Can a non-magnifying scope be used during muzzle loader only seasons?

I am one month from 64. I grew up hunting with open sights, both conventional and peeps. I killed my first several deer and elk with open sights beginning at age 14 with open sights on an 8mm military surplus rifle. (I still have my first gun and it sports a peep sight, which I used for the first several years before I purchased my first new gun in about 1968 and equipped it with a 3-9 Leopold...which I still own and shoot.) Now, however, my aged eyesight no longer allows me to see either the position of the bead in the back sight, (both elevation and windage), and the front bead is just a big blur. I missed two elk last week (Unit 23), one at about 150 yds and the other at about 100 yds, both unaware of my presence and standing slightly quartering away in the open. Both times I had a perfect rest over my back pack in a very comfortable position on a steep slope. Rock solid and all the time in the world to aim, check the aim and squeeze. I shot the gun to the best of my present ability yet missed both. I have owned this muzzle loader since 1990 and it is very accurate, producing 3 inch groups at 100 yds off the bench (with open sights), solid lead, conical with anywhere between 90 and 110 grains of powder. I can still manage a 4 inch group but the environmental requirements are: extreme concentration, perfect and strong lighting and a lot of double checking of the position of the bead in the rearsight and a lot of time to do all this. In the 17 degree, 15 MPH wind on the Salmon River Breaks at daybreak, these requirements cannot be met, and in fact, I am finding out that, for me, they cannot be met in the field period. After I missed the second elk under what can only be described as ideal hunting conditions at about100 yds, we took the gun to a safe place, recreated the same shooting scenario and rest (my backpack) and each shot the gun. I would shoot one shot (135 yds) and my son would shoot the next and so on until we each had shot three shots. My group was about 24 inches and his was about 6 inches. After this embarassment (after all, I taught him to shoot), I got back down with the gun on the bench and tried to figure out what I was doing that gave such a poor group. It isn't flinching....I got over that years ago. I/we concluded that the front and rear iron sights are so out of focus that I simply am unable to set the windage or elevation (I was off both high and wide during the bench "test"). question is, IS THERE ANY PROVISION IN IDAHO GAME AND FISH REGULATIONS THAT WOULD PERMIT THE USE OF A NON-MAGNIFYING SCOPE THAT WOULD COMPENSATE FOR US OLDER FELLOWS WHOSE VISION IS GIVING WAY TO OLD AGE OR DO WE JUST HAVE TO GIVE UP THE IRON SIGHTED MUZZLE LOADER? Thanks, Larry W. Ross (


Yes, there is a IDFG Commission rule that allows for a person to apply for a permit to us a non-magnifying scope on your muzzle loader for use during a muzzle loader only big game season. Here is a link to the application and other information.
And here is the rule:
01. Applications for Reasonable Modification Permits for Special Weapon Hunting Seasons.
a. Applications for reasonable modification permits shall be on a form prescribed by the Department.
b. Individuals using the department form for a reasonable modification permit must complete and sign the application form. Nonresident applicants must have their signature notarized. Each application submitted on the department form shall be accompanied by certification from the applicant’s physician, ophthalmologist, or optometrist stating the criteria limiting the applicant’s ability to participate without special accommodation. The applicant shall certify that the applicant is capable of holding and firing, without assistance from other persons, legal firearms or archery equipment. If the physician, ophthalmologist, or optometrist is not licensed to practice in Idaho, a photo copy of the physician, ophthalmologist, or optometrist medical license must accompany the application. Physicians, ophthalmologists, or optometrists must check the appropriate box for short-term or long-term disability on the application. If the disability is short term and physical mobility is expected to improve, the physician, ophthalmologist, or optometrist must include a date when the disability is expected to end.
c. Individuals must identify the equipment accommodation requested, and explain how the requested accommodation will allow them to participate in the special weapon hunt without enhancing their abilities beyond the limitations and purpose of the special weapon hunt.
02. Reasonable Modification Permits for Special Weapon Hunting Seasons.
a. Reasonable modification permits shall be issued only by the Director of the Department or his representative and shall expire no later than December 31 of the fifth year following the date of issuance.
b. The accommodation must be reasonable and must be consistent insofar as possible with all provisions guiding other participants in the special weapon hunting season. For example, persons with a focusing disability (focal plane) could request the use of optical sighting device without magnification (e.g., sighting devices that magnify the target are expressly prohibited for Archery Only, Traditional Archery Only, and Muzzleloader seasons by Rule 13.01.08, "Rules Governing the Taking of Big Game Animals in the State of Idaho," Section410). The Director or his representative shall determine if the requested accommodation is reasonable, and may deny the application or set a modification different from the modification requested.
c. A copy of the permit shall be carried by the person while hunting in any special weapon hunt

Answered on: 
Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 1:19 PM MST