Press Release

Ask Fish and Game: Controlled Hunt Process

Q. How does Fish and Game's controlled draw hunt system work?

A. Glad you asked. Here is a simplified version of how the controlled hunt drawing system works: The procedure has been computerized since 1973 and was certified random by Boise State University professors in 1977.

Every applicant has the same chance of drawing. Officials verify that applicants meet all of the eligibility requirements to draw a tag. Each application is then assigned a randomly generated number, which is then scrambled and coded before being drawn by the computer system.

The computer, located in the state controller's office, selects the successful applicants from the entire application file of eligible applicants.

When a group of people enter on the same application, the group is assigned a single application number, and the whole group is entered as one combined entry. In the first round, the system randomly draws from the first choice listed by each hunter. The system then does a second drawing to fill any hunts that still have openings with second choice hunts.

When residents and nonresidents enter on the same application, the entire group is treated as nonresidents. Nonresidents are limited to up to 10 percent of the tags available in any individual controlled hunt. When the computer draws an application that includes a nonresident, it checks to see whether a tag is still available for a nonresident. If 10 nonresidents already have drawn tags for a hunt with 100 tags, the computer simply goes to the next application.

Hunters can improve their odds by doing a little homework.

Using the drawing odds and results from the previous year, found on the Idaho Fish and Game hunt planner at, hunters can find hunts with fewer applicants and better odds of drawing. Because it is a random process, one person can sometimes draw two or three times in several years, while another person does not draw at all.

That's how a random process works, just like the lottery. It doesn't mean the system is unfair.