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IDAHO’S OVER-THE-COUNTER MULE DEER OPPORTUNITIES S TA F F A R T I C L E ROBERT HANNEMAN PROFESSIONAL HUNT ADVISOR I daho has some of the most diverse landscape of any state in the U.S. The northern Panhandle country is steep, rugged, and thickly-timbered. As you move south, you will find some of the most remote, rugged wilderness areas in the states. Further south, you move through some great high- country habitat, and finally, you reach the desert country on the southern border. All of this country holds mule deer and has produced trophy bucks in the past. Idaho mule deer have great genetics, and a quick look through the Boone and Crockett book will show you some truly amazing deer. Another thing that draws mule deer hunters to Idaho is the abundance of public land that is available to hunt. For this article, I am going to cover over- the-counter mule deer opportunities. Idaho sells a ton of non-resident deer tags, and they usually never sell out. However, they did sell out last fall. In the past, Idaho was never even close to selling all of their non-resident tags. To increase revenue, Idaho decided a number of years ago to allow non- residents and residents to purchase a second tag at the non-resident price. Along with the deer hunting improving over the years, this is the reason Idaho finally sold out in 2016. For 2017, a non- resident deer tag will cost $301.75, and starting August 1 st , you can purchase a second deer tag for $301.75. You will also need to purchase a hunting license for $154.75 plus pay a new $10 access/ depredation fee. 8 Most hunters pick up a general deer tag to hunt the rifle season. The majority of the rifle units open on October 10 th . The exception is the backcountry units of 16A, 17, 19, 20, 20A, 26, and 27 which open on September 15 th . Most of the units outside of the Panhandle and the backcountry units end in October on the 24 th or 31 st . The Panhandle and most backcountry units will end in November. I would not hunt the Panhandle area for mule deer unless you have some knowledge on where to go. For the most part, the Panhandle is a better whitetail hunt than mule deer hunt. See pages 9-12 of the Idaho Big Game 2017 & 2018 Season and Rules book for a full list of general deer season dates. The archery season is the sleeper hunt for mule deer in Idaho. There are not many guys who are targeting mule deer in September as most are chasing elk. I really believe the archery season is your best chance to kill a good buck. The early archery season runs August 30-September 30. One thing most hunters don’t realize is that Idaho offers a handful of late archery mule deer hunts. The Panhandle units, 1, 3, 4, 4A, 5, 6, 7, and 9, have a late season of December 10-24. Unit 28 has a December 1-31 season, unit 39 has a November 10-30 season, and unit 55 has a November 16-December 10 season. Of all the late season hunts, unit 55 is hands down the best. The late hunt on 55 is the only general hunt that takes place on the unit. Another late hunt that can be really good is unit 39. If it gets some weather in November, this a fun rut hunt. What I love about hunting deer on a general deer tag is that I can start out archery hunting in September and then if I don’t harvest I can roll right into the October rifle season. If I don’t find a buck I like, I will head to unit 55 on the late archery hunt. I think Idaho is the best state for a mule deer hunter to go to if they find themselves without a tag after all the draws come out. Every year, you will find more than half of the guys I work with hunting Idaho deer. Another plus to hunting general deer in Idaho is that if you are hunting and you see a wolf, black bear, or mountain lion and its season is HUNTIN’ FOOL MEMBERS’ LOADED RAFT ON AN IDAHO FLOAT HUNT