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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2021: Idaho moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat

IDAHO'S BIGHORN SHEEP, MOOSE, AND MOUNTAIN GOAT APPLICATION OVERVIEW

Jump to: New for 2021 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 April 30, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. MST.

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


New for 2021

Moose

Moose experienced a number of changes for 2021; most notably, a large reduction of licenses, particularly for antlerless moose.

  • Overall, tags were reduced by 89 (18 antlered, 71 antlerless).
  • Antlerless harvest has been eliminated in the Southeast and Upper Snake Regions.
  • Boundaries were modified in controlled Unit 44, 54, 61-1, 61-2 and 73.
  • A new controlled hunt was added in Unit 73A.

Bighorn sheep

Both Rocky Mountain and California bighorn sheep saw small reductions in tag numbers with a loss of two for Rocky Mountain and one for California bighorn sheep, respectively.

Mountain goat

Mountain goat saw another reduction in tags for 2021 with a total of three removed. Additionally, hunt boundaries were changed for Unit 7 and 36-1. Note: Unit 9 is seeing a boundary change and unit number change in 2021 and will be now known as Unit 7.


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 goHUNT MAPS

Important dates and information

  • Applications for Idaho moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat are accepted beginning April 1, 2021.
  • 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, 2021.
  • The second controlled hunt application period is June 15 to 25, 2021. (Note: there were no leftover tags for a second choice drawing in 2020.)
  • 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. Exception: They may apply for a controlled depredation hunt for deer, elk or antelope, a controlled black bear hunt or leftover deer, elk or antelope controlled hunt tag, an unlimited controlled hunt or extra deer, elk, antelope or turkey hunt.

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 one shall be issued to nonresidents. This quota percentage for nonresidents is fairly common in the West; however, 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, that 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. While not recognized as a 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 the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (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, 2021.
  • The entry deadline for the second drawing is Aug. 10, 2021.
  • Apply here.

Idaho's 2021 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep Breakdown

Bighorn sheep hunting in Idaho is characterized by many different types of terrain with some enormous adventures to be had. Typically, Idaho is not producing the quality of rams that some of the surrounding states do, but it does offer great opportunities at mature rams that provide a great example of the species. Idaho generally carries some attractive draw odds for bighorn sheep; however, some of the hunts can be incredibly rugged and the odds of success will be low. Careful consideration will be needed when planning your application strategy.

Ten-year harvest trends for Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

Year Sheep taken Avg. base Average horn
length
2011 36 13.7” 30.4”
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”
2020 56 14.3 32.4”

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

IDAHO TRENDS FOR BIGHORN SHEEP HARVESTS - Updated 2021

Current Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd condition

The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Idaho continue to do well and hunters can expect hunting conditions to be par for the course for 2021.

Idaho's Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep tag quotas and allocations

Year 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 68 8
2019 80 71 9
2020 80 73 7
2021 78 -- --

Selecting your unit of choice

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.

Top draw odds for Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in 2020

Resident

Nonresident

Unit Draw odds 2020 success Unit Draw odds 2020 success
20A 20% 66% 28-1 3.2% 67%
27-1 15% 25% 17L 3% 100%
27-2 11% 33% 27-2 2.9% 33%
26 8.7% 66% 20 2.8% 50%
26L 8.6% 50% 26L 2.6% 50%
28-1 8% 67% 36 2.5% 100%
27-3 6.9% 75% 36A(5025) 2.3% 100%

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. Before applying for these hunts it will be important to be well aware of the type of hunt you could be getting yourself into.

Idaho does a great job of providing horn length and base measurements from bighorn sheep killed in previous seasons. This data can be useful at times for locating units that may be seeing an uptick in ram quality or decrease, for that matter.

Idaho’s top units for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep based on horn length in 2020

Unit Average horn
length
Average base
circumference
No. of rams
killed
11 41.88” 15.5” 1
19A 39.81” 15.12” 2
20 38.75” 13.5” 1
26 35.56” 14.56” 2
37 34.92” 15.32” 5
51 34.5” 14.75” 2

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); however, 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 2021 California bighorn sheep breakdown

Along with Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, Idaho also offers opportunities for the California bighorn sheep. In Idaho, California bighorn sheep are considered a subspecies of the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and hunters are allowed to take one ram for each species in a single lifetime.

In general, California bighorn sheep are found in much smaller densities than Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and are isolated to the southeast corner of the state in Owyhee County. Because the opportunity for these bighorn sheep exists in a much smaller capacity, the drawing odds tend to be lower than those found with Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

Ten-year harvest trends for Idaho California bighorn sheep

Year Sheep taken Avg. base Average horn
length
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 14.5” 31.61”
2016 15 14.3” 30.76”
2017 18 13.96” 31.93”
2018 16 14.25” 32.15”
2019 14 14.22” 30.69”
2020 15 14.13” 31.2”

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

IDAHO TRENDS FOR CALIFORNIA BIGHORN SHEEP HARVEST - Updated 2021

Current bighorn sheep herd condition

As with their Rocky Mountain cousin, California bighorn sheep are maintaining a healthy level in Idaho; however, the state has been keeping a close eye on them after some pneumonia issues a few years ago.

Idaho's 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
2020 17 15 2
2021 16 -- --

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
2021
tag quota
2020
resident odds
2020
nonresident odds
40 160"+ 1 1.5% 0.76%
41-1 165"+ 2 3.4% 0.87%
41-2 160"+ 4 3.2% 0.78%
42-1 165"+ 3 4.1% 0.99%
42-2 165"+ 3 4.0% 1%
46-1 165"+ 1 3.9% 1.6%
55 155"+ 2 4.2% 1.3%

Managing expectations

With the low amount of opportunity for this species, hunters will find the odds stacked greatly against their chances of drawing a license. 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; however, 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 2021 Shiras moose breakdown

Moose populations in Idaho continue to struggle across the state and, for 2021, a large number of tags were removed, including almost all of the antlerless opportunities. Quality bulls can still be found, but hunters have to work harder than ever to locate mature bulls. Still, anyone lucky enough to draw a permit can be in for a great hunt and hard hunting can produce trophy bulls.

Ten-year harvest trends for Idaho Moose

Year Cows
taken
Bulls
taken
Average antler
spread
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”
2020 54 428 36.49"

IDAHO HARVEST TRENDS FOR SHIRAS MOOSE - UPDATED 2021

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 the past few years), but the primary culprit has yet to be discovered. The unfortunate side effect of struggling populations numbers is a drastic cut in tags.

Ten-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
2020 634 569 63
2021 545 -- --

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 units typically have low densities of moose and tough hunting terrain. Still, some incredible bulls have been taken in these units. 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.

Top draw odds for Idaho Moose in 2020

Resident

Nonresident

Unit Draw odds 2020 success Unit Draw odds 2020 success
1-1 (3003) 68% 60% 12-3 32% 50%
12-1 59% 0% 12-5 30% 0%
10-3 56% 40% 10-5 28% 40%
1-3 (3008) 50% 100% 12-1 28% 0%
1-3 (3009) 50% 33% 10A-2 27% 50%
10A-5 50% 75% 10-6 25% 75%
12-3 46% 50% 1-1 (3003) 23% 60%

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. Along with tougher hunting conditions, some of these seasons are even limited to just a two-week season.

Idaho’s top units for moose based on antler width in 2020

Unit Average
antler width
Bulls killed
12-3 54” 1
5 44.75” 2
54 44.54” 3
6 44.45” 5
55 43.88” 2
1-3 (3007) 43” 4
9 42.56” 4
12-4 42.5” 1

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. 

When considering units for application, hunters will generally find the best odds in the two-week season offered in Unit 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Along with these, some of the units that are known more for tougher hunting conditions will also generally carry better odds like Unit 10-1, 10-2, 10-3, 10-4, 10-5, 10-6, 10A-1, 10A-2, 10A-3, 10A-4, 10A-5, 12-1, 12-2, 12-3 and 12-4.

It should also be noted that the widest bull of 2020 came out of Unit 12-3, a unit that made our list for the top draw odds of last year for both residents and nonresidents. 

Find your resident bull moose draw odds here

Find your nonresident bull moose draw odds here


Idaho's 2021 mountain goat breakdown

Idaho boasts a smaller population of mountain goats than some of the surrounding states; however, the adventures to be had are still large and incredible. Idaho is not well known for producing high scoring billies or nannies, but the state 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.

Ten-year harvest trends for Idaho mountain goat

Year Goats taken Avg. horn
base
Average horn
length
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"
2020 40 4.82" 8.85"

Current mountain goat herd condition

Mountain goat herds continue to fight for survival in Idaho, but the decline in goat numbers has somewhat leveled out. Still, for 2021, a few more tags have been dropped for the current season.

Ten-year Idaho 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
2020 44 40 4
2021 41 -- --

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 most of 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 and terrain types. Before applying, consider exactly what you want out of your hunt.

Top draw odds for Idaho mountain goat in 2020

Resident

Nonresident

Unit Draw odds 2020 success Unit Draw odds 2020 success
27-4 14% 33% 27-4 4.9% 33%
27-2 10% 100% 39 4.2% 50%
51 9.2% 100% 51 4.1% 100%
43 8.4% 100% 27-2 3.7% 100%
39 8.3% 50% 36A-2 3.5% 100%
36A-2 8.2% 100% 43 3.5% 100%

As you can see from the above table, the odds for Idaho mountain goats are good, extremely good. Yet, the license is more expensive than most of the other western states and most of the easier to draw units are centered in some of the most remote and rugged terrain found in the state.

Idaho’s top units for mountain goat based on horn length in 2020

Unit Average
horn length
Goats killed
7* 10” 1
27-5 9.94” 2
22 9.81” 4
51 9.5” 2
36A-1 9.5” 1
10-2 9.31” 2
36A-2 9” 1
43 8.88” 4

*The existing Unit 9 is seeing a boundary change and unit number change in 2021 and will be now known as Unit 7.

Managing expectations

With Idaho Rocky Mountain goats, 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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