Most Idaho Fish and Game check stations around the state reported more hunters participating this year than in 2012 for the October deer hunting season opener.
The Southwest Region reported one of the best openers in recent years, with mild, pleasant weather except for a cool breeze Sunday afternoon. And the Panhandle reported that elk hunter success was up from last year.
The Southeast Region, more than half the hunters who completed surveys reported being satisfied; only 15 percent were unsatisfied.
In a series of snap shots from 12 check stations around the state on the opening weekend, almost 7,000 hunters brought in 1,116 animals. Last year 5,600 hunters bagged 1,031 animals.
Southwest region hunter numbers were up this year. In general, hunters working the Owyhee units did as well as last year, and deer harvest was up in the northern sections of the region. Duck hunters did very well along the Snake River, but upland hunters found chukars, gray partridge and quail to be scarcer than last year.
In the Panhandle, hunters reported seeing a lot of moose and grouse and they saw more elk and elk sign than the past few years. The number of calves seen varied; some hunters reported a lot of calves with groups of cows while others reported few or no calves. But hunters saw a lot of spike elk, which typically means good overwinter calf survival.
Most deer taken in early October in the Panhandle are incidental to elk hunting. Deer hunting success is gauged by what happens during the November 1 to December 1 part of the deer season.
Few hunters showed up at the Clearwater Region check stations, but all the animals checked were in good condition. Weather was fair to nice. Deer didn't seem to be moving much yet compared to years past.
The opening weekend in the Magic Valley included the highest hunter success rate - 25 percent - ever measured in the general antlered hunt in Unit 43.
The weather was good for hunting, reaching highs in the low 50s. A little precipitation Saturday night put fresh snow in the higher elevations.
Participation increased substantially this year compared to last, especially in Unit 43. The increase probably was the result of hunters displaced by the Elk and Pony Complex fires.
In the Southeast the weather was cool on both Saturday and Sunday with rain showers throughout the day on Sunday. In general hunters reported seeing numerous does and fawns.
And the weather in Upper Snake was cool both days as well with some rain. Hunters at the Hillview check station reported seeing mostly does and small bucks. They also reported seeing lots of moose in Unit 69.