Learn the Idaho Hunting Regulations
It can be a large stumbling block for new hunters to go through the hunting regulations and try to figure out what animal they can hunt, when they can hunt it and where to go hunting. So today on the podcast we will learn how to read a set of Idaho hunting regulations and pick an animal to hunt.
If you have never hunted before, I would suggest you choose either a deer or a wild turkey. There are strong huntable populations of both in nearly every state or province. Today’s exercise will help you learn about hunting a whitetail deer in Idaho, but I hope it gives you the confidence to tackle a similar task for yourself in your home state.
We will need a set of hunting regulations for the state you would like to hunt. In this case, I’m going to go through the current 2019 – 2020 Big Game Regulation for Idaho since that is where I reside.
Hunting regulations are not very fun to read, but they do contain the information we need to know to hunt within the law. We will start by understanding when hunting season opens and closes for the white-tail deer in my area and whether I can shoot males (antlered) or females (antlerless).
Download the Idaho Big Game Hunting Regulations
If you want to follow along as I read through these current regulations, you can visit https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/big-game There you should be able to download the current issue of the Idaho Big Game Regulations. If you are listening to this podcast after the Idaho 2020 hunting season is over, you may be looking at a newer set of regulations, so the page numbers I reference may not coincide.
Now let’s get to those regulations and start figuring out how you can hunt a white-tailed deer.
Start with the Index
On page 5 of this set of regulations, you will see the table of contents. I will highlight the pages we need to discuss related to hunting a whitetail deer. Now if you don’t have a set of regulations in front of you that is okay. Just stick with me as we go through this and you will learn how simple it is to read the regulation when you break it into manageable pieces, or you can go back and listen later with the regulations in front of you.
Now on page 5 at the top left is a section called Deer Seasons and Hunts and under that section is White-tailed Deer Tag. This is where you will decide what season you will hunt and whether you will hunt with a rifle or a bow. This information is on pages 15-18 for every unit in Idaho that you can hunt white-tailed deer. But I’m only going to talk about one unit today and keep it really simple.
Learning the Boundaries
The next section I will highlight is where it says Big Game Unit Map and Unit Boundary Descriptions in the middle of the left-hand column. This is on pages 84-95, but when we get to that part, we will only need to study a couple of those pages and not all of them. Again I’m only going to hunt in one unit so I only need to understand one unit boundary description.
Now I know it looks like a lot of information, but directly below that in the left-hand column is the Big Game Rules. We must read the General Wildlife Laws, Weapon Restrictions and Tagging and Transporting Game. These are the laws that will relate to hunting that white-tailed deer.
Now, we will need the information regarding Licenses and Tags found on pages 114-116. This explains everything you need to know about how and when to tag your animal. More discussion on that later also.
Lastly, I will want to know how much it is going to cost me as a resident to hunt a white-tailed deer. That information follows on pages 116-117. Really it will only take a minute to check that part out, but the license and tag vendor handles all that when I go to purchase them.
Only Read What You Need for Now
So now that I have highlighted those pages, my point that I want to make is that these Idaho hunting regulations are 126 pages long, but we are only going to look at 12 pages to get all the information necessary to hunt a white-tailed deer in Idaho.
When you start reading a hunting regulation, the first thing you need to do is find what matters to you and the hunt you want to go on. Let’s focus on that information first and we can tackle the rest of this book later.
Where Do You Want to Hunt?
So let’s get started. First off, I know that I can hunt white-tailed deer where I live. I also know people who will give me permission to hunt their private property. There is also a large amount of public land near my home that has white-tailed deer on it. So first I am going to see what unit I live in and what the hunting season is in my home area.
So to find out what hunting unit I live in I will look at the Big Game Unit Map on pages 84-85. The map shows that the area I live in is called Unit 10A. So, now I can go over to the White-tailed Deer tag section on pages 15-18 and find hunting opportunities for Unit 10A. That is where I live and I want to hunt near home.
When Can You Hunt?
It says on page 15 in the White-tailed Deer Tag General Any-Weapon Seasons that Unit 10A along with Units 10 and 12 are open from Oct 10 – Nov 20 for both antlered and antlerless. That means I can shoot a buck or a doe in between those dates. And because it is an any-weapon season means I can use a rifle, bow or muzzleloader. So to keep it simple, let’s stop right there and make a plan.
Between Oct 10 – Nov 20 I am going to hunt a white-tailed deer (either sex) in Unit 10A. I will hunt near my house on private land I can get permission to hunt. I’ll also consider any public land I have access to that has white-tailed deer. And I decided to hunt it with a rifle.
Are you following along so far? I know where I’m going to hunt. I know what I’m going to hunt. And I know what weapon I can use to hunt it.
But what if I’m not positive on exactly where the boundary of Unit 10A is? Well, that is where page 87 comes in and I use that description where it says Unit 10A to draw out the boundary on a map. Or you can use a great tool called a GPS to help you define those Boundary lines.
If you’re not familiar with a good GPS tool, stay tuned to the podcast. We will talk more about them in a near-future podcast.
Learn the Hunting Laws
Now that I know where and when I can hunt a white-tailed deer, now I just need to understand the hunting laws to figure out what I can and can’t do when it comes to hunting for a white-tailed deer. So let’s get to pages 97-100 and page 102.
The very first law in the Idaho hunting regulations we are studying says you must have a valid license and tag for the animal you are hunting. It explains what hunting is, how old you need to be to hunt, and bag limits. It even tells you what parts of the animal you must take for consumption and what can stay in the woods.
What is your responsibility when it comes to finding the animal you shot? Can you use electronic calls? Questions like these can be answered by reading these pages.
These hunting laws are very straight forward. It even has a section that tells you what you can not do. It says It Is Unlawful To ____, and all the items listed below that section are a do not do. Pretty cut and dry.
Understanding the Trespass Law
And to round out pages 98 and 99, it talks about the trespass law, possession of dead animal parts, and what happens if you violate the law in Idaho or a state they have a compact agreement with. Hunting rights can be affected in many states if commit a violation in your home state.
I decided to hunt with a rifle in an Any-weapon season. That means on page 100 I only need to read the first section labeled Rifle, Shotgun, and Airgun. The rest is related to Muzzleloaders and Archery. You may want to hunt archery later, but for now, I’m keeping it simple so you can make a plan and go hunting.
Just one more page before you find out how much it is going to cost to hunt your white-tailed deer. Let’s look at page 102. Here we will learn how to notch the tag after the animal is recovered. We find requirements related to transporting your animal. But most importantly that you must leave some evidence of sex attached to the animal even if you’re hunting in an either sex unit like 10A.
How much will it Cost to Hunt?
Now, what is this all going to cost you as a resident?. Let’s head over to page 116 and find the price for a white-tailed deer tag and hunting license. As I look at this page it frustrates me that they are even starting to make this information hard to decipher for the beginner, but I want you to focus on the 3rd column that is labeled Annual, Without Price Lock at the top of the page.
Scroll down and find the Hunting License related to you. As an adult my cost is $15.75, a senior (someone 65 or older) is $13.75, and youth between the ages of 10-17 is $8.25. Now I’ll scroll down and find a white-tailed deer tag. It will cost me $24.75 since I’m an adult. On the next page, it tells me if I’m a youth, senior or disabled veteran the cost for that deer tag would be $12.50. So without getting into a discussion about why the different prices for different ages and with price lock or without price lock. It will cost me $40.50 when I go to my vendor to purchase my tags.
Conclusion of Our Idaho Hunting Regulation Research
So what is the conclusion to my research as I am planning to go hunting for a white-tailed deer next hunting season? It will cost me $40.50 to hunt a white-tailed deer in Unit 10A near my home. I can hunt from Oct 10 – Nov 20 for either sex with my hunting rifle. I’m confident I understand what I can and can’t do, but I will review the laws prior to the start of the hunting season. This is step 2 completed and I’m ready for step 3.
I hope this is simplifying things for you if you are struggling with reading the Idaho hunting regulations and understanding the information. I know because I’ve taught many students, that this stuff can be challenging to learn at first. But breaking it into small sections and tackling it one section at a time will help you learn it.
Learning is the key to success in everything. Don’t burn out trying to be a hunting guru in your first couple of seasons. It takes time to develop the knowledge and skills a veteran hunter has acquired.
Be a Hunting Mentor
I do want to make a plea to any hunters who took the time to listen to me ramble on about this stuff. Could you find all the answers you were looking for in the Idaho hunting regulations? If so, you have knowledge that other hunters do not, even if you have just a year or two of experience. New hunters need your help and guidance. If we are going to keep hunting around for future generations, we need more mentors.
I think there should be only 2 kinds of hunters. New hunters, which I call Greenhorns, or experienced hunters, which I call Greenhorn Mentors. If you are a hunter you should be one or the other.
I think I’m going to apply for my bighorn sheep tag in Idaho this year. But even after 38 years of hunting, I’m really a Greenhorn when it comes to hunting sheep. I’ve never done it and I’m researching and looking for advice.
In 2000 I shot my Mountain Goat in Idaho. Without my new friend Steve who I never met until months prior to that hunt, I know I would not have had such a great hunt and killed such a nice mountain goat.
Join the Hunting Community
Are you a veteran hunter who cares about the future of our hunting tradition and lifestyle. Make a difference by finding someone to mentor.
Don’t have someone in your immediate family or a close friend to show you the way? Then join me and the Greenhorn community. You can learn from us and experience the joys of hunting.
So a couple of simple ways to do that.
- Subscribe to this podcast.
- Get a free copy of my guide at greenhornhunting.com/starthunting
- Join the community of greenhorn hunters and greenhorn mentors at https://greenhorn-hunting-community.mn.co/
Remember when you mentor someone, you’re making a difference. We don’t need more heroes, we need more guides.
Links Related to today’s podcast
Click here to see the 2019-2020 Idaho Big Game Regulations on the Idaho Fish and Game website
Get a free copy of Learn to Hunt: 10 Steps to Hunting Success https://greenhornhunting.com/starthunting
Learn about the Hunter passport in Idaho https://idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/passport
Idaho Hunter Education website https://idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/education
Visit https://greenhornhunting.com/hunter-safety to see options for taking an online class in your state
Lastly, I would like to invite you to join the brand new hunting community we are starting at https://greenhorn-hunting-community.mn.co/. This group is a safe place to ask questions and share knowledge related to hunting. The focus of this group is to help new and inexperienced hunters. Veteran hunters are encouraged to join also and help mentor their fellow hunters.