Mule Deer Status: Wyoming And Idaho
Wyoming Adds New Antler Restrictions
By Todd Helms:
It is no secret that mule deer numbers in the Cowboy State are not what they used to be. Hard winters, predation, loss of habitat, disease, the speculative reasons are many and varied but the truth is, nobody can say exactly what the culprit is or what the remedy may be. However, something needed to be done and in the effort to stem the dismal tide of the Wyoming mule deer saga the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has placed a four-point antler restriction on deer areas 110-115 in northwestern Wyoming.
This was done in response to lower than objective overall mule deer numbers for the Shoshone herd which has dropped to an estimated 8600 animals. The objective for this herd is between 9000 to 15,000 deer.
Another reason for concern has to do with the extreme winter of 2016/17 and the effect it had on fawn survival. While the effects of that brutal winter were not felt equally across the state certain areas were hit very hard, the northwest corner being one of those. The department is seeing a dearth of young deer in the corresponding age class and the 4-point restriction is aimed at giving young bucks that did manage to escape the clutches of old man winter every chance to reach maturity.
So, if you draw a tag for this region or any of these areas please be aware that not just any buck will do; count twice, shoot once.
Idaho Winter Range Report
By Jordan Breshears
2017 harvest results are in, and a quick look is telling a story that many feared. We all know that winter took its toll in 2016/2017 with only a 30% mule deer fawn survival rate and significant mature buck and doe fatality. IDFG cut off antlerless permits in a few areas and helped mitigate further loss. Even so, the overall mule deer harvest was down by 11,574 from 2016. We often see this boom and bust with western big game. But one can imagine the need for sportsmen and state agencies to work together and give these deer a leg up in hopes of a healthy recovery. On a positive note, many deer went into winter following a good feed year, and the 2017/2018 winter has been much better overall. Additionally, statewide whitetail harvest was just below the all-time record and elk are holding strong coming in above the 10 year average yet again for the fourth season in a row.