Home / General / 10 Most Common Big Game Violations Part 4 (Tagging)

10 Most Common Big Game Violations Part 4 (Tagging)


In Idaho, it is a misdemeanor to not properly validate and attach your tag immediately upon kill.  I’ll be breaking this down, so you have a better understanding of what exactly is required.  

In Idaho Statute 36-409(d) “Game Tag to Be Validated and Attached to Carcass” it states, as soon as a person kills any wildlife for which a tag is required, that tag must be validated and attached in a manner provided by commission rule.  That law can be vague, so we must look to the Idaho Administrative Code  Here we can find a more descriptive answer.  

Immediately after any deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, mountain lion, black bear, grizzly bear, or gray wolf is killed, the appropriate big game animal tag must be validated and securely attached to the animal.

  1. Validation: Cut out and completely remove only the two (2) triangles indicating the date and month of kill.
  2. Attach: Deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, mountain goat, black bear, and bighorn sheep: to the largest portion of the edible meat to be retained by the hunter or any person transporting for the hunter. The tag must remain attached during transit to a place of processing and remain attached until the meat is processed. The validated tag must accompany the processed meat to the place of final storage or final consumption.  Mountain lion, black bear, grizzly bear, and gray wolf: To the hide until the mandatory check is complied with.

Think of immediate as “without delay”.  For me that means that I’ll wait to notch the tag until I walk up to that animal and confirm that it is dead.  Cutting out, “Notching” the tag is self-explanatory.  Attaching the tag to the “largest portion of edible meat” depends on a couple things.

Are you quartering out the deer, boning the meat or leaving it whole?  In the Idaho Big Game booklet, it says that the tag must be attached to the whole, quartered, or a portion of edible meat if boned.  If you kill a buck and leave it whole, wrapping the tag around an antler would work, but if you remove the head from the carcass, you can no longer leave the tag attached to the antlers.  

If the animal is quartered, the tag must be attached to the largest quarter (or edible meat).  A good way that I will remember to do it from now on is I will have one game bag that is dedicated for the quarter with the evidence of sex/species and with the tag attached.  My process will be immediately tagging the buck around the antlers, until I’m ready to remove the head (my last step) from the carcass.  Once I’m ready to remove the head, I’ll transfer the tag to the quarter/meat.  

If you do this, it will be easy to remember which bag has your tag (if quartered) and evidence of sex (refer to the previous blog post on evidence of sex requirements).  Make sure you check your state’s regulations because many are different from Idaho.  In California for example, you must attach the tag to the antler of a buck or ear of a doe and leave it there no matter if you quarter the deer or not.  This is something that I took for granted when I moved to Idaho from California.  

The final part about the tag accompanying the meat to the final storage or consumption place is straight forward.  If you take the meat to a Game Processor, the tag will stay with your meat until the Processor gives you back your meat.  The tag must stay with that meat until it arrives at your house (or place of final consumption).  Again, pay attention to your state’s codes because in California, the tag must stay on the antler and not go with the meat.  

About Rodger Holscher

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  1. In Colorado the tag must be attached before transport and must be voided by notching day and month of kill, then separating the tag from the rest of the license. There’s no way I am attaching a tag to any part of the animal until I have it at a vehicle for transport. Most of the animals I have harvested need quartered or drug across the ground a considerable distance and I would not want to lose the tag.

    • That’s the great thing about States like Colorado and Utah. Their laws are more practical and are not so restrictive.

  2. I may understand why leaving evidence of sex on big game animals, but is it really important. I heard of bucks with, well you know what, but what are they studying? My uncle shot a buck in New York State that had no ears, not even ear canals. That’s worth studying. Joke is when I was younger we had Wonder Woman, now we have Wonder if it’s a woman!!!

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