The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has helped conserve more than 2 million acres in and around the 50 counties that reign as America’s best areas for trophy mule deer.

Average production of record-class muleys across these counties has trended upward since RMEF launched in 1984—and the counties showing the greatest improvements are those where RMEF has helped protect and steward the greatest amounts of habitat.

“The data show a striking correlation,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Of the Top 50 mule deer counties in Boone and Crockett records, 36 are seeing an upward or even trend in trophy buck production. In each of these counties, we’ve conserved an average of about 48,000 acres. In the 14 remaining counties that aren’t faring as well, our average project acreage is currently less than half that amount.”

“We’re proud that our efforts, along with those of our state and federal agency partners as well as private landowners, are contributing to increasing quality in some of the West’s most prominent mule deer herds,” added Allen.

Trophy Mule Deer and RMEF Conservation Work

County

Total B&C Entries and (Top 50 Rank)

RMEF Acres Conserved

RMEF Project Expenditures

Counties with UPWARD Trend in Trophy Production Since RMEF Launch in 1984

Rio Arriba County, NM

144 (1)

33,496

$290,214

Eagle County, CO

93 (2)

22,425

$233,723

Coconino County, AZ

75 (3)

131,033

$1,696,461

Lincoln County, WY

57 (6)

78,012

$273,391

Mohave County, AZ

39 (10)

0

$56,792

Montezuma County, CO

39 (11)

614

$14,816

Carbon County, WY

37 (12)

47,051

$288,796

Kane County, UT

35 (14)

6,332

$12,921

La Plata County, CO

33 (16)

16,246

$103,400

Sublette County, WY

28 (20)

231,847

$275,237

Lincoln County, NV

25 (23)

38,037

$175,246

Garfield County, UT

22 (27)

78,767

$308,777

Archuleta County, CO

21 (28)

15,358

$81,506

Baker County, OR

20 (30)

17,098

$145,514

Malheur County, OR

20 (32)

14,910

$38,980

Las Animas County, CO

19 (33)

62,667

$354,241

San Juan County, UT

17 (36)

13,690

$124,271

Park County, WY

16 (37)

82,709

$333,432

Teton County, WY

15 (38)

302,923

$448,690

Washoe County, NV

15 (39)

40

$9,125

Douglas County, CO

14 (40)

486

$19,582

Pitkin County, CO

13 (43)

3,429

$58,892

Summit County, UT

12 (45)

3,041

$59,222

San Juan County, NM

11 (47)

3,480

$22,216

Caribou County, ID

10 (49)

1,639

$7,628

25 Counties

Trophy Production Up 213% Since 1984

Average 48,213 Acres

Average $217,323

Counties with EVEN Trend in Trophy Production Since RMEF Launch in 1984

Gunnison County, CO

45 (7)

17,366

$62,514

Elko County, NV

36 (13)

131,406

$605,170

Adams County, ID

34 (15)

15,133

$48,796

Rio Blanco County, CO

30 (18)

25,153

$290,754

Moffat County, CO

28 (19)

8,865

$113,959

Grant County, OR

27 (21)

180,722

$575,992

Boise County, ID

25 (22)

33,391

$175,050

Grand County, CO

21 (29)

7,561

$94,137

Elmore County, ID

20 (31)

4,105

$48,010

Fremont County, ID

14 (41)

18,275

$31,800

Fremont County, WY

14 (42)

82,419

$290,099

11 Counties

Trophy Production Steady Since 1984

Average 47,672 Acres

Average $212,389

Counties with DOWNWARD Trend in Trophy Production Since RMEF Launch in 1984

Mesa County, CO

68 (4)

14,132

$108,339

Garfield County, CO

62 (5)

13,751

$154,278

Montrose County, CO

45 (8)

27,241

$370,535

Delta County, CO

43 (9)

11,557

$110,769

Bonneville County, ID

31 (17)

12,076

$75,250

Dolores County, CO

24 (24)

14,780

$89,873

Idaho County, ID

23 (25)

115,064

$590,292

Franklin County, ID

22 (26)

1,400

$6,000

Morgan County, UT

19 (34)

5,553

$10,000

Routt County, CO

17 (35)

25,559

$45,398

Bear Lake County, ID

12 (44)

20,571

$33,783

Gem County, ID

11 (46)

1,753

$13,294

Wallowa County, OR

11 (48)

33,983

$665,794

Utah County, UT

10 (50)

9,467

$103,384

14 Counties

Trophy Production Down 44% Since 1984

Average 21,921 Acres

Average $169,785

Top 50 County Totals

Trophy Production Up 48% Since 1984

Total 2,036,613 Acres

Total $10,146,343

 

Trophy trends were identified using Boone and Crockett records for typical and non-typical mule deer. The combined Top 50 counties were included in the research. Upward, even and downward trends were based on the number of record-book entries before and after 1984, when RMEF began its work to ensure the future of elk and other wildlife.

Allen acknowledged that many factors influence mule deer herd health, recruitment of males into older age classes, sustainable harvest objectives and other elements of sound wildlife management and fair-chase hunting.

“But habitat quality is a major consideration,” he said. “Our mission statement directs us to ensure a future for elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. After elk, mule deer are perhaps the species most affected by our work, and it’s gratifying to see quality mule deer herds alongside healthy elk herds.”

RMEF so far has invested more than $10 million on conservation projects in and around the Top 50 trophy mule deer counties. Funding from RMEF helped leverage additional support from partnering agencies and organizations, resulting in an overall conservation effort valued at more than $236 million.

Projects include prescribe burns, treating noxious weeds, thinning overgrown forests, restoring riparian zones, constructing wildlife drinkers, conducting research, brokering land deals that protect open space and improve public access, and more.

Allen said RMEF is concerned about declining numbers of mule deer in some areas.

For more information about RMEF, visit www.rmef.org.

Image courtesy Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

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