Ten tips for getting the most out of September’s big game hunts.

The start of the season is a head start for big game and a way to expand your hunting opportunities. September is usually associated with archery big game hunting, but there are many other general and controlled hunts that begin during the month. Idaho offers plenty of early season hunting opportunities, including plenty of upland bird and game hunts for more variety.

Here are 10 tips for getting ready in September and getting the most out of your hunting season:

1. Check the Fire Situation: Forest fires in the summer are usually a sad fact of life in Idaho. Hunters can be affected by fires, smoke, and area closures. You can see fire updates on the Fish and Game Fire Information web page. Keep in mind that things can change quickly with wildfires, so keep checking to see if there are fires near your hunting area. Also, keep in mind that tags can only be exchanged pre-season, except in an emergency.

2. Buy your ammo ASAP: It’s been a tough year for ammo supplies, so expect shortages and don’t wait until the last minute to buy. Also, keep in mind that different brands and weights of bullets shoot differently, so if you can’t find your favorite brand, buy more so you can check your eyesight before your hunt.

3. Be prepared to get slaughtered animals out of the woods quickly: September can mean hunting in hot, hot weather, which means there is less time to get meat out of the woods before it starts to spoil. Have a plan, such as plenty of coolers well stocked with ice, a nearby meat processing plant with a cooler (know the hours of operation), or some other way to make sure the game meat stays top quality.

4. Make sure your gear is ready: this applies to any hunt. Don’t delay getting your equipment back in order. Something is often lost, worn out, or just needs to be replaced compared to last year, so check and make sure everything is working properly. Also check your electronics, flashlights, headlamps, etc. and give them fresh batteries or refills.

5. Don’t let the summer heat rock you: anything about heat and fires? Let’s ignore it for a minute. September snowstorms are not uncommon, especially in the highlands of Idaho. Make sure you are prepared for the cold, including rain gear, survival kits with emergency fire starters, shelters, etc. A snowstorm in September will likely be as cold as in November, and you wouldn’t go out in late fall without preparing for freezing weather.

6. Make sure you have the correct permits and tags, and check the regulations: Remember that it is your responsibility to have the correct permits and tags, not the person who sold them to you. Also check the 2021 Big Game Seasons and Rules booklet for any changes, which is summarized on page 6 and typically highlighted in yellow throughout the booklet.

7. Coaching a New Hunter: The first few seasons can be a good opportunity to bring new hunters into their first big game hunts. Warmer weather can be a more enjoyable experience, and you can also combine big game hunts with highland and small game hunts for the full experience.

8. Scouting for Fall Hunts: Technically speaking, Scouting is a hunt, but with a purpose other than the harvest that will come later. Going to your favorite fall hunting area in September gives you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the scenery and see how much it catches the attention of other hunters.

9. Try a new hunt: If you are generally a fall hunter, September can be like a bonus season, as there are often early season opportunities that won’t affect your fall hunt. For example, if you are an Idaho resident deer hunter, your regular deer tag is valid for a variety of archery, muzzleloading, and all-gun seasons.

10. Cast and Breathe: September can be a great time of year for hunting and big game fishing, especially weather permitting. Cooler weather can move animals and bite fish. Hearing moose trumpeting in the morning and casting on rising trout in the afternoon is an Idaho combo you won’t soon forget.

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