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BHA Survive


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ID – HUNTING – Big game hunting outlook

Deer and elk hunters should see plenty of game in Idaho during fall hunts as mild winters have helped rebound mule deer herds hit hard in recent years, and Idaho’s elk herds continue to soar and harvests have come roaring back over the last six years. In recent years, mule deer hunting has been on a bit of downswing, but 2020 could shape up to be a momentum changer. The three-year stretch of winters spanning from 2016-2019 was tough on many of Idaho’s mule deer herds, largely due to poor-to-average fawn survival — including the second-lowest on record in 2016-17 — and harvest numbers have reflected that trend. In 2019, Idaho hunters harvested 23,679 mule deer, 3,294 fewer than 2018, which is a decrease of about 12 percent. It was the lowest total since 2011, and about 15 percent lower than the 10-year average harvest of 27,964 animals. When you consider that about 80 percent of the mule deer in Idaho’s herds are between 1 and 3 years old, and take a look at the winter fawn survival numbers for the few years leading up to 2019, the dip in harvest was likely inevitable. The good news for Idaho mule deer hunters is that the statewide fawn survival data from last winter paints a brighter picture for 2020. “Harsh winters tend to have more of an effect on mule deer than they do on elk. The flip side of that is when conditions are good, a deer herd can grow more rapidly than an elk herd,“ said Rick Ward, Deer/Elk Program coordinator. “Throughout southern Idaho this winter, we had above average winter fawn survival, which bodes well for the upcoming mule deer season.”  [full article]

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