It was a time when 26- and 27-inch bucks were the norm, and every hunter seemed to have a fair shot at a 30-incher. Las Vegas casinos even held "big-buck" contests in those days, hoping to entice all the hunters passing through town to stop and show off their trophies - and drop a little money at the tables. Try finding a big-buck contest anywhere in today's "family-oriented" Las Vegas!
No doubt nostalgia plays a large part in the view stated above, and the debate will continue about what actually are the current numbers of genuine trophy mule-deer bucks, compared to what they were "back then." Nonetheless, there is no question that habitat loss, changes in farming and ranching practices, and a de-emphasis on predator control has reduced mule-deer numbers overall. At the same time, western wildlife departments and landowners have recognized that demand for mule deer hunts has remained strong. This has led them to try to get the very most they can out of a limited resource. And who's to say they're wrong?
The result, however, for nonresident mule-deer hunters (and not a few residents, too) is limited-quota draws, preference points, exorbitantly-priced "landowner" tags and guided hunts that seem to start around $3,000 and can range as high as $7,500, based on the promise of a hunter taking a real wall-hanger. The upshot of all this is, when you hear about an outfitter........(continued)