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Where have our mule deer gone? (Feature Article)

February 2004 Feature Article:

Where have our mule deer gone?

Please use this area to post comments or questions about this feature article.

bitmasher's picture
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Where have our mule deer gone? (Feature Article)

It seems the mature buck hypothesis could be easily tested in "trophy" game units; those managed to have mature bucks. If the "mature bucks create early breeding" theory is correct the mortality rate of mule deer should be noticably lower in those units.

A case in point would be CO's unit 201 in comparision to surrounding units. Anybody know of online mule deer mortality rates by unit over time?

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Where have our mule deer gone? (Feature Article)

These areas, like 201, that have mature bucks could be directly linked to, how much food is in the area, and how likely the bucks are to roam from heavy cover, to other areas that are more open, and can be easily viewed.

Bit, Mortality rate would be hard to determine, from area to area, since I rarely see a buck keel over because of age in the field.

Maybe some connection, other than mortality, like maybe birth rates could make a more distinct connection, to increase and decrease in Big Buck populations.

[ This Message was edited by: Quicksilver on 2004-03-07 13:13 ]

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Where have our mule deer gone? (Feature Article)

I was referring to "newborn" mortality, meaning how many of the new borns survive to the next year in a given population.

What they do to determine this they sample a large enough group of newborns and attach radio collars. Then track how many die (and why) in the next year.

Birth rates are good indicators too of general health of the herd, but I was interested in specifically if those born earlier are "more fit" (i.e. they breed more frequently if at all).

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Where have our mule deer gone? (Feature Article)

I won't pretend to know the scientific reasoning or hypothesis as to the declining mule deer herds in the West, but off the cuff, I believe that until the various western states drop their wolf re-introduction programs and increase the depredation to Mt. Lions, the mule deer herds in the west will continue to decline. Add in the effects of recent droughts, and you've formulated a weakened and stressed mule deer population who are unable to achieve adequate fawn survivals. Call me Shallow Hal, but that's my 2 cents on the matter.

AZThunder

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Location: Oregon
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where are all the mules?

I think that its a joke about the mules declineing, the facts are right infront of your faces, the fawns are being nocked off by cougers in record numbers and the cats cannot be hunted with out dogs come on, you track one down. lol 20 years ago the cats weren't on a freefore all. untill hounds where prohibited. now there after the last of the heards that are left. there not going to go away untill there food sourses are gone. cougers dont eat elk much at all. there a risk for the cats, elk stomp right down the roads here, to cover ground fast, they dont seem in fear of cougers the heard would stomp them into the ground. unlike the mules that have to fenice around the brushs and hide from the groing numbers of cats. soon to out number the deer. the game people blame this and that there suposted to know what there doing there avoiding the facts and really have there hands tied, hellpless for a way to controll them with the no dog laws, well if its a game of natural selection? and the mules dont make it? Where does mans egornace factor in? then i guess that the'll follow the deer into the past as well, without there food sourses, while you all scratch your heads. and ask us to help, and what would you do about it? its the law thats what needs changed, dont you see this? 20 years ago the problem didnt acure because the cats where not everywhere. Soon we'll all just will have to cougers. hunting with night vision, i guess, Or the predator will not decline untill the starve out like in the days without us screwing it all up so its a matter of what you want all cats, or the wildlife the'll wipe out. maybe wonce all the prey is gone, the'll call us food witch is allready starting to happen. as there has been more lion atacks in the last few years, then the last 100 years, now they warn us, to not hike alone and keep the pets inside, And the cats have only just started to come back , Wait another ten years and see, the people dont want to harm them but when ones seen lurking by the schools o boy its all over the news isn't that what they want? they say where moveing into there territory but face it. theres so many cats, that there being shoved into citys by the bigger toms that force them always closer. there haveing special hunts and extra tags to meet qotas but the dont give info on how many cougers where harvested because they dont kill but only such a small amount of them. And you tell me how they can count them? if theres 40 in there books, in an area, then theres more like 150 out there. unlike mules, that can be counted in there wintering range how do they know whats there? hunters looking for elk or deer dont see them how do they count them? there blowing smoke up our butts. what can i do to save the mules? well when big city votes change laws that dont aply to them and people in the country or hunters are out numbered. then it should be up to the state to do whats right and put it right, before the mules are allmost gone and people and the perffered herds. will the states and government step in? or does it take a few more human lifes? to get the voters scared, and back to the basics? why do you think the pioneers controlled it the way they did? let the old timers do what they know was done for a reason. We should not forget why things where the way they where. common sence should tell us this. Back then they liked the mules, and herds where plentyfull. cant anyone step up and see whats wrong and address it because the ones that voted for these laws dont hunt or even know whats happening, maybe to overturn the power of the vote more maulings will just have to acure to scare the vote back. I think it should not be up to the voters anyway. but up to management, the ones that are supposted to know whats going on. the deer herds need them, and im sure that they would be saveing some human lifes to, its just a mater of time, So before they Do, lets wake up. And hopefully there will still be mules and other game animals saved, that could be set back even further If our help in this matter is not meet. And Soon

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Location: Umatilla Rez, Oregon
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Where have our mule deer gone? (Feature Article)

Have to agree with ya guys, cougs cougs cougs, is a coug fan? Not me, I'm a duck fan LOL, naw but you guys make a great point, overpopluation of cougs is a HUGE part of it, I think n e ways. Alot of sightings, tracks, scat, da baby muley deers have no chance.

Serious, I've been out almost every weekend since Mid august, I've seen a total of 2 bucks and a few does. And saw alot of cougar clues.

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Location: Montana
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Where have our mule deer gone? (Feature Article)

Harsh winters, livestock overgrazing and mainly habitat reduction take far more then lions ever do, altho i am a fan of hunting lion and wolves.
Mule deer decline has been a hot item of interest in wildlife biology for last 15 years especially. In Montana for instance whitetail have pushed out Mule deer for food competition in what was natural Mule deer habitats mainly in the birthing areas and especially winter/summer transition zones where 30 years ago a whitetail was nearly none exsistant.
Human encroachment having a marsher impact then probably any besides straight up winter kills. The answer? Whose to say and depends on the biolologst asked.

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Cats.... indeed

I agree about the cat population problem. There is a little honey hole that I have been hunting for years. The first year I went there, there were so many Mulies I pretty much got to pick and choose which one I wanted to fill the freezer with.
Over the years the hunting has gotten worse and now I am honestly seeing more cougars than deer. That goes for sign and animals both. Last year I saw 3 cats and no deer whatsoever. I know there is a poaching problem in the area that I go since I usually get there 3 days before season opens to scout. I found a hide and 4 legs in the area where I park and it was fresh.
All in all, I would say that the main problem is the cats though. There is plenty of feed, cover, and water for the deer in my spot. With me seeing so many cats last year I have a hard time coming to any other conclusion. You know you're not supposed to even see cougars let alone 3 of them in a week's period over a 15 square mile area. Scary stuff.

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Location: Oregon
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Posts: 26
do the math

if you guys figue out when the herds declined it coresponds with the ban of hunting with hounds. after years of great food supplies, what do you expect to see happen as a top of the chain hunter is unchecked cailf is one of the first to start and feel the effects of there actions. I lol when I see there was a sighting that scares them.  well isn't that what they wanted,, to see the friendly lions? well now they have had human deaths and pets on the cats dinner table. they got it now live with it.  now just stop being scared of what you wanted and be happy when you get what you want,, BIG KILLER CATS

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Location: Oregon
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Posts: 26
mulies going, going, gone,

Hunting about ten years back there was lots of deer, since the no dog law started there has been a steady decline in deer. we have had mild winters, and the mulies are all haveing at least two fawns each. a great sign that there heathy, and have great food supplie, the fish and game say there's about 4000 cougers in oregon, and want to controll them at 2000 cats. if a couger eats a deer every two weeks, thats roughly  26 weeks x 4000 lions = 104.000 thousand mulies a year, in the summer when meat spoils its more licky to be one a week. but we'll say one every two weeks anyway, to measure lower numbers.  well what do you know?  looks like we have the reason right here,,,  hu?  and if they  figure 4000 cats its most likey theres many more then they figure, I dont see how they count them anyway,, also the bears are up in record numbers, and the cyoties as well. and they all love baby mulies too. the studies on vancover island showed that there couger rate climed to about 300 to 400 cats, and now theres not many deer left. and with no other small game food sources left as in other places , the attacks have started. cal has had attacks on people too, they where one of the first to stop the dog hunting of cougers, and now are the first to be feeling the affects on the people, and the pets. as long as they have food they will populate in big numbers. untill there food supplies run out, and they starve to death, thats just the way it is, and thats why the younger cats or very old, are most likey to be the attackers, starveing and forced out of good hunting grounds towards us, by the numbers of bigger stronger cats. thats the way nature works. Its really easy to see why the mulies have declined, where I hunt used to be great hunting, now I call it the dead sone, and the numbers get smaller every year, its sad to say. mean while the numbers of cats get higher and higher... ((  ONE HUNDRED and FOUR THOUSAND ))  mulies and blacktail deer in oregon a year,, is a lot of deer that where not killed off before the dog laws where changed,,, so you tell me why the deer are declineing so fast ???  if you dont say the lions and bears are getting them in record numbers whiping them out,,,  then i'll    LMAO

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