THE TIME HAS FINALLY COME- to change the season/quota/tag allocation structure for Wyoming’s mule deer licenses. Actually it’s long over-due, but play along with me a little bit here… We can’t change the past, we can only focus on the future at this point. While working on the MRS section for Wyoming deer it continued to be evident that Wyoming needs to do something to curb the pressure on the mule deer herd here in the Cowboy state. Attached is a map that I cooked up showing where the winter kill was the worst during the epic winter of 2010-2011 which left our deer herd in even worse shape than we have become used to over the past five to ten years. Even after such a winter the Game and Fish did not hardly budge a single tag quota for the 2011 season. Looking at the data and answering floods of calls and e-mails loaded with feedback from the fall hunting season got me to thinking. Thinking about a better way to allocate and structure the mule deer hunting seasons here in Wyoming. A way that would put more control into the hands of big game managers and would allow for better hunting, better management and a better outlook for the deer herd, particularly in the Western and Southern ends of the state.
In my opinion, Wyoming needs to do three things. First we need to put resident deer hunters on a draw system statewide and scrap the general deer tag system. It works, Colorado did it and we can too. This would allow the state to completely manage the Western deer herd instead of just managing the non-resident hunters. Non-resident deer hunters make up less than 40% of the deer hunting pressure equation. Only controlling 35% of an equation is not control, it’s wildlife management anarchy.
The second thing Wyoming could do is split up the seasons inside the high demand Regions like G, H and K. We could offer an early hunt from September 10th to the 25th on a limited draw basis. This hunt would be very limited, only 250 total hunters in each region. Then offer a second season from the 5th to the 25th of October with more tags allocated. Somewhere in the range of 1,200 for each region total. Then if the deer herds are healthy and doing well a third season permit would be offered for a November hunt from the 1st to the 10th with only 100-150 tags total in each region. This would get the more serious trophy hunters out of the October pool and into one of the other higher demand pools. Making more room for the recreational type hunters to hunt in October. There would probably be left over tags for the October hunts. The archery seasons would run from the 15th of August until the 1st of September and anyone with any of the three licenses could hunt that season.
And the final piece to this solution would be to convert two or three units inside the better mule deer regions to limited quota only areas. This would not only get the even more serious trophy hunters out of the “Region” pool, but would allow for large mature bucks to slip through the cracks and travel down to the winter range to breed does each December. Which would essentially ensure a healthy, mature breeding stock of bucks onto each winter range every year. Once the bugs were worked out these LQ areas could be rotated around about every three or four years to make things interesting and blend the gene pool a bit.
Of course added to this, Wyoming would need to institute a preference point system for Wyoming residents.
These are just some of my initial thoughts on the subject. I realize this is a very tough subject to tackle and can be a barrel of fish hooks so to speak, but Wyoming has to do something soon. The data is not looking good, but all is not lost. Colorado brought their deer herd back from the brink over a decade ago. It was a tough pill for them to swallow at the time as well, but it worked and has produced the best deer hunting and the healthiest deer herd on the planet as a result.
If you have any thoughts, concerns or additional ideal post up a comment. These are just the rambling of one man at a desk watching the Wyoming wind blow out the window. Let’s here what you think.
Thanks for reading the Blog and good hunting.