Hunting in Idaho: A Quick Guide To Hunting in the Gem State

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Things to Know About Hunting in Idaho

With more than 500 species of wildlife, Idaho is a great state for hunting. Even better, over half of Idaho state is public land, most of which is open for hunting. Much of this land is open to public access throughout the year, although hunting seasons usually fall between August or October through the end of the year, with some exceptions and specifications. With such an abundance of options, all that’s left is finding your favorite place.

Accommodation for Hunting Excursions

Before getting out for a hunt, it’s important to sort out your accommodation or shelter, for however long the trip is going to be. Usually, a top choice for outfitter groups is wall tents. Wall tents are extremely durable and versatile due to their fabric, space and size options. Whether you’re getting out with one friend or taking a larger group, you can usually find a wall tent size that perfectly fits your needs.

Wall tents from White Duck Outdoors, for example, are available in six sizes, from as compact as 8’x10′ to as massive as 16’x24′.  The wall tents are made from 100% army duck cotton canvas that’s treated with a PFC-free, fire water repellent, mold and UV resistant finish. This makes the wall tent extremely resistant to the harshest weather conditions and good to live in throughout the year.

Wall tents are also built with a heavy-duty frame, storm doors and three-layer storm windows. This makes them suitable to withstand harsh winds or heavy snowfall. These are the reasons why you should choose a double wall tent for your next hunting trip.

What Treatments Should I Look For In a Canvas Tent

Where to Hunt in Idaho?

Idaho has a vast amount of land that is open to hunting throughout the year. There are over 30 Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) that are run by Idaho Fish and Game. The Access Yes! Program ran by Fish and Game also provides access to 375,000 acres of private land that are leased by Fish and Game. Lastly, there are 2.3 million acres of endowment lands that allow hunting, fishing, and trapping. 

Determining where to go comes down to several basic factors. These include what you are looking to hunt, what type of environment you’d like to be in, and how you plan to access your hunting site.

Opportunities and Options for Hunting

Hunting in Idaho could include game for beginners or big game options, like:

  1. Fowl
  2. Deer
  3. Elk
  4. Black bears
  5. Moose
  6. Mountain Lions

While there are many different opportunities for hunting in Idaho, there are some notable favorites. Deer, as well as dry land and wetland fowl, can be found throughout the state, and elk are one of the most prized shots to be had.

Fowl

Game birds are great for beginners, can be found throughout Idaho state and don’t require the same amount of steps and licenses as big game. Only a hunting license is required to hunt most fowl in public access lands. 

Turkeys are one of the few exceptions that offer two opportunities in a year; a spring session occurs between April and March as well as a fall session beginning in August. 

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Deer

Deer are Idaho’s most popular choice of big game and are abundant throughout the state. While you can find both whitetails as well as mule deer throughout the state, whitetails are generally more abundant and are found more frequently in northern and northern/central Idaho.

Elk

Elk can be hunted throughout Idaho, although there are greater restrictions to hunting elk than deer. There are two ways to go about hunting elk:

  1.   Go on a controlled elk hunt offered by the Idaho Fish and game. Hunts take place in the fall and you can apply for them here during the spring. 
  2.   General season elk hunting is available, but hunters must choose in which of the 28 designated zones they’d like to hunt. There are also two types of tags available that allow either early access, ideal for bow and arrow hunting, or the “any weapons” season that follows in October.

Other big game opportunities are also available, including black bear, moose, and mountain lions.

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Types of Environments to Hunt in

Idaho boasts some beautiful landscapes with everything from wetlands to meadows and forests. Hunting is not only about the kill, but also about the experience of being out in nature with these wild animals and learning aboutA them in their environment.

Even an unsuccessful hunt is still a day spent in nature, so a good place to begin in choosing your hunting site is determining which type of environment you’d like to be in. Some of Idaho’s natural environments include the following:

  •     Wetlands
  •     Rangelands
  •     Cropland
  •     Forestland
  •     Pastures
  •     Meadows
  •     Waterways (boating access only)

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Accessing Hunting Grounds in Idaho

As mentioned above, hunting grounds in Idaho include:

  1. Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)
  2. Access Yes! Lands
  3. Endowment Lands

Ways to access various hunting grounds include vehicles, boats, bikes, and non-motorized means such as hiking and horseback. Motorized vehicles are often limited to seasonal access, while many of these areas do stay open year-round for non-motorized vehicle access. 

1. Wildlife Management Areas 

Out of Idaho’s seven different regions, WMA’s can be found in seven of them. WMA’s are great for hunting various fowl including pheasants that are restocked each year, as well as an abundance of deer. 

When determining which area you’d like to hunt in, consider how you plan to hunt as well as your mode of transportation and what type of environment you’d like to spend your day in. Also, although some WMA’s are accessible year-round, others close due to changing environmental conditions or because of seasonal breeding grounds. 

2. Access Yes! Lands

There are upwards of a hundred different revolving properties included in the Access Yes! Program, providing hunters with a greater range of options. These lands have everything from fowl to big game available to hunt and may feature any possible type of environment.

Click here to see a list of all available Access Yes! Lands. 

3. Endowment Lands

Endowment lands are paid for by Fish and Game and are open access to anyone, although they are traditionally primarily used to produce revenue through timer sales or grazing leases. They are unique in that anyone is allowed to camp for two weeks, allowing for an extended trip.