As we draw near the end of application season many states already have results out and only a couple places are still open for applications, you guessed it, Idaho is one of them. Idaho OTC hunts have become all but extinct (at least for a post draw season opportunity) thus, many of us are forced to jump into the draw if we want the chance to hunt the Gem State. Draw odds are steep, but there is a lot on the table for offerings and overall some really good hunts to be had. Idaho does NOT run on a points system. Thus each year you are flush with the world and go in with straight odds like everyone else. If you have taken the time to run the numbers you will agree this is the best system out there. To help things even more, IDFG requires applicants to stick with one species. You may only apply for deer, elk OR antelope. Pick one and you’re done! After that it’s all up to the odds and for a lucky few the results will come back successful and the work really begins, such as scheduling time off, map and satellite research and hopefully boots on the ground opportunity to scout your area. Not to mention get your gear tuned up and ready for the hunt! A process worthwhile but a process nonetheless.
Idaho elk are doing quite well in many areas. We have seen some sub-regions take a heavy hit and change the way we apply. But for those simply looking for the cream of the crop the following hunts should get you started in the right direction. Good luck in the draws and keep us posted!
Unit 40-1 – Unit 40, part of 41 and unit 42. It is hard to find a rut hunt with a rifle, but this is it. Only 5 permits are allocated and a rotating permit goes to non-resident hunters from time to time. Pretty awesome experience if you are willing to wait out the odds. There is 83% public land, medium on the terrain scale and 100% 6-point or better harvest for the last couple years. Excellent stats all around!
Unit 45 – Solid harvest stats, a few non-resident tags for each season, 64% public land with a hefty 6-point harvest percentage. This unit may prove a bit more difficult to turn up elk on public but check out those season dates! Yep, you read that correctly, August 1-29 for the early hunt, this area also has a mid-season in October and a late-season in December! Pretty interesting hunt choice. Private access is best in units like this, but public bulls are definitely doable.
Unit 30-1 – Over the past few years we have seen pretty major cutbacks in this area, the herds are not as strong as they once were. However, elk are still doing well enough for a solid hunt choice. This classic Idaho hunt brings the mountainous elk hunting experience along with high harvest odds! 83% of the bulls harvested over the past three seasons were 6-points or better which is showing an uptrend. Bring your spotter along, the country is expansive and open enough to walk with your eyes. You’ll find wide open spaces in some areas and pole thicket forests in others. With 85% public land, the options are wide open for this hunt.
Unit 39 – Offering a solid non-resident opportunity, this is a sweet hunt during the rut. You’ll have a month to get the job done with solid public land opportunity (77%) in an area that ranks a whopping 5 on a 1-5 scale for terrain difficulty! This hunt is for a person looking to get into the backcountry and experience the ruggedness of the Rockies during the rut. The data speaks for itself on this one.
Unit 54 – Down along the southern border, this unit has produced very well for both archery and muzzleloader hunts! Harvest odds with a stick and string tend to stay in the mid to high 60s! Which is truly quite amazing. Additionally, the 6-point or better is as high for archery and muzzleloader as many of the top any weapon hunts. Nothing too crazy for terrain, the unit ranks a 3 for difficulty, but has a lot of variation throughout the unit. Tag allocations are decent, but still modest. Most years there is only 1 or maybe 2 non-resident tags, so TOUGH DRAW continues to be a theme for these top units.