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Nevada Hunting Advice from Biologist Tony Wasley

August 27, 2009

On August 26, the Nevada Division of Wildlife hosted a real-time online chat with big game biologist Tony Wasley, the newly appointed Mule Deer Staff Specialist with NDOW.  

Wasley has been with NDOW for the last 12 years, including 9 1/2 years of service as the Area 10 biologist in Elko County.

A transcript of some of the Q&A between Wasley and the various participants follows.

Area 10 Buck Forecast
Eric: Hello Tony, first I'd like to thank you for doing this chat, it is very appreciated. And second, I drew an area 10 late rifle tag this year and was wondering what to expect for the upcoming season with regards to quality bucks, as I know there has been good feed this year statewide.
Tony Wasley: So far, the buck quality in Area 10 looks great. Most years in most areas we maintain more than adequate numbers of older aged bucks, but seldom do we get the optimal climatic conditions to realize the benefits (antler size) of carrying so many older aged bucks.   this year, we should be able to observe some exceptional antler growth.
Eric: Thanks Tony, before I head back to work, I was wondering if you take phone calls, as I may like to pick your brain some time about area 10 and mule deer in general. Once again, Thanks!
Tony Wasley: You will be able to reach me through the Reno office anytime starting next week. That number is 688-1500.
Area 10
John: Tony, I have an Area 10 tag and have never hunted that area before, but have heard its hard to hunt. what should i expect?
Tony Wasley:  Most of Area 10 is pretty rugged terrain. The steepness and elevation can make hunting area 10 fairly challenging.
Bull Hunting in Area 072/074

Rick: I have a bull tag for area 072/074 for the November 6 hunt. Where in area 074 are Elk hanging out? I have friends at the Cottonwood Ranch, so they will be helpful. I am considering taking horses up Camp Creek or Cottonwood Creek. Where are the heaviest populations in these areas. and are the bulls up high during this Nov 6 timeframe?

Tony Wasley:  I would encourage you to contact the Elko Office at 777-2300 and request the area biologist help you with that one. The area 7 biologist is Kari Huebner.
Impact of Pinyon/Juniper Expansion
Doug: I have heard people talk about pinyon pines and juniper trees having an impact on mule deer populations. How so?
Tony Wasley:   Pinyon and Juniper trees encroach on mule deer habitat and cause habitat loss for mule deer. It's believed that we currently have 3 times the pinyon and juniper woodlands that we had a mere 150 years ago.
Doug: Do you foresee the department doing any chainings or controlled burns to get rid of the pinyon and junipers?
Tony Wasley: The Department is working closely with our land management agencies in effort to reduce the density and distribution of pinyon and juniper woodlands.
Tony's Favorite Deer Area
Dillon: Tony, which area is your favorite for deer?
Tony Wasley:   My favorite areas for deer are those areas in which I can draw tags.   I believe most of Nevada has great trophy hunting opportunity and I stand a better chance of harvesting a trophy buck out in the field hunting than I do sitting at home on my couch counting my bonus points.
Dillon: So you make your selection off of draw odds then?
Tony Wasley: I would use a combination of factors. I would look at terrain, access, draw odds, hunter success, etc. Placing the weight on those factors most important to you.
Access in the Rubies
Ebenezer: Speaking of access, it looks like public access points in the Rubies are pretty far apart. Do you have any suggestions on gaining access in other locations?
Tony Wasley: Which locations in particular are you trying to access?
Ebenezer: The east side north of Harrison Pass.
Tony Wasley: There is pretty good access to most of the canyons on the east side of unit 102 immediately north of Harrison Pass. Those which cannot be accessed from the bottom can sometimes be accessed from the top.
South End of Area 10
Dan: Tony, What do you think about the area in the south end of Area 10, Buck Mountain, for possibly finding some quality bucks in the late hunt? I thought maybe the pressure would be a little less there.
Tony Wasley:  A lot of people think like you. There aren't very many tags in the late hunt (relative to the early one) but there will be other hunters in that area. There are not many ATV restrictions in the southern areas either and that also attracts hunters. The migration in the Rubies is largely weather dependent, therefore deer densities in the south will depend on timing and amount of snowfall.
Access on the West Side of the Rubies
Dan: Tony, Is there much public access on the west side of the Ruby's, north of Harrison Pass?
Tony Wasley:  Dan. No. There is only one public access, Cottonwood Creek between Harrison Pass and Lamoille Canyon.
Reductions in Bull Tags
Justin: I have noticed a reduction in bull tags in some units across Nevada. Mainly the 111-222 units. Is this do to lower numbers of older age class bulls or some other factor. Thanks!
Tony Wasley: It is largely due to low calf recruitment in those areas. The average age of harvested bulls as determined by tooth analysis continues to remain stable.
Supplemental Feeding
Don: We have a huge influx of resident deer in Spring Creek/Lamoille area. Should NDOW transplant elsewhere?
Tony Wasley: Unfortunately, transplanted deer populations don't do very well. The biggest thing to correct in a place like Spring Creek is the supplemental feeding. Feeding has allowed the population to attain unnaturally high levels and not migrate.


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