Hunting Blog

Seeing Through the Smoke

Fire is again having a big impact on Idaho's landscape. 

To assist in your hunting, angling and outdoor adventures this late summer and fall, Idaho Fish and Game will be working with the Boise National Forest and other Wildfire Teams to keep you up to date on fire closures. We are compiling the latest fire activity and closures from InciWeb and making them available as real-time maps and downloads on our website.


Web maps to view real-time closures, fire activity with hunt boundaries.

To view closures in real-time on-line we have added fire closures and fire activity to two web applications:

IDFG Fire Map

This tool is optimized for mobile viewing and allows you overlay hunt boundaries on current fire activity from satellites and fire emergency closures. Fire activity is updated every two hours.


Huntplanner Map Center

We've added wildfire layers for fire activity, perimeters, closures and historical fire activity to the Huntplanner.  View these layers alongside trails, campgrounds, hunts and other features.



View in your GPS, Google Earth and offline.

Download the closure layer as a Google Earth(KMZ) or Shapefile(SHP) for offline viewing.  If your GPS unit requires GPX, there's a conversion utility to transfer KMZ to GPX.

This layer was digitized by individual USFS Fire Incident Teams and compile by Boise National Forest and IFWIS Cartographers. We will be updating these layer regularly through the hunting season.

Full text descriptions of all fire closures in Idaho are available on Inciweb.



For more maps and information about Idaho's hunt boundaries visit the Idaho Huntplanner, Huntplanner Map Index and the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Information System Open Data Downloads.

Trophies Come in All Sizes!

Well, the Super Hunt tag thing didn't go as I had planned.

The morning of October 1, I found myself 80 yards from a really heavy bull. Trees were thick, but open enough. Weather was bitterly cold, which was refreshing. Elk were going crazy.

After watching a bachelor group of small bulls walk by I heard that infamous deep grunting bugle from behind me. I took off running in that direction trying to keep my balance on the steep slope. He would scream every time I did, but I wasn’t gaining ground. I knew he would be in a clearing soon so I kept on trucking. Finally, when I heard him singing I knew he was close. I got down and began looking around and there he was! Massive antlers. I didn’t even count points, I didn’t have to. He was huge!

I waited and waited for a shot trying not to be seen by his cows. Finally, he stopped in between two trees that gave me about a foot wide shot at his vitals. I took the shot. The sound and smell of that old Win 270 filled the air. I watched the bull react. He was confused but that was all. I couldn’t get another shot in. He turned and followed his cows up the hill and if he wasn’t hit then he had one heck of a funny walk.

This was Monday morning at 0930. I spent the rest of that day and every daylight hour until Thursday noon looking for him. Not a lot of blood and no bull. They had walked into the thickest stuff I have ever walked through. I was cutting branches and ripping out bushes. I literally went insane those few days. Not even magpies and crows gave me a clue as to where he was. I hope it was a bad shot and he made it for next year’s archery. I puked several times knowing the biggest bull I have ever taken aim at slipped through another season.

After a long drive home and a lot of coffee I grabbed my family and we headed out to the desert. About 6pm my 6-year old son says, "Dad, elk!!" I look and see cows 50 yards ahead. I hop out and sure enough there was a bull, a small 5x.

I got back in the SUV and both my kids said, “Shoot it Dad. Shoot it.” I said it’s not big enough. Then Hunter, my kiddo said, “Are you kidding me?! He is huge.”  Ha.  That’s when I realized where the true trophy in this hunt was. After several pictures that "trophy" bull is now hanging in my son’s room. I guess trophies come in all kinds.

All in all, not what I wanted from my Super Hunt, but what I needed. It was great!   - John Thornley

Abby's First Bird!

As all good hunting stories start, "It was a crisp cool morning"...well not really, it was damn cold!! Twenty three degrees to be exact ! However, the cold didn't chill 11-year old Abby Asker's enthusiasm to get out on her first hunt. Abby was bundled up and ready to go as her Dad, Mike and I scrambled to our turkey blind. It was a rush to beat the fast approaching day. The turkeys were fired up and gobbling up a storm from the moment we got out of the truck. Soon after settling in, a big tom flew in from his roost and strutted just out of range. He soon lost interest in my calls and strutted off into the sunrise. Next a Jake became enamored with our sweet hen calls and gobbled in for a closer look. That is all Abby needed.  I could feel Abby's heart beating through her shoulder as I helped her mount her gun. I went back over with her to aim at the head and be smooth on the trigger. The safety clicked off...Kaboom!!! Abby collected a fine feast for the Asker family. I thought her face was going to crack from her well earned grin. After tagging up and a quick photo session it was off to school. Awesome way to start a day! - George Fischer, IDFG District Conservation Officer

Abby's first bird

Announcing the Mandatory Harvest Reports Dashboard

The Mandatory Harvest Reports Dashboard allows one to view, filter and graph raw uncorrected harvest report submissions.

Updated nightly, this dashboard provides summaries of harvest, success and reporting for deer, elk and pronghorn hunts.

Graphs and tables are filterable based on your selections:

  • Choose between Controlled, General Deer and General Elk dashboards.
  • Filter based on harvest characteristics: Sex, Weapon, Deer Species and Hunt Area, Unit or Zone.
  • For controlled hunts you may subset by Regulations: Game Animal, Seasons, Antler/Sex Restrictions, Take Method and Hunt Numbers.
  • Compare just two hunts or hundreds.


View the Mandatory Harvest Reports Dashboard


A word of warning.

Keep in mind these live harvest reports contain all manner of entry errors and omissions. As raw reports they are suitable only as an indicator of harvest success.  Finalized harvest statistics are not available until the spring following the completion of each hunting season.  In these yearly summaries available online, we fix mandatory harvest reports for errors and then conduct telephone surveys to correct for non-compliance.

We’re still testing out some of this functionality, so if you spot any bugs please let us know so we can squash them!


Then there's data...

We'd be daft to think this dashboard is the only way one might query and interact with these data. One can easily envision other possibilities: temporal charts, spreadsheet downloads, or mashups of harvest reports with maps of hunt areas. The point is - just as the US Navy could never have envisioned Yelp and Foursquare when they designed GPS - we can't possibly guess all the ways you might use and interact with our datasets, but we can make our data publicly-accessible so you can do great things.

The Mandatory Harvest Reports Dashboard is a demonstration of what may be built with the Mandatory Harvest Reports API (Application Programming Interface) that allows anyone to build applications to query and interact with these data. This API is the leading edge of a larger initiative we're undertaking to open up our datasets to the public to remix, reuse and repurpose.

Let's get excited and make things!

Visualizing Your Next Hunt

This year we have added two new features to the Huntplanner to enable you to better scout for your next hunt.  Google Earth (KMZ) files added for each hunt area let you better explore the terrain.  Photographs, campgrounds and trails information help you better understand the landscape and access.

Visit the Huntplanner!

1.) View Hunt Areas in Google Earth

When viewing a specific hunt or a list of hunts in the Map Index you'll see four options available for each hunt area:

  • Information Icon  Area Details
    Opens the information page for this hunt area complete with boundary definition, map, landownership, harvest statistics, landuse and a summary of access points and services.
  • Map Icon  Interactive Map Center
    Opens a live interactive map viewer with the hunt boundary identified in purple. You may add additional layers and zoom around the map.
  • PDF Icon  Printable PDF Map
    Download a high quality map (600 dpi whereas the Map Center is limited to the html standard 72dpi) of the hunt area in Adobe PDF format.
  • KMZ Icon  Download KMZ
    Download a KMZ-format spatial definition of this hunt area for viewing in Google Earth or importing into a GPS Unit. For GPS Units requiring GPX format see these instructions.

Here is one example from the Huntplanner Map Index:

  • Elk Hunt Area 32A-2 Huntplanner Hunt Summary Huntplanner MapCenter High-Quality Printable Adobe PDF Map Download Google Earth/GPS (KMZ File)

The last option, KMZ (Google Earth) is new.  When you click the KMZ icon, if you have Google Earth installed, Google Earth will open and zoom to the layer.  You can repeat this process to add additional hunts.  The KMZ format is read by many GPS units and converts to GPX for devices requiring this format.


2.) Photos, Campgrounds & Trails

To better plan your hunt, we've added a number of layers to the Huntplanner Map Center.  Add the photos layer to view landscape photographs overlaid at their geographic position.  View public and private campground locations.  Overlay motorized and non-motorized trails information courtesy of Idaho Parks and Rec's

Trails and Campgrounds in the MapCenter

Live Waterfowl Chat - October 12, 2012

Ask questions, get answers regarding Idaho waterfowl

Featuring Idaho Fish and Game's Enforcement Chief and State Waterfowl Biologist

Join us, right here, for this live event on Friday, October 12, 2012 between 12:00pm MT and 2:00pm MT.

**This chat session will be limited to discussion about Waterfowl.


Chat guidelines


In general, for your post to be approved, please follow these simple guidelines:
Be respectful. Stay constructive. Stay on topic. No objectionable language. 

Comments that violate these guidelines generally will not be made public. You participate at your own risk, and take personal responsibility for your comments, your username, and any information provided.

Duck Silhouette

Fire Closure Area Updates

We just completed some updates to the Idaho fire area closure boundaries.

The Wesley Fire Area Closure was expanded to the north and west.  Over in the Samon Region, the Mustang Fire Closure Area was reduced significantly.  All areas in east of U.S. 93 in Unit 21 were opened to access!

You can view these updates:


Note that these maps display area closures, for a full list of all area, road and trail closures visit

Are any hunting units being closed this year due to wildfires?

Fires burning in Idaho's backcountry have raised concerns about public safety and hunter access, and some roads and trails have been closed.  In order to view the impact of fires with hunt areas, IDFG has made fire activity and closures available in two mapping applications, the Idaho Huntplanner MapCenter and the IDFG Fire Map.  For your GPS Unit the fire closure layer and the hunt areas are available as KMZ downloads.

Idaho Fish and Game does not recommend closing hunts or altering season dates in response to fire restrictions. Most fires are not large enough to affect an entire hunt unit. Hunters affected by a fire closure can adjust their schedule to hunt later in the season or exchange general tags to hunt in a different area. But tags must be exchanged before the season begins.

Hunters with controlled hunt tags may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins. But controlled hunt fees would not be refunded. Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks or refunds in the event that access to a hunting unit is blocked by fire. Hunters requesting a rain check will be required to submit their tags and permits with a letter describing the conditions of their request. Rain checks would be evaluated case-by-case at the end of the hunting season. Rain checks will be valid in 2013 and offered only for the same species and hunt area as the hunter held in 2012. Written requests should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707 when the season is over.

Hunters and anglers, and anyone else heading into the backcountry, are advised to check with Forest Service ranger district offices or county sheriffs' offices before heading out.

Photo Credit: Group Torching on McGuire Complex by Shawn Pearson