Below is a news release from the Idaho Department of Game and Fish.
Despite deer and elk harvest numbers dropping across the board, numbers have shown to be relatively on track with historic 10-year averages for mule deer and elk. White-tailed deer, however, didn’t fare as well in 2021. As anticipated, the number of white-tailed deer dropped significantly, a decline attributed to a late-summer disease outbreak.
Overall, big game harvests tend to bounce up and down slightly from year to year with many factors affecting it, including weather the prior winter and during hunting season, number of hunters, number of tags available (particularly antlerless tags), season changes, and other things.
For example, 2021 was the first year Fish and Game limited nonresident tags in all elk zones and deer units. In the past, certain elk zones were capped to nonresidents, and some were left open, and nonresident deer hunters could hunt statewide.
Harvest highs & lows
For the eighth year in a row, Idaho elk harvests came in at over 20,000. Elk hunters took home 20,396 total elk in 2021, roughly a 10 percent decrease in animals harvested compared to 2020. But if it seemed like there was less blaze orange and boot tracks in the mountains this year (depending on who you ask), then your gut feeling was right. Just over 89,000 elk hunters— a 9.8 percentage drop from 2020 — took to the mountains in 2021 in search of elk, with 22.9 percent of those individuals successfully harvesting an elk. The last four years have averaged 22.8 percent success rates by comparison.
Idaho mule deer hunters had the biggest year of anyone. A total of 79,825 mule deer hunters got after it in 2021, with 26,086 of those successfully packing out a mule deer. That 36 percent success rate was the third highest in the last 11 years, and is even more impressive when you consider that there were 9.9 percent fewer mule deer hunters in 2021 than 2020.
The good news stops there, though. When it comes to deer harvest, perhaps the biggest change in hunter harvest numbers is in the white-tailed deer department. White-tailed deer populations in and around the Clearwater region were hit hard with an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease late in the summer. It’s difficult to determine how much of a role EHD had in the almost 14 percent decline in whitetail harvest counts, but as Fish and Game wildlife managers speculated before the season kicked off, the amount of white-tailed deer lost to EHD was significant.
Still, an estimated 54,223 white-tailed deer hunters harvested 21,418 whitetails in 2021. Although roughly 15 percent below the 10-year average mark for whitetails harvested, the overall success rate has stayed on track.
Elk by the numbers
- Total elk harvest in 2021: 20,396
- 2020 harvest total: 22,776
- Overall hunter success rate: 22.9 percent
- Antlered: 11,142
- Antlerless: 9,253
- Taken during general hunts: 12,778 (17.6 percent success rate)
- Taken during controlled hunts: 7,619 (41.5 percent success rate)
How it stacks up
Upon first glance it may appear that last year’s slight decline in overall elk harvest stats is attributed to the capping of nonresidents elk tags across the state. But take another look: There were 13.7 percent fewer nonresidents hunting elk last year than 2020, but overall those fewer 2021 nonresident hunters were still 26.5 percent successful at taking an elk back to their home state last year than they were in 2020.
Although slightly fewer hunters took home slightly fewer elk, 2021 still shows to be in line with the 10-year average (20,804). Antlered elk dropped only slightly, from 11,897 in 2020 to 11,142 last year. Antlerless elk saw a slightly bigger drop (roughly 14.9 percent) in harvest numbers, from 2020 to 2021.
Overall, the numbers for Idaho elk are looking steady — and impressive. Last year marked the eighth year in a row where elk harvest numbers eclipsed the 20,000 mark, leaving many wondering if the numbers will surpass the historic nine-year period of 20,000-plus elk harvested that began in 1988 and ran into the mid-1990’s. We shall find out in 2022.
Mule deer by the numbers
- Total mule deer in 2021: 26,086
- 2020 harvest total: 24,809
- Overall hunter success rate: 36 percent
- Antlered: 21,801
- Antlerless: 4,284
- Taken during general hunts: 19,865 (28.5 percent success rate)
- Taken during controlled hunts: 6,219 (49.8 percent success rate)
How it stacks up
Hunters harvested 1,277 more mule deer in 2021 than in 2020, an increase of 5.1 percent; however, mule deer harvest numbers across the state were still about 8 percent lower than the 10-year average (28,463).
As anticipated by Fish and Game wildlife staff prior to the 2021 season, the statewide harvest benefited from what was an overall mild winter 2020-21. Winter fawn survival between 2020 and 2021 was roughly the same as it was the year prior.
The big story here is the amount of hunters versus the amount of mule deer harvested in 2021. A total of 79,825 hunters set out for mule deer during the 2021 season — a 9.9 percent decrease from 2020. Roughly 36 percent of those hunters went home with a mule deer, which is significantly higher than years past.
White-tailed deer by the numbers:
- White-tailed deer by the numbers
- Total white-tailed deer in 2021: 21,418
- 2020 harvest total: 24,849
- Overall hunter success rate: 39.5 percent
- Antlered: 14,053
- Antlerless: 7,365
- Taken during general hunts: 19,449 (38.9 percent success rate)
- Taken during controlled hunts: 1,969 (45.8 percent success rate)
How it stacks up
A disease can barrel through a deer population like a freight train in a tumbleweed patch, and that’s just what happened to much of the white-tailed deer population around the Clearwater region in summer 2021.
An estimated 54,223 hunters harvested a total of 21,418 white-tailed deer last year — a 13.8 percent drop from 2020. It’s difficult to say just how many deer succumbed to the late-summer EHD outbreak, but last year’s hunter harvest numbers indicate a sharp decline in overall harvest numbers for whitetails.
A combined 39.5 percent of hunters notched their white-tailed deer tags in 2021. Although down slightly from 2020 (44 percent success rate), the percentage of successful hunters is still in line with most years in the last 10 years. To look at it another way, last year’s harvest of whitetails is roughly the same as that of 2019 (just a 0.5 percent difference in deer harvested).
Like elk and mule deer, white-tailed deer have still shown impressive numbers above the 20,000 mark (as shown in the chart above), still averaging 25,182 harvested in the past 10 years. And a lot of those bucks aren’t small, either.
Antlered white-tailed deer outnumbered antlerless by nearly double in 2021. Of those 14,053 antlered deer harvested, an estimated 2,717 came in at five points or higher. Needless to say, Idaho grows some pretty massive whitetail bucks.
Overall, Idaho’s white-tailed deer population outside the Clearwater region is looking good, but that could change if EHD resurfaces again this summer.
Fish and Game wildlife staff will continue to monitor the EHD and CWD situation among deer and elk populations during the summer and fall, as well as evaluate fawn survival rates upon the conclusion of this winter.
Remember that March and April play a much bigger role in determining a deer’s fate than December and January. So as we emerge out of winter and into spring, be mindful of wintering wildlife. Just because you see them bedded down on the snowy hillside this time of year doesn’t mean they’ll be alive and well come opening day.
(Photo credit: Idaho Department of Game and Fish)
What is the best deer unit in Idaho? ›
With generous over-the-counter tags and any-weapon harvest seasons, and given its proximity to Idaho's most populated area, Unit 39 is the state's most popular and productive unit for mule deer hunters. Hunters harvested an estimated 3,574 mule deer in the unit in 2021— the most of any unit in the state.What is the best elk unit in Idaho? ›
|Unit||Score||2021 Predicted Success|
Idaho provides non-resident hunters plenty of elk hunting opportunities across the state. In most of the state, the elk herd is doing well and is currently estimated to be around 120,000 animals statewide. The total 2021 elk harvest was below the 10-year average and 10% under the 2020 harvest.What percentage of elk hunters are successful? ›
When you take a look at average success rates for elk hunters, you'll find around 15% of elk hunters are successful each fall. However, when you neglect draw hunts and look only at OTC, public land, DIY elk hunts, the success rates drop to around 10%.What is the hardest deer hunting? ›
A mature high-country mule deer buck is one of bowhunting's most formidable challenges. Some would say that a mature mule deer buck is the most difficult critter to take with a bow and arrow.What state has the highest success rate for deer hunting? ›
One of the regions with the highest success rates in the country is the Midwest. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin record some of the highest antlered buck harvest rates in the country, with Pennsylvania topping the charts in 2021 with estimates of 145,320 harvested bucks.Where are the biggest bull elk in Idaho? ›
Broadmouth Canyon Ranch | World Records – Broadmouth Canyon Ranch. In 2022 Brian Bailey harvested the largest Rocky Mountain Bull Elk ever recorded. The bull scored an unbelievable 689 3/8 inches. Brian harvested the bull with a handgun on our Idaho property in the Blackfoot Mountains.What is the perfect elk gun? ›
The . 300 Winchester Magnum has won countless long-range target matches and is considered by many expert hunters to be the premier long-range elk round. With an excellent blend of power, manageable recoil, and flat trajectory, the . 300 is a cartridge that you can't go wrong choosing.What state has the highest success rate for elk hunting? ›
Colorado: Best Opportunities for Elk Hunting
This state stands out because the ample elk population means there are literally thousands of opportunities for residents and non-resident hunters to tag an elk each year; whereas most other states only allow hundreds of harvests per season.
Just over 89,000 elk hunters— a 9.8 percentage drop from 2020 — took to the mountains in 2021 in search of elk, with 22.9 percent of those individuals successfully harvesting an elk.
What is the cheapest state to elk hunt? ›
Idaho has historically been one of the lower-priced states for a NR to hunt elk in, and for the remainder of 2020, it is still just $586 for an archery elk license/tag.Where is the biggest herd of elk? ›
Today, Colorado has the largest herd in the United States, about 300,000 animals. Elk in Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming number between 100,000 and 150,000. New Mexico, Utah and Washington have 50,000 to 80,000 elk, and Arizona, Nevada, California and Kentucky have 10,000 to 25,000 elk.What state is the easiest to get an elk tag? ›
Though elk can be found in many different states and in many different types of terrain, there are a few states that offer easier access and more animals to pursue. The easiest state to hunt elk in is Colorado.What is the biggest threat to Elks? ›
A Look at the Issues Facing Western Wildlife Today
One of them is urban sprawl. In many places across the west, housing developments continue to push up into elk country and onto the foothills that were once important wildlife habitat. “That's all important habitat for elk and other wildlife,” Mark told us.
“The . 30-30 rifle has arguably killed more whitetail deer than any other single cartridge … with the round's popularity still quite high, it's doubtful it will be unseated any time soon.”What deer taste the best? ›
Start at a Tender Age
The best-tasting, most tender deer on your hunting property is probably this year's fawn.
Given the advantages of seeing lots of animals and the vast public lands they occupy, pronghorn are perfect quarry for newcomers to hunting, or simply those who want a fascinating hunting experience.What state has the biggest bucks? ›
Even though Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, and Kentucky get tons of press for their huge whitetails, the record books don't lie. Wisconsin leads the pack for Boone & Crockett entries. Pritzl recognized the areas that routinely produce the biggest Badger State bucks.What state has most deer per square mile? ›
- Mississippi: 38 deer per square mile.
- Pennsylvania: 34 deer per square mile.
- Wisconsin: 33 deer per square mile.
- Michigan: 31 deer per square mile.
- Indiana: 28 deer per square mile.
- Alabama: 25 deer per square mile.
- South Carolina: 24 deer per square mile.
- Kentucky: 23 deer per square mile.
In the wild, a healthy deer herd would number fewer than 35 deer per square mile of habitat.
How big is a 300 bull elk? ›
300” Bull: G1= 14”, G2= 14”, G3=10”, G4= 16”, G5= 8. Note that a 300” bull will more likely have 45” main beams about 54” inches of total mass and a 35” spread. These totals amount to 303”.What is the biggest white tail in Idaho? ›
The largest whitetail deer ever caught in Idaho was a whopping 186 7/8 inches.How much is a hunt for 350 bull elk? ›
Area 1 - $13,000.00 (approximate size 420-450) $10,900.00 (approximate size 390-420) Area 2- $7,900.00 (approximate size 350-390)Is 270 win better than 308 for elk? ›
308 Winchester is probably the better choice in this case since it uses larger diameter and heavier bullets that are well suited for very large or tough animals. Regardless of which cartridge you choose, use a controlled expansion projectile and a heavier bullet weight for your elk or moose hunt.What caliber do most hunters use? ›
Most hunters prefer using a 30-06 or other long-range rifles. This is because the bullet travels at a much higher speed and velocity despite the bullet's diameter and weight.What magnification is best for elk hunting? ›
Elk are wary animals and it is imperative to spot them from a distance to prevent spooking them. Larger magnification and objective lenses allow plenty of light and detail to be seen from a greater distance. 10x42, 12x50 or for long range hunts the 15x56 are perfect options.What is the elk capital of the world? ›
Craig Colorado is well known as “The Elk Hunting Capital of the World.” With a herd of elk numbering over 25,000, it's hard to argue with that. Our ranch, which is located 15 miles north of Craig and runs west to just north of the town of Maybell, is located in one of the largest elk migration corridors in the world.Where is the easiest place to hunt elk? ›
Colorado. Many hunters deem Colorado the best place to hunt elk because of its numbers. Colorado has the largest elk herd in the country, with over 280,000 animals. This state also boasts over-the-counter opportunities, increasing Colorado's popularity tremendously.Is it better to hunt elk in the morning or evening? ›
Time of Day: Elk, like many animals, are most active during the morning and evening hours. Middle of the day hunts may be effective during the rut, but if you are looking for the most activity, shoot for early morning and dusk.Where is the highest deer density in Idaho? ›
Mule deer are Idaho's most abundant and widely distributed big game animal. They provide more recreational opportunity than any other big game species. Mule deer densities are highest in Idaho south of the Salmon River.
How many acres do you need per elk? ›
He tells me in a phone interview that three elk can be raised on one acre. “Elk are one of the most versatile alternative agriculture livestock animals out there,” Lowe says.What state has biggest elk? ›
Colorado is home to the largest elk population in the world.What state has the most wildlife to hunt? ›
1. Alaska. If you're already a hunter, this choice needs no explanation. It's the Jurassic Park of big game hunting.What is a large group of elk called? ›
According to a list of animal congregations offered by the US Geological Survey, the term for a plural grouping for elk is none other than a gang.What breed of elk is the biggest? ›
The Roosevelt Elk, named for Theodore Roosevelt, is the largest of the four remaining North American elk subspecies. Males (bulls) average 875 pounds, but bulls weighing nearly 1300 pounds have been found in Alaska. Females (cows) average 700 pounds.What is the biggest elk ever harvested? ›
With official data dating back to 1830, at 499-3/8 inches it is the only elk on record with a gross score approaching the 500-inch mark.” The bull was killed in September 2008 after a 13-day hunt by Denny Austad of Ammon, Idaho, and is affectionately referred to as the “Spider Bull” for it's unique rack.Where does Joe Rogan elk hunt? ›
Under Armour Ridge Reaper film: Cameron Hanes and Joe Rogan experience the elk rut like never before on an archery hunt in the mountains of Utah.What state is best for first elk hunt? ›
Colorado is often at the top of the list for beginner elk hunters. The state has more elk than any other, with more than 280,000 animals. Colorado sells either sex and cow-only archery tags over the counter. For rifle hunters, bull tags can be purchased over the counter for the state's second and third rifle seasons.What state has the longest elk season? ›
Montana's Deer and Elk Hunting Season
Montana has the longest general hunting season for deer and elk in the lower 48 states. That's five weeks and six full weekends of rifle hunting to put venison in the freezer, and maybe even score a big set of antlers.
Lions and leopards and other big cats like tigers, are some of the most challenging and dangerous animals to hunt. Both lions and leopards have exceptional night vision, shrewd intelligence, fearlessness, speed and agility. A lion can cover 100 yards in 3 to 4 seconds.
What is the #1 predator in the world? ›
There are some “apex” predators that are found throughout much of the world, including grey wolves, blue whales, killer whales and great white sharks. In my mind, however, humans are clearly the overall apex predator of the world. We've even been called the super-predator!Which animal is most likely the main predator on the elk? ›
Summary: Wolves are charismatic, conspicuous, and easy to single out as the top predator affecting populations of elk, deer, and other prey animals.What are elk scared of? ›
A new study has shown that elk become more fearful when people are around because they perceive humans as predators. The scientists published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE. The researchers studied elk (Cervus canadensis) in Alberta, Canada.What are Elks main predators? ›
Coyotes, bobcats, and black bears may kill young, sick, or injured elk, but adult elk are generally safe from predators in the park. Gray wolves and mountain lions, both of which have been extirpated from the Great Smoky Mountains, are successful predators of elk elsewhere.Where are the most deer in Idaho? ›
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.Are Idaho deer tags unit specific? ›
Idaho nonresident deer tags are on a unit basis and elk are zones of units.What is the best deer management? ›
Increase the quality of food sources. Provide additional water sources (if needed) Create more (and better) bedding cover. Make good harvest decisions.Where is the best place to hunt bucks? ›
- 9 | Standing Crop Fields. ...
- 10 | CRP and CREP Fields. ...
- 11 | Cutover Timber. ...
- 12 | Suburban Areas. ...
- 13 | Near Old Farm Buildings and Machinery. ...
- 14 | Ditch and Drainage Systems. ...
- 15 | River and Creek Oxbow Islands. ...
- 16 | Bonus Beds: Any Edge Habitat.
The northern Panhandle and Clearwater regions hold the greatest number of whitetails, but most areas north of the Salmon River have solid numbers.
Where do deer spend most of their time? ›
The quick answer is, “anywhere they want.” Deer sleep anywhere they bed and may do so singly or in groups. However, during daylight it's far more common for deer to sleep in heavy cover where they feel secure.What is the smallest caliber you can hunt deer with in Idaho? ›
For deer, antelope, wolf, and mountain lion, you must use a minimum of . 45 caliber.Can you shoot a whitetail with regular deer tag in Idaho? ›
The regular deer tag is valid for any hunt listed under “2022 Regular Deer Tag Seasons” on pages 11- 15 and may be used to take a mule deer or white-tailed deer during those seasons.What is the minimum caliber for deer in Idaho? ›
45 caliber for deer, pronghorn, mountain lion or gray wolf; or is less than . 50 caliber for elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat or black bear. Any person hunting in a muzzleloader only season, including controlled hunts, must have in their possession a license with a muzzleloader permit validation.What is the number 1 deer attractant? ›
By far the most popular and widely used bait for attracting whitetails is corn. Not only is deer corn highly consumed and well received by whitetails in almost every habitat across the continent, but it's also one of the cheapest options for hunters.How many deer should be on 100 acres? ›
What is the best deer density for my property? There are a lot of variables that determine the optimal deer density for a property, but 20-30 acres per deer is a relatively safe goal to start out with.Is it worth deer hunting all day? ›
But when you've waited all year to spend time in the field, deer hunting all day is the best way to maximize your chances of bagging a buck, especially the biggest ones out there that seem to morph into ghosts when you most hope to see them.