Bison hunting in the Yukon

  • Get a bison hunt permit
  • When and where can I hunt bison?
  • ​Hunt wisely and respectfully
  • Wood bison hunter effort survey results

  1. Get a bison hunt permit


    To hunt wood bison you must have:

    • a valid Yukon big game hunting licence;
    • a bison seal;
    • a bison permit; and
    • written permission to hunt within 1 kilometre of any residence if that’s what you plan to do, whether the occupants are there or not.

    To hunt bison on Category A and B Settlement Lands, you also must have written permission from the First Nation who owns those lands:

    • the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations 867-634-4200;
    • the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation 867-863-5576;
    • the Kwanlin Dün First Nation 867-633-7800;
    • the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council 867-668-3613; or
    • the Kluane First Nation 867-841-4274.

    Where to get a bison permit

    You can get a bison permit from any Department of Environment office, free of charge.

    About bison hunting in the Yukon

    Bison were reintroduced to the Yukon in the late 1980s as part of a national program to recover endangered species. Since releasing 170 bison, the herd has grown to 1,200 –1,400 animals. The herd's range has also grown to include the Aishihik, Sekulmun and Hutshi lakes watersheds.

    One of the aims of the 2012 bison management plan is to limit the herd’s size through hunting. The plan is currently under review.

    Since 1998:

    • more than 3,200 bison have been harvested;
    • 57 per cent were male; and
    • 43 per cent were female.

    In the 2021-2022 season, hunters harvested 283 wood bison.

    Hunters are allowed to harvest only a few herds in Canada. Hunting wild wood bison is a unique opportunity.

  2. When and where can I hunt bison?

    Season dates vary by Game Management Subzone (GMS) and area. If the annual harvest limit is reached, the bison season will close.

    You can hunt at two times in fall and winter.

    September 1 to October 31

    You can hunt bison in:

    • all of Game Management Zones 3, 7, 8 and 9;
    • Zone 4, except GMS 4-03 and 4-51;
    • GMS 5-01; and 5-04 to 5-07;
    • the North Klondike Highway Corridor, a 1-kilometre-wide corridor along the west side of the North Klondike Highway between Whitehorse and Braeburn; and
    • the Alaska Highway Corridor, a 3-kilometre-wide corridor along the north side of the Alaska Highway between Whitehorse and the Slims River bridge.

    November 1 to March 31

    You can hunt bison in:

    • all of Game Management Zones 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9; and
    • most of Zone 4, except for GMS 4-03 and 4-51.

    Bison-hunting maps

    Go to bison-hunting maps

    • The Yukon wood bison core range map shows Game Management Zones, roads, lakes and rivers. Print version costs $10.
    • The Yukon wood bison hunting seasons map shows the areas open to hunting during fall and winter.

    Go to Aishihik bison concentration maps

    • The Aishihik bison areas of concentration maps show areas where the bison herd was located dating back to early winter 2010.

    Detailed topographic maps are available for purchase at Department of Environment offices. or you can download these maps for free online.


  3. ​Hunt wisely and respectfully

    Show respect while bison hunting

    • Avoid active traplines.
    • Limit the disturbance you cause for area residents and all wildlife.

    Bring the right firearms and ammunition

    You can only use these firearms to hunt bison:

    • A centrefire rifle:
      • .30 calibre or larger; 
      • with minimum 180 grain bullets (premium bullets strongly recommended); and
      • with a minimum 2,800 ft./lb. energy at the muzzle. 
    • A black powder rifle:
      • .50 calibre or larger; 
      • firing an elongated bullet with a minimum 90 grain charge.
    • A black powder rifle:
      • .54 calibre or larger;
      • firing a round ball with a minimum 120 grain charge.

    Hunters using a black powder rifle must have a centrefire rifle as back up. The back up rifle must meet the centrefire firearm requirement above for hunting wood bison.

    Use the bison hunting target to set your sights before heading out. 

    How to choose a bison

    • Choose a bison that’s separate from the herd
    • Keep an eye on it after it has been shot. Wounded animals may rejoin the herd and can be difficult to track.

    Don’t shoot collared animals

    Check to make sure the bison isn’t wearing a collar before you shoot.

    If you kill a collared bison by mistake, you must:

    Wait for the right shot

    • Be certain of your skill with your rifle and your ability to cleanly kill a bison.
    • Don't shoot too high:
      • The kill zone on bison is much lower than on other species because of their hump.
      • The vital organs are all below the base of the horns.
    • If you can’t hit the heart or lung area well, don’t shoot.
    • Head shots from a distance aren't effective.
    • Avoid long distance shots and poor angle shots.
    • An animal standing broadside will give you the best shot.
    • Be cautious about bullets bouncing off heavy bone.
    • Don't shoot at running bison.

    Check that you hit the bison

    • If you’re not sure whether you hit a bison, check the area carefully for signs such as blood and hair.
    • You must make every effort to track down and kill a wounded bison.

    Make sure the bison is dead

    • Make sure it's dead and not just wounded.
    • Approach the bison with caution.
    • Have a follow-up shot ready in case the bison gets up.

    Properly field dress the bison

    Even at -30°C, bison meat can spoil if you don’t deal with it properly. The thick hide, fat and hair on bison are incredible insulators. After you're sure that the bison is dead:

    1. Remove the hide immediately.
    2. Remove the guts.
    3. Quarter the animal as soon as possible to help cool the meat.

    You can only leave behind:

    • the gut pile;
    • the spine;
    • the head;
    • the hide; and
    • the bones, but only if you’ve removed all the meat from them.

    You cannot leave meat in the field.

    Watch our video Field Dressing Big Game to see a way to do it.

    Share the meat

    A bison can sometimes put over 250 kilograms of meat on the table. Be prepared to deal with this meat. You can share meat with friends or donate it to a local charity. Sharing the meat may help reduce hunting pressure on other wildlife, such as moose and caribou.

    Read the hunting wood bison information sheet to find more tips.

  4. Wood bison hunter effort survey results

    View the results of the 2021 Yukon bison hunter effort survey.

    Thank you to the hunters who responded to the bison survey and provided valuable input. 

    The Department of Environment conducts hunter effort surveys to better understand hunters' on-the-land experience and inform future management decisions. 

    See results from previous hunter effort surveys.


For questions about bison hunting in Yukon, email [email protected] or phone: 867-667-5652 or toll free in the Yukon: 1-800-661-0408, ext. 5652.