A mule deer buck near Nolan Lake in 2012. Carole Rooney photo.

Reductions proposed to mule deer hunt

Comment now if you have concerns as the deadline is Jan. 19

If the proposed changes to bag limits are approved in Legislature, hunters will only be allowed one mule deer buck each year, instead of three, anywhere in British Columbia’s Interior.

While the province points to a declining buck population as the reasons for the proposed reduction to mule deer limits, and when combined with whitetail deer, will remain at three bucks total, some residents don’t see the point of making this change.

Lone Butte Fish and Wildlife Association (LBFWA) director, Philip Konrad, is the group’s liaison to the B.C Wildlife Federation.

He says the LBFWA board can’t see any validity in making this change since too few bucks are bagged by hunters in the B.C. Interior for it to have any effect on the mule deer populations.

“We don’t think very many hunters shoot two mule deer bucks a year. Really, we think it is nothing. We think the government is doing this to say they are doing something, but really, they are not.”

At first glance, the knee-jerk reaction of hunters may be to object to the proposed hunting reductions, but Konrad says he and his LBFWA directors agree the reductions “won’t do a thing” to affect hunting, with the total still at three including whitetails, and the difficulty in finding any bucks.

In 35 years of hunting, Konrad himself has only once caught two bucks of any kind within one hunting season, he adds.

While it limits province-wide bucks with some regional reductions, he notes this proposal doesn’t change the bag limit in the Cariboo’s primary Region 5.

Current mule deer antler-less (does) remains at one – if you luck out in the draw for limited entry hunting (LEH) tags required in Region 5 – bucks also already at one, and its regional total bag limit still at two.

Konrad says with Region 3, where the bag limit of white-tail does or bucks is two – with no LEH tags required there for either –whitetails there are more likely to end up in the hunter’s freezer than any bucks seen in Region 5, about a half-hour’s drive away.

Considering the total white-tail deer allowed to hunt in Region 5 also remains the same, limited to one buck or one doe, and the provincial bag limit combined for all deer (in Interior regions) remaining at three, Konrad says it didn’t take his LBFWA board long to realize the change would do “nothing.”

“We are not surprised,” he says, adding they aren’t sure what would be a better change – if any is needed – to protect mule deer populations.”

In the proposal, the province points to influences on mule deer populations as “excessive and increasing road density, reduced habitat quality and predation” as the cause of declining buck ratios in some areas.

“What the logging and habitat do, personally, I don’t know,” says Konrad. “That’s what the government said has caused it, but I don’t know what you can do.

“The amount of the government budget for improving the wildlife situation, from what I have heard from other people, has not increased in decades.”

Cariboo-Chilcotin BC Liberal MLA Donna Barnett says reducing mule deer bucks to a bag limit of one, from three, needs to be science-based with numbers and other evidence to back it up, and if that’s there, then she supports the reduction.

“Let’s make sure the scientific evidence is there … let’s also make sure that the proper resources are there so that thorough scientific work and inventory is done.”

Barnett says the wildlife experts in the fields need to ensure the biological studies have been done, and the local input from the hunters, the trappers, the wildlife federations and the guide outfitters has been heard.

The proposal for these changes is online at https://apps.nrs.gov.bc.ca/ahte/content/aggregate-bag-limit-1-mule-black-tailed-deer-buck-any-interior-region. Login is required to post comments by the Jan. 19 deadline, or follow online links to apply for a login.

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