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Changes to Idaho's nonresident 2021 OTC deer/elk tags and updates on available tags

Idaho 2021 nonresident available otc tags

Punched 2020 Idaho mule deer tag. Photo credit: Brady Miller

December 10 update: We have just recently passed the one week mark since Idaho’s 2021 nonresident regular general season deer and elk tags went on sale on December 1. Tables below in the article have been updated.

Jump to: Previous Sellout Dates 2021 Tag List

Just a HUGE reminder that all nonresident Idaho OTC deer and elk tags go on sale on December 1, 2020 @ 10 a.m. MST for purchasing a nonresident deer or elk tag for the 2021 season. Get ready, because most likely with these new changes in place, tags will sell out quickly. Starting in the 2021 season, nonresident hunters in most general season elk and deer hunts will be limited to 10 or 15 percent of the total hunters in each elk zone or deer unit based on hunter participation estimates averaged over the last five years. The new limits do not apply to capped elk zones. 

    Note: If you really want to pick up a coveted tag, or ensure you get the deer unit you want, you should log in to your account roughly 15 minutes in advance. Everyone logged on in advance will be put into a “waiting room” and randomly selected to make a purchase, so there is no benefit to logging in well in advance of the sale. 

    Idaho resident deer and elk tags are not limited by quotas.

    Big changes for 2021

    • Nonresidents will have to pick an elk zone, as in the past, but nonresident tags will be limited in all zones that were not previously capped for both nonresidents and residents.
      • There is no change to the existing cap on nonresidents in capped elk zones.
    • Nonresident deer hunters will have to pick the unit they plan to hunt and can only hunt in that unit.
      • Units now have nonresident caps
    • Nonresident hunters planning to buy an elk tag and deer tag should also beware the deer tag will only be valid in one hunting unit, whereas most elk zones consist of several units. 
    • Nonresidents will pay higher fees in 2021, which will also take effect Dec. 1. A nonresident adult hunting license will be $185, a deer tag will cost $351.75 and an elk tag will cost $651.75. 
    • Fish and Game has a new license vendor, and anyone planning to buy a license and/or tag should go online prior to Dec. 1 and set up an account, or check their existing account to make sure it is valid. If the hunter’s account does not have correct information, contact a customer service agent at (800) 554-8685. You will not be able to buy a license/tag online without a valid account. 
    • Under the new online licensing system, if you have a license and tag in your shopping cart, they are reserved for you. You will have 5 minutes to complete the purchase or they will go back into the pool of available tags. 
    • There is a new limit on reduced-price tags for nonresident disabled American veterans, which is 500 nonresident DAV deer tags and 300 nonresident DAV elk tags for over-the-counter deer and elk hunts. After those are sold out, nonresident disabled veterans can still buy deer/elk tags if available, but at full nonresident prices. 
    • New nonresident limits apply only to general-hunt tags. Nonresidents can still apply for controlled hunts, and will remain limited to no more than 10 percent of the tags in each controlled hunt.

    According to IDFG, nonresident tag reductions in general hunts will include:

    • Elk Zones with A/B tags, and most deer units with regular or whitetail tags where current nonresident participation exceeds 15 percent of total hunters, will be reduced to 15 percent nonresidents.
    • Zones and units currently with 10 to 14 percent nonresidents will be reduced to 10 percent nonresidents.
    • Zones and units currently with less than 10 percent nonresident participation can not exceed 10 percent.
    • Twelve backcountry deer units with low hunter participation will be limited to the current level of nonresidents.

    Update on tag availability

    Of the 14,000 nonresident regular general season deer tags, as of December 8 there are only 5,512 left for the 2021 season. To put that in perspective, there were still 5,937 tags available on June 5, 2020. That is significant because at that point in time the tags had been available for an astonishing 6 months! So 2021 is already selling out faster than ever in the history of Idaho’s tag sales. 

    In regards to elk tags, of the 12,815 nonresident tags, as of December 8 there are still 4,174 left for the 2021 season. Back on June 5 of 2020 there were still 2,946 available for the 2020 season.

    Purchase your 2021 tag here

    Sellout dates from previous years

    In June of 2020, Dave Barnett wrote an article updating last year's available tags and he provided a table showing when tags sold out in years past. That table is included below.

    Idaho nonresident OTC tag sell-out dates since 2017

    Tag TypeSell out date
    OTC elkOct. 31
    OTC regular/whitetail deerOct. 23
    OTC whitetail deerNov. 7
    Tag TypeSell out date
    OTC elkSept. 24
    OTC regular/whitetail deerOct. 4
    OTC whitetail deerOct. 10
    Tag TypeSell out date
    OTC elkAug. 16
    OTC regular/whitetail deerAug. 27
    OTC whitetail deerSept. 13
    Tag TypeSell out date
    OTC elkJun. 17
    OTC regular deerJun. 26
    OTC whitetail deerJuly 26
    Tag TypeSell out date
    OTC elkLate March*
    OTC regular deerMarch 12*
    OTC whitetail deer--

    * Sell out dates for 2021 estimated based on some reporting I've seen from IDFG.

    Remaining 2021 Idaho nonresident tags

    If you need help deciding which unit or zone to pick up a tag for, be sure to check out Filtering 2.0.

    Below is the number of available tags as reported by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game as of December 8, 2020. Note: these numbers are not updated by the state in real-time and some of the tags actually might have sold out by now.

    2021 Nonresident Quota & Available Tags

    Tag TypeQuotaAvailable
    as of Dec. 8, 2020
    Regular (both) deer
    and/or whitetail deer
    Zone elk A and B tag12,8154,174
    Reserved whitetail deer*1,5001,500

    * Reserved whitetailed deer tags become available after the main quota of 14,000 has sold out. Includes outfitter and non-outfitted tags.

    Idaho 2021 nonresident regular deer tags remaining

    Idaho 2021 nonresident elk tags remaining

    Idaho 2021 nonresident whitetail deer tags remaining


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