The second of the inaugural “Shoot for the Heart” seminars hosted by Mountain Bible Church is expected to yield unique perspectives about Rocky Mountain Mule Deer and their declining numbers.
The distinctiveness in the presentation — which will be held free of charge beginning at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25 at the local church — is because the presenter, Dean Pederson, 62, has been hunting the species in Arizona since he was a small boy and is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable authorities on mule deer.
“I was about 10 or 11 years old hunting them with my dad around Flagstaff,” Pederson said.
Over the years, he’s developed fascinating theories on mule deer and why numbers have been on the decrease since 1986, when nearly 86,000 hunters took 25,556 deer, of which, 77 percent were muleys.
Game and Fish biologists argue that the decline is the result of a series of droughts, which has caused officials to curtail hunting opportunities.
Biologists and officials also admit that hunting prospects in the near future are discouraging, but because mule deer are “boom and bust” animals they predict, however, the advent of more winter rains should improve deer populations.
While biologists seem sure with their study results regarding mule deer declines, Pederson’s experiences over the years led him to believe there could be other reasons for the drop in numbers.
He points to one reason for the decline —the 10,000 does that were killed in 1961 after “any deer” hunts were authorized.
He is also expected to talk about the animals being “downwinders” or living downwind from where nuclear tests were conducted decades ago in Nevada deserts.
Pederson believes there could be a correlation between certain diseases and the animals’ exposure to radiation from the production of weapons and nuclear power.
Pederson’s affinity for hunting mule deer is partly due to the type of habitat the animals roam.
“I like to hunt in the elevations where they live — high plains, broken areas and very few people,” he said.
During the seminar, Pederson will also share some of the tips and secrets he’s learned on how to successfully hunt monster muleys in Arizona.
He’s expected to have plenty to share since he’s known among his friends as an outdoorsman with a backload of exciting hunting stories, antidotes and tales.
Among the tips he could share are secrets to finding proper high vantage points for glassing, finding correct animal habitat, tracking and firearm selection.
The presentation will be the second in Mountain Bible’s ongoing series that tipped off last month with professional fisherman Clifford Pirch leading a seminar on successful bass angling.
The idea behind Shoot for the Heart is to provide a stage for outdoorsmen and women to gather in a show of camaraderie to share fishing, hunting, camping and other outdoor stories, tips and suggestions. The church’s Web site says, “The purpose is to help families who love the outdoors become better hunters and fishermen, and build relationships with others who share the same interests.”
Following Pederson’s presentation, other seminars will be held once each month. The topics planned include outdoor cooking, archery hunting, trout fishing and more. For more information on Shoot for the Heart, call (928) 472-7800.