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Idaho's Salmon Region Big Game Forecast

October 2, 2009.

From Idaho Fish and Game:

Hunting seasons are coming up fast, and deer and elk in the Salmon Region should be in good condition as hunters head out this fall.

A long spring and wetter than normal summer provided ample moisture for grasses and shrubs. Plants are still green at higher elevations, which means deer and elk will be able to find forage without having to move around a lot.

Regular deer tag, general, any-weapon season opens October 10 in most units. General B tag, any-weapon elk season for most zones opens October 15. Check rules brochure for specific areas before heading out.

Mule deer fawns fared better in the Central Mountain area (Units 21A, 30, 30A, 29, 37, 37A) this past winter and spring with 55 percent survival compared to the Mountain Valley area (Units 21, 28, 36B, 36A), which had 37 percent survival. In the Central Mountain area, hunters should see a fair number of spikes, which usually make up the majority of the harvest.

In Unit 21, elk numbers were up during the 2008 survey, but the bull ratio of 13 bulls per 100 cows was still below objectives. The success rate has been 13 percent (2006 - 2008) for the general season with 21 percent of the harvest comprised of six-point or larger bulls. Success rate for the general season mule deer hunt has been 34 percent with 35 percent of the harvest 4-point or larger.

In Unit 21A, the elk population is within objectives with a winter bull ratio of 19. The success rate has been 25 percent with 13 percent of the harvest being six-point or larger bulls. Success rate for mule deer has been 37 percent with 44 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger.

In Unit 28, the cow elk population had dropped to within objectives levels by the 2008 survey, but the bull ratio of 13 fell below objective. The success rate for the general elk season has been 19 percent with 33 percent of the harvest being six- point or larger bulls. Success rate for mule deer has been 35 percent with 30 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger.

In Unit 36B, the elk population is below objectives with a low bull ratio of 9 bulls per 100 cows. Success rates have been dropping over the last several years. The success rate has been 16 percent with 14 percent of the harvest being six-point or larger bulls. For mule deer, the success rate has been 37 percent with 44 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger.

Units 30 and 30A have an increasing elk population based on this year's survey. Both bull and cow populations in these controlled hunt units are over objective levels with a bull ratio of 35. For mule deer in Unit 30, the success rate has been 40 percent with 29 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger. Unit 30A is a controlled hunt for mule deer.

Units 29 and 37A have an elk population over objectives, but declining six-points in the controlled hunt harvest. For mule deer, Unit 29 has seen a success rate of 35 percent with 31 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger. In Unit 37A, the success rate has been high at 43 percent with 36 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger.

In Unit 37, the elk population was increasing based on the 2007 survey. The bull ratio in this controlled hunt unit is about 34 bulls per 100 cows. For mule deer, the success rate has been 42 percent with 39 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger.

Unit 36A has an elk population that is declining but currently within the objective range. The bull ratio in this controlled hunt unit is 31. For mule deer, the success rate has been 32 percent with 44 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger.

In the Sawtooth Zone, which includes Unit 36, the elk population is declining and below objective levels with bull ratios around nine bulls per 100 cows. The success rate has been 8 percent in Unit 36 with 28 percent of the harvest being six-point or larger bulls. For mule deer, the success rate has been 16 percent with 37 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger.

In the Middle Fork, Unit 27, elk populations have been declining and are likely below objective for bulls. Despite this, success rates have been 23 percent with 33 percent of the harvest being six-point or larger bulls. Mule deer does experienced good survival last winter and spring, which means adult bucks likely also survived well. The buck harvest success rate has been 24 percent with 54 percent of the harvest at four-point or larger.

Wolf season opens October 1 for many Salmon Region units. Hunters should consult the rules brochure before going out, and good hunting.

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