Deer Forecast-West

wan River and Fisher River valley

Montana's stud bucks-muleys and whitetails-hang out in the southeastern Region 7; Units 700, 701 and 705 are hot spots here. According to Glenn Erickson, wildlife bureau chief for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, this region has it all: increasing mule deer and whitetail deer populations, plenty of mature bucks and high success-60 percent or better for muleys, slightly less for whitetails. The region is predominantly private land but access is surprisingly good. There are 2.1 million acres enrolled in the Block Management Program. Don't overlook whitetails in northwestern Montana, particularly in the Swan River and Fisher River valleys. Here whitetail densities are on the increase, mature bucks are abundant and there's lots of public land. In 1999, there were 93,765 deer taken, about half of them mule deer, half of them whitetails (2000 figures were not available at press time). The total number is still well below historic levels and the one-to-one mule-deer-to-whitetail ratio is a radical change from the 1970s, when whitetails represented about 25 percent of the kill. This year spring surveys showed deer numbers up from last year and better-than-expected fawn production in most areas. An exception is the far northeast, where whitetail populations declined due to a severe winter.