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 84 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: 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: can you use a muzzleloader as a shotgun for upland game birds like grouse and quail

So I was wondering if you could use a muzzleloader with small shot (size 8-6 lead shot) for hunting grouse and quail during the end of the hunting season for them?


In Idaho, upland game birds (except forest grouse) may be taken with a firearm as long as the firearm is classified as a shotgun.  This can be found on page 18 of the 2014-2015 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey regulations. 
18 USC 921 states:
The term “shotgun” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.
This means that only smooth bore shoulder fired firearms are legal for the taking of upland game birds (except forest grouse).  If a firearms contains a rifled barrel, this firearm is not classified as a shotgun and would be illegal for the taking of upland game birds (except forest grouse) regardless of the projectile(s) fired.
A smooth bore muzzleloader would be legal in this instance.
The same is also true of handguns chambered in calibers such as .45 long colt.  Although this firearm is capable of firing .410 shot shells, the barrel is rifled.  Federal law requires all barrels under 18 inches in length to contain rifled bores.  This firearm would not be classified as a shotgun and would be illegal for taking upland game birds (except forest grouse).

answered 1/6/2016

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


The muzzle-loader only hunt for elk in the Panhandle is only for Unit 4 because other units (1, 2, 3, 4A, 5, 6) have an any-weapon general deer season during that time.  When this hunt was set up it was the desire of the muzzloader hunters to have a season where there was no competition with modern firearms for any species.  The original hunt included Units 7 and 9.  When elk populations decreased in these 2 units they were removed from the hunt, leaving only Unit 4.
We are starting to see a recovery in the elk population in Units 7 and 9.  If this continues, Units 7 and 9 will be added into the hunt during the next round of regulation changes.

answered 10/28/2015

Q: How do I receive a muzzleloader permit? And is their a class that you must take to obtain it?

How do I obtain a muzzleloader permit? How much does it cost a resident ? Is their a class to obtain it or is my hunters safety course ok?


Thank you for your question.
The muzzleloader permit fee is $18.25 for residents and $20.00 for nonresidents.  They can be purchased at any Idaho Fish & Game Regional office or Headquarters, or any Idaho Fish & Game license vendor.  They can also be purchased online at or over the phone with our contractor at 1-800-554-8685 with an additional processing fee.  There are no additional classes required to purchase a muzzleloader permit.
If you have any additional questions or need further clarification, please call us at 208-334-3700.

answered 10/26/2015

Q: Black Powder 209 Primer

Why are the 209 black powder primers not allowed during black powder seasons? I know they are now allowed my question my question is WHY?


Muzzleloading rifles are considered primitive weapons and hunters choosing to hunt muzzleloader only seasons are often able to take advantage of special opportunities not available to modern center fire rifle hunters.  To maintain the primitive nature of the sport, Idaho has limited some technological advances that would compromise the primitive status of muzzleloading equipment. Current Idaho law requires that during a muzzleloader only hunt, the weapon is equipped with an ignition system in which any portion of the cap is exposed or visible when the weapon is cocked and ready to fire.  Also, the muzzleloader must be equipped with a flint, percussion cap or musket cap, 209 primers are prohibited.  These and other weapon restrictions can be found on page 98 of the 2015 & 2016 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochure.    

answered 10/21/2015

Q: Muzzleloader bullets

Is the new federal lead mz muzzleloader bullet legal for the muzzleloader seasons?


I say no because the gas seal is part of the projectile. I would like this reviewed again by another enforcement person.

answered 10/13/2015

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


PowerBelt bullets are legal in muzzleloader-only hunts so long as the bullet is not jacketed, does not have a polymer tip and it's diameter is within .010 inch of the bore diameter.  The rules governing projectiles for muzzleloader-only hunts read: "Loaded with a patched round ball or conical, non-jacketed projectile comprised wholly of lead or lead alloy; Loaded with a projectile that is within .010 inch of the bore diameter. Sabots are prohibited."  These and other muzzleloader rules can be found in the current Big Game Seasons and Rules booklet. 

answered 8/25/2015


Yes. Any person hunting in an archery only hunt must have an archery permit in possession.
The same rule applies for muzzleloader hunts too. Any person hunting in a muzzleloader only hunt must have a muzzleloader permit in possession.

answered 8/10/2015


No, you do not need a muzzleloader permit to hunt with your muzzleloader in a short range weapons hunt.

answered 8/10/2015

Q: Licenses (What's needed to hunt deer or elk?)

Having never hunted in Idaho it would appear to hunt deer or elk one has to get the big game hunting license and then also get the appropriate deer or elk tag on top of that.
Just checking.


Yes.  Depending on your method of hunting, an appropriate hunting license, tags with appropriate validations (archery or muzzleloader) are  required to hunt deer and elk.  For more information, review the "Licenses, Tags and Permits" section of any of our Seasons and Rules booklets.  A quick call to one of our 9 offices would also help answer your questions.       
Some of the advantages of hunting in Idaho include:  Over-the counter tags for world class big game are available.  Even if you don’t draw a controlled hunt in Idaho or another state – you can purchase general season tags until the quota is reached; Extra deer and elk tag are also available if quotas haven’t been reached by August 1; Great access - 70 percent public land and access to hundreds of thousands of acres of private lands; Discounted license and tag for youth hunters to name a few.

answered 3/2/2015

Q: Tritium powered devices

Why is it legal to have a tritium powered scope on a rifle but not on an archery sight on a bow?
Illegal to use..
Rifle & Shotgun... "With any electronic device attached to, or incorporated
on, the firearm or scope; except scopes containing battery
powered or tritium lighted reticles are allowed."
Archery... "With any electronic or tritium-powered device attached
to an arrow, bolt or bow. Except disabled archery permit
holders may use a non magnifying sight with battery
powered or tritium lighted reticles.


The Idaho Fish and Game Commission support equipment regulations for archery and muzzleloader equipment that are consistent with the primitive nature of the weapons.

answered 2/16/2015

Q: Archery tag question

Say I buy a deer tag for General Archery Season in unit 40 that starts Aug 30- Sep 30 and I do not tag out. Can I still use the same tag for deer In Unit 39 on general Any Weapon Season that starts Oct 10.
If you can please answer.


The simple answer to your questions is yes. General season deer tags can be used in any open general season hunt (archery, any weapon or muzzleloader) as long as the hunter has the appropriate permits. Hunters need to verify seasons in the big game proclamation booklets.

answered 1/26/2015

Q: A Tag & B Tag

What is the difference between an A Tag and a B Tag for elk?


Most elk management zones offer a choice of either an A tag or a B tag. The A and B tags have different season dates and may differ in the opportunity to use different weapon types or the type of elk that may be harvested. Although not the case in all zones that offer A tags and B tags, in most cases A tags offer a preferred opportunity for Archery and/or Muzzleloader hunters and B tags are more preferrable to rifle hunters. There are a wide variety of options available and opportunties do vary greatly among zones, so please review the regulations for the zones you are interested in. If you have any questions, please call your local fish and game office. We will be happy to help you find the tag that best suits the type of opportunity you are looking for.

answered 1/7/2015

Q: Can you hunt muzzleloader with a hunting passport?

can you hunt muzzleloader on with a hunting passport


Yes, you can purchase a muzzleloader stamp with the hunter's hunt in an muzzleloader-only hunt
you can hunt in the Any-weapon general hunt (without muzzleloader stamp).

answered 11/21/2014

Q: "Specific" reasons why only loose powder and non-jacketed projectiles for muzzleloaders

And please don't tell me what the regs are. I know what they are but I want to know the reasoning for these decisions, for they make no sense to me. I have not hunted with muzzleloader for years. Ever since you folks made this rule... I bought my muzzleloader the year just before you made this rule and I refuse to change my powder and bullets. Thanks


The rule for muzzleloader only season is considered a hunting opportunity in the true style of muzzleloaders of the mid to late 1800's.  Current technology can provide an advantage over loose powder and all lead bullets.  In order to prevent these advantages, modern powders and jacketed bullets are restricted.  However, during the short range weapon season you can use your muzzleloader and you are not restricted to loose powder and all lead bullets.

answered 11/7/2014

Q: Short Range weapons

I was unsuccessful in the regular deer hunt, can I still hunt in any of the short range weapons areas? I have both a muzzleloader and a crossbow?


Yes, your regular deer tag is valid in a short range hunt.  Short range hunts are general hunts with a weapon restriction, just be sure to follow the weapon restriction listed on page 100 of the 2014 Big Game Season and Rules brochure.

answered 11/1/2014

Q: Is it sufficient to have your official elk tag with license number, but not be carrying your official combination hunting license and still hunt?

My son has his elk tag with his license # on it, however he cannot find his actual combination hunting license. Does he need to be carrying both to hunt?


This is a great question and unfortunately, especially with young hunters, it occasionally happens that they have either lost their license, washed it or just simply cannot find it. Although the license number is on the tag, Idaho Code 36-1201(c) requires that your "License must be .......on his (your) person at all times when hunting, fishing or trapping and (you must be able to) produce the same for inspection upon request of a conservation officer or any other person authorized to enforce fish and game laws." So, the answer to your question is yes he needs to have both his license and his tag on his person while hunting. You can solve your problem easily a couple of different ways. First you may go to any Regional Office or Vendor and purchase a duplicate license for your son. Another option would be, if your son intends to purchase any other type of validation for his license such as a two pole validation, archery or muzzleloader validation, migratory bird validation or Sharp-tail validation he can make those purchases and a new copy of his combination license will be generated along with the validation.  Good Luck on your hunt!

answered 10/13/2014

Q: muzzleloader/wolf hunt

On a muzzleloader only elk hunt where wolf hunt is also open, can a centerfire weapon be brought into the woods along with a muzzleloader and wolf tag?


Yes, absolutely.  
Just keep the weapons straight for appropriate method of take.

answered 9/16/2014

Q: Archery equipment during muzzleloader season?

Is it legal to use archery equipment during a muzzleloader deer season? The regulations don't seem to be clear on that.


During a Muzzleloader Only season no person shall take big game animils with any firearm, muzzleloading pistol or other implement other than a muzzleloading rifle or musket in accordance with weapon restrictions listed in the Big Game Seasons and Rules; for 2014 seasons listed on page 100.

answered 8/11/2014

Q: Weapon for control hunt 1114

A friend and I drew on the extra doe tags for Unit 1...Control hunt #1114. The season runs from Oct. 10 to Dec. 24. I believe we can only use our center fire rifles from Oct 10 to Dec. 1 and then must use weapon prescribed in late season hunt (muzzleloader). My friend say we can use our center-fire rifles the whole season...Oct. 10 through Dec. 24.
What is the Fish and Game's ruling on weapons?


Hunt #1114 is archery only from August 30 to September 30, and any weapon from October 10 to December 24.
Please note the other limiting criteria of this hunt...that it includes that portion of unit 1 within one mile of private land, and that it is for white-tailed does only.

answered 6/28/2014

Q: Muzzle loader hunt

Can I carry more than one muzzleloader in the field for quick follow up shots or am I restricted to only one legal muzzle loader?


Yes, you may carry a second muzzleloader as long as it is in complianc with all weapons restrictions relative to the hunt you are participating in.

answered 6/26/2014

Q: Can a controlled hunt tag be filled early in a general hunt?

If I draw for an any weapon controlled hunt, can I fill that tag with an early season general archery hunt?


No. If you purchase the controlled hunt tag, you are restricted to the hunt area and dates of the controlled hunt for the tag you possess. Any person who has purchased a controlled hunt tag is prohibited from hunting in any other hunt for the same species (archery, muzzleloader or general) except when the hunter holds an extra controlled hunt tag or purchases a nonresident general season tag as a second tag for the same species.

answered 6/13/2014