Big game hunters should see good hunting in 2022 with a few exceptions
Hunting in Idaho? Here’s an article you’ll find useful from Idaho Fish & Game.
“Deer and elk hunters should be optimistic and concerned about the 2022 hunting seasons. They will have mostly healthy, stable elk herds and potential growth in mule deer herds and harvest, but white-tailed deer hunting in portions of Clearwater area are unlikely to have recovered from a disease die off last year, and chronic wasting disease was detected for the first time ever in Idaho last year, which will have to be managed.
That’s a brief summary of what lies ahead for fall elk and deer seasons, and elk and mule deer hunters can safely anticipate hunting similar or slightly better than last year.
That’s due in part to stable elk herds that have produced harvests above 20,000 elk annually for the last eight years. The elk harvest dropped about 10 percent last year, but was well within the usual year-to-year fluctuations and just below the 10-year average of 20,804 elk.
Mule deer herds continue to trend in the right direction after a tough winter in 2016-17 that led to a 30 percent decline in harvest in 2017, then another tough winter in 2018-19.
The drastic harvest decline in 2017 was partly by design as Fish and Game biologists slashed antlerless mule deer tags in an effort to preserve does and rebuild herds. That effort, along with three consecutive mild-to-moderate winters in southern Idaho, has led to increased harvest over the last three years, and this fall could easily mark the fourth.
But although mule deer harvests are trending up, they’re still below the 10-year average, but could return to it this fall with a modest bump in hunter success.
Despite a serious die off of white-tailed deer in portions of the Clearwater and Panhandle Regions, the overall whitetail population remains solid, but with some significant holes in the population as some localized whitetail herds were hit hard by epizootic hemorrhagic disease last year and are unlikely to recover this fall.
How big of an effect that will have on the fall whitetail harvest remains to be seen. While there was a 14 percent drop in harvest between 2020 and 2021, it’s possible that it could bounce back to near the 10-year average in 2022.”
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