After reading so many suggestions regarding increasing the mule deer numbers in Utah, I thought I'd express some of my feelings based on some ideas that have proven successful in the past.
1. When the mule deer numbers in a particular limited entry unit in Utah were very low several years ago, the UDWR shut the area down for five years. Now, the area boasts some incredible deer numbers, and this is after the area reopened a few years ago. True, the area doesn't produce a lot of giants, but the deer numbers (including the extremely high number of bucks) are very impressive.
2. A neighbor of mine recently moved to Provo from Pennsylvania. He said that the wildlife officials in that state shut the whole state down for five years to deer hunting because their whitetail numbers were so low. Now, he says, that the state is overrun with whitetail and that the hunting opportunities for multiple deer per year on both sexes is incredible.
3. Is something as drastic as shutting down the entire state of Utah to deer hunting for five years the answer? I'm sure that the UDWR would never agree to giving up the revenue that comes from five years of hunters applying and paying for tags. Also, I'm sure there are several hunters who would raise a fuss if they couldn't hunt every year. But if something drastic isn't done soon, what will our mule deer hunting opportunities be in five years or 10? Before many of you begin to write angry responses to me telling me how wrong I am, consider that this strategy has worked wonderfully well in a large limited entry unit in Utah and in another state.
4. Do I want to give up mule deer hunting in Utah for five years in a row? No, but what about one year or maybe even two? There would still be limited entry and CWMU opportunities in Utah for mule deer, since these areas seem to be managed separately from the rest of the state as a whole. Also, wouldn't it seem more likely that poaching would decrease, since it would seem extremely suspicious if a man/woman was caught shooting a deer in any area besides a LE or CWMU unit?
5. As far as money goes, $35 seems very inexpensive to me considering the quality of the hunting experience. How many folks pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars to take a two or three day vacation? A single night out with a spouse is usually considerably more than $35. If the state were to shut down the general hunts for a year or two, what about charging twice as much for resident tags, and issuing half as many, once the general units reopen? If a hunter didn't draw out, he would get a bonus point, which would almost guarantee him/her a tag the following year. Sure, it might mean that for the first few years a hunter may only be able to hunt every other year (for mule deer, that is), but consider the quality of the hunt once the hunter did draw, and once things improve, maybe more tags could be issued in the future.
6. Finally, as far as the UDWR getting its money, it's not like they couldn't come up with other solutions. While the general areas are closed for a year or two, couldn't they raise the prices of fishing, small game, combination, and other big game species permits by $5 until the hunting ban was lifted? All of us who put in for LE and CWMU mule deer units would still be applying, so that money wouldn't be lost. Plus, the applying for and purchasing of tags for other species would still occur, so they wouldn't lose that money. And if they end up missing out on some revenue for a couple of years, well, then who hasn't had to tighten the belt once in awhile if it meant preparing for a brighter future?
Okay, I'm done. For those of you who disagree with me, let the bullets fly, but I'd also like to hear from those of you who may agree with me.