Idaho and Montana still have an unusually good supply of nonresident big-game tags available for the 2012 seasons.
Sales of nonresident deer and elk tags have steadily declined in each state since 2008, when the economy tanked at the same time nonresident license fees were increased by legislators or initiatives.
For the second time in 30 years, Montana has a surplus of nonresident big-game combo licenses – tags that used to sell out by March 15.
Montana is still holding about 600 unsold big-game combo licenses (from a 17,000 quota), 1,800 elk combo licenses and 1,500 deer combo licenses. Idaho also is far from reaching most of its nonresident big-game license quotas.
“We normally get a spike in nonresident sales in September and even October, especially from Washington state,” said Ron Aasheim, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman in Helena.
Meanwhile, both states are trying to get out the message that they still have tremendous hunting opportunities.
For example, despite the impact of weather and wolves, Montana wildlife officials say elk populations in 70 percent of the state’s hunting units are at or above management objectives.
“In this economy, buying patterns have changed,” said Idaho’s licensing supervisor Craig Wiedmeier. “A lot more hunters wait to the last minute before making the decision to buy a license. It’s like they know they want to hunt in Idaho, but they want to be sure they can make it.”