With the adoption of A-B zone tags for elk, there will be more overlap of elk and deer seasons, and more opportunity to hunt both on the same trip.
Deer are found throughout Idaho. Mule deer are more numerous than white-tailed deer. The former are found mostly in the southern three-fourths of the state. Whitetails are found primarily north of the Salmon River, and are generally hunted later in the fall than mule deer. Whitetail seasons usually open in mid-October to early November and run to late November. Increased interest in whitetail hunting and shorter mule deer seasons in southern Idaho have resulted in an increase in whitetail harvest and hunter participation. Numbers of whitetail hunters have increased by four percent since 1990, while harvest has increased by nine percent. Fifty-nine percent of white-tailed bucks harvested are four-point or larger; 20 percent are five-point or larger.
Fifty-nine percent of white-tailed bucks harvested are four-point or larger; 20 percent are five-point or larger.
The drought of the late 1980s and early 1990s caused a reduction in some mule deer herds. Combined with protective seasons following the drought, this resulted in fewer deer harvested and higher buck survival. As a result of reduced harvest, most herds made a strong comeback and are in good shape now, with good numbers of mature bucks. Recent aerial survey information shows a steady increase in numbers of mature bucks in most areas of the state, and hunter success in controlled hunts in November is high, typically yielding many large, mature bucks. Forty-three percent of mule deer bucks taken in Idaho are 4-point or larger.
Most general mule deer seasons fall during the month of October. In most units, a hunter is allowed to kill any buck, but in units 40, 41 and 42 in extreme southwestern Idaho, and units 73 and 56 in southeastern Idaho, general seasons are restricted to two-point or smaller deer—that is, deer with two or fewer antler points per side. The reason for this rule is to reduce hunting pressure and harvest, allowing more bucks to mature. Under this regulation, for the past few years the number of older bucks in the population with large antlers has increased. Bucks larger than two-point can be hunted in most of these units during controlled hunts.
A new tag has been added for 1998: the Clearwater Region deer tag, good only in units 8, 8A, 10, 10A, 11, 11A, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17, 18, 19 and 20. It is required to hunt either whitetails or mule deer. This tag is in response to local concerns over an annual influx of deer hunters who arrive after the general-season mule deer hunts end in southern Idaho. These tags are available to both residents and nonresidents. This is not an extra tag. If you choose the Clearwater deer tag, you can hunt deer only in those units.
Nonresidents who want to hunt in units 75, 76, 77 or 78 still will be required to purchase one of the 1,200 “Southeast Idaho deer tags.” Beginning in 1998, this tag will be valid only in those four units, and can be used to hunt in those units or to apply for controlled hunts in those units. Southeast Idaho deer tags usually sell out the first day they are available, which will be Dec. 1, 1997, for the 1998 tags.
In southern Idaho, general antlered-only deer seasons will open Oct. 5 and may run as late as Nov. 5 when supported by local biological information. Hunts in backcountry units will keep the Sept. 15 opening date and long season they have previously had.
The existing controlled deer hunt list and numbering structure will remain in effect for 1998.