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Big game hunters face variable prospects

Idaho big game hunters can expect “good to excellent” prospects for whie-tailed deer and elk this fall and average for mule deer this fall. But, Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say conditions will vary by location across the state and have prompted regulation changes in the upper valley.

In Southeast Idaho (Pocatello region), biologists expect overall harvest to be similar to slightly below 2018. Winter fawn survival was average or slightly below average. Based on aerial surveys, elk are more resilient to harsh winter weather and are doing well across the region. Fish and Game officials predict good elk hunting this fall.

Deer and elk conditions in the Upper Snake Region were variable. Because of harsh winter conditions, big game on the west side of the region fared better than those on the east side. Elk herds did well, so hunters should expect numbers similar to those of recent years.

Adult doe mortality reached 15% in some areas, creating concern for wildlife managers. Curtis Hendricks, Wildlife Manager in the Upper Snake. “I would bet that fawn mortality in these areas was over 70 percent, and the Tex Creek population was likely similar to the Palisades population at around 60 percent.”

There have been some adjustments to mule deer hunting regulations in response to high doe mortality n the Teton and Island Park regions. The regulation changes include:

* 50 percent reduction in all either-sex hunts except units 66 and 69 where all either sex hunts are eliminated.
* Youth Antlerless harvest is restricted to one week (Oct. 10 to 16) in all general hunt units (50, 51, 58, 59, 59A, 60, 60A, 61, 62, 62A, 63, 64, 65, and 67), except units 66 and 69 where all youth antlerless harvest is eliminated.

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