Montana mule deer rant

MTTW

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Apr 1, 2016
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701
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Montana
From the AHM I posted earlier. I wonder how these numbers will change with the new survey. I guess we should be happy they at least they decided to do a new survey. Once every 35 years seems a little lazy.

A 1988 survey of deer hunters found that Montana deer hunters could be categorized into four groups: generalists-enthusiasts (27%), meat hunters (36%), generalists- meat hunters (14%), and trophy hunters (23%; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks 1988). In addition, the survey found a general high level of statewide satisfaction (88%) of deer management with more opposition to further restricted seasons than support (59% oppose, 27% support and 14% were indifferent related to season restrictions focused on managing for ‘big bucks’) (MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks 1988).
In 1988 I was seeing 20 to 100 deer per day in the country that I now struggle to find a single deer in a day. I was also seeing 500 to 700 deer a day in winter in SW Mt where I now see a couple of dozen if conditions are good.
Times have changed but MTFWP hasn't.
 

mtmuley

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Jan 11, 2009
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11,486
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montana
It's not rocket science. They just manage the herd by region and the public is either smart enough to see the bigger picture or not.

Imagine buying a tag and not seeing a deer to shoot. How great is the opportunity then?
I think some hunters see the bigger picture. Accepting what needs to happen in order to start fixing it is where the problem lies. mtmuley
 

brocksw

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Jan 5, 2018
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1,379
Location
North Dakota
Well isn't that just a novel idea. Thank you for the back story.
ND does population flights in 24 areas (approx 300 sq miles)every year, specifically for mule deer. They also tie in range conditions (groceries, drought), winter conditions, population trends, fawning recruitment, disease, and most importantly rifle tags and success rates, when determining MD tag allocations. They continually hammer on the public to remind us that our rifle tags are the single best lever for adjusting deer populations. Our success rates are generally very similar to MT. High enough and predictable enough to influence populations. If memory serves, on good or historically average population years, hunters take 2000-2500 mule deer bucks between bow and rifle in the 6 Badlands units combined(4a-4f). For 2022, there were around 1500 MD doe tags available for all 6 units combined.

Tag adjustments come at the unit level and generally occur in the +/- 10-20% per annual adjustment. Badlands units MD buck tags, when populations are around historical averages, seem to average out around 350 buck tags per unit. Careful with applying these numbers to MT, ND has significantly less mule deer habitat. We could probably fit the entire ND badlands region into one eastern MT district.

Example of ND's responsive management:
After the big winters a decade ago, the GF zeroed out MD doe tags and cut rifle buck tags in half. Populations rebounded rather boringly to historical averages over the following several years. They brought mule deer doe tags back maybe 3 or 4 years ago now?

Rifle tags are heavily controlled, taking upwards of 7 yrs to draw in one of the 3 core badlands units. The wait is rewarded by the opportunity to hunt rutting mule deer bucks for 16.5 days with a rifle. Archery is unlimited for residents and runs from beginning of Sept to first weekend of Jan.

Our Game and Fish openly tells us they manage for opportunity, not trophy quality.
 

EYJONAS!

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Joined
Mar 17, 2017
Messages
5,767
ND does population flights in 24 areas (approx 300 sq miles)every year, specifically for mule deer. They also tie in range conditions (groceries, drought), winter conditions, population trends, fawning recruitment, disease, and most importantly rifle tags and success rates, when determining MD tag allocations. They continually hammer on the public to remind us that our rifle tags are the single best lever for adjusting deer populations. Our success rates are generally very similar to MT. High enough and predictable enough to influence populations. If memory serves, on good or historically average population years, hunters take 2000-2500 mule deer bucks between bow and rifle in the 6 Badlands units combined(4a-4f). For 2022, there were around 1500 MD doe tags available for all 6 units combined.

Tag adjustments come at the unit level and generally occur in the +/- 10-20% per annual adjustment. Badlands units MD buck tags, when populations are around historical averages, seem to average out around 350 buck tags per unit. Careful with applying these numbers to MT, ND has significantly less mule deer habitat. We could probably fit the entire ND badlands region into one eastern MT district.

Example of ND's responsive management:
After the big winters a decade ago, the GF zeroed out MD doe tags and cut rifle buck tags in half. Populations rebounded rather boringly to historical averages over the following several years. They brought mule deer doe tags back maybe 3 or 4 years ago now?

Rifle tags are heavily controlled, taking upwards of 7 yrs to draw in one of the 3 core badlands units. The wait is rewarded by the opportunity to hunt rutting mule deer bucks for 16.5 days with a rifle. Archery is unlimited for residents and runs from beginning of Sept to first weekend of Jan.

Our Game and Fish openly tells us they manage for opportunity, not trophy quality.
I do believe I owe you an apology.....
 

BirdManMike

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Oct 9, 2019
Messages
1,040
Location
Montana
View attachment 252446 Can someone explain how to tell this is an#oldwarrior when afield?

These people are ___holes (fill in the blank). The social media ____ers (fill in the blank).

I (think?) that Ive said in the past that Im not a 'trophy hunter' and dont care about 'trophy hunting'. And, I dont - I dont know how to score an animal and I never will because that crap is plain dumb, but things are bad. I am shown pitchers of literal dinks from friends every year - 'look at the buck I got this year!' - and all I can do is shake my head. After the fact, of course, since Im not going to ____ (fill in the blank) on anyone's parade, especially if its legal and encouraged.

Maybe switch the archery/general for deer. No loss of opportunity! General rifle early in the season, then archery during the rut. That is, if limiting 'opportunity' isnt going to fly.

Every time I pass on an idiot mule deer buck* I November, I think, 'thats a dead deer'. There is one instance where the idiot mule deer I passed on was shot by someone I know just a few days later, no ____ (fill in the blank).


*Id rather fill my general tag on a whitetail doe. Nothing wrong with mule deer meat, but whitetails are better IMO.
 

bigsky2

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Joined
Feb 17, 2016
Messages
738
Location
MONTANA
I'll be damned. I just received an email from the wildlife biologist in the district I had an archery elk permit for. Asking very detailed questions regarding my experience in the unit this year along with if I harvested. I've never received one of these before..
Never going to get one about mule deer.
 

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