It’s been awhile! Hunting season and conservation projects kept us away from recording a podcast at the end of last year, but we’re hitting 2021 running with our favorite repeat guest, Miles Moretti. Today’s Talking Mule Deer podcast takes a look back at some of MDF’s accomplishments for 2020, even with the many curveballs that were thrown our way. We hear about the conservation and stewardship projects that MDF was involved in that were still able to happen. We also go over some of the congressional and administrative wins that we saw in 2020, including the Great American Outdoors Act, ACE Act and the finalized categorical exclusion for mule deer habitat restoration projects. Next, we talk about on conservation policy in the states and federal government as well as the on the ground habitat projects we will be working on in 2021. We wrap up talking about our 2020 hunting experiences and also talk about the changes to the Talking Mule Deer podcast and the MDF magazine for the coming year.
2020 Rangewide Status of Black-tailed and Mule Deer– Season 3 Episode 16 – August 17
Steve and Jodi visit with Jim Heffelfinger from the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Miles Moretti, President/CEO of MDF, about the recently released 2020 Range-wide Status of Black-tailed and Mule Deer. This report produced by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (WAFWA) Mule Deer Working Group provides an overview of the current black-tailed and mule deer population status and general abundance trends. Intended for and compiled by deer experts for WAFWA’s 24 states, territorial, and provincial agencies, this report is the “state-of-the-state” update and provides important information and insight for management of deer populations. Jim and Miles explain some of the complexities and nuances of how biologists collect the information that goes into deer management decisions and how this information is meant to inform decisions and is often controversial and misunderstood. The discussion covers a few select states important for mule deer and also includes how MDF uses this information and the relationships with the state agencies to help focus our habitat work and to maximize MDF’s conservation impact for deer.
Pre-Season Prep with Amy Ray and Chris Belinda – Season 3 Episode 15 – August 3
Hunting season is just around the corner with archery hunts starting in just a few weeks, so this episode of Talking Mule Deer focuses on how to get ready for your hunt – particularly through the eyes of two friends from the East who come West to hunt. Amy Ray is the owner of Sisterhood of the Outdoors, a business that offers women’s only hunts across the country including a number of mule deer, elk, and pronghorn hunts. Chris Belinda (yep, you probably recognize that last name) has been a taxidermist in Pennsylvania for 35 years – he also happens to be Steve’s brother so he’s had some experience traveling West for big game hunts. We talk about the gear to pack that we’ve learned is crucial, how you can scout your hunt unit remotely or in person, and other things you can do to get ready for your hunt. Chris offers a wealth of information about what you can do to be prepared when you decide to mount your trophy. We also provide some resources to understand what you need to consider as far as Chronic Wasting Disease, courtesy of the CWD Alliance, and also encourage checking information about COVID-19 restrictions in the state you are traveling to including potential quarantine considerations.
Relive Talking Mule Deer's first “live” podcast from Wednesday, July 22 in coordination with the final vote on the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) by the U.S. House of Representative . Join Steve and Jodi while they visited with their guests - MDF President Miles Moretti, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane, and Wildlife Mississippi Executive Director and Chair of the Boone and Crockett Club’s policy committee James Cummins, as the vote happened and ultimately passed 310-107. The bill will now head to the President for signature to become law. This is a huge legislative win for the conservation community and one that has been fought for decades.
The GAOA will permanently fund Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at its authorized level of $900 million per year for land conservation as well as state and local parks. In addition to LWCF funding, the GAOA authorizes significant funding ($1.9 billion/year) over five years to address the backlog in maintenance on federal public lands.
We also visited about the recently released report Wildlife for the 21st Century: Volume 6 report that was released last week by the American Wildlife Conservation Partners where conservation funding was the first of 10 key wildlife policy issues.
Fourth of July Kickoff with MDF Director of Field Operations, Mike Laughter – Season 3 Episode 13 – June 30
As we head into the July 4th holiday weekend, Jodi and Steve talk to MDF’s director of field operations, Mike Laughter, to get an update on our field events and fundraising opportunities. Mike fills us in on what regional directors are doing with their chapters under state public health orders, and how they are working back into events and field work as some states have loosened restrictions. He tells us about a recent project he participated in that is monitoring fawn mortality in northern Utah. We also hear about the great prizes in the MDF Ultimate Giveaway – a fundraising project he helped launch several years ago – and how you can help support MDF by buying tickets for the Giveaway before the end of July. We wrap up our conversation by telling you the Top 10 Talking Mule Deer episodes, by number of downloads, and we each give our thoughts on a few of the episodes that didn’t make the Top 10 that we think our listeners should go back and download. This includes a rabbit-hole conversation on the recent passing of the Great American Outdoors Act by the Senate and the urgent need to let your U.S. Representative know that passing it in the House is imperative to the future of conservation.
The Boone and Crockett Club’s CEO, Tony Schoonen – Season 3 Episode 12 – June 18
This week, we are pleased to welcome our partner in conservation, Tony Schoonen the Chief Executive Officer of the Boone and Crockett Club. Tony gives us a little bit of the Club’s history and how it was founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887. He explains how the Club was started by “people of influence” and the bylaws today continue to have just 100 regular members, along with a strong group of professional members, who help steer policy and priorities for the Club. Tony also talks about the Boone and Crockett records program and how that was established not just to honor the largest animals, but also a science-based process to evaluate the health of ecosystems and the wildlife that live there. From there, we discuss Boone and Crockett’s Hunt Fair Chase program and the fundamental ethics of fair chase hunting, as well as their new Poach and Pay program that is intended to increase detection and prosecution of poaching. These efforts also help to protect the image of all ethical hunters. We wrap up talking about the 30th Big Game Awards program and the Boone and Crockett National Collection of Heads and Horns at the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri. Tony and Miles Moretti wrap up by talking about the overall health of mule deer and that, while there are concerns like Chronic Wasting Disease, that there are still outstanding mule deer bucks being harvested in recent years.
“Human Dimensions” with Mark Duda – Season 3 Episode 11 – June 4
Today Steve and Jodi are talking to Mark Duda, one of the leading researchers studying what is known as the “human dimensions” of wildlife management. Mark explains what human dimensions is and why understanding the people side of conservation needs to be done in the same scientific process that drives the actual management of species. Mark’s firm, Responsive Management, conducts public interviews to get a better understanding of what people want to see with wildlife management, along with understanding the best way to explain wildlife conservation issues to a public that might have a very different connection with the natural world. We hear about the results of some of his latest research, along with Responsive Management’s long-term studies about public opinion about hunting. We talk about the difference between animal rights and animal welfare, and how the majority of hunters respect animals and care about the welfare of the wildlife they pursue. He also gives us the top three arguments that you can use in defense of hunting, and ones that are the least effective. If you’ve ever wanted to better understand what the public thinks about hunting, and to more effectively talk to non-hunters about your passion for hunting, this is an important episode to listen to - and to share with your hunting buddies. As Mark says, if you can control the language you can control the conversation.
Mule Deer Memorial Day Marathon – Season 3 Episode 10 – May 21
This is our 59th episode of Talking Mule Deer and we are encouraging our listeners to get on a Mule Deer Memorial Day Marathon. This week, Jodi and Steve are reflecting back on the two years of the TMD podcast and hoping listeners go back and binge listen to some of our favorite episodes. We revisit those early days of putting together our first interview with Miles Moretti, and how the podcast has grown and developed over the last two years. We talk about what have been some of the most popular downloads as well as the episodes that have provided different important topics that we hope our listeners have appreciated. For the future, we will be launching listener interaction opportunities and encourage people to ask us questions, suggest new topics, or tell us who you’ve liked that you think we should bring back on the show. The new firstname.lastname@example.org email address, along with MDF social media channels will allow listeners to submit their comments or questions – and if we use them on air, we will be sending you some MDF swag to thank you for your engagement. So, listen up, remember some of the old episodes and help us move forward this year in expanding our reach to mule deer enthusiasts across the country!
Wyoming with Ike Eastman and Shawn Blajszczak – Season 3 Episode 9 – May 5
This episode features Steve talking with Ike Eastman, president and CEO of Eastmans’ Hunting Journals, and Mule Deer Foundation Wyoming regional director, Shawn Blajszczak. Ike tells us a little bit of history about how his grandfather and his father spent the “heyday” of mule deer wandering around Wyoming filming deer and other big game. With this perspective of three generations, Ike talks about what they see as the greatest challenges for mule deer in the state including how winter range and migration corridors are critical to ensure the herds are sustained. Shawn then talks about the grant that MDF received from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help restore habitat for mule deer herds prioritized in the Wyoming SO 3362 action plan. They then talk about how important it is for avid hunters to help by being active members of MDF, supporting conservation projects, and being involved in state policy that affects our wildlife resources. Ike tells us about the Eastmans’ upcoming film, previewed at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo, that uses their historic and current footage, combined with the new knowledge about mule deer migrations and winter range, to raise awareness and serve as a call to action.
Idaho Mule Deer with Idaho Fish and Game – Season 3 Episode 8 – April 27
On this episode of Talking Mule Deer, Steve is talking with Daryl Meints, Idaho Department Fish and Game’s (IDFG) deer and elk coordinator, and Matt Pieron, IDFG’s Mule Deer Initiative Coordinator. We hear about Idaho’s new Mule Deer Management Plan that was recently completed. Matt and Daryl tell us about how they developed the plan and some of the issues, like hunter congestion, that they are attempting to tackle. They also talk about habitat projects, including MDF’s work in the Bennett Hills to restore sagebrush in important mule deer winter range after wildfires burned through the area. Steve asks them about some of the Idaho priorities for big game migration corridors through their Secretarial Order 3362 state action plan. One of their projects include improving deer crossings over Highway 30 in the Rocky Point migration corridor in the southeast corridor of the state, an area that has had significant deer mortality during seasonal movements every year. They’ve also identified research priorities to analyze data from collared animals to better understand deer migrations. We wrap up by talking about Idaho’s upcoming hunting season and tag applications.