Hunting In Idaho 

Are you a DIY hunter and want to hunt by yourself? Then, hunting in Idaho is for you! 

With its diverse landscapes and rich hunting traditions, Idaho offers an unparalleled experience. The state’s predominant public land waits for hunters to enjoy and hunt the place. 

We aim to equip you with everything to know to plan and embark on an unforgettable hunting adventure. All in one, single click!

So, let’s dive into the exciting world of Idaho hunting. Uncover the hidden gems that await you in this incredible outdoor paradise!

Idaho Hunting Season

Have you heard about Idaho’s unique and exciting hunting opportunities? Here are the general Idaho hunting season dates to keep your excitement going. 

Remember that season dates and regulations change yearly. That’s why always checking the Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG) is essential. 

Big Game Hunting Seasons 

Big game hunting seasons in Idaho vary depending on the species and hunting method. Here’s a general overview of the big game seasons for big game hunters:

Big GameGeneral Season
Deer Hunting Late August to December
Elk HuntingAugust to December
Black Bear HuntingAugust to October & April to June
Gray Wolf HuntingSeptember to March 
Bighorn Sheep Hunting
*Controlled hunts
Late August to late October
Mountain Goat Hunting 
*Controlled hunts
Late August to mid-November
Moose Hunting
*Controlled hunts
Late August to early December

Other Game Hunting Seasons 

Aside from big game species, the state offers hunting experiences for other games. Such as for waterfowlers, upland birds, and small game hunters.

Here’s the rundown of the general hunting season for other game species:

Small GameGeneral Season
Turkey HuntingFall Season: Late August to January
Spring Season: Early April to late May
PheasantsEarly October to December
Quails and PartridgeMid-September to January
Ducks, Snipe, and CootEarly October to January
Goose Canada: September to January 
White-fronted: October to mid-February
Light: October to mid-March
*Controlled hunt
October to early December
Rabbit, Hare, and SquirrelLate August to March

For more specific and other species seasons, check the Idaho Fish and Game website. 

What To Hunt in Idaho?

The state of Idaho has a diverse opportunity to hunt big game. From its wide array of landscapes to the growing population of big games, Idaho is waiting for you to hunt its wilderness. 

Here are the popular big game species in Idaho: 


Idaho boasts one of the largest elk populations in the United States. And that draws hunters from near and far to experience the thrill of pursuing these animals. 

With expansive wilderness areas and diverse landscapes, Idaho is an elk hunter’s dream.

To hunt elk in Idaho, you’ll need a valid hunting license and an elk tag to hunt elk in Idaho. Over-the-counter (OTC) elk tags are available for residents and non-resident hunters. 

There are also controlled hunt draw permits for specific hunting units and seasons. These controlled elk hunt permits are only available through a lottery system. 

Whitetail and Mule Deer

Idaho is a fantastic destination for whitetail and mule deer hunting. Its diverse terrain is home to thriving deer populations. 

In fact, Idaho offers excellent white-tailed and mule deer hunting opportunities. The state distributes deer permits through OTC or a lottery system. Hunters can apply for controlled hunt permits through Idaho Fish and Game website.  

Looking where to find these deer? Mule deer are more common in Idaho’s southern and central parts. Meanwhile, Whitetail deer are more prevalent in the northern regions of Idaho.

Black Bear

Idaho has healthy bear populations, diverse landscapes, and well-managed hunting regulations. And all those make Idaho an attractive destination for black bear hunting enthusiasts.

In Idaho, you can find black bears in various habitats. From dense forests to mountain meadows and riparian areas, you’ll spot them luring you to hunt them. 

Unlike other states in North America, Idaho stands out by allowing hunters to hound or bait bears. What’s best is you can use your elk and deer tag to harvest this wild big game (and even mountain lion!)

Like other big game hunting, hunters can buy an OTC hunting permit or take chances to draw a permit.   

Gray Wolf

Idaho offers a unique and challenging opportunity for hunters pursuing these elusive predators.

Thanks to the state’s goal to reduce wolves’ growing population, gray wolf hunting is now legal. In fact, the state is one of the few states that allow wolf hunting. But, of course, hunters must have a wolf permit to harvest one. 

Hunting gray wolves in Idaho can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Wolves are elusive and intelligent animals, parring experience-seeking hunters in their adventure.

Limited Big Game Hunts

These hunts offer a more exclusive and higher-quality hunting experience than general seasons.

Check the game species in Idaho that are only available through permit lottery.

Mountain Goat

Mountain goat hunting is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience for Idaho hunters. The state has a healthy mountain goat population, residing in high alpine environments.

Idaho mountain goat hunting only comes with a limited number of tags available each year. That is to ensure the sustainability of the population. 

It makes mountain goat hunting an exclusive and sought-after experience.

Big Horn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep in Idaho symbolize the state’s rugged wilderness. Yet limited, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are one of Idaho’s most famous big games. 

Their natural range includes various mountain ranges throughout the state. That includes the Salmon River Mountains, Hells Canyon, and the Owyhee Mountains.

Bighorn sheep hunting in Idaho is exclusive only through the chances of drawing a permit. 


Moose in Idaho inhabit various habitats, including forested areas, marshes, and meadows. They inhabit water sources like rivers, lakes, and streams. 

Moose hunting in Idaho is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The state only allows moose permit-grantee hunters to harvest one moose. 

If they are successful in their hunt, they can’t apply for another permit in the coming seasons. 

Where to Hunt in Idaho? 

Idaho is an excellent destination for hunting enthusiasts. It has diverse landscapes, all available for hunters to pursue their desired species. 

Here’s an overview of some of the best hunting locations in Idaho:

Salmon Region

The Salmon Region in central Idaho is a popular elk and mule deer hunting destination. The area boasts vast expanses of public land and rugged terrain. The diverse landscape it has ensures that species population would grow.   

You may find opportunities to hunt black bears, mountain lions, and gray wolves in this region.

Panhandle Region

This region offers exceptional whitetail deer and elk hunting opportunities. The region’s dense forests and rolling hills provide excellent habitats for these species. Hunters can also spot black bears and turkeys in this region. 

Remember to try your luck at hunting waterfowl in the lakes and rivers that dot the landscape.

Hells Canyon

Wanna score a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, mule deer, elk, and black bear? Then you should go to Hells Canyon!

This dramatic gorge along the border of Idaho and Oregon is a prime location for hunters.  

The steep, rugged terrain provides a challenging hunting experience for those who dare. Sounds overwhelming? Don’t worry, the potential rewards to score trophy-quality hunts are worth the effort.

Owyhee Mountains

The Owyhee Mountains offer excellent opportunities for big game hunters. Hunters can spot plenty of pronghorn antelope, mule deer, and elk in this hunting location. 

The area’s sagebrush steppe and rolling hills provide ideal habitat for these species. And the remote nature of the region adds to the sense of adventure.

Sawtooth Mountains

The Sawtooth Mountains in central Idaho are famous for their abundant wildlife. It also has breathtaking scenery to top your hunting experience.  

This region is home to healthy populations of elk, mule deer, and mountain goats. Keep in mind that its challenging high-elevation terrain will test your endurance. But the stunning views and opportunities for success make it a top hunting area.

Island Park

Located near Yellowstone National Park, this park is popular with big hunters. It has moose, elk, and mule deer for you to take down.

The area’s mix of meadows, forests, and wetlands provides habitats for these species. The nearby Henry’s Fork River also offers excellent waterfowl hunting.

Idaho Hunting Regulations

Hunting License 

To have a successful and legal Idaho hunting experience, you must have a hunting license. This rule applies to both resident and nonresident hunters. 

Hunting license prices vary depending on several factors. That includes residency status, age, year of validity, and the type of license. 

Resident Hunting Licenses

Adult Hunter1-year hunting: $15.75
3-year hunting: $34.75
1-year combination: $38.75 
3-year combination: $97.00
Junior Hunter1-year hunting: $8.25
3-year hunting: $18.25
Senior Hunter1-year combination: $13.75
3-year combination: $33.50
Disabled Hunter1-year combination: $5.75
3-year combination: $11.50
Disabled American Veteran Hunter1-year combination: $5.75

Nonresident Hunting License

Adult Hunter1-year hunting: $185.00
3-year hunting: $551.50
1-year combination: $264.00 
3-year combination: $788.50
Junior Hunter1-year hunting: $91.75
3-year hunting: $271.75
Small Game Hunter3-day hunting: $71.75
1-year hunting: $141.75

To buy hunting licenses, you must present your hunter education class certificate. This regulation ensures that hunters know about safe, ethical, and responsible hunting practices. 

Buy your hunting license over the counter at authorized vendors or IDFG offices. Hunting licenses are also available by phone or on the IDFG website. 

Controlled Hunt Permits 

Controlled hunts have limited tags for each hunt area and species. This helps manage wildlife populations and reduce hunting pressure in specific areas. Controlled hunting often results in higher success rates and a better hunting experience.

These hunts under the IDFG. It’s done to ensure sustainable wildlife populations and provide high-quality hunting experiences

First Drawing Application

To join in a controlled hunt, you must apply for a permit. Here’s the quick rundown for the controlled hunting application:

Deer, Elk, Pronghorn, Fall Bear, Fall Turkey, SwanEarly May to early June
Spring BearMid-January to mid-February
Spring Turkey Early February to early March
Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain GoatThroughout April

Second Drawing Application

The remaining controlled tags from the first drawing will be open for the second drawing. Here is the rundown for the second drawing application dates:

Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain GoatMid- to late June
Deer, Elk, Pronghorn, Fall Bear, SwanEarly August to mid-August


All in all, hunting in Idaho can be as prosperous and bountiful as every hunter’s dream. It has a diverse selection of game species and long hunting seasons.

Want to experience more of it? Then you should apply for the controlled hunt for a bigger chance of hunting your desired game species! Make sure to hunt responsibly!