Thursday, 11 June 2009 02:43

Ruby Mountain Doe Tags

Written by Hunters Alert
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At the May 2009 tag quota setting meeting the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners voted in a split decision 1 to 7 to support the recommendation of Elko based Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) wildlife biologist Tony Wasley to issue 987 doe mule deer tags in areas 101, 102, 104A, which encompass all of the Ruby Mountains north of Harrison Pass.

            The point of controversy surrounded NDOW's desire to dramatically increase doe tags with the stated goal of "releasing the pressure on the mule deer herd to allow it to grow at a healthy rate".  NDOW lead game biologist Mike Cox quoted Biologist Wasley as believing that the Ruby Mountains are reaching ‘carrying capacity', or the maximum number of mule deer that the range can support.  According to Mike Cox, the only reason that the removal of doe deer might not show a large increase in fawn production is because the number of fawn producing does removed might not be large enough.  Biologist Cox stated that double the 987 doe-removal quota might be necessary to ‘release the pressure' on the deer and allow the population to grow.  Current 2009 survey figures place fawn to adult deer ratio in this area at 20 fawns per 100 adults, one of the lowest in the state. 

            The dissenting wildlife Commissioner stated that the Ruby Mountains have supported many times more deer than they currently do, as well as supporting around 50,000 domestic sheep and cattle that are nearly gone from the range.  "With in excess of 50,000 less animals grazing on the slopes, no major fires in the range, and fairly average precipitation, it is not possible that conditions have degraded to such an extent that the Rubies can not even support the relatively small population of deer that currently live there.  Killing does in an area of reduced deer population is not science. It is grasping for excuses at the expense of the deer herd.  If you are raising cattle, children, or guppies, you do not kill the adult females so that suddenly the population has a bigger ratio of young to adults and then expect the population to grow."

            The NDOW estimate for areas "10" or units 101 - 108 for 2009 is 24,000 mule deer.   The 2009 estimate for mule deer in the entire state is 106,000, down from a 1988 high of 240,000 and down two percent from 2008.  2008 tag sales were 16,997, down from a high of 51,011 in1988.

            According to NDOW's records, in area "10", there are too many bucks in the area and the buck to doe ratio is not conducive to successful management practices. Instead of issuing the 987 doe tags, any sportsmen would prefer to see additional 987 buck tags to bring that ratio down rather than killing the does which produce future numbers.

            Nevada Department of Wildlife, Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, and Elko County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife member contact information can be found at


Pat Laughlin

Nevada Alliance 4 Wildlife


Reprinted from Elko Daily Free Press
Guest Commentary
Wednesday, June 3, 2009  

1 Comment

  • Comment Link roberta moose Wednesday, 26 October 2011 13:47 posted by roberta moose

    I have to strongly agree with this artical. My husband and I am are archery hunter and the decreased deer were obvious this 2011 hunting season. We hunt very hard and usually see a number of bucks, small and large. I packed into area 10 from Secret Pass and went south to buck moutain and the maverick range in the east. The last time I saw this few bucks was after the early 1990s winter kill. NDOW did not report a winter kill for this area but a combination between the harsh winter and the increases dow tags from 2010 could be a poisinous combination for this heard long into the future unless NDOW makes drastic tag restrictions.

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