Hunter hot spots
Gear up for a big-game bonanza this fall, as our exclusive annual hunting forecast of deer, moose, elk, bears and more reveals
This past February in Alberta was really cold, and spring was slow in arriving. Overall, however, the winter was better than average, and with few incidents of winterkill, most reports for big-game animals are positive. So, Alberta hunters can rejoice—the game managers predict this should be a good fall.
This species can be found across most of the province, but the highest harvest is in the Foothills zone and the southern wildlife management units (WMUs) of the Northern Boreal zone. There are no concerns with black bear numbers.
Provincially, elk numbers are stable, and while they’re down in the Mountain and Foothills zones, they’re up in the Prairie and Parkland zones. Hunting opportunities will be adjusted to reflect the latest game inventories.
Moose populations in the Prairie and Parkland zones are doing well, but they’re struggling in the Northern Boreal and Foothills zones. Hunters will have fewer opportunities where moose numbers are down, but that will be compensated somewhat by increased opportunities in areas such as the Peace River Valley.
After two consecutive winters that were relatively mild, mule deer numbers are recovering from the nasty winters of several years ago. Unfortunately for this species—and hunters—chronic wasting disease (CWD) is becoming as much of a concern as winter die-off. Reports of CWD are increasing, and the range of infected areas is expanding. For this fall, though, the prospects for mule deer hunters are looking good.
The severity of winters largely controls the population of this species. Thankfully, the past couple of winters have been good, and pronghorn numbers are up. In fact, they may be approaching the highest numbers typically seen in southern Alberta. All signs point to another good year for hunters; if drawn, their chances of success are very high.
White-tailed deer are doing fine in Alberta. This species can recovery quickly from a bad winter, and the two recent relatively mild winters have allowed populations to grow nicely. In short, there are plenty of opportunities to hunt whitetails in the province.