Idaho to cut antlerless hunt opportunities for 2023-2024 seasons
Idaho wildlife is still recovering from a brutal winter that brought deep snow, subzero temperatures and high mortality rates. As a result, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has eliminated many of the proposed antlerless hunt opportunities for the upcoming 2023-2024 seasons in an effort to help mule deer herds rebound, according to a press release.
“Before this winter hit, we’d been seeing steady growth in mule deer herds in southeast Idaho,” said Toby Boudreau, IDFG’s Deer and Elk Coordinator. “So much so that we were ready to propose additional antlerless hunt opportunities for the 2023 fall season.”
Mule deer were previously hit hard by the 2017 and 2019 winters, but had been slowly rebounding. IDFG hoped to restore some of the antlerless hunting opportunities this fall; however, the severity of the 2022-2023 winter proved that won’t be happening.
“We recognized the sensitivity of antlerless mule deer hunts, and ultimately didn’t feel comfortable offering antlerless opportunities in the eastern part of the state,” said Boudreau.
Mule deer weren’t the only animals hit hard this season and Idaho isn’t the only state making changes to available tags because of this. Increased elk and antelope mortality due to winter weather have also made headlines in Wyoming, Montana and Colorado.
“While the winter has been difficult on wildlife, the department has been in front of the issue since January and has already pulled many of the same levers as other states,” said Jordan Cheirrett, IDFG Commissioner in the Southeast Region. “It’s a tough situation, but we will continue to monitor it.”
April is a tough month for big game as spring green-up is on the cusp and forage is very low.
“In some places, we’ve lost as many as 8 out of 10 collared fawns this winter,” said Boudreau. “We’re not out of the woods yet. We will continue to monitor deer and elk survival as winter turns to spring, but as it sits right now, it’s going to be a low year for fawn survival over in the eastern part of the state.”