Nine reasons to buy your 2019 hunting and fishing licenses now

A 2019 resident Sportsman’s Package is as low as $124.25 and gives you almost all of Idaho’s hunting and fishing opportunities

You need a new hunting and fishing license before your first outing of 2019. You might procrastinate, and then run around looking for an open store to buy a hunting or fishing license because you’re leaving early for your first trip — or you can buy it right away and have peace of mind, as well as a full year of hunting and fishing.

If you buy immediately, you can also take advantage of some great hunting and opportunities right now, such as:

  1. Ice fishing: It’s cool, baby. No, really, it’s cool because you’re standing on a thick sheet of ice. But ice fishing is fun, and a great way to get out of the house and catch some fish during winter. Here’s more information about Idaho’s ice fishing.
  1. You can stay Price Locked: Under Price Lock, you can keep buying licenses and tags at 2017 prices so long as you keep buying an annual hunting, fishing or trapping license. If you’re not Price Locked, you can still get 2017 prices by buying a 3-year license.
  2. You can catch a burbot: What’s a burbot? That’s a fair question because it’s a unique fish with a fishing season that opened in the Kootenai River, its tributaries and Bonner Lake on Jan. 1. Burbot are the only freshwater member of the cod family. They are a popular fish for ice anglers, known for their tasty eating and grow up to 35 inches and occasionally larger. 
  3. Steelhead fishing continues: Idaho’s “spring” season opens Jan. 1, and steelhead fishing can be good throughout winter and well into spring. Remember the daily bag limit is one steelhead for the 2019 spring season. 
  4. You can still catch trout in rivers and streams: Winter stream fishing is often an overlooked opportunity, but trout fishing can be good, especially in “tailwater” fisheries where rivers are fed by dam releases, or in parts of the state with mild climates, such as along the Snake River.
  5. One of the best times to catch whitefish: Another winter fishery that fly anglers enjoy, and many other anglers. These fish feed in riffles and aren’t fazed by the cold water, and they’re often schooled up before the spawning season. Many anglers consider smoked whitefish an Idaho delicacy.
  6. Hunt game animals that you may have overlooked: The hunting season for cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares and red squirrels lasts through March 31, so if you want to keep hunting, you have those options, and you probably won’t have a lot of competition.
  7. Late-season upland bird hunting continues: Hunting season remains open for chukar, Hungarian partridge, California quail and forest grouse during January in most areas, and late-season hunting can be good for those birds. See the upland game bird rules booklet for season dates.
  8. It’s only midway through the waterfowl season: Most duck and Canada geese seasons are open during at least part of January, into February for white-fronted geese, and as late as March (light geese) in parts of the state. See the migratory bird hunting rules booklet seasons because closure dates vary depending on species and location.
  9. Hunt for large predators: Mountain lion and wolf hunting seasons are open during winter depending on location. See big game hunting rules for specific seasons.

If you want the full-meal deal, go for the resident Sportsman’s Package for 2019. It costs $124.25 if you’re Price Locked, or $144.60 if you’re not, and you get the nearly all the hunting and fishing opportunities Idaho has to offer. The Sportsman’s Package includes a resident adult hunting and fishing license, plus tags for deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, wolf, turkey, salmon and steelhead. Archery and muzzleloader are validated on the license. (You still need a federal migratory bird permit and waterfowl stamp for those species.) 

Deputy Director Ed Schriever named as new director of Idaho Fish and Game

Idaho Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore on Friday announced the hiring of Ed Schriever as the new Fish and Game director. Schriever will replace Moore, who in November announced his retirement on Jan. 13.

Schriever, 59, has been Fish and Game’s deputy director of operations since 2015 and was the Fisheries Bureau chief from 2008 to 2015. He has held various other positions within the agency, including Clearwater Regional Fisheries Manager, fish biologist and hatchery manager during his 35-year career with Fish and Game.

“I am very proud to have been appointed by the commission to serve as director,” Schriever said. “I am humbled to serve Idaho, lead the Department of Fish and Game and ensure the traditional values associated with people’s ability to interact with their wildlife are professionally managed and sustained. Idaho is one of the last best places in the world. Our legacy of fishing, hunting, trapping and wildlife-based recreation is inseparable with Idaho’s outdoor heritage, culture and quality of life. Your Fish and Game Department exists to provide these benefits in perpetuity.”

The Fish and Game director is the sole employee of the seven-member Fish and Game Commission. The director carries out wildlife management policies set by the commission and runs the day-to-day operations of the agency, which has about 580 full-time positions and an annual budget of $125 million.

“After careful consideration of a pool of highly qualified candidates, we selected Deputy Director Schriever based on his long history of leadership within the agency and deep knowledge of Idaho’s fish and wildlife, as well as his understanding of the issues facing wildlife management,” Fish and Game Commission Chair Derick Attebury of Idaho Falls said. “The commission is confident going forward with the new director that we can continue managing the state’s wildlife in the best interest of Idahoans.”

Schriever has a Bachelor of Science degree in fisheries from Oregon State University, and he started his professional career with Idaho Fish and Game as a fish culturist shortly after graduating. He lives in Boise.

Most hunters satisfied with whitetail management, but surveys show division

A majority of Idaho’s white-tailed deer hunters surveyed show support for current white-tailed deer management, but it’s not unanimous, and there are contrasting opinions about management in the core of Idaho’s white-tailed deer country.

That’s a summary of the hunter survey done by Idaho Fish and Game in 2018, which the department will use in part to gauge hunter preferences as it updates its white-tailed deer management plan. Results were similar compared to the last white-tailed deer survey conducted in 2003.

“We’ve seen that most whitetail hunters are satisfied with the current management, but survey results also suggest opportunities to do even better,” Wildlife Bureau Chief Scott Reinecker said.

A draft of the new white-tailed deer plan is expected to be released during winter, and there will be more opportunities for public comment. After adoption, the management plan will help guide rules and seasons for whitetail hunting over the next six years.

Nearly 8,000 white-tailed deer hunters responded to surveys with identical questions available three ways. Two surveys — mail and email — were sent randomly to hunters who have bought white-tailed deer tags in the past. The third survey was on the internet and open to whoever wanted to take it. The two random surveys showed very similar results, typical responses were within a percentage point of each other.

Random surveys (mail and email) showed 52 percent of respondents had more than 10 years’ experience hunting white-tailed deer in Idaho, and when deer hunting, 79 percent said they spend most of their time hunting whitetails.

The random surveys showed 72 percent of respondents were satisfied with their chances to harvest a white-tailed deer, 71 percent said they were satisfied with their chances to harvest a buck, and 58 percent were satisfied with their chances to harvest a mature white-tailed buck.

The majority of hunters were satisfied or very satisfied with white-tailed deer hunting in Idaho. Here’s what was important to them:

  • Satisfied with number of days and hunting opportunities
  • Like to hunt in early and late November
  • Satisfied with chance to harvest a deer in Idaho
  • Satisfied with harvesting a mature buck

However, there were significant differences in responses between the random surveys and the open survey regarding attitudes about harvesting white-tailed bucks. That tells Fish and Game officials that some hunters feel strongly for and against some aspects of white-tailed deer management, and there are opportunities to meet additional desires.

What hunters harvested, where and when they like to hunt

During the 2017 season, 39 percent of respondents answered that they harvested a white-tailed deer, most of which were antlerless (44 percent) followed by medium bucks (35 percent). Small bucks (12 percent) and large bucks (9 percent) accounted for the remaining responses.

Three surveys showed slightly different results for the most common units in which respondents hunted, but in all three, Unit 10A was the most common.

  • Mail survey respondents (2,922): Units 10A, 1, 3, 2 and 4.
  • Email survey respondents (3,757): Units 10A, 1, 8A, 3, and 2.
  • Open internet respondents (1,057): Units 10A, 8A, 8, 11A and 5.

A slight majority hunted white-tailed deer in the same unit every year (52 percent) and 43 percent reported hunting two or three units each year.

Random surveys showed hunters were largely satisfied with number of days offered for white-tailed deer hunting (70 percent) and showed strong support for November hunts with 75 percent of respondents saying early November hunts are important and 77 percent saying late November hunts are important.

A large majority (76 percent) also said it is important for them to hunt white-tailed every year, and 50 percent also said it is important to hunt white-tailed deer at the same time and place as elk.

In response to access to private lands, 60 percent agreed or strongly agreed Fish and Game should spend more time and resources developing public access to private lands for white-tailed deer hunting.

Where hunters differed in surveys

Three different surveys showed there are many things the vast majority of white-tailed hunters agree on while also recognizing there are strong feelings by some hunters, which was seen in the open survey. Fish and Game strives to recognize the preferences of the majority of hunters without disregarding the feelings of others as it moves forward with updating its white-tailed management plan and setting the upcoming seasons.

The differences between random surveys and the open internet survey were most pronounced regarding overall hunting satisfaction and the opportunity to take a white-tailed buck, particularly large bucks. Deeper analysis of the surveys focused on hunters who hunted in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions, where 92 percent of all white-tailed deer are taken in Idaho.

In that analysis, random mail and email survey respondents were largely satisfied with their opportunity to harvest a white-tailed buck with 77 percent (mail) and 80 percent (email) agreeing. But satisfaction level dropped to 67 percent when internet respondents answered that question.

The differences became more pronounced whether they were satisfied with their chance to harvest a mature white-tailed buck with 64 and 63 percent of random mail and email respondents agreeing, but only 46 percent of internet respondents agreeing.

The split continued when asked about the overall quality of the hunting experience with random mail/email respondents saying they were either satisfied or very satisfied (73 percent and 77 percent respectively), but 60 percent of internet respondents were satisfied or very satisfied.

The differences also continued regarding whether some units should be managed for larger white-tailed bucks with 42 percent of internet respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing, with that statement, while 31 and 32 percent (mail/email) agreed or strongly agreed with that statement.

Not all whitetail hunters surveyed are satisfied

While the majority of hunters were satisfied or very satisfied with whitetail hunting in Idaho, a smaller percentage (16 percent) of random mail respondents said they were very dissatisfied with at least one aspect of it. The leading causes of dissatisfaction were:

  • Length of hunt (too long)
  • Lack of access to private land
  • Too many nonresident hunters
  • Hunter congestion
  • Lack of access to public lands

Hunters were also asked if there’s anything else they would like to tell Fish and Game about whitetail hunting, and the most common responses were:

  • Things are good, I like current management
  • Lack of access to private land
  • Don’t manage for trophy bucks/maintain opportunity
  • Low numbers of mature bucks