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Mule Deer

A Handbook for Utah Hunters and Landowners

Dennis D. Austin

Publication Year: 2010

A complete guide to the history, biology, hunting, and management of mule deer in Utah. The author, Dennis D. Austin, is a retired research scientist with more than thirty years of experience working as a wildlife biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vi-viii

In writing this book, I attempted to cover the entire scope of mule deer management in Utah. Although most of the information in this text may be found scattered in numerous technical publications, occasionally in popular articles, and in chapters of specialized books, I believe the entire range of information about mule deer is presented here for the first time. I ...

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pp. ix

The author is grateful to numerous individuals for their assistance in reviewing, supporting, encouraging, and suggesting this work. In par-ticular, the superb reviews by Chris Peterson, Gary Austin, Rick Danvir, and the anonymous reviewers from Utah State University were extremely noteworthy. The author wishes to thank his former mentors at Utah State ...

Historical Overview

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Chapter 1: A Brief History of Mule Deer Management in Utah

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pp. 3-25

Indirect sources provide the only records of the diversity and abundance of wildlife prior to the Dom

Mule Deer Biology

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Chapter 2: Life Cycle and Behavior

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pp. 29-31

Utah mule deer fawns are mostly born in late spring within one or two weeks of June 20, the approximate mean birth date (Robinette et al. 1977). The short fawning period has natural survival values for the fawn crop. Foremost, the effects of predators in reducing deer numbers is lessened because of the short time interval when fawns are especially vulnerable. Because almost all does have been determined...

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Chapter 3: Forages, Nutrition, and Water Requirements

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pp. 32-41

Deer are highly adaptable to available forages within most Utah habitats and readily consume various plants, from succulent forbs found in alpine meadows to brittle shrubs on the desert floor. In any particular location deer will generally select the more palatable, lush, and usually nutritious forages available during any season. The tapered snout and sticky tongue of the mule deer enables...

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Chapter 4: Antlers, Carcass Measurements, and Venison Quality

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pp. 42-53

The size of harvested mule deer is important to hunters for antler, meat, hide, and self-satisfaction values. In reporting deer weights, three different measurements are used: (1) live or total weight, (2) field dressed weight, which equals total weight including heart and liver but minus the blood and viscera, and (3) hog-dressed...

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Chapter 5: Winter Range, Habitat Types, Migration, and Home Range

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pp. 54-62

Winter range is simply defined as the area used by the majority of the mule deer population during the wintry months. The time period during which deer utilize their winter range is about November 15 through April 15, although two to three week variations are common at the beginning or end of winter. Most winter ranges...

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Chapter 6: Mule Deer Relationships with Livestock, Elk, and White-tailed Deer

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pp. 63-75

The composition of a plant community is the total number of individual plants by species within the community. Consequently, plant communities or wildlife habitats are defined by the species present and their abundance or density. Plant community composition is directly affected and altered by grazing animals. All grazing animals...

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Chapter 7: The Influence of Predators on Mule Deer Populations

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pp. 76-90

The common native predators of mule deer currently found in Utah and placed in the order of their effectiveness in affecting or controlling mule deer populations are the coyote, cougar, bobcat, black bear, gray fox, and some raptors. On rare occasions a badger may kill a fawn within a few days of parturition. Wolverine and lynx are extremely rare if even extant in Utah. Domestic and feral dogs and possibly...

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Chapter 8: Understanding Population Dynamics

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pp. 91-116

The dynamics of any wildlife population can be simply defined by reproduction, mortality, and movements in and out of the geographic area. However, these apparently simple factors can almost never be defined or even accurately measured for wildlife populations. Consequently, indices such as fawn-to-doe ratios, age structure...

Hunters, Hunting, and Harvest

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Chapter 9: Profiles and Preferences of Hunters

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pp. 119-130

More than 90 percent of Utah resident deer hunters are male, over half (55 percent) are between 25 and 44 years of age, and the majority (61 percent) have 11 or more years of experience as licensed Utah deer hunters. Except for the youngest age class (14 to 25 years) the percentage of participating hunters decreases with increasing...

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Chapter 10: Hunter Ethics

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pp. 131-135

Hunter ethics is the set of written and unwritten rules of hunting behavior based upon respect for the land and water resources, all wildlife species, and other hunters. It is likely that the number and types of big game hunters, as well as the number of available upland game, waterfowl, and furbearer species available to hunters, by the middle of the twenty-first ...

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Chapter 11: Successful MuleDeer Hunting

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pp. 136-150

Since only about one in three hunters, or fewer, are successful in harvesting a deer in Utah in any year, it seems reasonable that hunters who really desire to be successful would place considerably more effort into preparation. Most hunters anticipate the annual Utah deer hunt with the hope of success, but far too often, hunters return home with feelings of ...

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Chapter 12: Utah Mule Deer Harvest

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pp. 151-167

Even though aesthetics and non-consumptive values associated with deer hunting are increasing in importance, hunter harvest remains the most critical motivator for hunting recreation and economic contribution into wildlife management. The many facets of the harvest include numbers of animals harvested...

Determining Management Decisions

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Chapter 13: Management Challenges

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pp. 171-185

The three most important and recurring challenges of mule deer management are: (1) Maintaining habitat quantity and quality. (2) Collecting sufficient data. (3) Balancing deer populations with available habitat. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has expended a significant part of its time...

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Chapter 14: Lessons From the East Canyon and Oak Creek Management Units

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pp. 186-196

Between 1951 and 1968, under either-sex hunting, buck harvest on the East Canyon Unit was relatively consistent, and the total population was considered to be maintained within winter range carrying capacity. Increased population and buck harvest began about 1969, and by 1975 the population was clearly exceeding the carrying...

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Chapter 15: Lessons from the Cache Management Unit

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pp. 197-222

For the non-hunter, mule deer management may simply be defined by this heading. Because almost all ranges continue to support sustainable populations, management must be viewed successful by this definition. However, from the view of game management the definition would be extended to read: The complex problems...

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Chapter 16: Defining Management Techniques

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pp. 223-237

The age of mule deer cannot be determined by the number of antler tines or any other antler measurement. For example, although a high proportion, often 50 percent or more, of yearling bucks have 2x2 point antlers, yearling antlers can vary from 1x1 to an occasional 3x3 or even 4x4. Accurate age determination can only...

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Chapter 17: How to Manage a Mule Deer Herd—Essentials in Data Collections and Management Decisions

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pp. 238-259

During the non-hunting season, which is unfortunately most of the year, many hunters reminisce of past experiences but, probably even more often, daydream of the forthcoming hunts. Similarly, wildlife biologists in charge of managing Utah’s deer herds dream, consider, and analyze various alternatives to improve the management within...

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pp. 260-261

Throughout this volume I have assumed sustainable mule deer populations and hunting harvest will continue perpetually. What if they do not? In Utah a few units have been closed for one or more years to allow the population to recover, and then reopened with limited-entry hunting restrictions. What if populations decline to the point where recovery is unlikely, such has been the case...


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pp. 263-265

Literature Cited

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pp. 266-275

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About the Author

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pp. 277

Dennis D. Austin graduated from Utah State University in 1970 and 1972 with BS and MS degrees in range and watershed science. He worked briefly for the Bureau of Land Management and then for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for more than 30 years, from 1972 to 2003, as a research scientist and wildlife biologist at Utah State University and on the Cache Wildlife Management...


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pp. 278-281

E-ISBN-13: 9780874217421
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874217414

Page Count: 281
Publication Year: 2010