September 25, 1997

N. Idaho Hunters Get Encouraging Words

Fenton Roskelley And Rich Landers Outdoors Writers

Deep snow last winter prevented deer from moving around and finding food in parts of North Idaho, but overall losses may not have been as severe as wildlife biologists thought they might be.

“Many questions surround the deer population and hunting for this fall,” said Phil Cooper, information officer for the Panhandle region of the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

“Bow hunters have found good numbers of deer in the early going and are seeing surprisingly many fawns and yearlings. But there have been documented winter losses in localized areas.

“The second-highest recorded snowfall last winter undoubtedly killed deer, the extent to which remains unknown. We and the deer were fortunate that the winter was not particularly cold, a situation that demands greater energy for survival.”

Wildlife biologists for both the Panhandle and the Clearwater regions believe that, except for some areas where the snow made it difficult for deer to move, losses of both deer and elk were not excessive. But Jim Hayden, Fish and Game’s Panhandle Region wildlife manager, said deer hunters should generally expect a lower success rate this fall. He gave three reasons:

Some winter kill surely occurred.

The wet spring and cool early summer produced a lot of forage and cover, allowing game to spread rather than become concentrated.

Forecasts that El Nino will cause a dearth of snow could reduce success for hunters who count on late-fall snow to drive deer to lowlands and allow tracking. Deer in the Panhandle apparently had more trouble surviving than those in the Clearwater region. Elk, which are more robust than deer, had problems moving around in the Panhandle, but losses apparently were minimal.

Rod Parker, information officer for Fish and Game’s Clearwater region, said biologists doubt that deer and elk losses in that area exceeded 5 percent.

Game management unit 1, which includes all of Boundary County and part of Bonner County, often leads the state in the deer kill, Cooper said.

“As with all Panhandle units, hunting is predominantly for whitetails,” he said. “This area was hardest hit by deep snow from mid-November through mid-May. Some parts of the unit still have snow. If hunters experience a noticeable drop in deer numbers in the Panhandle, it will be in Unit 1.”

Units 7 and 9, which are at the head of the St. Joe drainage, were the next hardest hit by snow, Cooper said. However, the units are not heavily used by deer in the winter.

Most of the deer north and east of Lewiston are whitetails. Mule deer reign south of the city.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story:

N. Idaho deer season

General deer: Nov. 1-Dec. 1. (Oct. 10-Nov. 3 in units 4, 7, 10.)

This sidebar appeared with the story: N. Idaho deer season General deer: Nov. 1-Dec. 1. (Oct. 10-Nov. 3 in units 4, 7, 10.)

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