Montana Mule Deer Mismanagement

neffa3

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Wenatchee
@Hopzone Freak I have no idea, but they certainly have a shitton of data on that project.
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I couldn't find a link, but have previously read they tried to have most adult wolves collared, and I think they shoot for 5-15 added cougar collars per year.
 

antlerradar

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Oct 23, 2012
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SE Montana

"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."
One of the biggest bucks I have ever seen on the Custer traveled five air miles from where I saw him in Oct to where he was shot a month later chasing does next to a well used road. Not much public land in Eastern Montana that is five miles from a big population of private land does. It is also why I have a sly smile when some on tells me all you have to do is get off the road to find a big deer.
 

brocksw

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North Dakota
One of the biggest bucks I have ever seen on the Custer traveled five air miles from where I saw him in Oct to where he was shot a month later chasing does next to a well used road. Not much public land in Eastern Montana that is five miles from a big population of private land does. It is also why I have a sly smile when some on tells me all you have to do is get off the road to find a big deer.
I know of a 190 typical shot a couple years ago, that was basically living within a half mile of a main gravel road all fall. He ended up getting shot by a rifle hunter during the rut, not far from where he had been living. So I would tend to share your sly smile. It's def not always the case.

The buck I was after in 2021 didn't get more than maybe 3/4 mile from his home range during the rut. He stuck with that same group of does for a week before I wounded him. He showed up again in January, 5.5 miles as the crow flies from where I wounded him, and he stayed there into at least early Feb. But, he had dropped his antlers already and that's the last anyone has ever seen of him to my knowledge.

I've posed this question to Kevin Monteith, what do they see from rutting bucks? Is there always a certain portion that stays close to home and a portion that will travel? Once a buck chooses for one fall, does he do the same next?

His answer was they've seen basically no patterns in the telemetry data that would likely satisfy my request. Some do, some dont. Some change, some dont.

My anecdotal experiences, which are far less than yours I'm certain, is that young MD bucks tend to stick fairly close to home. But, they're on patrol for does a lot, harassing does a lot, hanging around other bucks kinda like satellite bucks, and sometimes it seems aimlessly wandering. More mature bucks that aren't able to gather a harem, seem to be much more strategic about their cruising. They seem to have more purpose when traveling, as if they know where they're going and what they're doing. Like they know where the does are and they have a route picked out to see if they can pick any does off before they're bred by bigger bucks or while the herd buck is distracted by another doe or buck. But an overwhelming majority of the "big" bucks that I find, seem to want to gather a harem and stick with that harem as long as possible. 18',20',21', and 22' I killed or tried killing in the case of 21', bucks that were with the same does for a week or more. The buck I killed this year had been in that area for all of November. I found him by himself in the first week of Nov. Found him with a group of does about 2.5 weeks later no a half mile from where I first found him. Then killed him when he was with that same group of does 5 days after that, only a quarter mile from where I'd seen him the previous time.

But I have seen big bucks kind of appear out of no where during the rut. Problem is, I don't know if that means they traveled a longer distance, or if I just missed them nearby earlier in the year. A couple years ago I found a really nice 6x7 in October, bachelored up. He disappeared for all of November, then I found him again in December a half mile from where he was hanging out in October.

I have hunted the last week of the ND bow season, 1st weekend of January. I found a group of like 25 bucks that had stashed themselves in a canyon. Talk about a tough sneak. I was 72 yards at one point. But my point being here, that I know for a fact that all those bucks werent there all fall. Where they were I'm not sure. How far away they were, I'm not sure of either. But it does make me wonder how movement like that would affect crossectional aerial surveys.

These are only my observations. Probably worth absolutely 0.
 
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brockel

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May 13, 2016
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Baker,MT
When I was younger, I would often find better bucks gathering up a harem, Not so much any more. If you are a buck that gathers a harem in Montana you will not live long even on private.

I did see a solid buck this year with 15 does on private. Was definitely one of the better deer I’ve seen in the last ten years. I’ve known the guy for a while and stopped in to bs a little. Told him where the buck was. He doesn’t hunt but his kids do. He said he wasn’t even going to let his kids come home to hunt on the place this year because the deer numbers were so bad. Seen the buck a week ago so he at least made the season. Well unless he gets smoked poled
 

brocksw

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North Dakota
When I was younger, I would often find better bucks gathering up a harem, Not so much any more. If you are a buck that gathers a harem in Montana you will not live long even on private.
It's probably not all that different here. When the orange army is out, it's scorched earth for 16.5 days. Well, at least within eyeshot of the roads. But leaving a nice 160" 3.5-4.5 yr old buck to grow another year is risky business here, back fired on me more than once. Guys with more time and are able to watch multiple deer more often might be more successful at it. Like our big game bio says, it's hard being a mule deer buck, but between hunter harvest and North Dakota winters, it's even harder to get old. IIRC he made it sound like 5.5-6.5 yr old bucks are somewhat rare by comparison. He sees lots of older does though.

Sorry for the long winded replies. I could talk mule deer all day.
 

BuzzH

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Laramie, WY
"Fly where the animals exist" is literally the worst statistical technique I can think of. Doing so would actually increase the estimated population, not decrease it. It flies in the face (pun intended) of what everyone is trying to do. I would also venture to guess they use the same techniques as every other state game agency. I do agree that the tag allocation techniques are quite different and should change. That is more on the legislature than FWP, but I will concede there is plenty of blame to go around.
Not if you manage based on observed animals instead of imaginary pretend populations found in fantasyland.
 

Elkoholic

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Jul 19, 2012
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Ohio
On the topic of mandatory reporting, I just received my WY elk survey, I timed myself from the time I opened the envelope until I hit finish online, 6 minutes and 42 seconds.
I wish I would have thought to time myself completing the mailed out MT survey from the time I opened the envelope, found an ink pen, checked appropriate boxes on 6 pages, hand write in "other" comments, grab a Rainier from the fridge, rechecked my selections & comments, stuffed all the pages back in the envelope, talking my dog into licking the envelope (surprised it was postage paid), and driving to the post office.
Can only imagine once FWP opens it how they gather the response, they probably have some fancy high tech document reader/scanner they drop 6 pages in and it compiles all the data into the state of art database they use to manage their innovative hunting regulations and season structures; that allows them to quickly react and adjust to better manage the resource.
 

FI460

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Sep 22, 2018
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Ashland, OR
Can only imagine once FWP opens it how they gather the response, they probably have some fancy high tech document reader/scanner they drop 6 pages in and it compiles all the data into the state of art database they use to manage their innovative hunting regulations and season structures; that allows them to quickly react and adjust to better manage the resource.

I think that is usually called a temporary technician. They cost about $10.75/hr.
 

bigsky2

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Feb 17, 2016
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MONTANA
On the topic of mandatory reporting, I just received my WY elk survey, I timed myself from the time I opened the envelope until I hit finish online, 6 minutes and 42 seconds.
Just completed my AZ deer survey online. It took me 1 minute and 26 seconds.
 

pyrotechnic

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Dec 12, 2020
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Montana
I just got my annual prank call. Really awesome to try to remember what districts you hunted while trying to get dinner at a bar and grill. Also wonder how they know I'm not planning on running down the last muledeer buck in MT with my snowmobile this weekend and executing it with my hawkins....just like my great great grandpappy.
 
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