Idaho black bear hunting opportunities are abundant, high quality, and general tags offer flexible seasons and locations. For resident and nonresidents alike, Idaho is a great option for black bear hunters and those looking to extend their hunting season. In this article we’ll cover how general tags work, how to apply for spring and fall controlled tags, and other general information you need to prepare for you hunt.
Idaho Black Bear Hunting Seasons
Idaho offers spring and fall hunt seasons. General OTC tags and controlled hunt tags are available. General tags are good for a calendar year and can be used in either spring or fall seasons. Controlled hunt tags are good for the unit and specific spring or fall season for which they were drawn. General tags make up the vast majority of tags issued, and there is no cap on the total amounts issued. Both tag types are managed by Idaho Fish and Game and can be purchased or applied for on the Go Outdoors Idaho portal.
Idaho black bear hunting season dates vary depending on hunt unit.
For the spring season, most units open on April 15th and close either June 15th or June 30th. There are some units that open earlier and also units that close earlier. Hunters should check the regulations to verify they are eligible to hunt their desired unit. Fall seasons typically open August 30th and close October 31st or November 30th.
For both spring and fall, within the open hunting season of any unit, there can be additional date restrictions on when dog usage and bait are allowed.
Idaho Black Bear Controlled Hunts
Idaho makes a small number of limited tags available through a draw process, called the controlled hunt. Idaho’s controlled hunt process does not have a point system, for any species. Unlike general tags, these tags can only be used in the specific unit or hunt area they are permitted for.
Hunters who successfully draw in the controlled hunt process can choose to turn in their general tag, and can choose to keep both tags and pay the extra tag fee to possess two.
When is the Idaho Spring Black Bear Controlled Hunt draw?
The spring controlled hunt application window is typically January 15th through February 15th.
February 15th, 11:59PM MT
Idaho Spring Black Bear Controlled Draw
When is the Idaho Fall Black Bear Controlled Hunt draw?
The fall controlled hunt application window is typically May 1st through June 5th.
June 5th, 11:59PM MT
Idaho Fall Black Bear Controlled Draw
Second and reduced tag units
Residents can purchase a second black bear tag for specific units, including Units 4, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17, 19, 20, 20A, 26, 27, and designated wilderness areas of Units 21 and 28.
Nonresidents benefit from reduced tag prices for black bear hunting in these same units, along with additional Units 33, 34, 35, and 36. Nonresidents may buy up to two black bear tags:
- either two reduced-price tags for use in the listed units, or
- one full-priced tag for use in any general season area in the state plus one reduced-price tag for the designated units, or
- one reduced-price tag for Units 33, 34, 35, 36 and another reduced-price tag for the other specified units.
Using Deer or Elk tag on Bear
Additionally, nonresidents have the option to use an unfilled deer/elk tag to hunt black bear, mountain lion, or gray wolf in the same unit/zone/area as their deer or elk tag, provided the bear/lion/wolf season is also open in the area at the time.