More information on Idaho Bighorn Sheep, Idaho Moose, Idaho Mtn Goat, Idaho Elk, Idaho Mule Deer, Idaho Antelope
Idaho’s 2023 regulations for moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat are available. To receive a copy, call 208-334-3700 or download a copy from their website at idfg.idaho.gov/rules/moose-sheep-goat. Idaho publishes two-year regulations for moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat with season dates and permit numbers being identical for two years. This is the first year of the two-year cycle. Idaho’s regulations for deer, elk, and antelope are also available and will be covered in our May issue.
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Go online to https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/big-game and download a copy of the Big Game Seasons and Rules. Remember that when applying in Idaho if you already applied for sheep, moose, or goat in 2023, you cannot apply for the controlled hunts for deer, elk, and/or antelope.
The controlled hunt application period is April 1-30. A maximum of two hunters may apply as a party for bighorn sheep, moose, or mountain goat. However, we do not recommend that non-residents apply as a party as the permit numbers are low and this may prevent your party from drawing. You can apply online starting April 1st by going to gooutdoorsidaho.com. Applications are also accepted over the phone by calling 800-554-8685. Additional charges will be assessed for online and phone applications, including a 3% surcharge of the total application amount plus a minimal transaction fee. You may also apply at any hunting or fishing license vendor or Idaho Fish and Game office and avoid the 3% surcharge. Mail-in applications are not accepted for controlled hunt drawings.
You can apply online for elk, deer, and antelope starting May 1st by going to https://license.gooutdoorsidaho.com. Applications are accepted online, at any Fish and Game office, an Idaho license vendor, or over the phone by calling 800- 554-8685. Mail-in applications are not accepted for controlled hunt drawings. The deadline to apply for elk, deer, and antelope is June 5th. Up to four hunters may apply as a group for elk, deer, and antelope. If a group application exceeds the number of permits available for a hunt, the group application will be rejected. To withdraw or amend your submitted application, call Idaho Fish and Game at 208-334-3700. They will withdraw or amend your application on a case-by-case basis.
You can only apply for one species between bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and moose. If you apply for bighorn sheep, mountain goat, or moose, you may not apply for limited-entry deer, elk, or antelope unless the unit you apply for has unlimited permits for deer, elk, or antelope. In Idaho, you have two hunt choices listed on the application; however, everyone’s first choice is awarded before anyone’s second choice is considered. Simply put, your first choice is the only one that counts in regard to bighorn sheep, trophy bull moose, and mountain goat permits. In the controlled hunts with 10 or fewer permits, no more than 1 nonresident permit may be issued for that particular unit. In the controlled hunts with more than 10 permits, no more than 10% of the permits may be issued to non-residents. Non-residents are also limited to no more than 10% of the total number of controlled hunt permits issued statewide for each species.
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If you draw a moose, bighorn sheep, or mountain goat permit, you must wait two years before applying again if you did not harvest one. You may harvest only one antlered moose and one antlerless moose in your lifetime, unless you draw a moose permit in the second drawing. You may harvest only one Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and one California bighorn sheep in your lifetime. If you have harvested a mountain goat since 1977, you may not apply for another mountain goat permit. You may not apply for “5000” and “7000” series bighorn sheep hunts on the same application or in the same year on separate applications. Draw results can be found in mid-May by logging in to your account at gooutdoorsidaho.com.
In Idaho, you have two hunt choices listed on the application; however, everyone’s first choice is awarded before anyone’s second choice is considered. Successful applicants for elk, deer, and antelope will be notified by mail by July 10th. The results will also be listed on their website at gooutdoorsidaho.com. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified as tag fees are not submitted when applying. By August 1st, successful applicants need to purchase their controlled tag at any license vendor, IDFG office, online, or by telephone at 800-554-8685.
In the controlled hunts with 10 or fewer permits, no more than 1 non-resident permit may be issued for that particular unit. In the controlled hunts with more than 10 permits, except unlimited controlled hunts, no more than 10% of the permits may be issued to nonresidents. Non-residents are also limited to no more than 10% of the total number of controlled hunt permits issued statewide for each species.
Any person who draws an antlered-only controlled hunt permit for deer or elk may not apply for any other controlled antlered-only hunts for that species for one year. Any person drawn for a controlled antelope for any antelope, including either-sex and doe and fawn, may not apply for any controlled antelope hunt for one year. A person drawn in the previous year remains eligible to apply for a controlled hunt for the respective species drawn in the second application period in August, controlled hunts with an unlimited number of tags, or landowner appreciation antelope hunts.
A process was established for picking up non-resident returned, sold-out tags. If returned/surrendered tags are available, they can be purchased online on a first-come, first-served basis only on the predetermined dates on their website at 10 a.m. MDT. All available tags will be listed on the prior Tuesday by 10 a.m. MDT. This is a decent chance at getting a previously sold-out capped zone tag. You can check the list at https://idfg.idaho.gov/tag/returns.
To distribute capped elk zone tags more fairly, Idaho has established a waiting period for residents to purchase these tags. A resident who applies for a controlled elk hunt in 2023 cannot buy a capped elk zone tag until five days after they go on sale in July. This is regardless of whether the applicant draws the controlled hunt tag. The waiting period does not apply to non-residents in 2023.
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In 2021, Idaho substantially increased most non-resident license, application, and permit fees. Upon submission of your application, you will be charged the entire permit, license, and application fee. Only permit fees will be refunded. Hunting license fees ($195) and application fees ($45.75) will not be refunded if you do not draw. Application processing fees will not be refunded. Fees must be paid for by Visa, MasterCard, or Discover.
You only need to submit the application fee per species, $18 each, plus the price of a hunting license if you did not purchase one prior to applying. You will also be charged a transaction fee of 3% plus $3.50 for online applications and 3% plus $6.50 for phone applications. Hunting license fees and application fees will not be refunded if you do not draw.
If you were born on or after January 1, 1975, you must have completed a hunter education course to purchase a hunting license, unless you have held a valid hunting license from another state. Idaho has no hunter orange clothing requirements.
Only properly licensed youth who are 10 years old or older may hunt big game. A youth may buy a license when they are 9 years old to apply for a controlled hunt, but they must be 10 years old at the time of the hunt.
Currently, there is not a point system in Idaho.
The odds in our tables will provide you the most realistic draw odds as a non-resident. Draw odds were calculated by simulating the draw based off of real applicant data, taking into account the 10% non-resident cap.
Youth hunters, ages 10-17, under the Junior Mentored program can purchase over-the-counter deer tags for $176.75, elk tags for $299.75, bear tags for $116.75, and turkey tags for $44.75. If you apply as a party for elk or deer controlled hunts and draw the tags, the youth will be charged the Junior Mentored price. When applying your kids, only submit the Junior Mentored price for the hunting license, which is $91.75 for non-residents plus the application fee. Anyone with a Junior Mentored Tag must be accompanied in the field by an adult with the same tag(s) for the same species and be close enough to the youth hunter to be within normal conversation or hearing range. The adult may not mentor more than two youth hunters at one time.
Idaho’s Hunting Passport is a component of the Fish and Game’s mentored hunting program. The Hunting Passport allows any first-time hunter, resident or non-resident, age 8 and older to try hunting anything except big game for one year with an adult mentor without first having to complete a hunter education course. Holders of the Hunting Passport must be 10 years of age to hunt big game with an over-the-counter tag but are not eligible to possess a controlled hunt tag. Hunting Passports are available at license vendors and Fish and Game regional offices for $1.75.
For moose, mountain goat, and bighorn sheep, you may use any legal weapon. If you choose to use a muzzleloader, it must be at least .50 caliber. If you choose to use a bow, it must be at least 40 pounds of draw weight and not have any device that holds your bow at full draw. Your arrow must meet all of the following criteria: 24" long, minimum of 300 grains, and a fixed broadhead at least 7/8" wide with a primary cutting edge less than 0.015" thick. You may not have any electronic or tritium-powered devices attached to your arrow or bow.
Beginning July 1, 2022, it is legal to use mechanical broadheads and lighted nocks in the taking of wildlife during any archery season. It is unlawful to pursue or kill big game animals with a bow with less than a 40-pound draw weight or more than an 85% let-off, and arrows must have an overall length from the tip of the broadhead to the end of the nock of at least 24". Arrows must weigh at least 300 grains. No electronically powered devices may be attached to bow. To purchase an archery permit, all bowhunters must show proof that they have completed an approved bowhunter education course, show evidence of being previously licensed for an archery-only hunt in Idaho or another state, or complete an affidavit to that effect. Muzzleloaders used in muzzleloader-only seasons must be capable of being loaded only from the muzzle, be equipped with open or peep sights only, and only use a flint, percussion cap, or musket cap. Scopes, electronics, pelletized powder, sabots, and 209 primers are prohibited. For deer, antelope, wolf, and mountain lion, you must use a minimum of .45 caliber. For moose, bighorn sheep, goat, bear, and elk, a .50 or larger caliber must be used.
Any leftover moose, bighorn sheep, or mountain goat permits from the first drawing will go into a second drawing. There most likely won’t be any leftover bighorn sheep, trophy bull moose, or mountain goat permits. The application period for the second drawing for leftover bighorn sheep, mountain goat, or moose permits is June 15-25, with the drawing to be held around June 30th. Non-resident quotas do not apply in the second drawing. Idaho does not have landowner permits for bighorn sheep, moose, or mountain goat.
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Idaho offers Super Hunt tags for deer, elk, antelope, and moose. If you wish to participate in this drawing, you may purchase tickets for $6 per species. These tags are good for any season on any unit until the hunter harvests an animal. Hunters must abide by the same regulations as regular draw tag hunters. There are two drawings for these tags. The deadline to apply for the first drawing is May 31st and for the second drawing is August 10th. Applications must be received by these dates to apply. The proceeds are used to fund the Access Yes! program. For more information, go to https://idfg.idaho.gov/superhunt or see page 120 of the regulations. The lucky winners may hunt any open season for the species they draw in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they hold.
The Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation will raffle off a bighorn sheep tag on July 28, 2023. This tag will be valid in all units, excluding unit 11, during the 2023 season. Visit www.idahowildsheep.org for more information.
All unclaimed and leftover tags will be available for the second draw. The application period is August 5-15. All leftover tags after the second draw will be sold first-come, first-served on August 25th at 10 a.m. MDT. Idaho has a system where landowners can receive transferable big game tags. These tags are given to landowners on units where they have at least 640 acres with big game use. Landowner appreciation permits are not guaranteed and are drawn among the landowners who apply for them. Idaho state law prohibits landowners from selling or marketing landowner appreciation tags.
Successful applicants will receive a permit in the mail no later than June 10th. Unsuccessful applicants will receive a credit to their account by July 1st. Turning your permit back in for a refund is only allowed if you, a parent, spouse, or child pass away, you have a medical condition where a doctor does not allow you to hunt, or you are deployed in the military. If you draw a bighorn sheep, moose, or mountain goat permit, you cannot transfer it to your child or grandchild.
Non-resident hunting licenses and tags may be refunded, minus the application fees and a $50 processing fee, in the case of illness or injury that disables the license holder for the entire applicable hunting season, military deployment, or death of the license holder or their parent, spouse, or child. If a refund is requested for any other reason, only the permit and tag fees (not the license fee) may be refunded on a sliding scale. If postmarked before April 1st, you will receive a 75% refund; if before June 30th, a 50% refund; and if before August 31st, a 25% refund. After September 1st, there are no refunds.
A holder of a controlled hunt tag for big game other than bighorn sheep, moose, and mountain goat may transfer that tag to their child or grandchild who is under the age of 18 and is qualified to participate in the hunt. The child or grandchild may be designated only one controlled hunt tag per species per calendar year. The transfer must be made before the opening day of the hunt. Call IDFG at 208-334-3700 for more information.
All hunters who draw a permit for bighorn sheep, moose, or mountain goat must report harvest within 10 days of the date of kill. Hunters who harvest an antlered moose, mountain goat, or bighorn sheep must check the animal in within 10 days of harvest. If unsuccessful, hunters must return their unused permit to an IDFG office within 10 days of the end of the hunting season.
All deer, elk, and antelope hunters are required to complete a mandatory hunter report for each tag they purchase. Hunters are required to submit a report by phone or online within 10 days after harvest. Hunters who do not harvest or who do not hunt with their tag are required to report within 10 days after the close of the hunting season. You can report online at https://idfg.idaho.gov/hunt/report or over the phone at 877-268-9365.
Idaho has one of the best hunt planning pages on their website that allows users to view a map of the entire state with overlays of GMUs, roads, trailheads, etc. Go to https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/mapcenter/ to view the map and start researching. For a variety of unit maps as well as topo maps, go to www.huntinfool.com/map. Huntin’ Fool offers an online 3D mapping system with various overlays and base map options. Potential hunts can also be found through the interactive filtering tool. All members can access the online map at www.huntinfool.com.
Most of Idaho’s hunting units will have some private/public land issues that can inhibit the access to public land. An onXmaps app membership or onXmaps GPS chip is highly recommended to help navigate private/public land boundaries and trailheads. Idaho also has the Access Yes! program where hunters can access private property for free. This program provides access to hundreds of thousands of acres of both public and private land and is partially funded by the Super Hunt Tag program. To learn more about the Access Yes! program, go to https://idfg.idaho.gov/yes.
Idaho requires non-residents riding in Idaho to purchase a non-resident offhighway vehicle (OHV) sticker. The fee will be the same $12 that Idaho residents are currently required to purchase. Non-residents may purchase their OHV registration sticker on the IDPR website at https://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/.
You can buy a wolf permit for $31.75 at any Idaho Fish and Game office or any license vendor throughout the state. Wolf permits are valid for the calendar year they were purchased in and are good statewide. Hunters and trappers may each purchase an unlimited number of wolf permits per calendar year. Idaho has had a summer population of about 1,500 wolves for the last three years. There were nearly 500 wolves harvested in 2022.