Guest Blogger Mike Carter from Mule Deer Fanatic. sent us this very interesting article on his thought on what we can do to improve Mule Deer Hunting in Utah.

Would love to hear all of your opinions on this article!!!

Kevin asked me to address the subject “Improving Mule Deer Hunting in Utah”. I must say, first, that hunting mule deer in Utah is excellent, it’s the finding that is difficult.

Let’s define the problem. What would improve Utah Mule Deer Hunting?

  •    1) More mule deer (many more)
  •    2) More big bucks
  •    3) More access to land
  •    4) Equal opportunity
  •    5) Longer seasons
  •    6) Lower prices
  •    7) Simplified Regs

There is one simple solution to all these problems: Wind the clock back 30 years or more. During the last 30 years, the Utah DWR (once called Fish and Game – when they were a service organization), has been quite busy creating the present mess.

But, since none of us has the power to undue the mess immediately, let’s look at the above list, one at a time:

1) MORE MULE DEER – The simplest solution to this problem is to drastically reduce predators. Other activities which would help: manage forests to include all stages of growth instead of just climax forest, plant sage brush, increase grazing by livestock.

2) MORE BIG BUCKS – This is connected to number 1 above. In order to have more big bucks – the best solution I am aware of is antler restrictions. I support this approach: age 18 or under – can shoot any buck, over 18 – must shoot 4 pt or bigger (unless a special “shoot any buck” tag is purchased for an additional $5.00). Any way you want to look at it – there must be some sacrifice in order to have big bucks. The sacrifice is minimized when we aren’t required to donate so many of them to predators. The worst approach I can think of is to discourage the shooting of big bucks by legal methods, which is the current approach. What are we “conserving” big bucks for, if not to shoot them?

3) MORE ACCESS TO LAND – A high percentage of Utah land is public, and yet access to that land is becoming more and more restricted. When mule deer were plentiful, there were enough for everyone, including the landowners (… by the way, “everyone” was a lot more people then than now). Many landowners actually welcomed hunters as a means to keep the deer population in check. When predator populations started to increase, there were not enough deer to go around. That started the greed. Landowners felt inclined to preserve “their” deer for themselves instead of sharing. The agency responded by “allocating” landowner tags. Landowners, in turn, started charging tresspass fees and closing their lands to the public. The greed has now come to the point where landowners landlock public land so the public doesn’t have access, or absorb public land in their CWMU. This whole greedy situation was brought about by feeding too many deer to the predators. The lack of abundance is a catalyst for greed in many of life’s situations. Today, if there is any place that has both access and deer, it soon gets hammered. The DWR tries to get hunters to go where the deer aren’t by allocating the most tags where there are the least deer. I don’t know if the land situation can be reversed, but it would be more likely if mule deer were once again abundant.

4) EQUAL OPPORTUNITY – I was talking to my daughter the other day about US citizens giving up freedoms in the name of security. At first, she did not see the irony. I told her that a basic human right is the right to defend oneself, particularly from government. I said they want to take away our weapons for our “security”. Then, she got it. In Arizona, this year, the NRA backed an unsuccessful bill to constitutionally gaurantee the right to hunt. I grew up believing we already had that right, but I guess we don’t. Utahns, and others, started giving up their “right”, or at-least their opportunity to hunt, when they allowed the DWR to implement a lottery – a lottery in the name of “equal opportunity”. Do YOU see the irony? ( The lottery was “justified”, because of complaints about the shortage of mule deer ). Many deer hunters were deprived of equal opportunity immediately, when the number of hunters was capped at half the natural number. More were deprived when they simply gave up, because of the odds, the red tape, or the disgust. It has continued to get worse. More and more of the best opportunities are being reserved for those who have big bucks ( no pun intended ) of the monetary type. I could go on and on about this, but you can probably fill in the rest of the blanks for yourself. “In England”, it was once said, “only the Kings men hunt the King’s deer”.

5) LONGER SEASONS – Another irony here: crowding and pressure are increased as seasons are shortened. I believe, harvest is also increased. When there were “relatively” long seasons, folks weren’t in such a rush to get their deer. I might also add that deer were abundant. Pressure and crowding aren’t much of an issue when deer are virtually everywhere, as was the case in the past. Shorter seasons have been justified by complaints about the shortage of mule deer, particularly the large antlered type. Abundance is the solution. Predators are the problem.

Out-of-state hunting is getting expensive for the average bear. In-state hunting is also increasingly expensive, especially when you calculate bang for the buck ( no pun intended ). The DWR, and other agencies, want to fund more programs for the antis, at the expense of the hunters. Less and less dollars are actually benefitting those who supply the money. As the spending gets more reckless and the gain less effective, the prices will increase. With twice the mule deer, the same amount of revenue could be produced while cutting prices in half. This is simple economics.

7) SIMPLIFIED REGULATIONS – We have joked that you need a lawyer, an accountant, and an interpreter to deal with the modern day deer proclamation. Only the true die-hards can, or will wade through all the muck. Your chances of breaking a rule have gone up drastically. And the penalties? – WOW, out of control. I remember when proclamations were one page. They were simple and logical, kind of like the ten commandments. We didn’t have regions, and units, and CWMUs, and dedicated hunters, and special youth hunts, blah blah blah. What is the reason – you ask, for all this muck? Bureaucrats. Way too many of them. Why do they get to regulate us so? We keep complaining, so they keep making it worse – all in the name of improvement. Do YOU see the irony? It’s kind of like the IRS and their simplification of tax law. Why do we keep complaining? Read what is written above one more time.

So, all told we could fix it all just by rewinding the clock. I think we shoud get started, by first accomplishing a severe predator reduction program. Many problems can be resolved with ABUNDANCE.