Montana Mule Deer Mismanagement

ShootsManyBullets

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2013
Messages
2,082
Location
OR Trail
I just hunted hard for 3 days in 2 general otc mule deer units and did not see a single mule deer.
This includes time sitting behind NL pures on a tripod and a 85mm STS spotter.

Over 25 miles total.
Better lace em up a little tighter. . .
Or take the lens cap off the Swaros. :)
 

MTLabrador

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 16, 2020
Messages
3,649
Location
Montana
I drew a permit that I’ve had good luck with before. I saw very few deer and exactly one buck that I would have been slightly interested in shooting on public land this year. Never got a shot at him. The last three times I went out I didn’t see a single mule deer. I’m hunting mountain whitetails next fall.

#selective #oldwarriors #rut #wonderfultradition
 

SAJ-99

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
3,244
Location
E Washington
What data are we talking about? Montana doesn’t really have any useful data. They do surveys by phone and have some limited areas they do counts. That’s all I know about and it’s all a joke. Useless
All data is useful. I have posted enough information on this thread that you can piece together the method. You can see the transects they fly Pre and post season year after year. That is a pretty good way statistically to get a population count on wildlife. I’m not sure what you want them to do that would be better?

Phone surveys could be improved by mandatory reporting, no doubt. But it probably wouldn’t change the total numbers, just the confidence interval. It would probably change unit harvest numbers that are affected by small sample size. Accuracy would improve, and it shouldnt be that expensive to do.

What I struggle with is the use of AHM. AHM revolves around changing season structure based on population and conditions so that harvest is surplus, I.e compensatory not additive. It works well with ducks, but big game? We know deer/elk populations fluctuate based on a variety of factors. We know that landowners have a social tolerance for animals. Setting seasons to hit that sweet spot where harvest is just enough- compensatory when population is low, additive when it is high- seems almost impossible. But, and I said this earlier, they do it with antelope using a different season-setting structure and there is less complaining.
 

DougStickney

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2022
Messages
1,117
All data is useful. I have posted enough information on this thread that you can piece together the method. You can see the transects they fly Pre and post season year after year. That is a pretty good way statistically to get a population count on wildlife. I’m not sure what you want them to do that would be better?

Phone surveys could be improved by mandatory reporting, no doubt. But it probably wouldn’t change the total numbers, just the confidence interval. It would probably change unit harvest numbers that are affected by small sample size. Accuracy would improve, and it shouldnt be that expensive to do.

What I struggle with is the use of AHM. AHM revolves around changing season structure based on population and conditions so that harvest is surplus, I.e compensatory not additive. It works well with ducks, but big game? We know deer/elk populations fluctuate based on a variety of factors. We know that landowners have a social tolerance for animals. Setting seasons to hit that sweet spot where harvest is just enough- compensatory when population is low, additive when it is high- seems almost impossible. But, and I said this earlier, they do it with antelope using a different season-setting structure and there is less complaining.
FWP counts are very suspect to me. They have been for a long time. Their post season buck to doe ratio always hovers around 40:100 I’m also not seeing that haven’t for a long time. I told them after 2012 things aren’t good they disagreed and maintained everything is fine. finally two years later they quit issuing doe tags for a brief period. My comments can easily be dismissed as anecdotal which is fine. A lot of people have way more knowledge than me and are saying the same thing. You could even talk to landowners even the ones that don’t like deer in their fields and they have told me they have not seen anything like it. If I don’t trust the data but I don’t have my own data set do I just have to believe everything they are telling me and everything is fine even if it’s crystal clear to me that it isn’t?
 

rogerthat

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 29, 2015
Messages
1,328
All data is useful. I have posted enough information on this thread that you can piece together the method. You can see the transects they fly Pre and post season year after year. That is a pretty good way statistically to get a population count on wildlife. I’m not sure what you want them to do that would be better?

Phone surveys could be improved by mandatory reporting, no doubt. But it probably wouldn’t change the total numbers, just the confidence interval. It would probably change unit harvest numbers that are affected by small sample size. Accuracy would improve, and it shouldnt be that expensive to do.

What I struggle with is the use of AHM. AHM revolves around changing season structure based on population and conditions so that harvest is surplus, I.e compensatory not additive. It works well with ducks, but big game? We know deer/elk populations fluctuate based on a variety of factors. We know that landowners have a social tolerance for animals. Setting seasons to hit that sweet spot where harvest is just enough- compensatory when population is low, additive when it is high- seems almost impossible. But, and I said this earlier, they do it with antelope using a different season-setting structure and there is less complaining.
I’m very well aware of how the data is collected on their counts. How familiar are you with their flight areas? Why do they have an incorrect assessment of the state of mule deer? Those are the questions you should be asking yourself.

The phone surveys are trash. They have no good data on harvest where it’s occurring or how much hunter effort is being put forth for that harvest, where it occurs administratively, etc, etc. they don’t even know where their general season hunters are hunting.

As far as AHM, they literally haven’t changed anything in 40 years besides increase opportunity, youth seasons etc. so that is a nothing burger. It’s just gibberish written on paper just like their “data”.

Mule deer management in montana needs a complete reboot.
 
Last edited:

mtmiller

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2001
Messages
11,194
Location
Montana
The phone surveys are trash. They have no good data on harvest where it’s occurring or how much hunter effort is being put forth for that harvest, where it occurs administratively, etc, etc. they don’t even know where their general season hunters are hunting.
If only there was only a better way to survey hunters.


1669743845591.png
 

SAJ-99

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
3,244
Location
E Washington
FWP counts are very suspect to me. They have been for a long time. Their post season buck to doe ratio always hovers around 40:100 I’m also not seeing that haven’t for a long time. I told them after 2012 things aren’t good they disagreed and maintained everything is fine. finally two years later they quit issuing doe tags for a brief period. My comments can easily be dismissed as anecdotal which is fine. A lot of people have way more knowledge than me and are saying the same thing. You could even talk to landowners even the ones that don’t like deer in their fields and they have told me they have not seen anything like it. If I don’t trust the data but I don’t have my own data set do I just have to believe everything they are telling me and everything is fine even if it’s crystal clear to me that it isn’t?
Do you think they are just fabricated or do you think they are just inaccurate? If the former, I suspect there is nothing they can do to convince you otherwise. If the latter, how do you propose they count and deer and estimate populations over a variety of landscapes? Keep in mind that if your idea is implemented, it may have zero historical data to compare to.

I'm not defending FWP or the phone surveys. There should be mandatory harvest reporting online. Period. However, I will defend the statistical method used to estimate harvest. I will say that you may be surprise how close the number is to what the phone survey provided, but maybe some of the professionals on HT can tell us what other states saw when they went to mandatory reporting. I think a lot of hunters want more detailed location data. I think FWP could withhold that data in the name of protecting the resource.

As far as AHM, they literally haven’t changed anything in 40 years besides increase opportunity, youth seasons etc. so that is a nothing burger. It’s just gibberish written on paper just like their “data”.
Sure they do. They change doe tag numbers. That is their lever in the model. It might be fair to say they do so too reactively. I think the question for most people, other than those raging against the machine, is would you be ok if deer management looked like Antelope management?
 

rogerthat

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 29, 2015
Messages
1,328
Sure they do. They change doe tag numbers. That is their lever in the model. It might be fair to say they do so too reactively. I think the question for most people, other than those raging against the machine, is would you be ok if deer management looked like Antelope management?
The agency biologists actually told me this year that for region 7 the doe harvest is a non-factor. 3,000 or 11,000 doe tags….it makes no difference in the grand scheme of things when you are talking an area the size of region 7. The change to lower doe tags was just so that the agency could point to this as responding yet still allowing that “opportunity”.

Sounds like using a piece of cooked spaghetti as their lever to me😂😂
 

SAJ-99

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
3,244
Location
E Washington
The agency biologists actually told me this year that for region 7 the doe harvest is a non-factor. 3,000 or 11,000 doe tags….it makes no difference in the grand scheme of things when you are talking an area the size of region 7. The change to lower doe tags was just so that the agency could point to this as responding yet still allowing that “opportunity”.

Sounds like using a piece of cooked spaghetti as their lever to me😂😂
Agree, because region 7 is also general. That is another of the core problems with AHM for deer. The number of people who buy 5 doe tags and fill the back of the pickup is very small. I think we agree that they have to limit the total # of tags. Again, I don't agree with FWP on how they do stuff, but I chose not to just "rage" on the internet, because I doubt we get changes that way. We need to target our suggestions. There is no way they are going to blow it up and do it all over from scratch.
 

rogerthat

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 29, 2015
Messages
1,328
Agree, because region 7 is also general. That is another of the core problems with AHM for deer. The number of people who buy 5 doe tags and fill the back of the pickup is very small. I think we agree that they have to limit the total # of tags. Again, I don't agree with FWP on how they do stuff, but I chose not to just "rage" on the internet, because I doubt we get changes that way. We need to target our suggestions. There is no way they are going to blow it up and do it all over from scratch.
You mean raging on the internet doesn’t get results? Dang…time for a rethink…but at least I feel better
 

BuzzH

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2001
Messages
15,016
Location
Laramie, WY
Agree, because region 7 is also general. That is another of the core problems with AHM for deer. The number of people who buy 5 doe tags and fill the back of the pickup is very small. I think we agree that they have to limit the total # of tags. Again, I don't agree with FWP on how they do stuff, but I chose not to just "rage" on the internet, because I doubt we get changes that way. We need to target our suggestions. There is no way they are going to blow it up and do it all over from scratch.
At this point, why does the data really matter?

Why collect data when you change nothing for 60+ years in regard to season structure?\

The methods used to collect the population estimates are also pretty suspect...counting road killed deer to determine how the deer population is doing? Glassing from a highway to determine how deer are doing? Really? That's the "best" they can do?

Flying the same old routes they did 50 years ago, you know, because the pressure we put on elk, deer, etc. with 11 weeks and over a million people, increased development, etc. etc. hasn't changed the patterns of animal use?

But, yes, it is suspect. In another thread I pointed out THEIR data suggested that there were about 70 bulls available in the herd where I hunt. Harvest was 86 bulls...is that "sound" data to you?

I'm no stats major, but took enough in college to know something isn't "adding" up with their numbers.

What those numbers tell me is, regardless of the confidence interval, or even my confidence in their numbers, is that I'm pretty certain they're killing about every legal bull, every single year, in the area I hunt.

That's ridiculous and also ridiculous that nothing has changed management wise to address it.

Also specific to mule deer doe harvest in Montana, WHERE those does are killed is as important as how many. Something the MTFWP has NOT considered, or cared about in my lifetime. Hunting has drastically decreased public land deer and elk in Montana and the MTFWP has done nothing to address that for the most part, either.

I think in some cases the damage may be irreversible, or at the very least, take a few decades to reverse. How, where, and why animals use certain habitat, and how long it takes them to learn that from each other...is really something. My eyes were opened to this with the data coming from UW regarding the migration initiative. "New" animals just don't miraculously appear to occupy habitat where they've been eliminated, it takes a long time to recover.

I asked a specific question regarding how long it would take for an introduced herd to figure out and form a migration route...100 years was the answer.

Yet, the MTFWP is largely wiping out elk and deer on public land. If they're "figuring" that they can just drop the doe quota, or number of permits each hunter can have, and get those numbers back in a few years...they better do some more "figuring".

It's not that easy, if it were, we'd be seeing elk and deer recover in areas that hunters have abandoned for lack of game 10-15 years ago.
 
Last edited:

JEL

Well-known member
Joined
May 20, 2013
Messages
1,496
Location
Helena, MT
I think in some cases the damage may be irreversible, or at the very least, take a few decades to reverse. How, where, and why animals use certain habitat, and how long it takes them to learn that from each other...is really something. My eyes were opened to this with the data coming from UW regarding the migration initiative. "New" animals just don't miraculously appear to occupy habitat where they've been eliminated, it takes a long time to recover.
Unfortunately I believe this is true. When you think of habitat loss, predators numbers, global warming, drought, displacement by elk along with politics mule deer don’t stand a chance.
 

sclancy27

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 23, 2022
Messages
155
Also specific to mule deer doe harvest in Montana, WHERE those does are killed is as important as how many. Something the MTFWP has NOT considered, or cared about in my lifetime. Hunting has drastically decreased public land deer and elk in Montana and the MTFWP has done nothing to address that for the most part, either.
This is exactly an issue that almost no one has considered. If some Wisconsonite (sorry, I just see a lot of Wisconsin tags in Eastern MT) roles up and mag dumps an entire herd of does, what happens? They just erased decades of learned behavior off the landscape. I have a sense the above scenario is not that rare....
 

antlerradar

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2012
Messages
3,007
Location
SE Montana
This is exactly an issue that almost no one has considered. If some Wisconsonite (sorry, I just see a lot of Wisconsin tags in Eastern MT) roles up and mag dumps an entire herd of does, what happens? They just erased decades of learned behavior off the landscape. I have a sense the above scenario is not that rare....
I have come across doe hunters gutting out crooked numbers of does in the same spot. Just like that the herd is gone.
 

SAJ-99

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
3,244
Location
E Washington
At this point, why does the data really matter?

Why collect data when you change nothing for 60+ years in regard to season structure?\

The methods used to collect the population estimates are also pretty suspect...counting road killed deer to determine how the deer population is doing? Glassing from a highway to determine how deer are doing? Really? That's the "best" they can do?

Flying the same old routes they did 50 years ago, you know, because the pressure we put on elk, deer, etc. with 11 weeks and over a million people, increased development, etc. etc. hasn't changed the patterns of animal use?

But, yes, it is suspect. In another thread I pointed out THEIR data suggested that there were about 70 bulls available in the herd where I hunt. Harvest was 86 bulls...is that "sound" data to you?

I'm no stats major, but took enough in college to know something isn't "adding" up with their numbers.

What those numbers tell me is, regardless of the confidence interval, or even my confidence in their numbers, is that I'm pretty certain they're killing about every legal bull, every single year, in the area I hunt.

That's ridiculous and also ridiculous that nothing has changed management wise to address it.

Also specific to mule deer doe harvest in Montana, WHERE those does are killed is as important as how many. Something the MTFWP has NOT considered, or cared about in my lifetime. Hunting has drastically decreased public land deer and elk in Montana and the MTFWP has done nothing to address that for the most part, either.

I think in some cases the damage may be irreversible, or at the very least, take a few decades to reverse. How, where, and why animals use certain habitat, and how long it takes them to learn that from each other...is really something. My eyes were opened to this with the data coming from UW regarding the migration initiative. "New" animals just don't miraculously appear to occupy habitat where they've been eliminated, it takes a long time to recover.

I asked a specific question regarding how long it would take for an introduced herd to figure out and form a migration route...100 years was the answer.

Yet, the MTFWP is largely wiping out elk and deer on public land. If they're "figuring" that they can just drop the doe quota, or number of permits each hunter can have, and get those numbers back in a few years...they better do some more "figuring".

It's not that easy, if it were, we'd be seeing elk and deer recover in areas that hunters have abandoned for lack of game 10-15 years ago.
Well, this was in the AHM report from last year. So push forward (i.e. we can continue bitching and moaning) with the new AHM report. But I don't think I have seen a better suggestion on how to estimate populations.

When possible, trend area data will be used to determine a population’s status, or data from several trend areas might be combined to make decisions on a multi-HD, Regional or PMU scale. These data, along with other information from check stations, harvest statistics, and input from sportspersons and landowners, will determine which hunting regulations are recommended. If survey conditions lead to uncertainty in the survey trend data, or if survey trend data is unavailable, buck harvest data or other information in lieu of trend area data may be used to recommend a season type. The prescribed standard, liberal, and restrictive types are recommendations only, as the Commission has the full authority to set seasons and quotas which may differ from these recommendations.
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
17,185
Location
Almost Arkansas…..
This is exactly an issue that almost no one has considered. If some Wisconsonite (sorry, I just see a lot of Wisconsin tags in Eastern MT) roles up and mag dumps an entire herd of does, what happens? They just erased decades of learned behavior off the landscape. I have a sense the above scenario is not that rare....
It’s happened with elk as well.

On a macro scale, it’s five deer. Who cares? When it’s repeated, now all of a sudden you start seeing macro level effects when the animals are gone and it takes years for them to come back.
 

DougStickney

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2022
Messages
1,117
Do you think they are just fabricated or do you think they are just inaccurate? If the former, I suspect there is nothing they can do to convince you otherwise. If the latter, how do you propose they count and deer and estimate populations over a variety of landscapes? Keep in mind that if your idea is implemented, it may have zero historical data to compare to.

I'm not defending FWP or the phone surveys. There should be mandatory harvest reporting online. Period. However, I will defend the statistical method used to estimate harvest. I will say that you may be surprise how close the number is to what the phone survey provided, but maybe some of the professionals on HT can tell us what other states saw when they went to mandatory reporting. I think a lot of hunters want more detailed location data. I think FWP could withhold that data in the name of protecting the resource.


Sure they do. They change doe tag numbers. That is their lever in the model. It might be fair to say they do so too reactively. I think the question for most people, other than those raging against the machine, is would you be ok if deer management looked like Antelope management?
Is the antelope management much better? I don’t see why they would fabricate numbers there has to be a flaw in how they are arriving at them. Numbers never recovered on public after 2012 deer or antelope. They declared a great comeback. Tags got jacked up numbers on public didn’t come back. They got hit with bad drought and it’s going to be damn hard for them to spin their way out of this one. Is there good hunting in Montana sure in some areas on private that are managed to let wildlife recover. Wildlife on public never got that luxury. And they are gone. Will they come back? Will we let them come back? I doubt it.
 
Caribou Gear

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
104,730
Messages
1,732,808
Members
32,743
Latest member
knjax15
Top