The Port of Entry Checkstation was in full swing this year during both general deer opening weekend (October 10, 11, and 12) and the weekend of October 18 and 19.
This year, opening weekend was marked by a 30.5% increase in hunters checked through the checkstation compared to the same time period in 2013. Hunter success was 20%, which was similar to 2013's hunter success (20.95%). The number of mule deer that came through the checkstation opening weekend this year also increased by approximately 25% over last year -- from 260 animals to 327.
The percent of 4+ point bucks in the harvest during the opener was 32.8%, an increase from 24% of the harvest for the combined opening weekend in 2013. The percent of yearling bucks in the harvest was 43.6%, a decrease from 52.8% of the harvest for the same check station effort in 2013. This was to be expected. With three consecutive mild winters throughout most of southeast Idaho-which allowed for a higher fawn recruitment each year-- it made sense that hunters were able to harvest larger more mature bucks this year than in the past.
One antlered white-tailed deer was checked from GMU 71. The percentage of antlerless deer in the harvest was 20%, similar to the 18.5% observed in 2013.
Deer were in good body condition with good fat deposits and the average yearling weight was 108.5 pounds (n=30). Hunters reported seeing numerous does and fawns on the hills.
During the weekend of October 18 and 19, there was actually a reduction in deer hunter numbers (-9.67%) and harvest success (-29.76%) compared to the same time period in 2013. Many of the hunters Fish and Game spoke with felt that the unseasonably warm weather affected deer behavior, and consequently hunter success.
However, just as with opening weekend, the percentage of deer with 4+ points in the harvest continued to be higher than in 2013, and the percentage of yearlings continued to be lower.