Fish and Game reminds deer hunters that youth-only, general season antlerless mule deer opportunities were eliminated for the 2021 and 2022 seasons in units 31 and 32A.
The change is the latest step taken by Fish and Game to help the mule deer herd in the area bounce back from a series of tough winters, including two recent years in which fawn survival was poor or below-average: 2016-17 and 2018-19.
During average winters, adult survival is very high and fawn survival is around 60%. During harsh winters, even adult survival can drop (causing significant population declines), and fawn survival can approach zero. This was the case in the Weiser-McCall area during the 2016-17 winter.
In response to the low fawn survival and in an effort to improve mule deer abundance in the area, Fish and Game has progressively reduced antlerless hunting opportunity in the Weiser-McCall units. As a result, antlerless harvest declined by about 66 percent between 2010 and 2020. However, concerns remained over the slow recovery of the herd during the last season setting cycle. In 2020, Fish and Game staff surveyed the mule deer population and determined that it had declined by about 33 percent since the last survey in 2010.
With that in mind, Fish and Game eliminated the one-week, either-sex youth general season opportunity in units 31 and 32A, as well as the area’s only remaining antlerless controlled hunt (a youth hunt in units 32 and 32A).
Despite the loss of these antlerless hunting opportunities, others remain for youth hunters in the Weiser-McCall units, including youth-only antlerless hunts in units 22, 24, and 32. And, when mule deer numbers rebound, biologists will consider bringing back more antlerless opportunities.
Hunters should be sure to always check the most current rules and regulations for your favorite seasons and particular hunts. Hunters can find seasons and rules online at https://idfg.idaho.gov or by grabbing a rules brochure at the nearest Fish and Game office or license vendor.