Montana Mule Deer Mismanagement

brocksw

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Just as an FYI, MT appears to do their aerial survey between Dec 1 and Jan 15. Then the spring survey is conducted between March 15 and April 30.

For whatever it's worth, by comparison ND does their fall count in October, and their spring count in May.

However, I'd recommend reading the attached pdf. That may address some of the questions being posed here about FWP methods and perspective. They talk directly about their survey areas, public vs private land, telemetry data, etc.
 

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DougStickney

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It’s the wine.🤷🏻‍♀️

Just curious if the most vocal complainers have any suggestions, or just more complaints? Railing just to rail gets old.

View attachment 254290
You could do anything but the current management and help things. I have not suggested ideas because I know how far from reality it is. I’m not sure I’ve disagreed with an idea that’s been pitched. Just don’t shoot more deer or add on any seasons. Anything else is a win.
 

rogerthat

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It’s the wine.🤷🏻‍♀️

Just curious if the most vocal complainers have any suggestions, or just more complaints? Railing just to rail gets old.

View attachment 254290
Not sure that I’m a vocal complainer but if I am I will take that to mean I know my crap when it comes to mule deer, but I laid out my suggestions. I definitely would like to see fwp acquire more and better data. So that would mean more flight transects to tighten up those confidence intervals or whatever. Paid for by resident license increases.

I will freely admit I have never counted deer from a plane. My grandma always said flying is like poison, one drop will kill you.
 

BuzzH

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I try to think of counter arguments. Increasing the number of transects to include more public land is a great suggestion. FWP excuse is plane time and fuel costs money. So we end up at increasing tag fees to compensate. Im for that too.
It’s how you prep for a debate so you don’t get your ass handed to you. Carry on with your complaining…
Gee...I don't know, maybe throw your shit population model in the dumpster where it belongs and manage based on observed animals.

Maybe quit flying the same routes for "consistency"....and fly where animals actually exist?

I don't know maybe used peer reviewed science to manage native goat populations instead of wiping then out of the bitterroot.

Stop lying about shoulder seasons.

Stop killing mule deer does, like 20 years ago.

Manage pronghorn in a way other than 1/3 of the state being one unit.

Change season dates to something other than the same as seasons in 1957.

Montana management is a joke.
 

BuzzH

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That’s one district. And which number is false? Harvest or population? You can’t use one district to disprove many.

I knew a biologist in an area I won’t name. He was so incompetent the pilot of the plane had better counts than he did. But, the neighboring biologists had excellent and accurate data.

I also knew a biologist who refused to fly and count elk in the area. Said it was a waste of time so he just didn’t do it.
You're the expert, you tell me which is dogshit...I suspect both.

Another question I asked the biologist was how likely it was to fly and find the exact same number of elk, 2 consecutive years in a row. He said just about impossible and then I emailed him his own flight "counts" that did just that.

There's more but I'd be giving away where I hunt if I posted it.

The
 

JLS

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You're the expert, you tell me which is dogshit...I suspect both.
No, I’m not the expert. Not sure why you’re taking this approach.

The point I was trying to make was just because data from one district is a mess doesn’t necessarily extrapolate to neighboring districts. Which, then confounds everything even more.

I have little faith in Montana’s harvest data. I do have faith in SOME of the population data. I have zero faith in Helena’s directives.
 

BuzzH

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No, I’m not the expert. Not sure why you’re taking this approach.

The point I was trying to make was just because data from one district is a mess doesn’t necessarily extrapolate to neighboring districts. Which, then confounds everything even more.

I have little faith in Montana’s harvest data. I do have faith in SOME of the population data. I have zero faith in Helena’s directives.
You think it's just one district?

I know it's not.
 

antlerradar

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SE Montana
A few thoughts on the Otter Creek transect.
A few years back FWP added the drainages on the Tongue River side of the divide to the transect. effectively doubling its size. The map @DougStickney provided does not indicate this change. So maybe the change was reversed, maybe the map is not updated. I would want to know answers when when looking at this data. I would hope that any time FWP compares the numbers in Otter Creek to those in the past the numbers are adjusted to account for the increase in the size of the area. If they are not we have a problem. Would not be hard to get record numbers if you increase the size.
The expanded area is boarded on three sides by private land and almost all the deer on the private winter on the transect and yes @Hunting Wife I have brought this up in the past.
The entire transect burned in 2000. Went from some of the thickest Ponderosa Pine in SE Montana to burnt sticks over night. When I asked the Bio if they were taking the fire into account in the numbers, the answer was the fire would not effect flight survey numbers. I have never done a flight survey, so maybe I am wrong, But I find this hard to believe.
I did the eight mile drive / stop and glass down the drainage to the south just yesterday, near perfect conditions and I spotted only 9 deer total. Three on public and six on the private at the mouth of the creek. I have done this drive several times a year for close to thirty years. Yesterday is as bad as I have ever seen. Should have kept a journal but I can remember times when I would see two dozen bucks in the 90's. My close up vision may be failing, but I am still fairly good at glassing so I can not blame it on my old age.
 
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JLS

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The entire transect burned in 2000. Went from some of the thickest Ponderosa Pine in SE Montana to burnt sticks over night. When I asked the Bio if they were taking the fire into account in the numbers, the answer was the fire would not effect flight survey numbers.
That’s funny because if you recall, probably that same bio refused to fly for elk counts because the timber was too thick in 704.
 

brockel

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It’s the wine.🤷🏻‍♀️

Just curious if the most vocal complainers have any suggestions, or just more complaints? Railing just to rail gets old.

View attachment 254290

Guess I’m classified as a vocal complainer. My main complaint is managing the mule deer does by an entire region vs district. The excuse last year for the number of doe tags was “better to kill them now than let them die of starvation in the winter”. Now last year the drought was region wide. Is the excuse for the doe tags the same this year because much of 703 looked great for feed? 700 was in some nasty drought conditions this year because they didn’t get the snow and rains like we did. Are we still going to “kill them now so they don’t die of starvation” in every district or can we localize it to the districts that actually need it?
 

antlerradar

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Guess I’m classified as a vocal complainer. My main complaint is managing the mule deer does by an entire region vs district. The excuse last year for the number of doe tags was “better to kill them now than let them die of starvation in the winter”. Now last year the drought was region wide. Is the excuse for the doe tags the same this year because much of 703 looked great for feed? 700 was in some nasty drought conditions this year because they didn’t get the snow and rains like we did. Are we still going to “kill them now so they don’t die of starvation” in every district or can we localize it to the districts that actually need it?
Not sure buy into the kill them now rather than die in the winter. Mother nature and a tough winter is not a pretty sight, it tugs on the emotions of us pampered humans, but it is also what keeps a species strong and evolving. The strong survive to pass on their genes thing. Mule deer evolved to what they are because of bad winters and droughts. We as humans don't want to see die offs. We we tend to want stable populations, but a few big die offs my be good for the long term health of the herd.
I could be getting way above my pay grade and education.
 
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brockel

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Not sure buy into the kill them now rather than die in the winter. Mother nature and a tough winter is not a pretty sight it tugs on the emotions of us pampered humans, but it is also what keeps a species strong and evolving. The strong survive to pass on their genes thing. Mule deer evolved to what they are because of bad winters and droughts. We as humans don't want to see die offs, but in the long term a few big die offs my be good for the long term health of the herd.
I could be getting way above my pay grade and education.

That was my exact argument to it.
 

brockel

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Not sure buy into the kill them now rather than die in the winter. Mother nature and a tough winter is not a pretty sight it tugs on the emotions of us pampered humans, but it is also what keeps a species strong and evolving. The strong survive to pass on their genes thing. Mule deer evolved to what they are because of bad winters and droughts. We as humans don't want to see die offs, but in the long term a few big die offs my be good for the long term health of the herd.
I could be getting way above my pay grade and education.

If you are still planning to make the meeting Monday you will hear this excuse used for sure. Though the weather is starting to look like traveling to the meeting could get interesting.
 

Hunting Wife

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The vocal complainers comment seems to have struck a nerve. I apologize. But it gets very old to see a thread circling and circling and circling with the same complaint or snarky comment posted over and over and over by the same individual. At that point it just sounds like bitching just to bitch. It’s exhausting and not productive. Plenty of folks are making suggestions and engaging in discussion, and that was not directed at you.

But point taken…that frustration is my own fault for clicking in the thread.
 

antlerradar

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If you are still planning to make the meeting Monday you will hear this excuse used for sure. Though the weather is starting to look like traveling to the meeting could get interesting.
Still planing on it, but the weather is not looking good and could be a problem. At least I can drive gravel for most of the 100 miles.
 

brocksw

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"Biologists tracking radio-
collared deer found that one-third stay in
survey areas during the fall, while the other
two-thirds move away from the wintering
areas only three miles on average. “Where
we see the deer in the winter is pretty much
where they will be next fall,” says Gude.
Another way FWP takes the pulse of
mule deer populations is by monitoring
hunter harvest at check stations and with
winter phone surveys. “That harvest infor-
mation almost always tracks with what we
saw in the aerial surveys,” says Gude. “If our
winter and early spring surveys show an up-
ward trend in deer numbers, we usually see
more hunters with deer in the back of their
pickups the following fall.”
Another way biologists assess deer num-
bers is by regularly talking with landowners
about wildlife populations they see on their
property and by monitoring and addressing
game damage complaints. What’s more,
over the past several years FWP has radio-
collared and tracked 1,134 mule deer to see
how well the animals survive and where
they go. “All that information, added to the
harvest data and aerial surveys, gives us con-
fidence that we know what’s going on with
the mule deer population,” says Vore."
 

brockel

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Location
Baker,MT

"Biologists tracking radio-
collared deer found that one-third stay in
survey areas during the fall, while the other
two-thirds move away from the wintering
areas only three miles on average. “Where
we see the deer in the winter is pretty much
where they will be next fall,” says Gude.
Another way FWP takes the pulse of
mule deer populations is by monitoring
hunter harvest at check stations and with
winter phone surveys. “That harvest infor-
mation almost always tracks with what we
saw in the aerial surveys,” says Gude. “If our
winter and early spring surveys show an up-
ward trend in deer numbers, we usually see
more hunters with deer in the back of their
pickups the following fall.”
Another way biologists assess deer num-
bers is by regularly talking with landowners
about wildlife populations they see on their
property and by monitoring and addressing
game damage complaints. What’s more,
over the past several years FWP has radio-
collared and tracked 1,134 mule deer to see
how well the animals survive and where
they go. “All that information, added to the
harvest data and aerial surveys, gives us con-
fidence that we know what’s going on with
the mule deer population,” says Vore."

The first part of that first sentence is a tough one to swallow.
E76737DC-FF70-411D-A399-9CDA4C1BF843.jpeg
 

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