"Conditions out West this year are mixed, with the northern tier of states affected by a different set of weather conditions than the southern tier. The good news is, in general the past two winters have been mild across the West and most herds have come through in excellent condition. That's particularly true of mule deer, which are on the road to recovery from the devastating winters of 1992-93 and 1996-97. States to watch are Montana, Colorado and Idaho.
Montana leads the western states in the number of deer harvested. In 1999, about 94,000 - roughly split 50/50 between mulies and whitetails - were taken. This is still below historic levels and the 1:1 mule deer/whitetail ratio is a change from the 1970's, when whitetails represented about 25 percent of the kill. In 2001, the harvest should increase due to favorable conditions the last two winters even though last summer was dry. An exception is the far northeast where whitetails declined due to a severe winter.
The 1999 deer season marked the first year Colorado went to a quota, draw-only tag allocation. Since then, buck-to-doe ratios and hunter success have both increased. Although harvest rates are still below those of the 1980's, last year hunters took nearly 38,000 deer, mostly mulies - up from 29,640 in 1999. The past two winters have been mild with very little winter kill. Deer are in good condition, and the fawn crop should be excellent. Mule deer populations are on the rebound, and hunting should be productive.
In Idaho there has been excellent carryover and good fawn survival. Predictions indicate 2001 will produce the best deer hunting in a decade. In recent........(continued)