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Mule Deer Foundation

Mule Deer Foundation

Mule Deer Foundation

February 2013

Garth's Remarks

mule deer

Our Mule deer herds across the West have been shrinking for years. The species is in trouble. If you care about the future of the Mule deer, you need to become more involved in Mule deer management, including becoming a member of the Mule Deer Foundation. All of us need to be part of the solution.

The Mule Deer Foundation was founded in 1988 in Redding, California by Emmett Burroughs. The concept of a nonprofit conservation group dedicated to the conservation of Mule deer, Black-Tailed deer, and their habitat was the result of Emmett, who was an avid hunter and videographer, noticing that Mule deer populations were declining in areas that he hunted and filmed. Concerned about the decline, Emmett starting talking to state wildlife agencies, guides, and other hunters. They all confirmed that Mule deer populations were declining throughout their range.

From its humble beginnings in 1988, the Mule Deer Foundation has grown into one of the leading conservation organizations in North America. In 2013 MDF will celebrate its 25th anniversary. MDF now has members in every state, and at the end of 2012, chartered its 120th chapter. Local chapters are the backbone of the organization. Fundraising events, youth events, and hands-on habitat projects wouldn’t be possible without the thousands of volunteer hours by our members.

In 2012 MDF reached their goal of restoring or protecting over a million acres of Mule deer and Black-Tailed deer habitat. Projects ranged from juniper thinning and restoration of habitat destroyed by wild fires to building guzzlers and other water improvements. Chapter Rewards, unique to MDF, allows a local chapter to keep a percentage of funds raised at the local level for local projects. We look forward to restoring the million acres of habitat.

habitat conservation

Considered the Icon of the West, Mule deer, more than any other wildlife, captured the passion of hunters young and old. In many states the opening of the deer hunt was an unofficial holiday. Kids were let out of school for the deer hunt, and businesses did more business on the deer hunt than at Christmas. Local economies thrived from the influx of non-resident deer hunters. They truly were the good ol’ days!

Few state wildlife agencies estimate Mule deer populations. The table on the next page shows the states that use population models to estimate Mule deer numbers. These numbers are significantly lower than the population levels in the 60’s and early 70’s. It was estimated that the Mule deer harvest in the West approached one million deer at their peak. Today Mule deer harvest is less than 500,000.


Why have Mule deer populations declined so dramatically and remained stable at these low levels? There are several factors causing the decline of Mule deer and keeping them from increasing. Loss of habitat, predators, disease, energy and urban development, highway mortality, and competition with elk and livestock have all contributed to the decline in Mule deer numbers.

StateMule Deer Population

How can you help? Join the Mule Deer Foundation at and help us help Mule deer and Black-Tailed deer. You can make a difference and ensure there are Mule deer and Black-Tailed deer for future generations to enjoy.

Another way to help Mule deer is to attend the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo. You can join thousands of hunters, celebrities, outfitters, media, and outdoor gear marketers at the 7th Annual Western Hunting & Conservation Expo on February 21–24, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Proceeds from the Expo support conservation and pro-hunting programs throughout the West.

“Where else, for just $5 each, can you enter the drawing for 200 trophy Utah hunting permits available?” asked Mark LaBarbera, who has attended the Expo for the past few years. “Last year, my daughter, Rachel, and my buddy, John, from Milwaukee joined me at the Marriott across from the Salt Palace so we could walk to the Expo each day.”

expo speaker

LaBarbera is a life member of a number of conservation groups and has attended dozens of conventions and shows, and he has this to say about WHCE, “I used to go to SCI and other hunting shows in Reno and Las Vegas, but now the one expo that’s at the top of my list is WHCE. It has all the fun elements, great seminars and evening entertainment, plus the top names, as well as great auction items, drawings, and the guys you want to talk to from outfitters to gun and optics makers.”

Among the 200 trophy tags (that anyone can try for at the Expo, each for only a $5 drawing entry fee) are five trophy permits reserved only for non-residents of Utah. The tags are offered exclusively to those who attend the convention and represent some of the best elk, Mule deer, Desert Bighorn sheep, moose, Mountain goat, bison, cougar, bear, and wild turkey hunts in the West.

Free seminars from World Class hunting experts and live entertainment by The Oak Ridge Boys and country music’s Phil Vassar are just some of the additional attractions that will bring a projected 32,000 hunters to the 4-day convention.

expo presenter

More than 350 guides, outfitters, and hunting industry exhibitors from across the globe, like C.J. Buck of Buck Knives, will be at the Expo. You can take advantage of show specials and discounts from many exhibitors that make it worth the trip for some. Other show goers like to negotiate face-to-face with decision-makers in the booths. There’s just something valuable about being able to meet and talk in-person with outfitters, as well as industry executives and pro staff, who can answer your questions at the WHCE. It’s not uncommon for people to bring and share their hunting photos, and just about everyone has a camera handy to take pictures with celebs and new friends.

Professional auctioneer John Bair said, “It’s exciting to be part of the best event in the hunting industry and to see sportsmen from all walks of life and from all 50 states come together in Salt Lake City. The Western Hunting and Conservation Expo is without a doubt the place to be.” The Huntin’ Fool’s Garth Carter pointed out that there is another reason to spend a few days and nights in Salt Lake City during the Expo co-hosted by two of North America’s leading wildlife conservation organizations, the non-profit Mule Deer Foundation and Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife. He said, “Western big game hunting is not a passing fancy. Joining one of the wildlife conservation groups is the least we as avid hunters can do.”

Supporting WHCE, while treating yourself to deals, discounts, and a fun time, is a way of giving back to conservation. For more information go to

WHCE Welcomes Youth

Volunteers and mentors welcome young people to a designated area filled with archery, air gun, knife safety, and other hands-on activities. There is a reason WHCE welcomes youngsters.

MDF President and CEO Miles Moretti last year told young attendees at the ribbon cutting, “We’re glad you are all here for this experience and to share in the thrill of all the things we are doing for deer in Utah and across the West for wildlife. You are the future of conservation.”

kids at expo

SFW President Byron Bateman added, “You are the future of America’s conservation, of all the wildlife, and all the wild places in this wonderful country of ours. We’ve got a great show for you this year!”

With that, C.J. Buck of Buck Knives sliced the red ribbon, and the doors opened for the sixth annual Western Hunting and Conservation Expo. Interactive programs throughout the exhibit hall were organized by MDF Youth Program Coordinator Jon Zinnel and used to introduce young people to shooting sports and wildlife conservation in a fun and safe environment.

Kids received safety and shooting instructions at the Laser Shot shooting simulation booth, Crosman air gun booth, and Hoyt archery shooting range. Other activities included wildlife identification and a habitat scavenger hunt with the Utah Division of Wildlife.

Again, this year, these fun activities will be available throughout the entire weekend for any and all who wish to participate. See you at the Expo!