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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2020: Idaho moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat

Idaho's bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goat application overview

Jump to: State Information Draw System Rocky Sheep Breakdown California Sheep Breakdown Moose Breakdown Mountain Goat Breakdown

The application deadline for Idaho moose, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, California bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat is due by April 30, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. MST. 

Applications can be submitted online, by phone, or in person at any license vendor or Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) office

Note: As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, the in-person option for applications may become increasingly difficult. For 2020, it would be best to plan on online or phone applications.


State information

View important information and an overview of Idaho’s 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 species profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you locate trophy areas.

Idaho State Profile Rocky Bighorn Profile California Bighorn Profile Moose Profile Mountain Goat Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • Applications for Idaho moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat are accepted beginning April 1, 2020.
  • You can apply online here.
  • Before applying, all applicants must possess a current valid hunting license.
  • The first controlled hunt application period is April 1 to 30, 2020.
  • The second controlled hunt application period is June 15 to 25, 2020 (note: there were no leftover tags for a second choice drawing in 2019).
  • The full cost of the tag fee and application fee must be submitted at the same time.
  • Unsuccessful applicants will receive a refund for the tag fee only. Application fees, processing fees and the annual hunting license will not be refunded.
  • The processing fees for phone-in applications is 3% of the total transaction plus $5.50.
  • The processing fee for online applications is 3% of the total transaction plus $3.50.
  • A person may apply for only one species. Any person applying for any moose, bighorn sheep, or mountain goat hunt is prohibited from applying for any other big game controlled hunt in the same year. Except: They may apply for a controlled depredation hunt for deer, elk, or pronghorn, a controlled black bear hunt, or leftover deer, elk or pronghorn controlled hunt tag, an unlimited controlled hunt, or extra deer, elk, pronghorn, or turkey hunt.

Cow moose draw odds

Remember, goHUNT has Draw Odds for all female species. 

Find your resident cow moose draw odds here

Find your nonresident cow moose draw odds here


The Idaho draw system

Understanding the draw

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 a level playing field. In Idaho, nonresidents are eligible to draw up to 10% of any given species controlled hunt tags (bighorn sheep raffle and super hunt tags do not affect this 10% allotment) although this number is not guaranteed. In hunts with less than 10 available tags, only 1 shall be issued to nonresidents.. 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 is a once-in-a-lifetime state, meaning that if a tag holder fills his or her tag, the hunter may not apply again for that species in Idaho. The only special exclusion to this rule is that hunters are allowed to take both a cow and bull moose with separate permits during separate years. Tag holders who are not successful in filling their tag may apply for the same species again, but must wait for two years before applying again. In lieu of the two-year waiting period, hunters can also attempt to draw a tag during the second controlled application period, although the potential of any tags making it to this point is nearly impossible at best. While not recognized as separate species by Boone & Crockett (B&C), California bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep permits are issued separately in Idaho and both subspecies can be taken by the same hunter.

Bighorn sheep raffle

In collaboration with the Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation, the state of Idaho also offers hunters a unique opportunity in the bighorn sheep raffle. Through the raffle, hunters can purchase an unlimited amount of lottery tickets in the hope of drawing a bighorn sheep tag that can be used in any open unit in the state.

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The tag is not transferable.
  • The drawing will be held at 2 p.m. on the last Wednesday in July at IDFG headquarters.
  • The once-in-a-lifetime rule is waived for this tag.
  • Mail-in applications only with this form.

Idaho's 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.

  • 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 first drawing is May 31, 2020.
  • The entry deadline for the second drawing is Aug. 10, 2020.
  • Apply here.

Upcoming changes for 2021

As of March 3, 2020, a new bill has been signed into law in Idaho that will greatly change tag and license prices for nonresident Idaho hunters. The new law will be in effect for the 2021 season and will be active when tags go on sale on Dec. 1, 2020. Bighorn sheep, moose, and Rocky Mountain goat tags will all see a nearly 25% increase on tag prices. While it's unknown what effect the increased tag prices will have on draw odds, it's certainly something applicants should consider next year. 

Bottom line: if you’re on the fence about applying in Idaho, then 2020 should be on your radar to potentially avoid adding $500 to your application costs. A full detailed explanation of the tag fee increase can be found here.


Idaho's 2020 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep breakdown

Idaho is often overlooked by serious sheep hunters due to the fact that rams tend to sport lower-scoring horns than some of the surrounding areas. Idaho rarely produces rams above the 185” mark, but does offer good opportunity for a great representative of the species in the 160” to 175” range. A wide array of bighorn sheep habitat is found in the Gem State from the impossibly deep Hells Canyon to the incredibly remote Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area.

Harvest trends for Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep since 2010

Year Sheep
taken
Avg. 
base
Average horn
length
2010 32 13.7" 30.4"
2011 36 12.9" 28.2"
2012 33 15.1" 31.8"
2013 43 15.2" 31.2"
2014 40 14.4" 32.7"
2015 40 14.4" 33.5"
2016 47 14.3" 33.1"
2017 46 14.5" 33.6"
2018 50 14.7" 34.6"
2019 51 14.2” 32.6”

If you're more of a visual person, check out the graphic below:

IDAHO TRENDS FOR BIGHORN SHEEP HARVESTS - Updated 2020

Current Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd condition

The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd in Idaho has been doing pretty well over the last few years and hunters were even afforded a few extra permits in 2019. Pneumonia has continued to be an issue across most of the West — a bullet that Idaho has largely dodged — but quick acting practices from game agencies has reduced the spread immensely over the past few years. 

Eight year Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep tag quotas and allocations

Year Total tag quota Drawn by residents Drawn by nonresident
2012 66 61 5
2013 66 60 6
2014 68 62 6
2015 68 63 5
2016 68 63 5
2017 74 68 6
2018 74 66 8
2019 80 71 9

Selecting your unit of choice

Unfortunately, hidden or overlooked bighorn sheep units do not exist in Idaho or any other state for that matter. When choosing a unit, hunters will need to largely look at the terrain to be hunted and their overall goal of the hunt. Some units provide better trophy qualities than others while some units will provide lower bighorn sheep densities and rougher country, but much better draw odds.

Idaho’s best draw odds for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

Resident

Nonresident

Unit Draw odds 2019 success Unit Draw odds 2019 success
27-1 19% 8% 17L 4.3% 100%
26L 18% 100% 28-1 3.9% 100%
27-2 12% 50% 27-4 3.5% 67%
27-4 11% 67% 36 3.4% 100%
27-3 8.3% 75% 26L 3.2% 100%
20A 8% 33% 27-3 2.4% 75%
26 8% 33% 27-1 2.2% 8%

Most of the units found in the above list are located in some of the most remote sections of Idaho. Densities are low, the country is huge and hunters of any experience level will be put to the test.

Idaho provides horn and base measurement data for all previous seasons and this can also be a good indicator of trophy and ram potential in a given unit.

Idaho’s top units for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in 2019 based on average horn length

Unit Average horn
length
Average base
circumference
2019 harvest
success
2019
resident odds
2019
nonresident odds
11 39.25” 15.25” 100% 0.33% 0.28%
51 36.62” 14.25” 100% 1.0% 0.55%
26 36.5” 15” 33% 8% 1.2%
27-3 36.42” 14.67” 75% 8.3% 2.4%
20 35.75” 15.25” 50% 3.7% 1.4%
37(5020) 35.72” 14.7” 100% 3.7% 0.54%
19A 35.25” 14.5” 100% 5% 1.9%

B&C entry trends for Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

Like previously mentioned, Idaho is not well known for producing giant rams, but it does provide great opportunities for hunters to fulfill a lifelong dream. Still, studying B&C entry trends in a state can sometimes elude hunters to units that may be getting hot or even tapering off.

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Nez Perce 8 11
Idaho 3 17L, 19, 19A, 20, 20A, 21, 26, 26L, 27L, 27-2, 28-1, 28-2 
Lemhi 2 20, 20A, 21, 26, 27-1, 27-2, 27-3, 27-5, 28-1, 28-2, 28-3
Valley 2 26, 27-1

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

TOP B&C ROCKY BIGHORN SHEEP LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2010 - 2020 Idaho

Map of Idaho's rocky mountain bighorn sheep B&C all time entries 2020


Managing expectations

Really, when it comes to applying for bighorn sheep across the West there aren’t any secrets to speak of and hunters should generally expect a long wait for a coveted tag. Still, Idaho boasts some of the best odds for drawing a bighorn sheep tag in the West and this is a state that should be on almost everyone's radar.

The best odds will lie in the units landing in and around the gorgeous Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (20, 20A, 21, 26, 26L, 27-1, 27-2, 27-3, 27-4, 27L and 28-1), but these hunts can be extremely tough both physically and mentally. Often, hunts in the Frank Church have been compared to those offered in the Montana unlimited districts. Beyond these, there are several other options that land in the 2% to 5% draw odd range and still offer better odds than most states.

With Idaho, you really can’t go wrong with choosing a bighorn sheep unit to apply for considering the lowest odds found here can still compete with offerings found in surrounding states. However, as I mentioned above, there are several units that offer some incredible odds and the true hunt of a lifetime if you’re willing to sweat for it.

Find your resident rocky bighorn sheep draw odds here

Find your nonresident rocky bighorn sheep draw odds here


Idaho's 2020 California bighorn sheep breakdown

Along with Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep Idaho also offers hunters the opportunity to chase California bighorn sheep. While nearly identical in appearance — and included in the same species by B&C — California bighorn sheep are considered a subspecies in Idaho. Because of this subspecies classification, hunters can harvest both of the species within their lifetime if they are lucky enough to draw a tag. 

California bighorn sheep are found in much lower densities and far fewer units than their Rocky Mountain cousins. Because of this, draw odds are generally much lower.

Harvest trends for Idaho California bighorn sheep since 2010

Year Sheep
taken
Avg. 
base
Average horn
length
2010 15 13.95" 30.56"
2011 17 13.98" 30.64"
2012 19 14.03" 29.85"
2013 20 14.15" 30.38"
2014 18 13.74" 30.25"
2015 11 14.50" 31.61"
2016 15 14.30" 30.76"
2017 18 13.96" 31.93"
2018 16 14.25" 32.15"
2019 14 14.22” 30.69”

Again, if you're more of a visual person, check out the graphic below:

IDAHO TRENDS FOR CALIFORNIA BIGHORN SHEEP HARVEST - Updated 2020

Current bighorn sheep herd condition

The California bighorn sheep herd in Idaho is decent although a few herds have been struggling in recent years. As a whole, trophy potential has been down for a number of years, but this will still offer hunters opportunities at mature rams and good representatives of the subspecies.

Eight year Idaho California bighorn sheep tag quotas and allocations

Year Total tag quota Drawn by residents Drawn by nonresident
2012 21 18 3
2013 21 19 2
2014 21 19 2
2015 21 18 3
2016 21 18 3
2017 23 20 3
2018 21 20 1
2019 17 17 0

Selecting your unit of choice

Unfortunately, with such a limited number of units, hunters simply won’t find any hidden gems for California bighorn sheep. Still, for those who have been lucky enough to harvest a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Idaho and are still interested in bighorn sheep hunting, this can provide a cool and fun option. 

Breakdown of Idaho’s California bighorn sheep units

Unit Trophy
potential
2020
tag quota
2019
resident odds
2019
nonresident odds
40 160"+ 1 3.2% 1.1%
41-1 165"+ 2 2.6% 0.73%
41-2 160"+ 4 4.1% 0.99%
42-1 165"+ 3 4.5% 0.95%
42-2 165"+ 3 6.0% 1.8%
46-1 170"+ 2 3.6% 1.2%
55 155"+ 2 2.6% 1.1%

B&C entry trends for Idaho California bighorn sheep

Because B&C does not officially recognize the California bighorn sheep as a separate subspecies (and lumps in California bighorn sheep with Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep), it takes an exceptional ram to make the books. There has only been one ram entered into the books from Idaho, which was taken in 2010 and scored 185 4/8” B&C.


Managing expectations

With the continued struggles in herd health and the closure of several hunts over the last few years, it’s hard to retain a positive outlook when considering California bighorn sheep in Idaho. Hunters who have been lucky enough to already harvest a Rocky Mountain ram in Idaho may consider taking advantage of this rare opportunity to kill a second bighorn sheep in their lifetime. For those simply looking to get into the bighorn sheep game, it would be much more advisable to look at the hunts offered for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

Find your resident California bighorn sheep draw odds here

Find your nonresident California bighorn sheep draw odds here


Idaho's 2020 Shiras moose breakdown

Idaho has been a long time running producer of excellent moose although the overall trophy potential has dipped some in recent years. Moose herds continue to struggle in some areas more than others and 2019 saw a big reduction in tags in some areas. Still, anyone lucky enough to draw a permit can be in for a great hunt and hard hunting can produce trophy bulls.

Harvest trends for Idaho moose since 2011

Year Cows
taken
Bulls
taken
Average antler
length
2011 116 569 34.76"
2012 120 554 36.04"
2013 122 556 36.96"
2014 123 539 35.19"
2015 114 553 34.95"
2016 111 529 37.11"
2017 86 468 36.29"
2018 101 492 36.98"
2019 57 416 36.48”

If you're more of a visual person, check out the graphic below:

IDAHO HARVEST TRENDS FOR SHIRAS MOOSE - UPDATED 2020

Current moose herd condition

Moose in Idaho continue to struggle with most of the blame landing on predation — primarily due to wolves — and ticks. IDFG has reacted quickly to the declining populations (as can be seen with harvest numbers for 2019), but the primary culprit has yet to be discovered. Lower tag quotas should help for the time being and anyone with a tag will still be in for a great hunt.

Eight year Idaho moose tag quotas and allocations

Year Total tag quota Drawn by residents Drawn by nonresidents
2012 894 842 41
2013 859 819 40
2014 859 810 49
2015 873 825 48
2016 873 816 57
2017 800 740 60
2018 805 739 66
2019 634 566 63

Selecting your unit of choice

When it comes to selecting a unit to apply for in Idaho there are definitely some things to consider. Some excellent draw odds can be found in several units year after year; however, these areas typically have low densities of moose and tough hunting terrain. Still, some incredible bulls have been taken in these areas. The choice of which unit to apply for will largely land on the desired outcome wanted by the applicant. With some sacrifice — and a lot of determination and hard work — there are some lower hanging fruits with Idaho moose.

Idaho’s best draw odds for moose

Resident

Nonresident

Unit Draw odds 2019 success Unit Draw odds 2019 success
10-4 75% 0% 1-3 37% 67%
1-3 75% 0% 7 37% 40%
3 75% 67% 1-1(3003) 33% 20%
7 53% 40% 1-1(3002) 28% 100%
1-1 52% 100% 3 27% 100%
10-1 51% 50% 10A-3 27% 100%
16 50% 0% 1-2 26% 67%

As can be seen in the above table, draw odds for some of the Idaho moose units are off the charts! However, several of these hunts feature incredibly tough hunting conditions that will require special considerations from any applicants. 

Idaho’s top units for moose in 2019 based on average antler width

Unit Average
antler width
2019
harvest success
2019
resident odds
2019
nonresident odds
10A-4 45.5” 75% 12% 6.9%
10-2 44.1” 80% 33% 7.1%
9(3030)* 43.9” 100% 7% 6.3%
62A 43.5” 20% 16% 5.8%
10-1 42.7” 50% 51% 23%
73 42.1” 100% 4.3% 3.3%
7(3026)* 41.1” 80% 22% 12%
4(3016)* 41.1” 90% 4.4% 2.8%
76-3 41” 40% 29% 5.8%

*These units have more than one hunt offering. Hunt codes are listed with the unit number to further distinguish the individual season.

B&C entry trends for Idaho Shiras moose

Another interesting piece of data to cross-reference with our above hitlist table is historic B&C entry trends for moose in Idaho. Studying these tables can be a great way to find areas that may have historical tendencies to produce mature bulls or even areas that may be trending up in recent years.

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

County* No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Shoshone 10 4, 6, 7, 9, 10A-2, 10A-3, 10A-4, 10-3, 10-6
Bonneville 8 63, 63A, 66A, 66-1, 66-2, 67-1, 67-2, 69-1, 69-2
Clearwater 6 10-1, 10-2, 10-3, 10-4, 10-5, 10-6, 10A-1, 10A-2,
10A-4, 10A-5
Fremont 4 60, 60A, 61-2, 61-3, 62, 62A, 63, 63A, 64, 65
Idaho 4 12-1, 12-2, 12-3, 12-4, 12-51416

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

Map of Idaho's shiras moose B&C all time entries 2020

TOP B&C SHIRAS MOOSE LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2020 Idaho


Managing expectations

When applying for Idaho moose, hunters first need to decide what they want out of their hunt. With the great draw odds found throughout the state, the possibility of drawing a tag is very real for any given year. However, large upfront fees and low harvest success can be a kicker when it comes to inevitably deciding on a unit. 

Find your resident bull moose draw odds here

Find your nonresident bull moose draw odds here


Idaho's 2020 mountain goat breakdown

Another species for those interested in mountain hunting to consider in Idaho is the Rocky Mountain goat. Idaho is not well known for producing high scoring billies or nannies but does offer good opportunities to harvest great representatives of the species. Tag numbers have been reduced in recent years and the general population continues to struggle; however, good hunting can still be had by those lucky enough to draw a tag. 

Harvest trends for Idaho mountain goat since 2011

Year Goats
taken
Avg.
base
Average horn
length
2010 39 4.48" 7.94"
2011 45 4.73" 8.27"
2012 38 4.81" 8.47"
2013 43 4.89" 8.99"
2014 40 4.88" 8.78"
2015 46 5.00" 8.28"
2016 46 4.57" 8.58"
2017 34 4.61" 8.24"
2018 37 4.84" 8.61"
2019 34 4.7" 8.24"

Current mountain goat herd condition

As previously mentioned, the health of the mountain goat as a whole in Idaho is struggling. This same trend can be seen in a few other western states and there has not yet been any rationale as to why. The most generally accepted theories lie within a loss of minerals and nutrient-rich foods found in prime mountain goat habitat coupled with the naturally slow reproduction times for mountain goats.

Eight year Idaho Rocky Mountain goat tag quotas and allocations

Year Total tag quota Drawn by residents Drawn by nonresidents
2012 49 44 5
2013 48 44 4
2014 47 43 4
2015 50 45 5
2016 50 45 5
2017 50 45 5
2018 48 44 4
2019 44 40 4

Selecting your unit of choice

Even with a declining population and lower trophy potentials, hunters will still find better draw odds than what is found in the other western states. In general, harvest rates are high in nearly every unit; however, some units will afford better draw odds with the trade-off of tougher hunting conditions. Before applying, consider exactly what you want of your hunt.

Idaho’s best draw odds for Rocky Mountain goat

Resident

Nonresident

Unit Draw odds 2019 success Unit Draw odds 2019 success
27-5 17% 50% 27-5 5.1% 50%
27-4 12% 33% 36-1 4.6% 0%
36-1 9.5% 0% 27-4 4.3% 33%
36A-3 9.5% 100% 27-2 3.7% 100%
27-2 8.1% 100% 36A-4 3.6% 100%
36A-1 8% 100% 36A-3 3.5% 100%
36A-4 8% 100% 39 3.5% 50%

While odds tend to be slightly lower for Rocky Mountain goat than some of the other trophy species in the state, it is important to note that these are still far higher than many of the other goat hunts in the West. 

Idaho's top units for Rocky Mountain goat in 2019 based on average horn length

Unit Average
horn length
2019
harvest success
2019
resident odds
2019
nonresident odds
67 10” 33% 3.8% 2%
18 9.53” 100% 4.5% 2.2%
36B 9.31” 100% 5% 2.4%
22 8.91” 100% 5.6% 2.5%
27-5 8.75” 50% 17% 5.1%
43 8.65” 100% 6.4% 3.1%
10-1 8.62” 100% 3.4% 2.2%
50 8.58” 75% 4.8% 2.7%
39 8.38” 50% 6.8% 3.5%

B&C entry trends for Idaho Rocky Mountain mountain goat

Idaho is not known for producing goats that meet the B&C minimums for entry though it does offer great opportunities at billies and nannies with horns in the 9” range in nearly every unit. Since 2010, there have been four mountain goats entered into the B&C books from Idaho.

Map of Idaho's Rocky mountain goat B&C all time entries 2020

TOP B&C MOUNTAIN GOAT LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2020 Idaho


Managing expectations

With Idaho Rocky Mountain goat, any applicant — resident or nonresident — will see some of the best odds. Trophy qualities are lower, but those who can swing the cash could see a tag sooner than what they could draw in other western states. Studying trending draw odds can help shorten the process a bit, but the best chances for a tag will be found in some of the most rugged units in the state. 

Find your resident mountain goat draw odds here

Find your nonresident mountain goat draw odds here

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