The Idaho Fish and Game Commission ended the use of extra deer tags in Unit 10A and also shortened the whitetail season there, following activism started by hunters from Orofino.
Based on the changes adopted by the commission at its meeting in Boise Thursday, the deer season in Unit 10A will now end on Nov. 20 instead of Dec. 1, and hunters will no longer be able to use extra non-resident deer tags in the unit. They will still be able to use their first tags there and then use the second tags in another unit.
Members of the newly formed Northern Idaho Whitetails Forever asked for the changes after saying they believe the unit, as well as others in north central Idaho, have too few mature whitetail bucks. The members said both the quality of deer in the region, as well as the number of deer, has declined over the past several years. They blamed the length of the season that runs through late November, when the whitetail mating season is at its peak and mature bucks are more vulnerable to hunting. They also said too many hunters flock to the region after other deer seasons have closed. In addition, they said the ability of hunters to use second deer tags there puts additional pressure on the herd.
The group held a series of meetings in Orofino earlier this year and quickly grew in strength. Bill Samuels, the group’s secretary, said six people did most of the lobbying work, but they heard positive feedback on their proposals from more than 4,000 hunters.
Group president Dirk Durham said the changes are a victory for hunters in the Clearwater Region and will serve as a good test case for the group’s goal of expanding the changes to other hunting units like 8 and 8A. Idaho Fish and Game wildlife managers are in the process of updating their Whitetail Management Plan and the group hopes in that process the department will shorten seasons elsewhere and further restrict the use of second deer tags.
“This will be kind of a litmus test to see how it goes and how it performs, and with their new Whitetail Management Plan in 2019 this will maybe help give them some good feedback going forward,” Durham said.
“We feel it’s a step to where now we can get a broader look at the seasons and have a better feel of how to mange the deer and build back up on our populations,” Samuels said.
The group initially had a rocky relationship with the department, but members now say they are working well with the agency.
“They are trying to work with us,” Samuels said. “They heard us on these issues, so OK, let’s sit down and discus some more.”
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