Idaho F&G 21x Deer Hunt

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What is the 21x deer hunt?

Dead deer along the side of roads in Salmon Region are a common sight.

They are an unfortunate product of our desire to reach our destinations quickly, relatively high deer numbers on agricultural lands and along river corridors, and fragmentation of deer habitat by roads and fences.

Motor vehicle-deer collisions are a common problem throughout the U.S., accounting for millions of dollars of damage as well as human injuries and deaths. These collisions arise from a complex set of circumstances, so there is no simple solution.

What steps can reduce collisions with deer and other wildlife?

  • * Reduce driving speed or avoid driving at times when deer are more active or more likely to be near roads: at dawn and dusk; during spring and fall migrations in April-May and November-December; and during winter. Research shows the most effective way to reduce collisions is reducing vehicle speed. These steps also reduce fuel costs.
  • * Stay alert and look for deer and other wildlife along side the road, particularly in areas signed as wildlife crossings. Keep in mind other animals may be following those that already crossed the road.

What are state agencies doing to reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions?

  • * The Idaho Transportation Department and Idaho Department of Fish and Game work together to collect information on wildlife-vehicle collisions, which helps identify "hot-spots" where signage, speed, fencing or road design can be changed to reduce the likelihood of collisions.
  • * In the Salmon Region, Fish and Game adopted a deer hunt several years ago designed to reduce deer numbers near major roads.

It is a controlled hunt, and interested hunters should apply during the standard application period in May. The current hunt area is called 21X. The "X" indicates it as an "extra" antlerless deer tag, which means permit holders can also hunt during the general deer season or another controlled deer hunt, potentially harvesting a second deer.

The "21" portion is somewhat confusing for some, but a quick check of the hunt area description will show that the permit is valid in parts of 10 game management units in the Salmon Region: 21, 21A, 28, 29, 30, 30A, 36A, 36B, 37 and 37A. The open season is September 1- December 31, providing hunters ample opportunity to harvest either a mule deer or white-tailed deer doe.

But the hunt does have some important restrictions. It is open only on private land. Most of the paved roads where speeds are higher are bordered by private land, and these are the areas where reducing deer numbers will have the greatest chance of reducing collisions.

Because the hunt occurs on private land, potentially near buildings and livestock, hunters are restricted to using short-range weapons, such as muzzleloader, shotgun, archery equipment or crossbow.

Another benefit of the hunt is that landowners can help control depredations on agricultural crops by allowing hunters to remove some deer.

So those interested in adding some healthful meat to their larder, and helping reduce the likelihood of seeing those dead deer along the highway, might consider the 21X hunt. If so, it's best to obtain permission for a few places to hunt before applying.

The hunt is also a great way to introduce a young hunter to big game hunting and many landowners are more agreeable to granting access to supervised youth hunters.

Anyone who hunts during the 21X season, should be sure to ask permission from the landowner before hunting, carefully follow the landowner's instructions, and treat private land with respect.