onX Maps
Eastern Plains Whitetail on the Decline
Colorado
Contributors to this thread:
db999 31-Mar-23
Buglemaster 31-Mar-23
Paul@thefort 31-Mar-23
Quinn @work 31-Mar-23
Ziek 31-Mar-23
Glunt@work 31-Mar-23
Mathewsphone 31-Mar-23
fishnride 31-Mar-23
trekker 01-Apr-23
kluzakd 01-Apr-23
db999 01-Apr-23
Jaquomo 01-Apr-23
CaseyAllen 01-Apr-23
Jaquomo 01-Apr-23
Buglemaster 02-Apr-23
Paul@thefort 02-Apr-23
Paul@thefort 02-Apr-23
Paul@thefort 02-Apr-23
>>>---WW----> 02-Apr-23
Jaquomo 02-Apr-23
Paul@thefort 02-Apr-23
Glunt@work 03-Apr-23
Paul@thefort 03-Apr-23
Orion 04-Apr-23
Jaquomo 04-Apr-23
boothill 05-Apr-23
Grey Ghost 08-Apr-23
Paul@thefort 08-Apr-23
Orion 08-Apr-23
Paul@thefort 08-Apr-23
Jaquomo 08-Apr-23
Glunt@work 08-Apr-23
Orion 08-Apr-23
PushCoArcher 08-Apr-23
Paul@thefort 09-Apr-23
Orion 09-Apr-23
PushCoArcher 09-Apr-23
cnelk 09-Apr-23
Paul@thefort 10-Apr-23
Orion 10-Apr-23
LAB1 10-Apr-23
Jaquomo 10-Apr-23
Stoneman 10-Apr-23
db999 28-Mar-24
standswittaknife 28-Mar-24
Cazador 28-Mar-24
db999 28-Mar-24
Cazador 28-Mar-24
Jaquomo 28-Mar-24
Cazador 28-Mar-24
db999 28-Mar-24
Ccity65 28-Mar-24
pronghorn21 01-Apr-24
Quinn @work 02-Apr-24
Quinn @work 02-Apr-24
Mathewsphone 02-Apr-24
Bowkill 02-Apr-24
Bowkill 02-Apr-24
Glunt@work 04-Apr-24
From: db999
31-Mar-23
Hunted Whitetail on the plains for nearly 20 years now and thinking it might be the year i abandon ship. The property we hunt hasn't seen a whitetail over 120 in a few years now and we picked up 5 dead heads walking the property last fall/winter. Wondering if anyone has heard of a disease going through or just too many people shooting the first basket 8 point they see? Looking for recommendations on a good Muley Unit I can get with 1 point? I'm thinking I'll just get my whitetail fix by driving the extra hour into Nebraska. Any recommendations would be appreciated! Thanks

From: Buglemaster
31-Mar-23
Don’t know the specific area you’re hunting, but I’m in Yuma county. CWD as well as too many tags issued has ABSOLUTLY decimated our herds. Mulies as well as whitetail. What used to be a top pick in Colorado is no more. Still a few respectable bucks & very few great bucks but every year a few show up. Most local guys I know are real concerned about what’s happened. Just my opinion but way too many tags going out for no more deer than we have. That said, I have my apps in for here. Nebraska is less than 10 miles from my home.

From: Paul@thefort
31-Mar-23
My take is, CWD, EHD, and CPW deer management plan to kill more mature bucks that might be spreading CWD through out their range. Parts of Nebraska are going through the same issues. More hunters killing smaller bucks because of the lack of mature bucks. Nebraska's rifle deer season starts Mid November, prime rut time. Mule deer are having similar issues through out their range.

From: Quinn @work
31-Mar-23
They have been giving out way too many whitetail only tags for the last 10 years or so. CO used to be a sleeper state for big whitetails but the CPW has ruined that. I was told by a warden they don't want the whitetail taking over the muleys.

We usually held out for 150" + bucks and now we may only see 1 a year if we're lucky.

From: Ziek
31-Mar-23
CPW has been trying to reduce whitetails to protect mule deer for decades.

From: Glunt@work
31-Mar-23
The extra "season choice" tags aren't helping the situation. I lost a really good spot. Still debating on what to put in for this year.

From: Mathewsphone
31-Mar-23
I talked to our local CPW officer and we have a case of EHD that ran through Eastern Colorado this last summer

From: fishnride
31-Mar-23

fishnride's embedded Photo
This would have been a good one!
fishnride's embedded Photo
This would have been a good one!
fishnride's embedded Photo
fishnride's embedded Photo
I’ve see it too.

From: trekker
01-Apr-23
I'd call the wildlife manager at Bonny or the terrestrial biologist for the area and ask them. I called and emailed the biologist two years ago and never got a response. I gave up on the area and hunted Wisconsin last year. Their bow season runs from September through Thanksgiving week which include the entire rut, and then continues through December. I hadn't hunted their since the late nineties and it was surprisingly good hunting...saw deer from stand every day, five or six different bucks, and I never saw another hunter, which really surprised me, though I mainly hunted during the week days. Plus the tag was only something like $60 because I hadn't bought one for 10 years.

From: kluzakd
01-Apr-23
I have seen the same thing hunting in Eastern CO. However, going to NE as I have been doing is in the same shape as Eastern CO. I think CWD/EHD has been a problem. Ken

From: db999
01-Apr-23
I'm out in Logan County and was a little worried it was just the property we hunt but I've heard up and down the river its been the same thing. Thank you all for the PMs and recommendations. I'm entered for the first time in 20 years in a new unit out west. I was surprised how reasonable it is out in Nebraska actually....now on to finding a place to go!

From: Jaquomo
01-Apr-23
Well, you can't deliberately kill all the whitetails in these units and not expect some peripheral effect over there in those other units.

From: CaseyAllen
01-Apr-23
I talked to the game warden out there and they are really concerned about CWD, hence the increase in all season doe tag numbers and enormous decline in deer population. I stopped hunting out there a few years ago and started going to Kansas..... where I can actually see some deer.

From: Jaquomo
01-Apr-23
Lead poisoning in a futile attempt to slow CWD is far more damaging to the herds than CWD. My county was the first to do a wholesale massacre of muleys decades ago. The deer herd is (very slowly) rebounding, and the infection rate is virtually the same as before the slaughter. It has pretty much leveled out.

History will show that all these attempts to kill deer to save deer from themselves was a foolish effort that did nothing besides wreck the deer herds.

From: Buglemaster
02-Apr-23
Spot on Jaquomo.

From: Paul@thefort
02-Apr-23
Nebraska:The total deer harvest during the 2010 season was 88,034 (77,028 whitetails and 10,709 mule deer). While a record 37,967 whitetail bucks were killed, a record 39,198 antlerless whitetails also were killed - marking the first time the antlerless whitetail harvest surpassed whitetail buck harvest.

From: Paul@thefort
02-Apr-23
Current deer harvest in Nebraska, 33,866 deer were harvested, compared to 37,053 in 2021. While the overall statewide trend was down compared to previous years, regions of the state varied. Deer harvest in southeast Nebraska was up 2% from 2021, while southwest Nebraska was down 15%

From: Paul@thefort
02-Apr-23
Colorado; In 1963, the first limited license buck deer season was held. Deer harvests continued to set records, with more than 147,000 deer taken in Colorado.

Compared to 2022. a Total of 89,000 hunters killed only 38,049 deer, 43% success. 29,397 bucks, 8092 does, and 558 fawns.

02-Apr-23
Paul: Those are SWAG (Scientific Wild Arse Guess) numbers put out by the CPW. When was the last time you were ever required to check in a deer harvest?

From: Jaquomo
02-Apr-23
In my archery elk unit one year it was really tough hunting for a variety of reasons. I only knew of one bowkilled cow taken, and I hunted a 60 square mile area, moving my camp five times and talking with numerous other hunters in other camps.

Our senior WCO for the units, also a good friend, told me he did not check a single bowkilled elk in any of the camps all season. Yet, miraculously, the post-hunt statistics showed that unit to have one of the highest archery success rates in the state that year, and the next year apps spiked. It was even written up in one of the hunt-wrecker publications as a "sleeper" unit that was easy to draw with high success. It was easy to draw, until then, although still very low archery success. Now it's a one point unit for resident archery.

I trust nothing published by CPW on herd numbers or supposed "harvest". Like WW said nobody checks anything.

From: Paul@thefort
02-Apr-23
THE POINT WAS; to show how the harvest of deer in Colorado has decreased a lot over the years. Even if the numbers are off 10-20%, it still shows a large decrease.

From: Glunt@work
03-Apr-23
The point that our numbers are a guess is valid BUT accurate or not, our opportunities are tied to them.

From: Paul@thefort
03-Apr-23
Colorado big game Harvest numbers, Guessing or what? Believe it or not-- read on: In 2021, CPW sold approximately 344,000 deer, elk and pronghorn licenses for nearly 2,900 different hunts. Hunts held between August 15, 2021 and January 31, 2022 that were available to the general public through the limited license draws, Landowner Preference Program (LPP) vouchers, Over-The-Counter, and Leftover sales were included in the annual Big Game Harvest Survey. To ensure all hunts were included in the DAU estimates, the Big Game Harvest Survey used stratified random sampling of licenses based on hunt code, residency and/or hunter age group. This voluntary sample based survey allows CPW to estimate harvest more cost effectively and without the penalties for noncompliance necessary with a mandatory survey. In total, 325,932 licenses were sold for hunts included in the 2021 harvest survey resulting in 200,604 deer, elk and pronghorn licenses being sampled overall. 208,212 licenses were sold for the 1,082 elk hunts include in the annual harvest survey. 42 of those licenses had invalid contact information at the time of sampling and were not included in the sample. The stratified random sampling resulted in 131,682 elk licenses being selected for the annual harvest survey. At the end of data collection, 47,460 elk surveys had been completed resulting in a 36 percent overall response rate. The harvest figures are estimates of harvest and participation extrapolated by comparing survey responses to licenses sold. The DAU estimates are followed by the standard error (SE) of the estimate which is a measure of the precision of the estimate. The 95% Lower Control Limit (LCL) and 95% Upper Control Limit (UCL) columns provide the upper and lower values for the 95% confidence limits around the estimate. For example, we estimated total harvest of elk for DAU E-6 at 6,436 with a SE of 175. The 95% confidence interval range estimates that between 6,103 and 6,788 elk were harvested in E-6.

From: Orion
04-Apr-23
Without mandatory harvest surveys it is a guess. Not sure why you are arguing that Paul

From: Jaquomo
04-Apr-23
Pretty big margin of error possible when only 22% of elk hunters responded to the survey. (Remember, the extrapolation of the poll responses in 2016 had Hillary winning by a monstrous landslide). And that doesn't factor in success bias in the responses. I know people who say, "I didn't kill anything, why bother?". So the estimate is simply an extrapolation of the results of those who were motivated and took the time to respond.

That explanation gives me even less confidence in the wild ass guesses.

From: boothill
05-Apr-23
A few Whitetails being seen down in Chaffee County every year and even one spotted in the Kenosha Pass area this winter.

From: Grey Ghost
08-Apr-23
Regarding the surveys, has anyone NOT been "randomly selected" every year? I never have.

As for whitetails on the eastern plains, they are WAY down in my area. I used to drive the creek bottoms around my place and see dozens of them. Not the case anymore. Mule deer numbers are also down from 10 years ago, but not to the extent of the whitetails. Antelope numbers, on the other hand, are higher than I've ever seen them in 25 years.

Matt

From: Paul@thefort
08-Apr-23
I am not arguing against mandatory game check. This subject was brought up at a recent CPW meeting and CPW gave reasons why they do not support mandatory game checking. The information I provided was from a CPW report on the current "check" system which they felt was OK over all, because "statically" is was accurate enough for their game management purposes. Will they change that check system in the future?

From: Orion
08-Apr-23
I'm not sure why they are against mandatory reporting. It can be done online like new Mexico. There is no way their "check" system is more accurate then actually data

From: Paul@thefort
08-Apr-23
A summarized report concerning mandatory game checking as was discussed at a Sportsperson Roundtable/Caucus meeting last month:

"Colorado’s process involves a long-standing, voluntary, randomized participation survey that is regarded as one of the strongest state hunting surveys. CPW sends the survey to about 190,000 hunters each year, selecting respondents based in part on hunt codes and license numbers per hunt code. Sportspeople who hunt in smaller hunt codes are generally more likely to be polled to reduce bias. There are about 90,000 survey responses per year. The BGHS informs CPW’s decisions on population management and staff is very confident in the estimates that are received. The survey is not a mandatory report; mandatory reporting asks all hunters to report a successful or unsuccessful harvest, with regulatory ramifications for noncompliance. There is a general assumption that mandatory reporting results in better compliance, but this is not necessarily accurate. A mandatory check involves a physical examination of the harvested animal and while CPW does require mandatory reporting on certain species, there is only about a 40% compliance rate in Colorado for these species. Mandatory reporting require that a follow-up be performed for the non-compliant percentage of hunters. Colorado does not feel that a mandatory reporting requirement would be beneficial since we already have a solid and cost-effective methodology. Some states have made the switch to mandatory reporting but have experienced growing pains. CPW will continue to monitor reporting methods in other states and consider changes as warranted. Roundtable members asked clarifying questions about CPW survey methods. Some members indicated that they do not feel that CPW’s current modeling estimates are adequate. However, CPW staff emphasized the strong scientific and statistical base for CPW’s survey structure. "

From: Jaquomo
08-Apr-23
"Cost effective". Explains it.

From: Glunt@work
08-Apr-23
I'm generally against mandatory anything but a software solution requiring a survey on last years tags before applying or purchasing this years tags has to be more cost effective than calling people.

From: Orion
08-Apr-23
Glunt, exactly

From: PushCoArcher
08-Apr-23
Amen Glunt! NM does that exact thing and dosen't cost them a dime. CPW dosen't want accurate reports they prefer their padded numbers. Looks better when you're trying to sell tags.

From: Paul@thefort
09-Apr-23
FYI, Abstract and Figures from a report on harvest report from an independent research source, ie, Not CPW: "Effective management of harvested wildlife often requires accurate estimates of the number of animals harvested annually by hunters. A variety of techniques exist to obtain harvest data, such as hunter surveys, check stations, mandatory reporting requirements, and voluntary reporting of harvest. Agencies responsible for managing harvested wildlife such as deer (Odocoileus spp.), elk (Cervus elaphus), and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) are challenged with balancing the cost of data collection versus the value of the information obtained. We compared precision, bias, and relative cost of several common strategies, including hunter self-reporting and random sampling, for estimating hunter harvest using a realistic set of simulations. Self-reporting with a follow-up survey of hunters who did not report produces the best estimate of harvest in terms of precision and bias, but it is also, by far, the most expensive technique. Self-reporting with no follow-up survey risks very large bias in harvest estimates, and the cost increases with increased response rate. Probability-based sampling provides a substantial cost savings, though accuracy can be affected by nonresponse bias. We recommend stratified random sampling with a calibration estimator used to reweight the sample based on the proportions of hunters responding in each covariate category as the best option for balancing cost and accuracy."

From: Orion
09-Apr-23
Readers digest version. We think our fake data is good because it sells more licenses

From: PushCoArcher
09-Apr-23
Exactly! What a joke trying to claim their formula "guessing" at numbers is more accurate then actual data. I'm sure it's more cost effective and we all know how anything has to be "revenue neutral" unless it raises said revenue. It's pretty simple for anyone paying attention. It would cost them money to do the job right and they have no interest in managing wildlife for anything but profit.

From: cnelk
09-Apr-23
Paul - it’s okay to disagree with the way the CPW does things sometimes. It really is.

From: Paul@thefort
10-Apr-23
Brad, As I stated above, I am not arguing for or against any method. I am presenting some studies and reasoning, that indicated that some states use different methods to estimate game harvest and why. What method works in one state may not be compatible in another state. I am sure some states believe their method is best for their situation. CPW when asked, stated, "we will continue to monitor reporting methods, and make changes if needed in the future?" If I find out a change is coming, I will surely let all know. I will bring it up for an update, at the next CPW Sportsperson Roundtable/Caucus meeting in August. Thanks for the note, I think.

PS, did you get your cabin dug out of the snow yet?

From: Orion
10-Apr-23
How can they even try to calculate success rates in OTC units when they have no idea how many guys are actually hunting them? Case in point look how many tags they allocated to the OTC archery units that have gone limited.

From: LAB1
10-Apr-23
I hunt Yuma area every year on several friends places. They are totally and completely against Whitetails. All the ranchers hate them. They literally want you to kill them. We hunted Muleys out there and ran into a few nice sized one but numbers are down.

From: Jaquomo
10-Apr-23
LAB1, same with where I used to hunt. One rancher used to shoot whitetails for coyote bait. When I started out there back in the early 80s it was about 50-50 with muleys. Now it's sort of a novelty to see a couple whitetails. CPW wants them gone.

From: Stoneman
10-Apr-23
Paul I appreciate your eternal optimism and diplomacy. No one can say you’re not consistent.

From: db999
28-Mar-24
Bringing this thread back because Rumor has it they may INCREASE doe tags this year on the eastern plains. I have emailed CPW and expressed my concerns so please do so if anyone is still holding out hope for the eastern plains whitetail to rebound some day. My only family member dumb enough to hunt out there sat 20 days, saw one buck over 2.5 years old and only had one hunt seeing more than 2 deer. I had a blast on my high altitude muley hunt and found a few public tracks in Nebraska to fill the itch (unfortunately didnt fill any tags). I am hopeful if they reduce doe tags on the eastern plains it can turn around in next 10 years and my kids can experience whitetail like i remembered it. Let CPW know they are killing way too many does!

28-Mar-24
this is their plan, unfortunately

From: Cazador
28-Mar-24
CWD is rampant out there, there is no stopping it. As mentioned above, the lead out there is killing more deer than CWD and in my opinion is the biggest detriment to WTs.

Testing should be free for archery as well. I know I won’t eat one out there without a test.

From: db999
28-Mar-24
Its uncanny how desolet it is out there. I know EHD hit some areas too, maybe we can get "reintroducing whitetail on the eastern plains" on the ballot in November

From: Cazador
28-Mar-24
A gazillion tags, no trees, rifles all over, pretty easy to see “why”

From: Jaquomo
28-Mar-24
+1 Cazador. Where I hunt, whitetails are pretty much extinct now, and muleys aren't doing much better. Long range rifle shooters and way too many doe tags are crashing the herds, on top of CWD and EHD.

I gained access to a great ranch (posted with No Trespassing signs..) three years ago. This used to be a gem, with 25,000 acres and two river bottoms, plus crop fields on top. Not long ago it had monster muleys and whitetails. I am the only bowhunter. I've only put an arrow on the string once in three seasons. The ranch owner bought it as a hunting ranch for family and friends. Now he and his wife won't hunt it because deer are so scarce.

This year I'm doing something I haven't done for 35 years, and applying for a late rifle season in the mountains. Kills me to not bowhunt.

From: Cazador
28-Mar-24
The positive, I'm seeing alot more turkeys.

From: db999
28-Mar-24
Yeah Lou, last year was the first year I left it for a mountain muley bow hunt. You won't regret it! I do hope it comes back one day for my kids sake but unfortunately I think that day is a ways off. I think we need to take any chance we get to relay our experience and hope it falls in front of the right person

From: Ccity65
28-Mar-24
This is a bit off topic, but thought I would add it to show how things have changed. I'm sure some here will remember this. In the mid 80's, you could draw a deer tag on the eastern plains (I always hunted 103). It was good for all the various splits that the offered early Oct, (week to 10 days), November (starting about the 7th or so), and then a couple of weeks in late December. However, it was also good for the general season and could be used in the OTC units. You could actually hunt September for a bruiser muley and pass everything but, knowing full well you had a primo whitetail license in your hip pocket for out east. Those were great days.

From: pronghorn21
01-Apr-24

pronghorn21's embedded Photo
pronghorn21's embedded Photo
Plains doe I shot. Saw 6 in 3 days of hunting.

From: Quinn @work
02-Apr-24
Too many whitetail either sex rifle tags over the last decade really put a hurt on them. Then the last couple years we have really seen the affect of EHD on the mature deer in our area. Mature Muleys included. But the CPW hasn't reduced tags even though the population is way down.

10-15 years ago we had world class Whitetail hunting. Now we're lucky to see a couple 130" to 140" bucks each bow season.

Cazador can still find and kill big bucks though!

From: Quinn @work
02-Apr-24
The reduction of CRP acres under contract have also had a large affect on deer and pheasants. Contracts not renewed means the ground gets tilled and planted.

From: Mathewsphone
02-Apr-24
Quinn ask him how many deer he's seen 1/3 of previous years

From: Bowkill
02-Apr-24
In all my years hunting Colorado I never understood why they weren’t interested in knowing exactly how many animals were harvested. I live in MO now and it’s mandatory to tele-check your animals by 10:00pm the night of harvest. It’s pretty much a fool proof way of getting accurate information. We also get surveys that ask about days afield, sightings, quality of the experience and such. Sorry to hear eastern CO deer are struggling. EHD went through our area last year too but we still killed 12 with our bows. If CO really wanted accurate info they know how to get it. One of the survey questions has you select an answer for the question of “The Missouri Department of Conservation is an organization I can trust”, I usually answer in the middle but compared to CO I’d give them 5 stars.

From: Bowkill
02-Apr-24
In all my years hunting Colorado I never understood why they weren’t interested in knowing exactly how many animals were harvested. I live in MO now and it’s mandatory to tele-check your animals by 10:00pm the night of harvest. It’s pretty much a fool proof way of getting accurate information. We also get surveys that ask about days afield, sightings, quality of the experience and such. Sorry to hear eastern CO deer are struggling. EHD went through our area last year too but we still killed 12 with our bows. If CO really wanted accurate info they know how to get it. One of the survey questions has you select an answer for the question of “The Missouri Department of Conservation is an organization I can trust”, I usually answer in the middle but compared to CO I’d give them 5 stars.

From: Glunt@work
04-Apr-24
I canceled my plans for a hunt in NW part of the state and out east. Hopefully they both bounce back in a few years.

  • Sitka Gear