Conversations this time of year among hunters often start with the question “Did you draw any controlled hunt tags?”
For non-hunters who may be reading this, a controlled hunt is a hunt with a limited number of tags in a specific area for a specific species. Controlled hunts are desirable because of location and timing. Success rates are usually higher in controlled hunts than in open (general) seasons.
Controlled hunt tags are allocated by a random drawing from a pool of hunters who have submitted applications for the drawing. Moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunts in Idaho are all controlled hunts. There are both general hunts and controlled hunts for most other big game species.
The big game controlled hunt drawings have been completed and hunters have the ability to find out if they were lucky enough to draw a tag by checking the controlled hunt drawing results on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website. Letters are also being sent to those who were successful in the drawing.
Big game hunters who were drawn in controlled hunt drawings for deer, elk, antelope and bear hunts have only until Aug. 1 to purchase their tags. Any tags not purchased by that date will be forfeited. Tags may be purchased at any Fish and Game office, any license vendor, by telephone at (800) 554-8685, or online.
After Aug. 1, IDFG will compile a list of forfeited tags. A second drawing will be held to award the forfeited tags. The application period for this second drawing runs from Aug. 5 to 15. The drawing will be held around Aug. 20. Any tags left will go on sale over the counter on Aug. 25.
One important item hunters should not overlook in the next few weeks is making contact with private landowners on whose property they hope to hunt. The majority of rural landowners will allow some level of hunting on their property if hunters ask permission first. Those landowners are more likely to grant access to their land to people who ask well in advance.
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Phil Cooper is a wildlife conservation educator employed by Idaho Fish and Game in the Panhandle District.