit another human.
Under cover of darkness, it's difficult to make accurate judgments when targeting Wyoming game and fish. You may unintentionally shoot an endangered species or a fellow person.
To best protect hunters (and Wyoming game and fish), the state has made night hunting illegal in most cases.
When Can I Use Artificial Light in the Wild in Wyoming?
You can use artificial light in the wild at nighttime, but you cannot use it to aid in hunting activities. You can only use artificial light (like a headlamp or lantern) for guidance and convenience — nothing else. Avoid using any artificial light or night vision goggles to scan the area.
Coyote Hunting in Wyoming
Coyotes in Wyoming are easy to come by. The coyote is one of several Wyoming game and fish that the state defines as predators, meaning you can take them freely. There are no bag limits, and even non-residents can partake in coyote hunting.
However, the laws of no night hunting in Wyoming still apply. You must also follow other general regulations when coyote hunting, such as not shooting from roads.
Safety Tips for Daytime Coyote Hunting
If you want to participate in coyote hunting, you'll need to go out during the daytime. Even with the sun as your guide, the activity can still be dangerous. Coyotes in Wyoming often live in solid family groups, meaning that there are likely others nearby if you see one.
Hunt for coyotes in Wyoming safely by adhering to these safety tips:
- Go with a partner when possible.
- Don't try to lure coyotes with food.
- Remain quiet and attentive as you're scanning an area.
Can you spotlight in Wyoming?
Spotlighting is the act of using artificial light to capture an animal's attention and lure them. Hunters who engage in this practice mainly use tools like handheld spotlights or vehicle headlights.
This practice is illegal, though some impatient or over-eager hunters will try it out if they feel they won't get caught.
Not only is this technique unethical, but many professionals consider it “cheap” and “unskillful." It provides the human with an unfair advantage and doesn't capture the true spirit of hunting.
What animals can you hunt year-round in Wyoming?
State law places hunting limitations on particular Wyoming game and fish. These restraints help maintain ideal populations and prevent endangerment or extinction.
However, some Wyoming game and fish don't have any restrictions. No matter the time of year, you can hunt any animals classified as predators. The following animals fall into this classification:
- Red fox
- Red fox
As long as you don't partake in night hunting in Wyoming, you can target these animals while remaining within the constraints of the law.
In terms of fish, you can keep any non-game fish year-round. Examples of non-game fish include:
- Common carp
- Emerald shiner
- Golden shiner
- Green swordtail
If you're interested in common game fish like brook trout or rock bass, you'll need to comply with limitations related to the current season and how many fish you can keep.
Can you use a thermal scope in Wyoming?
All animals emit infrared energy as heat. Infrared technology shows what otherwise would be invisible to the human eye. It detects slight temperature differences of everything in view. So, an elk standing next to a tree will stand out remarkably.
The tool used to spot these differences in infrared energy is a thermal scope. You can use it in complete darkness and poor weather conditions to spot animals.
While this tool is common among hunters in other states, it's illegal to use at nighttime in Wyoming. Using one after dark would mean you're violating the state's restrictions on nighttime hunting.
While after-dark thermal scope use is out of the question, the tool is not illegal to use during the day. Because animals are generally warmer than their surroundings, you'll be able to track them more easily from farther away during daylight hours.
Note: A thermal scope doesn't implement night vision technology. You should only use night vision technology in low-light environments (in states where night hunting is legal). However, you can use a thermal scope whenever, even on a bright, sunny day.
Where is the best hunting in Wyoming?
Wyoming has millions of acres of public land for taking wildlife. The best area depends on what Wyoming game and fish you're hunting. For example, you can travel to northwest Wyoming to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and find plenty of bighorn sheep, bleak bears, and mule deer.
If you're more interested in elk, you can visit the Shoshone National Forest or the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Moose chasers will find plenty of game in the Bighorn Mountains or the Snowy Range.
For an unforgettable fly fishing experience, you can make your way to the Snake River or the Wind River Range.
When choosing your hunting grounds, ensure you don't venture onto private land (unless you have the owner's explicit written permission).