Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

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Columnist Barb Henderson: Deer hunting: One of life’s outdoor pleasures

Barb Henderson is an outdoors enthusiast, freelance writer and producer/host of outdoors radio television programming. Her column appears Friday in the Sun.

Deer hunting is probably one of the more popular hunts in Nevada.Reflecting back to my first deer hunt, the fond memories of spending time with my husband outdoors glassing wildlife along the hillside with a pair of binoculars, was as enjoyable as the hunt.

From the pleasures of camp to being with family and friends, these remarkable experiences become forever treasured in our mind.

"What deer hunting means to me is something that is difficult to describe because it is so personal and is so much a part of who I am," said Geoff Schneider, public information officer for the NDOW. "It's being with nature, with my friends and with the animals. I guess that deer hunting is just something that is a very significant part of my life."

To be given an opportunity to hunt big game in Nevada, hunters must properly fill out an application and be successful in drawing a tag. These tags are allocated through a random computerized tag draw system in early June.

Hunting plays an important role in proper game management. Wildlife biologists conduct annual surveys and report their findings to the 17 county advisory boards to manage wildlife.

The advisory boards receive public input and submit recommendations to the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners who are responsible for setting limits and seasons for the different hunting seasons in the state. For more information, click on the Internet at: www.huntnevada.com or www.ndow.org.

Nevada's adult deer population statewide number is estimated between 95,000 and 115,000 deer, not including this year's fawns.

Habitat is extremely important, a fawn has to have food and shelter from the harsh elements to survive.

Under natural conditions, deer require a variety of habitat throughout the year. They will eat a lot of grasses and forbs early in the year. When weather turns cold they begin to eat the leader growth of serviceberry, mahogany, sagebrush, wild current, snowberry, buckbrush, bitterbrush, etc.

During the harsh winter, deer will search for thermal cover like pinyon juniper, forested areas or tall shrub cover. Because they're unable to maintain their weight, proper shelter or cover becomes crucial in order for deer to reduce the loss of energy in maintaining body temperatures.

A couple of predators of mule deer in Nevada are mountain lion and coyote.

"Predators, disease, etc. will all take their toll on populations, but habitat is the key to a bright future for mule deer," said Terry Cloutier, president and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation. "That habitat needs to be sufficient in quality and quantity for year-round life cycle."

The Mule Deer Foundation was formed in 1988 and is a national wildlife organization dedicated to the conservation of mule and blacktail deer and their habitats. Based in Reno, the MDF has more than 10,000 members and 65 chapters throughout the country with five chapters and 1,050 members in Nevada.

"MDF works on both the state and national level to enhance mule deer habitat and ensure that our hunting heritage remains an important part of our great country," said Cloutier. "Only in the United States of America is hunting available to all people. This is something that we must all ensure continues on as a heritage for future generations.

"Hunting was a very important part of my youth and a time to bond with my father, bonds that could never be realized in any other way. The times that I spend hunting and fishing with my teenage son and daughter are more precious than gold to me.

"Having just returned from a week in the Scapegoat Wilderness of Montana with my son on a trip where he was hunting and I was along with as his partner will be cherished forever. Though we did not return home with venison in the coolers, the memories will last us both a lifetime."

The Mule Deer Foundation's annual convention will be Feb. 13-15 at the Reno Sparks Convention Center in Reno. For more information, click on the Internet at: www.muledeer.org, call (888) 375-DEER or write to MDF, 1005 Terminal Way, Suite 170, Reno, NV 89502.

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