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Overall harvest numbers down in Idaho

Overall harvest numbers down in Idaho

Photo credit: Dreamstime

The numbers are in and, for Idaho, they’re OK. Compared to 2018, the statewide elk and deer harvest tallies were down and the number of hunters in the field were lower, too. According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), overall elk harvests were down about 8% and deer harvests were down 13% compared to 2018. The number of hunters also dropped by 5.5% and success rates for those in the field? Down, too.

“Hunting isn’t unlike fishing — when it’s good, everyone goes,” IDFG’s Deer and Elk Program Coordinator Daryl Meints said. “When things get tougher, you see the participation drop.”

Whitetail deer harvests and mule deer harvests were both lower than their 10-year averages, but elk harvests were a bit higher. The lower harvest numbers were likely a result of the decrease in hunters: in 2019, there were 4,200 fewer mule deer hunters and 3,500 fewer whitetail hunters.

According to IDFG, here’s the breakdown on 2019 elk, mule deer and whitetail deer harvests:

Idaho elk harvest chart

A total of 20,532 elk were harvested with a 22% hunter success rate in 2019. The majority were taken during general hunts (13,799) and there were more antlered kills (11,418) compared to antlerless (9,114). While numbers were a bit lower overall, the 2019 elk harvest was the 14th highest of all time and the fifth highest in the last decade. 

Idaho elk harvest chart

A total of 23,679 mule deer were harvested with a 29% hunter success rate in 2019. Most were taken during general hunts (17,697) and the majority were antlered (18,633). While the harvest numbers were lower than 2018, wildlife managers anticipated that drop.

“Our mule deer populations are driven by survival of fawns and adults, as are our harvest numbers,” Meints said. “The last three-year stretch wasn’t the kindest to our herds, particularly in eastern Idaho and in the Weiser/McCall areas.”

Fawn survival dropped in the winter of 2018-19 due to “deep snowfall late in the season followed by a prolonged wet, cool spring,” according to IDFG. That decrease in overall mule deer population resulted in fewer general season either-sex youth hunting opportunities as well as a reduction or elimination for controlled antlerless, either-sex and antlered controlled hunts.

Idaho whitetail deer harvest

A total of 21,540 whitetail deer were harvested with a 38% hunter success rate in 2019. Most were antlered (13,965) and the majority were taken during general hunts (19,485). While harvest numbers were lower, IDFG considers 2019 “a decent year” for whitetail hunters and 2019 made it to the top-10 and was considered the tenth-best season in the state’s history. 

“The biggest fluctuations we see in our whitetail harvest are weather-related. We can see swings of around 10 percent in the harvest in either direction, just based on that,” Clearwater Region Wildlife Manager Clay Hickey said. “When we get weather and snow in the fall, our harvest numbers tend to go up. In 2019, it was balmy, nice weather during the hunting season, which didn't benefit our harvest numbers.”

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Morio A. - posted 1 week ago on 03-21-2020 09:04:27 am

Nanase N, It will be very difficult to invite new hunters, this is all nepotism, no more

Nanase N. - posted 1 week ago on 03-21-2020 08:58:37 am

Christopher S. I totally agree with you. The point system is really pointless. I do not understand the essence of the discussion. サイトに行くほうがいい入金不要ボーナス 最新

Christopher S. - posted 3 weeks ago on 03-04-2020 04:36:09 pm

Yes,uneducated. Points systems only benefit those who get in on the initial start up, and live long enough to draw premium tags before dying. Look at Colorado. No point in even applying for their premium units because you'll never live long enough to draw one even if you start accumulating points when you are 8 years old. Utah as a state is ridiculous with their points scheme. How about giving 200 LE tags to a group that promises 30% back to the state and turning down a group that pledged 100% back to the state? Cronyism. Points systems punish younger hunters and new hunters. Period. The ones who whine the most about points systems are the ones who are older and can't wait to get their favorite unit. No wonder it's hard to recruit new hunters. Just tell them if they want a San Juan tag they can have one in 30 years as long as they buy points and a license every year. That's a stupid incentive. SFW and horn porn has ruined Utah.

Doug P. - posted 3 weeks ago on 03-03-2020 03:11:19 pm
Midway, UT

Uneducated? Do some research? I did draw Moose with MAX points a few years ago. According to this site it's a .03% chance with zero points, 2,300 people applying for 13 tags. Can you imagine a 20 year old drawing at random? Thank god 50% go to max points! I also completely understand it's a flawed system, so does the state, that's why we have wildlife board meetings. They do listen to the public, we just passed the new rule on turning in tags, I wished it would have been longer than 30 days. Anyways yes I'll stand by the currant point system and hope all states go to it.

Colter I. - posted 3 weeks ago on 03-03-2020 07:09:08 am

anyone who wants a point system is uneducated on the matter. Good luck drawing a premium tag in Utah or Nevada with MAX points. Do some research

Christopher S. - posted 4 weeks ago on 03-02-2020 12:45:30 am

A points system is the last thing Idaho needs, but there's pressure on the Idaho legislators by their Utah buddies to implement one and to sell landowner tags so their rich sponsors can hunt every year. You can keep that nonsense in Utah. I lived in Utah for 5 years so I know exactly how that nonsense works.

JACE G. - posted 1 month ago on 02-28-2020 05:00:37 am

@ Doug P.

Point system are you serious? You are a Utah resident right? Look at our states point system, it is seriously the worst thing I have ever seen for us hunters. I don't think I have the answer but a point system is not the answer!

Mike M. - posted 1 month ago on 02-26-2020 04:01:30 pm
Nine Mile Falls, Wa

Idaho is a great state to enjoy the forests n streams, lakes, & has a lot to offer
Not bad results, with lower hunter turnout
Lower hunter turnout will continue, especially with the cost $$ of non- resident tags fees set to increase dramatically
I've supported & hunted this state for 35 years as a non resident, but personally will be looking elsewhere now because of this increase in lic., tag fees, etc.
Great state for hunting, going to miss it,
Hopefully the communities wont be hit too hard
Good luck fellow hunters & fishermen

Tom J. - posted 1 month ago on 02-26-2020 02:30:14 pm

Sorry, that was unnecessary and not very funny. I am an Idaho resident and shot from the hip there and missed. However, I do think the cervids here tend to be more educated than I. Just speaking for myself and not the demographic :/

If I could replace my last comment it would go like this: The wolves ate 'em all!!

Tom J. - posted 1 month ago on 02-26-2020 02:02:53 pm

Elk are more educated than people in Idaho

Chad M. - posted 1 month ago on 02-26-2020 11:11:38 am

Wow, only about 52,000 deer harvested in the entire state of Idaho. We killed 200,000 in Missouri.

Doug P. - posted 1 month ago on 02-26-2020 10:57:42 am
Midway, UT

In my opinion if they would just limit certain areas, go to a draw/point system, it would improve in this topic as well.