Safe to say, I was caught off-guard by the vitriol expressed when interviewing outfitters for this item. The consensus among Alberta outfitters seems to be that the great days of fantastic trophy management are over. To summarize things, two key factors have lead to the more recent problems with trophy opportunity and quality. The first was Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which was discovered a few years ago in deer in eastern Alberta. Government agencies instituted a culling program in early 2005 with the apparent objective to eliminate deer from large areas along the Saskatchewan border and prevent the spread of the disease to other parts of Alberta. The culling was organized by Fish and Wildlife officers and included the use of helicopters. Albertans were enraged to see photos of pits filled with bloating deer circulated on the internet.
Another detrimental management decision was to increase the mule buck tag quota from around 10,897 in the year 2000 to 15,634 in 2008. Antlerless or doe tags were also increased by over 4,000 animals, and a new program in 2008 allowed hunters to kill nearly unlimited numbers of deer in an attempt to eradicate CWD in seven of the largest and formerly best trophy mule deer zones. As a result, there has been an exponential........(continued)