Idaho consistently ranks in the top five states for elk hunts. Why? The state is both packed with elk and has over-the-counter tags.

Before you pack up and roll to the Gem State to try and fill a tag, review these stats that show hunter success rates in general. These stats combine self-guided hunts with guided hunts.

No one really collects data to show the success rate of a self-guided hunt v. going with an Idaho hunting guide. Good money says guided hunts are more successful. Why? The guides know where the elk are because they scout regularly. Since the guides make a living putting people on elk, they need to be good at their job.

Idaho Hunting Guides

Having a guided hunt does several other things most hunters appreciate.

Help. An elk is a big animal. A trophy bull can weigh 700 pounds or more and is also huge. Someone to help pack out the cape, the rack, and meat are appreciated.

Tags. Idaho does have over-the-counter tags for non-resident hunters, but the supply is limited. Once the tags are gone, that’s it. Booking a trip with a guide guarantees you a tag.

Relationships. About 66 percent of Idaho is public land. Private land is often interspersed with that. Idaho recently changed its laws on private land access. Guides have legal access to private land where the hunting pressure is less. Trespassing is not a concern.

Taxidermy. You have your elk. Now what? A professional guide has a working relationship with taxidermists who will prepare your mount for the wall.

The state has units, geographic locations within the state, for hunting. These units cover public and private land. In either case, an Idaho hunting guide is going to make filling your tag and bringing home a wall hanger and backstraps an easier proposition.

Idaho Hunts


Idaho is a haven for other big game like deer, black bear, and cougar. These are over-the-counter tags. In some cases, if you fill one tag, you can buy a second to take another animal. A non-resident elk tag can be used to take a bear or a mountain lion.

Only bears can be baited for hunting in Idaho. This makes booking a trip with an Idaho hunting guide even more sensible. Guides can bait the bears and get them used to feeding at the bait station.

Idaho has black and grizzly bears. Grizzly hunting is very restricted in Idaho, if allowed at all. So if you hunt bear, make sure you know the difference between the two.

If you are interested in taking a mountain lion, a guided hunt is the preferred way. Guides use dogs to track and bay the cougars for the hunters. Hunting the cats without dogs is done, but the success rate is far greater, by orders of magnitude, when using hounds.

Your chances of filling a mule deer or whitetail tag vary. The state game and fish department record how the hunt went each year. Depending on the zone and hunting method success, ranges from 100 percent to 0. Archery, as expected, records the lowest percentages.

Pronghorn, also called goat, is a draw tag. Pronghorn hunts in Idaho have a very high success rate. This is partly due to the limited number of hunters chancing a good population. You can hunt pronghorn with any Idaho-legal weapon; hunters in the know will carry long-range rifles as shots over 500 yards are common.

Idaho’s wolf hunt is split into seasons across the various units. A good bit of the hunting is only on private land. A hunting guide with rights to private property is an excellent way to connect with this top predator. Idaho allows electronic calls. Keep this in mind on a wolf hunt. These are big animals; 150-pound male wolves are usually the pack’s alpha. You need deer-class weapons. Likely your bullet or arrow will have to punch through a lot of heavily matted fur before it ever hits vital organs.


Idaho has plenty of small game like rabbits, several species of birds including the chukar which provides some exciting hunts. Pointer and retriever dogs make bird hunts easier. A lot of hunters will book a guide who can offer small game hunts as well as big game hunts. If you fill your tag early, you can still go hunt something else.

Idaho is one of a few states that allow hunters to take sandhill cranes. These birds, which stand as tall as five feet, are edible. Most hunters take one for the trophy room. The state also has waterfowl seasons with possession limits for some geese as high as 60 per hunter per day. Guided trips are the best way to ensure getting a limit.

Idaho Hunting Trips

Get all the information you need about what to hunt and where from the game and fish department. With that information in hand, then you can book a guide to make sure your trip to the Gem State is the hunt of a lifetime. Search and book your Idaho hunting trip with – it’s just a click away!

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