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Idaho Fish and Game expects rush on nonresident deer, elk tags

An elk standing in tall grass beginning to lift its head and bugle.
Ray Stainfield, U.S. Forest Service
Idaho Fish and Game begins selling deer and elk tag to nonresidents Friday morning.

Non-Idaho residents hoping to bag a deer or elk this season will be able to buy their tags beginning Friday morning.

Demand for these tags has spiked significantly in recent years, according to Roger Phillips, a spokesperson for Idaho Fish and Game. Last year, the agency sold a combined 22,000 deer and elk tags to nonresident hunters.

Nonresidents getting hunting or fishing licenses came from all 50 states, 4 U.S. territories and 61 other countries.

Because of demand, Phillips said people need to be patient – especially if they’re buying their tags online.

“We know that there’s going to be more people trying to buy these tags than there are tags available,” he said. “We just try to let people know to be prepared for the long haul on this thing, and by the long haul I mean hours, not days.”

Because of those limitations, Phillips said you should have a backup plan in case the hunting zone you’re looking for sells out.

“Always have like your second or third choice for a nonresident who’s trying to buy something but also make sure they know exactly what tag they’re buying,” he said. “We’ve had people panic buy in the past and then come back and said, ‘Oh wait, I bought an archery tag and I’m not an archery hunter.’”

In those circumstances, hunters who buy the wrong tag by mistake can get a refund minus a processing fee. However, no exchanges are allowed, according to Phillips.

He said he expects people to line up early at regional fish and game offices for a better chance to get a tag for some of the state’s more popular hunting zones. Customers aren’t allowed to camp in those parking lots.

Other license vendor locations will also sell nonresident deer and elk tags throughout the state.

The sale begins at 10 a.m. Mountain Time. Idaho residents who have not yet purchased their tags for this season will not be able to do so Friday.

You can find links to Idaho Fish and Game’s hunting regulations, tips for navigating the agency’s online tag system and further information can be found here.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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