Idaho offers lots of opportunity for kids interested in big game hunting, and young hunters have until June 5 to apply for tags for deer, elk, pronghorn and black bear controlled hunts set aside exclusively for youth.
Controlled hunt tags are available for many of Idaho's best hunts, including 40 youth-only controlled hunts for big game in the fall. That includes 19 deer hunts, 14 elk hunts, six pronghorn hunts, and one black bear hunt. In total, there are more than 2,300 controlled hunt tags available only to youth.
The controlled hunt application period for deer, elk, pronghorn and fall black bear hunts runs from May 1 to June 5, and winners will be posted online by July 10.
To apply for a youth controlled hunt, hunters must be between the ages of 10 and 17. A 9-year-old may apply for a controlled hunt if they are 10 years old when they participate in the hunt for which they apply. Hunters who apply for a youth controlled hunt while 17 and turn 18 before the hunt can still participate.
For new hunters, controlled hunts may seem complicated, but there are a number of reasons anyone should consider applying for one. You can read about those here. Most of the same reasons apply to youth-only controlled hunts. The biggest advantage of youth-only controlled hunts is that the pool of applicants is smaller. Youth hunters only compete with other youth hunters for these opportunities.
Deciding which youth controlled hunt is the right one will take some research, because of the variety of hunts and species available. Some have seasons that overlap with general hunts, allowing young hunters and their mentors to hunt together. Many allow youth to hunt without much competition from adults for part of the season. Hunters and their mentors should think about what they want out of a hunt before applying.
If a young hunter doesn't not draw a controlled hunt, they still have excellent hunting opportunities with general season hunts that are exclusively for youth, many of which are either-sex hunts.
These youth either-sex hunts largely coincide with or overlap general deer seasons. To take part in one of these hunts, a child must be between he ages of 10 and 17, have a junior hunting or combination license, and a regular deer tag.
They can use the regular deer tag to harvest an antlered or antlerless animal in units where there is a youth antlerless season. This gives young hunters the opportunity hunt with a mentor during a general season, while giving them a better chance to harvest an animal.
To get more information, check the 2019-20 Big Game rules booklet to see what youth only controlled hunts are available. The booklets are available online and in print. Also take advantage of the Idaho Hunt Planner before making a decision. It has information about drawing odds, last year's success rate, and more.