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Idaho Fish and Game

Mule Deer on the Boise River WMA

Boise River WMA provides winter refuge for mule deer and elk


As days get shorter and temperatures start to fall, mule deer and elk make their way from the Boise Mountains to the Boise foothills seeking lower elevations, mild temperatures, and available forage to survive the winter. Some come from as far away as the Sawtooth Mountains.


The Boise River Wildlife Management Area is the primary winter range for Unit 39 mule deer and elk. It is estimated that 5,000 to 8,000 mule deer and 1,800 elk winter on the WMA each year. 

Situated in the foothills of the Boise Mountains along Lucky Peak and Arrowrock reservoirs, the WMA spans 36,000 acres and supports more than 300 species of wildlife. 


There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities year-round on the WMA. During the winter months, visitors can observe mule deer, elk, and pronghorn along State Highway 21, but drivers are reminded to slow down this time of year.

Learn more about the Boise River WMA and the recreational activities it provides, as well as other WMAs around the state on our Wildlife Management Areas page.