Big game seasons set in Idaho

Idaho elk

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Last week, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved the 2019-20 big game seasons, which include increased opportunities for mule deer, elk and black bear. However, those interested in hunting Idaho whitetail deer will see shorter seasons in some of the Clearwater Region units and “a nonresident tag sold as a second tag to a resident or a nonresident will not be valid in some units” within this area, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG).

The application period for controlled hunts for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat is April 1 to 30 and the application period for deer, elk, antelope and fall black bear runs May 1 to June 5. The new seasons and associated rules for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain are available now. Others will be available online in early April. Paper copies will be available a few weeks after and can be picked up at IDFG offices and license vendors.

Per IDFG, here’s the changes to expect for the 2019-20 big game seasons:

Mule deer:

  • Reduce season length for mule deer in the Panhandle Region by closing it on Nov. 20 for the regular deer tag in an effort reduce harvest.
  • Reduce antlered and antlerless controlled hunts in the Clearwater Region in Units 11,13 and 18 in response to winter aerial survey data.
  • Extend the Unit 39 youth either-sex season to end Oct. 31 in align with the general deer season.
  • Increase antlerless deer tags from 500 to 1,500 in Unit 39 either-sex controlled hunt and include Unit 43 in the boundary.
  • Add youth antlerless deer hunts from Oct. 10 to 16 to restore youth hunt opportunities to some units in Southeast Region.
  • Eliminate all either-sex controlled hunts in Units 66 and 69 as a result of winter aerial surveys.


  • Elk City Zone: Established a cap on A tags with 628 tags first-come, first-served,and reduced the tag quota by 20% for B tags, taking it to 1,432 B tags available.
  • Sawtooth Zone: Elk tags will remain available on a first-come, first-served basis. Nonresident tags will be sold on May 10 and resident tags on July 12. Tags numbers will be increased this year to 1,000 for A tags and 1,800 for B tags.
  • Smoky-Bennett Zone: Provide 2,500 first-come, first-served B tags for antlerless elk only in Units 45 and 52 with the season running from Nov. 1 to 30.
  • Big Desert Zone: Provide 500 B tags on a first-come, first-served basis for antlerless only in Unit 52A only with the season running from Nov. 1 to 30.
  • Snake River Zone: Removed general hunting opportunity in Unit 63 and replaced with two unlimited controlled hunts, an antlerless only hunt Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 and an either sex hunt Aug. 1 to Aug. 30.
  • Pioneer Zone: Provide 2,500 B tags on a first-come, first-served basis for antlerless elk only with the season running from Nov. 1 to Dec. 7.
  • South Hills Zone: Established a cap on B tags with 500 tags first-come, first served basis for antlerless elk only in Unit 54 only.

Shop article bar

Whitetail deer:

  • Nonresident tags used as second tags cannot be used for the general deer hunts in Units 10, 12, 16A, 17, 19 and 20 in the Clearwater Region.
  • General white-tailed deer hunts were reduced in units 16A, 17, 19 and 20 in the Clearwater Region, and will now run from Oct. 10 through Nov. 18
  • In the Panhandle region, the X-Tag hunt area description was changed from “within one mile of private land” to “on or within one mile of a private agricultural field.”
  • A nonresident tag limit of 240 tags was set in the unlimited antlered hunt in Unit 73.

Black bear:

  • Controlled hunts will be continued in Southwest Region units where they have traditionally been while increasing season lengths, youth hunter opportunity and increasing tag numbers.
  • Units 31 and 22 were split into two separate fall controlled black bear hunts, and tags were increased in each, for a net increase of 150 tags between the two units.
  • Units 32 and 32A were split into two separate spring controlled hunts with 200 and 40 tags available, respectively. A new youth only spring controlled black bear hunt was also added in Unit 32, with 25 tags available. There was a net increase of 190 spring controlled hunt tags for the two units combined. The spring controlled hunts in both units run from April 1 through May 22, and the youth only controlled hunt runs from May 23 to June 15.
  • A second tag and electronic calls may be used in Units 14, 15 and all of Unit16 (eliminating the second tag north of the Selway river only) and the season was extended in Unit 14.
  • The general spring hunt dates were extended to June 30 in Units 14, 19A, 23, 24(portion of unit only), 25, 33 and 39.
  • In the Southeast Region, general spring and fall black bear hunts were created in units 71, 72, 74, 75, 77 and 78, and a summer dog-training season was added in response to public input.

Mountain lion:

  • Existing female quotas will remain in place in the Southwest and Magic Valley regions for Units 22, 23, 24, 25, 32, 32A, 33, 34, 35, 43, 44, 48 and 49.
  • Seasons were lengthened in Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6.
  • Use of second tags was expanded in Units 14, 15 and 16, and use of electronic calls will be allowed in Unit 14, 15 and 16.
  • Female quotas were increased in Units 54 and 55 to provide additional hunting opportunity.
  • Female quotas were increased in the Southeast Region and new male lion harvest quotas were created to increase the average age of lions in the harvest and reduce overall lion abundance.
  • Wolves:
  • Wolf hunting was opened year-round on private land in Units 22, 24, 31, and all units in the Salmon Region to address chronic livestock depredations.
  • New wolf trapping seasons were added in Units 8, 8A, 11, 11A, 31, 32, 34 and 35.
  • New private land-only trapping seasons were opened from Oct. 10 through March 31 in various units in Southern Idaho in an effort to prevent wolf expansion into the area and minimize potential wolf conflicts with livestock.
  • Possession of tags was increased in the Panhandle, Clearwater, Upper Snake and Salmon Regions to 10 hunting and 10 trapping tags per hunter/trapper in a year.
  • A proposed trapping season in Units 48 and 49 in the Magic Valley Region was eliminated from consideration in response to public opposition.
  • The opening date for most trapping seasons will be Oct. 10, excluding Units 1, 60, 61, 62, and 62A which will continue to open on Nov. 15, and Units 7, 9, and that portion of Unit 6 within the North Fork St. Joe River drainage will open Sep. 10.

Good luck!


Shop gifts curated for any kind of hunter
12 days. 78 winners. Over $40,000 in prizes.