elk

Surprise!

It was the second day of cow season and my dad had already shot his elk so we were trying to get mine. My dad's friend Nick told us to walk this one trail that was really steep. We got about 45 mintutes in when my dad had to use the "outhouse," so I was sitting there waiting when I saw two cows. I didn't say anything to my dad cause I thought it would be funny. I was aiming gettting ready to shoot when I just happened to look over and I saw his huge swaying rack. I repositioned myself and just let it rip. The next thing I know my dad is freaking out and well you can see the picture for the rest. But let me tell you one thing, I had only taken one animal before and that was a deer. This was huge for me. When we got phone service I called everyone on my contact list... Idaho is just the best. No questions asked! - Joshua Hutchinson

Panhandle Check Station Results

Elk Harvest
Frankly, I’m not a big fan of check stations.  They’re spot checks at a single location and there are a lot of factors that influence the data other than the size of the elk herd.  (That’s why I do like the mid-winter flight data, even though it’s a lot more expensive.)

We’ve run two stations pretty regularly since 1974 (a few scattered before that as well).  Hunting seasons have changed a lot, so I truncated the data at 1991 in the graphs below.  That’s the year we moved from a September either sex opener, to a standard October 10th bull opener.  You could probably make a decent argument that the graphs should only go back to 1998, when we started the A/B tag system.

So, in VERY general terms, bull elk success rates are looking decent at both check stations, and hunter participation has been declining through both stations since about 1992:

I gave up on trying to make comparisons for cow harvest.  Sometimes the cow season opened on a Friday, sometimes on a Saturday; sometimes it was 7 days long, sometimes 3, etc.  That analysis will just have to wait for the report card data to come in.

Wolf Harvest
From October 1-24, 2009, hunters took 7 wolves in the Idaho Panhandle.  Hunters have taken 9 wolves during this same period this year.  We also had an earlier opener this year (August 30th) with 6 wolves taken prior to October 1.  If we follow the same pattern of harvest as 2009, we would have a final hunter harvest of about 40 wolves.  In general terms, this would take care of most, if not all of the expected reproductive increase.  Trapping should result in a decrease in the Panhandle’s wolf population.