2020 Montana deer recap

BlakeA

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 13, 2012
Messages
1,882
Location
North Dakota
Not 50, but a good 20+ for me...seeing exactly the same thing. It's getting really hard to justify a deer tag, and as an nr native I even get them half price. I can't say for sure that I've bought my last, but it's likely.

IMO it's the most overrated and overpriced big game tag in the west for NRs if you are strictly hunting public land. My last three tags all went unfilled and in the garbage at $700 a pop. Lots of other fun hunt options out there.
 

brownbear932008

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 15, 2011
Messages
2,198
Location
SWVA
IMO it's the most overrated and overpriced big game tag in the west for NRs if you are strictly hunting public land. My last three tags all went unfilled and in the garbage at $700 a pop. Lots of other fun hunt options out there.
I couldn't agree more on the deer tags there. I haven't went since 14 I believe and that was my one and only on private. Severely over priced for the quality to be had unless you go guided on good private.
 

Shangobango

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
983
Location
Louisiana
Don't get your hopes up too much. I did 7+ miles in the bottom of Poker Jim yesterday. For those of you that don't know the area this is the middle of the biggest and most remote roadless ground on the Custer. It was down right pathetic. Two inches of two day old snow and I never saw a deer. Only cut tracks of one group of five or six does and fawns and a group of what looked to be three small bucks. At least the buck/doe ratio is looking good.
Man that stinks. There weren't many deer in there when I was there the first two weeks of November. I figured that more would move in later in the year. At least I have confirmation that I probably wasn't just failing to find deer when there were a lot in there.
 
Last edited:

SaskHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 7, 2018
Messages
1,540
Location
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan has a great mule deer plan....... let's go with that.

But it's for residents only ;)

TBH, I like the way Sasky does things, most zones are OTC archery for eithersex mule deer and if you want to hunt with a rifle you have to draw a tag (which are VERY limited). Our mule deer are, to quote your Prez: "Yuuuuuuuge".

I drew a lesser zone from a low priority pool and shot what I consider a medium sized buck due to a crazy snow storm that blocked access to most of my areas. I passed much bigger bucks earlier in the season and I think it's crazy that I got to pass on 160-170" mule deer regularly. I know most guys outside of Sask would give their left nut for a shot at my "consolation prize" buck (to be clear, I am extremely happy with my buck, I hunted HARD and put 10+ kms most days during the season, I am happy with the choices I made when I passed larger bucks in the early season before Winterpocalypse hit, weather and conditions considered, my buck WAS a trophy).
 

SaskHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 7, 2018
Messages
1,540
Location
Saskatchewan
Doing away with the general deer tag would help tremendously. For example, in Saskatchewan when applying to the draw I can choose up to 6 separate zones. If I draw, I am limited to that zone only and cannot buy an OTC archery mule deer tag.

The archery mule deer tags are OTC and open in most farmland zones (southern half of the province, there aren't any MD in the north anyway).
 

EYJONAS!

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 17, 2017
Messages
3,330
But it's for residents only ;)

TBH, I like the way Sasky does things, most zones are OTC archery for eithersex mule deer and if you want to hunt with a rifle you have to draw a tag (which are VERY limited). Our mule deer are, to quote your Prez: "Yuuuuuuuge".

I drew a lesser zone from a low priority pool and shot what I consider a medium sized buck due to a crazy snow storm that blocked access to most of my areas. I passed much bigger bucks earlier in the season and I think it's crazy that I got to pass on 160-170" mule deer regularly. I know most guys outside of Sask would give their left nut for a shot at my "consolation prize" buck (to be clear, I am extremely happy with my buck, I hunted HARD and put 10+ kms most days during the season, I am happy with the choices I made when I passed larger bucks in the early season before Winterpocalypse hit, weather and conditions considered, my buck WAS a trophy).
Bout all I'm looking for. A social distancing mule deer tag. 😉

We could have some "yuuuuuuuugggggeee" bucks to with a couple minor adjustments.
 

Blackbear60

New member
Joined
May 15, 2018
Messages
8
Location
Virginia
I've been reading trying to find a state to try for mule deer next year but that $700 almost puts it out of reach for me.
 

Blackbear60

New member
Joined
May 15, 2018
Messages
8
Location
Virginia
I've started looking there, their website seems pretty complicated for someone who is just starting to try and plan a hunt haha then again I aint to tech savvy.
 

JT88

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 2, 2020
Messages
192
Location
Montana
The lack of management by MT FWP is just absolutely painful. They aren't even capable of managing overall numbers, much less buck to doe ratios & maturity levels. Personally I think a 4 point rule for mule deer and doing away with or limiting mule deer B tags would help tremendously. Region 3 is becoming a wasteland for mule deer, as is most of the western part of the state. I just don't see the reasoning behind letting everyone shoot a fork every year. I honestly wish we had a first time hunter tag where you could shoot any deer, and from then on a 4 point or better rule for the rest of your life. It's so painful knowing the trophy potential that will probably never be realized again
 
Last edited:

JT88

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 2, 2020
Messages
192
Location
Montana
A four point rule will save some forkies but it will hurt your chances at a truly big deer.
The chances at a truly big deer in MT haven't been good in a very long time. 160" would be considered huge in most units, especially on public land. Surrounding states with a management system outshine us year after year. Maybe the 4 point rule isn't the answer but why shoot a fork every year is my question? It seems like frustration killing to me, not hunting. With the exception of new or young hunters at least. Maybe my expectations are too high, but talk to someone who hunted in the 60s. There were 200" deer being taken. That sure sounds cool
 

antlerradar

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2012
Messages
1,942
Location
SE Montana
The chances at a truly big deer in MT haven't been good in a very long time. 160" would be considered huge in most units, especially on public land. Surrounding states with a management system outshine us year after year. Maybe the 4 point rule isn't the answer but why shoot a fork every year is my question? It seems like frustration killing to me, not hunting. With the exception of new or young hunters at least. Maybe my expectations are too high, but talk to someone who hunted in the 60s. There were 200" deer being taken. That sure sounds cool
I think that we are not that far off on what we hope for the future. I understand your frustration with hunters that shoot a fork or three point every year just to fill their tag, but I am also a believer in being able to shoot any buck you are happy with. As a guy that likes to see big deer I would much rather a guy shoot a fork or three point than a 2 or 3 year old four point. The chances that the fork or three point will never grow big even at old age are much better than the young four point. The reason that MT and for that matter the rest of the states are having a difficult time growing big deer is that hunters are becoming far more selective in the bucks that they shoot. We shoot most of the bucks with the best potential when they are young and the bucks with little potential are passed by many hunters. A four point restriction will mandate this. If you want to grow better deer with antler point restrictions you need to go with a three point or less requirement.
You are right about truly big deer in MT. A 160 is rare on public land and we could be growing much better bucks. I know full well what the 60's were like. My dad and a neighbor guided hunters back then. A look at their old photo albums would make anyone jealous. I have seen more than my share of big deer but few would compare to the best bucks in those old albums.
 
Last edited:

MTTW

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
215
Location
Montana
They tried the point restrictions years ago in SW Mt. They failed in the areas I am familiar with. Here is a 3 year old buck my brother shot years back. Cementum aged. Bucks like this need to live to be old in order to have big bucks. It will never happen with over the counter, full month of November hunting. Good management can't be replaced. We have never seen widespread good mule deer management in Montana. The big bucks of the 60s happened with 2 deer either sex management. It worked because there were large sanctuary areas and low predator numbers. Good mule deer hunting in MT is always temporary, mainly because management doesn't adapt to changing conditions.

1608820687455.png
 

brownbear932008

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 15, 2011
Messages
2,198
Location
SWVA
They tried the point restrictions years ago in SW Mt. They failed in the areas I am familiar with. Here is a 3 year old buck my brother shot years back. Cementum aged. Bucks like this need to live to be old in order to have big bucks. It will never happen with over the counter, full month of November hunting. Good management can't be replaced. We have never seen widespread good mule deer management in Montana. The big bucks of the 60s happened with 2 deer either sex management. It worked because there were large sanctuary areas and low predator numbers. Good mule deer hunting in MT is always temporary, mainly because management doesn't adapt to changing conditions.

View attachment 167443
Some good stats sure would be nice from the state. When did MT happen to go away from the two deer limit I'm assuming it was a two buck limit or either sex right? Just a quick Google the state's human population in 1960 was 679k it is expected to be like 1.08 million this year. How can the state continue to manage the herds the same with basically no change in management strategy? I would think the deer population also grew in those years from 1960-2020 but I bet the numbers do not have the same growth rates. Interesting stuff to me I guess.
 

JT88

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 2, 2020
Messages
192
Location
Montana
Yeah, maybe the four point rule is a bad idea. I just hate to see the young ones being taken when they could turn out to be a really good buck when given a few years. It seems like a lot of guys hunt for a few days and if they don't see any mature bucks they shoot a young buck with the attitude that if they don't shoot it someone else will. I think that's a poor way to do things on our part as hunters
 

MTTW

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
215
Location
Montana
Some good stats sure would be nice from the state. When did MT happen to go away from the two deer limit I'm assuming it was a two buck limit or either sex right? Just a quick Google the state's human population in 1960 was 679k it is expected to be like 1.08 million this year. How can the state continue to manage the herds the same with basically no change in management strategy? I would think the deer population also grew in those years from 1960-2020 but I bet the numbers do not have the same growth rates. Interesting stuff to me I guess.
I was 12 and old enough to hunt in 1974 and that was the first year that tags were reduced to 1 deer either sex. Before that it was 2 deer either sex. Soon after I was old enough to hunt it was reduced to 1 buck. That is when we noticed that the decent bucks disappeared, when it went to 1 buck. It was reduced because deer numbers were crashing. Although deer numbers recovered in SW Mt the bucks never did. I always thought that hunters changed their focus from meat hunting to trophy hunting along in there. In the area that I live the general mule deer regs have been the same since the late 1970s.

During that time the winter range in this area has gone from holding many hundreds of deer to holding a few dozen. State deer numbers mean nothing. Eastern Mt is not western Mt.
 

bigsky2

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 17, 2016
Messages
472
Location
MONTANA
I hope you're right. I was hoping to watch the hearing but I'm watching the crossbow hearing in the Senate and for some reason it won't let me watch both.
 

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
94,507
Messages
1,408,371
Members
29,645
Latest member
Markleathers
Top