May 18, 2021
This episode of Talking Mule Deer features Brigham Young University wildlife researchers telling us about their mule deer studies in Utah. Brock and Randy, both avid mule deer hunters, are professors in the BYU Wildlife Ecology Lab and landed at the university 13 years ago when they applied for the same job—and both got hired! Brock and Randy discuss one of their early projects evaluating fawn mortality in the Monroe permit area by collaring fawns shortly after birth. This project gave them insights into how predation, along with habitat health that maintains body condition in does, correlate to overall survival. BYU graduate student Tabitha Hughes details her work on both elk calves and mule deer fawns that has continued to other herds, including the Cache Valley as well as her current study area in the Book Cliffs area of Utah. We wrap up by hearing how Randy and Brock hope to use the data to understand how habitat conservation and restoration projects are impacting overall mule deer populations.
April 28, 2021
This episode of Talking Mule Deer features our conversation with the co-founder of Public Land Tees, Sam Soholt. Sam tells us about how he got his start in the outdoor industry as a photographer and videographer, and about his modified school bus that he used as his base to hunt and raise awareness about public lands with an active social media presence. His journey to learn about conservation issues led him to come up with the Conservation Crossing tee - buy the shirt and you also get an annual membership to MDF and four other conservation organizations. Sam lives in North Dakota, and we loop in our own Marshall Johnson to talk about the projects that he has helped coordinate in the state to improve mule deer habitat and provide hunter access to private lands.
Marshall tells us about the cooperative efforts for conservation and to enroll landowners in the North Dakota Private Land Access to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program, with funding from an Outdoor Heritage grant, private companies like Bobcat/Doosan, chapter volunteers, and support through the ND Petroleum Council. We wrap up talking about the big picture conservation efforts that MDF is doing and how people can get involved through becoming a member, volunteering, participating in events, and even purchasing a Conservation Crossing tee!
April 14, 2021
New MDF President/CEO Joel Pedersen – Season 4 Episode 5 – April 14
Today we have our first Talking Mule Deer conversation with the Mule Deer Foundation’s new President/CEO, Joel Pedersen. Joel tells us about how he grew up hunting and fishing with his family and how a chance encounter on a boy scout camping trip in New Mexico led him to become a wildlife biologist. He describes his educational path and his early years in the wildlife profession before heading to the National Wild Turkey Federation where he worked for 22 years. We hear about various programs Joel was involved with including NWTF’s forest stewardship, conservation policy, and outreach campaigns, as well as strategic planning and organizational development efforts. We then transition to hear about what excited Joel about the opportunity to work for MDF and how Talking Mule Deer helped him prepare for the interview and the job. Joel describes his first weeks at MDF and how he’s spent the past month getting to know the staff and fully understand the work that is going on. He talks about his priorities in continuing to build fundraising opportunities as well as growing membership and helping to develop volunteer leadership. We wrap up by talking about MDF’s conservation projects on the near horizon with new grant funding and project work that is lining up for on-the-ground habitat restoration efforts this summer. We hope you agree that the future of MDF is in good hands!
March 12, 2021
Jason Matzinger Talks Shed Hunting, Off-Season Prep, and Hunting with Your Kids – Season 4 Episode 4 – March 12
On this episode, we are talking with Jason Matzinger, host of Into High Country and an ambassador for the Mule Deer Foundation. Spring brings the chance to get back into the field looking for shed antlers and Jason describes how he uses shed hunting as a way to scout and learn about behavior. But we also talk about how spending time out on winter range when the deer and elk are already stressed from a tough winter can be a significant challenge for their survival. Some states have created shed hunting seasons or set restrictions on when people can get into the winter range, but personal ethics and awareness of the stress it can cause are critical. Jason gives us some tips about what he does in the off season to get ready for the next hunting season, and he tells the story about how a nice buck gave him and his son the slip this past season. We then talk a bit about how hunting with our kids and beginning hunters becomes a new motivation after years of hunting. We wrap up hearing about what projects Jason has on the horizon, his role in helping Conservation Continue at MDF, and what some of those conservation efforts are looking like in the coming year.
February 25, 2021
Idaho Conservation Efforts with MDF state habitat coordinator, Jessie Shallow – Season 4 Episode 3
Today we are talking with one of the new conservation staff for MDF, Jessie Shallow, who works through MDF and Idaho Fish and Game to coordinate habitat restoration projects in mule deer migration corridors and winter ranges identified within the Idaho State Action Plan. Jessie contributed the “Conservation Continues” story in the January issue of MDF magazine, but our conversation allows us to learn more about her background and the work she’s doing in Idaho. Jessie is born and raised in the state and did her graduate research on mule deer habitat use for nutrition throughout the year. We talk a bit about what she learned in that research and how that translates into the work that she is now doing for MDF on habitat restoration. For example, Jessie led a project that converted 23 miles of fence to wildlife-friendly fencing in a project that was supported in part through grants from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. We also talk about efforts to construct funnel fencing to new overpasses and underpasses for wildlife crossings over highways. We wrap up talking about projects planned for this summer including an aerial spraying project with the U.S. Forest Service in the Lemhi Valley to fight the invasion of cheatgrass into the priority area. Jessie lets us know that there are likely to be some great volunteer opportunities this summer and we look forward to MDF members once again being able to get actively involved in making a difference for mule deer on the ground.
February 9, 2021
MDF Magazine Redesign with Chet Hervey of the Northwoods Collective, and MDF’s COO Brian Fienhold
On this episode of Talking Mule Deer, we are visiting with the folks behind the recent redesign of the MDF Magazine that hit mailboxes last month. Brian Fienhold, MDF’s Chief Operating Officer describes how the relationship with the Northwoods Collective began and we hear directly from Northwoods Collective managing partner Chet Hervey. Chet describes his company and the work that they have done with other wildlife conservation organizations and in the hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts. We hear about the vision that they brought to the table for the magazine redesign and what some of the new layout offers as far as content, outstanding photography, and readability. Brian tells us how the move to a quarterly magazine, rather than the six issues a year in the past, will help provide value to members through greater content diversity and increased total page count per issue – and how we hope the new design will help us build membership, and provide even more member benefits. We wrap up by hearing from both Brian and Chet about the future of MDF Magazine as well as other outreach tools including an updated website design, all with the intention of building the MDF brand and the work the organization can accomplish on the ground.
January 19, 2021
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.
August 17, 2020
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.
August 3, 2020
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.
July 23, 2020
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.