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Idaho Fish and Game

dad and son hunting and using binoculars looking for game

Pioneer and Smoky Bennett zone elk hunters: Know before you go!


Big game hunters, especially those hunting for cow elk in the Pioneer and Smoky Bennett zones need to be aware of the motorized hunting rule before heading out into the field in pursuit of cow elk.

Big game hunters, especially those in pursuit of antlerless elk in the Pioneer and Smoky Bennett zones need to be aware of the motorized hunting rule when using motorized vehicles as an aid to hunting elk. The rule is specific to 30 game management units, primarily in central and southern Idaho, and includes many of the units in the Pioneer and Smoky Bennett zones. The motorized hunting rule applies when someone is actively hunting big game using a motorized vehicle. The motorized hunting rule is in effect from August 30 through December 31. During this time hunters may only use motorized vehicles on established roadways open to motorized traffic or travel, and may not go cross-country.

The motorized hunting rule does not apply when hunting upland game birds or upland game animals.

What is an established roadway?

The definition of an established roadway as it relates to this rule is that the road is established, built, maintained, approved or designated by a government entity. And, the road is capable of being traveled by a full-sized vehicle.

Can hunters use a motorized vehicle on Forest Service or BLM designated trails?

If motorized travel is allowed by the Forest Service or BLM, you may use a motorized vehicle on trails to retrieve downed game or pack in or out your camping gear as long as you follow the restrictions in place by the land owner. However, you may not hunt while packing camping gear.

When in doubt, stay on the road!

It is the responsibility of the hunter to know and understand the rules and regulations of the area where they hunt. For vehicle travel, it’s especially important to know and follow the vehicle use restrictions for the area you are hunting. Travel maps are available from each of the federal land management agencies.

Visit the Stay on Trails website at for travel tips.

For additional information, contact the IDFG Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359 or, contact the Sawtooth National Forest at (208) 737-3200 or the Shoshone BLM office at (208) 732-7200.