First of all, a lot could be said about Idaho’s whitetail hunting. When we think of whitetail hunting, usually our minds turn to the Midwest or back east somewhere. And that’s just fine by me because Idaho holds some respectable bucks, and in good numbers too. Most of North Idaho is whitetail country, while Southern Idaho holds them in river drainages here and there. And while whitetails are a pleasure to hunt, the cost of doing so is bittersweet. Whitetails are hardier than mule deer, and more aggressive in the sense that as their populations expand, they push the mule deer out. Idaho’s prized possession has been its mule deer, and the fact of the matter is that as whitetails expand, mule deer populations will likely shrink.
If both mule deer and whitetails are fighting over the same wintering grounds, the whitetails will win out. That’s just how they roll. This very problem is being experienced in both Montana and Idaho, and, well, what can we do about it? Shoot a whitetail, I guess. In Idaho there is the general season Regular Deer tag and the Whitetail-Only Deer Tag. You get to choose one or the other. In North Idaho the whitetail-only tag provides for a very generous long season, including the opportunity to hunt during the rut – late November. There’s a few areas in Southern Idaho that offer that opportunity as well. The game regs spell out the exact dates for each unit.
As for the regular deer tag, you can hunt mule deer with it, and there are some dates in certain units in North Idaho where you can go after whitetails. But the purpose of this article is to look at all of the mule deer hunting opportunities in each unit with the regular deer tag.
Unit 1 – You can hunt mule deer here from November 1 – December 1. This late hunt gives you the opportunity to hunt mule deer in the rut. Probably. Maybe. There’s arguments over exactly when the mule deer go into the rut. But it’s definitely quite possible that they will be rutting in this time period, and poor weather will help out. Whether the rut is on or not, it’s not going to be easy to find mule deer in Unit 1. Out of all of the deer harvested in Unit 1 in 2011, about 5% were mule deer. The brushy, thick, timbered country isn’t the best mule deer habitat. Large clear cuts made 40 years ago, and fires 80 – 100 years ago created some nice habitat for the mulies, but all of that is going by the wayside. Most likely, you’re going to find whitetails at lower elevations here. If you really want to go for mule deer in Unit 1, you’re going to have to walk the scenic routes high into the mountains, away from civilization. Get up high where there might be some remote clear cuts. Antlered mule deer only.
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