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Idaho Fish and Game

bull elk with grass on antlers head shot

Attention elk hunters: If you apply for a controlled elk hunt in 2020, you can not buy a capped elk zone tag until five days after they go on sale


Waiting period is intended to more fairly distribute capped elk zone tags

At its March 20 meeting, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission established a five-day waiting period to purchase capped elk zone tags for any resident who applies for a controlled elk hunt regardless of whether the person draws the controlled hunt tag. Capped elk zone tags go on sale in July.

Update: Sales for those in the five-day waiting period will begin on July 15 at 10:00 am MT.

Some controlled hunts will be exempt from the waiting period, including Super Hunts, extra elk hunts, depredation hunts or Landowner Appreciation Program hunts.

Establishing a waiting period for elk controlled hunt applicants is designed to reduce the initial demand for first-come, first-served capped zone elk tags when they go on sale. Sales history shows many elk hunters who bought capped elk zone tags had previously applied for controlled hunts. 

Fish and Game staff and the Commission have grappled with how to fairly distribute capped elk zone tags where demand far exceeds supply. The most notable example is the Sawtooth Elk Zone tags, which sell out within minutes and leave many hunters without those coveted tags. 

While the Sawtooth Elk Zone has the highest demand, four other capped elk zones also sold out within five days in 2019. 

The waiting period does not apply to nonresidents in 2020 because most nonresident elk tags have been on sale since December 1, 2019.

Sell out dates for resident elk tags in capped zones in 2019

NOTE: This is for informational purposes and not intended to predict when resident capped elk zone tags might sell out in 2020. 

2019 resident capped elk zone tags went on sale on July 10, except Sawtooth Elk Zone A/B tags.

Tag type/sell out date

Dworshak B: Oct. 9

Elk City A: Oct. 15

Elk City B: Sept. 5

Lolo A: Did not sell out in ‘19

Lolo B: Did not sell out in ‘19

Selway B: Nov. 14

Selway A: Did not sell out in ‘19

Middlefork A: Did not sell out in ‘19

Middlefork B: Did not sell out in ‘19

Diamond Creek A: July 10

*Sawtooth A: July 12 (Went on sale July 12)

*Sawtooth B: July 12 (Went on sale July 12)

Salmon B: July 14

Bear River B: July 11

Weiser River B: Oct. 2

Pioneer B: July 16

Big Desert B: July 12

South Hills B: Oct. 4