Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions. We post here answers to questions we're being asked frequently. If you have a question not answered here, please contact us. Urgent questions should be directed to your nearest office. Some answers change over time; please take note of the "answered" date.

Displaying 1 - 25 of 272 questions

Q: Can I buy a resident controlled mule-deer-ONLY tag (e.g. Unit 18) AND a resident over-the-counter whitetail tag since these are different species?

I am considering putting in for a resident controlled deer hunt in Unit 18 this year, which is a Mule Deer Only controlled hunt.
Would I still be able to purchase a resident over-the-counter Whitetail tag this year, since these are different species?
The Idaho F&G Controlled Hunt regs say:
Any person whose name is drawn in a controlled hunt for
deer or elk is prohibited from hunting in any other hunt
for the same species (archery, muzzleloader or general),
except when the hunter has drawn an extra controlled
hunt tag or depredation hunt, or has purchased a leftover
nonresident general season tag for that species at the
nonresident price.
Since Whitetail and Mule Deer are separate species, would I be able to get both tags (one controlled, one over-the-counter) at resident prices? Or are you lumping Mule Deer and Whitetail deer together and treating them as a single “species”?
Thank you for your help!


You cannot purchase a resident limited deer controlled hunt tag and a resident general season deer tag in the same season. However, if you draw the limited deer controlled hunt tag in unit 18 and purchase the resident deer controlled hunt tag, the only other general season deer tag you may purchase would the Res-Nonres general season deer tag, at the nonresident price provided the quota has not been sold out. The Res-Nonres general season deer tag could be the regular deer tag or the white-tail deer tag.

answered 4/21/2016

Q: Unit 38

My question is unit 38 is short range weapons only and Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge Lake Lowell, Unit 38-1b, 38-1xb is all that is closed in unit 38 because it is controlled hunt only?


For general deer season in Unit 38 you can hunt the short-range weapon season and/or the archery only season.  Both the Regular Deer Tag and the White-tailed Deer Tag are available to be used in Unit 38; but make sure your tag matches the season and method, and species your are hunting.  The Regular Deer Tag can be used to harvest a mule deer or white-tailed deer in Unit 38 in the season for that tag. The White-tailed deer tag is only valid for a white-tailed deer during the season for that tag.  There is no any weapon (rifle) season for Unit 38.
You are correct that the Lake Lowell section of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge is closed during the Unit 38 general deer hunts.  You can only hunt on the Lake Lowell section of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge if you draw the antlered or antlerless controlled hunt(s) that are available for that area.  There are other portions of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge that are not contiguous with the Lake Lowell section that are not part of the controlled hunt but would be part of the regular season hunt.
In addition you should be aware that any State Park in Idaho is closed with a few exceptions.  To see these exceptions you can look them up on page 96 (left hand column) of the 2015-2016 Big Game Regulations.   
Also remember that most cities/towns have a regulation against discharging a firearm within city/town limits and this usually includes bow/arrows.

answered 4/18/2016

Q: Is it ever going to be discussed about changing the rule of mounting a Gopro to guns or bows to video a hunt?

I understand not being able to mount certain electronic devices to guns or bows to give you an advantage but a Gopro gives you no advantage except to film your hunt.


This is an issue that the Commission could take up at any time. Currently, no electronic devices may be attached to archery equipment or firearms.

answered 4/8/2016

Q: Can i use a spear gun on carp while snorkeling or from the shore?

I have a couple of spear guns from when my father use to scuba. I was wondering if it is legal to use those on non-game fish such as carp.


You may legally use a spear gun or archery equipment to fish for non game species such as carp.  Please be aware that many species look similar underwater and that you must be able to identify your target positively.

answered 4/5/2016

Q: are controlled hunts draws separate for different weapon types?

Is the muzzleloader elk draw separate from the archery elk draw? Or, is it all combine?


There are 3 types of hunts in Idaho.  Any weapon, muzzleloader only and archery only.   If a hunt does not specific muzzlerloader or archery, it would be an any weapon.

answered 4/3/2016

Q: Bowhunter education

So I took my bow hunters ed. Do I need to go and shoot for some one like the do for hunters ed for rifles at the end or the course?


The bowhunter online course is online only. At the end of the course print your certification card and you take this to purchase your archery tag. If you participated in the instructor-led course, you received your card at the end of the course. Lost your card? Use our self-serve certification look up at - hunter education.

answered 4/2/2016

Q: Felon archery hunting

I would just like clarification on the rule change. Can any felon archery hunt? The wording is just a little confusing and don't want to come to your state and do something illegal when it can be prevented. The wording explosive action and fewer restrictions are getting me. Contacted state police and they told me to contact you guys.


The answer provided below is a reprint from a similar question asked by another individual.
Idaho no longer restricts felons' possession of archery equipment. In general, there are fewer restrictions for weapons that do not involve explosive action.
PLEASE NOTE: Individuals convicted of felonies are responsible for doing their own research to see if the law allows them to possess firearms. Laws vary among states and the federal government as to the restriction and restoration of rights for convicted felons.
Also note that, in Idaho, one does need a bowhunter certification to hunt in an archery only hunt.
This past legislative season, the rules defining a firearm restriction were indeed changed. As of July 1, 2015, there are now fewer restrictions on what firearms that certain felons may possess.
Idaho Code Section 18-3302 defines “firearm” as “any weapon that will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.”
This includes all guns using explosive force, including:
muzzleloaders and similar guns.
Before July 1, 2015 there was a different and broader definition of firearm that no longer applies.
Here are links to the basic Idaho laws on this subject:

answered 3/27/2016

Q: Is there a minimum bow draw weight required to hunt turkeys?

Is there a minimum bow draw weight required to hunt turkeys? Also, are there requirements on the type of broad head that can be used to hunt turkeys?  Thanks


There is no minimum draw weight for bows when using archery equipment to hunt turkeys.  Also, there are no restrictions on the type of broadhead that may be used.  For example, expandable broadheads are legal for the taking of turkeys. 

answered 2/13/2016

Q: What is the minimum bow weight for small game?

Hello, I was wondering if there was a minimum bow poundage for small game in Idaho? I know the legal big game weight is 40 but is there one for small game? Thank you for looking at this question. :)


Poundage restrictions on archery equipment are only for taking of Big Game in Idaho. There is no minimum poundage for Small Game.

answered 2/8/2016

Q: In Idaho, are you allowed to have a small light on your compound bow sight?

I am new to bow hunting and was just wondering. If you could please answer this that would be much obliged. Thank you.


On page 98 of the Big Game Seasons and Rules it expains archery rules. You cannot have anything electronic attached to a bow, arrow, or bolt.

answered 1/5/2016

Q: As a nonresident what are the requirements to purchase a archery tag?

I am a resident of Washington state, I archery hunt here in Washington and was wondering what classes or certificates do I need to complete to purchase an archery elk tag to hunt in Idaho?


In addition to a license and elk tag, you must purchase an archery permit for an archery only season.  In order to purchase an archery permit, you would need to complete an Idaho Bowhunter Affidavit form.  On this form you can provide either an archery education certification number or archery experience information.

answered 12/6/2015

Q: If hunting in the Any Weapon Season, for elk, deer, etc. can I use a bow and arrow? What if I don't have an archery license, but just my regular hunting license?

I typically hunt in Area 32 with my family who has lived in Emmett since the 40's. I do not have an archery license, because I have never done the hunters education for it. So i was wondering if I could use a bow and arrow during the any weapon seasons. I was reading some other questions and it appeared that it was allowed, but i wanted clarification.


You can use archery equipment in an any weapon hunt without obtaining an archery permit.   An archery permit is only required for an archery only period.

answered 11/15/2015

Q: Do i need an archery permit for a short range hunt

I have been wanting to hunt with my bow and the only chance I had we were in harvest. I have my certificate for archery ed and there is a short range hunt for white-tail and im wondering if I need it on my license in order to hunt in short range or if a archery permit is just for archery only seasons.
Thank You,
Hunter Bartausky


You can use a bow in a "short-range weapon" hunt without an archery permit validation.
The archery permit validation is required for archery-only hunts.
However, you are required to follow the archery equipment restrictions listed on page 98 of the 2015 - 2016 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochure.

answered 11/12/2015

Q: Why a muzzleloader permit?

Why do I have to get a muzzleloader permit? I already have an archery permit, and I see the reasons for that, I. e. knowing how to track a wounded animal etc.


Muzzleloader permits were initially set up to count the number of muzzleloader hunters in order to design hunts for them.  They are now included in sportsmen packs but other license purchasers who are muzzloader hunters cannot be counted or contacted/surveyed without the permits at this point.  Thanks for your question.

answered 11/9/2015

Q: Use of unused contolled tag for late season archery

I have a controlled deer tag that went unfilled. Can I exchange or use that tag for a late season general archery hunt in another unit so I don't have to spend $300 for a non resident tag?


Your controlled hunt tag is only valid for the dates and hunt area listed in the current years big game rule booklet. Once the hunt to the tag you hold starts, you may not exchange it for another tag (see page 110 in the 2015 big game rule booklet). To hunt in the general season at this time, you will only be able to purchase the general season Res-Nonres tag at the nonresident prices.

answered 11/1/2015

Q: Can I hunt general elk in Dec. with a controlled elk tag?

I have the elk controlled hunt in 2136 area. Was told i can still hunt in dec. with black powder. Is that true?


You cannot hunt a general season period with a controlled hunt tag.   The controlled hunt tag only allows you to hunt the species and sex in the area with the weapon for the period stated in the Seasons & Rules for the particular controlled hunt.   Controlled Hunt 2136 is only good for either sex elk with archery 9/6/15 - 09/30/15 or any weapon 10/10/15-10/24/15 in Controlled Hunt Area 1 (all of Unit 1). 

answered 10/25/2015

Q: Deer hunt

Can you get a bow tag and a rifle tag same season. Is it legal to purchase a bow tag and tag out on it. Then rifle hunt and tag out on that tag. So you would tag out on two deer.


Our deer tags are not sold for a particular weapon usage.  You can hunt the early Archery Season, and, if you don't harvest, you can hunt the Any Weapon Season.  To hunt the Archery Only, you are required to purchase the Archery Permit.  If you were to harvest in the Archery Season and wish to continue hunting, you can purchase an second deer tag from the unsold Nonresident tags. 

answered 10/18/2015

Q: 63A Deer seasons

I noticed that the regulations changed for the short range season to only allow harvest of antlerless from oct. 10th - 20th and antlered from oct 21-31. What was the reasoning behind changing it to this? Also, I noticed another question that had been asked on this website sometime toward the beginning of 2015 that mentioned their desire for archery only in 63A. I would like to see to it that this does not occur and that the short range season is allowed to continue and I would like to know how to receive the Upper Snake Region newsletter and participate in any regulation making so as to ensure the Short range season for this area continues.


We have recieved many comments from hunters and landowners who wish to see unit 63A changed to archery only.  They usually cite property damage and human safety as the main reasons.  This issue is discussed nearly every year during the season-setting process.  Shotgun hunters would like the season to remain open to other short-range weapons and archery hunters would like to see it changed to archery only.  The split season was a compromise that was adopted by the commission this year.  Hunters are now required to identify the species and sex of the deer before they shoot.  The rule change was intended to increase the time the animal is observed, decrease hurried shots, and decrease the danger to property and people.  We would be happy to add you to the list of hunters that recieve our newsletter and we look forward to your participation in the season-setting process.  The email address you provided will be added to the list.  You can also call our regional office at 208-525-7290 to have additional email addresses added to the list.

answered 10/16/2015

Q: Tags not filled during Archery

If you purchase an Elk B Tag, and a Archery Permit does this limit you to hunt only archery season if you do not harvest an elk? I was told that this is not the case for a deer tag but I would like to be sure before I decide to shoot at anything. Also will I be limited to hunting with a bow because of this?


You may hunt the appropriate seasons for the tag you possess as listed in the current years big game rule booklets. For example if you purchase an Elk City B elk tag and an archery permit in 2015, you may participate in the early archery season and if you don't harvest in that season, you may participate in the any weapon season in October.
Please contact us at 208-334-3700 if you have additional questions.

answered 10/15/2015

Q: Back country hunt

I have decided after several years in a elk zone that get very high hunting pressure that I would like to hunt some where that doesn't have as many hunters and I would prefer to get away from them all together. Is there anyone I can call that can point me in the direction of some where that has decent elk numbers and is way out of the way of people. I don't care how far I have to hike or anything like that, I can figure out the logistics but I would like to find some where I can archery hunt deep in the back country, I'm just looking for units or maybe mountains to get me started not any ones honey hole.


Idaho is blessed with many backcountry elk hunting spots and many big game units with few roads or motorized traffic allowed.  Wilderness hunts provide hunters the opportunity to get away from road hunters.  Archery hunters like to hunt during archery only seasons typically so the largest contiguous wilderness in the lower 48 states would be considered non huntable because the September hunt allows rifles.  You didn't mention you wanted to hunt on public land though that is a given for most hunters.  If however you want to hunt on private land, many large landowners are very selective about who they allow hunting on their property, thus providing great conditions and low crowding.  You might consider ranch lands in the Lemhi, Beaverhead, Salmon, or Pioneer zones that have many elk but lots of private land.  That will require some ground work getting permission however.  People that want to hunt on public land have to share with other hunters unfortunately.  The good thing though is that most hunters don't stray too far from roads even during archery season.  If someone wishes to walk and camp away from trailheads, most units provide very low traffic areas. 
You didn't mention which elk zone you have been hunting in but I would bet you could find areas with low pressure there too.  The problem with archery hunting is everyone bugles and cow calls and it sounds like the woods are full of people, thus detracting from the experience for the solitude seeking hunter.  Just look for the holes that nobody wants to go to away from roads and trails, or the hanging basins half way up a mountain if you want to find elk that haven't been pressured.  They disappear after getting hunted into these hard to get places as you probably know.  If you are willing to work for it, you can find solitude even in heavily hunted zones.  You might do some homework on our website looking at hunter success and number of hunters in a zone then call the regional office for better information on the zone or unit you are exploring.  Good luck!

answered 10/2/2015

Q: Nonresident archery elk permit purchase

Can I purchase a nonresident archery elk tag at any Idaho game and fish office or do I have to purchase it in the region I will be hunting?


You can purchase your elk tag at any Idaho Fish and Game office or license vendor in the state, regardless of location.

answered 9/14/2015

Q: Have you considered adding a late archery or rifle season for whitetails in lower Sawtooth region?

I live in garden valley and i am 36 years old. I grew up hunting units 33, 34 and 35 from the mid 80's till now. In the early 90's there was a very small population of whitetail on the Middle Fork of the Payette River. Nobody knew where they came from and over the last 25 years they have
really grown taken over. There numbers have not been regulated and i think a late archery or rifle season would help native species to this area have better odds of surviving harsh winters.


Thank you for sharing your observations and your idea for consideration.  
There has been an increase in the number of white-tailed deer seen along the middlefork and southfork of the Payette.  Currently, white-tailed deer can be harvested by anyone who has a valid general any weapon, regular deer tag from Oct 10 - Oct 31.  They can also be harvested by anyone with a valid general any weapon, white-taileded deer tag from Oct 10 - Nov 8.  They may also be harvested with a valid tag during the archery season earlier in the fall (Aug 30 - Sep 30).  
IDFG observations in the area indicate that in general the white-tailed deer use more of the river bottom and surrounding ag field interface, whereas most mule deer move further into the forest for the spring, summer, and fall period.  It appears that white-tailed and mule deer overlap the most on winter range.  A late season hunt in late November or December may allow more harvest of white-tailed deer but it would also mean that mule deer could also be impacted by hunting activity on winter range.  Also a fair amount of the river bottom where white-tailed deer concentrate in the winter is private so access to hunters may be limited.  These are just two considerations that need to be weighed in the balance for any future season change.  
One of the best things that would improve mule deer odds of surviving harsh winters in those units would be an improvement to the winter range.  Currently, many of the south facing lower slopes have been over-run by invasive weeds that provide no benefit to mule deer.  

answered 9/10/2015

Q: Is license required to open a Archery game zone

we are planning to open a Game zone and would like to include Archery in it, Do we need to take license for the same.


No as long as you are not hunting any live animal, you do not need a hunting license.

answered 9/7/2015

Q: Muzzleloader Caliber Restriction?

Why is there a caliber restriction for muzzleloader only hunts for elk (and a few other species)? I know the point of the other muzzleloader only hunt rules is to preserve the primitive nature of the hunt, but why limit caliber size with muzzleloaders? You don't do this for the any weapons seasons (a .223 Rem is legal for elk- right?) You seem to trust the judgement of the center-fire rifle hunters to choose a quality big game bullet and to take good shots, regardless of caliber choice - I wish you'd afford the muzzleloader only season hunters the same freedom.
Right now a hunter can take a .50 caliber muzzleloader out with 175 grain lead round ball and attempt to shoot an elk on a muzzleloader only hunt, but the same hunter cannot use a .45 caliber muzzleloader shooting a 460 grain lead conical...? If you need to have some assurance muzzleloader hunters are using an adequate bullet for elk, why not regulate the weight of the bullet (like you do for arrows for archery hunters)?


Thank you for your comments.  Muzzleloader restrictions have gone through multiple revisions over the years at the request of several muzzleloader hunting groups in the state.  Idaho Fish and Game continues to be concerned with advancement in hunting equipment technology and the difference between wounding loss and success rates resulting from these advancements.  We will continue to review appropriate caliber and other restrictions on muzzleloader hunting that reflect the primitive nature of the hunt, success rates and wounding losses, and allow us to provide separate muzzleloader seasons with as few restrictions as necessary.  Thank you for your comments.

answered 9/4/2015

Q: can i hunt a doe during the archery season only with a regular deer tag?

Just wondering if i could hunt doe during archery season only with a regular deer tag? I am confused if i can shoot either one since i am archery hunting


Yes.  During archery season your regular deer tag is valid during the season for either antlerless or antlered in the units outlined on page 12 of our big game brochure.  Be sure that the archery season is open under the antlerless column in the unit you wish to hunt on p. 12 at:

answered 9/4/2015