Update: The 2023 Idaho controlled hunt draw is now closed. If you missed it you can start tracking draw deadlines for free with OnPoint – never miss an application! Available on Web (beta mode), Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
The Idaho Controlled Hunt Application system is used to manage the distribution of tags for units with quota limits. It is open to both residents and nonresident. The draw, one of the simplest and easiest to understand of all states, presents an opportunity for nonresidents who were not able to secure a tag in the general elk and deer nonresident sale to secure an Idaho tag. It also allows those successful in purchasing a general tag to swap or “upgrade” their tag if they are successful in the draw. In this article we’ll discuss the application details so you can maximize your chance of drawing.
Species Available in the Draw
Idaho has two distinct controlled hunt application processes, depending on the species applied for. In this draw, elk, deer, pronghorn, and fall black bear hunts are available. Moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat are available through a separate controlled draw system, which you can read about here.
Nonresident tag allocation
Nonresidents are capped at 10 percent of the available pool of tags in any quota unit. In units with less than 10 tags, nonresidents are capped at 1 tag. Prior to reaching the nonresident cap, all applicants are treated the same in the draw. If and when the nonresident cap is reached, nonresidents are no longer eligible to draw a tag for that hunt code.
Idaho Points System – None
Idaho has no bonus or preference point system for any species, which drastically simplifies the draw system.
Hunt codes and choices
Hunters may apply to multiple or all species available in the draw. For each species applied for, the hunter must pay the draw application fee, in addition to holding a valid hunting license in the state. Draw requirements and costs are covered later in this article.
For each species applied for, hunters must submit a first choice hunt code, and may optionally submit a second choice code. These hunt codes are not to be confused with unit codes or game management units, as there are often multiple controlled hunts available in the same unit with different dates, methods, and game types. Hunt codes change from year to year, so it is critical to make sure you enter hunt codes associated with the current year, linked below.
To enter the application and hunt codes, you will login to your Idaho Fish and Game account, then select the “Controlled Hunt / Big Game Application” button at the top of the page. You will then enter hunt codes for the species you wish to apply for. After entering the code, the system will display the unit information for the code. Make sure that this aligns with your the unit you are intending to hunt to ensure you are not entering an outdated code.
Available Hunt Codes for 2023 and Prior Year Draw Odds
For 2023, the available hunt codes can be found here. From the page, select the species you wish to apply for on the right side of the screen. You can look up draw odds from prior years in Idaho’s draw odds data. However as mentioned above, make sure that you are looking at the equivalent hunt code from prior years as they may have changed.
How the Idaho Controlled Hunt draw application works
Idaho’s controlled system uses a simple drawing system
- For a given hunt code, all hunter’s first choice entries are randomized and given a random number, ordering them from first to last. Only 1st choices are considered at this time.
- Tags are then awarded in order based on the hunter’s order in the group.
- If nonresidents hit the nonresident quota (typically 10% of the hunt code), then nonresident hunters are no longer eligible to draw for the unit
- Hunters continue to be drawn until either all tags in the quota are awarded (typical) or all hunters are given a tag (not typical).
If tags remain for a hunt code after all first choices, then the same process is performed for second choices. For most hunt codes for nonresidents, no tags remain available during the second choice process. However, some antlerless or “unlimited” tags may remain available. It is important to check the draw odds prior to making your choices to ensure there is actually an opportunity to draw a tag with the choice you enter.
Up to four hunters may apply on the same application for deer, elk, or pronghorn. Tags will not be allocated in excess of quotas. For example, if there is 1 tag remaining, but you apply as a group of two and would be drawn, you will not be awarded since your group would take the hunt code over the quota. If applying with a nonresident in the group, this can drastically reduce draw potential, so it is not generally recommended in hunt codes with limited nonresident tags.
Draw Results date
Results are typically posted in late June or early July. In 2022, results were issued on June 29th, 2022.
Deadline to purchase
Hunters have until August 1st to decide to purchase an awarded tag. Unlike most states, there is not a financial or point cost if a hunter decides not to purchase an awarded tag. Un-purchased tags are made available in the Idaho second controlled hunt application period.
Idaho Second Controlled Hunt Application process
Any tags that were leftover after the first controlled hunt draw, or tags that were awarded in the first controlled draw but went unpurchased, are made available in the second controlled hunt draw. This draw opens on August 5th and closes on August 15th. The process is very similar to the standard controlled hunt process, but with different tags available. While most quality tags are awarded in the first draw, it commonly occurs that hunters don’t elect to purchase these tags for a variety of reasons. Odds are long in the second draw, but if you already hold a tag or applied in the first draw, you only need to pay the application fee for an opportunity to draw one of these tags.
Draw Requirements – What do I need to apply in the Idaho Controlled Hunt application?
Applicants must possess a valid hunting license and pay the Access / De-predation fee to apply for Idaho controlled hunts and applications. You must also pay the controlled hunt application fee for each species applied for. Tag fees only apply upon successfully drawing a tag in the controlled hunts, but hunters may elect not to purchase a drawn tag.