There’s been talk throughout Western States about the possibility of “winter kill”
affecting mule deer populations,
but it’s unclear if this will be a scenario for Nevada mule deer.
After record precipitation occurring throughout Nevada during the past winter, some Nevada mule deer hunters are wondering how the deer population for their hunt survived. Winter kill could impact mule deer population across several western states including Nevada, however the impact might not be seen this year.
Studies have shown that fawns are more prone to mortality versus adults, so mature bucks and does may have better survived the record winter, and hunters may not necessarily see a decrease in mature animals this season. In addition to winter kill, prior habitat quality as well as range conditions also contribute to overall mortality.
In the next few years, it’s possible that Nevada hunters and hunters throughout the west could see fewer mature bucks; any significant die off of fawns this past winter will lead to fewer 3 to 4 point bucks in the near future.
Keep in mind that any winter kill varies greatly between hunt units. If one Nevada hunt unit experiences excessive fawn mortality from this winter, it’s not necessarily a die-off for the adjacent unit. Time will tell. The natural cycle of deer population abundance and decrease is a real fact, and it remains to be seen if Nevada mule deer populations will decrease as a result of the record winter of 2017.