A group of local outdoorsmen wants change when it comes to deer seasons in the St. Maries area.
Petitions at local businesses have garnered hundreds of signatures in support of a letter that will be submitted to the Idaho Fish and Game in the coming weeks encouraging the change of the start dates for units five and six deer seasons, from October 10 to November 1.
The change would move deer season from the same day most rifle elk seasons open in the panhandle to later, closer to the whitetail and mule deer breeding seasons.
The letter, dated March 23, says in part that the concerned sportsmen and women of the St. Maries area would like to see the general any weapon season opener return to November 1.
The group acknowledges that hunting pressure, greater access and less habitat have also played a part in the lack of mature whitetail bucks harvested, but that shortening the season would be a step in the right direction.
Resident Neil Smith, spokesperson for the group, says in the letter that the number of mature whitetail bucks being seen while in the field is not “anywhere near the number of mature bucks as compared to eight years ago and before.”
A search through local archives corroborates the group’s petition.
Photographic and written records show upwards of 20 deer being harvested in a given season that would each have won last year’s contest at either of St. Maries’ sporting goods stores.
In 1992, for example, Peter Dittman shot a whitetail buck that had a net score of 142 ¼ and entered it into the big buck contest at Eidnes Furs.
That deer would have landed Mr. Dittman in the top two at both of St. Maries’ big buck contests held in 2022. There are many years prior to 2022 that his deer would have been the biggest among area entrants.
That year, he finished in 21st place.
Other records from the 80s and 90s give the same results.
In 1989 there were 23 bucks entered that scored 130 or better.
In 1990, the 10th place buck entered scored 179.
“We sit around and complain all the time and talk about stuff like this,” local outdoorsman and group member, Blair Peet said. “We figured, we might as well try something. We’d like to see the quality of our deer hunting get back moving toward what it used to be.”
The group said they wanted to show that they could gather a large number of signatures in short time. Petitions have been available for signature at local businesses for less than three weeks, and at time of publication one business alone that the Gazette Record inquired into had greater than 200 signatures.
“We wanted to show that there is support for this, people are for the idea of restoring the quality of our deer hunting,” Peet said. “We know there are a lot of factors, and the Fish and Game has to think about a lot when they set seasons, but this isn’t that big of a change, and hopefully it would help the deer out.”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.