Meeting in Boise March 2, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission set big game seasons for fall, 2000 and spring, 2001. An increase in youth deer and antelope controlled hunts is the highlight of the new seasons. Youth hunts proved to be extremely popular last year, both with the young hunters who participated, and with their parents.
1,200 youth permits for deer controlled hunts were added, and the areas where they can be used were greatly increased. Applicants for these must be 15 years of age or younger on January 1, 2000. The application period is May 1-31, the same time as the regular controlled hunt application period. Twenty antelope permits were added.
2,000 either-sex deer permits will be available for youth hunters in a hunt area which includes all of big game management units 19A, 20A, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38 and 39. This is about double the number of units included in a similar hunt last year, and includes a variety of settings from front-range, easy access to backcountry wilderness. A youth hunt for either sex deer southern Idaho will have 500 permits good in units 43, 48, 49, 52A, 54, 55, 56 and 57. Another hunt in units 44, 45 and 52 will have 300 permits for antlerless deer.
A new youth antelope hunt was created in units 32 and 32A with 10 permits. The herd of about 100 antelope in the area has not been hunted in years. Ten permits were added to the hunt in Unit 52, bringing it to a total of 20.
In other changes for deer hunters, the Commission closed the general deer season on mule deer in Unit 1, but left the season in units 2 and 3 open to hunting whitetail or mule deer. Closing dates were changed in several units, making some seasons a few days longer and some a few days shorter than they were last year. In Unit 73, the season was shortened and changed so that the early part is open to taking two-point deer only, then there is a short season open to taking any buck, then back to two-point only. General archery seasons remained unchanged except for adding Unit 69. General muzzleloader seasons remained the same except for opening the season in Unit 10A to mule or whitetail deer (previously whitetail-only) and adding four days to the season in Unit 16.
The four-point or better rule was dropped in the controlled deer hunt in Unit 27. Hunters will notice that permit levels in some controlled hunts went down by one, two or a few. This accommodates the outfitters who have historic use in those areas. Outfitter allocation hunts will be listed separately at the end of the deer and elk sections of the rules brochure. If a person is interested in hunting with an outfitter and applies in one of those hunts, he or she is giving Fish and Game permission to release their name and address to outfitters licensed in that area. The outfitters will contact the hunter. Hunters who are drawn in these hunts cannot hunt without an outfitter.
Elk hunters will see seasons change to reflect local conditions such as cow:calf ratios or bulll:cow ratios. Some zones have reduced opportunities, others are increased. Three zones have caps on tag numbers: the Lolo Zone with a cap of 1,600 B tags; the Selway Zone with 1,255 B tags; and the Middle Fork Zone with 1,551 A tags and 1,636 B tags. These will be sold on a first come-first served basis. These tags are divided between residents and nonresidents based on historic participation in those units.
Elk seasons remain the same in the Panhandle Zone. In the Dworshak Zone the October spike-only hunt was dropped, and the November muzzleloader split into spike or antlerless November 21-24, and spike only November 25 - December 9.
B tag hunters in the Middle Fork zone will be allowed to take any elk, rather than antlered only, and Unit 27 will be included this year. In the Salmon zone, the spike hunts in Units 21 and 21A were closed. The early archery hunt and October spike hunt were both dropped in the Weiser River zone, and the cow hunt near McCall was changed to short-range weapons only. The muzzleloader hunt in the Sawtooth Zone will include all units, rather than just Unit 36. In units 46 and 47 the "any elk" hunt was changed to November 25 - December 15. In the Boise River Zone an October A tag spike hunt and November B tag archery hunt for spikes or cows were both dropped. In the Big Desert Zone, the all-fall hunt to control depredating elk populations was broken into two sections: any weapon-any elk from August 1-September 30 and antlerless only from October 1-December 31. The portion in Unit 63A was closed. The early August-September antlerless hunts in the Teton Zone A tag were closed and the spike-antlerless hunt was changed to antlerless only, October 22 - November 5. The B tag antlered-only hunt was moved from November to October. Archery elk hunts were opened in the Unit 69 portion of the Tex Creek zone and the August "any weapon" season was closed. The late B tag hunt for bulls was moved from November to October. A tag hunts in the Bannock zone will now include Unit 56, and the muzzleloader hunt will be an A tag hunt rather than B tag. Controlled hunt permit levels for elk will vary in many areas, so hunters should be sure to check the 2000 rules brochures.
The bag limit on black bears was increased to two in all of Unit 12, 19, 20, 20A and the north part of Units 10 and 16. In some units dogs will be allowed for bear hunting after October 31. Previously hounds were not allowed during the general firearm season for deer or elk. Bear seasons were extended in some backcountry units to close concurrently with the end of the elk season. Similar liberalization was made in mountain lion seasons.