Monday, 01 June 2009 00:00

Issue Deer Tags To Hunt Buck Instead Of Doe

Written by Patrick Laughlin
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Reprinted from Reno Gazette Journal,

June 24, 2009

At the May meeting to set tag quotas, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners voted 7-1 to support the recommendations of Elko-based Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist, Tony Wasley to issue 987 doe mule deer tags in areas 101, 102 and 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 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 the fawn-to-adult 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 an 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 cannot 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 area 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 2 percent from 2008. The 2008 tag sales were 16,997, down from a high of 51,011 in 1988.


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 an additional 987 buck tags to bring that ratio down rather than killing the does that produce future numbers.


Member information for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, and Elko County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife can be found at


Pat Laughlin represents Nevada Alliance 4 Wildlife. He lives in Elko.


HA comments: Using NDOW’s analogy:  If killing does (deer) is good for the herd, then killing ewes (sheep) should be good for bighorn sheep. Gosh, hunters will have so many sheep, they won’t even have to draw a tag.


Last modified on Wednesday, 14 April 2010 23:55
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