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Idaho Hunting Guide

elk in idaho rocky mountains

Idaho offers large amounts of public and private lands for hunters to enjoy. The state’s vast landscape supports a wide variety of popular game species. This combined with Idaho’s relatively permissive gun laws make the state a popular destination for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

What to Hunt

Idaho’s land offers many different game species for hunters.

Mule Deer


Idaho supports healthy, stable populations of whitetail deer and mule deer that offer some of the best deer hunting in the nation. These species are available in the fall months and attract hunters from across the country each year. Deer tags are over-the-counter, and public land draws most deer hunters in the state. Mule deer are most common in the central mountains and southern desert. White-tail deer are more plentiful in the northern forested areas.



Idaho features some of the country’s most plentiful elk hunting opportunities. Idaho’s diverse wilderness is home to a population of more than 120,000 elk. These animals can be found in timbered areas, Idaho’s central mountains, or heavy sage-brushed deserts. Elk tags are offered over-the-counter, and most of Idaho’s 28 elk zones use a two-tag systems. A tags favor muzzleloader hunters and archers, while B tags favor centerfire rifle hunters.

Black Bear


Idaho has a healthy population of black bears for hunters to enjoy. In Idaho, hunters are legally permitted to pursue bears using hounds or bait stations. Deer and elk tags (nonresident only) can also legally be used to harvest one black bear. Black bears may have black fur (as the name suggests), but Idaho’s black bears may also be cinnamon-colored or brown. Bait stations and hounds are permitted for bear hunters in Idaho.

Migratory Birds

Migratory Birds

Idaho is between the Pacific and Central Flyways, making it ideally located for migratory bird seasons. Northern and Eastern parts of the state enjoy October and November seasons, while south central and southwestern Idaho is best during November through January. Migratory birds in Idaho include waterfowl, sandhill cranes, doves, and crows. Hunters must obtain a sandhill crane or swan tag in order to hunt sandhill crane and dove. Cranes are usually hunted in eastern Idaho, which helps to reduce crop damage.



Idaho supports three different species of wild turkey: Merriam’s, Rio Grande, and Eastern. These birds can be found in low elevation forests. Hunters can harvest as many turkeys as they have tags for the year. Dogs are only permitted during fall hunts, and it is not permitted to use a trap, snare, net, crossbow, or firearm except a shotgun with shells under 3.5”. Baiting and electronic calls are not permitted in Idaho.

Other Idaho game species include: Mountain Lion, Gray Wolf, Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Duck, Canada Goose, White Fronted Goose, Blue, Ross's and Snow Goose, Swan, Mourning and White Winged Dove, Crow, Sandhill Crane, etc. found in the "Hunt Seasons" section at bottom of the page

Where to Hunt

Idaho has large amounts of undeveloped lands that are open to hunters and outdoors enthusiasts.

Wildlife Management Areas

Like most states, Idaho supports wildlife management areas for hunters to use throughout the year. Idaho maintains 31 WMAs that range in size from 275 to 81,000 acres. These lands are designated for the conservation of various species, and are open to many different recreational activities, including hunting.

Access Yes!

The state of Idaho has established a program called “Access Yes” that provides compensation for private landowners in exchange for public access to their lands. These areas are subject to restrictions and regulations. Be sure to check with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game prior to planning your trip.

State Endowment Access

The Idaho Fish and Game and the Idaho Department of Lands work closely together to maintain 2.3 million acres of endowment land in Idaho. These lands are open for a variety of recreational purposes, often including hunting.

Large Tracts Program

Idaho Fish and Game has partnered with the North Idaho Forest Group to ensure non-motor vehicle access to 336,630 acres of private lands for legal hunting, fishing, and trapping activities. Land managers reserve the right to close or restrict this access, so be sure to check with the Idaho Fish and Game department prior to planning your trip.

Licensing Fees

All hunters in Idaho are required to obtain a hunting license.

License Resident Nonresident
​Hunting - Adult ​$15.75 ​$185.00
​Hunting - Adult - 3 Year ​$34.75 ​$551.50
​Hunting - Junior (10-17 yrs) ​$8.25 ​$91.75
​Hunting - Junior (10-17 yrs) - 3 Year ​$18.25 ​$271.75
​Trapping - Adult ​$29.75 ​$331.75
​Trapping - Junior (Through 17 years) ​$8.25 ​N/A
​Hunting - Small Game ​N/A ​$141.75
​Hunting - Small Game - 3-Day ​N/A ​$71.75

Hunter Education

Prospective hunters born on or after January 1, 1975, must either complete a hunter’s education course, or show proof of a completed hunter’s education course from another state. Courses are available to children nine and older. In-person and online instruction options are both available. Bowhunter and trapping courses are also available.

Youth Hunting

Controlled, youth-only hunts are available throughout the year. These are available to hunters between the ages of 10 and 17. Youth hunts include popular game species like deer, elk, pronghorn and black bear.

A hunting license is required to hunt in Idaho. Anyone over the age of 9 may complete the hunter’s education required to obtain such a license.


The following species are all considered furbearers in the state of Idaho: badger, beaver, bobcat, red fox, marten mink, muskrat, coyote, striped skunk, spotted skunk, long-tailed weasel, raccoon, ermine, and river otter. A trapping license is required to take any of these animals by means of a trap.

There is no open season in Idaho for lynx, wolverine, or fisher. Some furbearers (including otters) have regional harvest quotas; once these numbers are met, the season closes.

Hunting Seasons

Game Season
Deer* Aug 1 2023 - Dec 1 2023
Elk* Aug 1 2023 - Dec 31 2023
Turkey* Apr 8 2023 - May 25 2023
Sep 15 2023 - Jan 31 2024
Pronghorn Aug 8 2023 - Dec 31 2023
Black Bear Sep 1 2023 - Oct 31 2023
Apr 1 2024 - May 22 2024
Mountain Lion Aug 30 2023 - Jun 30 2024
Gray Wolf* Year Round
Moose* Aug 30 2023 - Dec 1 2023
Bighorn Sheep* Aug 30 2023 - Oct 31 2023
Mountain Goat* Aug 30 2023 - Oct 31 2023
Duck (including mergansers, Wilson's snipe, American coot)* Oct 7 2023 - Jan 31 2024
Canada Goose* Sep 1 2023 - Jan 31 2024
White Fronted Goose* Oct 7 2023 - Feb 18 2024
Light Goose* Oct 7 2023 - Mar 10 2024
Swan Oct 7 2023 - Dec 1 2023
Mourning and White Winged Dove Sep 1 2023 - Oct 30 2023
Crow Oct 8 2023 - Feb 28 2024
Sandhill Crane* Sep 1 2023 - Sep 30 2023
Forest Grouse (Dusky, Ruffed, Spruce)* Aug 30 2023 - Jan 31 2024
California and Bobwhite Quail* Sep 17 2022 - Jan 31 2023
Sep 16 2023 - Jan 31 2024
Chukar and Gray Partridge Sep 17 2022 - Jan 31 2023
Sep 16 2023 - Jan 31 2024
Pheasant Oct 8 2022 - Dec 31 2022
Oct 14 2023 - Dec 31 2023
Cottontail and Snowshoe Hare Aug 30 2022 - Mar 31 2023
Red Squirrel Aug 30 2022 - Mar 31 2023

*Hunting dates for this species may vary by zone, method of take, or subspecies of animal. Visit the state’s website at here

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information.