Become an INSIDER to gain access to this article

Join now

APPLICATION STRATEGY 2019: Idaho Deer

2019 Idaho mule deer application strategy

Idaho's 2019 deer application overview

Jump to: New for 2019 State Information Draw System Mule Deer Breakdown Whitetail Deer Breakdown

Idaho is a state that often gets left out of conversations when it comes to big bucks. The truth is that many states do produce bigger deer and provide higher success rates, but these hunts can come at the cost of expensive application fees and years of waiting on a tag. Idaho has some phenomenal over-the-counter (OTC) hunting opportunities as well as tons of public land to explore. Controlled tags are distributed through a random lottery drawing that is not augmented with bonus or preference points. When applying for Idaho it is important to note that you may only apply for one trophy species per year. This includes deer, elk, antelope, Shiras moose, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, California bighorn sheep and mountain goat. While this fact may seem like a major detriment at first it’s important to see that this drastically drives down applicant numbers and increases draw odds!

Note: The application deadline for Idaho deer, elk and antelope is June 5, 2019, by midnight MST and can be completed online.


Why Idaho for deer in 2019

Hunt options

On top of an already huge pile of OTC hunts, Idaho also offers hunters a bunch of options when it comes to limited entry opportunities.

Generous seasons

Many tags in the state allow hunters to hunt a variety of seasons and with different weapon types, including archery, rifles, and muzzleloaders.

Contingencies

Because Idaho’s application deadline is so late after many of the other western states it can be a great contingency plan if previous draws did not work out in your favor.

Low tag costs

Compared to other western states, Idaho has very affordable tags and, in some cases, hunters are even allowed to buy two each of both deer and elk tags!


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 and, if unsuccessful in the draw, you have nothing to show 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.

Cost to apply

Resident 

Nonresident

Item Cost Item  Cost
Adult Hunting $15.75 Adult Hunting $154.75
Junior hunting $8.25 Junior hunting $31.75
Application fee $6.25 Application fee $14.75
Deer tag (if drawn) $24.75 Deer tag (if drawn) $301.75
Junior tag (if drawn) $12.50 Junior tag (if drawn) $23.75

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 pay all of 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 2019

Mailed in applications will no longer be accepted starting in 2019.

Mule deer

  • Unit 73: A nonresident tag limit of 240 tags was set in the unlimited controlled antlered hunt.

Whitetail deer

  • Units 10, 12, 16A, 17, 19 and 20: Nonresident tags used as second tags cannot be used for the general deer hunts.
  • Units 16A, 17, 19 and 20: General whitetailed deer hunts were reduced and will now run from Oct. 10 through Nov. 18.

Antlerless mule deer draw odds

Find your resident antlerless mule deer draw odds here

Find your nonresident antlerless mule deer draw odds here

Antlerless whitetail deer draw odds

Find your resident antlerless whitetail deer draw odds here

Find your nonresident antlerless whitetail deer 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 mule deer and whitetail deer profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

Idaho State Profile Mule Deer Profile Whitetail Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Idaho deer hunter numbers for the last five years

Year No. of hunters
2014 176,560
2015 185,229
2016 164,229
2017 167,737
2018 164,341

Important dates and information

  • Important dates and information
  • Applications for deer, elk and antelope must be submitted by midnight MST on June 5, 2019.
  • Applications can be submitted online here.
  • Mailed applications are no longer accepted in 2019.
  • Up to four hunters can apply together on a group application for deer, elk and antelope.
  • Successful applicants will be notified by July 10, 2019.
  • The second drawing application period for leftover tags will run from Aug. 10 to 17, 2019.
  • Leftover tags from the second drawing go on sale Aug. 26, 2019 at 10 a.m. MST.
  • Idaho hunting licenses, access fees and application fees are nonrefundable.
  • 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 2019
 

Idaho moisture levels 2019
Image date: 5/16/2019 Source: NRCS National Water and Climate Center

The 2018/2019 winter in Idaho was fairly normal although a few late storms did hit a few areas of the state. The spring has been warm and constant throughout much of the state, leading to a quick, but safe, snowmelt, resulting in great springtime conditions for ungulates. Antler growth should be great for this year and herd health should be excellent.

Idaho drought monitor 2019

Image date: 5/14/2019 Source: United States Drought Monitor

The Idaho draw system

It is important to understand the draw system before you begin. You can find a complete explanation of the drawing process along with important dates and fees in our Idaho State Profile. Idaho is one of the few unique states that does not use a formal system of preference or bonus points for distribution of controlled hunt permits. A simple lottery system is used, which puts every applicant—regardless of time spent applying—on an equal playing field. In Idaho, nonresidents are granted up to 10% of a unit’s allotted quota (super hunt tags do not affect this 10% allotment) although this number is not guaranteed if the quota is met by residents. This quota percentage for nonresidents is fairly common in the West, but, with a combination of high application fees and the lottery system, the draw odds are generally much higher.

Idaho super hunts!

Like the bighorn sheep raffle, Idaho also offers hunters the chance to draw one of 34 super hunt tags. With this tag, hunters can hunt in any open unit found in the state and may purchase as many chances at the super hunt as they wish. The cost to apply is $6 per each individual species or $20 for all four.

  • Tags are available for deer, elk, antelope. and moose.
  • A hunting license is not required to apply for super hunts.
  • The entry deadline for the drawing is May 31, 2019.
  • Eight elk, eight deer, eight antelope 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, 2019.
  • Two elk, two deer, two antelope and one moose hunt will be drawn in the second drawing along with one super hunt combo.
  • Apply here.

Unlocking Idaho’s system

Idaho does not utilize a bonus or preference point system so everyone has equal draw odds regardless of the number of years a person has been applying. 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, 2019, that can be used as a second tag.

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

Idaho’s draw odds can be a little complicated with the way that they cap the nonresidents at up to 10% of the tags. However, the way that they run the drawing process can be a benefit to nonresidents. Any time that the ratio between resident to nonresident applicants is higher than 9:1, meaning nine residents to one nonresident, the nonresident applicant has basically the same odds as a resident. With this ratio, there are not enough nonresident applicants to fill the 10% of the total permits offered for that unit, so the cap or quota doesn’t come into play.


Idaho's 2019 mule deer breakdown

When most people dream of giant mule deer Idaho very rarely makes the cut and for understandable reasons, but the last few years have been great in the Gem State. Some areas are still recovering from the big winter of 2016/2017, but Idaho has been producing some incredible deer over the past few seasons. Most of the OTC hunts available fall during the dates leading up to the rut while the best hunting dates are generally reserved for controlled hunts. While this can make the hunting tougher on the general tag, the state has benefited greatly with an overall increase in age class.

Idaho mule deer harvest (2009-2018)

Idaho statewide 4 point or better harvest for mule deer
since 2016

Year 4 point or better %
General Controlled
20111 45.1% 69.0%
2012 44.7% 72.2%
2013 42.4% 71.4%
2014 42.4% 73.2%
2015 43.4% 74.7%
2016 40.5% 67.8%
2017 44.8% 69.7%
2018 36.7% 67.7%

Current mule deer herd condition

As stated earlier, Idaho mule deer have been doing quite well for the past few years and fawn recruitment and antler growth are looking to be excellent for 2019. A few areas in both east central and west central Idaho will likely see a decline in age class among bucks in the next year or two following the massive fawn die-off from the 2016/2017 winter. Some areas on the eastern side of the state are experiencing a high fawn mortality rate due to slow melting snow, but it is not expected to be nearly as bad as the 2016/17 winter. Still, with good and hard hunting, hunters should be able to find good bucks this season.


The controlled hunts

While Idaho offers some great OTC hunting, the primary objective of this article is to take a solid look at the limited entry opportunities available for hunters. As we mentioned, the best hunting dates and areas are generally reserved for controlled hunts. Coincidentally, these hunts generally see the highest success rates and highest rates of mature deer harvest. Idaho offers a large number of controlled hunts—most of which are season specific—and it will be important for hunters to pay close attention to their hunt codes when applying. In the below section, we will take an in-depth look at the best-controlled hunts for Idaho mule deer.

Archery

As with many other states, archery hunts for deer generally carry the best draw odds and can be a great way for hunters to beat the curve. Obviously, success rates are generally lower than their firearm counterparts, but some incredible age classes can be found on these hunts.

2019 hit list of controlled archery hunts for Idaho mule deer

Unit Trophy
Potential
2018
success
2019 tag
quota
2018 odds
(resident)
2018 odds
(nonresident)
Public land
%
40 190"+ 25% 50 26% 7.4% 75.8%
45 190"+ 47% 10 11% 2% 64.7%
21 180"+ 0% 10 75% 9.1% 99.1%
36A 180"+ 0% 10 75% 9.1% 97.2%
42 180"+ 11% 25 77% 17% 95.7%
44 180"+ 22% 50 9.4% 4% 51.5%
54 180"+ 30% Unlimited 100% 100% 59.7%
70* 180"+ 62% 170 9.3% 9.3% 37.9%
70* 180"+ 32% Unlimited 100% 100% 37.9%

*Holders of this tag can also hunt during any legal weapons season (Hunt Code 1054).

Muzzleloader

Along with archery opportunities, hunters will also find some excellent options open to muzzleloader hunting. In Idaho, muzzleloader laws are very strict and hunters are granted very few modern advantages. Because of this, some hunters may shy away from these tags although several hunts allow hunting during the rut or during late season migration periods. The bottom line is to consider a tougher weapon choice because it can often lead to easier to draw tags.

2019 hit list of controlled muzzleloader hunts for Idaho mule deer

Unit Trophy
Potential
2018
success
2019 tag
quota
2018 odds
(resident)
2018 odds
(nonresident)
Public land
%
45 190"+ 44% 40 21% 9.9% 64.7%
50 190"+ 59% 25 18% 5.5% 68.4%
21A 170"+ 76% 5 7% 5.5% 89.7%
22 170"+ 40% 15 32% 32% 73.3%
43 170"+ 56% 125 100% 100% 96.8%
51 170"+ 51% 50 25% 19% 91.6%
57 170"+ 63% 25 27% 9.9% 69.7%
65 170"+ 56% 50 49% 48% 28.5%

Rifle

The highest number of applicants, and consequently lowest draw odds, will generally be found within the rifle hunts. Success rates on most rifle hunts are extremely high and there have been some tremendous bucks taken off these hunts in the past few years. For those seeking a high country experience, Units 39 and 55 offer rifle hunts that open Aug. 15 and can provide opportunities for bucks in velvet!

2019 hit list of controlled rifle hunts for Idaho mule deer

Unit Trophy
Potential
2018
success
2019 tag
quota
2018 odds
(resident)
2018 odds
(nonresident)
Public land
%
40 190"+ 71% 195 4.6% 2.7% 75.8%
45 190"+ 81% 75 3.7% 1.5% 64.7%
52 190"+ 48% 75 6.6% 4.1% 68.4%
11* 180"+ 73% 50 11% 5.1% 26.3%
11 180"+ 68% 25 8% 2.6% 26.3%
21 180"+ 100% 5 2.8% 2.1% 99.1%
36A 180"+ 100% 5 2.8% 2.3% 97.2%
42 180"+ 57% 74 11% 4% 95.7%
44 180"+ 80% 225 5.2% 3% 76%
47** 180"+ 48% 90 19% 13% 74.2%
47 180"+ 44% 10 4.8% 2.2% 74.2%
54*** 180"+ 62% 500 12% 10% 59.7%
54 180"+ 47% 20 2.2% 1% 59.7%
60 180"+ 82% 40 2.6% 2.5% 68.9%
60**** 180"+ 46% 125 23% 23% 68.9%
66 180"+ 33% 10 7.2% 4.3% 91.8%
69 180"+ 41% 10 3.1% 3% 23.4%
70***** 180"+ 62% 5 9.3% 9.3% 37.9%
70 180"+ 80% 170 1.4% 1.3% 37.9%

*Early rut hunt (Hunt Code #1002)
**Early rut hunt (Hunt Code #1034)
***Early rut hunt (Hunt Code #1040)
****Early rut hunt (Hunt Code #1069)
*****Early rut hunt (Hunt Code #1054)

How to uncover hidden gem deer units

When planning your Idaho hunt it will be important to first utilize our Filtering 2.0 platform to better narrow down your choices. Adjusting the various sliders will help you to finetune the filtering software to find only the hunts that meet your criteria. Historical graphs found within the detailed unit profiles can be strong indicators of hunting pressure changes, harvest success rates and past draw odds.

For controlled hunts, the best odds will generally be found in the archery and muzzleloader seasons while some of the best hunting dates will be found with the rifle hunts. Beyond the controlled hunts, Idaho also offers some incredible OTC hunts for nearly every species in the state.

2019 hit list of general tag hunts for Idaho mule deer

Unit Trophy
Potential
2018
success*
4pt or
better %
Public
land %
OTC tags
offered
11A 180"+ 10% 88% 2% Archery
21 180"+ 34% 52% 99.1% Archery/rifle
36A 180"+ 13% 55% 97.2% Archery/rifle
47 180"+ 2% 45% 74.2% Archery
60 180"+ 16% 45% 68.9% Archery/rifle
66 180"+ 6% 56% 91.8% Archery/rifle
67 180"+ 12% 75% 83.9% Archery/rifle
69 180"+ 14% 31% 23.4% Archery/rifle

*Harvest success rates are a cumulative percentage of all OTC hunts offered in the unit.

Along with some of the great filters found on our Filtering 2.0 map, another good stat to keep an eye on is the buck:doe ratios. These ratios show a relationship of how many bucks reside in a unit per 100 does that reside in the same unit. While a high buck to doe ratio doesn’t necessarily guarantee older deer it does allude to the fact that the average age class of bucks within that given area is likely older.
 

Top buck:doe ratios in Idaho

Unit Buck:doe
43 56:100
44 56:100
45 56:100
48 56:100
52 56:100
64 35:100
65 35:100
67 35:100
19A 33:100
20A 33:100
25 33:100
26 33:100
27 33:100
66 33:100
66A 33:100
69 33:100
72 33:100
76 33:100

B&C entry trends for Idaho mule deer

Along with our Filtering 2.0 platform and historical data, another great piece of information to refer to is B&C record book entries. These entries, sorted by county, can be a big piece of the puzzle when piecing together your Idaho hunting and application strategy. These entry trends can clue hunters in on trending areas and areas that have historically held bigger and more mature animals.

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Adams 3 18, 22, 23, 32, 32A
Bonneville 3 63, 63A, 66, 66A, 67, 68A, 69
Elmore 3 38, 39, 43, 44, 45, 46
Owyhee 3 40, 41, 42, 46, 47
Camas 2 43, 44, 45, 52
Gooding 2 45, 52, 53
Idaho 2 10, 10A, 11, 11A, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16,
16A, 17, 18, 19, 19A, 20, 20A, 22, 26
Valley 2 19A, 20A, 24, 25, 26, 27, 32, 32A, 33, 34
Washington 2 22, 31, 32

*11 more counties with 1 entry each.

Map of Idaho's Typical mule deer B&C all time entries 2019

Top all time entries for B&C typical mule deer

Location No. of entries
Colorado 819
Idaho 286
Utah 239
Wyoming 212
New Mexico 182
Saskatchewan 153
Oregon 115
Nevada 103
Arizona 99
Montana 99

 

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Adams 3 18, 22, 23, 32, 32A
Bonneville 3 63, 63A, 66, 66A, 67, 68A, 69
Elmore 3 38, 39, 43, 44, 45, 46
Owyhee 3 40, 41, 42, 46, 47
Camas 2 43, 44, 45, 52
Gooding 2 45, 52, 53
Idaho 2 10, 10A, 11, 11A, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16,
16A, 17, 18, 19, 19A, 20, 20A, 22, 26
Valley 2 19A, 20A, 24, 25, 26, 27, 32, 32A, 33, 34
Washington 2 22, 31, 32

*11 more counties with 1 entry each.

Map of Idaho's nontypical mule deer B&C all time entries 2019

Top all time entries for B&C nontypical mule deer

Location No. of entries
Colorado 308
Idaho 223
Utah 141
Arizona 104
Saskatchewan 94
Wyoming 94
Oregon 72
Montana 63
British Columbia 52
New Mexico 52

Managing expectations for controlled hunts

With the lack of any formal bonus or preference point system, applicants in Idaho will never be rewarded for their length of application for any given unit and the playing field is level for everyone. Under this system, your name could be drawn for the tag of a lifetime during any application. Establishing your goals and aspirations for Idaho early in your strategy will be key to ensuring that you draw your most desired tag. With the sheer amount of controlled tags available most hunters can likely find a hunt with decent odds to suit their needs. Additionally, the OTC hunts in Idaho can be great options to look at!

Find your resident mule deer controlled draw odds here

Find your nonresident mule deer controlled draw odds here


Idaho's 2019 whitetail deer breakdown

While often overlooked, whitetail hunting in Idaho can be great! Hunts during the rut can be found on many controlled and OTC seasons. When purchasing a license, hunters will be presented with two options for whitetails: the general deer tag and the whitetail deer tag. The general deer tag allows holders to hunt for both whitetail and mule deer; however, these seasons are only valid during the pre-rut stages for most of these hunts. The whitetail deer tag is only valid for whitetail deer but extends the legal season through the rut and into the post-rut in most units.

Current whitetail deer herd condition

Overall, the whitetail populations in Idaho are doing exceptionally well and hunters will find great hunting. The highest densities of whitetail are found in the northern panhandle of the state and some great hunting can also be found throughout the central areas. Fawn recruitment and antler growth are looking excellent in the primary whitetail habitat zones for 2019.

Idaho whitetail deer harvest (2009-2018)


How to uncover hidden gem units

Most of the prime whitetail country in the northern half of the state has historically done well on producing big and mature bucks. Deciding on locations and where to hunt can be difficult given the sheer amount of options available. The areas typically inhabited by whitetail can be very thick with vegetation and difficult to hunt because of this. Hunters rely largely on private agricultural areas and timber cuts. Patience is key when hunting whitetails, but the payoff can be huge!

2019 hit list for Idaho whitetail deer

Unit Trophy
potential
Hunter success
%
Public land
%
5 point and
higher %
OTC seasons
offered
Controlled seasons
offered
2 160"+ 31% 19% 27% Archery/rifle Rifle
3 160"+ 38% 55.4% 16% Archery/rifle Rifle
5 150"+ 38% 6.8% 30% Archery/rifle Rifle
8 150"+ 38% 4.7% 27% Archery/rifle NA
8A 150"+ 47% 40.7% 26% Archery/rifle Muzzleloader
15 150"+ 47% 92.9% 16% Archery/rifle NA
16 150"+ 48% 80% 15% Muzzleloader/rifle NA
20 150"+ 44% 99.6% 16% Rifle NA
20A 150"+ 21% 99.7% 12% Rifle Rifle
25 150"+ 14% 99.5% 0% Archery/rifle Rifle

It is definitely a good idea to at least start your research in areas that show a high or medium density of whitetails. From there, check out success rates and buck:doe ratios to help narrow down a good fit for the type of hunt you are after.

Idaho whitetail deer density map

Source: Idaho Fish and Game

Focus on units listed in the Idaho regulations as “high density” and “medium density” and try to gain permission to private agricultural lands or lands adjacent to agriculture. Agriculture is not a necessity for harvesting whitetails in Idaho but the largest bucks are consistently harvested near agriculture crops. Idaho is also known for having good mountain whitetail hunting on public land.

Whitetail deer population densities in Idaho

Deer
population
level
Units
Low density 19A, 20A, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 30A,
31, 32, 32A, 33, 34, 35, 36A, 36B, 37, 37A
38, 39, 40, 41, 45, 46, 50, 51, 58, 59, 59A,
60, 60A, 61, 62, 62A, 63, 64, 65, 6667
Medium density 7, 9, 10, 12, 16A, 17, 19, 20, 2121A,
23, 2429
High density 1, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 5, 68, 8A, 9, 10A, 11,
11A, 13, 14, 15, 1618, 63A, 68A

B&C entry trends for Idaho whitetail deer

Along with our Filtering 2.0 platform and historical data, another great piece of information to refer to is B&C record book entries. These entries, sorted by county, can be a big piece of the puzzle when piecing together your Idaho hunting and application strategy. These entry trends can clue hunters in on trending areas and areas that have historically held bigger and more mature animals.

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 whitetail deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Boundary 2 1
Nez Perce 2 8, 8A, 11, 11A
Benewah 1 3, 4, 5, 6, 8A
Bonner 1 1, 2, 4, 4A

Map of Idaho's typical whitetail deer B&C all time entries 2019

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Benewah 1 3, 4, 5, 6, 8A
Latah 1 6, 8, 8A
Shoshone 1 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 10A

Map of Idaho's nontypical whitetail deer B&C all time entries 2019


Managing expectations for controlled hunts

Since there are only a couple of whitetail-specific controlled hunts, it may benefit hunters (especially nonresidents) to apply for controlled tags where there are both whitetails and mule deer. If you are not specifically interested in one or the other, then take advantage of the opportunity at either species. There are obviously units that will have much better odds of one over the other but weigh your preference and apply accordingly.

Find your resident whitetail deer controlled draw odds here

Find your nonresident whitetail deer controlled draw odds here

OTC opportunities

When it comes to whitetails, the OTC tags found Idaho hold tremendous value, particularly those within the whitetail only tag. While controlled hunts generally offer the best harvest odds and trophy potential OTC tags are available every year.

Comments

50 States for 50 Bucks
Save 25% During Our Flash Sale!
Get Hunting Gear for Less