Deer, Elk Openers Show Mixed Results

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Deer hunting in southeast Idaho appears to be worse than the already low pre-season expectations, but early check station information in other areas of Idaho indicate big game hunting is about the same as last year.

Game managers in southeast Idaho had predicted that deer hunters would have a tough time this fall because drought and harsh winter conditions severely reduced numbers of deer that would have been yearlings this fall. Young deer make up a large portion of the harvest in most hunting seasons. Early check station results indicate that other parts of the deer population were hit harder than anticipated. Elk numbers continue to be strong in the southeast.

Despite warm, dry hunting conditions in most of the rest of the state, hunter success seemed to be about the same or better than last year.

Hunter numbers and harvest in the southwest are difficult to compare to last year because of elk season date changes but hunter success rates ran slightly ahead of those in the 2001 season.

Body condition observations indicate deer in the southwest, especially fawns, may not have the weight and body fat biologists would like to see. Body weight and fat is not far below the long-term average, however.

Early indications in the Clearwater Region point toward improved hunting. The first three days at the Kooskia check station showed hunter success rising from 10.3 percent last year to 22.3 percent. The biggest increase came in the elk hunts where 21 came through the station this year, compared to seven last year.

Hunters in all regions have been cooperating with check station personnel who are collecting tissue from deer and elk as Fish and Game?s monitoring for Chronic Wasting Disease is expanded. The department will take 50-100 tissue samples in each of its seven regions this fall to test for the presence of the disease. No cases have been detected since monitoring began in 1997, but concern because of cases in other states has prompted Idaho authorities to expand testing.