Archive for December, 2007

Another Deer Slaughter brought on by Animal Huggers

Posted by on Saturday, 29 December, 2007

Dave Strege, Orange County Register:


Hundreds of deer and elk will be needlessly killed on Santa Rosa Island over the next four years.


A law that gave the animals a stay of execution last year was overturned by Congress on Monday, paving the way for the unconscionable slaughter of 1,100 Kaibab Mule Deer and Roosevelt Elk.Deer Slaughter

Leading the charge to exterminate the animals were Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who apparently do not believe the public deserves to enjoy these majestic creatures.

If they did, they would have allowed the public a voice on the fate of the animals. They would have closely examined the facts and sought ways to save the animals.

Instead, they patted themselves on the back and erroneously claimed to have put an end to big-game hunting on the island and to have given the public full, year-round access to the island.

Their “victory” was a last-minute repeal of Rep. Duncan Hunter’s provision of 2006 that would have saved the animals from extermination.

This repeal was a legislative rider added to the FY08 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that President Bush is expected to sign in January.

The problem with the spin from the senators is, the hunting concession was already set to close at the end of 2011 and the public was going to enjoy 100 percent, year-round access from then on anyway.

The only thing Feinstein and Boxer succeeded in doing was to ensure the destruction of the deer and elk herds that have inhabited the island since the 1920s.

The Vail and Vickers families bought the island in 1901 and operated a cattle ranch. They imported deer and elk in the mid-1920s. In 1978, they began a big-game hunting concession to manage the population and increase revenue for the ranch.

The families reluctantly sold the island to the National Park Service in 1986 so it could be included in the Channel Islands National Park. But the park service agreed to allow the hunting operation and cattle ranch to continue for 25 years.

The hunting concession uses 90 percent of the 55,000-acre island from August to early December, though the guides inform park rangers where the hunts will take place so the public can access the remainder of the island.

An environmental lawsuit put an end to the cattle ranching in 1997 and in the settlement, the families agreed to start removing elk and deer in 2008 and have them all off the island by the end of 2011.

The families’ heirs, who weren’t a part of and didn’t approve of that agreement, have subsequently attempted to save the animals from being destroyed.

Timothy Vail appeared before a Congressional subcommittee in May to make a plea on behalf of the animals and to introduce scientific evidence that disputed claims that the non-native herds were destroying endangered habitat and threatening native animals.

Last year, unbeknownst to the families, Hunter introduced a provision that would make Santa Rosa Island a place where military members could hunt, but that got shot down. However, one simple provision remained and became law: “The Secretary of Interior shall cease the plan…to exterminate the deer and elk on Santa Rosa Island.”

Then, along came Feinstein and Boxer.

Posted by on Friday, 28 December, 2007

Scouting MPEG4

A couple good bucks from Johnyutah5

Save Mule Deer – Kill Predators

Posted by on Friday, 28 December, 2007

My friend, Jason, scores big by killing 3 different predators in one month’s time (with help from his 12-year old son). He is a hero for saving mule deer and other game animals. All Mule Deer Fanatics need to follow his example.

kill coyote

Kill Mountain LionKill ofx

Washinton/Oregon Mule Deer

Posted by on Thursday, 27 December, 2007

Mule Deer Management

From antler-point restrictions to reduced hunting opportunities, it seems as if everyone with a stake in Washington and Oregon mule deer herds has a theory as to what works best. And the debate rages on …

By Doug Rose

What is the best way to manage mule deer? It’s a question that is debated fiercely across mule deer country today. The topic is engaged in sporting goods stores amongst hunters buying licenses and bullets. And it is also discussed in the hearing rooms where wildlife biologists and hunters testify before state fish and wildlife commissions.

Of course, it is the wrong question.

There are several proven strategies to manage mule deer, as there are for other antlered big game. They can be managed to create the most opportunity for the largest number of hunters. That is basically the way Washington has managed deer in recent years.

On the other hand, higher success rates and more older, branched-antler deer can be produced by limiting the number of hunters through permit hunts and other regulations. That is the way Oregon has managed deer for more than a decade.

Some two decades ago, big-game managers often employed a mixture of approaches. This allowed the bulk of hunters a chance to hunt each year, but biologists also reserved a handful of areas where permit hunts and more restrictive regulations provided hunters with opportunities to pursue trophy animals. But as mule deer numbers declined in the Pacific Northwest, as they have all across the West, agencies have been forced to modify regulations. The new management plans have come under intense public scrutiny and have often become controversial.

Jesse Laird – Warner Valley, 2003 season. Photo courtesy of Jesse Laird

In recent years, no component of mule deer management has been more contentious than the use of antler-point restrictions. And nowhere is it more controversial than in Washington’s Okanogan County, site of the Evergreen State’s most productive mule deer herd.

Three-point regulations have been in effect for all mule deer in Washington since 1997. That is, for a mule deer buck to be legal to shoot, it must have three measurable points on at least one side of its rack.

Mike Caryl, whose Cascade Outfitters shop in Omak is filled with mule and white-tailed deer mounts, supports the point restrictions. “I’ve lived here 47 years – my entire life,” he said. “We’re typically seeing a lot more 3- and 4-point bucks in the winter, after the end of the season, than we did 10 years, even 20 years ago. I think any local will tell you that.”

On the other hand, many wildlife biologists maintain that point restrictions are not the best way to manage deer other than as a short-term stimulus when buck populations are depressed.

“In general, point regulations result in illegal kill of sub-legal bucks, hunters’ expectations of a quality experience are not realized, and both the total numbers of legal bucks available and the total harvest decrease,” claimed the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2003 Mule deer management plan.


Until 1997, modern firearms mule deer hunters could shoot any buck in most eastern Washington game management units (GMUs). Although mule deer numbers were in decline, hunters continued to tag an essentially stable number of deer. Between 1987 and 1991, the average mule deer harvest in Washington was 18,400. However, significant winter mortality in 1992, followed by additional winterkill in 1994, reduced the population significantly. Harvest fell to 11,261 in 1993 and to 11,063 in 1995.

The worst was yet to come. During the exceptionally hard winter of 1996-1997, more than 60 percent of the deer in some areas of eastern Washington died. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife responded by imposing 3-point regulations region-wide. It also eliminated doe tags and reduced the season to nine early October days. The combination of fewer deer and tighter regulations predictably resulted in a reduced harvest. Only 5,196 mule deer were tagged in 1997 and 5,435 in 1998.

The declines in deer and hunter opportunity were probably most acutely felt in Okanogan County. Long heralded as hallowed ground amongst Evergreen State mule deer hunters, the Okanogan Highlands and Methow Valley had everything a mule deer could want. There were no elk to compete with the herd for food or space, as was the case in other areas, and the region’s development remained relatively light despite recent human population increases.

As a migratory herd, Okanogan deer enjoy quality summer range in the Pasayten and other high country areas, and they had abundant winter range in the valley. Over the years, GMUs such as Pearrygin, Alta and Chewuch became legendary among veteran hunters, and the hunting season provided a dependable and important economic stimulus to the county.


In the years since more restrictive hunting regulations were imposed, the Methow Valley deer population has rebounded impressively. Post-season buck escapements in December 1999 ranged from 25 to 30 bucks per 100 does, significantly above the management objective of 15:100. The spring fawn survey the following April observed 60 fawns per 100 does, which was also above the long-term average.

That winter, post-season buck numbers were 27:100, and 30 percent of those were mature bucks. During the 2002 winter survey, there were 24 bucks per 100 does, and the spring fawn count ranged between 30 and 40. Not surprisingly, the hunter ratios reflected the expansion of the herd, and during the 2000 season 2,434 deer were killed in the county.

“We’re seeing real nice benefits from the 3-point regulations,” said Brian Varrelman, a long time Okanogan County big-game guide. Varrelman’s Sawtooth Outfitters (509-923-2548; conducts horseback pack-and-drop trips deep into the Pasayten, Alta and Manson units. He says that the regulations have even had an effect in the distant, high-elevation areas where he packs his clients. “There is a noticeable difference in the quality of the bucks,” he said. Varrelman adds that many of his steady customers have hunted the same camps for years. He says that during the any-buck years, smaller racks were common. Now many bucks in the 25- to 30-inch range are taken. “They are tickled to death.”

“As far as antler-point restrictions are concerned,” said the Cascade Outfitters’ (509-826-4140) Dick Caryl, “I am a firm believer in their positive affects. But not for creating trophy deer.” Caryl believes they limit harvest of not just younger deer but all bucks, because they require a hunter to take more time and make sure an animal is legal before shooting. “It should be used as an escapement tool. There are too many hunters these days, and they are too good, and there are too many roads. The pressure on them is too great and they can’t take that kind of impact.” Moreover, Caryl says that his experience with the deer mounts in his shop have made him think that 3-point regulations should be extended to white-tailed deer as well. “It’s surprising how many people call a mule deer a whitetail and a whitetail a mule deer.” He thinks a 3-point rule makes sense in heavily hunted areas where both species of deer are available.


Several years ago, the WDFW proposed to eliminate the 3-point regulation for mule deer, arguing that they had accomplished their purpose of increasing the buck population and that they were no longer necessary. There was immediate negative reaction, however, from many eastern Washington hunters, especially in the Okanogan. The WDFW subsequently backed off the proposal, and its 2003 Wildlife Management Plan states: “These guidelines would allow continued public debate over the current three-point restrictions for mule deer along the east slopes of the Cascade mountains and in north central Washington, as well as other preferences of hunters regarding seasons, regulations, while maintaining the minimum population of 15 bucks per 100 does after the hunting season.”

However, many wildlife biologists are not fond of antler restrictions as a long-term management strategy. I recently asked WDFW’s Okanogan District wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin for his perspective on the issue. He spoke freely, but emphasized that his views are his own and did not necessarily reflect the position of the department.

“My personal bias is that I’m not a big fan of point restrictions,” Fitkin said. “I don’t like focusing hunting on older animals. I’d prefer to let the older bucks do most of the breeding.”

Fitkin says that mature bucks – the ones that are the only legal targets under antler-point regulations – tend to successfully breed during a doe’s first estrus cycle in the fall better than younger deer. Deer that breed early tend to have fawns earlier, which, in turn, grow larger and survive winter better than later fawns. In addition, Fitkin says research suggests that “synchronous breeding,” where the majority of the does conceive at the same time, also gives fawns an advantage against predators in the spring because it “floods” the area with young deer.

Despite widespread public perception that point restrictions were the driving force behind the recovery of Okanogan deer, Fitkin says other factors were probably more important. “We haven’t had a hard winter since ’96-’97,” he said. “And in terms of buck numbers, it is how long and where you place the season that makes the difference.” He believes that reducing the season to nine days and having it in early October, when many of the deer were still on summer range where they are harder to hunt, had more to do with the population expansion than point restrictions. He points out that last year, after the season was expanded to 14 days, buck escapement fell to 18 per 100 does, down from 26 in 2002.

In addition, Fitkin says that Okanogan County still has many areas where mule deer can escape the efforts of casual hunters. “It depends on how much access there is,” he said. “If we were all roaded like some areas, there would hardly be any 3-pointers standing at the end of the season.”

According to Fitkin, there are also social as well as biological implications with antler-point restrictions. For example, under current regulations a one-inch eye guard can count as a legal third point. This can make for difficult identification under hunting conditions and poor decisions can occur in the excitement of the moment. “Every year we find a fair number of two-points shot and left in the field,” he said. Fitkin says that his predecessor in the Okanogan, Mark Quinn, didn’t like the regulation because of this potential for making “criminals” out of honest hunters. “For young hunters, especially, it can turn the excitement of the first day into a nightmare,” Fitkin said. “An experience like that may turn a young person off hunting permanently.”


When Oregon mule deer populations consistently fell below management targets in the late 1980s, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife created a new mule deer plan. It established a baseline management objective of 12 post-season bucks region-wide. But rather than impose point restrictions to rebuild populations, it changed all eastern Oregon wildlife management units to controlled hunts. For the first time in many years, an Oregon mule deer hunter could not assume they would be able to purchase a tag every year, and the new regulations required hunters to determine the area they wanted to hunt well in advance of the season. Not surprisingly, this was a highly unpopular move initially.

The ODFW cites its experience in the Steens Mountain WMU in its argument against antler-point restrictions. Historically well known for broad-beamed trophies, Steens Mountain was managed under open entry, 4-point-or-better regulations between 1978 and 1986. According to the agency, the incidence of poaching increased significantly after point restrictions were implemented, and the number of 4-point bucks available for harvest declined 30 percent. By the end of the 12-year period of the regulations, the legal buck harvest in the unit had fallen 50 percent.

“Point regulations are often suggested as a way to increase the number of older bucks in a deer population,” the ODFW’s 2003 deer management plan observed. “In theory, point regulations are designed to increase the number of older bucks in the population by limiting harvest to only larger bucks, allowing younger bucks to mature. However, past experience in Oregon has shown that three-point or four-point regulations do not produce additional older bucks in an area unless hunters’ numbers are seriously limited.”

Has Oregon’s adoption of controlled hunts worked? Only 16 of 47 eastern Oregon WMUs were at or above their MOs at the conclusion of the 1990 season, the year of the last general-season hunt. Twelve of these units were already managed as controlled hunts, because of population problems that began in the early 1980s. The following year, the first with region-wide limited entry, hunter numbers fell from 104,745 to 90,661. At the end of the first year, 37 of the units were at or slightly below MOs for bucks. At the end of the 2001 season, 33 of the 47 units were at or above the management objectives.

Currently, Oregon mule deer hunters can choose from three different management regimes when selecting a controlled hunt. The majority are managed for 12 bucks per 100 post-season does, and the goal in these areas is to provide the greatest hunter opportunity. About 60 percent of the harvest in these units consists of yearling bucks, which are typically spikes or forkhorns. Fewer tags are issued for units that have a MO of 15:100; these WMUs usually yield between 40 percent and 60 percent older bucks. The WMUs that have identified post-season buck-to-doe ratio of 25:100 are managed for “trophy” opportunity; permit numbers are small and most bucks taken are adult deer.


All of the hunters and biologists cited above care deeply about the health of mule deer populations and speak from a wealth of experience. It is obviously possible for well-meaning and informed people to come down on opposite sides of a debate over point restrictions or other wildlife management issues.

There are areas, however, where agreement can be achieved. The Oregon experience with controlled hunts, where the average mule deer success rate is in the 40 percent range, shows that limiting hunters improves animal numbers and produces higher harvest ratios. But it is equally clear that many and perhaps most hunters do not like permit hunts and accept more crowding and lower odds in return for being able to hunt every year. In addition, biologists and expert hunters agree that the most impressive mule deer tend to come from places that are hard to get to and where the animals can survive long enough to produce impressive headgear.

As the late Erwin Bauer wrote in Mule Deer – Behavior, Ecology, Conservation, there is no panacea for every situation:

“Game managers in state game and fish departments have become increasingly aware that each game species, including the mule deer, cannot be managed properly with a single strategy for the entire state. The deer in different places, now called management areas, live in unique habitats. For example, severe winters may have a more devastating effect on the animals in one part of a state than in another. Adequate rainfall would be more essential in one area than another. And reproductive success would vary with local predation. Better deer managers now take all of these factors into consideration when they plan future hunting seasons and bag limits, area by area.”

Unlucky guy Lucky to be Alive

Posted by on Wednesday, 26 December, 2007

My mother used to say: “A miss is as good as a mile”.

Apparently, this guy’s “friend” shot ( his bow) before he had time to duck. Don’t do this to your friends.

Head wound

Hunters Can’t, Police Can

Posted by on Friday, 21 December, 2007

It’s hard to believe that folks in Helena, Montana have retrogressed to this point, but they want someone to kill the wintering deer that are hanging around town. At first, the squeaky wheel residents were pushing for the state/city to hire sharpshooters to do the dirty work. At-least one resident is claiming that the deer aren’t that much of a nuisance, but he is being ignored.

Hunters can't kill dangerous deerIn a dangerous, precedent-setting measure, the city has decided to employ police officers to rid the city of 50 dangerous deer. This measure is supported by the Montana DFWP. Using hunters is considered a dangerous risk, but police will be authorized to kill animals at night using special heat-sensing equipment and silencers, so the deadly deed will go unnoticed by those prudent souls that are ordering the slaughter. All consciences thus protected.

If you can believe it, the current proposal is to net the deer, take them to public lands, and then have them executed by police. Need I say more?

Another foot in the door for the so-called animal huggers?

True Mule Deer Fanatic

Posted by on Friday, 21 December, 2007

This guy is a brother of a friend. He has killed a lot of BIG Mule Deer. I am truly envious.

Huge Idaho Buck

City Mule Deer are a Problem in more ways than one

Posted by on Thursday, 20 December, 2007

Can you see any problems with cities, or even rural towns, insisting that their respective states remove wintering deer from their premises? I can:

  • The very people pushing for this type of action are those that want to ban hunting.
  • Hunters aren’t allowed to kill the deer.
  • Cities want agencies to pay for removal using sportsman-supplied monies
  • Agencies want new funding sources via taxation
  • Instead of taking in revenue to kill the deer, the states are paying high costs to kill the deer
  • Maybe the deer shouldn’t be killed in the first place (If they were lions or bears – they would be rehabilitated)

City deer causing problems

New NRA site to protect hunters’ Rights

Posted by on Thursday, 20 December, 2007

11250 Waples Mill Road – Fairfax, VA 22030

NRA Battle for Hunters’ Rights
Is Focus of New Website
On November 1, 2007, NRA launched a new Website– has been strong and feedback on it positive, but there is one really disturbing thing about the site–the fact that there is a need for it.

The number of licensed hunters has dropped steadily, from 14.1 million in 1996 to 12.5 million today. Gleeful anti-hunters claim that hunting is dying, and no longer of interest to Americans.

But it isn’t lack of interest in hunting that’s causing the decline.

It’s overly complex, nit-picking regulations that turn inadvertent mistakes into criminal offenses. It’s too much difficulty in finding a place to hunt, or even to sight-in your rifle. It’s overzealous law enforcement. It’s archaic minimum-age hurdles that must be cleared before youngsters can hunt. And it’s radical anti-hunting groups–and their sympathetic media–that succeed in closing down hunting seasons, even when they are overwhelmingly justified by the science of wildlife management.

“There are more threats to hunting than many of us seem to realize,” said NRA Executive Director of General Operations Kayne Robinson, who spearheaded the development of the site. “And many of those threats are caused by government action, abuse, or inaction. Government red tape and bureaucratic hostility have reached a point where people are actually being driven out of hunting. A hunting license is not probable cause to believe its owner is a crook to be searched and interrogated.

“NRA strongly supports game laws based on sound wildlife management, and we vehemently oppose laws that only serve the convenience of the bureaucracy,” Robinson continued. “The hunters rights’ abuses NRA addresses are not to shield the guilty but to protect the innocent from being treated like the guilty.

“With all these factors combining to make it harder for an average citizen to hunt, we saw a need to keep people informed through a Website devoted to hunters’ rights issues.”

If you have not clicked on yet, here’s a small sampling of some of the story topics already posted, or in development.

In Alaska, guide Jim Hamilton and his brown bear hunters were startled when a low-flying plane circled their camp more than a dozen times. The plane carried a local TV news crew, whose members camped about 50 yards from the hunters. The crew crowded the hunters all the next day until a kill was made, and at one point a cameraman allegedly got in front of a rifle on one stalk. A few days later, the station aired a story questioning whether a perfectly legal hunt was fair chase and ethical. According to Hamilton, the pilot and TV crew ” ruined the hunting experiences of at least six resident and nonresident hunters and endangered their safety as well.”

In Oregon, hunters are complaining that an increased cougar population–brought about by a ban on using hounds for cougar hunting–is leading to substantially increased predation on deer and elk. The ban was strongly advocated by anti-hunting groups–and now deer and elk hunters are paying the price in decreased opportunities.

In Arizona, half–yes, half–the population of desert bighorn sheep on Kofa National Wildlife Refuge have died because of drought. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service planned to install water-for-wildlife devices to save the remaining sheep — but radical environmental groups sued to block them! NRA and other groups stepped in, helping to allow the water projects to go forward while the suit is in progress.

In New Jersey, despite clear scientific justification for a black bear season, anti-hunting zealots managed to block it. The antis went a step farther when they tried to pass legislation that would remove hunters and fishermen from the State Fish and Game Council, and allow political appointees–meaning anti-hunters–to replace them. New Jersey sportsmen roared their opposition at rallies, in the press, and at the polls. Major sponsors of the bill were voted out, but the legislation they introduced remains pending.

In Missouri, turkey hunters are now required to affix a yellow “Be Safe” sticker to the receiver of their guns so that it will be in the line of sight when shooting. Besides being useless, or at the very least unproved as a means of preventing accidents, the sticker regulation is an insult to anyone who has taken hunter education. Should a hunter be subject to a fine if the sticker gets brushed off in the woods or simply forgets to put it on?

BLM lands are used by millions of responsible hunters and recreational shooters. Yet in Colorado, there are plans underway to close the entire, 164,000-acre Canyons of the Ancients National Monument to recreational shooting. Also in Colorado, BLM plans restrictions to travel routes on lands it administers within the San Luis Valley. Proposals would limit the retrieval of game off designated routes except to a perpendicular distance of 300 feet from the edge of a route.

Nationwide, many areas require shotguns-only for deer hunting, based on the perception that shotgun slugs won’t travel as far as centerfire rifle bullets. But these decisions should be based on science, not perception. And studies show the ballistics of modern slugs are rivaling, and in specific circumstances even surpassing, those of rifle bullets.

And while hunters’ rights issues make up the heart of the site, there are 13 sections in all, and various ways for readers to provide comment. “Hunting Headlines” includes stories about new opportunities hunters need to be aware of, such as various states’ efforts to increase public hunting lands and introduce new seasons. Two of the most popular columns are the monthly “Gift Giveaway” and the “Trophy Gallery,” in which readers can share their best hunting photos. Also stay up to date on new products by checking into “Hunting Gear You Need,” or click on “Range News” to see if there’s a new place near you where you can sight-in before the season or just practice your marksmanship. “Dubious Regulations” is your chance to tell us about nonsensical laws, and “Eye on the Antis” keeps you aware of how groups like PETA and the Humane Society of the United States are trying to abolish hunting.

Perhaps most of all, the site is the primary source of information on what NRA is doing to protect your hunting rights. Through the combination of our political strength, our hunter recruitment programs and even our grant funding, there is simply no one group doing more for hunters than NRA. Hence the name,

Oil Companies buy Colorado DOW, Now everything is OK

Posted by on Wednesday, 19 December, 2007

From the Denver Post:


GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Colorado Division of Wildlife on Thursday presented awards to several energy companies, all of whom have operations in Garfield County, for their work to “protect wildlife and wildlife habitat”.

“We try to work cooperatively with these companies,” said Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the DOW. “Most of the time they come to us and ask ‘What can we do better?’ It is our hope that the industry will continue to turn to us for that wildlife expertise.”

The two largest energy operators in the county, Williams Production RMT and EnCana Oil and Gas (USA), both received awards Thursday.

State officials cited EnCana for its work to provide more than $1 million to fund DOW studies of wildlife, including the greater sage-grouse and mule deer in the Piceance Basin. The state agency also lauded the company’s efforts to support DOW law enforcement efforts to reduce poaching, according to the DOW.

The company also has completed “significant baseline wildlife research on the company’s North Parachute Ranch property, where they have applied management plans to address greater sage-grouse, grazing and weed management and land restoration,” a DOW statement said.

“We are honored,” said Doug Hock, spokesman for EnCana. “Our employees care about wildlife. We care about the same values that people live here and recreate here. We are always looking to partner with groups like the DOW to find ways protect and preserve wildlife.”

Williams was also honored for its “commitment to wildlife research and the DOW Hunter Outreach program, including providing more than $450,000 to the Central Piceance Basin wildlife research project,” the DOW statement said. Other Williams’ efforts the state recognized was its work to obtain water rights in 2007 and construct an irrigation system to “provide water to critical deer range in the Rulison, Parachute and Grand Valley gas fields.”

Other companies and their honored efforts, according to the statement released Thursday, included:

• Shell Oil Company for an agreement that keeps 18,000 acres of Shell land in the Piceance Basin open for public hunting through a 10-year hunting lease with the DOW for $1 a year.

• ConocoPhillips for providing funding and support for a research technician who worked on sage grouse research.

• Chevron for allowing DOW sage-grouse researchers access to the company’s private lands around Skinner Ridge.