Archive for August, 2007

2006 Nevada fires impact Mule Deer

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 August, 2007

A fire-by-fire breakdown is provided by Pahrump Valley Times. Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Game Bureau Chief Russ Mason was quoted as saying “These [2006 wildland] fires are an environmental disaster for the state of Nevada.”


Areas of critically important mule deer transition and winter range and important sage grouse nesting and brood rearing habitat have been lost. In addition, chukar and pronghorn have been affected.

“Historically, fire intervals are between 100 and 150 years in these areas, and for some sagebrush environments in lower elevations, 200 to 300 years,” said Shawn Espinosa, Wildlife Biologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife). Biodiversity is affected when these natural cycles are disrupted.

“We are now seeing fire return intervals on the order of 10 to 20 years – so the cheatgrass fire cycle is perpetuating itself,” he said. “More frequent fires preclude sagebrush seedlings that would come back after a fire from ever establishing,” said Espinosa.

One of the factors affecting fire intervals is invasive species.

In particular, non-native cheatgrass seems to have evolved to obliterate Nevada’s native vegetation. Cheatgrass is so named because it matures early and cheats native grasses, which emerge later, out of essential water and nutrients before the heat of summer sets in. It matures early and dries out early, creating fuel for fires. And it carries fire across areas between shrubs that would normally be bare.

“The potential for successful restoration is limited,” said Espinosa. Governmental agencies need to have luck on their side in the form of good precipitation, and the seeding must occur during the first year after a fire in order to out-compete cheat grass. Even then, the odds for sagebrush re-growth are low.” he said.

“We’ve seen sagebrush seed response in certain aspects – such as north facing slopes out of direct, all-day sunlight – and at certain elevations conducive for it to grow,” he said.

“Those are the sites we’re concentrating on. South facing slopes will predominantly convert to a cheatgrass environment,” Espinosa said. He noted that even when sage brush areas are reseeded, the overall germination rate is only about 20%.

With the basic fabric of the habitat changing, this doesn’t bode well for a lot of Nevada’s wildlife species. Sage grouse, a native species whose numbers are threatened, have lost numerous strutting grounds, used for mating.

“Over the past few years their nesting and critical brood-rearing habitat has been lost as well,” said Espinosa. “We’ve effectively lost these habitats for the next 30-50 years – conservatively,” he said.

The loss of critical deer winter range is being assessed, and the outlook is poor there as well. Areas burned were host to a number of species which will all suffer from the loss of habitat, including sage-dependent species like sage thrasher, vesper sparrow, and pygmy rabbit, as well as Lahontan cutthroat trout and a whole host of upland game species.

After last summer’s fires in Elko, the department put satellite tracking collars on 10 mule deer to track their movements. The information will help wildlife biologists learn how burned areas affect the deer’s journeys from summer to winter ranges. The data will also provide information to guide rehabilitation efforts to increase survival rates.

When are Mule Deer Fawns born ?

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 August, 2007

Since the gestation period for mule deer is about 210 days, if you know when the rut occurs, then you will know when to expect baby deer.  Or, in like manner, if you know when the fawns are born, then you know when the rut occurs.  In my home area of North Central Arizona, the firsrunning fawnt fawns are born about the end of July.  This may be a surprise to some.  It was a surprise to me.  The peak birthing period here is mid August.  That is when the typical Arizona monsoon hits.  This timing is about 2 months later than, say Western Colorado.  If I work backwards, that means our local rut is around mid to late January. 

It just so happens that, here in Arizona, I can buy an over-the-counter archery tag that lets me hunt during the rut in certain areas.

Since I am a Mule Deer Fanatic, and a serious student of the Mule Deer, I watch the mule deer near me with keen interest.  I know that the fawns that are being born are disappearing just about as fast as they hit the ground.  I know that the does separate themselves from the other animals just before fawning.  I know that they typically give birth in the middle of a park, which is what I would expect of an antelope.  I presume this is a predator evasion strategy.  It doesn’t seem to be working too well, however.  There are so many coyotes in our area that the deer, and the small game, for that matter, don’t have much of a chance to survive. I see these deer every day – so I can tell when a doe is pregnant, and I can tell when she has delivered.  If I see fawns with their mother, and then they disappear, I deduce a predator problem.  We do not have a habitat problem per se, and we do not have winter kill. 

Last year, we ended up with about 0.5/1.0 fawns per doe.  That’s pretty sad.  It looks like it is going to be even worse this year.  Have you ever wondered what this ratio should be?  If you were a deer rancher,  you would want to net at least 1.5/1.0 fawns per doe.  Is that possible, you ask.  Why, yes it is.  If our agencies were even half good game managers, that is what we could expect from them.  This type of ratio is essential to a growing herd and to having surplus deer.  That is why we have hunting – because of the capacity of deer herds to produce a surplus.  Today, we are giving the lion’s share of that surplus capacity to predators.

It is “normal” for a “heifer” doe to have a single fawn for her first birthing experience at age 2 1/2.  After that, until she goes through menopause, she will typically have twins, occasionally triplets.  Let’s say that a doe will have seven birthing experiences in her lifetime, then we could expect her to deliver 11-13 fawns.  I should interject here – this is why we don’t kill does.  About 55% of the fawns will be buck fawns, so we could expect something like seven buck fawns and six doe fawns from a single, healthy doe.  By the time a doe expires, let’s say, at age ten, between her and her offspring, there would be approximately 340 fawns delivered, of which about 190 would be bucks.kill coyotes  Thinking about these prospects should make any Mule Deer Fanatic happy.  Then you think about the current state of mule deer mis-management and you get sad. 

So, keep an eye on your own deer herd and see what you can learn.  If you see low fawn/doe ratios, you can start killing coyotes.

Dangerous precedent in Arizona

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 August, 2007

Arizona image

Make no mistake about it – Agencies are going

after tax revenue.


When all is paid by taxes – who needs hunters.


Important Meeting to Discuss Proposed

Sales Tax Initiative

A public meeting is being held to discuss a method of securing additional funds ( Possible 2008 Sales Tax Initiative ) for the Arizona Game & Fish Department and  Arizona State Parks Department, is being held at the Phoenix Zoo on August 7th, starting at 10:00 AM.  The meeting will take place in the Stone Pavilion meeting facility, inside and just to the right of the main zoo entrance.

The Arizona Heritage Alliance is hosting this meeting in an effort to bring interested constituents together to discuss securing a method to annually provide tens of millions of dollars for these two agencies.  All interested groups or individuals are encouraged to attend and offer your input.

Utah General Archery Hunt Begins

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 August, 2007

Utah image

The Utah General Archery Mule Deer Hunt tags can be purchased over-the-counter.  In 2006 these tags sold out about one week before the hunt.  This year (2007), they sold out about 3 weeks before the hunt. 

The General Archery hunt is statewide except for closed areas and limited entry areas.  The  opening date is August 18.   Much of Utah is hot and dry.  Expect a difficult archery hunt.  Focus on water sources. 

Idaho Mule Deer Bowhunt Starts

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 August, 2007

Idaho image

In many Idaho units the archery season for mule deer begins August 30.

Much of Idaho is undergoing fires, so be sure and check before you go.

Alberta Mule Deer Licenses go on Sale

Posted by on Tuesday, 7 August, 2007

Hunting licences for the fall 2007 season go on sale Aug. 1 across the province. To help hunters plan their trips, the 2007 Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations is now available, free of charge, from licence issuers and Sustainable Resource Development district offices.

 This year, the Alberta government will continue to offer hunting for a variety of game in many areas of the province, including increased opportunities for deer, allowing hunters to choose the kind of hunting experience they wish to have in Alberta.

Idaho Wolves plague Sheep, What do they do to Mule Deer

Posted by on Saturday, 4 August, 2007

This young gal is long on sincere and short on smarts. She wants to teach the wolves some manners and keep the mountain maggots in pens at night. We need more volunteers like her – a lot more.


Can wolves and sheep coexist here?

IDFG considering whether to kill off Phantom Hill wolf pack

Express Staff Writer

Wood River Valley resident Cindi Hillemeyer scans the surrounding Smoky Mountains with a handheld radio telemetry receiver in attempt to locate the Phantom Hill wolf pack’s two radio collared wolves Monday evening. This summer, Hillemeyer has been working as a volunteer with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game tracking the movements of the pack in an attempt to keep them away from bands of sheep that are grazing federal grazing allotments. Photo by Jason Kauffman

Raising her handheld radio telemetry receiver above her head just before nightfall on Monday, Cindi Hillemeyer scanned the surrounding hills of the Smoky Mountains for a sign of the elusive Phantom Hill wolf pack.
A volunteer with Fish and Game, Hillemeyer has spent much of her summer tracking the movements of the wolf pack in an attempt to keep them away from grazing sheep. Along with her Fish and Game-issued radio telemetry receiver, she also carries a single-barrel shotgun along with non-lethal rubber bullets to scare wolves that may venture too close to sheep.
Hillemeyer’s solitary task is a tall order, especially given the six-member wolf pack’s expansive home range roughly coincides with several federal sheep grazing allotments in the upper Wood River Valley. While at least one local sheep producer—Hailey-based Lava Lake Land and Livestock—elected to remove sheep from its grazing allotments earlier this summer after the pack was discovered, other grazers have chosen not to. One of those sheep ranchers—John Faulkner, of Gooding-based Faulkner Land and Livestock Co.—began to lose some of his sheep to wolf depredations on July 10 and 12. The sheep-killing incidents didn’t end there.Both Hillemeyer and Fish and Game’s large carnivore manager, Steve Nadeau, confirmed Monday that the wolf pack has continued to stay in close proximity to Faulkner’s bands and have been involved in repeated sheep killings. Such incidents are the reason Hillemeyer has spent numerous days and nights alone in the field monitoring the movements of the Phantom Hill wolves.

The killings are also why Nadeau is giving serious consideration to the pack’s continued existence. The option to kill off the pack was never out of the realm of possibility, he said Monday.

“It’s always been in the cards,” he said.

During an interview by telephone, Nadeau said a determination about whether agents with the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services would be called on to kill off the pack could happen soon. He said the decision—which is largely his to make—would be based in part on a detailed tally of Faulkner’s sheep that was to take place Monday evening in the Baker Creek area.

During Monday’s sheep count, lambs from the band were loaded onto out-of-state-bound trucks, while the adult ewes remained on-site and were joined by additional sheep.

Sheepherders looking after Faulkner’s sheep have reported continued losses throughout the past few weeks, Nadeau said.

“They continue to pluck away sheep,” he said.

What’s really needed, Hillemeyer said, is a stronger focus on instituting non-lethal methods to keep sheep and wolves separate. These can include putting sheep in protective electric-wire enclosures at night and placing more guard dogs with sheep bands—measures some sheep grazers have instituted with success, she said.

“I feel like that could shape a future for coexistence,” Hillemeyer said.

In response to a comment Nadeau made on Monday concerning the temporary nature of such non-lethal measures, she said the same can be said for killing off wolf packs without first trying to encourage them to stay away from sheep. Just as generations of wolves can learn bad habits like preying on sheep, so too can they learn to avoid sheep, she said.

By late afternoon Tuesday, information about whether the Phantom Hill pack was definitely marked for extermination was unavailable. Check the Idaho Mountain Express Web site at for continued coverage of this ongoing issue.

Archery World Record Monster Muley

Posted by on Thursday, 2 August, 2007

Kings Outdoor World Blog post about New Archery World Record taken in Colorado

Tim Roberts Buck

California Mountain Lions take all

Posted by on Thursday, 2 August, 2007

lion snarl

Mountain Lion Attacks Hiker in California

January 26th, 2007 David King – King’s Outdoor World

A 70-year old man was hiking with his wife at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on Wednesday when he was attacked by a mountain lion. His wife basically saved his life by beating the cougar with a stick and stabbing it with a pen. Game wardens closed the park and sent dogs to track the lion and eventually tracked and killed a pair of mountain lions. The man underwent surgery for lacerations on his head and body and is currently in fair condition


A comment I made on Kings Outdoor World Blog and a response: 

I attended a meeting several years ago where the California Director of wildlife resources was a guest speaker. He stated that Utah would soon be in the same boat as California relative to lions – if Utah did not wake up and smell the roses. His words were prophetic.

He had just come from escorting a husband to the kill scene where a lion had killed the man’s wife and had partially eaten her – the husband was to identify the remains. The woman was jogging on a trail near LA. The husband sued the Division and the Director for not controlling the lions. Lion management was taken from the Director’s hands by way of proposition, but he was still held responsible.

Happy hunting and may the Force be with you



I finally moved out of Calif in late 2006. Part of the reason was because of all the liberal tree-hugging nuts that have taken over Calif. These same nut cases are the ones responsible for banning trapping and the hunting of cougar in Calif.. Since these bans went into effect there has been a huge increase in human attacks by lions and a drastitic decrease in upland game bird poulations due to the out of control populations of coyote (trapping ban). I would routinely see 3 or more skinny coyotes walking around in broad daylight while duck-hunting in the Calif delta region. I moved to Oregon and plan to kill as many cougar as I legally can in the coming years. I’m going bear hunting in a couple of days and will get a bear. Bears have destoyed up to 30% of the timber in certain areas of southern Oregon. Cougar hunting with dogs was banned by the liberal animal-lovers (baby-killers) in Oregon a few years ago. Now the cougar population has tripled and deer and elk herds are on the decline. Cougar kill an estimated 1 deer/elk/livestock animal week or nearly 500000 animals annually in Oregon

Daniel Cook