With the reduction in tag quotas which began in 2015 this meant fewer hunters in the field. This can only help increase buck survival and the numbers should increase over time. The herds in the northern half of the state are starting to respond and this is due in part to winter snowfall, the reduction in tags and better forage. Recent fires have benefited the deer by removing older browse and promoting new growth. The southern herds are still struggling, mainly due to drought, poor forage and predation. November and December brought much needed moisture to the State but the precipitation needs to continue as well as the spring rains to ensure strong healthy fawns and a better chance for survival as well as promote antler growth throughout the spring and summer. The statewide population estimate is 80,000-100,000 for mule deer. This is down from last year’s estimate, but primarily in the southern half of the state.