If you ask me, Rocky mountain elk are one of the Creator’s most majestic creatures, few things compare to standing in the mist of a 500 plus pound bull surrounded by his harem of cows! Even at a distance the sight is awe inspiring. For those who know what I am talking about you are probably as addicted to elk as I am. For you who haven’t, well…fall is fast upon us and there are many options for the newest of hunters and to those with more experience. Perhaps 2020 is your elk kickoff year! The following units are a selection as top choice hunts for Idaho, these hunts are not likely to produce Boone and Crockett class animals. Don’t get me wrong, it does happen! Each year a lucky hunter or two notches their tag on a massive set of antlers. Nonetheless, the Gem state is not where we tend to apply for giant bulls. Moreover, the opportunity to hunt areas with healthy elk herds, mature 6 point bulls and adventures for that abound! For more detailed draw data and research be sure to check out our MRS sections in the Eastmans’ Hunting and Bowhunting Journals or by subscribing to our newest research tool; TAGHUB. Either of these resources will expand your research and application strategies and are worth the investment if you are serious about applications and hunting limited draws in the West. Good luck, be sure you let us know how you do! -J.B.
Unit 30-1, This unit is solid across the board, nothing to get excited about for trophy potential, but harvest odds and the reality of harvesting a mature bull if you draw are very good. Access is excellent, terrain is moderate to rough depending on where your travels take you. If you are after a fun hunt with the possibility of a 300 class bull or slightly better, this is a great hunt choice.
Unit 31 lacking slightly on the access panel this hunt choice is a bit rough but still far from extreme. Trophy potential is standard for Idaho and harvest odds are great. Definitely a noteworthy choice.
Unit 36A-1 and 36A-2 Comprising mid-level foothill country. Terrain is pretty open offering a great glassing. There are a few roads that run through this unit. And not a lot of places to get back and away from it all. 95 and 98% public land, some of the best draw odds for limited entry and harvest stats to back it up, definitely a chart topper for a reason.
Unit 40-1 is probably one of the best for bigger bulls. With season running in late September and into early October this is a rifle rut hunt and that is a unique opportunity. These elk herds are not bursting from the seams, but when you find bulls you are likely to see a shooter. There are only 5 permits allocated, thus nonresident permits are not likely, however, IDFG will allocate a single permit here on rotation, so keep an eye out! The terrain is varied, some areas are pretty rugged and others are medium but either way you are likely to put some miles in and be prepared for a rugged pack out. High public land and good access make this hunt choice excellent. Draw odds reflect this and are slim at best.
Unit 45 Season dates in this area might make a person think there is a rut hunt opportunity here. Although you may hear some bugles, there are 100 permits here and the elk will likely shut down in short order once they start hearing rifle shots. Nonetheless, draw odds are better than most, and the harvest odds are excellent! This area also has excellent trophy potential, overall this unit is definitely worth taking a closer look. There was a late season hunt added here in 2017, running from Dec 1st through Dec 31st Draw odds are to be expected, but the harvest stats came in top row! 94% harvest success and 71% of those were 6 points or better over the past two seasons!
Unit 55-1 Located on the southern border along the Nevada/Utah junction. The 3 year harvest average is sitting at 76%. However, 83% of those were 6 points or better and rumor has it there are some big bulls being killed down there. Public land percentage is decent, the terrain is varied. Ranging from lowland agricultural to mildly rugged islands of mountains. Trending back up, this is a unique opportunity and has potential for someone willing to unlock it.
Top Muzzleloader Units
Units 46-1, 54 and 30A are all strong contenders. For the nonresident applicant 30A is a solid choice. 6 point harvest is lower, but overall drawing odds and harvest odds are favorable.
Muzzleloader allocations are low across the board thus nonresidents won’t see much for overall opportunity. Nonetheless, Units like 54 and 46-1 are worth it if you are willing to play the game and wait it out.
Unit 50-1 This hunt is late, winter season will likely affect the results of this hunt. Draw odds are excellent, and harvest odds are very reasonable considering the weapon type. Rough terrain should help with stalking for close shots. Weather is definitely a consideration for hunts this late in the year. Either way this area is worth a second look.
Top Archery Units
Unit 40-1, Excellent hunt dates, very high public land percentage and harvest odds that would make any bowhunter double take. This area is vast in options, from trailhead hunting to semi rugged backcountry options this unit is a solid producer. Only 10 permits make this a tough choice for NR applicants, also, there is a rifle hunt that takes place with overlapping hunt dates, which is another damper. Nonetheless, the stats speak for themselves and this hunt holds a solid margin for harvesting a 6 point bull with archery tackle.
Unit 44 is yet another top producing hunt, this area however, is not as public land friendly, only 52% public which borders a large private/agricultural area. There are more than double the tags allotted and therefore a better chance at drawing for NR hunters. Harvest stats are high but 6 point averages are not too exciting. Terrain is medium/rough on average and comprises some excellent bowhunting spot and stalk country.
Unit 54 Located down along the southern border this unit has produced some cranker bulls over the years, but generally speaking is on par with the units mentioned previously. Nothing too crazy, varied terrain, solid stats and decent, but still modest tag allocations. Most years there is only 1 NR tag, so TOUGH DRAW is a theme for these top units.