Idaho’s mule deer hunting has seen better days, but it is slowly bouncing back from the winter of 2016/2017. There are some great bucks in Idaho, but you are going to have to work a lot harder as there are not many mature bucks available. Most of these limited-entry units can and will produce a good buck. In most of these areas with hunts outside the rut, hunters must have realistic expectations and plan on hunting average bucks, but there is always a chance for a great buck in any unit in Idaho. Hunter success was up for 2021. Hunters took more mule deer than they did in 2020 and 2019.
For the third consecutive year, the winter was relatively mild, and the winter survival is shaping up to be above average. Of collared mule deer fawns, 84% were still alive through the end of February, compared to 83% at the same point the previous year. These numbers are well above long-term averages and bode well for Idaho’s mule deer hunting in the upcoming seasons. There are a lot of young, up and coming bucks on the landscape. If the winters continue to cooperate, there should be a good number of mature bucks in the next two to three years.
Idaho has the genetics to produce big mule deer, but the state is managed more for hunter opportunity than it is top end potential. If you are looking for an opportunity to take a 185" or better buck, you will want to focus on the controlled hunts in the central and western areas of the state. Almost every unit that has a late rifle hunt in November will produce 180"+ class bucks, but you will have to put some time in to turn one up.
Idaho whitetail deer had a couple of disease outbreaks in and around the Clearwater region in the summer of 2021. The whitetail harvest was the lowest it has been in the last 10 years and was 14% lower in 2021 than it was in 2020. Idaho’s highest whitetail densities are found in the Panhandle region. Most of the general seasons in the northern Panhandle close December 1st, allowing hunters the opportunity to hunt during the peak of the rut, which can make for a fun hunt. As you move south in Idaho, the whitetail densities become much lower, although the quality of bucks is still good.
Idaho is a good state to hunt deer, and with so much diverse country, you can always find a place that fits your hunting style. Most of the hunts we have listed have less than 10% draw odds, but with Idaho not having a point system, you have as good of odds as anyone else. Remember, if you were able to purchase an over-the-counter deer tag for the 2022 season, you may exchange your tag for a controlled hunt if you are lucky enough to be drawn. Take a look at the deer tables, and if you have any questions, give us a call. Good luck in the draw!
For all of the specific dates and units, consult the Idaho regulations brochure.
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The Idaho Deer application deadline is June 5, 2022. Successful applicants must purchase their tags by August 1, 2022.
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|Annual Hunting License and Access Fee||$195|
|Junior Mentored Hunting License and Access Fee||$95.75|
|Application Fee per Species||$18|
|Junior Mentored Deer Tag (10-17 years old)||$176.75|