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Thread: bull to cow ratios

  1. #1
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    Default bull to cow ratios

    This is an interesting question and might have different answers depending on the area. I find this idea interesting

    The result of harvesting cows is that the bull to cow ratio goes up significantly. We are told that moose are the most monogamous of the ungulates, a bull usually remains with one cow until she goes out of estrus before going to another one, whereas Caribou, Elk and Mule Deer will have harems that they actively breed from the beginning of the rut.

    I was a a seminar this winter in Portland Ore. and one of the guest speakers said the same thing. Every year I see Bull moose with "harems" on average they will have 3 or 4 cows but 5 or 6 is not that unusal and I have seen a bull with 9 cows before.

    Nowhere in Southeast Yukon (or anywhere in Yukon that Im aware of) is there a shortage of browse and I have never seen large numbers of old barren cows. I dont know what our bull/cow ratio is but most of the cows get bred and calves are born within a 3 week period. I talked to a Bio about bull/cow ratios and wasnt satisfied with his answer and am not convinced that they know the answer. Any ideas??

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    In the SE areas I have lived I don't believe a bull covers more than two or three cows during rut.

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    The result of harvesting cows is that the bull to cow ratio goes up significantly.
    Cow harvests can be, and are, used to meet harvest objectives and to meet bull:cow ratios. For example, in Intensive Management areas within the population objective, cow harvests are used to try to help reach the harvest objective, and they are done in a fashion number wise that the bull:cow ratio remains at the level biologists want.

    In areas like Unit 20 in the Tanana Flats, cow harvests are used to try to bring down the size of the overall herd, that is above the IM population objective. But those cow harvests too are designed to continue to meet certain bull:cow ratios.

    Certainly isn't the case that all cow harvests lead to bull:cow ratio going up significantly.

    I talked to a Bio about bull/cow ratios and wasnt satisfied with his answer and am not convinced that they know the answer. Any ideas??
    The answer to what?

  4. #4

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    From what I have seen, I think it is regional. In Timbered areas I have seen them with one, two and three cows. In open areas I have seen them with fifteen to twenty cows. Same with caribou, only in the open areas I have seen them with dozens of cows.
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    Default Speaking from road observation alone...

    ... because I do not know the stats, in my 11 years on the pen, I have only seen a small number of bulls to hundreds of cows and calves. Every once in a while I will see a bull, including the teenager who had antler nubbins which was in my yard last week. The Kenai seems to have a huge percentage of cows to bulls.

    Now bear in mind that I am a teacher, so hunting season and the rut happen during my busiest time of the year, and I don't get as many chances to get out and observe and wait as I wish I could. Last year, however, I saw three bulls during the hunting season, but only two were legal. One was obviously over 50" and we pursued it but lost it out on the Swanson; the other was a spiker which had been eating my garden and which we dropped conveniently in the yard the last day of the season.

    For the central pen, I am guessing that numbers are down across the board, but that bull numbers are significantly low. Others' observations may differ from my casual observations.

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    Default ratios

    Akres I tend to agree, I have seen the same.

    Mark I asked a regional Bio this question last fall. "How many bulls (moose or caribou) does it take to breed say 100 cows" His answer to me was that to get the numbers they go by they did this.... they looked at 4 different caribou herds, one of those herds was doing well, good cow/calf ratios etc. the other 3 herds were not doing so well. So they use the bull/cow ratio from herd #1 as a target number bull/cow ratio. The reason I was not satisfied with his answer was by his own admission there could have been many reasons why one herd was doing well and the other three were not. And these reasons might have nothing to do with bull/cow ratios not to mention the fact that caribou and moose are different critters.

    The answer to this question in my mind is very important, it effects how many bulls should be allowed by hunters among other things. Also are young bulls likely to cover more or less cows than older bulls??

    I grew up on a cattle ranch where we had 500 head of cows, these cows summered in the mountains (no fences just wild country) and they were spread out. We had anywhere from 10 to 12 bulls each year and every year all of our cows were bred. I know cows are not moose/caribou and i also know our bulls didnt travel as much as wild ungulates.

    So what is the answer, and more important to me is how they come up with it. Hope its not like how they come up with bear numbers!

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    Default grade

    sayak observations like yours are important, and tell a lot.
    Last edited by Brian M; 03-29-2010 at 10:50. Reason: unrelated political comment

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    Some of it depends on the acerage that is being inhabited by such Bulls and Cows.

    If you had a 20 acres ranchette in a place like MI. you would probably want 1 Buck for 5-6 does. That 20 acres has a limited carrying capacity. 30,000 acres has a limited carrying capacity as does 10 million acres.

    I would guesstimate a good Bull/Cow ratoi would be in the neighborhood of 1/5 for the majority of open range land.

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    I would guess the Fish and Game has a pretty good way of telling what the ideal ratio is. I would also guess it is as much an art as a science. It seems that if a bull has an easier range, it would service more cows than a bull on a more unforgiving range. The same would apply for a bull that competes with less bulls. Also, less cows would mean the bull spends less time actually competing with other bulls, so they would tend to get more cows bred on the first or second cycle.

    I would like to see some of the research the biologist use in determining what an area can hold.

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    Default Yukon...

    you ever think that this information could be online, in the form of a Scientific journal? & within those journals are "studies" that show "methods"...oh, but wait, that'll take a lil' education, some money to buy a membership, & oh yeah, STUDYING! Much easier to just Ask a regional Bio...

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    Thirty bulls per hundred cows is the usual number floated by F&G as the ideal ratio.

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    Default spring

    Gogoalie its springtime, go out and enjoy yourself in the woods! I have looked into this subject for years and get different answers... it seems to me like it depends on the Bio. I ask and the agendas they push. There is such a wide variation in opinion they cant all be right. As hunters this is a question that is important. You might buy into everything you are told, I dont I ask questions and read everything I can find on wildlife management.

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    Yeah Yukon254,, buy that 'Scientific journal", and study it.

    Then you will be smarter than those uneducated bio's,,, probably smarter than those bio's that participated in some of those studies !!!

    After reading you'll learn there are methods,, not a method. LOL

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    Default methods

    What are they? For good pregnacy rates is it 12, 25 or 35 bulls per 100 cows?? Ive read reports that claim its 12, Ive read reports that claim 25?? Then of course there is the very real question of the counting methods used.... fly around looking for horns?? Im not saying they are all wrong, its a question.... directly related to how many bulls should be harvested out of a given area.

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    Default Moose population metrics

    Yukon,

    This is a complex question, with lots of interconnecting elements. The factors that impact moose populations in a particular area are predation, habitat quality, migration patterns, weather (winter snowfall has a direct connection to the success or failure of predation, for example), hunting pressure, calf recruitment, twinning rates and a host of other factors. In a state the size of Alaska, all of these factors vary widely from one locale to another. That's one reason why the state has adopted a regional approach to game management. It makes a lot more sense for a biologist to be assigned to a specific area where he / she looks at all species in that area, than to have a biologist assigned to a single species state-wide.

    The single best source I know of for this kind of information (for any big-game species) are the Management Reports put out by ADF&G. The reports come out periodically, and there is always a few years between them, but they are a great source of region-specific information you are seeking. By taking time to read through this information you will be much better educated about moose population dynamics, which should help you select better hunting areas where there are strong populations of surplus harvestable moose.

    Also note that, because of these variations, the management objectives for moose populations also vary widely from one area to another. In some areas our moose numbers are way down, and are unlikely to recover without predator control. We are already seeing signs of a turnaround in moose numbers in GMUs 16 and parts of 19 that appear to be a result of predator control efforts in those areas. On the other hand, there are places in Alaska right now where moose numbers are up and hunting is good.

    In some areas of the state we currently have ratios ranging from 14:100 to 25:100, to as much as 47:100 and perhaps higher.

    Moose biology is fascinating to me, and the more I learn about those big ol' ugly critters, the more I love 'em. They're an interesting and unique animal. One of the best books I know that deals with the biology of moose (and everything else, for that matter) is "Wild Mammals of North America", published by Johns Hopkins University Press. We're looking at adding it to our bookstore, but it's really spendy. How about it, folks? Is there any interest in this book? My copy cost me about $150. But it's money well spent, in my view. It has given me a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the animals we hunt. If I sold all my hunting books, I think that one would be the last to go.

    Perhaps the best question for you is to investigate what the ideal ratio is for the specific area you're hunting. Speaking of which.... where exactly is that? :-)

    Hope it helps!

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    The fish and game have weeknesses in their counting/estimating and evaluating game numbers and 'ideal' numbers. It shouldn't be forgotten that the weeknesses of the fish and game's methods only indicate that they are not perfect. The fish and game's methods are still the BEST when it comes to management of a species.

    Luckily, the fish and game have broad shoulders to carry the complaints and attacks of hunters and the public. Most of us complain about them from time to time. Arrogance sometimes makes people think that they know more than the fish and game about such matters. I don't agree. I don't always agree with what the fish and game does, but I believe that SOME management is better than NO MANAGEMENT. I have seen what happens to game resources when you let hunters/the public manage themselves and it is terrible. Even though they are not perfect, the more fish and game get involved, the better the hunting will be in the FUTURE for us and for my kids.

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    Game census techniques are not perfect but if done by the same method for several years, a trend line should develop and similar methods used in multiple areas allow a comparison of the two.....as Kent says....some management is better than no management.

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    Default regonial

    Mike Southern Lakes and Southeast Yukon is where I am. I agree some management is better than none as long as the managers will forget politics.

    Here we have a wildlife management board, this board is made up of 6 native 6 nonnative, they are picked for their experience on the land and most if not all members of the board have made their living trapping/guiding.They are also chosen from different geographical areas of the Yukon.

    The board is unanimous in its opinion that #1 our cow/calf ratios are very low. unsustainable low.

    #2 predator control is needed to bring ratios up.

    So what happens is some Bios will agree wholeheartedly with the assessments the board puts forth, but many more will not. And I have seen them time and again use the excuse that its low bull/cow ratios. Thats what gives us low cow/calf ratios..... BS too its predators.

    So what they propose and normally do is go to LEH, it hasnt helped here yet. In the Southeast where I trap/fish east of the Hyland river there is 0 hunting pressure yet hunters get the blame for the low cow/calf ratios.

    This kind of stuff is what makes me so skeptical of F/G, Bios and their studies.

    I am on rivers in southeast every spring with clients. We start late May and go right through Oct. The moose come to water to calve. Every year by the 2nd week in June every cow I see will have a calf or two. By the first of Aug. 75% of those cows are dry.... doesnt take much of a studie to figure out whats happening.... Then at a meeting I will hear a Bio say its because of hunters.

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    Dave (yukon254), again, until a valid density estimate is done, you can't use anecdotal observational data to accurately assess wildlife population densities, cow:calf or bull:cow ratios etc. And if you could, a 25% calf survival rate, which you are saying is what you are observing on rivers in SE Yukon, is actually pretty darn good!

    Plus, I noted that the outfitter you guide for says this regarding moose in that SE Yukon concession area:
    "Moose are abundant and during the rut, 100% success is the rule."

    Paints quite the different picture than what you posted... are moose just abundant in that area that he says is about the same size as Switzerland? If you visit other outfitter sites for other concession areas, you'll find similar claims. Plus I noted that Terry guides for wolf hunts and wolf snaring opportunity in winter, and claims a 25% success rate for wolf hunts and a 100% success rate to bring home a wolf caught in a snare. I think that's way cool he does that...sounds like it's good to have the wolves and the moose around and all are faring well.
    Best,

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    Default Yukon...

    what I am tryin' to say, is that the answers out there...pretty sure of it...it takes a lil' readin'...some math, & even some readin' between the lines to get the information you want...

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