Nevada, ya baby! Read it and weep

robby denning

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That is if you didn't apply for NV deer this year. Vandal just turned me onto this info and man was I excited to read this:

From http://www.ndow.org/about/news/pr/2012/April/2012_quota.shtm

Mule Deer – After the second consecutive year of a modest increase in Nevada’s mule deer population estimate, a series of factors are contributing to NDOW’s increased tag quota recommendations in many areas. Some of these areas have been growing rapidly with commensurate increases in their buck ratios, some of those same areas experienced significant tag reductions last year allowing for increases in the buck ratios. Further exacerbating the issue, many of those same areas had exceptionally high production AND recruitment due to a favorable 2010-11 winter, good summer, and very mild 2011-12 winter. Nevada continues to maintain one of the highest post-hunt buck ratio objectives in the country with many areas well over 30 bucks per one hundred does. The 1980s have been regarded by many as the “hay day” for mule deer in Nevada. Therefore, for comparative purposes, harvest strategies from the 1980s are considered relative to those used today.

Buck ratios in the 1980s ranged in the low to mid 20s per 100 does. Today, Nevada’s quota recommendations are extremely conservative and if approved would result in a post-hunt buck ratio of 30.
Bucks typically comprised roughly 26% of the population in the 1980s, today bucks comprise approximately 32% of the population.
Of the available bucks in our deer population in 2011 we harvested around 21.5%. In the mid 1980s we harvested up to 36% of our bucks.
In 2011, Nevada’s post hunt buck ratio objectives were nearly 50% higher than post-hunt buck ratio objectives in the 1980s.
Unnecessary quota reductions in 2011 of 25% in most areas of the state, exaggerated an already overly conservative process and resulted in the highest post hunt buck ratio ever observed.
Nevada currently possesses a population of 112,000 mule deer with 35,000 bucks. In 1985 there was an estimated 155,000 deer with 44,000 bucks. Today’s higher buck ratios can sustain a higher level of harvest because a much higher percentage of the population is bucks.
Higher percentages of bucks in the herd do not equate to higher quality deer OR herd growth, but may in fact limit fawn recruitment via competition for limited winter range in some areas.
We should not continue to stockpile bucks when there are limited benefits to buck quality and likely detrimental effects on recruitment and herd size associated with doing so.
At the current statewide average of approximately 38% hunter success and 42% 4 point or better, it’s important to understand that a 10 tag increase does not equate to 10 dead 4-point bucks as many hunters may imagine. For each 10 tags issued, the average result will be 4 dead bucks with 1 and in some cases 2 being 4-points or better. 20 tags typically results in close to 7 dead deer, on average 3 of which should be 4-points or better.
In the case that social carrying capacity (the maximum number of hunters that is socially acceptable in the field) is significantly lower than the biological carrying capacity, the value of continuing to conduct aerial surveys in those areas should be carefully evaluated."

Whoo hoo, I applied for all 5 choices on my deer app! Lord willin' I'm huntin' the Silver State this year. When is the last time you heard "commensurate increases in their buck ratios" in a press release? I think I was in my daddy's loin the last time that happened.

This is the biggest tag jump I can remember in NV. As they were so conservative before, that still won't be a lot of hunters in the field in most units.

I just remembered I told my wife I was on my way home then I saw this after I hung up and now she's gonna be hot! but I had to post this.
Best of luck to those who applied, I hope you get the tag right after mine :)
 
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RosinBag

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I read the proposed tag quotas a couple days ago. I should certainly get a tag. If they would just go back to Aug 1 opening day it would be perfect.
 

Travis Bertrand

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Keep in mind, proposed quotas. Last year they cut 10%
In tags and the proposal was 10% increase. This will be interesting. I emailed a local biologist to see how they get their numbers because, me ring a resident nearly my whole life, all I have seen is less of a deer population. I just want both sides of the story so I can judge for myself on the "quota war between biologists and commissioners.

I would like a tag though :)
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Dr- yes, I do realize they are proposed and often those proposals are high. I was just excited to see a positive trend for a change. Gotta remember that I live & hunt Idaho/W. Wyoming so after years of bad news, I get giddy when something like this comes out.

Good to hear from a NV resident- Keep us posted on what the biologist says. I know it can be hard to trust G&F numbers sometimes...
 

drthornton

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I'm in...all the units, except 1, I applied for had archery quotas go up. I need some good news after New Mexico.
 

bowuntr

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Stand by... the commission votes on it on May 12th.... Last year they surprised everyone. Ed F
 

Travis Bertrand

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I think so to Robert, maybe they will keep status quo, you never know though, they have a few different commissioners, they got rid of the anti's
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Even if they vote it down, good to hear NV doing well. One of my favorite mule deer states that I've never hunted but have scouted in anticipation of a tag someday
 

PhillyB

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Yeah, its great that Nevada is doing well. The numbers are up and the deer look healthy.

However, I dont think that increasing the number of tags is great idea. For instance, they are looking to increase the tags as much as 52% in some units. For example, in unit 10 they are proposing to take the number of archery tags from 441 in 2011 to 919 tags for 2012. That type of increase is insane. The Ruby's will be crawling with every Tom, Dick, and Harry that put unit 10 as there last chance choice.

It just blows me away that the deer numbers are starting to recover and the first action is to raise tag numbers. Its all about the bottom line dollar figure. They see an opportunity to make some cash for a State that is struggling and they capitilze on it.

Hopefully, the commission will surprise us and vote this proposal down keeping the tag numbers near the 2011 levels. Either way we will know on the 12th.
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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They voted it down last year, so could happen again. Maybe NDOW is just aiming high knowing they'll get cut???
 

Rizzy

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Is it the same commissioners this year? I kind of got the feeling some of them where going to be replaced for voting down the NDOW recommendation of increasing the tags last year.

I watched the Mule Deer portion of last years meeting on youtube, and I found it scary that the majority of the commissioners didn't understand that population decline and buck to doe ratios are separate entities. The biologists tried there best to explain that you can have a declining deer herd and still have a healthy buck to doe ratio (healthy herd), but nobody really seemed to grasp that.
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Rizzy, from what I understand from second hand sources, there are new commission members, but not all are new. Anyone else know for sure?
 

Travis Bertrand

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So here is the email answering my questions on proposed tag increase from a biologist here in nv. Nice to get both sides

Travis,

Attached is justification/talking points sheet that Tony Wasley (Mule Deer Staff Biologist) and I wrote up to explain partially the reasons why we are recommending increased quotas. Unless someone has knowledge and understanding of what is out on the landscape both from the perspective of plant communities and mule deer herds and their status and ability to be productive and healthy (plants and vegetation are very complex system that most hunters are clueless about). Most humans are pretty clueless about eating a healthy diet. If they can't even figure out how to eat right, how the hell would a human care to figure out how a deer must eat right to thrive and survive. Some of our biggest problems in not being able to support and grow more mule deer is our summer range. I don't have time to explain the details of mountain brush community age structure and nutrient/biomass levels have dropped along with reduced understory of perennial grasses and forbs that are essential for deer in the spring and summer months. Also water distribution has changed for the worse because dried up springs and reduced snowpack. 99% of the hunters only see a mountain with rocks on top of it, a road up the bottom and maybe a stream running down it. They are clueless about how it all functions to support thousands of deer and elk and livestock and feral horses and rodents and so on. It all may look the same but not to me or others who are trained to understand ungulate and plant ecology. We continue to have thriving mtn lion and coyote populations that take their share of deer but they are not controlling the deer herds as much as most people what to give them credit. It is multi-factorial in the sense of no single silver bullet is keeping deer herds depressed. It is a combination of factors from weather to plants, to human disturbances, to predators.

Anyway, the attachment should hopefully explain the increases. Just because we had a certain tag quota last year, last 5 years or last 20 years, doesn't mean it was an appropriate quota in relation to what the deer herd size was and what the herd could support from harvest of bucks, death of old age animals, death to all natural mortality factors and recruitment of young every year. We biologists have known we have been conservative on providing hunting opportunities since 2000 and we are tired of seeing this conservatism. Most states have much more hunting opportunity then Nevada does per 100 deer. We wanted to challenge the process to see if hunters really want to hunt more or if they want to sit around and wait 5-10 years for a deer tag? By allowing the number of bucks to build in a herd, the overall productivity of each herd is slowly reduced because bucks don't make babies. What if you had 100 cattle and could never feed any more than that and you kept all the old breeder bulls in some pasture and weren't able to buy more cows to breed because you didn't want to "cull" the old bulls. You would end up with fewer cows to calf and a bunch of unproductive bulls taking up space in your pasture. There is a "happy medium" where you are harvesting both young and mature bucks, young bucks are growing into mature bucks and fawns are being recruited into the herd to become young bucks. There is no doubt that a high school of 1,000 kids will likely have more talented athletes than a school of only 100 kids. Same is true with a deer herd and the number of bucks that have genetics to make a B&C antler frame. But there is a point where you "waste" talent or in our case you waste mature bucks because there is many of them that will not be harvested because we are so conservative in our quotas. Bottom line is we biologists based on better data than any hunting guide or hunter can provide even by being out in the field for 2 months every fall humping the hills even with expensive optics, are recommending quotas that will all provide more hunting opportunity. We make no bones about it, that this increased level of tags will reduce the number the of mature bucks, but not to the point that there will not be any mature bucks left the following year. No, our quotas will still leave 1 buck in the population for every 4 does after the season is over.

Regarding the hunters that decide not to hunt or turned back their tag, they are included in our calculations to generate the next year's quotas. So if last year for a particular unit group we gave out 100 rifle tags and only 40 of the tagholders were successful, then that 40% success is used in conjunction with how many dead deer we want to harvest based on a buck ratio after the hunting season, to calculate the next year's quota. We don't care why the other 60 hunters were unsuccessful - can't shoot straight, are too picky or changed their mind on deer hunting that year. So if we get more tagholders that are unsuccessful each year, the tag numbers will grow accordingly so that we can still kill a certain number of deer. The problem with guys turning their tags back each year, is that each year brings new challenges to a deer herd and bucks grow older each year and some will be pushing up daisys. We never take full advantage of the deer that weren't harvested in 1 year. Survival rates change slightly, may have a hard winter, weather during the next year's hunt may be shitty and success is low, all kinds of reasons why if the deer are available now, we should harvest them now because next year is a new and different year where the exact same deer are not in the exact same location or could have died of some natural cause.

I see some of our Nevada hunters including myself have been spoiled to be able to walk 2 miles from a road and not see another hunter during the hunt and really have a great time. If we approve our quotas you will definitely have company out there, but with most of the added hunters driving up and down roads or within 1 mile of vehicle access bitching about not seeing the deer. So in the end, it is a social decision to take advantage of the bucks that are out there this year, or be conservative because you have high expectations of a "quality" experience and you have talked yourself into the notion that getting a deer tag every year is only a dream.

I asked that if you don't want more tags, have an explanation/justification of why. I have heard way too many ignorant and lame excuses over the last 2 weeks!


Here is the attached talking points.

NDOW’s 2012 Big Game Quota Recommendation Justifications for Elk, Antelope, Bighorn Sheep, and Mule Deer

The Nevada Department of Wildlife is making the recommendation for some healthy increases in tag quotas for many big game species and here are some of the reasons why. Growth in most big game populations (elk, antelope, bighorn, and deer) and elevated male ratios have provided a biologically safe opportunity for a significant increase in hunting without jeopardizing herd health. Tag quota recommendations are extremely conservative and based on biologically safe harvest levels. Recommendations are made in the absence of any consideration of revenue generation. Some of the biological information supporting these recommendations is listed below.

Antelope - herds continue to grow, and every year since 2008 the statewide population estimate has set a new state record with the latest set at 28,000 antelope. Post-season antelope buck ratios remain strong at 35 bucks/100 does with the last 5 years’ ratios between 35 and 40. Trophy quality in our antelope herds is still good. In fact the likely new state record buck was harvested in 2011.

• Demand for buck and doe hunting opportunity remains strong with 7 to 1 odds for resident rifle buck tags and 5 to 1 odds for resident doe antelope tags. We are recommending a 20% increase statewide in antelope tags compared to 2011.
• This quota recommendation is biologically safe and is providing quality hunting opportunities relative to the rest of the west. Nevada is not the most conservative western state in terms of % of bucks harvested of the total estimated bucks available. At the same time, we certainly could be harvesting even more antelope; many states harvest 9 – 10% of their herds annually where Nevada averages only about 7% harvest.
• We feel we are striking a balance between maintaining adequate trophy quality bucks at the same time providing more and more opportunity to hunt antelope commensurate with herd increases and mature buck numbers.
Desert Bighorn Sheep – We are recommending a 28% increase statewide in desert bighorn sheep tags compared to 2011. The statewide average desert bighorn lamb ratios from 2002 – 2007 ranged from 42 to 45. Those are phenomenal lamb production years considering long-term Nevada has only averaged low to mid 30s lambs/100 ewes. These lambs would be the 5 -10 year old age class rams in 2012, the primary age groups of mature ram harvest. It was recognized over the last few years that a few of our larger bighorn herds have been underestimated based on recent survey data and population modeling.

• The 2012 statewide desert bighorn population is another new record at 8,600.
• Additionally, nearly all ram harvest indices are near record values such as average age of rams harvested at 6.6, average hunt days below 5 days, average ram score nearly 154 points, and number of harvested rams over 170 points.
• The data clearly shows we have a tremendous opportunity for mature desert bighorn ram harvest and there is no reason not to take advantage of it now. As we see the lean lamb production years move into the 5-year old and older age classes, we will again, as we always have, make commensurate reductions in tags.
Elk –Female elk harvest is keeping herds well below their habitat carrying capacity and has allowed all of our elk herds to continue to be very productive and actually set new population records each year.

• The 2012 statewide elk estimate surpassed 15,000 for the first time. We are recommending a 21% increase statewide in bull elk tags and 22% statewide in cow elk tags compared to 2011.
• 2011 bull elk harvest indices continue to be strong: 72% of bull harvest were 6 point or better (highest ever); percent of all bulls harvested with main beam length of 50+ inches rose from 25% in 2008 to 31% in 2011; 5.8 years average age of bulls harvested in Area 11 & 22 (5.6 average from 2001-2008).
• With the need to maintain elk herds at social carrying capacities (population objectives) and continued high numbers of mature bulls, the 2012 tag increases are strongly justified.
Mule Deer – After the second consecutive year of a modest increase in Nevada’s mule deer population estimate, a series of factors are contributing to NDOW’s increased tag quota recommendations in many areas. Some of these areas have been growing rapidly with commensurate increases in their buck ratios, some of those same areas experienced significant tag reductions last year allowing for increases in the buck ratios. Further exacerbating the issue, many of those same areas had exceptionally high production AND recruitment due to a favorable 2010-11 winter, good summer, and very mild 2011-12 winter. Nevada continues to maintain one of the highest post-hunt buck ratio objectives in the country with many areas well over 30 bucks per one hundred does. The 1980s have been regarded by many as the “hay day” for mule deer in Nevada. Therefore, for comparative purposes, harvest strategies from the 1980s are considered relative to those used today.

• Buck ratios in the 1980s ranged in the low to mid 20s per 100 does. Today, Nevada’s quota recommendations are extremely conservative and if approved would result in a post-hunt buck ratio of 30.
• Bucks typically comprised roughly 26% of the population in the 1980s, today bucks comprise approximately 32% of the population.
• Of the available bucks in our deer population in 2011 we harvested around 21.5%. In the mid 1980s we harvested up to 36% of our bucks.
• In 2011, Nevada’s post hunt buck ratio objectives were nearly 50% higher than post-hunt buck ratio objectives in the 1980s.
• Unnecessary quota reductions in 2011 of 25% in most areas of the state, exaggerated an already overly conservative process and resulted in the highest post hunt buck ratio ever observed.
• Nevada currently possesses a population of 112,000 mule deer with 35,000 bucks. In 1985 there was an estimated 155,000 deer with 44,000 bucks. Today’s higher buck ratios can sustain a higher level of harvest because a much higher percentage of the population is bucks.
• Higher percentages of bucks in the herd do not equate to higher quality deer OR herd growth, but may in fact limit fawn recruitment via competition for limited winter range in some areas.
• We should not continue to stockpile bucks when there are limited benefits to buck quality and likely detrimental effects on recruitment and herd size associated with doing so.
• At the current statewide average of approximately 38% hunter success and 42% 4 point or better, it’s important to understand that a 10 tag increase does not equate to 10 dead 4-point bucks as many hunters may imagine. For each 10 tags issued, the average result will be 4 dead bucks with 1 and in some cases 2 being 4-points or better. 20 tags typically results in close to 7 dead deer, on average 3 of which should be 4-points or better.
• In the case that social carrying capacity (the maximum number of hunters that is socially acceptable in the field) is significantly lower than the biological carrying capacity, the value of continuing to conduct aerial surveys in those areas should be carefully evaluated.
 
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Rizzy

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Thanx for posting that, it was a great read. It will be interesting to see if the quotas get approved and what effect it will really have on the herd and hunt quality in the next few years.
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Thanks for posting that. Can't wait to grab a cup and sit down to read it. thanks!
 
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