D espite some opposition from people such as myself and others, the Ministry of Forests Lands and Resources has decided to continue with wide-open doe seasons again this season.
In 2012 the bag limit was increased to two, which caused doe harvest to nearly double in the East Kootenay. In 2013 antlerless harvest actually decreased substantially, but increased again in all Game Management zones in 2014 according to Ministry figures.
Ministry officials have told me that anecdotal reports from hunters suggest fewer whitetails in the East Kootenay as a result of the liberal seasons but any population reductions are not yet apparent in harvest data numbers, as both buck and doe harvest success rates are relatively high in East Kootenay GMZs. Data, they have stated, comes from provincial hunter surveys, spring ground surveys, observation from aerial surveys and hunter observations.
The season on antlerless whitetail is again October 10-31, followed by a youth season from November 1-30.
As I mentioned in an article last year, I keep a diary of my personal sightings on whitetails during the rutting season in November, and I am seeing 50 per cent less in my traditional areas, of what I was seeing five years ago. I won’t argue that back then there was indeed a surplus of does, but that surplus, in my mind, is now long gone.
The age class structure of the bucks in the system is also very dismal and there is sufficient evidence available to indicate less than five bucks per 100 does in many areas. The days of quality bucks in the 140 -plus category are almost non-existent, as a result of previous and current management strategies.
Nevertheless, the recommended Management direction for 2016-20 from the Ministry is to manage for the highest sustainable harvest of both bucks and does, and maintain current antlerless GOS unless GMZ success rates drop below 20 per cent for three consecutive years. However, although the antlerless seasons will remain in effect again this year, it has been recommended that the antler-less bag limit be reduced to one starting in 2016.
That, from my standpoint anyway, is a step in the right direction. I certainly hope they follow through with that recommendation. Allowing hunters to kill two does each, year after year, is nothing short of ludicrous in my opinion. For every female deer killed, we are actually killing a potential three deer, one of which will likely be a buck, so I think wildlife managers have to recognize that the impact down the road can be far greater on the populations than what they might imagine.
Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, I think it’s important that all hunters deserve a say, especially those who don’t belong to, or have a club to make their views known for them. So make your own personal views and field observations known to Ministry officials. The more data they have available from locals the easier it will be to formulate decisions in the future, and in fairness to the Ministry people whom I disagree with, on a regular basis it seems, I know they welcome that kind of input.
F.J. Hurtak is the author of the books Elk Hunting in the Kootenays and Hunting the Antlered Big Game of the Kootenays, available at selected retailers in B.C. and in Southern Alberta. All profits go to land for wildlife or habitat restoration here in the Kootenays.