Deer hunting got off to a slow start in Idaho region this year, hunters say, but picked up later

Story by Andrew Weeks
The Times-News
November 11, 2011
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- Jordan Beard stood in his game room -- detached from the rest of his Twin Falls home -- talking about how he bagged the animals mounted on the walls and shelves.

A stately caribou from Alaska, a mountain lion from Utah, a couple of mule deer from Idaho. He took one of the deer heads off the wall, a four-point buck he harvested last year in the South Hills. He recently got back the finished mount from Intermountain Taxidermy and Worldwide Adventures in Twin Falls.

This is a man crazy about hunting. But he didn’t go at all this year.

Sure, Beard was busy. But the late start to 2011’s fall weather was a discouragement -- and not just for Beard.

Deer seasons were off to a slow start this year, according to Idaho Department of Fish and Game and area hunters. And weather was a big factor.

A long winter caused deer in some places, such as the Bennett Hills, to linger on winter range longer than they usually do, which caused some fawn and doe mortality, said Regan Berkley, a regional biologist with Fish and Game. And a warmer fall kept the animals in the mountains longer, where they could better hide from hunters.

“There are a couple of units I’ve heard great things out of,” Berkley said. “And a couple that have been a little slow at times.”

It wasn’t until the last week in October that business picked up for Jeff Frost, owner of Intermountain Taxidermy.

“The weather was just so dang hot,” Frost said. “When it’s like that the deer don’t have much of an excuse to move around a lot. They stay up high, they stay more nocturnal.”

Twin Falls resident Dan Hadley went hunting with a group of friends to units 53 and 46 in late October and early November. Three of the five members harvested a deer, he said. The group didn’t see as many bucks as they usually do in those areas.

“We saw a lot of doe,” Hadley said, noting that most of the hunters he knows complained about the late start of ideal hunting weather.

The South Hills is one area where there have been reports of hunter success, Berkley said. “We’ve had really good reports from that area throughout the season. Again, we had a little bit of a slow opener but it picked up nicely.”

What’s the outlook for deer hunting next year?

“I’m going to hold off on that until we see what winter does,” Berkley said.

Andrew Weeks

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