HELENA — Following last year's hunting season, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks conducted the first mule deer hunter survey in 12 years to try and judge the hunting public’s feelings of the western wildlife icon.
They found that people REALLY like hunting them.
The research summary released by FWP shows that the mail-back surveys were sent out to 5,000 randomly selected resident deer license holders in the state, which saw a 41 percent response.
Of those respondents, about 62 percent said mule deer hunting was “one of my most important” or “my most important” activities in Montana.
And, according to the survey, 85 percent of hunters think overall opportunities to hunt mulies are better than average.
Sixty percent of the respondents even rated the opportunity to hunt mature bucks as being better than average. That's up about 50 percent from the last time the survey was held in 2011.
But the interest in hunting antlerless mules went down from 51 percent of hunters being “interested” or “very interested” in the last survey to 38 percent this time around.
About two-thirds of hunters responded that they “support” or “strongly support” hunting mule deer bucks during the rutting season.
Overall, on a scale of 1-5, 75 percent of those answering the survey rated mule deer management in Montana as “satisfactory” a rating of 3 or higher. Twenty-five percent felt dissatisfaction. That was a new question this year.