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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: Idaho Elk and Antelope

Idaho 2018 elk and antelope application strategy article

Idaho's 2018 deer, elk and antelope application overview

Jump to: New for 2018 State Information Draw System Elk Breakdown Antelope Breakdown

With some of the best odds in the West, a late application deadline and close to 60% of the state comprised of public land, Idaho should always be in your back pocket when building your yearly application strategy. There is no better backup plan in the western U.S. than what is offered in Idaho. With a June application period, you are able to apply and see the draw results in many of the other states prior to committing to Idaho. Even if you are successful in Idaho for elk or antelope you are not on the hook for the cost of the permit at the time the draw posts. This allows you to continue to be as aggressive as you want to be in the last few major draws of the year, such as Wyoming deer and antelope or Arizona bighorn sheep and deer. If you are successful in these other states and you want to forgo your Idaho permit, you are out only the cost of the hunting license/access fee and application fee. Last, but not least, if you are not successful in the first draw, Idaho has a second drawing in August for leftover permits and a published list of leftover permits after the seconding drawing has posted in late August. If you are the type of hunter that is looking for a place to hunt each year out West no matter what, Idaho offers many over-the-counter (OTC) units with higher success rates than other states that offer similar opportunities. Essentially, if you commit to purchasing a hunting license/access fee in Idaho, then no matter how the draw comes out, you will have a solid backup plan in place. With multiple OTC elk hunts historically having a 25%+ success rates, it is difficult to find OTC opportunities as productive as you will find in Idaho.

Note: The application deadline for Idaho deer, elk and antelope is June 5, 2018, by midnight MST and can be completed online.



Why Idaho for elk, and antelope in 2018

Time of year

With the deadline occurring after many of the other states have already posted their draw results, you can add Idaho deer, elk and antelope on the years you are unlucky with other state draws. If you are currently applying for hunts in New Mexico, but not Idaho, you are missing out on a very comparable system of drawing for nonresidents—maybe even a better one.

Fantastic drawing odds

Because the draw system requires applicants to purchase an annual hunting license and access fee, commit to the species you want to apply for and many other different options, there is much less competition per hunt choice each year, which makes for some very good odds in many different units. This, along with the fact that there is no point system, allows you to have an equal chance at these hunts even during the first year you apply.

Excellent opportunities for youth and military

Idaho offers a major price break for its youth, military, and disabled veteran licenses for both residents and nonresidents. These, along with hunt codes that are specific to youth, make for some fantastic odds of drawing for the kids. Apply carefully as many of these youth opportunities are for cow/doe hunts.

Success rates

When considering an OTC type of hunt out West it is difficult to find areas that typically post much better than a 10% success rate and it is not uncommon to find areas that have a much lower success rate than that. While the controlled hunts often have high success rates more frequently, what sets Idaho apart are the success rates you will find in a number of units when looking at the OTC options.



High costs of applying in Idaho

For those of you that are thinking this is too good to be true, here is a bit of a reality check. One of the reasons that the number of applicants in Idaho is so low is because of the cost to apply. Without a point system in place, you are still required to purchase a hunting license each year as well as an access fee, which makes this one of the most expensive prerequisites out of all the states each year. If unsuccessful in the draw you have nothing to show except for the money you have spent. This is why it is best to plan for an OTC hunt first and then take a swing for a controlled hunt during the application period. If you apply like this then you are going to be purchasing the hunting license regardless and now the cost to apply is so low it would be a shame not to have your name in the hat.

Costs for controlled hunts in Idaho

License Resident Nonresident
Access fee $5 $10
Hunting license $33.50 $154.75
Application fee per species $6.25 $14.75
Auxiliary fees for permits and licenses (not required to apply)
Deer license $19.75 $301.75
Elk license $30.75 $416.75
Antelope license $31.25 $311.75
Archery permit $18.25 $20.00
Muzzleloader permit $18.25 $20.00

Note: The cost of a nonresident youth and disabled vet license (DAV) is $31.75 and the cost of the deer, elk and antelope permits are the same as the resident fees. Read more about the requirements needed in order to qualify for the DAV permits here.

Along with the above fees, applicants must also pay 3% of the total transaction in addition to a $3.50 fee for online processing. In a nutshell, if you choose to apply online, be prepared to spend a little extra money at the time you check out. This can become as much as $60+ when applying for bighorn sheep, moose or mountain goat as you are required to put all the money for the license and permit up front, but is considerably less for deer, elk and antelope as you do not have to front the money at the time of the application.



New for 2018

Weiser River A tag quota

The quota on the Weiser River A tag has been removed for the 2018 season.

Nonresident unlimited controlled hunt tags

Sawtooth Elk tags: Sawtooth Zone elk tags will be sold separately from other elk tags. Nonresident Sawtooth tags will go on sale May 10 at 10 a.m. MST across all sales venues. Resident Sawtooth Zone A and B tags will go on sale July 12 (two days after other resident tags) with half of the tags sold only at license vendors starting at 10 a.m. MST. The remaining half of the resident tags will be sold only online starting at 1 p.m. MST.

Depredation/access fee

The Idaho Legislature passed a resident fee increase starting with the sale of 2018 licenses and, along with it, two new features for hunters and anglers.

  • First, “Price Lock” allows resident hunters, anglers, and trappers to avoid the fee increase on license, tags, and permits for at least five years by purchasing an annual license every year starting in 2017. If you were unable to purchase a 2017 annual license, you can still buy a three-year license at 2017 prices and lock in all the benefits of Price Lock. Visit the price lock page here for more information. 
  • Second, an access/depredation fee is required to purchase an annual hunting, fishing and trapping license. The new fee is $5 for resident adults and $10 for nonresident adults. The fee only applies to your first annual license of the year. Money from the fees will pay for wildlife damage prevention and compensation on private lands and access programs for hunters and anglers. For more details, visit IDFG access/depredation here.

2018 INSIDER enhancement — Female draw odds

For 2018, goHUNT offers antlerless draw odds for Idaho and many other states. If your ultimate goal is to fill the freezer, an antlerless permit may be just the ticket.

To review antlerless draw odds, log into your INSIDER account > hover over the INSIDER icon > select the “Draw Odds” link > select Idaho and then your residency > scroll to select the antlerless species you are interested in near the bottom right portion of the page.

Antlerless elk draw odds

Find your resident antlerless elk draw odds here

Find your nonresident antlerless elk draw odds here

Doe antelope draw odds

Find your resident doe antelope draw odds here

Find your nonresident doe antelope draw odds here



State information

View important information and an overview of the Idaho rules/regulations, the draw system, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. You can also view the Idaho elk or antelope specie profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

Idaho State Profile Elk Profile Antelope Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • Applications for deer, elk and antelope must be submitted by midnight MST on June 5, 2018.
  • Applications can be submitted by mail, phone or online here.
  • Up to four hunters can apply together on a group application for deer, elk, and antelope.
  • Successful applicants will be notified by July 10, 2018.
  • Second choice application period for leftover tags will run from Aug. 5 to 15, 2018.
  • Leftover tags from the second drawing go on sale Aug. 25, 2018.
  • Idaho hunting licenses, access fee, and application fees are not refundable.
  • If an applicant is successful in drawing an antlered only permit for deer or elk they may not reapply for a controlled hunt for a period of one year.
  • Any person whose name is drawn in a controlled hunt for deer or elk is prohibited from hunting in any other hunt for the same species except when the hunter has drawn an unlimited controlled hunt tag or depredation hunt or has purchased a leftover nonresident general season tag for that species at the nonresident price.

Moisture levels in 2018
 

Idaho snow water equivalent as of mid may 2018
Image date: May 17, 2018. Source: NRCS National Water and Climate Center

The 2016/2017 winter majorly impacted the deer herd in Idaho. This year, it appears that things have improved. The southern half of the state has received good moisture, but not too much. The panhandle and some areas right along the Wyoming border are again getting some excess moisture. With any luck, things will warm up quickly and stay that way. Overall, the elk and antelope fared much better than the deer last year and, with this spring moisture, their antler and horn growth should be great.

Idaho drought monitor mid may 2018

Source: US Drought Monitor


The impact of wolves and other predators

Idaho intensity of predation limitations on Idaho elk populations

Idaho intensity of predation limitations on Idaho elk populations.

As of 2016, there are 81 different wolf packs that call Idaho home. The last population count occurred in 2015 and at that time there was an estimated population of 684 to 786 wolves. Since then, the state has decided that because of the difficulty in producing an accurate population count it would simply monitor the number of packs in the state moving forward. In 2017, 281 wolves were harvested in Idaho, which was an increase of 14 wolves from the 2016 season. Both Units 1 and 4 had over 30 wolves taken and were the two highest units reported to the state. The bag limit for wolves is five per hunter as long as you have a carcass tag in hand. If you pass the wolf trapping course in Idaho you are eligible to also purchase five trapping tags, making it possible to take up to 10 wolves annually. Wolf management in Idaho is as strong as any state and has definitely helped in stabilizing some of the areas that were hit the hardest. There are still many units that have not and probably will not recover from the damage that was done, but every little bit helps. If you have an adult deer or elk permit you are allowed to take a wolf with this tag; however, with the cost only being $13.75 for residents and $31.75 for nonresidents you should strongly consider simply having a tag in your pocket each year.



The Idaho draw system

Understanding the draw

On the surface, Idaho’s draw system is quite simple. There is not a point system in place and the draw is conducted on a 100% random basis. Essentially, this is a large bucket of raffle tickets each year and you have the same odds of drawing during your first year as any other applicant. Nonresidents are eligible for up to 10% of the tags in each hunt code, but not guaranteed that number. The deer, elk and antelope application period is different from the earlier application period for bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goat where you are only allowed to apply for one species. If you have opted to wait for the deer, elk and antelope application period, then you are allowed to apply for all three of these species.

Here is where it gets a little confusing. If you were successful in drawing an antlered deer or elk or antelope permit you are not eligible to apply for a controlled hunt on the first drawing of the following year. For example, If you drew a controlled elk tag for an antlered elk in 2017, then you are not eligible to apply for that same hunt or any other controlled antlered elk permit until 2019. This is the same for antelope, too. The exception to this would be if you drew a controlled hunt that is listed as unlimited like the archery antelope hunts in Unit 21A, 40, 45 and 46. Unlimited controlled hunts like this can be applied for and drawn every year. You are also eligible to apply the following year for any permits available in the second drawing held in August or purchase a permit from the leftover list after both draws are complete.

If you applied for bighorn sheep, moose or mountain goat you are not eligible to apply for any controlled elk or antelope permits in the same year during the first drawing except the four unlimited archery antelope controlled hunts. There are no unlimited controlled elk hunts available in Idaho at this time. You are eligible to apply for any available permits in the second drawing and you may purchase a permit from the leftover list after both drawings have completed.

Idaho’s super hunts!

Idaho offers 34 super hunt tags each year that allow the successful applicant an incredible chance to hunt the best areas of the state for antelope, deer, elk, and moose. The cost to apply for these permits is only $6 for an individual species or $20 for a chance at hunting all four in the same year.

  • Tags are available for deer, elk, antelope, and moose.
  • There is no limit to the number of tickets you can purchase.
  • A hunting license is not required to apply for super hunts, but, if drawn, you will be required to purchase one.
  • There is no charge for the super hunt tags if you are drawn.
  • The entry deadline for the drawing is May 31, 2018.
  • Eight elk, eight deer, eight pronghorn and one moose will be drawn in the first drawing. One super hunt combo will also be drawn. This winner is entitled to hunt all four species.
  • The entry for the second drawing deadline is Aug. 10, 2018.
  • Two elk, two deer, two pronghorn and one moose hunt will be drawn in the second drawing along with one super hunt combo.
  • Apply here.

Unlocking Idaho’s system

There is not a bonus or preference point system in Idaho and the draw is conducted 100% random regardless of the number of years you have applied. This is great for two reasons: if it is your first year applying, then you are not behind a point curve and have the same chance to draw as any other applicant. It also means that if you are successful in another state and would like to sit out a year, you are out nothing and can jump back in the following year or even years later and you will not have lost any ground. The key to unlocking Idaho’s system lies in our Draw Odds calculator and looking at the harvest success information. More information on Idaho's draw system can be found on our Idaho state profile.

Note: Idaho residents or nonresidents can buy one unsold nonresident general season deer and/or elk tag at the nonresident price starting Aug. 1, 2018, that can be used as a second tag.

As a nonresident, how can my draw odds be the same as residents?

The “up to” are the important words when trying to understand Idaho’s drawing odds. Up to 10% of the tags can be drawn for nonresidents in each of the units. If the ratio of nonresident applicants is higher than nine residents for every one nonresident or 9:1, then there is no way for the nonresident quota to be filled. This means that you will never be rejected because you are a nonresident. It does not mean that you will definitely draw the tag. It only means that you will have every chance available for your name to come out of the hat right down to the last tag drawn because there are not enough nonresidents for the quota to kick in. This is a major benefit for nonresidents and, because there are so many different options to choose from in Idaho, there are a number of hunt selections that this takes place in each year.



Idaho's 2018 elk breakdown

Idaho bull elk taken with Deadline Outfitters

Idaho bull elk taken with Deadline Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

While Idaho is not typically considered a premier destination for big bulls, what they may lack in trophy quality with the exception of a few units, they definitely make up with fantastic opportunities at average and above average bulls. With long season dates and many units above objective, Idaho offers some of the best elk hunting in the West. There are 75 different controlled hunt options to consider that allows the successful applicant a chance to hunt for as big a bull as they can find. There are also 59 adult and 16 youth specific antlerless elk controlled hunts, too. With so many options to choose from no matter your weapon of choice or the time of year you prefer to hunt elk in, there is something for everyone. Use our Filtering 2.0 system to sift through all of the different options to find the exact hunt that fits your goals.

Because of the application deadline and other factors, Idaho is a fantastic option for a failsafe backup plan. However, please note that there are a few areas in the state where OTC sell out very early and well before the application deadline. If you are planning to hunt no matter what some of these areas may be exactly what you are looking for. Your safest course of action would be to purchase an OTC permit the day they become available. You are still eligible to apply even if you have already purchased one of these OTC permits. If you are then successful in the draw, you can return the OTC permit and, instead, purchase the controlled hunt you were successful in drawing. In some situations, you may be eligible to still purchase an OTC if you would like to and if one is still available. If done in this order you will have risked nothing and have everything to gain. It will really free you up to swing for the fence each year for some of the best hunts the state has to offer.

IDAHO GENERAL OTC ELK HARVEST(2005-2017)

When looking at the above chart, it is important to note that the amount of bulls taken each year has been on a steady climb since 2011 and the 6 point percentage has maintained a steady climb as well. This tells us that the Idaho management plan is working and herd health is great!

Current elk herd condition

Idaho manages their elk herd by breaking it down into 29 different elk management zones. This past year there were population surveys completed twice in 22 of these zones. Overall, the state is barely meeting their objectives for bulls, cows and calves. The current population between the two surveys found roughly 72,000 to 80,000 elk. There were 16 zones for cows and 15 zones for bulls that were above objective out of the 22 that were surveyed and the state average showed an average of 23 bulls and 28 calves for every 100 cows. There was a 95% survival rate on the collared cows this past season and 52% survival rate for calves. It is believed that mountain lions are the leading cause of death for both cows and calves. Bulls are not typically collared in Idaho, but it is believed that their survival rate is similar to that of the adult cows. 40% of the bulls harvested in the state had at least one side with six or more points. As damaging as the 2016/2017 winter was on Idaho’s deer herd it seems as though the elk herd wasn’t as affected and is in good shape.



The controlled seasons

There are many different options to consider when applying for a controlled hunt in Idaho. Apply with caution as the hunt code is a random four digit code and has no hunt identifying method to it. Double check your unit and pay special attention to the notes next to each selection as there are many different subtleties listed in these areas that could impact a hunt you are planning. Also, double check that the code you are applying for is for the weapon you would prefer to hunt with; it is listed in the header of each section.

Archery

Idaho has eight different controlled hunt options to consider and, with half of these boasting a 50% success rate or better, they are tough to beat when looking for a home run archery hunt experience out West.

Top units to consider for archery only opportunities for elk in Idaho
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Hunters
(2017)
Harvest
(2017)
Success
(2017)
6pt% Draw odds
resident
Draw odds
nonresident
18 320"+ 70 18 25% 57% 34% 10%
39 310"+ 26 8 30% 29% 8.1% 6.9%
40/42 350"+
310"+
9 6 71% 83% 4.2% 2.3%
41 340"+ 8 4 50% 78% 10.5% 4.4%
44 330"+ 10 5 50% 72% 7.9% 3.7%
45/52 320"+
310"+
23 13 56% 71% 22% 5.3%
46/47 340"+
310"+
11 0 0% 0% 11% 4%
54 350"+ 10 4 40% 100% 1.8% 0.71%

Muzzleloader

There are lots of muzzleloader options to consider, six of which have all or some of the season dates on prime rut dates. Be prepared for a primitive hunt as Idaho has a long list of regulations when it comes to what is legal on a muzzleloader only hunt. In a nutshell, you will be required to hunt with an open breach, loose powder, open sights and either a musket cap or No. 11 primer. You are legal to shoot powerbelt style bullets but no sabots. A complete list of approved equipment can be found here.

Top units to consider for muzzleloader opportunities for elk in Idaho with 330"+ trophy potential
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Hunters
(2017)
Harvest
(2017)
Success
(2017)
6pt% Draw odds
resident
Draw odds
nonresident
54 350"+ 10 9 88% 100% 3.5% 1.1%
41/46 340"+ 10 5 50% 78% 7.9% 2.5%
30A 330"+ 8 3 43% 78% 19% 7.6%
55 330"+ 8 3 43% 78% 19% 7.6%
66 330"+ 43 14 32% 33% 40% 37%
64/65/67 330"+ 46 11 23% 72% 78% 42%

Rifle

Idaho offers 52 controlled rifle units that allow the hunter to hunt and harvest as big a bull as they can find. Six of these opportunities are either sex permits in areas that have very limited access. There are many different notes listed on the right-hand side of the hunt selections in the state regulations and other access issues can be found on individual unit profiles. Some of these include vehicle restrictions, short range weapon restrictions and other regulations specific to your hunt. Read carefully when looking up your hunt code prior to applying.

Top units to consider for controlled rifle opportunites for elk with 330"+ trophy potential
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Public land
%
6pt% Draw odds
resident
Draw odds
nonresident
40 350"+ 75.8% 83% 0.92%
3.8%
0.71%
2.1%
54 350"+ 59.7% 100% 0.98% 0.43%
41* 340"+ 81.7% 78% See draw odds here See draw odds here
46** 340"+ 81.7% 79% See draw odds here See draw odds here
30 330"+ 79.6% 55% 4.7%
15%
3.5%
9.1%
30A 330"+ 88% 39% 4.7% 3.5%
44 330"+ 51.5% 72% 1.9%
9.7%
1.1%
6.7%
55 330"+ 52.6% 78% 3.4% 2.2%
 

* Unit 41 has seven controlled rifle hunts starting on Oct. 1 and running consecutively through the end of December. The numbers in this chart are an average of these hunts combined.
** Unit 46 has three late rifle elk hunts. These numbers are an average of these hunts combined.



How to uncover hidden gem elk units

Uncovering a hidden gem in Idaho may be as simple as lacing up your boots and heading into the mountains. Nothing will shorten your learning curve more than time in the field and, with so many options to consider between controlled hunts as well as OTC options, it can really be difficult to dial in on the exact hunt you are looking for. From massive desert environments to some of the most unforgiving high alpine areas in the continental U.S., Idaho has a little bit of everything. Using Filtering 2.0 will help you identify key specifics for each of the units you are considering. Definitely dive into the write up on each individual unit as some of the physicality and logistics for any given unit in Idaho may be more than you are willing to tackle. Remember Idaho should be your backup plan when all else fails. The OTC option should be what you are planning on and, if this is the case, then it makes it that much easier to swing for the fence during the application period for the best tags in the state.

Top goHUNT hit list general hunt units to consider for 320" or better bulls
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Bull:cow
ratio
6pt% Public land
%
Harvest
%
30
(early archery)
330"+ 26:100 55% 79.6% 15%
30A
(early archery)
330"+ 26:100 39% 88% 16%
55
(early archery)
330"+ NA 78% 52.6% 10%
66
(early archery,
late rifle)
330"+ 26:100 33% 91.8% 10%
16%
67
(early archery,
late rifle)
330"+ 42:100 72% 83.9% 16%
11%
11A
(early archery, early rifle)
320"+ 19:100 67% 2% 5%
17%
31
(early archery)
320"+ 40:100 55% 49.5% 17%
56
(early archery)
320"+ NA 76% 49% 10%
69
(early archery, late rifle)
320"+ 26:100 43% 23.4% 12%
17%
70
(early archery)
320"+ NA 71% 37.9% 0%

* Some of the above units also feature controlled hunts; be sure to consult the regulations for further information.
 

Top goHUNT hit list controlled hunt units to consider for 330" or better bulls
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Bull:cow
ratio
6pt% Public land
%
40 350"+ NA 83% 75.8%
54 350"+ NA 100% 59.7%
41 340"+ NA 78% 81.7%
46 340"+ NA 79% 81.7%
30 330"+ 26:100 55% 79.6%
30A 330"+ 26:100 39% 88%
44 330"+ NA 72% 51.5%
55 330"+ NA 78% 52.6%
66 330"+ 26:100 33% 91.8%
67 330"+ 42:100 72% 83.9%

*The above chart is based solely on controlled hunt numbers for bull elk. Some of the listed units also include general OTC seasons.

If you reach the unfortunate situation where you are not successful in the controlled hunt draws, remember that Idaho can still be an incredible state to consider for OTC opportunities. Many hunters can spend a lifetime waiting on their holy grail tag and miss out on vital hunting experience in the years in between. Idaho has a massive amount of OTC opportunity for hunters of every background and can provide some excellent hunting memories as well as the necessary preparations you need when your name is finally pulled out of the hat.

Top units for bull:cow ratios

Unit Bull:cow
ratio
Trophy
potentia
l
Percent 6pt
or better
OTC or
controlled
Unit 76 48:100 310"+ 50% OTC & Controlled
Unit 66A 48:100 290"+ 53% OTC & Controlled
Unit 12 44:100 310"+ 15% OTC
Unit 10 44:100 310"+ 43% OTC
Unit 64 42:100 300"+ 58% OTC & Controlled
Unit 65 42:100 290"+ 48% OTC & Controlled
Unit 67 42:100 330"+ 72% OTC & Controlled
Unit 31 40:100 320"+ 55% OTC & Controlled
Unit 36A 37:100 310"+ 30% OTC & Controlled
Unit 29 37:100 310"+ 52% OTC & Controlled

 



B&C entry trends for Idaho elk

Beyond Filtering 2.0 another backdoor asset to carefully examine is Boone & Crockett (B&C) entry trends for different counties throughout the state. Look for units that may be adjacent to some of the top units in the state to find hidden gem areas that may hold better draw odds or OTC opportunities.


Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

Idaho's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for typical elk

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Lemhi 2 21, 21A, 27, 28, 29, 30,
30A, 37, 37A, 51, 58, 59A
Twin Falls 2 46, 47, 53, 54
Valley 2 19A, 20A, 24, 26, 27, 32, 32A, 33, 34
Adams 1 18, 22, 23, 32, 32A
Blaine 1 36, 44, 48, 49, 50, 52, 52A, 53, 68

Five more counties with one entry each.

Map of Idaho's typical elk B&C all time entries 2018

Top B&C typical elk locations since 2010 - Idaho 2018 app strategy

Idaho's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical elk

County No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Bannock 1 68A, 70, 71, 73, 74
Blaine 1 36, 48, 49, 52, 52A, 68
Twin Falls 1 46, 47, 53, 54
Power 1 56, 68, 68A, 70, 73

Map of Idaho's nontypical elk B&C all time entries 2018

Top B&C nontypical elk locations since 2010 - Idaho 2018 app strategy



The lack of a points system

The lack of a point system can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing, depending or your perspective. If you are just getting started in Idaho, then it is probably good since you have an equal chance of drawing a tag as everyone else. The downside is that it’s expensive to apply in Idaho because you are required to purchase a license each year and there is no reward for doing so. It is very possible to apply for many years before receiving a tag and each year your odds are no better than anyone else’s. It is up to each individual to decide if the investment is worth it.

Find your draw odds

Managing expectations for controlled hunts

Idaho does not have a point system in place, which is one of the reasons you should consider applying. Even if this is your first year applying you will have an equal chance at being successful as any other applicant. Be realistic with your goals. Use the Draw Odds and Filtering 2.0 system to locate a hunt that lines up and apply. If you are unsuccessful, pay close attention to the available tags in the second drawing as there is a chance that a successful applicant may not purchase his/her permit from the first drawing and you could end up with a second chance in August at the tag you initially applied for. If all else fails, remember there are a number of OTC to choose from as well.

Find your resident controlled elk draw odds here

Find your nonresident controlled elk draw odds here



Idaho's 2018 antelope breakdown

If you are looking to hunt antelope and only antelope, Idaho may not be the best place for you to start. While it may not be a premier destination to hunt antelope, if you are already purchasing a hunting license it would be a mistake to not apply as there are a number of units that will give you a chance at an above average buck. With a mid-August opening day on most of the archery hunts, you may find that this is a good opportunity to knock the cobwebs off your boots and your bow and get into the field. For only $14.75 to apply once you have already purchased your hunting license and access fee, it would be a shame to not roll the dice for one of the best tags in the state.

Idaho statewide antelope harvest

Year Bucks Does Avg. horn length
2011 1,035 216 12.1"
2012 1,190 259 12.3"
2013 1,080 345 NA*
2014 1,159 322 11.9"
2015 1,393 504 12.3"
2016 1,519 328 11.2"
2017 1,300 379 11.6"

* Horn data was not collected for this season.

Current antelope herd condition

Population density varies from moderate to low in established pronghorn herds in the state. In a nutshell, Idaho—because of habitat and moisture related issues—does not support the number of antelope that states like Montana and Wyoming are able to produce. Range conditions, private land conflicts, and a low annual precipitation are mainly to blame for the differences. Regardless, Camas, Birch Creek, Medicine Lodge, Little Wood, Big Lost and Little Lost valleys support herds at higher densities than elsewhere in the state.

IDAHO AVERAGE ANTELOPE HORN LENGTH OF HARVESTED BUCKS - updated 2018



The controlled seasons

Idaho does not offer any OTC antelope hunts so if you plan on hunting them this coming fall you will need to submit an application. There are a total of 42 adult either sex antelope hunt codes broken down between archery, muzzleloader, and rifle to choose from. There are also three youth either sex, four adult and three youth doe/fawn hunts available as well. When applying for any of these options be sure to read the notes listed to the right of all the hunt codes as well as pay special attention to the weapon choice listed in the header of each section. There are no identifying numbers in the hunt codes so it is very easy to make a mistake.

Archery

There are lots of different hunt codes to choose from if you are interested in hunting with your bow. There are also four hunt codes that are considered unlimited. The units these hunts take place in are the early hunt in Unit 21A and the late or second hunt in Units 40, 45 and 46. This means a few things: first, you are allowed to hunt these hunts year in and year out without the normal one year break like the other controlled hunts in the state. It also means these are the only four antelope selections you are eligible to apply for if you have selected to apply for bighorn sheep, moose or mountain goat earlier in the spring.

Top hunts to consider for archery only opportunities for antelope in Idaho

Unit Trophy
Potential
Hunters
(2017)
Harvest
(2017)
Success
(2017)
Avg. horn
length
Draw odds
resident
Draw odds
nonresident
54 80"+ 24 8 33% 14.5" 33% 15%
68 75"+ #4038-16
#4039-57
4
6
27%
10%
13.9"
12.2"
24%
100%
24%
100%
21A 70"+ 1,267 226 18% 11.2" 100% 100%
40 70"+ #4030-171
#4031-292
49
72
29%
25%
11.6"
11.2"
45%
100%
45%
100%
45 70"+ #4032-36
#4033-59
9
3
24%
5%
12.5"
12.2"
49%
100%
49%
100%
46 70"+ #4034-32
#4035-190
14
62
44%
33%
12.5"
12.8"
28%
100%
27%
100%
55* 75"+ 8 7 88% 14.4" 41% 67%

* This was a new hunt in 2017. 

Muzzleloader

There are five different muzzleloader options offered in Idaho. If you are looking at these hunts as an option, please apply with caution as the muzzleloader regulations in Idaho are quite rigid. Unit 63 has an early hunt that happens during the peak of the rut while the remaining selections are a little later in the month of September. The rut will be winding down quickly at this point or be completely over. For a muzzleloader only hunt, you will be required to hunt with an open breach, loose powder, open sights and either a musket cap or No. 11 primer. You are legal to shoot powerbelt style bullets, but no sabots. A complete list of approved equipment can be found here.

Top hunts to consider for muzzleloader only opportunities for antelope in Idaho

Unit Trophy
Potential
Hunters
(2017)
Harvest
(2017)
Success
(2017)
Avg. horn
length
Draw odds
resident
Draw odds
nonresident
30A 70"+ 33 20 61% 12.2" 23% 22%
41 70"+ 31 11 35% 13.1" 24% 23%
47 65"+ 49 24 49% 12.9" 28% 28%
63 65"+ #4043-50
#4044-45
20
15
41%
33%
11.1"
10.1"
35%
38%
35%
38%

Rifle

Idaho offers 24 different controlled rifle hunts as well as two short-range hunts. These are not the hunts you want to be applying for if you are looking for the best odds. However, the success rates on the rifle hunts are much higher than either the muzzleloader or archery equipment. With a month-long season starting on Sept. 25 and very high success rates in many units, if you are planning on coming to Idaho to hunt deer or elk, why not apply for one of these hunts and either stop in on the way to or from your planned deer or elk hunt and make the most of your time in Idaho?

Top hunts to consider for rifle only opportunities for antelope in Idaho

Unit Trophy
Potential
Hunters
(2017)
Harvest
(2017)
Success
(2017)
Avg. horn
length
Draw odds
resident
Draw odds
nonresident
54 80"+ 25 20 78% 13.4" 2.7% 1.3%
37 75"+ 59 55 93% 12.9" 3.9% 3.6%
39 75"+ 29 24 85% 12.8" 2.6% 2.6%
52A 75"+ 50 36 72% 13" 4.7% 4.7%
68 75"+ 25 21 86% 12.6" 3.2% 3.1%
76 75"+ 5 5 100% 10.5" 2.4% 2%

 



How to uncover hidden gem antelope units

IDAHO CONTROLLED ANTELOPE HARVEST(2006-2017)

Unfortunately, with so few of options, there really are no gems for antelope hunting in Idaho. If you are willing to hunt with either archery equipment or a primitive muzzleloader, your odds of having an antelope tag in your pocket in Idaho are very good. Using Filtering 2.0 is critical when considering any of these hunts. Not only will this help you narrow down the perfect location based on your hunting goals, but you will be able to dive into each unit you are interested in and get a much better understanding about what you are up against logistically in order to have a successful hunt.

Top hit list controlled hunt units to consider for 70” or better antelope
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Buck:doe
ratio
Public land
%
Avg. horn
length
54 80"+ 43:100 59.7% 13.4"
37 75"+ 16:100 90.3% 12.9"
39 75"+ NA 77.1% 12.8"
52A 75"+ NA 91.2% 13"
68 75"+ NA 70.3% 12.6"
76 75"+ NA 56.4% 10.5"
21A 70"+ 16:100 89.7% 11.2"
30A 70"+ 19:100 88% 12.2"
36 70"+ NA 96.3% NA
36A 70"+ 16:100 97.2% 12.3"
36B 70"+ NA 93.1% 13.7"
37A 70"+ 16:100 93.9% 12.9"
40 70"+ NA 75.8% 12.9"
41 70"+ NA 81.7% 11.6"
42 70"+ NA 95.7% NA
45 70"+ NA 64.7% 12.6"
46 70"+ 48:100 81.7% 12.1"
49 70"+ 73:100 65.8% 10.5"
50 70"+ NA 82.5% 12.5"
51 70"+ NA 91.6% 12.7"
52 70"+ NA 68.4% 12.2"
53 70"+ NA 35.9% NA
58 70"+ NA 97% 11.3"
59 70"+ NA 70.3% 10.9"
59A 70"+ NA 85% NA

 



B&C entry trends for Idaho antelope

Beyond Filtering 2.0 another backdoor asset to carefully examine is B&C entry trends for different counties throughout the state. Look for units that may be adjacent to some of the top units in the state to find hidden gem areas that may hold better draw odds or OTC opportunities.


Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

Idaho's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for antelope

County

No. of
entries
Units found within county
Twin Falls 3 46475354
Elmore 2 39, 44, 45
Minidoka 2 52A, 53, 68
Power 2 56, 68, 68A, 70, 73, 73A
Blaine 1 36, 48, 49, 50, 52A, 68
Butte 1 50, 51, 52A, 58, 63, 68
Cassia 1 53, 54
Custer 1 28, 36, 36A, 36B, 37, 37A, 50, 51
Owyhee 1 40, 41, 42, 46, 47

Map of Idaho's antelope B&C all time entries 2018

Top 10 B&C antelope locations since 2010 - Idaho 2018 app strategy

When you think of Idaho, you do not think of trophy antelope. The state by state comparison B&C tables and the average horn length graphs confirm this. What this state lacks in trophy potential, it makes up for in scenery and a great hunting experience.



The lack of a points system

Each of the hunt selections has enough permits to enable them to have at least one nonresident permit. Without a points system in place, you will have the same odds of drawing regardless of the number of years you have applied. All of the antelope permits have been drawn on the first round for many years in Idaho, which means your first choice is the only choice that will count unless you are planning on applying for an unlimited archery permit or a doe/fawn permit on your second choice.

Find your draw odds

Managing expectations for controlled hunts

If you are simply looking to hunt antelope and you are not 100% geared up to hunt in one of the unlimited opportunities, then Idaho may not be your best choice. However, if you are purchasing your hunting license because you are either planning an OTC elk or deer hunt or trying to draw a permit for either of these species for the low cost to apply at that point, it would be a shame not to roll the dice and try your luck at a fun high success antelope hunt while you are in the state. Many of the different opportunities for deer and elk have overlapping days to a drawn antelope hunt, which would mean adding a day or two on the front or back of an already planned trip wouldn’t be out the questions and some serious fun. Between this and the fact that if you are successful drawing your antelope, but not the deer or elk tag you were dreaming of, you are not even on the hook to purchase the permit until the end of summer when you know exactly what your plans are going to be. It is truly a no-risk option once your hunting license and access fee have been purchased.

Find your resident controlled antelope draw odds here

Find your nonresident controlled antelope draw odds here

OTC opportunities

There are no OTC antelope tags in Idaho. There are a few archery hunts that have unlimited tag numbers but you must apply for one of these tags in the controlled hunt draw.

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