The Idaho Game and Fish Commission decided at their March 20th meeting to impose new rules when it comes to buying over-the-counter (OTC) elk tags. Game and Fish has found the vast majority of applicants that apply for controlled hunts and are unsuccessful also buy capped elk zone tags. These are mainly archery licenses and a lot of the zones sell out fairly quickly. The most popular are the Sawtooth and Diamond Creek zones. The data shows that hunters apply for a controlled hunt as a long shot option and if they are unsuccessful they will just go buy an OTC archery tag because they 100% want to hunt Idaho that year. Game and Fish are implying that this mentality makes many capped zone tags sell out very quickly. The popular areas sell out in a matter of a couple hours.
So here’s the deal. If you applied for a controlled hunt and want to buy a capped zone elk tag, you must wait for five days after they go on sale to give other people that didn’t apply for a controlled hunt a chance at buying a tag OTC. Game and Fish are looking out for the average Joe hunter that doesn’t apply for controlled hunts but just wants to go on his/her same elk hunt every year and is happy with just that. Will this actually do anything? I doubt it. I’m sure there will be some people that don’t know how to use a computer and will be able to stroll down to a license seller and purchase a elk tag the first five days they go on sale but all the tags will sell out on day five anyway. It will be interesting to see if Game and Fish accomplishes what they want to with this new rule.
This will apply for residents only in 2020 as some of the capped zones already went on sale December 1st for nonresidents. Most of the capped zones go on sale in July, so be sure to keep that noted if you are a resident and apply for a controlled hunt. I’m guessing that all zones that have capped elk tags will change to July next year for nonresidents as well, so be on the lookout for coming changes over the next year right here on the blog.