Idaho – From a Deer Hunter’s POV

Posted: 08/09/2012 in Archery, Hunting, Legal, News, Regulations, Scouting
Tags: , , ,

This is an ongoing series looking at each state from the point of view of a nonresident hunter trying to find information about deer hunting, the basic explanation is HERE.


Is the information easy to find?

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game web site is at the top of the search results.

Grade: A

Website: is it easy to use and understand?

Sadly, Idaho uses online PDF documents for information on hunting.  At first glance, every piece of information a nonresident hunter would need to know seems to be found within one of the PDFs, such as the Big Game Seasons & Rules, a 9.2 mb PDF file.  Quite by accident, I noticed a tool bar on the bottom of the page with links to licenses, hunt planning, hunter education, super hunt, etc.  These links are quite nice, particularly the Super Hunt, which is a low-cost lottery ($6.00 for the first entry, $4.00 for additional chances) to hunt the species of their choice, Elk, Deer, Pronghorn or Moose.  While the odds are low, most of us spend more than that per month on scratch off tickets.

Seasons for big game are by unit, and it looks like there are 77 units.  A first time user of this system would be best served to determine where he or she will hunt, then based on what unit that falls under, cross reference the chart in the Big Game PDF.

Despite the heavy reliance on PDF files, with ten minutes of looking around and clicking links and submenu’s, the average user can find the information needed.  In this case, I would actually recommend finding the specific pages needed to plan a hunt and print just those pages to write notes and highlight information for later reference.

Grade: C+

Does the state hold a lottery system for non-residents or are over the counter licenses available?

There are over the counter licenses available, however there are also limited access areas and species that require entering a drawing.   What is fairly unique is the Super Hunt system I mentioned above, where for a small amount of money, $6.00 for a single species entry, $20.00 for a chance at all four species, Elk, Deer, Moose and Pronghorn. The drawing details are:

First Drawing:

  • Deadline for entries is May 31, 2012. Entries submitted after the May 31 deadline will automatically be entered in the second drawing.
  • Eight elk, eight deer, eight pronghorn tags, and one moose hunt will be draw.
  • One Super Hunt Combo hunt will also be drawn. This winner is entitled to hunt all four species – one elk, one deer, one pronghorn and one moose.
  • Winners will be notified by June 10.

Second Drawing:

  • Deadline for entries is August 10, 2012.
  • Two elk, two deer, two pronghorn and one moose hunt will be drawn.
  • One Super Hunt Combo hunt will also be drawn. This winner is entitled to hunt all four species – one elk, one deer, one pronghorn and one moose.
  • Winners will be notified by August 15.

I find the Super Hunt drawing to be fascinating: provided the extra resources can be set aside, and time off can be arranged, it’s really a good deal. Starting with this next season I may be sending Idaho $6.00 once per year.

Grade: B

How much does it cost to hunt, and is there a short term license available?

Resident hunting licenses cost $12.75, with an additional $19.75 for a deer tag. Nonresident hunting licenses are $154.75 for a hunting license, $301.75 for a deer tag, which seems to be for one deer only, however there is an interesting comment on the page with the nonresident big game tag prices:

Valid to take a black bear or mountain lion, if a season is open for that species, instead of a deer where and when the deer tag is valid, and there is an open deer season in that same unit.

Note that the black bear or mountain lion would be INSTEAD of harvesting a deer, not an addition.  Also, licenses are available to purchase for additional controlled hunt deer after August 28, however only one additional license can be purchased.  The total fee for a single deer would be $456.50, which is somewhat expensive for one deer, I suspect that the ‘or mountain lion, or black bear’ is a bit of a concession to the expense of the nonresident deer tag.

Grade: B

Are the hunting seasons easy to find and laid out in a logical manner?

The hunting seasons can be found in several locations, the hunt planner page has a link directly to each big game animal, such as the deer (whitetail or mule deer) page, the Deer General Seasons PDF, and the Deer Controlled Hunt PDF. There are several other links, however all of them seem to lead back to the main Big Game page or one of the PDF files.  The hunting seasons are a mess, honestly, confusing both in the scope and format of the information.

Grade: D+

Is public hunting available, if so, are the rules different? If the rules are different, are they easy to understand?

Public hunting is readily available in Idaho, with ‘thirty two Wildlife Management Areas located in seven Fish and Game regions ranging from 275 to 85,000 acres.  The only specific rules I can find for the WMA’s are located in a two page brochure titled ‘Idaho Department of Fish and Game Lands and Access Areas Public Use Rules.

Grade: A

Are there major issues in hunting this state as a non-resident?

While looking for other information, I found a somewhat disturbing warning regarding Marijuana on Public Lands.  Near the bottom of the page there are notes regarding hunters, campers and hikers being assaulted by illegal farmers protecting their crop, and another warning about booby traps.  While the odds of this are most likely small, good planning means considering all the possibilities, including this one.  While still in the planning stage, once a location is chosen, I would call the regional management office and ask if any illegal activity is suspected in the area you want to hunt.  In addition to calling the WMA offices, I would also contact county law enforcement and explain that you are planning a hunt, then ask if the area has been checked recently for illegal activity.

Grade: B

Summary: Final Grade B

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game website contains an amazing amount of information, but it could be organized and presented in a much easier to read fashion with a few days of work.  Less reliance on PDF files, consolidating the amazingly large amount of seasons into an easy to manage list, and presenting the resident and nonresident information on a single page would go a long ways towards simplifying hunt planning and updating the information.  The cost is somewhat high for a single deer tag, with the caveat that the hunter may choose a black bear or mountain lion (as long as you’re not traveling from California, apparently).  The Super Hunt Program is both interesting and a good way to generate some additional revenue Idaho, and if the hunter is selected, the harvest tags supplied from that program are IN ADDITION to regular tags, which means for as little as $6.00, a nonresident hunter could gain a second deer tag.

States Completed: AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelaware


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