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Joined: 01/07/2004
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ELK vs MULE DEER

Is it just me and my hunting party or do you all see the change in the Mule Deer Population in New Mexico (primarily in the Sacramento Mountains). This past hunt, I saw more Elk than ever (total of 26 and all Bulls) but not ONE Mule Deer.
QUESTION: Are the Elk forcing the Mule Deer Populations out of certain areas?

bitmasher's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
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ELK vs MULE DEER

Never hunted in NM, but I've wondered the same thing around here in CO with the mule deer. Two decades ago it seems there were more mulies in the areas I would go, now there are lots of elk and fewer mulies.

Perhaps this is just coincidence, but it is something that I have observed too. Maybe elk consume more resources and the mulies go someplace else.

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Location: Wa.
Joined: 03/31/2004
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ELK vs MULE DEER

What I have noticed over in this area. When the elk start moving down into the grassy pastures the coyotes are on their heels feeding on the rodents and such that the elk churn up. It could have something to do with the coyotes. Do you also notice and increase in the number of dogs?

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Joined: 08/02/2004
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ELK vs MULE DEER

Gentlemen. I have found this to be true... If your looking for it. The thing you do not want will be in abundance... Search not for what you want and you will see more of it.
In other words when your Elk hunting look for mule deer. When your Mule deer hunting, look for Elk. That was your moment of Zen.... Ha-Ha

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Joined: 09/14/2009
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Mule deer

I have hunted for years and I have noticed that if there are lots of elk, you will find that the deer are very scarse.   Deer just do not like to hang around where elk are in abundance.  In the Gila national forest in N. Mex there used to be a lot of trophy deer.  Now the elk have taken over and the deer have moved elsewhere.  Just my observation.

Joined: 06/20/2011
Posts: 33
Can't Be a Coincidence

I think we have all experianced this happening. When I was a kid in southern CO we had tons of muleys in the river bottoms and farm land. When it started getting real dry in the 90's the elk dropped down into the river bottom and on to the hay fields and the deer slowly began to disappear. I have seen it happening again here in NM. The elk have grown so much in population that they have moved out into the open sage country where the deer were and the deer have left. When you talk to state wildlife officials they always say the same thing "elk and deer eat totally different things and are not in competition in any way." The truth is they just don't care that much because elk are where the money is.

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Joined: 10/07/2011
Posts: 106
something is going on

I had an email conversation with a NM G&F biologist in the late 90s about this issue.  I had it archived but the disk I had it on no longer works.  

He believed the drop in the mule deer herd had to do with  habitat loss due to the decline in agricultural activity.  Basically he argued that there was less water, due to fewer windmills, watering holes, etc. along with the feed and minerals that ranchers put out for livestock. 

He could not explain why the Elk herd was growing at the same time.  I argued the deer herd decline was a biomass issue, but he kept insisting that it was a habitat issue. 

It seems the elk herd is stabilizing and perhaps decreasing in NM.  Hopefully somehow both can grow.  I would love to see deer OTC tags in NM again along with more elk tags.  I think it will have to be solved with more that one type of solution.  Habitat and predator control come to mind. 

 

Joined: 06/20/2011
Posts: 33
Cantgetdrawn I couldn't agree

Cantgetdrawn I couldn't agree more. A great example that the whole state of NM could look at is the success the Jicarrilla Apache have had with their deer herd. They brought back a deer herd from the brink to producing trophy animals in just a decade. When talking with them one of their main objectives was agressive predator control. I don't think most people realize the effect coyotes have on the mule deer. I know during the 80's and 90's the Jicarilla trapper said they were killing 500+ coyotes a year and keeping the lion population thinned out as much as possible.

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Location: SW Mtns. NM
Joined: 05/04/2008
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deer loss

Trifecta Outdoors wrote:

Cantgetdrawn I couldn't agree more. A great example that the whole state of NM could look at is the success the Jicarrilla Apache have had with their deer herd. They brought back a deer herd from the brink to producing trophy animals in just a decade. When talking with them one of their main objectives was agressive predator control. I don't think most people realize the effect coyotes have on the mule deer. I know during the 80's and 90's the Jicarilla trapper said they were killing 500+ coyotes a year and keeping the lion population thinned out as much as possible.

+1 guys. Habitat loss,predators,poaching. I see deer while elk hunting, then elk on my deer hunt. Deer will move a long way in this area of NM. Water sources getting scarcer. Way too many coyotes and lions here, and now wolves.

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