As Mule Deer populations were declining, it became apparent that a recovery effort needed to be implemented. Approximately eight years ago the Mule Deer Foundation had a small group of participants in Parachute, Colorado. The first meeting was held at the Unical property to discuss possible causes and solutions. Although the group was well intentioned, there seemed to be a disagreement among some of the members as to which factor was the major contributor. The causes were listed and discussed. They were: disease, predation, habitat, hunting, roads, elk/deer competition, and weather. The group was divided between predation and habitat as the main factor. We were involved with two banquets that were held in Rifle, Colorado. Both of these banquets were successful and well received. However, the chapter was only allowed to keep 10% of the net revenues for use in Colorado. Because of the various conflicts with the use of the funds and lack of consensus as to the effects of predation, several of the members met to discuss alternatives. This group decided to look at the Arizona Mule Deer Association as a viable model to examine. Arizona had a similar experience with the Foundation and elected to split and form their own organization. I flew to Phoenix and met with the officers and discussed our intentions of patterning Colorado after their Chapter. It became apparent that they felt that predation was the major factor and that working with the legislation was one of their most effective tools. Upon my return, I contacted numerous deer enthusiasts for a special meeting to be held in Glenwood Springs at the Hotel Colorado. Approximately twenty individuals attended. With the bylaws and intent of the Arizona Mule Deer Association at our disposal, we modified the language to fit our needs. Officers were elected along with a board of directors. Realizing that we needed seed money, a collection was made and the Colorado Mule Deer Association was formed with a small starting budget of $2500.00.
About a year after the founding of this organization, deer enthusiasts from Grand Junction met with us with the intent of forming a chapter in Grand Junction. A meeting was held at the hunter safety building in Grand Junction. The group decided to form their own chapter and officers were elected at a following meeting.
The following year, a banquet was held at the Holiday Inn in Grand Junction. It was packed and very successful. The next year another banquet was held at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Grand Junction, Colorado. This facility was considerably larger, it was packed and also very successful. Last year, the banquet was held at the Grand Junction Conference Center because the facility offered more seating capacity. This banquet was also filled and very successful.
Over the years, we have passed legislation that supported, not only our deer but our sporting heritage. Last year we submitted a bill for the sale of Governor’s tags for deer, elk and antelope. The best part of the bill was the wording that 80% of the funds would be spent by the organization toward research and education that they elected. We were also instrumental in H.B. 1313 that placed another sportsman on the wildlife commission board. Last year, we sponsored legislation for predator management study in Unit 40. The commission elected to eliminate the tools for an effective program and that was scrapped.
We have been a leading force toward an effective predator management program in Colorado. Due to the sensitivity of this issue by our constituents on the eastern slope, it has not only been very controversial but a politician’s nightmare. We presented an option to the wildlife commission to help with this problem. A program for coyote management whereby sportsmen could hunt these predators to increase their preference points for deer, elk and antelope in quality draw units by submitting ears to the DOW. CMDA volunteers would be responsible for the accounting. To the chagrin of our members, this option was also denied.
These battles are rarely fought on our turf. Endless miles, countless hours and dollars have been spent by our members and affiliated sportsmen’s groups to rectify these issues that are so dear to our out- door heritage. It has by no means been a one man show. For those of you who have supported and dedicated time and energy to our efforts, I have the highest regard and appreciation. Alan A..Storey