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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2015: Idaho moose, sheep, goat


Bull moose in timber
Photo credit: Getty Images

Idaho's sheep, moose and goat: an overview

Idaho is a great destination for any of these three trophy species and without a points system in place, it is never too late to begin applying. Idaho produces some great Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep every year for those applicants that are lucky enough to draw. This state lacks a point system so everyone has a chance to draw a tag regardless of how long you have been applying. The downside...Idaho is one of the most expensive nonresident states and they keep a large portion of your application fees making this a tough state to apply for if you are on a hunting budget and can't build points to increase your odds.

The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goat populations are doing quite well while California sheep populations are maintaining. Unfortunately, moose numbers are declining due to wolf predation. This does not mean there are not still great opportunities for moose. Remember that applicants can only select one of these species when applying. If an applicant applies for sheep, moose or mountain goat, then they cannot apply later for deer, elk or antelope. This rule, along with the fact that all applicants must purchase a nonrefundable hunting license, helps reduce overall applicants and gives Idaho better drawing odds for these three trophy species. Many hunters are not willing to purchase a nonrefundable hunting license each year if they are not able to build points to improve their drawing odds for future years. The deadline for application for these three species is April 30. You can apply online here.

Why Idaho

If you are an “out-of-stater” and love sheep, goat or moose, then Idaho is your state and it is never too late to start. One of the best things about Idaho is that it lacks a points system. Everyone in the draw has the same chance at one of Idaho’s three trophy species. A first time applicant has the same chance as a person that has applied for several years. Nonresidents can draw up to 10% of the overall total tags for each species. Because of this method of allocating nonresident tags, it is possible for a nonresident to be the only person to draw a sheep tag in a particular unit where only one tag is allowed. Additionally, regardless of whether you are a resident or a nonresident, outfitters are not required to accompany you on your hunt. Idaho is over 80% public land, which gives a hunter many options for hunting big game in the Gem state.
All of the seasons for sheep, moose and goat are any weapon hunts with the exception of a few moose hunts that are restricted to short range weapons. The season dates are also very generous and span several days. This means for most of the hunts you can pick when you can and want to hunt and with what weapon you want to use. While there are some slight weapon restrictions, they are very liberal. With an any weapon tag, you can choose to hunt with a bow, muzzleloader or rifle.

Idaho is relatively expensive to apply for if you consider the net fees that they collect. If you can afford to pay the nonrefundable portion each year in Idaho, then Idaho is a good option. The net expense to apply for nonresidents makes the odds of drawing one of these species (especially moose and goat) much easier than other states. 

Why “Not” Idaho

Now that you have read all of the reasons why to apply in Idaho for sheep, moose or goat, it is only fair to point out what to seriously consider prior to applying. As mentioned above, it is expensive to apply because they keep a considerable amount of money each year. You are required to front the entire fee for an annual hunting license and species tag fee. There is also an application fee and an online processing fee of 3% of the total plus another $3.50 if applying online. Of these fees, the only refundable portion is the tag fee if you are not drawn. A nonresident applying online in Idaho for one of these three species will be required to pay upfront a total of $2,342.89. If they are not successful in the draw, then they will receive a refund for the tag fee only, which is $2,101.75. The nonrefundable portion of your fees, if you are not drawn, is $241.14

Idaho and New Mexico cost to apply

Keeping application fees and processing fees is understandable, but Idaho forces applicants to pay for an annual hunting license WITHOUT allowing them to earn a bonus or preference point in the draw. Typically when a state requires that you purchase a hunting license, then you are awarded a point if unsuccessful in the draw. After all the dust has settled, this makes Idaho the most expensive state to apply for and gives you nothing other than a chance that never gets any better in future years due to the absence of a bonus point system. The odds may be that you pay $241.14 per year for a long time if you plan to apply in Idaho, especially for the bighorn species. 

The cost to NOT build points

Bighorn sheep application cost comparison
New Mexico vs Idaho — Nonresident only
 New MexicoIdaho
Application itemCostRefundableCostRefundable
Annual hunting license$65Yes$154.75No
Application fee$13No$14.75No
Online processing feeN/AN/A$71.64No
Bighorn tag$3,160Yes$2,101.75Yes
Total out of pocket$3,238 $2,342.89 
Refunded if unsuccessful$3,225 $2,101.75 
Net cost to apply$13 $241.14 


Why Idaho for Rocky Mountain and California bighorn sheep

Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
Photo credit: Rawhide Outfitters

Idaho has 30 different sheep hunts for a hunter to choose from, including 22 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunts and eight California bighorn hunts. There are 89 total tags available for draw. All tags are for rams only. The Rocky Mountain bighorns and California bighorns are separated by Interstate 84 that runs east/west through the state. Most of the seasons are several weeks long which will give the hunter plenty of opportunity to harvest their sheep. Remember that Rocky Mountain bighorns and California bighorns are both categorized together as “bighorn sheep” in the Boone and Crockett record book.

The Rocky Mountain bighorns in Idaho are typically found in the central portion of Idaho, which is also known as the most rugged region of the state. Physical and mental preparation are key to hunting this remote and rugged region. Horseback, backpack, rafting or bush plane are all possibilities in many of the Rocky Mountain bighorn units. Idaho has only one exception to this central region for “Rockies.” Sitting alone on the far western part of the state adjacent to Montana and Washington lies Unit 11. This unit is home to the biggest of Idaho’s Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Unit 11, also referred to as Hell’s Canyon, is the most difficult tag to draw, but is by far your best chance to harvest a B&C bighorn in Idaho. In 2014, nonresidents had 0.55% draw odds for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. 1,091 nonresidents applied and six people drew tags.

Idaho California bighorn sheep
A great California bighorn sheep taken by Christina Morrow with her husband Dan. Photo credit: Steve Alderman

Along the southwestern portion of Idaho lies the California bighorn units. Their terrain is much less intimidating than the rugged backcountry where the Rocky Mountain bighorns live, the California sheep live in terrain that is relatively mild. Many of the seasons begin in late August when the weather is very hot. In 2009, the federal government made 517,000 acres of the Owyhee desert into a designated wilderness area. This means that there are NO motorized vehicles allowed. It is likely that hunters will have to cover great distances on foot in this region. In 2014, nonresidents had 0.59% draw odds for California bighorn sheep. 338 nonresidents applied and two people drew tags.

Rocky Mountain bighorn rams all-time

The only likely place to find a ram scoring in the 180” range in Idaho is in Unit 11. Aside from Unit 11, the majority of the bighorn units will provide a chance at a ram in the 160 to 170” range. A mandatory check and report within ten days of harvest is required. The tag and horns must be brought to one of the regional offices for check in.

Idaho's top Boone and Crockett Rocky bighorn entries



Units within county

Nez Perce1711
Lemhi1420, 20A, 21, 26, 27-1, 27-2, 27-3, 27-5, 28-1, 28-2, 28-3
Valley526, 27-1
Custer227-1, 27-5, 36, 36A, 36B


Idaho's top Boone and Crockett California bighorn entries



Units within county

Owyhee140, 41-1, 41-2, 42-1&42-2, 46-1&46-2, 55


Boone and Crockett bighorn sheep entries by state



No. of entries

6New Mexico50

Why Idaho for Mountain goat

Idaho Mountain goat
A great Idaho mountain goat taken by Shaun Greear on the second day of the hunt. Photo credit: Steve Alderman

Idaho has 21 different goat hunts in the state and will issue 50 goats either sex goat tags in 2015. Hunts are typically either sex hunts with an exception for nannies accompanied by kids, which cannot be harvested. Each hunt lasts for a total of 10 weeks and all start on August 30. This gives the hunter plenty time to gamble on the weather, but do not wait too long or you may get snowed out of your selected area. Most of the resident hunters hunt earlier in order to get their pick of goats. In 2014, nonresidents had 2% draw odds for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. 189 nonresidents applied and four people drew tags.

If you are fortunate enough to draw a mountain goat tag in Idaho, you will need to be physically prepared, and you will be among goats in the 8” to 10” range. Idaho is a great destination for mountain goat hunters. A mandatory check and report within ten days of harvest is required. The tag and horns must be brought to an Idaho Fish and Game regional office for check in.

Idaho's top Boone and Crockett Rocky Mountain goat entries*



Units within county

Idaho810-2, 18, 27-4, 22
Adams318, 22

*Four other counties with one entry

Why Idaho for Shiras moose

Craig Van Arsdale with his Idaho moose
Craig Van Arsdale took this Idaho moose on day 12 of his hunt. Photo credit: Craig Van Arsdale

Idaho has some great Shiras moose opportunities with 89 different bull moose hunts to choose from that includes nearly 600 bull moose tags. The best part is that most of the hunts allow you take advantage of the moose rut in Idaho. The majority of seasons last for 13 weeks, giving the hunter plenty of options for this once-in-a-lifetime hunt. In 2014, nonresidents had 10% draw odds for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. 461 nonresidents applied and 47 people drew tags.

With 95% of the moose tags any weapon hunts, the hunter has the advantage to choose whatever he is most comfortable with. There are also a few short range weapon hunts and one archery-only hunt. On the short range weapons hunts, scoped and unscoped muzzleloaders and shotguns are allowed along with archery equipment. Note: there are antler restrictions for moose; bulls must have at least one antler over six inches in length. Moose also have a mandatory harvest and report within ten days of harvest.

Moose entries all-time

Boone and Crockett bighorn moose entries by state



No. of entries



Idaho's top Boone and Crockett moose entries



Units within county

Bonneville3763, 63A, 66A, 66-1, 66-2, 67-1, 67-2, 69-1, 69-2
Idaho2812-1, 12-2, 12-3, 12-4, 12-51416,
Caribou2366A, 69-1, 71-2, 72, 74, 75, 76-1, 76-2, 76-3
Fremont1660, 60A, 61-2, 61-3, 62, 62A, 63, 63A, 64, 65
Madison1460, 60A, 62, 63A, 64, 65, 67-1, 67-2, 60, 60A, 62, 63A, 64, 65, 67-1, 67-2
Shoshone144, 6, 7, 9, 10A-2, 10A-3, 10A-4, 10-3, 10-6

General herd conditions          

Bighorn sheep          
Idaho’s bighorn sheep biologist, Hollie Miyasaki states that “Idaho’s Rocky Mountain bighorn population is stable and might be slightly increasing.” She goes on to say “that the budget isn’t a big as she would like it to be, so the Idaho Game and Fish department can only survey a unit or two every year. A lot of the data and information comes from hunters when they do their mandatory report.” One of the areas surveyed by the department last year had a strong enough sheep population to add two more tags. Overall, sheep tag numbers are holding steady across the state.
Mountain goats
Idaho’s goat population is strong and stable enough to warrant the addition of two more tags. The two additional tags are for Unit 10, which has recently been split into two separate hunts (10-1 and 10-2). Idaho is a great state to focus on harvesting your next mountain goat. 
According to Idaho’s moose specialist, Steve Nadeau, herds have decreased in a few units, which means that those hunting opportunities were eliminated, but overall herds are healthy and thriving. Wolf predation is linked to the decrease in some areas across the state. Luckily, in other parts of the state, moose populations are on the rise. Since 2013, 22 new hunt choices have been added for moose. Without a doubt, Idaho is a top choice for moose opportunity.

Whats New for 2015

  • Drawing odds are now being offered from the previous year in the rules and regulations handbook alongside the hunt choice information. They can also be found in the tables below.
  • Unmanned aircraft (drones) have been outlawed in Idaho for the purpose of locating game or to communicate with people on the ground.

Bighorn sheep
There is a new hunt with two tags in Unit 19A. The season in Unit 17 is opening earlier and the hunt areas in Unit 28 have changed.
Mountain goat
Two tags have been added to Unit 10 and the unit has been split (10-1 and 10-2.
Any weapon bull moose hunts have been added in Units 5 and 54. An archery-only hunt has also been added in Unit 68A for bull and cow moose. A certified archery hunter I.D. is required and an archery permit must be purchased for this hunt.

The draw system: An overview

Tag or license: Game hunting license plus hunt licenses (tags) for each species.
Point System: No point system in place.
Youth: No special opportunity in the trophy species. However a tag can be transferred to a youth prior to the season starting.
Draw type: Lottery.
Resident perk: Residents are awarded 90% of the species licenses for each species.
Application: You can apply as a single person or as a party of two hunters. Residents and nonresidents can apply together, but make sure that nonresident permits are available for each hunt you apply for because applying together will put your application in the nonresident tag allocation pool. Applying as a party for these three species could eliminate you from being drawn if only one tag is available. Party applications for sheep, moose or goat is not recommended. 

Table of fees — Idaho 2015


Resident cost

Nonresident cost

Hunting license$12.75$154.75No
Youth hunting license
(9 to 17 years of age)
Youth mentored hunting license
(9 to 17 years of age)
Must be accompanied by licensed adult
Controlled hunt
application fee
Internet processing fee.
For applications submitted online 
3% of total + $3.503% of total + $3.50No
Telephone processing fee.
For applications submitted by telephone
3% of total + $5.50 3% of total + $5.50 No
Bighorn sheep tag$166.75$2,101.75Yes
Mountain goat tag$166.75$2,101.75Yes
Moose tag$166.75$2,101.75Yes

The deadline to apply is April 30, 2015 at midnight (MDT). All mailed applications must be postmarked no later than midnight (MDT) on April 30, 2015

Idaho has an easy to navigate online application system. You can apply online, by phone, mail or at any license vendor. You can apply here. All of these trophy species are once-in-a-lifetime on the harvest. You can draw a species multiple times, but can only harvest one of each species per hunter’s lifetime.

The draw: Unlocking Idaho's system           

Idaho allows two hunt choices for the species you decide to apply for. All applicants’ first choices are considered prior to any second choice being considered. With premium species like sheep, moose and goat, the available tag will be drawn with first choices only; therefore, you should never draw your second choice. You will need luck on your side when applying due to the absence of a point system.


It is the responsibility of the hunter to check and find out if they drew a tag or not. Do not rely on Idaho to contact you regarding your draw results. Be proactive and watch for draw results on the website. Tags or refunds will be received by mail no later than June 10, 2015. You can look up the results here.

Hunter Opportunity

Idaho’s vast topography allows for any hunter to enjoy any hunt that he or she feels like pursuing. From the alpine slopes of the Seven Devils to the arid desert floor of the Bruneau Canyons, there is something for everyone in Idaho. The no preference points system means you have the same chance of drawing as the next applicant.

You will have better odds with moose and mountain goat in Idaho. This is because both residents and nonresidents are limited to only one of the three species and there is a higher cost than other states in the nonrefundable fees, especially for a state with no point system. This helps to keep overall applications low.

Since there are no points in Idaho, what can I expect?

It is possible to draw a tag of your dreams the first year you apply. Unlike other states, it is not necessary that you have have a lot of points to draw. The downside to this is that you also have just as good of a chance to never draw that tag of a lifetime and since you are not building points your odds are not increasing each year. Unfortunately, you are basically taking your chances on that once-in-a-lifetime trophy Idaho species!    

Idaho big game draw FAQs

Where and how do I apply?

Applications may be submitted online here or submitted on paper through the mail. 

Is Idaho good for building points?

Idaho has no point system in place.

Can I turn my tag in if I decide not to hunt?

You cannot return your tag in Idaho once drawn, but you can request to transfer your drawn tag to a youth hunter. 

Do I have to pay permit fees upfront?

As mentioned above, you are required to front the entire fee for an annual hunting license and species tag fee. There is also an application fee and an online processing fee of 3% of the total plus another $3.50 if applying online. Of these fees, the only refundable portion is the tag fee if you are not drawn. A nonresident applying online for one species will be required to pay upfront a total of $2,342.89. If they are not successful in the draw, then they will receive a refund for the tag fee only, which is $2,101.75. The nonrefundable portion of your fees, if you are not drawn, is $241.14.

Draw odds

The draw odds table below shows the total number of nonresident applicants and the total number of nonresident tags available by species. It may be the case that a nonresident applicant is drawn and had listed a hunt choice that has no additional tags available. In this case the nonresident application would be rejected. For this reason, these draw odds listed may change. This gives an idea of the general difficulty in drawing.

Idaho's 2014 nonresident
draw odds


No. of



The draw odds in the tables below show the number of tags per unit divided by the total number of first choice applicants for resident and nonresident. Nonresidents are limited to 10% of the combined tags across any/all of the units, so draw odds for nonresidents vary depending on what units have nonresidents applying. This is an illustration of the popularity of hunt choices.

Idaho's 2015 bull moose draw odds - 714 tags


Hunt Area





Hunt Area



30011-15012% 304512-3267%
30021-11521% 304612-4233%
30031-11541% 304712-5267%
30041-22010% 304814512%
30051-2521% 304916240%
30061-21059% 3050271100%
30071-3536% 305129*118%
30081-41526% 305236A19%
30091-4545% 305344*39%
30102206% 30545055%
301121525% 305551519%
301221525% 3056541New
301331512% 305755*54%
30143526% 305859*511%
301531028% 305960 a1510%
30164205% 306060A b516%
30174511% 306161-11013%
301841013% 306261-2513%
30194A520% 306361-31016%
30205158% 306462522%
 306663 c233%
30236206% 306763A bd1516%
30246512% 3068641015%
30256519% 3069651012%
30267513% 307066-11013%
30277550% 307166-21014%
30288108% 307266A1015%
30298A107% 307367-11027%
30309510 307467-21020%
30319526% 307569-11512%
303210-16100% 307669-21512%
303310-2519% 307769-3*522%
303410-31053% 30787068%
303510-4233% 3079716New
303610-5229% 308072511%
303710-62100% 308173*55%
303810A-13100% 308274512%
303910A-2625% 308375516%
304010A-3350% 308476-11012%
304110A-4810% 308576-2724%
304210A-5429% 308676-31022%
304312-1225% 308777517%
304412-2880% 308878513%

*this unit includes other units or parts of other units.
a - short-range weapons only on Chester Wetlands WMA.
b - short-range weapons only. Limited access.
c - short-range weapons only on Mud Lakes WMA.
d - Motorboat advised for game retrieval.

Idaho's 2015 bull moose archery only
draw odds - 2 tags

Hunt No.

Controlled Hunt




Idaho's 2015 Rocky mountain bighorn
sheep draw odds - 63 tags

Hunt No.



 Hunt No.Controlled
50011110.4% 501127-424%
500219*43% 501228-124%
500420*218% 501430*24%
500520A26% 501536*14%
50062135% 501636A*23%
500726*414% 501736B*44%
500827-11224% 501837*61%
500927-2620% 501937A21%

*this unit includes other units or parts of other units.

Idaho's 2015 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
late controlled hunt odds - 5 tags

Hunt No.

Controlled Hunt




Idaho's 2015 California bighorn
sheep draw odds - 21 tags

Hunt No.

Controlled Hunt



*this unit includes other units or parts of other units.

Idaho's 2015 mountain goat
either sex - 50 tags

Hunt No.



 Hunt No.Controlled
6001112% 601236A-1*48%
60027*13% 601336A-2*17%
600510-3*25% 601636B*26%
600618*45% 601737A*15%
60072246% 60183927%
600827-2*14% 601943*37%
600927-4*28% 602050*27%
601027-528% 60216754%

*this unit includes other units or parts of other units.

Application Strategy

When there is no point system and only one choice matters, then there really is no strategy. It is as simple as picking the species of your choice and applying. Once you have selected which of these three species you intend to apply for, then you will need to make a decision as to whether you are interested in selecting from an option with better odds or standing firm by only applying for the unit that holds the highest scoring animals over the years. The same mindset holds true with any of the three species covered in this article. 

If you are interested in opportunity, then you could increase your odds by looking at the draw percentages from the prior year, which are found in the tables above or within the hunt choices in the regulations book. However, you are not the only one doing this and the odds seem to fluctuate back and forth from hunt to hunt, year after year. To be really accurate on the draw odds you need to go back for the last five years and find an average. Before you select a hunt choice solely based on drawing odds, find a hunt choice that you are physically capable of getting in and hunting. Some of the draw odds for these options are in your favor because of the ruggedness and inaccessibility of the terrain, but be careful what you put in for: in some areas, the only access might be by boat or plane. Idaho has great opportunities for the trophy hunter and non-trophy hunter a like. 
If trophy opportunity is all you are after, then we recommend that you focus on the B&C tables found in the species profiles and select the one unit that fits your needs. The animal’s size, the challenge of the animal and the difficulty of the terrain are all things you must consider when applying for these coveted tags. Identify your desired terrain type, season dates, harvest success and draw odds to narrow your search for the right unit to apply for. Our unit profiles will provide what you need to better understand the unit.

With some of the very best odds of drawing a sheep, moose, or goat tag in the country, Idaho should be a consideration on every hunter’s annual application plan. You must consider the high nonrefundable cost of applying, even if you are not given an opportunity to build points. If you are able to justify the fees, then select the species of your dreams, get in shape, and apply in Idaho!


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