Monday, 24 December 2007 02:29

Idaho hunters have same problems as Nevada hunters

Written by Pete Ellsworth
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The problem here in Idaho is the same as Nevada and most other western states I have hunted in. Lots of talk but nothing generally gets done to actually increase game numbers. Here are some suggestions, which probably won’t get implemented to rectify the problem.


Mule deer draft plan management goals


In this entry I will be referring to management goals by number and give opinions on sample strategies.

Goal #1

Provision for hunting opportunities

Maintaining a general hunting opportunity only if it probably will NOT adversely affect goals set for the mule deer in that area.


With the number of different areas and access opportunities throughout the State I do NOT believe that it should be necessary to establish areas where big bucks can grow.


Since there are numerous places that the land based agencies or legal restrictions already limit the use of motorized vehicles I see NO reason to further restrict use of motorized vehicles as a management tool.


Goal #2

Maintain healthy and productive mule deer populations proportional to habitat capabilities.

Manage deer population at a carrying capacity that promotes a healthy population. This would not mean a maintaining a low population because of occasional a severe winter conditions. In those winters when it is likely the population will suffer greater than normal a winter feeding program should kick in.


Do not allow antlerless harvest in areas where the overall population is below set levels.

Do not use “management against disease” as a reason not to feed in severe winters.


Goal #3

Implement predator management actions to achieve population goals

This includes mountain lion and coyote harvest following significant declines in mule deer population in an area. This would in fact include any predator that was determined a significant factor in keeping the mule deer population from rebounding. This would include wolves, bear, bobcat et al predators that were determined to have a negative effect on the mule deer population goals for that area.

Continue Animal Damage Control work on coyotes and institute a statewide bounty on coyotes.


Goal #4

Encourage recruitment of new hunters and retention of existing hunters.

Manage the mule deer population and predator numbers and there will be ample opportunity for youth and existing hunter.

Develop simple and easily understood hunting regulations. Since trapping is also part of helping to maintain the mule deer population those regulation should also be modified to be more easily understood and reasonable with current trapping practices.


Goal #5

Implement the mule deer plan

Direct the funding and personnel to accomplish the most good for the overall mule deer population. (It makes far more sense to spend $50,000 to remove predators that kill 1000 mule deer a year than $50,000 on a conservation officer that catches 15 people that illegally kill one deer each.)


Goal #6

Improve habitat

Work on current IDFG lands and with other agencies and land owners to improve mule deer habitat. I don’t see that setting a number of acres per year is the best way to accomplish this. (If wild fires burn 50,000 acres and makes the land better for mule deer habitat does that mean nothing else needs done that year.) 


Goal #7

Evaluate a cost effective and reliable habitat monitoring program

Better use the habitat studies already prepared by county extension agents, ranchers, government land managers, et al.


Goal #8

Reduce illegal harvest

Have the enforcement officers out doing predator harvest as well as human enforcement. The more time they are out of the office doing the on the ground work the better actual enforcement we will have. I don’t want illegal harvest but I also don’t want the majority of mule deer killed by predators either. (It makes little or no difference to me if it is illegal harvest or predator kills that are reducing the mule deer population, both need curtailed and the one taking the most game is the one doing the most damage and should be the one of greatest concern.)


Goal #9

Improve population monitoring

Monitor mule deer population size, age structure, fawn production and survival, adult survival, body condition, and buck/doe ratios annually throughout each GMU

Develop short-term and long term total population objectives for each GMU


Goal #10

Work with land owners and sportsmen to minimize depredation

Find real solutions to continual depredation problems, primarily by working with the land owners. This may include establishing special seasons when the depredations normally occur.


Goal #11

Implement more studies on population growth and habitat

If most of the studies have already been done, we need to implement the guidelines that we already have


Goal 12

Public information on mule deer management

If the mule deer herds are managed so their numbers start increasing there won’t be a real need to better inform the public of mule deer management. I would cut the information group and hire trappers and predator hunters.


Pete has been hunting and fishing his entire life. He is an avid big game (primarily bears and cougars) hound hunter and loves elk hunting. Enjoys bird hunting both waterfowl and upland game birds with dogs. He says he is more of a turkey shooter than a turkey hunter, simply because he hunts turkeys while he is spring bear hound hunting.
He is a recreational trapper and traps beaver, otter, raccoon, coyotes and bobcats. Coyotes and bobcats usually are his main target species. He has been involved with several hunting organizations and being an officer in different clubs going back some 40 years. A list some of the organizations he has been an officer in; Idaho Big Game Trophy Club; Secretary and Vice-president, Vice-president of Central Idaho Hound Hunters Association, American Plott Association [APA] (a national organization promoting the Plott breed of big game hounds); Board of Directors and Vice-president, Idaho Trappers Association; Regional representative. He is currently the President, Concerned Sportsmen of Idaho, has served on the Board of Directors and is also a former President of this organization. He is the President of Back Country Houndsmen and has been for several years.
He was the columnist for the APA for 9 years writing in both Full Cry and American Cooner for this organization. He has been the columnist for the Back Country Houndsmen for the past 12 years and write a monthly article in Full Cry and American Cooner magazines for this organization.
He has hound hunted in 38 States, in Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji. Prior to getting hounds in the early 70’s he hunted, raised and trained Labrador and Golden retrievers.
He is a regular visitor to the IDFG Commission meeting where he often gives comments for the various groups he represents at these meetings. He has commented at numerous Idaho House and Senate hearings on sportsman issues over the years. He feels his biggest asset is the amount of time (about 125 days per year he spends in the field and the numerous extremely ‘good and knowledgeable’ hunters he has met and keeps in contact with over the years.

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 February 2008 02:28
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