Idaho Hunting License and Endorsements for Game

Mandatory Licensing for Hunting

All individuals who hunt upland game birds, waterfowl (including ducks and geese), snipe, mourning doves, sandhill cranes, small game, predators, and unprotected species, as well as those practicing falconry in Idaho, must legally possess:

  • Valid Idaho Hunting License or
  • Hunting Passport

Additional Requirements

Alongside the basic hunting license or passport, hunters must also obtain relevant:

  • Validations
  • Stamps

These are required for the particular game or hunting practice they intend to pursue.

Federal and State Requirements for Hunting Migratory Birds in Idaho

Federal Duck Stamp

  • Eligibility: All waterfowl hunters aged 16 or older must have a validated Federal Migratory Bird (Duck) Stamp.
  • Validation Process: A signature in ink is required across the face of the stamp by the holder.
  • Purchase Options:
    • At any Fish and Game office or license vendor, a receipt can be purchased for $28.75, which is valid for 45 days until the physical stamp arrives by mail.
    • At U.S. post offices for $25.00.
    • Online at
  • Validity Period: The stamp is valid from July 1 through June 30 of the following year.

Migratory Bird (HIP) Permit

  • Costs:
    • For residents with Price Lock: $1.75
    • For residents without Price Lock: $2.75
    • For nonresidents: $5.00
  • Effective Dates: The permit is valid from January 1 through December 31 each year.
  • Mandatory for Hunters: Required for those hunting waterfowl, sandhill cranes, and mourning doves.
  • Availability: Purchasable online at and at any license vendor.

Significance of HIP Permit

The Migratory Bird (HIP) permit helps in accurately assessing the annual take of various migratory game birds. This information assists wildlife managers in monitoring and maintaining healthy bird populations. The system is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and state wildlife agencies, and has been in effect in Idaho since 1996.

Federal Waterfowl Hunting Framework in Idaho

The season for waterfowl hunting in Idaho is set within boundaries established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). These parameters are agreed upon during consultations with state fish and wildlife agencies. Migratory birds across the United States are federally protected through legislation that originates from international treaties. The list of these protected species is found in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 10.13. Noteworthy exceptions to this list include birds like the house sparrow, feral pigeon (also known as rock dove), European starling, Eurasian collared-dove, mute swan, and various upland game birds which are instead safeguarded by state laws.

Mandatory Use of Nontoxic Shot

All waterfowl hunting in Idaho mandates the use of nontoxic shots. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exclusively sanctions the use of a shot that is 0.20 inches in diameter (identified as T size) or smaller for waterfowl hunting. Hunters are required to carry only agency-approved nontoxic ammunition while hunting. Updates on approved nontoxic shots can be found by visiting the Idaho Fish and Game Hunting nontoxic shot list at Approved Nontoxic Shot List.

Compliance with Federal and State Regulations

In Idaho, multiple federal regulations apply in addition to state laws concerning the taking, possession, shipping, transportation, or storage of migratory game birds. It is paramount to note that these federal laws are succinctly summarized in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20. Ignoring these federal regulations may also result in a breach of state wildlife laws. Migratory game birds which can be legally hunted, in concordance with open seasons, span a range of species including various ducks, geese (such as brant), swans, doves, pigeons, cranes, rails, coots, gallinules, moorhens, woodcock, and snipe.

Common Hunting Infractions in Idaho

Idaho Fish and Game personnel frequently report specific hunting violations during the season. To maintain legality while hunting, thorough knowledge of Idaho's hunting regulations is essential.

Invalid Federal Migratory Bird Stamps

A recurrent misstep occurs when hunters neglect to validate their Federal Migratory Bird (Duck) Stamp by signing it in ink. This is an obligatory step for legality.

Lacking Necessary Permits and Stamps

Similarly, some hunters omit acquiring the Federal Migratory Bird (Duck) Stamp and/or Migratory Bird (HIP) permit. Both are compulsory for legal waterfowl hunting within the state.

Shotgun Capacity Violations

Another frequent offense is the possession and use of a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells. For compliance, such firearms must be equipped with a one-piece filler (plug) to limit capacity.

Exceeding Migratory Game Bird Limits

Possessing more migratory game birds than the federal limit allows is another common violation noted by enforcement officers. For specific federal bird limits, hunters should consult the provided reference on page 25 of the hunting regulations.

Shooting Hour Noncompliance

Some infractions include failing to adhere to the lawful shooting hours, which are set to ensure hunting practices coincide with wildlife protection principles.

Hunting Without a Valid License

Lastly, a notable violation involves hunting without a validly purchased hunting license, a fundamental requirement for legal hunting activity in Idaho.

Legal Restrictions on Taking Migratory Game Birds

Hunters must be aware of the specific legal restrictions when hunting migratory game birds to ensure compliance with the law.

Shotgun Modification Requirement

It is unlawful to hunt migratory game birds with a shotgun able to hold more than three shells unless it has been modified with a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without dismantling the firearm. An exception is made during a light-goose-only season for hunting greater and lesser snow geese and Ross's geese when no other waterfowl or crane hunts are active, excluding falconry.

Prohibited Use of Bird Calls and Devices

The use of recordings, tapes of migratory bird calls, sounds, or electronic amplification of such calls is banned. The only exception occurs during the aforementioned light-goose-only season.

Sink Boxes and Motorized Concealment

Utilizing a sink box, which allows a hunter to conceal beneath the water's surface, is prohibited in the pursuit of migratory game birds.

Motor Vehicle Use and Exceptions for Disabled Hunters

It is against the law to hunt from or with any car, motor-driven land conveyance, or aircraft. An exception permits paraplegics and leg amputees (either single or double) to hunt from a stationary vehicle.

Live Decoy and Mobile Hunting Prohibition

Employing live birds as decoys or taking game from motorboats, sailboats, or any moving vessels is forbidden unless the craft is immobilized and its motion ceases.

Bans on Certain Equipment and Tactics

It's illegal to hunt migratory game birds using traps, snares, nets, rifles, pistols, swivel guns, shotguns larger than 10 gauge, punt guns, battery guns, machine guns, fishhooks, poisons, drugs, explosives, or stupefying substances. Additionally, driving, rallying, or chasing birds with motorized vessels or sailboats to bring them within firing range is prohibited.

Baiting and Closed Season Restrictions

Baiting migratory game birds with feed or hunting them during closed seasons or outside of designated shooting hours is also a violation of hunting laws.

Prohibition of Wanton Waste of Migratory Game Birds

The law explicitly requires that individuals make every reasonable effort to retrieve any migratory game bird they have killed or crippled. Upon retrieval, the individual must retain actual custody of the bird from the location of harvest until one of the following endpoints is reached:

  1. The person's vehicle or primary mode of land transportation.
  2. The individual's home or a temporary lodging facility.
  3. A designated migratory bird preservation facility.
  4. The nearest post office.
  5. An established common carrier facility.

This mandate serves to ensure that harvested game is used responsibly and ethically, preventing the wasteful discarding of game birds.

Daily Bag Limits for Migratory Game Bird Hunting

Adherence to strict bag limits is a key element of responsible migratory game bird hunting. These limits are set at the federal level to maintain healthy populations and sustainable hunting practices.

Limit on Daily Harvest

Hunters are prohibited from harvesting more than the prescribed daily bag limit within a single day. Exceeding this limit is considered a violation of federal game laws.

Possession and Transportation Restrictions

Once the daily bag limit has been reached, individuals are not allowed to possess in the field, have in custody, or transport more than this limit from the point of harvest to any of the following destinations:

  1. The individual's automobile or primary means of land transport.
  2. The hunter's private residence or a temporary lodging facility.
  3. A certified migratory bird preservation facility.
  4. The nearest post office.
  5. A recognized common carrier facility.

These regulations ensure that the number of birds taken is managed and provide a framework for legal transport and custody after hunting.

Migratory Game Bird Possession Limits

To manage and safeguard migratory game bird populations, the Federal Government enforces possession limits that all hunters must abide by.

Opening Day Restrictions

On the opening day of the hunting season, no individual is allowed to possess more than one daily bag limit of migratory game birds.

Overall Possession Limits

Hunters must not possess migratory game birds in a quantity exceeding the established possession limit, regardless of whether the birds are being stored at a hunter's residence or undergoing processing at a commercial preservation facility.

Tagging Requirements for Transferred Birds

In instances where migratory birds are in the possession of someone other than the original hunter, such as at commercial facilities, each bird must be tagged by the hunter with pertinent details including:

  1. The hunter’s signature.
  2. The accurate total count and species of the birds.
  3. The date or dates on which the birds were harvested.

Strict adherence to these tagging regulations facilitates accountability and prevents overharvesting by ensuring each bird can be traced back to a legal hunting activity.

Tagging Requirements for Migratory Game Birds

The law strictly dictates that tagging is essential whenever migratory game birds are not in the direct possession of the hunter.

Mandatory Tag Information

Should a hunter wish to give, place, or entrust migratory game birds to another individual or facility, the provided tags must include:

  1. The hunter’s signature, establishes personal accountability.
  2. The full address of the hunter, for contact if necessary.
  3. An accurate, species-specific count of the birds.
  4. The date or dates on which the birds were taken.

Circumstances Necessitating Tagging

Tagging is a legal requirement under the following circumstances:

  • If the birds are to be transported by someone other than the hunter.
  • When the birds are left at any venue for cleaning.
  • If the birds are undergoing storage, which could be temporary.
  • During shipment processes.
  • If the birds are being submitted for taxidermy services.

These tagging protocols are implemented to assure legal compliance throughout the post-harvest handling and transportation of migratory game birds.

Conditions for Ceasing Possession of Harvested Migratory Birds

Possession is a key legal concept for managing harvested game. For hunters, understanding when possession terminates is vital to stay within legal hunting practices.

Fulfillment of Delivery Protocols

A hunter's possession is considered concluded when the birds have been rightfully passed on through the following ways:

  1. Delivery to another individual as a gift accompanied by a properly executed proxy statement.
  2. Consignment of birds for transport via a post office, common carrier, or a migratory bird preservation facility to a recipient who is not the hunter.

Continuing Possession in Storage

An important note for hunters: the birds are still counted towards one's possession limit if they are:

  • Left in a processing or storage facility.
  • Kept in residential storage including home freezers.

To no longer have these birds count towards a hunter’s possession limit, they must be officially gifted or transferred to an entity or an individual separate from the taker, fulfilling the conditions listed above.

Transporting Migratory Game Birds with Identification

Federal law regulates the transport of migratory game birds within U.S. boundaries to facilitate species identification.

Identification Requirement During Transport

When transporting any migratory game bird, including the Eurasian-collared dove, hunters must ensure that identification is possible by leaving either the head or one fully feathered wing attached to each bird. This requirement applies from the moment the birds are taken until they reach either:

  • The final residence of the individual in possession of the birds.
  • A designated migratory bird preservation facility.

Adhering to these identification rules during transport helps maintain legal compliance and supports conservation efforts by allowing species verification.

Shipment Regulations for Migratory Game Birds

The shipment of migratory game birds is subject to specific labeling requirements to ensure traceability and adherence to legal hunting quotas.

Mandatory Package Labeling

When shipping migratory game birds, the sender must ensure that the exterior of the package displays the following details:

  1. The full name and address of the individual dispatching the birds.
  2. The complete name and address of the recipient.
  3. A precise count of the birds by species included within the package.

Guidelines for Importing Game Birds

Hunters wishing to import migratory birds harvested in foreign nations should refer to the regulations outlined in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Sections 20.61 to 20.66. These sections provide comprehensive information on the legal importation processes and requirements for migratory game birds entering the United States.

Overview of Idaho State Hunting Regulations

In Idaho, it is imperative for hunters, anglers, and trappers to comply with state regulations, which cover aspects from property access to edible game meat conservation.

Trespassing Regulations

It is illegal to enter private properties without permission for hunting, fishing, or trapping when:

  • The land is tied to a residence or business.
  • It's cultivated, fenced, or otherwise marked as private.
  • It is explicitly posted with “no trespassing” signage or bright paint.

Posting signs on public land without an exclusive lease is unlawful. Trespass convictions can lead to license revocation and penalties.

Reservation Land Trespass

Federal laws forbid unauthorized entry into Indian reservations for any hunting, fishing, or trapping.

Waste of Game

The waste of any edible parts of game animals is prohibited, with exceptions for certain species. Edible portions are defined based on the type of game.

Check Station Obligations

All hunters, irrespective of success or location of activity, must report to any Fish and Game check stations encountered.

Licensing and Permits

Hunting without carrying a valid license, proper tag, or permit is illegal, as is taking a game outside of the appropriate season or zone. Transferring or using another individual’s license or permit is equally forbidden.

Hunting Practices and Vehicle Use

  • Shooting from or across roadway-maintained areas is prohibited.
  • Hunting from motorized vehicles is not allowed, except for individuals with a Motor Vehicle Hunting Permit due to disabilities.
  • Vehicle operation in areas designated as closed and the use of aircraft or drones to aid hunting are both against regulations.

Inspection and Interference

Individuals must present wildlife in possession for inspection when requested. It's against the law to interfere with lawful wildlife activities or disturb traps set by others.

Baiting and Proxy Statement Requirement

Baiting game animals during hunting is forbidden with certain specific exceptions. Transporting or possessing a game taken by another individual requires a proxy statement.

Hunting Closures in Specified Idaho Regions

Certain areas in Idaho are designated as off-limits for hunting activities to protect wildlife and habitats. It's vital to be aware of these closures.

National Parks and Monuments

There is a blanket ban on hunting within all National Parks and National Monuments with specific noted exceptions:

  • Craters of the Moon National Monument, within the National Preserve section added in November 2000, are permissible for hunting.
  • Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument allows hunting downslope to the Snake River within fifty (50) feet in elevation as indicated by yellow markers.

State Parks

General hunting is prohibited in state parks, with these clarifications:

  • Billingsley Creek Unit of Thousand Springs State Park, Castle Rock State Park, and lands within the City of Rocks National Reserve allow hunting.
  • Farragut State Park is open exclusively for archery hunting.
  • Hells Gate State Park and Heyburn State Park permit waterfowl hunting.

Additional Restricted Areas

Other specific areas have been designated as no-hunting zones:

  • The region is enclosed by State Highway 21, Warm Springs Avenue, and the New York Canal extending from the New York Canal Diversion Dam downstream to the Boise City limits.
  • An area around Mann’s Lake in Nez Perce County maintains a 300-yard no-hunting buffer beyond the Bureau of Reclamation property boundary.

General Prohibitions and Authority-Driven Closures

Any additional closures that may arise under Idaho Code, Idaho Fish and Game Commission proclamations, or federal regulations concerning national wildlife refuges are also enforceable and must be adhered to by hunters, trappers, and wildlife enthusiasts.

Restricted Areas for Game Bird Hunting in Idaho

Roswell Marsh Wildlife Habitat Area

The Roswell Marsh Wildlife Habitat Area has specific restrictions on game bird hunting to ensure sustainable habitat management and species protection. The details of the closure are as follows:

  • All hunting of game birds is prohibited on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
  • The restriction period begins on September 15 and extends until the closure of the waterfowl hunting season.
  • The area affected is south of Highway 18 and west of Pebble Lane, encompassing the Roswell Marsh segment in Canyon County.

Hunters should respect these time and location constraints for conservation efforts within the Roswell Marsh Wildlife Habitat Area.

Specific Area Restrictions on Migratory Game Bird Hunting in Idaho

Migratory Game Bird Hunting Closures with Exceptions

Idaho has designated areas where hunting of migratory game birds is restricted, though mourning doves are exempt from these limitations. Note the following areas with specific rules:

Fort Hall Indian Reservation

  • Migratory game bird hunting is disallowed within a 300-yard radius around the Fort Hall Bluffs, extending from the Bigbend Boat Launch to the west boundary of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Bingham, Bannock, and Power Counties.

Hagerman Wildlife Management Area (WMA)

  • Hunting is prohibited within an area bordered by a 200-yard setback from U.S. Highway 30 near Gridley Island and extending around the outer limits of the WMA boundary as marked by a fence, with a further extension along the Snake River banks encompassing Gridley Island.
  • An exception is in place for Department-sponsored waterfowl hunts.

Mormon Reservoir

  • A 200-yard buffer from the ordinary high water line of Mormon Reservoir in Camas County is off-limits to migratory game bird hunting.

Spokane River

  • On the Spokane River in Kootenai County, migratory game bird hunting is banned within a 200-yard perimeter of the ordinary high water line between the Post Falls Dam and Lake Coeur d’Alene up to the marked orange pilings.

Hunters must follow these area-specific rules to comply with Idaho’s conservation efforts and migratory game bird management protocols.

Designated No-Go Zones for Goose Hunting in Idaho

Canyon County Restrictions

Goose hunting is prohibited in a delineated area of Canyon County, as described:

  • The closure spans a boundary that ranges from the junction of State Highway 45 and Greenhurst Road, primarily extending west and north, and then back southeast to the starting point. The no-hunting buffer is generally 150 feet from the boundary, though, along a specific section between Lake Shore Drive and Rim Road down to west Lewis Lane and back to Lake Shore Drive, the buffer increases to 100 yards.

Hagerman Valley Prohibitions

In Hagerman Valley, the restrictions are:

  • Bounded by the Snake River at Gridley Island Bridge, extending southeast, then eastwards and circling the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area (WMA), with the closure buffer extending up to 500 yards east of the Hagerman National Fish Hatchery Road. The restricted zone continues outside the high water line of the Snake River banks up to the point of origin at Gridley Island Bridge.

Minidoka and Cassia Counties Regulations

For Minidoka and Cassia Counties, the specified no-hunting area includes:

  • Within 200 yards of the high water line of the Snake River starting from Milner Dam upstream to Meridian Road on the north side and 650 East Road on the south side, encompassing about 6.5 miles east of Burley.

Hunters must respect these specified boundaries and buffer zones where goose hunting is not permitted, to comply with local wildlife management and conservation efforts.

Prohibited Practices on Idaho Fish and Game Properties

Idaho Fish and Game impose specific restrictions across their controlled or administered territories to protect wildlife habitats and ensure fair public access.

Unauthorized Area Access and Activity

The following activities are not permitted:

  • Entry, usage, or occupation of lands and waters that are marked against such activities.

Blind and Stand Construction

Strict rules govern the construction of hunting blinds and stands:

  • Structures that disturb the soil or involve cutting or altering trees are not allowed.
  • The use of artificial fasteners (e.g., wires, ropes, or nails) in construction is prohibited.
  • All blinds must operate on a "first-come, first-served" basis for public use.

Decoy Regulations

Decoy use is subject to particular guidelines:

  • Unattended decoy placement is against regulations.
  • Decoys cannot be set up more than two hours before the official shooting hours begin for waterfowl.
  • All decoys must be collected and removed within two hours after the designated shooting hours end.
  • Using vehicles to position decoys on Fish and Game lands is banned.

Wildlife Management Areas

For detailed regulations specific to wildlife management areas, a brochure titled "Public Use of Department Lands and Access Areas" is available and provides comprehensive guidelines. This literature can be obtained from regional offices of Idaho Fish and Game.

Permit Requirements for Bird Dog Training and Trials in Idaho

Bird Dog Training

For those intending to train bird dogs on both private and public lands (except licensed shooting preserves) in scenarios involving the release of artificially propagated upland game birds or waterfowl, obtaining a permit is mandatory. This stipulation is to regulate training activities and ensure they are conducted responsibly.

  • Permit applications for bird dog training can be procured from any of the Fish and Game regional offices.

Conducting Organized Dog Trials/Tests

The staging or sponsoring of any organized competitive dog trials or tests on private or public lands—including and especially Wildlife Management Area lands—that involves the use of artificially propagated game birds necessitates a permit. This requirement is in place even if live birds are neither used nor released during the event.

  • Applications for the necessary permits to conduct these trials or tests are made available at Fish and Game regional offices across the state.

These permits help facilitate appropriate monitoring and management of wildlife-related activities ensuring they are by state conservation laws and policies.

Idaho State Park Hunting Guidelines and Safety

Hunting in State Parks

Hunting within certain Idaho State Parks is permissible, with the understanding that it may be subject to specific regulations or limitations.

  • Hunters must contact the state park of interest directly to verify available hunting opportunities.

Wildlife Protection

All state parks adhere to strict protection policies for wildlife:

  • Molesting, injuring, or killing wildlife within state park grounds is prohibited unless explicitly allowed by the Idaho State Parks and Recreation Board's action and established policies.
  • Legal possession of wildlife within state park boundaries is contingent upon compliance with Idaho Fish and Game regulations.

Personal Safety and Firearm Discharge

Regulations ensure the safety of park visitors:

  • Any action endangering the life of people or animals within parks administered by the Department of Parks and Recreation is unlawful.
  • Discharging firearms or projectile devices is restricted to self-defense, lawful hunting, special exhibitions, or at shooting ranges when authorized by the Department's director.

Additional Regulations to Consider

  • National Wildlife Refuges: Hunters must be aware that these areas may enforce more stringent rules and should consult refuge-specific regulations prior.

  • Indian Reservation Lands: It is a federal offense to unlawfully trespass on Indian reservation lands for any hunting, fishing, or trapping activities as per 18 US Code 1165.

Hunting within state parks and other protected lands requires awareness and adherence to the detailed regulations set forth to safeguard wildlife and ensure the well-being of all visitors.


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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.