Hunters planning their first trips want to pay close attention to fire closures and be prepared to alter their plans if necessary.
Large fires are currently burning in Central and North Idaho and are likely to be burning when archery season opens at the end of August. Fires have created large closure areas that will temporarily curb hunters’ access to some areas. To see current area closures and fire boundaries go to Fish and Game’s Idaho Fire Map.
Boundaries change as summer progresses and we get into fall, but it’s important that hunters know fire closures often extend far beyond the boundaries of the active fires.
People should also note that land closures could continue into October, even if weather cools and we get rain or snow, and some closures may continue even when the fires are out. However, officials typically try to reopen areas when they are safe.
Idaho Fish and Game will try to keep hunters informed of the latest fire news on its fire information page.
Hunters should also be aware of safety restrictions on campfires, gas engines, and other potential fire sources in many areas of the state. Check with the Forest Service, BLM, or other land manager to find out if fire restrictions exist in your hunting area.
These restrictions typically limit campfires and other open flames to designated areas, such as campgrounds.
Hunters have options if their hunt area is affected by fire
Fires can affect some hunts, particularly controlled hunts, but it’s rare that access to a hunting area is completely blocked for the duration of the hunt, and fires usually are not large enough to close an entire hunting unit.
Hunters affected by a fire closure can typically adjust their schedule to hunt later in the season, or find open areas within the hunting unit.
However, hunters with controlled hunt tags may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins, but controlled hunt fees will not be refunded.
Hunters may also exchange general tags, such as elk tags, to hunt in a different area, but tags must be exchanged before the season begins, and there is a fee to exchange tags.
Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks for controlled hunts if access to a hunting unit is completely blocked by fire. Rain checks would be valid the following year, if approved, and offered only for the same species and hunt area as the current tag.
Hunters requesting a rain check must submit their tags and permits with a letter describing the circumstances of how they were prevented from hunting due to the fires. Written requests should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707.