Home / General / Gem State Bumps Non-Resident Tag Prices-BIG TIME!

Gem State Bumps Non-Resident Tag Prices-BIG TIME!

If you are a western big game hunter you likely already know that Idaho offers some of the best OTC deer and elk hunting in the continental U.S. They have a true-blue straight-up draw system, solid tag prices, tons of public land and good hunting to go along with it. To sum it up, Idaho is a top choice for non-resident hunters from all over the country and for good reason. 

However, as with most good things, some of this may come to an end in the near future. Hunter pressure whether perceived or real has become a top complaint in many areas throughout Idaho. And in some cases, rightfully so, however, state agencies such as IDFG are limited as to how they can better manage issues such as hunter density, especially with the current laws. A recent proposal has been introduced which has passed through the Governor’s Office and the game Commission but will be awaiting final approval during the 2020 legislative session. This proposal would eliminate the current state-wide nonresident cap of 12,815 elk tags and 14,000 deer tags. Currently, once the cap is reached IDFG is sold out and closes up shop to non-residents. 

As with anything there are pros and cons, this particular rule has some obvious setbacks. For example: popular units are being overrun while areas on the decline are hardly touched. Resident hunters are seeing high pressure in many areas due to this weak link. Therefore, IDFG has proposed they should have the ability to manage the non-resident cap unit-by-unit with the exception they cannot go below 10% of the unit’s average hunter participation which is estimated from the previous 5 years annual counts. I’ve been browsing social media and reading up on a plethora of comments/ideas and generally speaking most Idaho residents are in favor of this concept as well as a good handful of non-residents. However, there is a catch! 

IDFG is expecting a drop off in non-resident hunters, thus, they introduced a financial plan to compensate for this and are proposing to raise non-resident license and tag prices SUBSTANTIALLY. For example, a non-resident hunter currently pays $153.00 for a hunting license. If this proposal passes, that license would cost them $183.00. Not a huge change, right? Well, that’s debatable, but you’re still seeing a 20% increase. Now let’s buy an elk tag… current price; $415.00 proposed price; $650.00! We’re seeing a dent in the pocketbook on that one. A $235 increase, which equates to a whopping 57% jump! Definitely a game changer. The list of prices varies and doesn’t seem to have a consistent direction. To see these changes and review the proposal click here.

I see pros and cons, Idaho has been a place for me to go that is close to home, I hunt and fill my freezer with elk meat for a reasonable price. I love hunting and Idaho gives me a chance to do it more than if I chose to only hunt in my home state of Montana. However, my odds of buying a tag next year just dropped substantially. On the flip side, my hunting spot in Idaho has become a literal zoo in many ways, over the past 7 years I have gone from bumping into a few locals here and there to wondering how I can still hunt my spot because there are people everywhere or how creative I can be to get away from the pressure.

This plan will even out the pressure in many units and it will cut the non-resident participation down as well. It is yet to be seen for Idaho, but not long-ago Montana did the same thing and they sold out of non-resident tags yet again for 2019. I suspect Idaho will see similar results over time. Meanwhile, one can only hope these changes are what’s best for the big game animals we all love to pursue. But that is another topic for another time. Good luck out there! Is it September yet?

About Jordan Breshears

Jordan Breshears

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27 comments

  1. $$ is what this is all about in any state. I am afraid in the future this will continue to be one part of the puzzle why we are losing hunters/young people, and a shadow of only the rich can play the way hunting it is now in Europe.

    • Agree, we lose young hunters (they are the future of hunting and support ). They see the cost and can’t afford these exciting hunts. Know that states have to control overcrowding areas, but price increase may not be answer. One way could be limited #tags per units in state. Would have to review overall health of herds in given unit and how many harvested. Tags could then be adjusted after each harest season…. just my pov

  2. We’ve had it too good for too long. Eventually things have a way of catching up. The proposal will definitely cut some people out of the equation altogether. This is one good way of improving the overall hunting experience for residents and non-residents alike.

  3. Raise the prices and price the common man out of hunting!

    • Price out the common man? The common man is the Resident hunter who can only afford to hunt his home state and wants to enjoy the experience without having to fight over the same area with a bunch of non-residents. Every out of state hunter I have met is either obsessed with hunting and poor (less common) or quite wealthy and the increase in price will mean nothing to them. This has been a problem in Idaho for a while now and it is nice that the IDAHO Fish and Game is finally listening to the hunters in IDAHO!

  4. It’s about time my home state does something for us residents.

    • Federal land, paid for by all through federal taxes – hunted by all – resident or not.

      • Federal land, correct. Hunt game on Federal land by non residents, incorrect. The wildlife belongs to the State. Non residents can do anything on Federal lands except hunt or fish. To do that you need a license from the State.

    • I agree Guy! For those responding “federal land” yes, but how is this any different than what the other 49 states are doing? haha Sorry you can’t come to Idaho as easily as it has been in the past, but Idaho needs to take care of Idaho wildlife so that we (residents and non residents) can enjoy and pursue them! Idaho is finally getting on board with the other states and doing what is best for Idaho (yes residents included).

    • Well said Guy, shootbrownelk and Kevin! It is nice that after years of this being an issue in the state that Fish and Game seem to finally be listening to residents. I have actually stopped hunting a few of my preferred areas because of out of state hunters. And these are areas that my dad has hunted since the 70’s and started me and my siblings hunting when we were 12. I miss hunting there but can’t bring myself to fight the crowds of out of state hunters. I remember the last year I hunted there me and my brother hiked in probably 3+ miles in an attempt to get away from the crowds and set up on a nice glassing spot before first light only to have 3 out of state hunters come walking across the ridge just above us right at first light. Not surprisingly we didn’t see a single deer that morning.

  5. As an Idahoan, there are some areas I go to hunt during the season and some of you may not believe this but when I hunt these areas I literally never see another Idaho license plate except my own…all I see are CA and UT plates…it’s no secret that Idaho hunters despise CA and UT hunters but we deal with them just like any other hunters do and most of us realize it just is what it is…so for IDFG cutting the number of non-res tags and raising the non-resident fees is fine with me!

  6. Ah not really, raised prices in CO, MT, CA had no effect really. Actually hunters numbers /tag sales are up. This myth of losing hunters can’t make sense when we read in the Article the issue hunters behind every tree- crowded? Leftover licenses sell out faster today than ever before in every state. Must not be the diminishing number of hunters buying them ? Supply and demand as well as price all relate. I’m all for the increase.

    • Non resident license sales are at an all time high in Wyoming. And as John McCann stated, all I see in my hunt areas nowadays are out of state plates. Mostly from Colorado.

  7. Also makes no sense that the non resident cap is a total-total of 26K non res tags. How can residents say overcrowded by non res? Do the math. That’s for all seasons ! If that’s the case reduce total tag numbers for res and non res. Hunter numbers nationwide are up higher than any time in history and growing contrary to what the industry in dictates. If you can’t buy $400 boots, 250 pants a new 1300 bow every year we don’t want u out there hunting anyway. Let’s get the poor man out of this game anyway! Kings deer! Money is not a factor in hunting, only for poor people ! Bass Pro and cabelas in state now, 3 full time hunting channels on TV all day. Tons of new bow and rifle makers – look back 15 years ago compare to today – hunting is booming like never before. That’s the good bad !

    • It’s because the non-residents pick the better areas and tend over crowd them. This makes sense if you’re paying that kind of money to hunt you want to be in the best area possible. This is what is causing the over crowding and a way to deal with this is to force the non-residents to spread out whether they want to it not, which is part of this new law.

  8. When an out of state hunter can purchase an elk tag yet then decide to shoot a deer, wolf, bear, or cougar and just put their tag on it, then I don’t feel bad they “have” to pay $650 for such a magical tag… out of state hunters are getting prioritized over residence and it needs to change!

  9. The author says he likes to fill his freezer with Idaho Elk. Well so do I and if I have to compete with a few less out of state hunters than I am fine with that. Up here we see mostly Washington plates with a few Montana ones mixed in. I’m sorry their states hunting sucks for them but I don’t want it to suck here for me either.

  10. Colorado did the same thing years ago with the big price increase. I remember when an elk tag went from around $250 to $450 (many years ago obviously!) I wrote the colorado DOW about this and they informed me that they were expecting a large increase in the number of non resident hunters they would lose(can’t remember the exact number but it was substantial), but they said they would end up with the same result financially because of the big price increase. I proceeded to explain to them the mathematical logic of this situation. It was black and white!! Yes they lost thousands of non resident hunters but ended up with the same amount of money but look at those thousands of people that will no longer be spending their money in their state on hotels, gas, food, alcohol, tobacco, etc……Now the state takes a BIG hit!!!!! They didn’t care!

  11. There are many variables that are affected, but the two primary ones are managing good game populations and having the financial means to do so. The plan makes sense to me. I’m an Oregonian and have always wanted to hunt Idaho. I still hope to do so, but this will limit my number of opportunities to do so. I’m totally ok with that. Happy hunting all!

  12. Born and raised in idaho. I’m 40 years of age. Idaho’s hunting has been going down hill for years. There’s a few trophy units were the hunting is decent. The raise in prices on the nonresident wont do nothing to thin crowds. The nonresident should be happy it was only a price hike. I’ve heard in the wind of taking the nonresident to FULL DRAW. Cant wait until that happens. last few hunting seasons. I’ve seen multiple out of state plate. As far as Florida and new York. I definitely have no love for nonresident hunters. Correct me if I’m wrong but I do believe idaho is the last western state with otc tags for nonresident. Every other western state is full draw. Other states may offer a unit or 2 with otc tag . But pretty much 80% of the state is open to the nonresident hunter in idaho. Nonresident hunter needs to be glad idaho fish and game like money so it’s going to be a while until they thin u out with a full draw. By that time the deet and elk herds with be in such sad shape u wont bother wasting time putting in for a tag. So cheer up and stop bithchin . I’m going to assume most out of staters got deep pockets

  13. I’m an Idaho resident and this proposed rule change says one thing to me….excitement for the future. Less Midwestern and Southerner license plates will be inundating the units I typically hunt. The decrease in non-res volume undoubtedly will affect some of our towns’ economies, but hunting is a heritage not the commercialized entity is has become. Keep Lee and Tiffany at home hunting the cornfields for their animals. I’d rather see zero people when I’m hunting and not take an unpressured animal than have the issues most residents are currently encountering. This is a resident-favored rule. Look at Wyoming–you can’t even hunt a wilderness area without a guide/resident. States surrounding Idaho are much more staunch with their approach to big game management. Non-resident hunters can always rely on Colorado. That state has changed significantly in the last 7 years plus it has gobs of OTC tags for the non-resident hunter. Good luck!

    • I am also an ID resident but, we need to share and help the local small town businesses make a little $$ by out of state hunters instead of “I’d rather see zero people” we need to remember we all own public land and the future of hunting means people can experience the NW.

      • I agree in sharing, however I believe it’s a 90/10 rule–overcrowding needs to be moderated as it’s a balance between enjoying what the West hast to offer and what hunting a national forest in Indiana provides. There’s a big difference here, and many of us (including non-residents) don’t want there to be too many similarities between the two. Hunting season is long and non-residents will still be here–just in lower numbers. Your comment definitely has some credibility as the small towns will need sources of income. That’s the difficulty in re-balancing the equation and will be interesting to see which way F&G’s approach will shift the tides. I, by no means, know the intricacies involved in economics and what role hunting has in them as a whole although I’m sure it is significant.

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