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Everything you need to know to hunt for cow elk in the Panhandle during the general seasons

Idaho Fish and Game prioritizes the simplification of hunting, fishing and trapping seasons and rules whenever possible. However, due to variability in the status of fish and wildlife populations across the state, special rules and exceptions must sometimes be implemented to ensure future opportunity persists for sportsmen and women.

One example of this in the Panhandle is with the general cow elk season. There is a seven-day either sex archery elk hunt on the A-tag, a three-day either sex any weapon hunt on the B-tag and a seven-day antlerless only muzzleloader hunt on both the A- and B-tags.

All three opportunities require that cows must be harvested within one mile of private land. The private land designation does include corporate timber properties (including those enrolled in the Large Tracts Program), it includes hunting on private land and it includes hunting on public land that is within one mile of private land.

  • A-tag: Sept. 15-21, any elk may be taken by archery within one mile of private land in units 1, 2, 3, 4*, 4A*, 5 and 6
  • B-tag: Oct. 15-17, any elk may be taken with any weapon within one mile of private land in units 1, 2, 3, 4*, 4A*, 5 and 6
  • A- and B-tags: Dec. 2-8, antlerless elk may be taken by muzzleloader within one mile of private land in units1, 2, 3, 4A* and 5

All of units 4 and 4A are open for antlered elk harvest; however, only portions of those units are open for antlerless elk harvest within a mile of private land. Below is a description and map of where antlerless elk can be harvested in units 4 and 4A.

  • Unit 4 - That portion of Unit 4 within the following boundary: starting at the junction of State Highway 97 and State Highway 3 near Harrison, then north on State Highway 3 to Interstate 90, then east on Interstate 90 to Kingston, then north and east on Forest Service Road 9 to the Montana border and then follow the Unit 4 boundary south and west to the point of beginning.
    • Applies to A-tag archery and B-tag any weapon antlerless seasons
  • Unit 4A - That portion of unit 4A within the following boundary: starting at the mouth of the Clark Fork River, follow Johnson Creek FS Road 278, then south on FS Road 1066, then east on FS Road 332 to the Montana border and follow Montana border north back to the Clark Fork River then to the point of beginning.
    • Applies to A-tag archery and B-tag any weapon antlerless seasons
    • Applies to A- and B-tag antlerless only muzzleloader season

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There are a couple of reasons only portions of units 4 and 4A within a mile of private land are open for antlerless elk harvest rather than the entire units. Relative to closed portions, the open portions:

  • Maintain higher survival rates of cow and calf elk as evidenced by eight years of intensive collaring efforts.
  • Have higher habitat quality due to younger-aged forests, reduced predator densities and lower snow accumulation amounts due to lower elevation.

Because of these factors, these front-country elk populations are better-equipped to handle antlerless harvest within a mile of private land.

As elk population numbers improve, Fish and Game hopes to remove the “within a mile of private land” and “only portions of units 4 and 4A” exceptions to the general antlerless elk seasons.

Below are a few commonly asked questions relative to antlerless elk seasons in the Panhandle.

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To review the seasons and rules, check out page 37 in the 2022 Idaho Big Game Season and Rules pamphlet.

Please contact the Panhandle Regional office at (208) 769-1414 if you have any questions or would like additional clarification.

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