The opening weekend of the general Idaho deer season is off to a slow start and Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials are blaming cold temperatures.
“A lot of people are staying home and not camping out like they normally do,” said James Brower regional communications manager for Fish and Game on Friday. “There’s people out, but they’re not going for a hike because of the cold. A lot of people are just driving roads.”
Brower said with better weather coming in the next few days, Fish and Game officers are predicting more hunters out in the field.
Brower said the archery controlled hunts for moose, antelope and elk seemed very successful.
“We’ve seen a lot of moose coming through the office,” he said. “At least at this point before the numbers are crunched the archery hunt looks really good with people harvesting some quality animals. I think those people who get out and hoof it a little bit are having some success.”
A Fish and Game report in late summer predicted plenty of elk and white-tailed deer for hunters across the state, but only about average mule deer numbers.
“That record snowpack that we observed in February did not do the fawns any favors,” said Fish and Game’s deer/elk coordinator Daryl Meints. “It was not like the winter of 2016-17, but we were below the long-term average for fawn survival.”
The report said the number of animals available for hunters and hunter success will vary significantly throughout mule deer country. Brower said eastern Idaho’s desert country and the country around Mackay seem to be producing well. “People are harvesting big animals out of there,” he said.
Fish and Game warns hunters to go prepared this season to not become a casualty for search and rescue to deal with.
“Make sure that people know where you’re going, and give your hunting plan to a loved one (so) they know where you’re going to be and when you plan on coming back,” Brower said. “Be very detailed with your hunting plan and stick to it. If you have to make changes, get somewhere where you have cell service to make those changes.”
“Sometimes when you’re out there the only person you have to rely on is you, and you’ve got to make sure you’re dependable,” he said.
Brower said hunters can be most comfortable if they dress in layers.
“We are lucky enough in Idaho to have all four seasons in a single day,” he said. “So that means you need to dress in layers so you can always shed layers or add layers depending on the weather.”