Idaho Mule Deer Management Plan 2020-2025

ntrlbrnhunter

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Mar 29, 2019
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140
Keep in mind that many hunters in rural Idaho are well below the level of being poor. I know more than a few residents that don't hunt every year because they can't afford the costs, license , tags , gas , time off work etc.
Dude. A box of shells costs more than 20
Bucks... if someone can’t afford a 20 dollar deer tag... I’d be prioritizing making money not hunting.

People want IDFG to fix everything, everything costs money....
 

TheCougar

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Jun 6, 2016
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Fort Worth, TX
Why? There are states like Texas where a license is $25 and you can shoot 5 deer.
Not a valid comparison, unfortunately. In Texas, where nearly all land is private (97%, I believe), management is handled by landowners and hunter lease agreements. There are some local restrictions on antler spread, but I would say most of the management comes down to individual ranches. Also, Texas lets you raise pet deer with feeders and high fences, so there’s that too...
 
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Customweld

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Sep 13, 2016
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Idaho
Dude. A box of shells costs more than 20
Bucks... if someone can’t afford a 20 dollar deer tag... I’d be prioritizing making money not hunting.

People want IDFG to fix everything, everything costs money....
I think it was 3 years ago, IFG tried to raise fees. What most folks don't realize, is that it requires approval from the legislature. The committee that oversees IFG consists of 9 farmers or ranchers. The committee attached so many riders ( landowners being allowed to sale tags, a SWF type of tag allocation to auctions, etc) that sportsmen and IFG decided to pull the request. At that time, the fee increase was surprisingly popular.
 

87TT

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Idaho
I don't see what raising fees will do to increase deer population. I don't mind an increase but don't see a connection.
 
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Customweld

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Idaho
I don't see what raising fees will do to increase deer population. I don't mind an increase but don't see a connection.
You're right, more money doesn't equal a magical increase in herd numbers. the conversation kinda headed down a rabbit hole.
 

wyo2track

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Sep 9, 2015
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western WY
Here in Region H & G we have been under a 3pt restriction for the last 3 years after the 16/17 winter. It was agreed upon at the Game & Fish Commisson meetings that it would not be a permanent regulation. It was only going to be used for a short period to try and help get those 1 1/2 yr old bucks through their first hunting season and help bolster the number of bucks, in the short term. That restriction should be being dropped for this years hunting season. For the 4 years prior to 16/17 winter the deer were doing great and we had an excellent distribution of different age class bucks, usually in that 38 bucks per 100 does. The fall of 17 I believe it dropped to low 30's/high 20's. For 2 out of the last 3 years, we've had tough winters. Now this fall we have 41 bucks/100 does in the Wyoming Range herd. That's a significant jump, but I'd assume most are young bucks and it doesn't tell the whole story of the age classes above them. I'm glad Wyoming is going to use it as a short term management solution only. Sounds like it could benefit Idaho in some of the areas also for a short term strategy, but still the best way to increase herds when demand is 10 fold the supply, is to restrict the number of licenses or dramatically shorten the seasons. I'd say it's clearly evident that there is a supply/demand issue when there are deer out on the same winter range, but some summer on the east side of the Salt River in Wyoming and some summer on the Idaho side, and the Wyoming deer boom/bust with winters, and the other side stays below stagnant levels. There appears to be enough rough country and elbow room in Idaho that there could be a good mix of Limited Quota areas with general areas. I fully understand each State is different in habitats and terrain, but the only way here in Wyoming that we still get away with general season hunting in Region G & H is hunting during the toughest time of the year in late September and early October after those bucks feel the pressure of opening week. Perhaps Idaho could also consider going to a shorter season in some areas say for the first couple weeks of October for a few years and then gradually go back to allowing hunting later in October as the population increases. We used to be able to hunt deer in H & G from Sept 10 to Oct 31 when I was younger, and before my time it ran even later. Gradually, it has been shortened and more on the later side of the calendar as hunter numbers have increased and deer numbers have decreased. It's gotta be a give and take. If our seasons ran for 3 - 4 weeks in October, I'm sure it would effect our buck population more.
 

npm352

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Apr 18, 2018
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116
Idaho deer management has ups and downs and will always be debated. As I am sure many of you do as well, I try to go to the meetings where public comments are taken. They are all the same. A bunch of guys who attend meetings talk about the glory days 40 years ago and can't understand why it is not the same anymore. They don't understand why there aren't 4x4s around every turn in the road. They don't get that every house built in the valleys infringes on prime wintering habitat.

Guys try to put down Idaho compared to other states at the meetings and do not seem to realize that often they speak so highly of states where you have to draw "general" deer tags or wait 10 or more years to get a tag. Then there is the flat-brimmed crew who couldn't care less about youth opportunities for dies, don't understand compensatory mortality, want every mountain lion eradicated and want 180 inch deer in every clearing....every year.

Idaho does a survey every 7 years I believe. The vast majority of hunters want to keep Idaho an opportunity state. They want to go to Walmart every year, buy a tag, and go kill a 2 point. In my opinion, Idaho has a good mix of opportunity and quality, and almost every general unit holds monsters that do not get killed because the genetics and cover are there. In general, I am ok with the deer management here....IDFG can't control shitty winters.

I do think they could do things to ease pressure without limiting opportunity for residents such as zone specific deer hunts like elk and continuing to find more ways to limit the Utards who come up here to hunt because they didn't draw a general tag and their game department auctioned off half their premium tags to the highest bidder.
 

jimmy33

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Dec 21, 2016
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118
What about a 4 point up minimum (no eyeguards count) and Any buck for youth and seniors?


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87TT

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Mar 13, 2019
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Idaho
You have any idea how many three points would be left rotting on the ground? Hard enough to count antlers points as it is.
 

sasquatch

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Jul 26, 2015
Messages
284
There needs to be a way to slow down human encroachment and protect land that are valuable wildlife. Other wise we’ll continue to cover things with cement and eventually won’t have a population to hunt. I won’t see it but the future isn’t bright for the next generations.


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npm352

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Apr 18, 2018
Messages
116
I do not think that IDFG will go too crazy with antler point restrictions in most general units. Again, the vast majority of Idaho hunters (I think like 80% according to the F&G regional guy at the meeting last March) do not want opportunity to harvest limited. The survey is simple....it asks a series of questions like: would you rather....kill a 2 point every year....kill a decent buck every 5 years.....kill a large buck every 10 years. People want opportunity. They want to go buy a tag and hunt every year and that is more important to the majority than trophy quality at the expense of opportunity. I have my issues with F&G, but I can't fault them for trying to keep the largest amount of hunters happy.

If there was a quick fix like slapping an antler restriction that would make quality much higher in a short period of time while keeping opportunity to hunt high, it would already be done somewhere. It isn't though.

Plus, Idaho has some good draw deer hunts...
And I encourage anyone putting in for Idaho to try and draw one ...because I put in for sheep or goat :)
 

87TT

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Mar 13, 2019
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Idaho
I do not think that IDFG will go too crazy with antler point restrictions in most general units. Again, the vast majority of Idaho hunters (I think like 80% according to the F&G regional guy at the meeting last March) do not want opportunity to harvest limited. The survey is simple....it asks a series of questions like: would you rather....kill a 2 point every year....kill a decent buck every 5 years.....kill a large buck every 10 years. People want opportunity. They want to go buy a tag and hunt every year and that is more important to the majority than trophy quality at the expense of opportunity. I have my issues with F&G, but I can't fault them for trying to keep the largest amount of hunters happy.

If there was a quick fix like slapping an antler restriction that would make quality much higher in a short period of time while keeping opportunity to hunt high, it would already be done somewhere. It isn't though.

Plus, Idaho has some good draw deer hunts...
And I encourage anyone putting in for Idaho to try and draw one ...because I put in for sheep or goat :)
In unit 22 where I live, it is a "two point" (no more than two points on at least one side) area for a general tag with a small number control hunt for "any" buck. It has been this way for years. Deer numbers and harvest is pretty bad. I spend a lot of time here and it is a rare sight to see a buck except in town under an apple tree.
 

Macegl

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Dec 2, 2016
Messages
133
Interesting to watch this, lived in Idaho for a while 9 years ago and it reminded me of Southern Utah when I was growing up as far as hunting and other outdoor pursuits go. Tags were over the counter, you could hunt large areas, deer hunting was something we enjoyed as a family tradition every year. We all complained about quality, but surprisingly every year a few really good deer got killed.

However the deer herd was struggling, and the state population was rising, and it got to a point where some choices had to be made.

As a general hunting community it was decided that quality was more important than opportunity. Of course it started with the Limiting non-residents, but that didn't do much. Point restrictions were tried on a few units, and that worked so well (sarcasm) that they ended up having to close those units for a few years, then opened them up later as limited entry units. The deer herd continued to decline so they divided the state into regions and started a draw for general season tags. Opportunity was still pretty good, in some regions you could still rifle hunt almost every year, and in the ones you couldn't you could at least get an archery or muzzleloader tag.

Quality still wasn't where people wanted it, so along came Option 2 (I honestly can't even remember what option 1 was), the promise that cutting tags and further dividing the regions into sub units, would improve the quality and the overall deer herd. And onward we plunged, in our quest for "quality". Amazingly for a few short years it seemed to work. Ironically, that time period also coincided with some mild winters and wet springs and summers. That bubble burst with the hard winter a couple years ago. Then a drought in 2018 and the hard winter that followed really pounded the deer herd.

So here we are today. This winter I attended one of our Regional Advisory Council meetings, and listened to 5 hours of complaints of the terrible hunting the past year. Deer herds are in bad shape, and the quality is no better than when we started down this rabbit hole. And now a rifle deer tag on a lot of "general season" units is something you look forward too every 3-4 years. Crowding is still an issue because now for every hunter there's a posse of people who wish they had a deer tag who are helping them.

The sad reality is that we are suffering the effects of decades of fire suppression, and a hands off habitat management policy, fueled by a fear of litigation from "environmental" groups. Sadly This isn't a problem that cutting tags, charging higher fees, implementing antler point restrictions, and a variety of other management strategies will fix. They are a bandaid to slow the bleeding while we try and address the real problem. We have a habitat problem that has been in the making for 60+ years, and it will probably take at least that long turn around.

I hope you guys can navigate this better than we have, the people in Idaho were some of the best people I have ever been around.
 

Owyheehuntr

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Nov 15, 2015
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16
Location
S. ID
I don't remember the "good old days" of mule deer hunting in ID, but, I do remember hunting units like 39/43/48 not seeing another hunter most days, and over half in our camp taking mature bucks most years- maybe those were the good old days....

It will be interesting to see what IDFG does in 2021 and beyond. I have mixed feelings on point restrictions- I've seen dead bucks with 1 extra point and so they got left by some "hunter". At the same time, I continue to see quality mature bucks in that same controlled hunt unit every year - yet I hear guys complain every year that draw that tag they can't find mature bucks.

I hunt both public land OTC areas and private ground in OTC areas- I haven't harvested a buck since 2015, I can't tell you the number of small bucks I've passed just to see someone shot those same bucks. Some of the guys I hunt with just want to fill tags- my dad shoots the first legal buck he sees- and I am fine with it. I have to remind myself my views put me in the minority when it comes to ID resident hunters. My views don't make me any better or worse than any other hunter, even though I disagree with the "have to fill my tag with a buck at all costs" mentality.

When I talked with IDFG in Nampa last year at the open house I was at least glad to hear they are planning on doing something from a management perspective- however, as long as we are managed for opportunity I won't hold my breath.
 

208backcountry

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Apr 17, 2017
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144
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ID
perhaps an increase in overall opportunity and limit in pressure on units close to metropolitan areas would do a lot of good in spreading out the pressure. the fact that everyone Willing has the opportunity to become a weekend warrior in unit 39 until the end of late archery after their initial failed opening day trip is one of many problems. People should have to pick a zone like elk so fish and game can have more direct control of hunting pressure.

it seems that many wilderness areas are suffering as well, so perhaps a fee increase directed to directly habitat improvement should be in order as well.
 
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Customweld

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Sep 13, 2016
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Idaho
perhaps an increase in overall opportunity and limit in pressure on units close to metropolitan areas would do a lot of good in spreading out the pressure. the fact that everyone Willing has the opportunity to become a weekend warrior in unit 39 until the end of late archery after their initial failed opening day trip is one of many problems. People should have to pick a zone like elk so fish and game can have more direct control of hunting pressure.

it seems that many wilderness areas are suffering as well, so perhaps a fee increase directed to directly habitat improvement should be in order as well.
I like the pick your unit idea. And possibly pick your weapon. The bad part of limiting units close to urban areas is where are you going to send the misplaced hunters? I’ve seen a dramatic increase in hunters in neighboring units just from the Wilks ground closure.
I don’t think habitat improvements in true wilderness are achievable. To make any kind of progress would require machinery and power tools.
Just getting away from the airstrips and trailheads is quite a chore.
 

Touchdown88

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Jul 24, 2014
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171
Location
Ogden, UT
As a nonresident, I hunt SE Idaho every year. This last year I saw more nonresident hunters than residents. I think the state should increase the NR costs move the deer hunts to zones like the elk hunt.
 
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