Idaho experienced a harsher than normal winter in 2018-2019. This caused a reduction in statewide elk population. While the losses were substantial, the Idaho elk population is still strong, and we expect to see many hunters harvesting trophy class bulls.
For many hunters’ yearly adventures Elk is one that is held most sacred. Hunts Plus submits hundreds of elk applications for our members each year via our Application Service, and our members submit hundreds more on their own. Researching the data published by dozens of sources, reports from our members, and hunting ourselves, Idaho has an excellent elk population, and terrain that makes the pursuit viable for any hunter. If you’re like most hunters who are looking to see dozens of elk on your hunting trip and selectively harvest the most mature bull, look no further than Idaho. Members have access to draw odds and unit statistics much more comprehensive than those shown here, but we’ve compiled our top 7 Idaho elk hunting units. 4 any-legal-weapon units, two muzzleloader and one archery unit.
Idaho Elk Unit 36A-2
Unit 36A-2 is a relatively small unit consisting of moderate foothills. The terrain within Unit 36A-2 is primarily open, offering excellent glassing opportunities. Roads throughout the unit are scarce, making it difficult to get into the backcountry and away from other hunts, but for those who are willing to put in the work the payoff can be great. The unit is nearly all public land owned by one state or federal agency or another so access is abundant, as are the trophy bulls for the hunter willing to scout and put in the legwork.
Idaho Elk Unit 40-1
One of the top units within the Idaho for trophy potential. The season runs from late September and into October directly through the rut for the rifle hunters, unique for many units in Idaho. The elk population is typically clustered as opposed to more evenly dispersed as most elk units in Idaho, so when you see an elk you’re likely to see many more nearby, with a shooter being in their midst being a real possibility. Permits are very hard to come by for non-resident hunters, hovering around 0.5%. Some years there are none at all. Large tracts of public land make this one of the top choices for trophy elk in Idaho, as reflected by the discouraging draw odds.
Idaho Elk Unit 31
Access is more restricted in this unit than some others that make the list and terrain can be challenging. But hunter success rates are exceptional. Draw odds are consistantly 1.2% for non resident hunters.
Idaho Elk Unit 30-1
Everything about this unit is solid. Trophy potential is lacking slightly, but with high hunter success rates harvesting a mature bull is a very real possibility. Terrain is difficult in most areas but access is abundant. Most bulls in this unit measure around 300”-330” so if that is what you’re looking for Unit 30-1 is a noteworthy choice.
Idaho Elk Unit 50-1 | Muzzleloader
A relatively new unit for Idaho it is showing great potential. Hunter success will be effected by the late hunting season and annual snowfall. Draw odds are superb and hunter success overall is very good. The terrain is rough, which will help to close the distance during the stalk to give reasonably close shots. If you’re adverse to hunting in harsh winter conditions this may not be the best choice for you.
Idaho Elk Unit 30A | Muzzleloader
Six-point bull success is a bit lower than the state average, but is offset by reasonable draw odds and high hunter success rates. Access is good and terrain varied. Foothills provide muzzleloader hunters a favorable position to close distance and make the shot.
Idaho Elk Unit 41-1 | Archery
Excellent terrain for spot and stalk, Unit 41-1 offers optimistic odds at harvesting a mature Idaho bull. Season dates combined with favorable weather should provide the bow hunter excellent rut activity. Access is abundant, however, much is wilderness which would be considered prior to filing an application.
Mike guides the direction of Hunts Plus ensuring that it never deviates from its roots as a resource for all hunters searching for their next big pursuit. Spending over 100 days each year in the field he can -at times- be difficult to contact but is always willing to share what he knows with those seeking to build their knowledge base.