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Probable winter kill
Yesterday (12 Dec) I killed a mulie doe about 20 miles west of Lewistown, MT. She had fawns so was mature. It got to 9 degrees last night so I hung her for about 4 hours to cool and then used the truck to pull her hide off.
She had zero fat. Reminded me of the caribou we used to kill on Adak in March.
There were about 100 deer in a couple square miles. North of there the rancher said there are a couple hundred more. We have had severe to extreme drought in the area and the rain we got was too late to provide much forage.
Things could improve but our forecast is for cold through the rest of the month. I can't see how we can expect anything except a lot of dead deer and poor fawn production next spring.
Several trips to the Breaks this fall showed the range to be in the same condition.
Bad news story in northern Saskatchewan as well. Last winter we had a deep snowpack with multiple layers of crust in it from midwinter melts. We knew we lost deer last winter, but not until hunting this fall did we get a feel for just how many we lost. I’ve talked with some outfitters along the forest fringe and they say this season was bad. We estimate half the herd died off. I chose not to fill my doe tag this fall - better to let mama have her fawns in the spring.
That’s terrible news about the likely coming die off. I suppose any effort to feed them is off the table.
Ironically killing as many as legal and possible will result in more survivors in the spring.
Gonna be tough the way things are shaping up. Feels like a real MT winter at the moment.
They’re already all dead in Eastern MT so may as well have a winter and get some moisture in the ground out that way.
Colorado is at 110% of its median snowpack right now, and forecasts indicate plenty more is coming. Yes, it will take its toll on wildlife, but I'm honestly thankful for the moisture. The recent droughts have been brutal on our water supplies. Millions of people rely on snow melt from the Rockies, not only in the Rocky Mountain states but also in states that are downstream. Mother Nature has her own balance, and she doesn't favor any particular species of animals, unlike humans.
Oh, we need a bad winter. Ranchers here are selling productive cows. Feed costs are through the roof. My springs are down. Our only hope for next year is a lot of snow and a wet warm spring.
What we really needed was a change in attitude about shooting does. Years back I was talking to a deputy sheriff about not being able to get people to come and kill does on me. He said "We like to shoot bucks". I told him that didn't help keep the herd in balance and he said "We like to shoot bucks". I walked off.
I never understood why someone would rather shoot a year old mulie buck when a big doe would provide more meat and help the herd and the rancher.
LKH, I agree with you. I always try to kill some does and have let nice bucks walk by to shoot a doe. I have killed lots of nice bucks over the years but now just hunt for my freezer and crock pot. Getting old changes things. We have too many deer in my area and the farmers want you to kill them all.
Last winter was bad in Manitoba. This winter is not starting well. Got a rain that froze a crust a few days ago. We’ve had some super cold weeks already and 5 days of snow on the way. Not liking the way it’s shaping up
This winter is going to be severe. The last 6 have all been progressively worse. I'm down here in the Sonora and its colder than usual but we still enjoy the sweet spot of the continent to spend winter. Lots of snowbirds here too.