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Idaho Bighorn Sheep Hunting

Idaho Bighorn Sheep Hunting

Idaho offers hunters the opportunity to hunt Rocky Mountain bighorn as well as California bighorn sheep. If you are new to the application game and are interested in applying for bighorn sheep, Idaho should be at the top of your list. With no point system in place and applicants limited to applying for only one once-in-a-lifetime species per year, Idaho is going to be your best bet at beating the odds of drawing a sheep tag. In 2021, Idaho is going to issue 78 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep tags across 26 different hunts. There will also be 16 California bighorn sheep tags issued on seven different hunts. While IDFG has cut three tags from the 2020 season total, it won’t have an effect on the number of non-resident tags that may be drawn. Of the 94 total bighorn sheep tags available in 2021, non-residents can draw up to nine of those tags. Make note of the boundary changes made for 2021 if you are hunting for bighorn in areas 21 and 28-2.

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Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Idaho are doing well, and hunters across the state saw a 71% success rate overall in 2020, up from 66% in 2019. Rocky Mountain bighorns live in the central mountains from Hells Canyon as the west border to Montana as the border to the east and Highway 84 as the border to the south. Much of the terrain in this area is some of the steepest, most rugged and remote wilderness country found anywhere. There are a few physically easier hunts to choose from, but for most of these hunts, plan on using horses, floating the river through, flying into the wilderness, or backpacking in to access sheep country.

While the average ram coming from Idaho is typically in the low to mid-160s, there are a handful of 170” class rams and a few 180"+ harvested each year. If you are only looking for a 190" ram, your choice is easy – you need to apply for unit 11 in Hells Canyon. This hunt usually produces some of the biggest rams in the state each year, and 2020 was no exception. The auction tag hunter will be able to hunt unit 11 this year, and the bighorn sheep raffle hunter will be able to hunt unit 11 in 2022.


California bighorns occupy southern Idaho’s Great Basin canyon and rangelands south of Interstate 84. All of the California bighorn sheep units are physically easy compared to the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep units. With exception to unit 46, the California sheep population is stable. Unfortunately, sheep numbers in 46 continue to decline and IDFG has cut a tag on this hunt as a result. The other herds are doing well, and in 2020, 15 of the 17 California bighorn hunters were successful. If a hunter is in decent shape and gets off the road and hunts hard, he should have no problem filling his tag with a mature ram.

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If you need a Rocky Mountain or California bighorn and can justify the expensive out-of-pocket cost, make sure you are applying in Idaho every year. The bottom line is that your odds of drawing a sheep permit in Idaho are below 1%, but they are still better than those of any state in the West. Give us a call if you’d like help finding the hunt that is right for you. Hopefully this is your year to draw an Idaho bighorn sheep tag!

Idaho Bighorn Sheep Season Dates

Please review the state regulations for specific units and dates.

Self Guided DIY Idaho Bighorn Sheep Hunts

For access to all of our research and data we've collected over the last 20+ years, then join today and access the best research tools for hunting Bighorn Sheep in Idaho including 3D Maps, Draw Odds, Consultations and much more. Go on more hunts with better information!

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Private Land, Semi-Guided, and Guided Bighorn Sheep Hunts in Idaho

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Application Dates for Bighorn Sheep in Idaho

The Idaho sheep application deadline is April 30, 2021.

Our online/print magazine has everything in one location: Application info, draw details and odds, fees, hunter requirements, point structure, age restrictions, youth information, weapon restrictions, other tag opportunities, hunt planning and much more. If you would like access to all of our research join today!

Idaho Non-Resident Bighorn Sheep Hunting Fees

Adult Up-Front Fees
Annual Hunting License and Access Fee $195 Non-refundable
Trophy Species Application Fee $45.75 Non-refundable
Online and Phone Application Processing Fee $90.03 Non-refundable
Bighorn Sheep Permit $2,626.75 Refunded if unsuccessful
Adult Application Subtotal $2,957.53 $330.78 total non-refundable
Youth Up-Front Fees
Annual Hunting License and Access Fee $95.75 Non-refundable
Trophy Species Application Fee $45.75 Non-refundable
Online and Phone Application Processing Fee $87.05 Non-refundable
Bighorn Sheep Permit $2,626.75 Refunded if unsuccessful
Youth Applicant Subtotal $2,855.30 $228.55 total non-refundable


Idaho Bighorn Sheep Hunting Articles from Huntin' Fool Magazine