Idaho elk and deer hunters had a good season in 2020, according to recently released Idaho Department of Fish and Game information.
Elk hunters bagged more than 22,000 of the animals – for a success rate of 23% – while whitetail and mule deer hunters chugged along at 44% and 28% success rates, respectively.
“White-tailed deer harvest was also historic by topping the mule deer harvest – something that has happened just a few times in Idaho’s history,” according to an IDFG press release.
The 2020 Idaho elk and deer harvests were up about 10% and 11% from 2019.
After hunter numbers dipped between 2018 and 2019, hunter numbers also bounced back by about 4% for deer hunters and nearly 6% for elk hunters, according to the news release.
Total elk harvest was up about 12% from the 10-year average.
Whitetail harvest was about even with its 10-year average and mule deer harvest was down about 11 percent.
Success rates in 2020 were steady for mule deer and elk hunters compared with 2019. The success rate for whitetail hunters jumped more than 5% from 38% to 43.5%.
Of particular note, the 2020 elk harvest was the sixth highest of all time and the second highest in the past decade, according to IDFG’s deer and elk program coordinator Rick Ward.
The 2020 elk season marked the seventh consecutive year that Idaho hunters harvested more than 20,000 animals. The current stretch of stellar elk harvests is inching closer to claiming the title of “best of all time,” Ward said in a news release.
Dating to 1935, only one nine-year period ranks higher, which started in 1988 – the first year that Idaho hunters had harvested more than 20,000 elk – and ran through the mid-1990s.
“A major contributing factor was that we saw hunter success increase for antlerless elk in southern Idaho, where elk numbers are above population objectives,” Ward said in a news release.
“This is in line with our management goals for those areas. We actually increased antlerless opportunity in a number of hunts in southern Idaho in 2019, but it appears that it took elk hunters in those areas a year to get their bearings, which is where we see these increased success rates for cows in 2020.”
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife does not have harvest data yet.
Correction: An earlier version of this article had an incorrect headline. It has been updated.
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