Mule Deer Herds Looking Good

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With general deer and elk rifle season opening Oct. 27, hunters are wondering how the state's mule deer population fared this year and how the hunting will be. Wildlife officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks generally agree mule deer populations are looking good.

"Good precipitation this summer means fawns and adult females are going into winter in better shape than last fall," said Glenn Erickson, FWP Wildlife Division bureau chief.

Mule deer research in Montana over the past two decades shows that fawn survival depends in large part on precipitation during late spring and early summer. Dry summers with little forage make it difficult for fawns to build the fat they need to survive winter. Older adult females also may be vulnerable if they are in poor condition going into winter.

Mule deer hunting quotas are mostly unchanged from 2001 following a summer of generally good forage and with mule deer numbers at or above the long-term average in many areas. Increases in antlerless mule deer B licenses in some parts of FWP Region 3 and 4 will provide additional hunting opportunities and allow landowners more opportunity to control deer numbers on their property.

Details on the mule deer population in Montana can be found on the FWP web site at, under Hunting then click on "Know Before You Go."