Idaho hunting is some of the best around! 20.4 million acres of the state is National Forest, which is approximately 40%. There’s more than enough room for every type of hunter. There are different seasons for different types of animals, such as big game (deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, wolf, etc.), sheep, goat, moose, turkey, waterfowl and more! Idaho offers a season for 3 types of weapons – archery, rifle, and muzzle loader. Each season, unit and weapon have different rules, regulations, and dates. But there is so much more to the hunting experience
Getting Ready for the Hunt
Lots of planning has to go into getting ready for hunting, no matter which type of hunter you are. Check out the checklist below to get your planning started now:
- Get into shape – hunting is a lot of work as you trek through the forest. And if you get your target, the work continues as you have to pack it out.
- Get maps and start scouting – visit the places you intend to hunt. Get a lay of the land and find out the most visited areas.
- Sight in your weapon & practice shooting – be sure your weapon is on target then continue practicing to make sure you hit the animal when it’s time.
- Practice calling – if you’re going to call, practice before you get in the field, it can be hard to master.
- Break in new boots – don’t want blisters to form during your hunts.
- Buy your tag – buy it early while you’re thinking about it. Be sure it’s purchased before opening day.
- Check the weather forecast – if you know what the weather will be, you can prepare appropriately.
- Check batteries – check them in all your battery powered equipment and just in case, bring spares.
- Sharpen knives – dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones.
- Get your pack gear together – use the gear list below to help with this.
- Always tell people where you plan to hunt/camp – the more detailed the better. Be sure to let them know how long you’ll be gone, if you’ll ever be in cell range, etc. That way if an emergency comes up, those at home can reach you.
As every hunter know, there is so much gear when it comes to hunting. With all the necessary clothes for any possible temperature, pack gear, weapons, ammo, emergency gear, and then if you plan to camp that adds a whole other lists of gear. Below is just an overview of the type of gear you’ll need to pack and a link to a full list.
- Weapons, ammo and hunting aids
- Food and water
- Unexpected night in the field
- Clothing for all weather
Places to get Gear
Here in North Idaho, there is an abundance of options to purchase all you need for hunting, including clothing, equipment, and weapons.
Where to Hunt
As mentioned, Idaho is 40% national forest, so there are plenty of areas to hunt. A few favorites here in North Idaho are the St. Joe River, Avery and Coeur d’Alene River. But there are so many more options! Click here for Idaho’s Wildlife Management Areas.
Hunting for Visitors
Idaho is a desirable place to hunt and nonresidents are more than welcome to join! Unfortunately, tags and licenses for nonresidents to hunt is more than those of residents, so expect an added cost. Click here for a full list of licenses, tags and permits and how much they cost for nonresident hunters
If you’re not from Idaho or interested in hunting a new area, there are plenty of options for a guided hunt. Below are a list of area outfitters that do just that:
Safety & Survival Information
No matter which season, animal or weapon you decide to hunt, there are general safety guidelines you should always follow. These guidelines are good to follow anytime you’re in the forest, even if you’re not hunting. And if you lose your way, there are also some survival tips you should practice:
- Know the area you’re hunting
- Don’t rely solely on electronics
- Let somebody know where you will be hunting and when you will be returning
- Have a fire starter kit
- Watch the weather
- Know your general firearm safety and how to use your weapon appropriately
- Don’t perform an awkward action while trying to shoot, such as climb a tree or cross a fence
- Store ammunition and firearm separately
Big game is considered deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion and gray wolf. This season offers a variety of options depending on where you plan to hunt, which animal you’re after and which weapon you use. There are controlled hunting options, youth only options, private land permit options and so much more! If you’re new to the area and want to get know more about big game hunting options, check out the Idaho Fish & Game Brochure by clicking here.
Moose, Bighorn Sheep & Mountain Goat
Although these animals may seem like big game, they are separate due to different rules and regulations. All moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats are controlled only hunts in Idaho. That means you must apply for these tags and then a drawing occurs. There are only a certain number of tags per area so you are not guaranteed a tag, that’s why it’s called the lottery. If you are interested in obtaining one of these tags click here to read the Idaho Fish & Game Brochure. Please note, due to the smaller number of these types of animals, there are more rules and reporting requirements than other types of game. Interested in what your drawing odds would be, click here.
Idaho Migratory Game Bird
Birds included in this season include duck, geese, drove, crow and crane. There are different and multiple types of species included in the hunts. Check out the Idaho Fish & Game brochure by clicking here.
Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey
The Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey season includes grouse, quail, Chukar, Gray Partridge, pheasants, rabbits, hares and turkey with a different variety of some species. Certain varieties of the species are closed so you’ll want to know your bird if you choose to hunt. Learn how to identify which is which, as well as your limit and hunting dates by reading the Idaho Fish and Game brochure here.