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Wyoming's deer factory - the Black Hills - is emptier than ever

A drought-driven disease devastated deer populations in far northeast Wyoming, and recovery is slow going.

DEVILS TOWER-When the cyclic population of deer near Ogden Driskill's Crook County ranch peaks, sometimes he'll count as many as 800 whitetails grazing away in a single meadow.

That circle-shaped pasture draws in the deer because of its irrigated, nutritious grasses, and it doubles as a venue for nightly 6 p.m. hayrides targeted at tourists. The throngs visiting Northeast Wyoming pack onto a trailer towed by a tractor to enjoy views of the 5,112-foot-high spire that towers over Driskill's property. 

During the fall of 2021, staff at Driskill's Bear Lodge Cattle Company took on a new task:...