Youth hunters who want an early shot at a duck or goose may participate in the youth waterfowl hunt on September 24 and 25. The youth waterfowl hunt is open to youth 15 and younger. The regular waterfowl season opens the following weekend, on October 1 in northern and eastern Idaho, and on October 15 in the southwestern part of the state. The scaup season opens October 22 in the northern and eastern parts of the state, and November 5 in the southwest. The waterfowl youth hunt includes goose, duck, coot and snipe. Bag limits for the youth hunt are the same as for the general season. The daily limit is seven ducks, which may include no more than one canvasback, two pintails, two redheads, two mallard hens or three scaup. Youth hunters may also harvest four geese. Hunters must have a 2011 Idaho hunting license and a federal migratory game bird harvest information program validation. But a federal duck stamp is not required for hunters 15 and under. At least one adult 18 years old or older having a valid hunting license, must accompany each youth hunting party into the field at all times. Adults are not allowed to hunt. All other state and federal migratory game bird hunting rules and regulations still apply. Please see the 2011 Waterfowl Seasons and Rules brochure available at hunting license vendors, Fish and Game offices and online at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=66
This year, the chukar and gray partridge seasons don't open until October 1, but the seasons on these popular game birds remain open statewide through January 31. Chukar and gray partridge have a daily bag limit of six chukars and six gray partridges. The possession limit after the first day is 12 chukars and 12 gray partridges. Several other upland game bird seasons, including a limited season on sage-grouse, also open October 1. The bobwhite and California quail seasons run from October 1 through January 31 in western Idaho from Canada to Nevada through the end of January. But Area 2 in the eastern part of the state is closed. The daily bag limit is 10 total. The possession limit after the first day is 20 total. The sage-grouse season opens October 1 through 7, with a one-bird daily limit and two-bird possession limit, in sage-grouse Area 2. For details, please refer to the 2011 Sage-grouse Seasons and Rules brochure, available at license vendors and online at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/docs/rules/uplandSage.pdf. The sharp-tailed grouse season opens in most of eastern Idaho October 1 and runs through 31. Hunters are advised to check the upland game bird rules for areas that are open to sharptail hunting, either in the printed brochure or online at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67. Anyone hunting sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse, must have a sage/sharp-tailed grouse permit at $4.75, in addition to a valid hunting license. The season for forest grouse, which includes ruffed, spruce and dusky grouse, opened August 30 and runs through December 31, except in the Panhandle Region where the season runs through January 31. The daily limit is four, whether all of one or mixed species, and eight in possession after the first day. Hunters need only a valid hunting license to hunt quail, chukar, grey partridge and forest grouse. Turkey season opened September 15 in many areas.
Hunters and anglers are among the country's best conservationists, and in their honor Saturday, September 24, is National Hunting and Fishing Day. With birdwatchers, hikers, mountain bikers, canoeists, backpackers, photographers and other recreationists, lots of Idahoans love wildlife and wild places. Today 34 million people hunt and fish in the United States. By buying hunting and fishing licenses and paying special taxes on firearms and ammunition, bows and arrows, and rods and reels, hunters and anglers generate $100,000 every 30 minutes. This annual total, $1.75 billion, pays for much of the conservation work of fish and wildlife agencies in every state. These public agencies serve the residents of their states by overseeing all fish and wildlife, hunted species such as deer and non-hunted species such as robins, as well as all aquatic and terrestrial habitats. About 100 years ago, hunters and anglers recognized a responsibility for responsible stewardship of the state's natural and wildlife resources. They had watched expanding civilization and unregulated exploitation nearly wipe out some wildlife populations. Many of today's conservation ideals were born in that era. In the 1960s, hunters and anglers embraced the era's heightened environmental awareness but were discouraged that many people didn't understand the role that hunters and anglers played - and continue to play - in the conservation movement. In 1972, with urging from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Congress unanimously authorized National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. On May 2, 1972, President Richard M. Nixon signed the first proclamation of the annual celebration. Today, National Hunting and Fishing Day remains a great promotion for outdoor sports and conservation.
Fires burning in Idaho's backcountry have raised concerns about public safety and hunter access. In the interest of public safety the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management may close access to some areas as fires grow or new fires start. Those road closures may affect access to some hunting units. But Idaho Fish and Game will not recommend closing hunts or altering season dates in response to fire restrictions. Most fires are not large enough to affect an entire hunt unit. Hunters affected by a fire closure can adjust their schedule to hunt later in the season or exchange general tags to hunt in a different area. But tags must be exchanged before the season begins. Hunters with controlled hunt tags may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins. But controlled hunt fees would not be refunded. Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks or refunds in the event that access to a hunting unit is blocked by fire. Hunters requesting a rain check will be required to submit their tags and permits with a letter describing the conditions of their request. Rain checks would be evaluated case-by-case at the end of the hunting season. Rain checks will be valid in 2012 and offered only for the same species and hunt area as the hunter held in 2011. Written requests should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707 when the season is over. Hunters and anglers, and anyone else heading into the backcountry, are advised to check with Forest Service ranger district offices or county sheriffs' offices before heading out. Fire updates can be found online at: http://www.inciweb.org/state/13/.
Q. If I buy an A tag for an elk zone but don't use it, can I hunt the B tag hunt instead? A. Only if you're a youth hunter. The 2011 Big Game Seasons and Rules explains: Resident youth hunters ages 12 through 17 who purchase a general season elk zone tag, may participate in any A or B tag elk season within the specified zone, regardless of whether they purchased an A tag or B tag. This opportunity for resident youth hunters does not apply to controlled hunts. All other season, weapon restrictions and commission rules apply.
Damon Rush of Pocatello, Idaho broke the Idaho walleye record with his 17-pound, 14-ounce, 34.5-inch long fish caught in Oakley Reservoir, Saturday, September 10. Rush beat the record held by Mike Chupa of Twin Falls, who had taken the title October of 2009, which was 17 pound, 12 ounces. Rush caught the fish, using a Rapala lure, Berkley Glowstick rod, a Diawa reel on 14 pound test.
Fires burning in Idaho's backcountry have raised concerns about public safety and hunter access. In the interest of public safety the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management may close access to some areas as fires grow or new fires start. Those road closures may affect access to some hunting units. But Idaho Fish and Game will not recommend closing hunts or altering season dates in response to fire restrictions. Most fires are not large enough to affect an entire hunt unit. Hunters affected by a fire closure can adjust their schedule to hunt later in the season or exchange general tags to hunt in a different area. But tags must be exchanged before the season begins. Hunters with controlled hunt tags affected by a fire closure may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins. But controlled hunt fees would not be refunded. Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks or refunds in the event that access to a hunting unit is blocked by fire. Hunters requesting a rain check will be required to submit their tags and permits with a letter describing the conditions of their request. Rain checks would be evaluated case-by-case at the end of the hunting season. Rain checks will be valid in 2012 and offered only for the same species and hunt area as the hunter held in 2011. Written requests should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707 when the season is over. Hunters and anglers, and anyone else heading into the backcountry, are advised to check with Forest Service ranger district offices or county sheriffs' offices before heading out. Fire updates can be found online at: http://www.inciweb.org/state/13/.
As part of the state's youth pheasant opener, the Southeast Region office of the Idaho Department Fish and Game will be hosting a Youth Pheasant Clinic on Saturday, October 1, at the Sterling Wildlife Management Area near Aberdeen. The clinic will focus on teaching hunting ethics, land conservation, pheasant management, shotgun patterning and shooting skills. A mentored field experience, available to participants 10 to 15 years of age, prepares participants to hunt pheasant. The youth pheasant clinic is open to youths 10 to 17 years old with valid hunting licenses, although only those licensed youth 15 years and younger are allowed to hunt pheasant during the 2011 youth pheasant season -- October 1 through 7. This age requirement for the youth pheasant season also applies to the youth clinic's mentored hunt activity. The clinic sessions will run from 8 to 11:30 a.m., with the clinic mentored youth hunt starting at 12:30 p.m. The Youth Pheasant Clinic is limited to 20 youths on a first come basis. There is no charge for the clinic. A free lunch is provided. Interested youths must complete a registration form. To register, contact Fish and Game at 232-4703 or visit the regional office at 1345 Barton Road in Pocatello. Hunting pheasant continues to be a favorite recreation activity for many hunters in southeast Idaho. Sterling Wildlife Management Area offers premier habitat for both the beginner and seasoned hunter. As a reminder, the general hunting season for pheasants here in southeast Idaho begins October 15 and runs through November 30.
Are you interested in hunting upland game or waterfowl? If so, then you need a good hunting dog. Sure, you can hunt without one, but most bird hunters will tell you that it's not only easier with a trained dog, it's more fun. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is sponsoring a free clinic for hunters who are interested in hunting with dogs. The hunting dog clinic is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Saturday, October 8, at the Cedar Hills Gun Club in Blackfoot. Though the clinic is free of charge, participation is limited to 30 people. Pre-registration is required. This clinic will teach hunters about dog breeds, what to look for in a breeder, how to pick a puppy, hunting with dogs, where to go for training help, and first aid for your furry hunting buddies. Though there won't be an opportunity for hunters to actually work with their dogs at the clinic, experienced hunting dogs will be on hand to perform field demonstrations. Think you can't teach an old dog new tricks? That is not necessarily true. Many adult dogs can be re-trained to be good hunting partners. For those of you who already have a hunting partner, you can still learn some helpful tips for improving your dog's performance in the field. For more information or to register for this workshop, please contact Steve Pope at 208-681-0153. For directions or a map to Cedar Hills Gun Club, visit the club's website at cedarhillsgunclub.org or give Steve a call for assistance.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is offering a "first-time hunter" waterfowl hunt at the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area. This special hunt is open to all 2011 Hunter Education graduates that are 10 to 17 years of age. The 24 young hunters chosen on a first-in-line basis will be mentored by seasoned hunters who will provide the retriever dogs, calls, shotgun and decoys. The deadline for applying is September 30 for this November hunt. The hunt will be the first three weekends of November. Each lucky young hunter will get one morning to hunt ducks. To apply, call or stop by the Fish and Game Region office with their name, address, phone number and their Hunter Education number. For more information or to apply, call 324-4359 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Hunters looking to bag an Idaho wild turkey can begin hunting on Thursday, September 15. The general fall turkey season will open in the Panhandle Region, the Clearwater Region, a good portion of the Southwest Region, and several units in the Southeast Region. For specific hunts check the turkey rules brochure, available at license vendors, Fish and Game offices and online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67. Fall turkey hunters typically find less competition in the field because of other hunting seasons that open in the fall, and they are more likely to bag a bird. Turkey season is open:
- September 15 through December 15: General fall hunt in game management units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut Wildlife Management Area) 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6.
- September 15 through October 31: General fall hunt in game management units 73, 74, 75, 77 and 78.
- September 15 through October 9: General fall hunt in game management units 8, 8A, 10, 10A, 11, 11A, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17, 18, 19 , 20, 22, 23, 24, 31, 32 (except that portion in Payette County), and 32A. Units 33 and 39 are closed to fall hunting.
- November 21 through December 31: General fall hunt in game management units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18. This hunt is open on private lands only.
The Idaho waterfowl youth hunt opens September 24 and 25, and the regular 107-day season opens October 1 in northern and eastern Idaho, and October 15 in southwestern Idaho. Daily duck bag limits are seven birds in the aggregate - no more than two female mallards, two redheads, three scaup, two pintails, one canvasback - with a possession limit of 14 birds after the first day and no more than four female mallards, four redheads, four pintails, six scaup and two canvasbacks. Daily limits for Wilson's snipe are eight; with a possession limit of 16 after the first day; and the daily limit for coots are 25 with a possession limit of 25 after the first day. Daily bag limits for dark geese - Canada, greater white-front - are four per day. Daily limits for light geese - snow, blue, Ross's - are 10 per day. Seasons are: Area 1: All of the state not included in Area 2.
- For ducks and dark geese from October 1 to January 13, with a shorter scaup season from October 22 to January 13.
- For snow and Ross's geese from October 1 to January 13, 2012.
- For ducks and dark geese from October 15 to January 27, 2012, with a shorter scaup season from November 5 to January 27, 2012.
- For snow and Ross's geese from November 6 to January 27, 2012; and reopen from February 18 to March 10, 2012.