IDAHO

Deer Forecast 2004 -- WEST

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Whitetails are in good shape in Idaho, and a good season is expected this year. According to Brad Compton, big-game manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, mule deer suffered losses in the eastern units but are increasing slowly in the south-central region. On a bright note, mule deer in the west-central region from Boise to Twin Falls are at some of their highest population levels in years. Many trophy hunters look to southeastern Idaho for big bucks, but deer are still recovering from the severe 2001-02 winter. Compton says that a wet spring this year will contribute to a better recovery. Some of the top mule-deer trophy units offer tags in a lottery, namely unit 11 near Lewiston and unit 45 near Twin Falls. Hunters who draw have a chance at a superb buck.

Whitetail hunters who try for deer in the thick forests of the Panhandle may take the buck of their dreams. Units 1 and 4 produce monsters, but this is a tough hunt. Look for the big boys north of Coeur d'Alene and around Priest and Pend Oreille lakes.

Hunters should be aware of new regulations: All vehicle travel on public land (state, BLM and Forest Service) must now be confined to existing roads. No off-road travel is allowed. Nonresident tags are issued either on a first-come, first-served basis or through a limited-entry draw, depending on the unit or region.