Best Hunting Gear logo

Hunting in the State of Idaho

The state of Idaho is one vast area that is home to bountiful upland game and well sought-after trophy species. The ‘Gem State’, as it’s been nicknamed for years, has some of the most rugged and absolutely pristine places to hunt in North America.

We have provided all germane information that any hunter or wildlife seeker must know when hunting in Idaho. Readers are advised to visit the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (IDFG) website for other specific details pertaining to hunting license fees and current timetables.

Hunting License in Idaho

The state of Idaho requires that hunters meet the following general eligibility requirements. The basic steps that must be completed before the hunting license can be acquired are:

  1. Take the Idaho Hunter Education (for applicants born on or after January 1, 1975)
  2. Select the appropriate type of license
  3. An actual purchase of hunting license from the state’s official website or licensed agents or regional offices in the state.

Note: In addition to the licenses, some tags and permits are required of hunters.

**Hunters don’t need to enroll in the Idaho Hunter Education if they can show proof of a before held license in Idaho or another state**

Idaho Hunter Education Course

The hunter education certification is compulsory for all persons born on or after the 1st of January, 1975.

The hunter education course comes in two formats: Instructor-led course and internet course. Applicants can visit any of those two links to obtain all the information pertaining to the course structure and fees.

Upon successful completion of the online course, participants must attend and pass an Independent Study Field Day before they can obtain the Hunter Education Certification. Click on this link to find the nearest Field Day location and dates convenient for you.  Remember to come along with the Hunter Online Course Voucher on that day.

Note: Having a Hunter Education certification does not qualify the hunter for a Bowhunter Education Certification.

Other Education Certification Courses in Idaho

Some notable education courses in Idaho include Bowhunter Education Course, the Trapper Education Certification, and the Wolf Trapper Education.

In order to buy an archery permit, applicants must have both Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education. Bowhunter Education comes in Instructor-led and Internet Course. Ideally, hunters are advised to first sign up for the Hunter education before Bowhunter Education.

The Trapper Education Certification and the Wolf Trapper education are required of persons who intend trapping wolves. Exempt from this are people who possessed Idaho trapping license before July 2011.

**All of the above courses as well as the Field Day exercise often have a minimum age requirement of 9 years**

Resident Hunting License in Idaho

The law states that legal residents with a Hunter Education Certification are eligible for Resident Hunting License. For some game animals, additional hunting permits and tags may be required.

Idaho hunting laws define a legal resident as one who has resided legally in Idaho for no less than 6 months prior to applying for the license, tag or permit. The person must have a domiciliary intent by maintaining a fixed place of residence in Idaho.

To prove a residency status, the state requires the applicant to furnish the following: a valid Idaho driver’s license, or Idaho Identification Card, or previous year’s hunting/fishing/trapping license.

Documents such as rent receipts/mortgage statements, home utility bills, business letterhead or a statement from an employer can be turned in as proof of residency by non-drivers or people without a driver’s license.

A parent’s identification can suffice for persons less than 18 years.

Finally, the state of Idaho, like many other states do, bans residents from claiming residency privileges from another state or a foreign country, except military personnel.

Nonresident Hunting License in Idaho

Nonresidents are seen as people who have not legally resided in Idaho for more than 6 months prior to applying for the license, tag or permit. These people are eligible for a nonresident hunting license. Again, additional licenses and permits may be required of them for a specific set of game animals.

Idaho Hunting License Application Process and Fees

There are primarily four ways hunters can purchase a hunting license in Idaho.

  1. Arguably the easiest and fastest option is by phone. Hunters can call this toll-free number: 1-800-554-8685.
  2. The next relatively easy option is for the hunter to make the purchase online using the IDFG’S website.
  3. The third way is through authorized business vendors. Readers can click this link to search for the nearest vendor within or around their vicinity.
  4. The final option is to physically apply at any one of the numerous regional IDFG offices scattered across 9 cities in Idaho.

It must be noted that buying Idaho Hunting License online or by phone options attracts processing fees.

Both resident and non-resident fees attract different fees and application requirements. For more details pertaining to these categories and their respective prices, please visit this link.

Also, all application documents and forms pertaining to Idaho hunting licenses, permits and tags can be found at this link.

Key Hunting Regulations in Idaho

The following are some common hunting regulations in the state of Idaho. It has been referenced from a series of IDFG’s Hunting Guides. Hunters are encouraged to peruse those documents for more details aside from the 10 key ones provided below:

  1. Excluding mountain lions or legally-trapped gray wolves, it is unlawful to kill big game animals with a rimfire rifle, rimfire handgun, or muzzle-loading handgun.
  2. Whether a successful hunt or not, elk, deer and pronghorn hunters are required to fill out Hunter Report.
  3. Hunters must properly validate their tags with the correct day and month. The tag must be fastened to the largest part of the carcass
  4. Persons transporting a game on behalf of someone else must have a proxy statement.
  5. 5.      All hunters (16 and above) require a Federal Migratory Bird Stamp in order to hunt migratory birds.
  6. In Idaho, it is completely forbidden to hunt, shoot, or trap on private land without the owner’s approval. Also, hunters need written permission from the owner of the property where a wounded game enters.
  7. Killed game animals shall not be abandoned, or transferred to another person without the proper tagging. The donor’s name, address and hunting license number are required.
  8. Hunting furbearing animals with a motorized vehicle/aircraft are completely forbidden. So is communication the location of these animals with an electronic device.
  9. With the exclusion of mountain lions and black bears, hunters cannot hunt big game with dogs.
  10. With the exclusion of mountain lion, hunters are not allowed to communicate the location of game animals over the radio or any other mechanical device.

Hunters can visit this link to download online brochures pertaining to specific game animal regulation.

Places to Hunt in Idaho

The areas to hunt in Idaho have been categorized into 7 regions. For rich and detailed maps with the corresponding game species available in all 7 regions, please visit this link. Each of the 7 areas has been grouped into the general season hunt area and the controlled season hunt area.

  1. Panhandle Region: this region is home to big lakes and rivers to fish and 9 of the eleven big animals in Idaho. Example of some of the game animals available during the general season hunt are deer, elk, bear, lion, wolf, quail, forest grouse, pheasant, turkey, furbearer, sandhill crane, goose, duck, coot, and snipe. The controlled season hunt areas often comprise elk, deer, bear, moose, and goat.
  2. Clearwater Region: this is a very remote area that hosts the largest wilderness in Idaho. As a result of its terrain, access to the area can be a bit difficult. The general season hunt often has elk, bear, lion, wolf, pheasant, turkey, furbearer, sandhill, crane, goose, duck, coot and snipe. The controlled season, on the other hand, can boast of goat, rocky mountain sheep, moose, elk, and deer.
  3. Southwest Region: the distinguishing features in this area are river canyons, sagebrush deserts, and high mountain lakes and forests. The controlled hunt areas in the Nampa Subregion often have deer, elk, pronghorn, bear, California sheep, and goat.
  4. Magic Valley Region: this area spans across the Snake River plain all the way to the Sawtooth Mountains. The area is littered with big game animals.
  5. Southeast Region: the region holds enormous amounts of sagebrush desert and forests. It is also home to the waters of Bear Lake. Across this region, hunters can find eight big game animals such as deer, mountain lion, wolf, elk, quail, forest grouse, pheasant, and turkey.
  6. Upper Snake Region: in this region, ten out of the eleven big game animals in Idaho can be found. Bird hunting is also available here. Examples are gray partridge, grouse, sharp-tailed grouse and sage-grouse. Waterfowl hunting is also possible in this region.
  7. Salmon Region: named after the Salmon River, this region has the largest designated wilderness in Idaho.

For more information about the above regions, hunting enthusiast can click on this link.

Hunting Facilities, Guides, and Outfitters

Idaho has many private hunting guides and outfitters. Hunters must note that tags and permits are provided by these private hunting guides and outfitters. All they require is a valid resident or nonresident hunting license. The services these hunting outfitters provide range from training, supervision and in some cases lodging. Here are some well-known hunting guides and outfitters in Idaho:

Bear Creek Outfitters
Weitas Creek Outfitters
Wild Idaho Outfitters
Triple O Outfitters
Storm Creek Outfitters
Castle Creek Outfitters
Bitterroot Mountain Outfitters, Inc.

To discover other private hunting guides and outfitters, please click on this link.

Idaho Hunting Seasons

The hunting seasons in Idaho varies in terms of the type of game and species. Most of the Idaho hunting seasons can be categorized into the general hunting season and the controlled hunting season. The following paints a brief description of the various hunting season in Idaho:

Big Game Hunting Seasons

Big game hunting in Idaho encompasses pronghorn, deer, black bear and elk. In addition to these games are a mountain lion, gray wolf, and bighorn sheep.

  • Pronghorn Hunting Seasons. All the seasons here are under controlled hunt. There is the archery-only season, youth-only season, the either-sex pronghorn, the Doe or Fawn pronghorn season and muzzleloader season. For further information pertaining to the season dates and tag numbers, hunters can peruse the Big Game Seasons and Rules Guide from the IDFG website.
  • Deer Hunting Season. Deer hunting seasons are both General and Controlled Hunt seasons. The general hunt allows deer hunters to hunt one deer per year. Options in both hunts include youth-only hunt, antlered deer, antlerless deer, two-point deer, and three-point deer. Hunters must have an archery permit to hunt in ‘archery’ only season. Likewise, they must have a license with muzzleloader permit to hunt in the ‘muzzleloader’ only season. For more details on these seasons, please the Big Game Seasons and Rules Guide from the IDFG website.
  • Elk Hunting Season. Idaho’s elk population numbers are about 107, 000 elks. Elk tags can be bought over the counter from accredited agents in the state. The major seasons are the archery, muzzleloader, and fire rifle seasons. There is a two-tag system (tags are A tag and B) across 28 elk zones in Idaho. Tag A affords hunters to hunt with muzzleloader and archery. Tag B on the other hand, allows hunters to use centerfire rifle.
  • Black bear hunting seasons. The black bear hunting season is strictly a controlled hunt. As such hunters can only hunt or take one black bear per legal tag. It is also illegal to capture black bears with snare or trap. Female bears with their young cannot be hunted or taken in any situation. With respect to the controlled hunting seasons, the bear hunting seasons are in fall and spring.
  • Mountain lion hunting seasons. Mountain lion females with their kittens are strictly protected by Idaho. They are not allowed to be taken or hunted. The legal limit per tag is one mountain lion. Hunters must also report all kills within 10 days to state officials. As for females under quotas, the duration is 5 days. The hunting and take seasons for mountain lions in Idaho often occur in winter.

Turkey Seasons

In the course of close to 50 years, 6,256 Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam’s and hybrid turkey were transplanted to Idaho. Dominating the landscape of Idaho is the Merriam’s wild turkey. There are both general and controlled turkey hunts in Idaho. Youth seasons are also available in both of those hunts.

The hunting seasons for turkey can be categorized into two: fall season and spring seasons. Turkey hunting cannot be done without the possession of an appropriate license, general tag or extra tag or a controlled hunt permit. Interested hunters can view this link to explore detailed turkey hunting season dates and applications.

Migratory Game Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Seasons

The migratory game birds in Idaho encompasses ducks (mergansers, coots and snipe), Canada geese, white-fronted geese, light geese, mourning dove/crow and sandhill crane.

Furbearer Hunting Seasons

Some of the species of furbearers that can be hunted in Idaho include badger, muskrat, bobcat, beaver, marten, mink and fox. Furbearers are most dominant in the Panhandle, Southwest, and Clearwater regions of Idaho. Further details and datelines for all furbearing game animals can be found at this link.

Accommodation for Hunters in Idaho

With some of the largest unspoiled wilderness in the U.S., Idaho can boast of a high number of tourists and nature lovers. As a result of this, a number of lodges and hotels have sprung up to cater to all the accommodation needs of hunters. Therefore, whenever on a hunting expedition in Idaho, the following are some of the places you can lodge at:

TroutHunter Lodge
Address: 3327 Hwy 20, Island Park, ID 83429, USA
Telephone: 208-558-9900

Seven Devils Lodge Guest Ranch & Guide Service
Address: 4043 Council Cuprum Rd, Council, ID 83612, USA
Telephone: 208-253-3014

My Place Hotel
Address: 3050 E Jewel St, Meridian, ID 83642, USA
Telephone: 208-898-0009

The Mullan House
Address: 501 Hunter St, Mullan, ID 83846, USA
Telephone: 208-755-6481

Gateway Inn
Address: 700 W Main St, Grangeville, ID 83530, USA
Telephone: 208-983-2500

Sourdough Lodge
Address: 8406 ID-21, Lowman, ID 83637, USA
Telephone: 208-259-3326

Frequently Asked Questions about Hunting in Idaho

Q. How do I file a Hunter Report?

A. Filing a hunter report requires you to have a tag number or hunting license number. Hunters can visit this link or call the toll-free number, 1-877-268-9365. To get started you will need your tag number or your hunting license number.  Then you can go here or call toll-free.

Q. Suppose I don’t have a tag number, what do I do then?

A. Hunters can still call the above toll free number in order to verify their identities. Subsequently, the hunter can receive the tag number.

Q. How much time do I have to submit the Hunter Report?

A. First and foremost, the duration varies depending on the game animal. For example, deer, elk and pronghorn game requires that the hunter submits the report within 10 days after harvest. So be on the lookout for specific details at the state’s website.

Q. I hold a disabled hunting license. Does my companion need to have the same licenses and tags that I have when hunting?

A. No. Companions only assist. They don’t need tags or permits of their own. However, the companion must be a licensed hunter in order to assist the disabled hunter. Their role is to pick up the game animal that has been shot or wounded by the disabled hunter. The tagging and validation of the game animal still have to done using only the disabled hunter’s tags and information.

At all times the companion must be in close proximity (a normal conversation or hearing range) to the disabled hunter.

Q. How do I win big on Idaho’s Super Hunt Drawings?

A. Like any raffle or lottery drawings, your chances can be quite slim. But you can still give it a shot. Idaho awards 32 hunters the chance to win special Super Hunt tags to hunt elk, pronghorn, deer or moose in any open hunt in the Super Hunt Drawing. In the Super Hunt Combo Drawing, however, 4 lucky winners can win the opportunity to hunt for all four species. Tickets are available at licensed vendors or at IDFG’s website. So, good luck!!!

Note: A hunting license is not needed to enter the drawing. However, winners ought to buy a license before in order to hunt. For more details as to how to enter, the deadlines and fees, click on this link.

Q. What are the eligibility requirements for a Hunting passport?

A. The age eligibility requirements for the Hunting Passport is 8 years and older for both Idaho residents and non-residents. The holders must be accompanied by an adult licensed mentor of 18 years and above. Persons who have held licenses in other states cannot be granted the Hunting Passport. Hunter education is not needed to acquire a Hunting Passport. Click on this link to find out more about how the mentoring program works for people with a Hunting passport.


There are very few U.S. states that can claim to have more magnificent hunting mountain ranges and rapids than that of Idaho. Truly speaking, the sun does come from the mountains in Idaho.

Final verdict: If pristine and immaculate hunting destinations are what make you tick on a hunting expedition, Idaho is certainly the place to visit. Esto Perpetua (Let it be perpetual)!!!

And one more thing, a trip to Idaho is definitely incomplete without visiting the Shoshone Falls. This spectacular 14,000-year-old fall, at 212 feet drop, dwarfs the Niagara Falls by a whopping 36 feet. If none of this is enough compelling reason for you to hunt in Idaho, nothing will be!!!

Leave a Comment