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Hunter Tom, they all say the same thing---killing lions only works to increase mule deer populations WHEN specific conditions exist. And, those conditions do NOT always exist. Sometimes, reducing predators will NOT increase prey--in this case mule deer. Want more?
 

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Discussion Starter · #83 ·
Back to the original topic. The Uinta's (North Slope) are my preferred deer unit. I spend as much time up there as possible because I love the scenery and the type of habitat. It is a very challenging deer hunt and I have a few ideas why this is.
One thing to remember is that the preferred habitat of mule deer is sage brush and transitional areas. Apart from recent burns, the Uinta's are full of fairly old growth forests up to the alpine. The last time these forests were disturbed on a large scale was the logging done in the early 1900's, with some beetle kill being removed since then. There is a lot of plant diversity and healthy habitat in the alpine/wilderness areas, but these areas are truly only open to the deer from late July to early October during normal years. Couple that with competition from elk who are better suited to this type of habitat and you're going to have low densities. The sheep grazing up top is also horrendous for the deer and I have seen alpine habitats that have yet to recover from large herds that were on them all summer over five years ago. The other thing to remember is that just across the border into Wyoming there is some pretty fantastic mule deer habitat and a lot of private land. This creates a sort of sandwich, great habitat just across the border in Wyoming, mediocre to poor habitat in the mid elevations, good habitat in the alpine, but little time to access it.

On the note of predators, I highly doubt predator densities are very high in the Uinta's, due to low prey densities. There are a fair number of coyotes, but they spend more time harassing sheep than the deer. In fact I watched a coyote two seasons ago make a beeline for a herd of sheep and jog right past a doe and a fawn that were bedded in a meadow. If there are predators having an effect on the north slope herds they are likely targeting them in winter in Wyoming.
Thanks for answering the question!
 

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Compensatory vs. additive predation...where are we? The idea that if we kill so many lions we are saving so many deer is simplistic at best. Often times, mortality rates stay the same even if predation goes way down. Many studies have shown this...
Actually the above is supported by the Ballard et al study as evidenced by the quotation (similarities in studies which predator control failed) he cited.

If I'm reading correctly what wyo is saying is that before we introduce predator control programs we need to know if the predation is the limiting factor (compensatory v additive). That is also what Ballard et al is saying. It makes logical sense and has been known in ecological circles for a while.

If I were to summarize in my own words, a one size fits all approach is unlikely to be successful or accurate to the entire state population of deer. If we are going to focus on predator control as a population measure for deer than we should have quantifiable evidence that the principle reason deer populations are below carrying capacity is additive predation and then target them in "small areas", ie less than 250 miles squared.

Wyo's comment and links just show there is immense complexity and context in deer management.
 

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The funny thing is it could explain the differences in unit population, ie some experience compensatory predation while others experience additive. The Books population could be below carrying capacity because of environmental conditions while other units are largely suffering because of predators. Knowing that level of granular detail is time consuming, expensive and often has temporal limitations (ie, by the time we know and can legally act the variables can change).

Wildlife management is a complex field, and that's without the human dynamic as such a big variable. I don't envy the managers.
 

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Horn size doesn't do jack chiz in the grand scheme of things when it comes to growing a deer herd! If that were the case the henry mountains would have the largest growing deer population in the west and it doesn't

Its all about carrying capacity of the land!

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Yeah 2 point lives still matter. Guess it doesn’t matter to some when not killing 2 points would negatively impact their hunts
 

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My biggest gripe with hunters shooting the smaller bucks is that they are also usually the ones doing the most complaining about there not being any bigger bucks. For some reason they have no idea of where the bigger bucks come from.

And the worst tasting buck that I have ever tried to eat was a 2 pt, that meat was just plain old rotten.
 

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You know what else is a problem? Shooting little bucks. Year after year. Let’s talk about that, shall we?
Not everyone has the same expectations for hunting. I don't shoot young deer, but I wouldn't deter one of my sons from shooting at one of them. I think there's also an issue with hunters shooting more than one deer. Shoot one, not recovered, so they move onto the next. Most of us know someone that has done this and it adds up over the years.

As far as predators. Two years ago while hunting with my sons on the La Sal unit, in an area we generally see a ton of does and fawns we saw very few. Saw one buck the entire week and it was before the opener of the hunt. Bumped into a biologist and asked about it. He said they estimated that they lost 70% of that springs fawns to bear predation. Not lion, coyote, bobcat, etc. That was just bear. I have a hard time not correlating reduced numbers to predation in that area where I see multiple bears when I visit. I see more bears there than I've ever seen in Yellowstone.
 

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As far as predators. Two years ago while hunting with my sons on the La Sal unit, in an area we generally see a ton of does and fawns we saw very few. Saw one buck the entire week and it was before the opener of the hunt. Bumped into a biologist and asked about it. He said they estimated that they lost 70% of that springs fawns to bear predation. Not lion, coyote, bobcat, etc. That was just bear. I have a hard time not correlating reduced numbers to predation in that area where I see multiple bears when I visit. I see more bears there than I've ever seen in Yellowstone.
This was a common narrative for division employees two years ago, including in the wildlife board meeting I cited above. It looks like they’re moving off of it, for whatever reason. Makes one wonder…
 

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We need to allow deer hunters to notch their deer tag on a bear or lion during deer season.
But, obviously, you forfeit your deer.
Does Idaho do this? I've never hunted there, but I think I remember hearing people talk about that before.

I'm all for that, but I would be woefully inadequate at finding bears and lions. I've only seen bears twice out hunting other big game, and have never seen a lion. And I've spent a day or two in the hills in my 40 years. One of the times was a sow and two cubs about a mile away while on a LE elk hunt I was helping with. The other was one I could have killed with a rifle, but was helping on a general archery deer tag.
 

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Just follow what Colorado is doing. In most of the units you can purchase a bear tag if you already have a deer or elk tag for that unit. It doesn't matter if you shoot your deer, elk, or bear first, you just keep hunting until your other tag is filled or the end of the season comes. Most bear tags overlap a number of units so you are not restricted to just one, but you have to make sure that your deer tag does the same overlap or you can just hunt bears in the additional units.
 

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I just finished an archery elk hunt in the high uintas wilderness. I make this trip almost annually unless I draw an out of state tag and skip the Utah archery hunt so I have spent a considerable amount of time up there not to mention all of the other fishing/camping/horse packing trips over the years. In all the time I’ve spent up there, it’s pretty clear to me the deer density is quite low. I know this is not news to anyone but what’s the reason? Seems like a lot of feed and obviously plenty of water so what’s the issue?

Just curious, thanks in advance.
My friends with "property - big swaths up there" noted that while our 2020 Winter was mild - 2019 was a mess on newborns. Animal factors. I won't venture an opinion on 4 wheelers or side by sides and their effect on depridation; but, I'd pay a $50 bounty on a few of those if it meant that hunting would improve...:)
 

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I just finished an archery elk hunt in the high uintas wilderness. I make this trip almost annually unless I draw an out of state tag and skip the Utah archery hunt so I have spent a considerable amount of time up there not to mention all of the other fishing/camping/horse packing trips over the years. In all the time I’ve spent up there, it’s pretty clear to me the deer density is quite low. I know this is not news to anyone but what’s the reason? Seems like a lot of feed and obviously plenty of water so what’s the issue?

Just curious, thanks in advance.
Cougars is one of the biggest issue state wide
 

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Plot Rectangle Slope Parallel Triangle


Oversimplified sketch of how a point restriction works on muley hunts in the west. It shifts age of harvest to 2.5 year old bucks. It brings the yearlings up to 2.5, but it also wipes out anything older than 2.5 because it concentrates all the pressure on the older bucks. It actually might work well if you're trying to manage CWD and remove older age class bucks that are more likely to have and spread the disease. Instead of a point restriction method CPW is just moving dates closer to the rut to try to target older bucks.

A state could probably do a point restriction like has been done with spike bulls and have general season yearling buck hunts and limited draw for any buck. It's a way to balance opportunity and quality.
 

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View attachment 149272

Oversimplified sketch of how a point restriction works on muley hunts in the west. It shifts age of harvest to 2.5 year old bucks. It brings the yearlings up to 2.5, but it also wipes out anything older than 2.5 because it concentrates all the pressure on the older bucks. It actually might work well if you're trying to manage CWD and remove older age class bucks that are more likely to have and spread the disease. Instead of a point restriction method CPW is just moving dates closer to the rut to try to target older bucks.

A state could probably do a point restriction like has been done with spike bulls and have general season yearling buck hunts and limited draw for any buck. It's a way to balance opportunity and quality.
It does nothing for growing a deer herd! Our deer herds are crashing! I could give a rats a$$ to be the last guy to hunt the last 4 point buck.



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