Idaho Nonresident Elk and Deer Tag Sale 2024

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Update: Initial nonresident deer and elk tags are sold out for the 2024 hunting season. You can still attempt to get tags through the Return Tag Sale process. 

Idaho Nonresident Elk and Deer OTC Sale Overview

The annual Idaho nonresident elk and deer tag sale, which takes place each year on December 1st, is a highly competitive event for western hunters. Out-of-state elk and deer hunters look forward to the first nationwide opportunity to purchase tags. In recent years, the demand for these tags has grown significantly, with far more hunters than the approximate 14,000 deer and 12,000 elk tags available.

These OTC tags are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. In recent years, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game established new practices to manage demand for the limited tags, including a digital queue system. During the sale for 2023 tags, the system was unable to handle the amount of hunters on the website and the system went down for a significant number of hunters attempting to purchase tags. While the tags are technically over-the-counter, the substantial demand, limited number of tags, and digital queue system make if functionally a random draw system.

Sale Date: When is the Idaho nonresident elk and deer tag sale?

The sale for 2024 tags is on December 1st 2023, at 10:00am MST. The sale occurs annually on this date, and you can track your upcoming applications and get reminders with OnPoint.

Preparing for the OTC sale: How the queue system works and tag requirements

Tags go on sale right at 10am, and it’s important to be logged into your computer well ahead of the start time. Approximately 10 to 30 minutes before the sale begins, the Idaho Fish and Game licensing site will remove everybody from the purchasing view and put you in a digital “waiting room”. At the time the sale begins, you will see your browser change to the digital “queue” or line system. Here you will be given a random position in line, along with all the other hunters waiting to purchase tags. Hunters are then let in based on their random line number. This functionally makes the system a random draw, as there are more applicants than tags.

After entry into the portal, you will then be able to select and purchase a tag, if they are still remaining. Units will show the number of available tags, or if the GMU is sold out. It is important to be as fast as possible when selecting and adding the tags you wish to purchase to your cart. Once added to your cart, you have 15 minutes to purchase the tag before it is put back into the pool. However, this system has been known to fail so it is recommended you check out immediately unless coordinating with others in a hunting party.

To maximize your chances in securing a tag, it is important to familiarize yourself with the Idaho Fish and Game website before the tag sale. Wasted seconds can result in units being sold out while you try to find the tags you are looking for. If you know you will be applying to the later controlled hunts in the state, we recommend buying the required hunting licenses and permits ahead of time, as they are required for the controlled hunt draws. These requirements are detailed below. You can also purchase these at the time of the sale, and are automatically prompted to add them to your cart if you do not already own the required items.

Hunter education requirement

Proof of Hunters Education, or a valid big game tag in another state, is required before you can purchase a tag. For all first time applicants to the state, we strongly recommend performing these steps well ahead of the sale. We have written on these requirements in the Idaho overview.

Units for Elk and Deer

Elk, deer (combined mule and whitetail), and whitetail only tags are available during this sale. The remaining tags in the state are sold through a controlled hunt draw system. You can read more about additional hunting opportunities in Idaho in our Idaho Overview.

Unlike resident OTC tags, which allow residents to hunt any general hunt unit in the state, non-resident tags are limited to a specific unit in the state. Unit quotas were also established to manage non-resident demand for high quality units. There are two types of units in the state; game management units (GMUs), designated by a number, and Elk Management Zones, designated by a name. Elk zones are comprised of one or more game management units, and apply specifically to elk. Deer tags are sold specific to one GMU. It is important to note that GMUs within an elk zone may have different season dates and regulations.

License requirements: What licenses do I need to purchase a tag in the sale?

To purchase an elk or deer tag, you need an Annual Hunting License and pay the Access / Depredation fee. If you are trying to secure an archery or muzzleloader tag, you also need to purchase an Archery Permit or Muzzleloader Permit. Prices for these items are below. These items can be purchased in advance of the OTC sale, and we recommend doing this if you plan to apply in the Controlled Hunt Draws later in the year.

Tag prices: How much does a nonresident Idaho elk or deer tag cost?

Prices for each required license and tag are summarized below. Assuming you purchase only a single tag, the total cost for a nonresident elk tag is approximately $1,000 and for a deer tag is $700. If you are able to secure more than one tag, you do not need to re-purchase the hunting licenses and permits, so the total cost is less than the sum of the prior numbers.

General Fees
ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Annual Hunting license$15.75$185.00
Access / Depredation Fee$5.00$10.00
Archery Permit$19.50$81.75
Muzzleloader Permit$19.50$81.75
Controlled Hunt Application Fee - Elk, Deer, Pronghorn$6.25$18.00
Controlled Hunt Application Fee - Moose, Sheep, Goat$16.75$45.75
Species specific tag fees
ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Elk Tag$36.75$651.75
Deer Tag$24.75$351.75
Pronghorn Tag$36.50$342.75
Moose Tag$199.75$2,626.75
Goat Tag$199.75$2,626.75
Bighorn Sheep Tag$199.75$2,626.75
Bear Tag$13.75$231.75
Reduced Bear and Second Bear$13.75$41.75
Mountain Lion Tag$13.75$204.50
Reduced or Second Mountain Lion Tag$13.75$41.75
Wolf Tag$13.50$31.75
Turkey Tag$22.75$88.00

Alternate options to get a tag in Idaho

If you are unable to get a tag in the general tag sale, there are additional opportunities to secure tags. Additionally, you can purchase a tag in the general OTC sale, then still apply in the Controlled Hunt Draw and upgrade your tag if you are able to draw.

  • The Controlled Hunt draw – This is a limited entry opportunity for elk, deer, and additional species.
  • Return Tag Sales – Many hunters, for one reason or another, are unable to hunt tags they have purchased or drawn. These tags are then put back into the sale pool. These sales occur monthly, on Thursdays at 10am MST.

Below are all draws and sales that occur in Idaho.

Idaho Elk and Deer Non-Resident SaleOTC SaleElk, DeerDecember 1st, 2023
Idaho Spring Black Bear DrawDrawBlack BearJanuary 15, 2024February 15, 2024
Idaho Spring Turkey Controlled DrawDrawTurkeyFebruary 1, 2024March 1, 2024
Idaho Moose, Sheep, Goat DrawDrawMoose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain GoatApril 1, 2024April 30, 2024
Idaho Super Hunt Lottery (1st)LotteryElk, Deer, Antelope, MooseAugust 11, 2023May 31, 2024
Idaho Controlled Hunt DrawDrawDeer, Elk, Antelope, Fall BearMay 1, 2024June 5, 2024
Idaho Super Hunt Lottery (2nd)LotteryElk, Deer, Antelope, MooseJune 1, 2024August 10, 2024
Idaho Secondary Controlled Hunt DrawDrawDeer, Elk, Antelope, Fall BearAugust 5, 2024August 15, 2024
Return Tag SalesOTC SaleDeer, ElkMonthly

Idaho Nonresident Elk and Deer OTC Sale FAQ

Can I purchase a second elk or deer tag in Idaho?2023-05-19T14:32:33+00:00

Yes, second tags can be purchased in Idaho, but it is a difficult process to do and the system may not remain in place for much longer. In prior years before rising in popularity, second tags were easy to come by. Typically during one of the later Return tag sales in Idaho, usually in mid August, any remaining unallocated nonresident tags would be made available for hunters. These are available to both resident and nonresident hunters to purchase a second tag. This sale often coincides with when unallocated outfitter tags are made available to general hunters, as well as when general tags from successful controlled hunters are returned to the pool. This system remains in place, even though many hunters have yet been unable to get a first tag in the state. Hunters cannot secure a second tag through the controlled hunt system, as they must give up their first tag for a specific species to receive any tag awarded in the controlled hunt.

What are Idaho Returned Tags?2023-04-20T16:22:22+00:00

Each year many previously purchased tags become available again to new hunters, through the Idaho Return Tag Sale. These tags become available for a few reasons:

  • Hunters who have purchased OTC tags during the Idaho Nonresident Elk and Deer tag sale may not be able to hunt their tags, either due to injury or lack of time.
  • Tags can become available again after the Idaho Controlled Hunt Draw, when hunters swap their OTC tag for a controlled tag.
  • Tags allocated to outfitters go unsold.

All of these tags are sold in monthly “Return Tag Sales”, where nonresidents (usually) are able to purchase returned elk tags and returned deer tags.

Does Idaho have a points system?2023-04-18T23:59:13+00:00

No, Idaho does not have a points system for any species. All hunters have a single entry into the randomized draw for each species. Residents and nonresidents are both drawn from the same pool, but once the nonresident cap is hit, no more nonresident tags will be drawn for that unit.

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