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Idaho Elk Hunting

Idaho Elk Hunting 2023

Available Idaho Elk Hunts --- Search HF Aventures

Just like the deer herds, the elk experienced a hard winter. At the time of print, Idaho was still feeding elk in the southeast portion of the state. They are feeding between one and two tons of hay per day to the elk. We applaud Idaho for their feeding programs to try to keep deer and elk populations from dying off. Elk typically do better than mule deer during tough winters, so the elk herds should come out of this winter better than the mule deer.

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Idaho provides non-resident hunters plenty of elk hunting opportunities across the state, and the elk herd is doing well in most of the state. The total 2022 elk harvest was just 305 elk below the 10-year average and 10% above the 2021 harvest. The 2022 harvest was 20,952, which makes it the ninth straight year that Idaho hunters have harvested more than 20,000 animals. Harvest success on the general hunts was 18% and the controlled hunts averaged 43% in 2022.

Most of Idaho’s elk hunting is managed to maximize opportunity for hunters, and Idaho should generally be viewed as an opportunity state when it comes to its elk hunting. Idaho offers every type of hunt an elk hunter could want. Any hunter can find an elk hunt that would suit their own personal style of hunting.

Idaho Elk Season Dates

For specific hunt dates, consult the Idaho Big Game Regulations.

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Idaho manages a handful of units for trophy bulls, and if you are looking for a 350" bull, you should stick with our top picks of units 40 and 54. Other early season rifle hunts that can produce a few great bulls are units 1-2, 30, 36A2, 37, 44, 45, 49, 50, 51, 52, 55, and 66A. If you are looking for an opportunity at a 300" type bull with better odds of drawing a tag, there are plenty of hunts listed in the tables to choose from. There are a number of rifle hunts that are conducted in early October during the backend of the rut and a few migratory hunts in late November that see a fair number of elk drifting in from neighboring states, increasing the likelihood of turning up a mature bull.

Idaho’s best elk tag is the unit 54 muzzleloader hunt that opens on September 25th. The bulls will be rutting like crazy, and hunters will have plenty of big bulls to chase. Typically, there are some 380"+ bulls taken on this hunt. Another rut muzzleloader hunt is unit 39. This hunt takes place the entire month of September and always produces a few bigger bulls. New for 2023, Idaho moved the unit 50 muzzleloader hunt from November to starting October 1st. This will be a great rut hunt and the best hunt on unit 50. Some better draw odds can be found in the November muzzleloader hunts in units 30A and 49. Both units are a good hunt for someone who wants to hunt hard for wintering bulls.

For archery hunters, Idaho provides some great opportunity and long season dates. For the best limited-entry archery hunts in the state, look at units 40 and 54. Each of these hunts offer good success rates and the potential for a 350"+ bull. Other good archery limited-entry hunts are unit 44 and unit 39. If you are planning a general hunt, getting a turnback tag, or looking ahead to 2024, we recommend looking to units within the Salmon, Lemhi, Beaverhead, Pioneer, Brownlee, South Hills, and Diamond Creek zones.

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Over the last 20+ years, we've collected hunting research and data, so join Huntin' Fool today and access the best research tools for hunting elk in Idaho, including 3D Maps, Draw Odds, Consultations, and much more. Go on more hunts with better information!


Private Land, Semi-Guided, and Guided Elk Hunts in Idaho

Search our database for Idaho Elk opportunites.


Application Deadline for Idaho Elk

The Idaho Elk application deadline is June 5, 2023. Successful applicants must purchase their tags by August 1, 2023.

Our magazine, which is available in print and online, 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!

Up-Front Fees
Annual Hunting License and Access Fee $195
Junior Mentored Hunting License and Access Fee $95.75
Application Fee per Species $18
Post Draw Fees (if successful)
Elk Tag $651.75
Junior Mentored Elk Tag (10-17 years old) $299.75
Archery Permit $81.75
Muzzleloader Permit $81.75

*An additional online processing fee of approximately 3% is not included in the prices above.