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Idaho Hunting Overview

Idaho is a top destination for big game hunting, attracting hunters from all over the country with its diverse terrain and abundant wildlife. Each year, thousands of hunters come to Idaho to target elk, deer, pronghorn, black bears, mountain lions, wolves, moose, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. The Department of Fish and Game is responsible for managing Idaho hunting opportunities, and offers both over-the-counter and controlled tags for a variety of species. Over-the-counter tags are available for general hunts for elk, deer, and bear, while controlled hunts are offered through a drawing process with no preference or bonus points. Applicants are limited to applying for one species of sheep, moose, or mountain goat, with Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep being the most desired species.

Hunters in Idaho have the opportunity to explore some of the state’s most rugged and remote wilderness areas, with backcountry hunting available in the mountains. While wolves have had a negative impact on moose and elk populations in some areas, Idaho allows over-the-counter wolf hunting to help maintain stable numbers of these species. With excellent trophy quality for moose and Rocky Mountain bighorn and California bighorn sheep on offer, Idaho is a must-visit destination for serious big game hunters.

Big Game Species

Idaho offers a diverse range of big game species for hunting enthusiasts, including elk, deer, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and moose. Residents and non-residents can acquire hunting tags through a controlled hunt draw system or over-the-counter purchase. Details on how to acquire Idaho hunting tags are provided below for each species. Idaho attracts approximately 220,000 hunters annually, with roughly 85% of hunters being residents and 15% being non-residents.

Draw and OTC Sales and Dates

Idaho Elk and Deer Non-Resident SaleOTC SaleElk, DeerDecember 1st, 2023
Idaho Spring Black Bear DrawDrawBlack BearJanuary 15, 2024February 15, 2024
Idaho Spring Turkey Controlled DrawDrawTurkeyFebruary 1, 2024March 1, 2024
Idaho Moose, Sheep, Goat DrawDrawMoose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain GoatApril 1, 2024April 30, 2024
Idaho Super Hunt Lottery (1st)LotteryElk, Deer, Antelope, MooseAugust 11, 2023May 31, 2024
Idaho Controlled Hunt DrawDrawDeer, Elk, Antelope, Fall BearMay 1, 2024June 5, 2024
Idaho Super Hunt Lottery (2nd)LotteryElk, Deer, Antelope, MooseJune 1, 2024August 10, 2024
Idaho Secondary Controlled Hunt DrawDrawDeer, Elk, Antelope, Fall BearAugust 5, 2024August 15, 2024
Return Tag SalesOTC SaleDeer, ElkMonthly

Point System

Idaho does not use any points systems.

Tags, Licenses, and Pricing

A valid hunting license and Access / De-predation are required to apply for Idaho controlled hunts and applications, excluding the Super Tag lotteries. A controlled hunt application fee is also required for controlled hunts, and varies by the species applied for. Tag fees only apply upon successfully drawing a tag in the controlled hunts, but hunters may elect not to purchase a drawn tag. The above fees are required to purchase tags in OTC sales, but may be purchase at the time of the sale and do not need to be purchased in advance. Below are tables of the general and species specific fees in the state.

General Licenses and Fees

ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Annual Hunting license$15.75$185.00
Access / Depredation Fee$5.00$10.00
Archery Permit$19.50$81.75
Muzzleloader Permit$19.50$81.75
Controlled Hunt Application Fee - Elk, Deer, Pronghorn$6.25$18.00
Controlled Hunt Application Fee - Moose, Sheep, Goat$16.75$45.75

Species Specific Fees

ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Elk Tag$36.75$651.75
Deer Tag$24.75$351.75
Pronghorn Tag$36.50$342.75
Moose Tag$199.75$2,626.75
Goat Tag$199.75$2,626.75
Bighorn Sheep Tag$199.75$2,626.75
Bear Tag$13.75$231.75
Reduced Bear and Second Bear$13.75$41.75
Mountain Lion Tag$13.75$204.50
Reduced or Second Mountain Lion Tag$13.75$41.75
Wolf Tag$13.50$31.75
Turkey Tag$22.75$88.00

Idaho Hunting Regulations

Hunters Education

  • Hunters Education is required for individuals born on or after January 1, 1975.

Age Restrictions

  • Hunters must be 10 years of age.

Archery Limitations

  • As of 2022, mechanical broadheads and lighted nocks are now allowed in Idaho.
  • Draw weights must be 40 pounds or greater. Draw-lock devices are prohibited.
  • Crossbows are not allowed in archery seasons.

Group Hunting

Group applications are permitted for controlled hunt draws. For elk, deer, and antelope, up to four hunters may enter as a single as a group. For goat, sheep, and moose, only two hunters may enter as a group. If there are more hunters in a group application than the number of permits available for a hunt, the group application will be rejected.

Idaho Hunting FAQ

Do I have to purchase a tag if I am drawn in the Idaho Controlled Hunt draw?2023-05-19T14:34:41+00:00

No. You are given the opportunity, but do not need to purchase any awarded tags. License and application fees are not refundable. If you already hold a tag for the species, you may keep that existing tag.

Can I purchase a second elk or deer tag in Idaho?2023-05-19T14:32:33+00:00

Yes, second tags can be purchased in Idaho, but it is a difficult process to do and the system may not remain in place for much longer. In prior years before rising in popularity, second tags were easy to come by. Typically during one of the later Return tag sales in Idaho, usually in mid August, any remaining unallocated nonresident tags would be made available for hunters. These are available to both resident and nonresident hunters to purchase a second tag. This sale often coincides with when unallocated outfitter tags are made available to general hunters, as well as when general tags from successful controlled hunters are returned to the pool. This system remains in place, even though many hunters have yet been unable to get a first tag in the state. Hunters cannot secure a second tag through the controlled hunt system, as they must give up their first tag for a specific species to receive any tag awarded in the controlled hunt.

Can I enter the Idaho Controlled Hunt draw if I have purchased a general OTC tag?2023-05-19T14:26:14+00:00

Yes, hunters are allowed to enter the controlled hunt application for a species they already hold a tag for. If drawn, the hunter will have the option to return their existing tag for a controlled hunt tag. However, hunters can’t gain a second tag through the controlled hunt process.

What are Idaho Returned Tags?2023-04-20T16:22:22+00:00

Each year many previously purchased tags become available again to new hunters, through the Idaho Return Tag Sale. These tags become available for a few reasons:

  • Hunters who have purchased OTC tags during the Idaho Nonresident Elk and Deer tag sale may not be able to hunt their tags, either due to injury or lack of time.
  • Tags can become available again after the Idaho Controlled Hunt Draw, when hunters swap their OTC tag for a controlled tag.
  • Tags allocated to outfitters go unsold.

All of these tags are sold in monthly “Return Tag Sales”, where nonresidents (usually) are able to purchase returned elk tags and returned deer tags.

Does Idaho have a points system?2023-04-18T23:59:13+00:00

No, Idaho does not have a points system for any species. All hunters have a single entry into the randomized draw for each species. Residents and nonresidents are both drawn from the same pool, but once the nonresident cap is hit, no more nonresident tags will be drawn for that unit.

Does Idaho allow lighted nocks?2023-04-12T13:54:51+00:00

Yes. In 2022 Idaho passed House Bill 507, legalizing the use of both lighted nocks and expandable broadheads for the 2022 season and beyond.

Does Idaho allow expandable broadheads?2023-04-12T13:55:08+00:00

Yes. Starting in the 2022 fall seasons, Idaho legalized the use of expandable and mechanical broadheads in the state. Previously Idaho was the only state to prohibit their use. Idaho also legalized the use of lighted nocks at the same time.

Waiting Periods

Youth Hunting

Landowner Tag Options

Weapon Restrictions

Return / Transfer Tags

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