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Idaho Nonresident License Fees go up!

Tough time finding the extra money to buy your license and tags? Well hold on, because costs are going up and some permits are skyrocketing! Idaho has been a fair priced state for hunting licenses for decades, and most of us blue collar hunters really appreciate the below average fees associated with hunting the Gem state. After Montana jumped through the roof nearly a decade ago, it was a breath of fresh air to have Idaho “hold on for the little guy”, or so it seemed until now. Legislative sessions are coming to an end in Idaho and as the dust settles, one of the major changes we see for IDFG is the new nonresident license and tag fee structure. Idaho hasn’t bumped prices for roughly 10 years, and when they last bumped them it wasn’t anything to write home about. That doesn’t appear to be true this time around. Although costs are not as high as they could be, prices for the more prominent tags jumped up substantially. If you ask most residents and many other sportsmen around the West they will tell you that this move is way overdue and many are welcoming the change. However, nonresident fees make up for 57% of IDFG’s budget in 2019. Yet, new structured nonresident caps are well underway as per the commission’s newly adopted plan to “…authorize the Commission to restrict nonresident participation by proclamation in general season big game hunts to reduce the hunter congestion.” IDFG was expecting a 5-9 million dollar loss due to lack of NR funds. Thus, HB 330 was presented and passed “…just to stay even” according to Rep. Clark Kauffman who voted in favor of the bill. Or as the statement of purpose for HB 330 says: “The increased fees in the bill are necessary to compensate for the reduced levels of nonresident participation, allowing the Commission to maintain a balanced budget that can support existing services. The bill, in combination with the Commission’s desired reduction in nonresident tags, will improve management of nonresident participation and maintain quality, diverse general hunt opportunities for residents.” 


In an attempt to simplify the busyness of this, here is the shorter version: Resident hunters have been overrun in many units and are making this known to IDFG. Thus, the Commission has instituted a new NR cap that no longer is a statewide blanket/allocation and will now be managed unit by unit or as IDFG sees fit to best manage hunter pressure with the goal of protecting resident hunter’s experience. This new unit by unit NR cap will reduce funds as many nonresidents will either not be able to obtain their tags or may choose not to hunt based on the changes. Thus, a prediction of loss of funds and a price hike to help pick up the tab! Clear as mud? 

So what is the nonresident take-away? Let’s hear your thoughts! I have hunted Idaho for most of my life, and I am a nonresident hunter there. I totally understand the concerns with hunter pressure and have experienced them firsthand. Also, I can see a benefit to a more evenly distributed nonresident tag allocation. However, raising costs of Jr. mentored tags more than 600% or boosting my archery or muzzleloader permit up to $80 is a bit much if you ask me! For a full list of the new pricing structure click here. These changes will NOT impact your 2020 hunts, as they do not go into effect until Dec. 1st 2020. Is this a time we decide to put our money towards another hunting adventure? Idaho has a lot to offer, but with these changes they are nearly status quo with Montana and Wyoming, this creates a split in the road for many hunters and until we see how IDFG changes the unit by unit NR quotas a big question mark stands in the gap for 2021 hunts.

About Jordan Breshears

Jordan Breshears

14 comments

  1. My home State of Arizona did this a long time ago. They also finally limited OTC Archery Tags to NR in the Kaibab and the Strip. But we still allow OTC Archery Tags to NR in the rest of the State and many Units are over pressured to the max. I expect these Archery Tags will become Draw Tags in the future. And Arizona makes you buy a NR Hunting License in order to apply. People complain about a $1,000.00 NR Elk/Deer Tag, then blow 2 or 3 times that for 2 days in Disneyland. Go figure.

  2. If it was the residents that wanted this change,then why wasn’t the resident license bumped up to account for the budget shortfall??

  3. Yes it is all about $. Here in ID we are just doing what other states have done raise the $ on non-resident tags. My hope is IDFG will use the money wisely.

  4. Sign of the times…blah blah more $$$ ‘NR also bring in lots of revenues with purchasing food, gas…you can blame the NR but managing the $$ is probably the main culprit. Eventually the residents will have to handle the cost on their own..

  5. Being an Idaho native, glad to see it. All I see anymore during hunting season is out of state plates.

  6. Didn’t apply in Idaho this year. Tired of getting screwed by these states. Cutting back on application’s. Been threatened and have had a gun pointed at myself and my wife on an antelope hunt in Wyoming couple years ago while hunting public ground. Eventually you’ll run off all the NR hunters and you’ll have no money. And what will you do when the crazies vote to introduce wolves in into your states. I will not feel the least bit sorry for you and I won’t have any money for that either. For all the money I’ve spent trying to draw a tag, I could have went to Canada and had less grief.

  7. Bend over grab those ankles Boyz more to come ! One State follows the other and cycle starts again. Those states that have gone 4-5 years now since an increase will bump theirs up and then in 5-7 years Idaho will go up 20-40% more. Cost go up not down ! The question to really ask is did ur income go up at same rate enough to offset/wash it out? Used to pay $50-60 for a dozen quality arrows and now it’s $150-180! With every gun being made now being Sub-MOA and full data and compensation as well as range finding in scopes – do u still call it hunting or Tag buying ? I shot My sons new rifle set up starting at 300 yds 5 min later rang entire box of shells at 800-1100 yards like child’s play. Don’t “need” to much hunting skill – we’ve become “tag buyers”. We Should see 90-100% success on every hunt within 10 years I bet? Maybe we can get drones with a 1-2 shot barrel and camera and hunt from camp – let’s push the limits here and make hunting real fun sitting on our butt! It’s all part of the spiral enjoy it !

  8. In general continuing to raise non-resident fees is a poor plan for the long term for any game department. When non-residents decide to quit paying these ever escalating tag fees – then guess who will pay more ? It would make more sense for Fish & Game departments to manage (limit) hunter numbers per species by unit with a set ratio for resident / non-resident tags. Resident tags should always be less expensive than non-resident – but paying 10 to 15 times more than a resident for any tag is ridiculous. As a non-resident who hunts primarily BLM or National Forest land – it is hard to understand why state resident hunters believe they should have exclusive access to these resources ? I am sure that the local business owners that receive a significant part of their income from non-resident hunters in purchases of fuel, lodging, food, etc. were not part of any discussion when deciding to raise tag prices to the point where non-residents just quit traveling to hunt.

    • Small local business owners will be taking it in the gut as you suggest on this and no one ever asked for their input.

  9. Raising an archery and muzzleloader permit from $18.25 to $80? Must be where they want to limit the NR since there is no permit fee for rifle.

  10. This cycle will continue unless NR hunters organize and demand a sensible approach to managing pressure and demand for tags. There is simply no voice for the NR hunter at the western state level so the politicans in those states will continue to make the resident voters happy. Jacking up youth hunting fees does nothing for the future of hunting and sadly no one is there to call out the folks proposing and making this nonsense law.

  11. Everyone always cries when a state raises non-resident fees, it sucks but is part of life. As an Idaho resident, when I want to go play in another state I have to pay those fees and plan accordingly. There is a few states in the west that have screwed up the hunting for their residents and that makes it easier for them to come to Idaho, maybe those resident hunters should work to fix there own state to make it better for them. Those are the hunters usually in Idaho every year and with the quotas, that were already in place, could be taking the spot of another hunter that may only get to come west a few times in their life. Even with the prices going up, Idaho is still a great spot for non-residents. I didn’t realize the muzzleloader and archery permits were going to jump that much, which I don’t think is right. As for the jr mentored tags/licenses, there was people abusing/taking advantage of it.

  12. Raise the fees all you want. I dropped a lot of states last year. I’m now down to 2 states in addition to my own. Once I draw and burn my points in those states, I’ll just be hunting in my home state. Got sucked into the points game years ago, when points were pretty cheap. Now points are way too expensive. I’m at the top and it’s still very hard to draw, but have to stick with a couple species in those 2 states. I really don’t mind paying up for a great tag, but $150 to buy a point, can’t do that anymore. So, again, once I actually get to “pay up” for an elk or deer tag, I won’t be getting back in the game.

  13. The consequences of these reflexive policy positions will inexorably reverberate vertically and horizontally throughout all economic sectors in these states. Consequently residents will be forced to make up the extreme economic shortfalls of ever-growing public agency budgets. Similarly, with increased Balkanization betwixt-and-between states those same resident hunters who clamor for extirpation of the non-resident will be the next target. Without the massive influx of non-resident monies ‘political power’ of resident hunters will diminish, significantly.

    Y’all better wake TFU as to what’s really going on here and more broadly to ‘The Hunter-Conservationist Movement: death by a thousand cuts……

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