Idaho Fish and Game offers 37 youth-only controlled hunts and more than 2,200 tags for big game in the fall
There’s no shortage of opportunities for kids interested in big game hunting. Budding hunters have until June 5 to apply for tags for elk, deer, pronghorn, and black bear controlled hunts set aside exclusively for youth.
Controlled hunt tags are available for many of Idaho’s best hunts, including 37 youth-only controlled hunts for big game in the fall. That includes 16 deer hunts, 15 elk hunts, five pronghorn hunts and a single black bear hunt. In total, there are right around 2,260 controlled hunt tags available only to youth.
The controlled hunt application period for deer, elk, pronghorn, and fall black bear hunts runs from May 1 to June 5, and winners will be posted online by July 10.
Hunters must be between the ages of 10 and 17 to apply for a youth controlled hunt. A 9-year-old may also apply for a controlled hunt if they are 10 years old at the time of the upcoming hunting season that year. Hunters who apply for a youth controlled hunt while 17 and turn 18 before the hunt can still participate.
For new hunters, controlled hunts may seem complicated, but there are a number of reasons anyone should consider applying for one. Most of the same reasons apply to youth-only controlled hunts. The biggest advantage of youth-only controlled hunts is that the pool of applicants is smaller – youth hunters only compete with other youth hunters for these opportunities.
Deciding which youth controlled hunt is the right one will take some research because of the variety of hunts and species available. Some have seasons that overlap with general hunts, allowing young hunters and their mentors to hunt together. Many allow youth to hunt without much competition from adults for part of the season. Hunters and their mentors should think about what they want out of a hunt before applying.
What if a young hunter doesn’t draw a controlled hunt?
No worries. There are still excellent hunting opportunities with general season hunts that are exclusively for youth, many of which are either-sex hunts.
These youth either-sex hunts largely coincide with or overlap general deer seasons. To take part in one of these hunts, a child must be between the ages of 10 and 17, have a junior hunting or combination license, and possess a regular deer tag.
They can use the regular deer tag to harvest an antlered or antlerless animal in units where there is a youth antlerless general season. This gives young hunters the chance to hunt with a mentor, while giving them a better chance to harvest an animal. Having young hunters learn the ropes from experienced mentors can lay the groundwork for solo hunts in the future.
To get more information, check the 2022 big game rules booklet to see what youth only controlled hunts are available. The booklets are available online and in print. Also take advantage of the Idaho Hunt Planner before making a decision. It has information about drawing odds, last year’s success rate and more.