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Check Stations Show Increased Hunters, Success And Satisfaction

Check stations run by Magic Valley Regional personnel on the opening weekend of the deer season revealed an increase of hunters in the field, hunter success, and overall general satisfaction. Most hunters commented on seeing "lots of does and fawns." Check stations were operated near Little Wood Reservoir, at Timmerman Junction, north of Gooding and Mountain Home, at the bottom of Rock Creek in the South Hills, and in the Shoshone Basin. All stations were open from 10 a.m. until sunset, October 7 and 8. Compared to 1999, and to all five previous years, the fall deer opener of 2000 was an extremely good one. The number of hunters checked increased from 1,828 last year to 2,229 -- an increase of 22%. The number of deer harvested, through all check stations and for all units surveyed was 592. That is a 43% increase from 1999, and also the largest number of deer taken in the previous five-year period. The previous high was in 1995, when 502 animals came through seven check stations in the region. Hunter success, or the number of hunters harvesting deer divided by the total number of hunters, was 27% for all check stations and all hunts. That too is an increase from 1999 when the overall success rate was 23%. Success rates do vary considerably when figures are compared between general and controlled hunts. For instance, the hunter success rate for unit 49, a general deer hunt for antlered deer only, was 20%; that is higher than any previous five year success rate. Hunter success for unit 52, a controlled antlered only hunt, was 50%. Youth hunters too enjoyed a high success rate in their either sex hunt that included 10 hunt units. By and large, hunters were very happy seeing lots of deer in the fields and forests. The majority of bucks through all check stations were yearlings, or forked horned deer. The biggest buck measured was 32 _ inches from unit 44. Station workers also checked for proper tag validation, evidence of sex on animals, and overall body condition. Fat measurements, and subjective assessments, showed that deer are in good to excellent condition for the upcoming winter. Magic Valley Regional Wildlife Manager Randy Smith commented, "All hunters were happy to be seeing game, and the increased success rates show, in general, our deer herds are coming back." Smith also noted that Department Reservists and other volunteers who helped at check stations deserve a big "Thank You" for their tireless efforts on opening weekend.