Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Jan. 17 voted to continue the current general hunts in the popular Sawtooth Elk Zone A and B tags sold on a first-come, first-served basis in 2018, but commissioners signaled a plan to change elk hunts in the zone to controlled hunts in 2019. Sawtooth Zone tags are capped, and they have sold out extremely fast in recent years because demand has far exceeded availability of 566 A-tags and 1,526 B-tags. In 2017, those tags were sold separate from other capped elk zones, and they sold in minutes with many people waiting in line who did not receive a tag.
The department in 2018 will sell the nonresident allocation of Sawtooth tags (210 tags, which does not include outfitter allocation) on May 10 at 10 a.m. (Mountain Time).
The resident allocation (1,786 tags) will be sold at two different times on July 12: at 10 a.m. (Mountain Time) at license vendors and 1 p.m. (Mountain Time) for online sales. Half the available resident tags will be sold at vendors and half online.
Big game rules are set every two years, and the next time will be in 2019. Commissioners will scope plans with the public to convert Sawtooth Zone hunts to controlled hunts for the 2019 elk season. Converting the Sawtooth Zone would mean hunters would have to apply for those tags during the May 1 to June 5 controlled hunt application period. It would also include allocating some tags to outfitters who operate in the Sawtooth Zone, and could open a pool of Landowner Appreciation Program tags for landowners within the zone who qualify for that program.
The Sawtooth Zone was capped in 2009 in an attempt to revive declining elk herds in the area.
Elk numbers have increased in recent years and provided excellent hunting opportunity, but they are still below the department’s objectives.