Deer Population in Region 6
Contributors to this thread:
Whitney 30-Aug-23
montnatom 31-Aug-23
Bowhunter81 31-Aug-23
Whitney 09-Sep-23
hntn4elk 22-Nov-23
Whitney 19-Dec-23
SBH 01-Jan-24
sbschindler 11-Jan-24
sbschindler 12-Jan-24
From: Whitney
I'm not sure of the rest of the region, but it looks like in 600 and 690 the winter did a number on the deer if my pre-season scouting trips are accurate. Very few does have fawns and the majority that do only have one fawn. In places where I would see 25 or 30 whitetails last fall I'm only seeing 5 or 6.. Many fields have no deer at all where there historically you would see several out in the evenings. I drove north of town the other evening.. Drove up about 20 miles and made a swing back (district 600) and I never saw a Muley... Not one! I've talked to a couple of ranchers and they've said the same thing.... Deer are few and far between .. Yet, the FWP increases the over-the-counter antlerless tags to 4? I don't get it.. I think the army that invades from Washington, Western Montana, etc. are going to be very, very disappointed this year... Might be a blessing in disguise (for a few years)... Problem is when they find how few deer there are, I'm guessing they'll shoot whatever they can find.. Seems like they are not about to go home empty handed...

From: montnatom
same here in Eastern/NE MT

From: Bowhunter81
Understand that this is what FWP wants. See below straight from their website on keeping deer number low. Keep in mind they proposed 6 anterless tags before settling on 4. It's truly a CWD thing even as they try to feed other justifications. I'm not buying into the CWD fear management plan. I've ready too many stories of other states trying it. The statistics in the first paragraph are laughable too. There's no way you can factually prove those numbers in an uncontrolled environment. Good luck to everyone this fall.

"If CWD infects enough animals, it could reduce the herd in the long term. Other states have seen deer populations decline when CWD infects 20 to 40 percent of a herd. In Wyoming, heavily infected herds of mule deer declined 21 percent per year and white-tailed deer declined by 10 percent. Colorado saw a 45 percent decline in infected mule deer herds over 20 years.

Because the distribution and intensity of CWD infections are variable across a broad landscape, the impacts across the landscape will also be variable. Keeping deer numbers down and deer dispersed, and reducing buck:doe ratios, may keep the prevalence low and manageable. FWPs’ focus will be on managing CWD-infected areas for prevalence at 5 percent or lower and preventing spread. This may also mean keeping deer or elk numbers low to slow infection rates."

From: Whitney
If that is truly their reasoning then why they are trying to reduce the whitetail numbers, it makes no sense at all. Mule Deer and Elk are much more likely to "herd up", as we all know. Whitetails will herd up in hard winters, but so will Mule Deer and Elk. I don't see the state offering 4 "over the counter" antlerless Muley or Elk tags.????? Furthermore, to "manage" (if you can call it that) an entire region the same from one end to the other is ridiculous.. Conditions around Plentywood or Glasgow can be far different than in Blaine or Hill Counties. The 7 regions are very large...larger than many states back east and all are larger than many states combined, but even states as small as Vermont, New Jersey, Maine, etc. are divided into districts for managing the game. It gives the appearance that FWP really could care less about whitetail deer and it makes a person think that it's probably about selling licenses more so than actually managing the herd.

From: hntn4elk
Just spent 9 days in 690 hunting mule deer in the rut during rifle season. Deer numbers were way down, seeing an average of 12 to 15 does a day with over the course of 9 days, we saw 4 small forkhorn bucks and 3 small 4 point bucks The forage base was fabulous and there was water everywhere, and will be for months, but winterkill was likely a factor in low numbers seen. This is an area where in years past, we were seeing 50 to 100 deer per day......

Larger camps with more hunters were observed as well The public ground was being heavily hunted, likely too heavily

It will be awhile before this comes back to a huntable population Garo

From: Whitney
I've lived here for 43 years and have never seen the hunting as poor as it was this past season... Last winter, as mentioned, was brutal but the quality of hunting has been gradually declining for some time. I personally think we opened "Pandora's Box" when the block mgt. program was implemented. It's wonderful for landowners.. they don't have to deal with people calling, knocking on their door, etc. and they get a check every year but the increase in hunting pressure it's created is unreal. Everyone has Onxhunt maps, etc. these days...Hunters know where every inch of block mgt. and public ground is and they hammer it every day all day long. Add in the technology of rangefinders, high tech scopes, etc. and you have a recipe for pretty much wiping out a big game population. If you don't think all of this has an impact on archery hunting, think again.. I'm hearing talk of cutting the season to 3 weeks, a draw system for Mule Deer bucks, etc. in region 6. I don't like it, but it's going to take a change of some sort in our regulations to help our big game recover and flourish. There are more and more people moving into the state...more resident hunters every year. Times change but our regulations are not changing to deal with the problem.... I'm coming to the tail end of my hunting years. I worry mostly about what my grandkids will have if we don't make some changes....

From: SBH
Everyone is seeing and saying the same thing. Something has to give. Not enough resource for the demand and FWP is no friend to the future of wildlife and hunting.

From: sbschindler
the FWP is creating a Mule Deer advisory council much like the council they had for Elk a few years back, if you are interested in being on this council please submit your name

From: sbschindler
FWP is looking for members to form a mule deer advisory council to help begin the process of developing a new statewide mule deer plan. The Mule Deer Citizens Advisory Council (MDCAC) will consist of 10 to 12 people and will identify expectations for the new mule deer plan, which could include expectations for the development process, management actions and goals, and results. “As we begin the process of developing a new mule deer plan, we are really open to taking a different approach, if that’s what the public wants,” said FWP Director Dustin Temple. “I know landowners and hunters alike have concerns with the trajectory of Montana mule deer populations. This council will help put us on the right path to a fresh plan that addresses these concerns and others.” The MDCAC will represent a variety of stakeholders from around the state. The meetings will be public and have opportunity for public comment. In selecting members, Director Temple will not give preference to any group or individual. Rather, he is looking for members who have various perspectives and a willingness and ability to work with other members toward consensus. Once the council identifies expectations for a new mule deer plan, FWP staff will work on developing the plan through an expansive public process that will include scoping, ample public comment and other public engagement opportunities. The goal is to have a new plan completed by the end of 2024. Learn how to apply >>

  • Sitka Gear