Hunters took more elk and white-tailed deer in Idaho in 2017 than in 2016, but mule deer harvest was down. With a much milder winter so far, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) biologists expect the drop in mule deer harvest to be short-lived as herds recover from last year’s difficult winter across Central and Southern Idaho.
“Elk are much hardier animals and less susceptible to environmental conditions,” said Daryl Meints, IDFG deer and elk coordinator. “It has to be a tough winter to kill elk.”
The 2017 elk harvest was about 17.5 percent above the 10-year average, and despite the dip in the mule deer harvest, 2017’s overall deer harvest was still slightly above the 10-year average.
Elk hunters are enjoying some of the best hunting in recent history. Harvest was up by 1,242 elk in 2017 over 2016, which was largely an increase in cow harvest. The bull harvest dropped 341 animals between 2016 and 2017.
Fish and Game increased cow hunting opportunities to reduce herds that are causing damage to private lands in parts of the state.
Idaho’s elk harvest has exceeded 20,000 elk for four straight years, which hasn’t happened since the mid-1990s.
The 2017 deer harvest dropped by 11,426 animals compared with 2016, which included a slight increase in white-tailed deer harvested, but 11,574 fewer mule deer harvested.
In response to last year’s hard winter, Fish and Game’s wildlife managers reduced antlerless hunting opportunities for mule deer in 2017 to protect breeding-age does and help the population bounce back more quickly. That resulted in 2,517 fewer antlerless mule deer harvested.
Go here to find more information from IDFG.
(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)