Splitting mule deer and whitetail tags, the Task Force can't see the forest for the trees.

DougStickney

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You don’t need to get rid of them, that’s stupid. They’re a native species on the landscape. Just stop killing the shit out of the mule deer.
Well when you solve the problem to get the department on board let me know, I will support that. Until then I will keep killing whitetail because they do just fine with extreme pressure.
 

BuzzH

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I’m fully aware of our problem. Seems like not many are or care. But again good luck getting rid of whitetail.
You can get rid of whitetail, and the MTFWP damn near accomplished it where I hunt in NW Montana. Multiple OTC deer b-tags will get rid of most any deer.

We contributed heavily to the shoot-out and 10-11 years later whitetail are still maybe 65% of where we were population wise before the slugfest started.

Another year or 2 of continued OTC tags would have just about done the job.
 

Pucky Freak

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In previous comments to the TF I suggested res OTC WT tag and then MD fully limited like CO.

Any insight on why TF is proposing what they did? Just seems a fine way to tank quality more than anything.
 

BuzzH

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In previous comments to the TF I suggested res OTC WT tag and then MD fully limited like CO.

Any insight on why TF is proposing what they did? Just seems a fine way to tank quality more than anything.
They're just wanting to "do something". Not much thought is going into many of their ideas.

They claimed that this would "help" mule deer, but I think it will do the exact opposite.

The only positive I could see is that there MAY be more funding if enough resident hunters buy both whitetail and mule deer tags. The Department is not short on funding, and last I looked they had about a years worth of operating budget in reserve.
 

DougStickney

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You can get rid of whitetail, and the MTFWP damn near accomplished it where I hunt in NW Montana. Multiple OTC deer b-tags will get rid of most any deer.

We contributed heavily to the shoot-out and 10-11 years later whitetail are still maybe 65% of where we were population wise before the slugfest started.

Another year or 2 of continued OTC tags would have just about done the job.
You could go anywhere acrossed Montana and see the same results with whitetail and muleys.
There’s also a huge disparity between ag land whitetail and mountain whitetail. The mountain inhabitants are far more susceptible to hunting pressure.
how so there is way more cover. I would argue ag whitetail are way more susceptible because of open terrain.
 

BuzzH

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There’s also a huge disparity between ag land whitetail and mountain whitetail. The mountain inhabitants are far more susceptible to hunting pressure.
I totally agree, plus with increased lion and wolf numbers in NW Montana it was a real 1-2 punch. The plus side is they (mountain WT) are not as susceptible to EHD.

Recovery has been very slow and there were about 5 years of pretty tough hunting and very low populations.
 
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BuzzH

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You could go anywhere acrossed Montana and see the same results with whitetail and muleys.

how so there is way more cover. I would argue ag whitetail are way more susceptible because of open terrain.
Wolves and lions are added predation way more in the mountains than most ag areas, by a long shot. More/mostly public land in most mountain areas, easier access for hunting. Very few areas where deer seek refuge (unlike some ranches where deer are not hunted much, if at all).

The deer congregate more in mountain areas in particular during the later part of the season on winter range. Lots of hunting pressure in NW Montana from the larger population centers of hunters (Missoula, Kalispell, Hamilton, to a lesser degree Butte, Helena, Great Falls even).
 
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JLS

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how so there is way more cover. I would argue ag whitetail are way more susceptible because of open terrain.
Jim Williams did some excellent research on this. A few primary reasons:

1) available winter range is much less, less productive browse/food sources
2) lower deer density (see #1)
3) lower fawn recruitment due to #1 and also predation.

Escapement is better so you are more likely to see better age structure among the bucks, but if you offer for tags for a mountain population like you would the Milk River, you’ll hammer them into oblivion.
 

BuzzH

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Jim Williams did some excellent research on this. A few primary reasons:

1) available winter range is much less, less productive browse/food sources
2) lower deer density (see #1)
3) lower fawn recruitment due to #1 and also predation.

Escapement is better so you are more likely to see better age structure among the bucks, but if you offer for tags for a mountain population like you would the Milk River, you’ll hammer them into oblivion.
If I had some funds, I would like to see how much those mountain whitetails range in a given year. I think they congregate on winter range from pretty large swaths of mountain habitat, much like elk and mule deer.

I just find it odd that I have never seen a big whitetail buck where I hunt, until the day I kill it. They just sort of show up. You just don't see the same deer over multiple days that often, if at all. Here today, gone tomorrow type deal.

They're a totally different deer than an ag deer and I think their "home range" is pretty large. Would be nice if the FWP could collar a bunch of them.
 

JLS

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They're a totally different deer than an ag deer and I think their "home range" is pretty large. Would be nice if the FWP could collar a bunch of them.
As I recall, they did. It was surprising how small of an area they stayed in.

I agree, I think the bucks cover a hell of a lot of ground. Does, not so much.
 

TheTone

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If I had some funds, I would like to see how much those mountain whitetails range in a given year. I think they congregate on winter range from pretty large swaths of mountain habitat, much like elk and mule deer.
Idaho is/was trying to do some northern whitetail work. Not sure where the projects will end up as the grad students keep quitting
 

DougStickney

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As I recall, they did. It was surprising how small of an area they stayed in.

I agree, I think the bucks cover a hell of a lot of ground. Does, not so much.
A quick scroll through Montana records books and I can see two things not much is in the book recently from either side of the state and western Montana dominates overall. Validates what I have seen in pictures recently as well. Give a whitetail cover and they will survive.
 

BuzzH

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As I recall, they did. It was surprising how small of an area they stayed in.

I agree, I think the bucks cover a hell of a lot of ground. Does, not so much.
How long ago do you think that study happened?

I bet with the GPS collars, results may be different.
 

JLS

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How long ago do you think that study happened?

I bet with the GPS collars, results may be different.
I honestly don’t remember. I read it about 7-8 years ago when I started hunting whitetails. It would be interesting with GPS for sure.
 

BuzzH

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A quick scroll through Montana records books and I can see two things not much is in the book recently from either side of the state and western Montana dominates overall. Validates what I have seen in pictures recently as well. Give a whitetail cover and they will survive.
Don't disagree to an extent, but where I hunt, you could eliminate whitetail with enough pressure and they almost did it. I would say reduced the population by 60-70% in 4 years of OTC b-tags.

Recovery has been frightfully slow even though they pretty much quit b-tags. When you shoot a population down that low, combined with increased predator numbers, and still a fair bit of human hunting, they just don't bounce back. Its taken more than decade and the population still is maybe 65% of what it was in 2006.

Shot these deer in 2003-2006

372-R1-21-20A.jpg


The night that I shot this buck, there were 3 bucks in this size class fighting and running around on a hillside along with a bunch of does and several smaller bucks.

mtwt03.JPG


Killed this one at 1 PM and was the 22nd 4x4 or better buck I'd seen THAT DAY. Was also about year 2 into the unlimited b-tags.

IMG_1555.JPG


By 2008-2009, I was lucky to see 22 4x4 or better bucks the entire season. A bunch of guys started hunting it due to the b-tag availability and they would pound on a buck if they saw one as well.

Its been a long slow grind to get back to even fair hunting.

But, hey what do I know I've only been hunting the same area since 1979, my family for 40 years prior to that.
 

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