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Mule deer downgrades to come in 2012

The evidence that the Northern Rocky Mountain mule deer herd is in a tailspin keeps piling up. The deer herds in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana have had a very rough go at it as of the past few years, however the winter of 2010-2011 seems to have put many of the mule deer herds in this region over the cliff. After a 150-mile, seven-day horseback ride in the historic Region H of western Wyoming, I only turned up 15-20 bucks and less than 100 deer total. I tend to agree with the western Wyoming state mule deer biologists when they said last winter was the hardest winter in over 20 years on the western Wyoming mule deer herd, and I would certainly have to agree with that assessment. I’m not sure the deer in western Montana and the entire state of Idaho did any better. David Long just completed a seven-day trek into the Idaho backcountry where he only found five or six bucks, and nothing with any age on it.

It’s pretty for young deer to survive conditions like this. As deer get older, it only becomes tougher.

When I compile the Wyoming MRS section for mule deer in the Feb/Mar 2012 issue of EHJ, many areas and regions in the state will need to be significantly downgraded. The affected regions and areas will include but not be limited to: Regions G, H, and K and areas 130, 141/152, 101, and 102. Make sure you look at that MRS carefully if you plan to apply for a Wyoming mule deer tag in 2012. Nothing would be more depressing than blowing five mule deer points on an area that is in such poor shape.

The Wyoming mule deer herd is in the worst shape I have seen in almost 40 years. And the saddest part of the whole mess, is that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department probably won’t cut the tags back as much as they should to ensure a quick rebound which will possibly add between two and five years to the rebound process. Depressing news I know, but the elk and antelope in Wyoming seem to be doing very well. Good luck in your research and watch for that MRS section in your Feb/Mar issue of EHJ for more details.


About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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One comment

  1. Hello Guy,
    I agree wholeheartedly that the western WY mule deer herd is in seriously rough shape and that tag cut backs are needed.
    I would like to say however that I hunted in region H for 4 days and covered about 10 miles on foot and spotted over 40 bucks with a handful of those being trophy deer (160+). In my opinion that is pretty good considering the winter we had. I also know that this was a good trophy year for the Greys River area in region G.
    What I am saying is that a lot of mature bucks did make it through the horrible winter but the problem is that most of the fawns did not. I think even the next couple years might be decent in western WY but once the mature bucks that are out there now start to die off there are not going to be any bucks to replace them. Depending on what this winter is like we could be in for some poor hunting for a while.
    Cutting back nonresident tags is a start but that only decreases pressure so much in a general area, what would you suggest the Game and Fish do in order to decrease pressure in these areas without resorting to making them limited quota?
    Just wondering what your thoughts were on the subject, thanks for the great magazine and keep up the good work!
    Andy Roosa

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