North Idaho hunters don’t want whitetail deer to be managed for trophy bucks, they are satisfied with existing hunting opportunities and want to be able to hunt whitetails throughout November including during the rut, according to a survey conducted by Idaho Fish and Game.
The last time the department conducted a deer survey was 15 years ago, so the latest survey, returned this autumn from a pool of 8,000 deer hunters statewide, was long overdue.
Idaho’s population is one of the fastest growing in the U.S., chalking up a 2.2 percent increase to 1.7 million last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Despite the growth, hunter’s attitudes have not changed a lot.
Most of the hunters who mailed in surveys said they usually harvest does (44 percent) and medium size bucks (35 percent).
Only a small portion — nine percent of the hunters surveyed — said they harvested a large buck in 2017.
Eighteen percent of hunters said they did not hunt whitetail deer last year, and 39 percent said they killed a deer, while 43 percent of hunters hunted without success.
The majority of hunters hunt the same unit year after year, according to the survey.
Most hunters who mailed in surveys were satisfied (71 percent) with their chances to kill whitetail bucks while 20 were not satisfied, and 76 percent said they wanted to continue to be allowed to hunt bucks every year.
The majority of hunters (56 percent) said they wanted to be able to hunt whitetails and mule deer at the same time.
Although hunters wanted to be able to hunt deer and elk at the same time — the way it is now depending on the type of tag — the same hunters said November was an important deer hunting month in their calendars.
Seventy-seven percent of hunters surveyed said late November hunts, during the whitetail rut, were important, and about the same percentage said November hunts are vital.
The number of hunting days allowed — which averages about 50 days in most northern units — was OK with 70 percent of hunters.
Sixty percent of hunters wanted IDFG to spend more resources developing access to private land, because, according to the survey, “whitetail deer are often tied to private agricultural land and cause depredations.” According to IDFG the department in 2017 opened 371,707 acres of private land to hunters and anglers, and provided access to 549,635 acres of public land through its Access Yes! Program.
Hunting pressure especially from non-residents was a concern noted by hunters and IDFG.
“Issues that dissatisfied hunters include … hunter congestion to include non-resident hunter numbers,” according to the survey. “The issue of hunter congestion will need further review.”