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A Comprehensive Guide

% Public Land
Species Available
# of Hunters

2024 Idaho Big Game

Idaho boasts vasts stretches of public land through much of the central and northern part of the state. Hunting opportunities are good for deer and elk for both resident and nonresident hunters. Black bear populations are plentiful offering both Spring and Fall hunting seasons. Mountain lion and gray wolf can also be harvested throughout the year. Most other big game species require hunters to draw a limited license in the draw. Idaho's big game draw is one of the easiest to comprehend, especially compared to other states surrounding it. For those wanting a true wilderness backcountry hunt, Idaho offers plenty of federally designated wilderness areas.

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Species to Hunt


Black Bear



Mountain Goat

Mountain Lion

Mule Deer

Rocky Mtn Bighorn

Whitetail Deer



Nonresident Tags Available                       Dec 1
Spring Bear                                               Feb 15
Moose, Sheep, Goat                                 Apr 30
Super Hunt Tags 1st Draw                        May 31
Deer, Elk, Antelope                                   Jun 5
Deer, Elk, Antelope Leftover Draw            Aug 15

Quick Links

Over the Counter Hunts

Nearly all of Idaho's predator populations can be hunted by purchasing an over the counter license. Many areas offer reduced price licenses for both resident and nonresident hunters. General nonresident deer and elk licenses can be purchased over the counter beginning in December for the following year. Nonresident over the counter license purchases are capped based on the demand of resident hunters. Resident general deer and elk licenses go on sale in July and with the exception of a few zones are not capped.

Nonresident deer and elk general licenses sell out very quickly. Anticipate spending the better part of December 1st purchasing a license if you are planning on trying to snag one. Have a plan B and C if your preferred unit or zone is sold out.

Limited Entry Hunts

Idaho's big game draw is actual a collection of draws that happen throughout the late Winter and early Summer. These hunts are referred to as controlled hunts in contrast to the general hunting season. Controlled hunts limit the amount of hunting pressure and often offer the chance of a better class animal or more ideal weapon choice. The first draw is for controlled hunt opportunities for black bear. Then moose, sheep and goat applications must be in by the end of April. Finally, deer, elk and antelope applications must be submitted by the beginning of June.

The Draw

Idaho uses the same draw procedure across its three draws. Idaho uses a random drawing where each applicant receives one entry. This means every applicant has the same chance of drawing. For each huntcode, 1st choice applicants are considered first. If the quota for a hunt exceeds the number of first choice applicants, then 2nd choice applications will be considered. Licenses are awarded until no quota remains or all applicants have received a licenses, whichever happens first. 

There are a couple important points to keep in mind when applying for the Idaho draw:

  • Huntcodes (or numbers) are not necessarily consistent across years. BaseMap's hunt planner takes care of comparing harvest and draw stats across years

  • "Extra" hunts are just that! They are extra and hunters can submit a second application to apply for an extra hunt.

  • Hunts that list an unlimited quota are 1st choice only, meaning you must select the hunt as your 1st choice and then you will draw it. These hunts are not available as 2nd choice or in the leftover draw, so the primary draw is your only opportunity for these hunts.

  • If you apply as a group and are drawn, there must be enough quota left for the entire group or your application will be passed over.

  • When applying for a moose, sheep or goat hunt, know that you can only apply for one hunt and can not apply for any other controlled hunt. So if you choose to apply for a moose hunt, you will not be able to apply for an elk, deer or pronghorn hunt in the later draw.


Quotas are defined for each hunt number. A quota is the maximum number of licenses given out for a particular hunt number. These quotas are defined prior to the draw. Nonresidents can receive up to 10% of the quota. However, it is not guaranteed. If there is a hunt with a quota of less than 10 licenses, nonresidents can draw one license. It is entirely possible for residents to draw the entire quota, especially if nonresident demand is weak or there are few licenses.

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