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Montana Trophy Mule Deer Areas Are In Jeopardy

Trekster

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I'll first say I had mixed emotions about raising any attention to this matter. But ultimately I trust the Sportsman to make the right decision. FWP has proposed an increase to the tag allocation in unit 261 and 270 (top 2 units in the state). An initial reaction might have some excited about this increase, but I am here to tell you these units cannot sustain trophy quality with this amount of permits. There is no doubt the deer numbers are extremely high in these units, but the number of trophy class bucks are not. With this amount of tag allocation trophy class deer will be far and few between within just a few years.

I encourage you and others to consider the full spectrum effect this will have long term. There are better options to reduce buck numbers in these units with various types of management options. 3 pt only, 3 pts. or less on one side, youth management hunts with direction from the state, etc.

Public comment was last night. And our new biologist from Texas openly said "I support opportunity over quality". Please consider voting against this. YOU can fill out public comment online.

Below is the link to the proposal AND PUBLIC COMMENT: Deer Master List - Region 2

http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/publicComments/2015/2016-17huntingSeasonChangesProposed.html

Thank you for your time.
 

antlerradar

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Three point or less tags is a great idea. I like it.
The reason Montana has difficultly growing big deer is not because we shoot too many small bucks but that we shoot all most all of the nice ones.
 

tjones

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I was at the same meting and will cautiously support the increase in permits. I have followed the flight data, spend all fall in HD270 and spoke with lots of hunters that have had the permit and I feel the units can handle the increase as long as the fill rates and flights continue to be monitored closely.

I was around and had a hand in creating these permits the reason was not to make them trophy units, it was to deal with low single digit buck to doe ratios's. Just so happens it worked out to be trophy units.

Point restrictions on MD has proven not to work in Montana, sounds good on paper but has never worked.

There are more big deer being taken now outside of the farm land then ever before in HD261. Years past hunters just flocked there because there were no big deer on the NF, now there is.

HD270 has grown with the boundary change from a few years ago, the part of HD250 that now is HD270 has deer and were being shot when it was HD 250. The permits will be decreased in HD250 and increased in HD270. Basically same deer,

The increase is 15 permits in each HD. At the fill rate it will probably mean 10 more hunter harvested bucks in those units. I think the units can handle that bit of increase. One must remember that not everyone that draws the tag kills a trophy buck. That was evident in the check station pics from HD270. There were a fair number folks killed that were just average and they really were not looking for a 200" buck.

There was a tremendous amount of thought that went into this proposal, talk started last July. There is more to it then the bio wanting to increase opportunity. Back in the early 2000's the bio then increased HD270 to 125 permits, that proved quickly to be too many

Again there is a ton of support for the increase as long as things are monitored closely. The natives are taking a fair number the tail end of August and first part of Sept. when they are down here hunting moose, this will also factor in. Also the wardens feel as many get poached as shot legal so as you can see there are many moving parts to the proposal.
 
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8andcounting

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Three point or less tags is a great idea. I like it.
The reason Montana has difficultly growing big deer is not because we shoot too many small bucks but that we shoot all most all of the nice ones.

This , and the fact the most units over the last few years have no little to no b muley tags or like in 2014 no muley doe's with the gen tag either , has hurt the bucks I truly believe, now I know, we need to build the heard , I get it . But I think its put a lot of pressure on the bucks, in heavily hunted public areas every buck is getting blasted, 2 point , 3 point, 5 point, all getting smoked . I see for 2016 muley does are gonna be legal again in most areas for the gen tag , I hope the population doesn't get affected by this a whole lot, but maybe it will let some of the bucks grow atleast a little . The past 3 years hunting in Montana has be hopeless for me as far as size of horns, deer numbers have been good in my opinion they are growing but horn size is worst ive ever seen in my 15 years of hunting MT . thanx
 

Randy11

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It might've been you Trekster that brought this up last night, but there is real value in having these units cranking out giant bucks. They're a great marketing tool for FWP. Think about what the governors tag would bring if these two units didn't exist. Maybe a couple thousand? I'd be really curious to see the last time the Governor's tag wasn't filled in the Bitterroot.

I think these additional tags will affect the trophy potential. I saw a ton of bucks this year, but the big guys don't last long as is. I feel like we're at that tipping point of enough tags where bucks can get 4-6 years old, but if we add much more we could start losing that age group.

Biologically though, I don't think there's any reason they couldn't double tags. It would destroy the trophy potential, but there's enough bucks in the unit to sustain it.

I also appreciate what Tony's saying about the extra take. adding fifteen tags to each of these units is probably increasing buck harvest 10-15% rather than the 33/60% that shows on paper. The amount of suspicious activity I saw down there this year was disgusting. I don't know what we do about that though.

I guess it comes down to whether or not you think these units should be managed for numbers of bucks or size of bucks. If it's the latter I'd think the numbers as is are sufficient. If it's the former, than this proposal makes sense.

I personally think there's enough opportunity elsewhere in the state, and that it makes sense to have a few trophy units.

Also- it was brought up last night and elsewhere that 261/262 should be split. I think in theory this works, but you're going to run in to problems with guys drawing the 262 tag, and then finding out there's no public access. I don't know how well a 100% private land unit would do as a trophy permit.
 

mtmuley

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I'm on the fence about this one. I'm not really familiar with the situation in 270, but am intimately familiar with 261/262. To me, the split makes sense. If data was collected on where bucks are harvested in 261/262, my money says of the 25, most are taken in the farmland. I live in the farmland area, and recently spent a lot of time in 262 with a B tag. (The doe issue is another story.) One alarming thing I noticed is the amount of small 3x4, 2x4 and malformed bucks. Soon the pool will be so tainted, the big bucks every guy that drives through the area sees will be few and far between. I miss the days when the unit was recovering, and the farmland "trophy" factory hadn't been discovered. Now FWP has no choice but to manage it that way. mtmuley
 

antlerradar

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Three point or less tags will help with quality and provide more opportunity. Four point or better restrictions will not work as the rule puts more pressure on the better bucks and even fewer of the nice bucks will live.

I can't agree that doe hunting will help with quality. This is why. Doe tags allow hunters to be more selective in the bucks they take. If a meat hunter puts a few does in the freezer the pressure to fill your A tag is reduced. The hunter can now pass on small bucks with out having to worry about tag soup. This will mean more days in the field, more hunting pressure and it will be more likely that the nice bucks will not make the season. We can not all be trophy hunters and maintain quality with out going to limited entry.
 

tjones

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Three point or less tags will help with quality and provide more opportunity. Four point or better restrictions will not work as the rule puts more pressure on the better bucks and even fewer of the nice bucks will live.

I can't agree that doe hunting will help with quality. This is why. Doe tags allow hunters to be more selective in the bucks they take. If a meat hunter puts a few does in the freezer the pressure to fill your A tag is reduced. The hunter can now pass on small bucks with out having to worry about tag soup. This will mean more days in the field, more hunting pressure and it will be more likely that the nice bucks will not make the season. We can not all be trophy hunters and maintain quality with out going to limited entry.


This two units are very restrictive, 25 permits in one 45 in the other. Not many guys willing to hang this kind of tag on a three point. Not sure what it would take to get a season/permit that would allow management bucks.
 

npaden

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We all might not agree with the way Utah manages their wildlife, but they do have several trophy deer units with 3 point or less management buck tags and that seems to be working pretty well for those units.
 

Tradewind

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I've hunted 270 for elk. Have seen trophy quality mule deer each year out. Impossible to get a tag for if you are NR though. Prob why there are trophy's around.
 

MTlionchaser

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I spend tons of time in both of these units. I understand that 270 wasn't originally a trophy unit but that is what it has become. The state is full of opportunity. 270 is struggling with the trophy deer now. You add another 15 permits and it's gonna hammer the trophy deer. Let's try something and think out of the box and let's get some management Deer tags in them if more deer need harvested. I would even mentor those management tags and know several other guys that would also.
 

shoots-straight

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Trust me when I say this: I really love that you guys are supporting some "Trophy" quality areas here. I wish you'd of showed up during some of the meetings we had in discussions on the future of HD 250 and Elk hunting in there. That area was never intended for "Trophy" status either but the bulls are growing nicely there, and now there's a push t get back to "opportunity".

I too was heavily involved with the making of this unit into what it has become today. To be honest I never thought it had the genetics to do what it has as far as quality is concerned. Maybe that was because every fork horn got shot every year.

Seriously though, the numbers don't support the decline in potential trophy quality that you guys are looking at. We use to take 300 mule deer bucks a year in those districts during rifle seasons, not to mention the archery. Hell in one night of thrill killing by a group of young kids they took out 20. Poaching is rampant in the Root, and then we have the native take.

I'd rather a few more "Sportsmen" get the opportunity to take a buck than leave them to the poachers, and others. I'm hopeful that this will not hurt our quality too much. If it does then in two years we can remove this opportunity. In the overall picture of things this is small potatoes. Very incidental take compared to what's killing mule deer in the region.
 

mtmuley

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shoots, poaching is one of the main reasons I am on the fence over the tag increase, in 261 especially. As Randy11 knows, like myself, it is pretty rampant. Lots of drag marks in the snow the last week that lead to no gutpile. I didn't catch any this year, but I have. mtmuley
 

Trekster

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Montana
Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and comments. I believe in my stance on this topic and going to put forth the effort to save these units as our last chance to have an opportunity to harvest a trophy buck in this state, some day :) Not to mention lost revenue and income to our local economy. Here it comes, and I truly mean with all repect...

TJones... First of all, thank you. Thank you for everything you have done in this area, I am greatly appreciative.

To the topic...There are only 15 additional permits in each unit in the proposal. Doesn't sound like much. But statistically it is a 33% increase in unit 270 and 60% increase in 261. In unit 270, the success rate is 66%. How can a trophy unit have a increase if the success rate is only 66%, this is arguably the best unit in the state. Shouldn't it be higher? Shouldn't it produce more than 5 deer that score over 180 inches in a single season? It doesn't, and it will only get worse with the increase.

I have no doubt the numbers are high in the unit, but as stated, trophy deer are not.

Let's give these additional 15 tags to youth... They would be on cloud nine with a 26 inch 3x4 or 4x4 with a crab claw. Put no restrictions on youth if need be. May lose a couple trophy deer but I assure you they are pulling the trigger on one of the 100's of management deer that need taken out.

GENERALLY speaking, youth are going to hunt closer to roads and harvest their buck on a little easier hunt. They are not going to hunt 25 days to harvest a 190 class deer, they will harvest the first big buck that comes around. And a big buck is different than a trophy buck.

Allow the hunter, the conservationist, to dream big, and when he or she draws the tag, allow them an opportunity at a buck of a lifetime. There is opportunity in a 100 other units in the state.

Most importantly... However you feel, you have to let the state know by commenting either in person or by the link above. It's so cliche but so true... Your voice matters.

Thanks again to all... And respect to all.
 

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