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Idaho Elk Hunting

Idaho Elk Hunting

Idaho provides non-resident hunters plenty of elk hunting opportunities across the state. In most of the state, the elk herd is doing well and is currently estimated to be around 120,000 animals statewide. The total 2020 elk harvest was up about 12% from the 10-year average, marking the seventh straight year that Idaho hunters have harvested more than 20,000 animals. 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. With that being said, there are a few quality hunts that offer solid trophy potential.

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Idaho Elk Draw & 2021 Season Dates

If you are willing to take on the longer odds that come with Idaho’s top-producing hunts for trophy class bulls, you will want to focus on hunts in units 40, 41, 42, 46, and 54. Of those, units 40 and 54 will give you the best shot at a 360"+ bull. In 2020, there were a handful of bulls taken that broke the 380” mark. Other early season rifle hunts that are capable of producing a few great bulls are going to be units 30, 44, 45, 49, 50, 52, and 55. 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 back end 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. Without winter weather, it will be tougher to turn up a top end bull on these hunts, which has been the case over the past few seasons.

For specific dates please consult the Idaho Big Game Regulations.

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For archery hunters, Idaho provides some great opportunity and long season dates to get it done. For the best limited-entry archery hunts in the state, look at units 40, 44, 46, and 54. Each of these hunts offer good success rates and the potential for a 340"+ bull. For general hunts, look to units within the Salmon, Lemhi, Beaverhead, Pioneer, Brownlee, South Hills, and Diamond Creek zones.


Self Guided DIY Idaho Elk Hunts

With multiple weapon choices and varying terrain across the state, Idaho offers every type of hunt an elk hunter could want. With a little research, any hunter can find an elk hunt that would suit their own personal style of hunting. Remember, if you were able to purchase an over-the-counter elk tag for the 2021 season, you may exchange your tag for a controlled hunt if you are lucky enough to be drawn. At only $18 to apply, it makes sense to get your name in the hat for a controlled hunt. Give us a call if you’d like help finding the hunt that is right for you or if you’re looking for an outfitted wilderness experience. We work with the best outfitters in Idaho!

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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 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

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Application Dates for Idaho Elk


The Idaho Elk application deadline is June 5, 2021. Successful applicants must purchase their tags by August 1, 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 Elk Hunting Fees

Up-Front Fees Fee
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) Fee
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.

Idaho Elk Hunting Articles from Huntin' Fool Magazine