Bonus Episode: Idaho General Tags

Show Notes

On this bonus episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian covers the upcoming Idaho General Elk and Deer Tag release date on December 1st. 


Application Deadline:

December 1st at 10:00 AM Mountain Time


Application Style:

Over-The-Counter with random number based turn system


Application Cost:

Hunting License - $185 (Must have to check out, can buy ahead of time – but no refunds)

Deer - $351.75

Elk - $651.75


State Appplication Website:

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Show Transcript


You're listening to the Western Rookie, a hunting podcast full of tips, tricks, and strategies from seasoned Western hunters. There are plenty of opportunities out there, we just need to learn how to take on the challenges. Hunting is completely different up there. I've harvested 26 big game animals. You can fool their eyes, but you can't fool their nose.

300 yards back to the road turned into 3 miles back the other way. It's always cool seeing new hunters go and harvest an animal. I don't know what to expect. If there's anybody I want in the woods with me, it'll be you.

You're listening to a Western Rookie Podcast bonus episode brought to you by GoHunt. I'm super excited about this new bonus series that we're doing because part of my goal with the Western Rookie Podcast is to help each and every one of you be successful in the West. And we've talked a lot about how to hunt in the West, what kind of gear to use.

We've covered [00:01:00] different topics on species, weapons, seasons, all kinds of information. But if you've ever hunted the West, the most important step is getting that tag. And that is almost the most difficult step. when it comes to Western hunting, because each state has a different process. They have different deadlines, different costs, different systems.

Some States use a preference system. Some States use a bonus system. Some States use an over the counter system. And so what we're going to do with this bonus series is before each deadline, I'm going to release a bonus episode about a week beforehand. So he gives you plenty of time. Listen to the episode.

You can do your research, make your plan. So you can get a tag and be out in the woods and in the hills. This fall hunting, whatever species you want to hunt. And the best part is GoHunt has agreed to partner not only on this bonus series, but as the title sponsor of the entire Western. Rookie [00:02:00] podcast. I'm super excited about this folks, because I've been using the go hunt insider program for my entire Western hunting career way before I ever started podcasting.

I was using insider and filtering 2. 0 to find all the tags I've ever drawn, plan out our hunts, look at which units we want to go to. And it is truly folks, the best tool I have ever used when it comes to hunting. It has increased my happiness and success on so many different hunts. And it really takes a lot of the confusion and frustration out of planning a Western hunt, because they bring in all of the information from across all these different websites, all these state agencies, and all these different data sets of information.

And they boil it all down, very easy to understand, and they put it in their insider program. Now the insider program is 150 a year. And when you use the code [00:03:00] Western, that's W E S T E R N Western. Typically you would get 50 of store credit to the GoHunt gear shop. When you sign up for insider, or if you sign up for Explorer, which is their mapping 50 a year, you'd get 20 of in store credit at the gear shop.

But for Black Friday, I just got confirmation they're up in both of those numbers. So when you sign up for Insider using the code WESTERN during Black Friday this year, You're going to get a hundred dollars of credit to the go hunt gear shop. It's an incredible offer. I've never seen this offer come before.

And there's a lot of things you can do with that a hundred dollar credit. You're basically getting insider for 50 bucks out of pocket after you think and use that a hundred dollar credit in the gear shop. And if you're using Explorer, the 50 mapping only. You're going to get 50 of store credit during Black [00:04:00] Friday, which means you're essentially getting Explorer for free.

These are some incredible values. I've never seen the offers this high. It's a great opportunity to get Insider or Explorer and start using all the tools like GoHunt has to offer. And they've got some incredible stuff in the gear shop. Some of the highest quality hunting gear you can imagine. I've gotten gators, backpacking equipment, you name it, they have it to help you be successful for your hunt.

And so we are going to do this every. application deadline. And the first one that's coming up right now is Idaho's general tags and over the counter tags for elk and deer for the non residents, which is most of us. Idaho's non resident elk and deer tags go on sale December 1st at 10 a. m. Mountain Time.

You want them to remember this because Idaho has an over the counter system for these general tags, which means they're first come first serve. It's not [00:05:00] endless over the counter like Colorado. And so what you need to do is on December 1st, if you're interested in hunting Idaho, if you're looking for a way to hunt mule deer and elk, or even white tails this fall, Idaho might be that option for you.

If you want to get a tag for Idaho, you need to sign in on December 1st before 10 a. m. Because you will be put in a waiting room. It doesn't matter if you sign in at 930 or 945, as long as it's before 10 a. m., you're off to a good start. Because what happens is, at 10 a. m., everyone that's in the waiting room is going to get assigned a random number.

And this is going to determine your spot in line for picking a tag. If you sign in after 10 a. m., you're going to go to the end of the line automatically. So you want to make sure you are signed in. You have good internet connection before 10 a. m. At 10 a. m. When everyone gets their random number. You will be put into a waiting [00:06:00] line.

You'll be able to see your place in line, how many people are ahead of you. And you should be able to see an estimated timeline for when you will be able to pick your tag, but you want to make sure you stay tuned in. Don't get distracted. Don't be multitasking because when your time comes, these tags are going to go fast.

Certain units in Idaho sell out incredibly fast, which means you're also going to want to have. Multiple options available. You want to list maybe five or 10 different units for that species that you would be happy to go on a hunt for, because there's a good chance, depending on where your spot in line is, some of your top choices might already be taken and you don't want to put yourself in a situation where you're maybe panic buying or you don't buy anything because you don't know what units are good units left in the list or not.

And so we make that list ahead of time, because when you get in to your turn, you're going to see a live look at how many tags are left and what units are still available. [00:07:00] Now, there is no group system for this, so if you are hunting as a part of a group for elk or mule deer, Like I don't have great advice for you.

I would suggest doing a conference call with everybody in your group. Figure out when you're in the line, who's got the lowest number, who's going first. And I would be looking at units that you don't think are going to sell out as fast. Maybe look back and see which units didn't sell out on December 1st last year.

And which one's made it a little bit longer, because if you're picking up. a primo unit, especially for trophy potential in either the deer or the elk, they're probably going to go pretty fast and there's no guarantee that everyone in your group is going to get a tag. So just keep that in mind. If you're going as a group, be prepared to, to not have everyone in your group draw or get their tag.

And just. Pick units that are a little bit more realistic for everyone getting a shot at some of those units only have five or ten Tags for non residents. So just keep all that in [00:08:00] mind What is it gonna cost you to hunt in Idaho in order to buy a tag? You need to have a hunting license for Idaho the non resident hunting license is a hundred and eighty five dollars and you can either buy the hunting license ahead of time or So you don't have to worry about it when the tags go on sale, or it will prompt you to add a hunting license to your cart.

When you pick an either an elk or a deer tag, either way is fine, but be aware if you buy your tag ahead of time and you do not find a tag. When, if you buy your hunting license ahead of time, the 185 hunting license ahead of time, and you are not successful in finding an over the counter deer or elk tag, the hunting license is not refundable.

You can, however, use it to apply for a controlled tag later in 2024, but the hunting license itself is not refundable. So to be aware of that. Now, for the tag costs, [00:09:00] deer are going to cost you 351. 75, elk is going to be 651. 75. So depending on which species you pick, you're either looking at about 535 or 835.

hunting in Idaho. And I would say those are pretty comparable across the West for deer and elk tag prices. Some States might be a little bit higher. Some States might be a little bit lower but that's really right in the middle. License availability is a concern. So the easiest way to figure out how many licenses are available for non residents in each of the units for deer and for elk is to use the insider service at Gowant.

Gowant's got an article published. I'm looking at it right now. It breaks down this entire process for you and it gives you every unit, how many non resident tags are available, how many of the tags are allocated towards outfitters and what are the total tags. And so you can use that as part of the information for [00:10:00] picking units, especially if you're going in a group.

If you're trying to go as a group and for example, you pick unit 26 that only has five non-resident tags, there's a really good chance those are gonna be gone by the time everyone in your group gets a chance to pick. And so easiest place to go is go hunt insider service, find the Idaho application strategy article, and it breaks down all of these tag allocations for you.

There's a couple of quick facts. So if you're looking at Idaho, there's 84 General. Season elk units available and some of the Trap Trophy potential units are looking at 330 plus inch bulls, which is crazy If you're looking for harvest rates, some of those units with the best rates are 30 to 40 percent success rates Which is really good for an elk hunt and then Idaho has some pretty rugged country If you're just looking to disappear in the backwoods for a week, some of the units have 95 to 100 percent public land.

So [00:11:00] there's an option for everybody on the mule deer side, 87 units. Some of the units with the best trophy potential are looking at 180 to 190 inch bucks, which I've never even seen 190 inch buck in the wild. So that would be a buck of a lifetime for sure on the harvest success rate picture, 30 to 40 percent same on public land, 95 to 100%.

If you are looking for a Western white tail tag. Idaho has got some units that's got some 160 plus inch bucks in them, pushing gross boon, harvest percentage, same as the mule deer, 40%, maybe even 50%, depending on which unit you go to. So the summary here is Idaho really has a good diversity of different hunts available.

If you're looking for trophy potential, There's some pretty good units. If you're looking for harvest rates, there's some pretty good units. And if you're just looking to disappear in the woods and get that, back country off the road feel for a week, you're not going to find many units across America with a hundred percent public land.

So [00:12:00] there is definitely an option for everyone. And that should play into how you. Rank your choices, how you come up with that top 10 list of different tags and units you want to hunt. And what I like to do, I use filtering 2. 0. I already talked about it. I described everything they can do. You can filter on success.

You can filter on trophy size. You can filter on public land percentage. You get all these filters and it really helps you narrow down what you're looking for. Once you have it narrowed down, you start looking through the list. You can see on the map where these units are, if that's a concern of how close they are to your house, maybe you live nearby in Washington and Montana and Utah, and you're looking for a unit that you can maybe day hunt from home and be at home with the family every night.

That could be important to you. There's a lot of things you can look at, but once you pick a unit and you dive in. You get so much information about the unit in GoHunt's Filtering 2. 0. My favorite section, they call it the buzz, which is [00:13:00] just a great overview of the unit. So what's going on in this unit?

Is this unit heating up? Has it been hot the last couple years? Is it cooling off? Is it hard to find a buck or is it hard to find an elk in this unit? Is there a lot of pressure? Is it... You'll find all kinds of great information in this section they call the buzz. And... You find stuff like, lots of pressure, but if you get off the road, you can find some really special pockets.

They might say, lots of deer, maybe not quite all quality, but lots of opportunity at a good buck, or they might say the opposite, not a ton of elk, but when you find them, you might find some really big bulls. That I love that section. Cause it's just a couple sentences of what I can maybe expect for the unit.

Sometimes that's, as far as I look, I'll be like, Nope, that's not what I'm looking for in a unit. I'll go to the next one. If you keep reading down, they got a lot of great information. They talk about the terrain is it going to be a black timber Aspen forest? Is it going to be sage flats, all kinds of great information, depending on what you're looking for.

Keep moving. They'll talk [00:14:00] about access and camping options. They have weather outlooks, historical temp ranges for each month. But then you get down to the bottom section and they do a little bit of a breakdown for each species and units. So if you're. archery, mule deer hunting, there's a section specifically for you.

What's going on in the archery season for mule deer? Are they still up high in feeding patterns or are they starting to come down? Same for rifle. Where are the transition corridors? Where are the travel routes to the winter range? All that information is there. You can look at comments from people that have had the tag before, questions at the bottom.

It's really a great service. And the way I like to approach it for, especially for Idaho. whEn I'm thinking elk, I try to go elk hunting every single year. I haven't missed a year yet, but what's challenging about going elk hunting every year is getting a tag. Our favorite two States in our group, we talk about it all the time on the podcast, Montana and Wyoming.

These are by far our group's favorite two options. We've got a couple of units where we [00:15:00] go back to every year and have success and that's why we like them. But unfortunately with point creep. Wyoming's turning into a three or four year draw for their general take and Montana, not too far behind them.

It's becoming a, every one or two year point draw. So that means in a three or four year stretch, you're going to have to find one or two other States to hunt elk in. And if you're looking for an over the counter option, Idaho is one of two over the counter States. So you've got Colorado and you have Idaho and we've done Colorado a couple of times now with, a little bit less than desired results. And so I think the next time we come to this over the counter dilemma, we're going to be looking really hard at Idaho. And when I look at an over the counter hunt or a backup hunt, if you will, like a short term elk option, which I would say over the counter Colorado, over the counter Idaho, Montana, those are your short term elk options.

I really suggest coming up with [00:16:00] a strategy for you. Short term, mid term, long term. What does that look like for you personally? And how do these states play a role? For me, Idaho is a short term option. When I'm looking at short term options, I'm really looking for quality sorry, quantity of elk, not quality.

I'm looking for units that have a lot of elk. I'm going to get into opportunities, hopefully multiple opportunities a day. I'm not concerned with trophy size, especially on these archery hunts that our group likes to do. Everyone in our group. shoots any legal bull. Any elk with a bow is a trophy.

That's our mantra. And so I'm really looking at units that have a higher population of elk, a, maybe a higher herd ratio of bulls to cows, which you can find in the filtering 2. 0. And we want opportunity. That's just our strategy. My, my options for chasing trophy potential, that's when I get into my midterm and my [00:17:00] long term units.

Colorado might be a midterm. Wyoming is starting to be a midterm. Long term options, you have Arizona, maybe Utah Nevada, if you will. Some of the units in Wyoming, there are long term options. Some of the units in Montana for the limited entry. I have those options available to me, and so when I'm looking at an over the counter, I really want to dial in where am I going to seal out elk, where am I going to get on them fast, especially if it's a new state.

Now, that's not for everyone. You might be looking for trophy quality. You might be going to Idaho looking for that 330 inch bull and there's units there available to you so you can filter on that and find those units. They might go faster in the over the counter sale because they're probably going to have less tags.

And there's going to be a lot of hype around this unit and people are going to want to go there. So just be prepared. Maybe have a couple of the first options be those top tier units, but then don't be afraid to add in some of those [00:18:00] units that have maybe smaller trophy potentials, but larger herd sizes and bigger harvest rates for the deer side of it.

I've never hunted Idaho for either elk or deer, but for Idaho deer, man, they've got some crazy quality bucks. And I'm really at that point in my mule deer hunting journey where I'm looking for a good mule deer. I've said it on the podcast before, I've yet to have a mule deer hunt where I really get to look over some bucks and pass some bucks, wait, come back, look at more, decide, wait until I see something that really excites me.

Every mule deer hunt I've ever been on, it's been a situation of shoot the first legal buck we see, because that was the only legal buck we saw. And so I would maybe be looking more towards balancing that harvest rate with that trophy potential. I might not go all the way to the 190 trophy potential meal deer, but I might not also go all the way to the 40 or 50 [00:19:00] percent success rate.

I might try to find that sweet spot. Where is there a secret gem unit where I can get a good trophy potential, and a high harvest rate. Now, obviously these are just averages, there's great animals in almost every unit across the West. Just because it says a trophy potential is low in one unit doesn't mean there isn't a big animal in that unit.

Just because it says it's a high trophy potential doesn't mean every animal is that high of a trophy potential in that unit. They're just averages, northwest corner of Colorado, everyone would agree, some huge bulls, but they all start out as racorns. So keep that in mind. It just helps set some realistic goals.

For what you might see. If, if we're hunting a unit where the average trophy potential is 250 for an elk. I'm probably not going to be holding out for a three 50, that's just giving me an idea of what's out there on the whitetail side. I come from the Midwest grain belt. I probably wouldn't be [00:20:00] traveling all the way to Idaho to hunt a Western whitetail.

I've hunted Western whitetails before, and it's really fun. I would just maybe target like Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, because Idaho is a long ways for me. But if you're out there, that might be a great option for you. I really don't have a preference if you're looking for trophy potential or if you're looking for or harvest rates.

All of these things can be available. In Idaho. So it's a great state. So that's the strategy. Now, if you want to get the full details, if you want to unlock everything that go on has for how to pick a unit, I strongly encourage getting the insider. It comes with all of their tools. It comes with mapping.

It comes with filtering 2. 0. It has all their strategy articles. It is a great service. I really suggest you get it. It's going to simplify a lot of things for you. But once you find your units, definitely take a look at the map. You definitely [00:21:00] want to know what you're signing yourself up for when you go to a unit, just because the stats look good.

It might not be a great fit for you, or it might be an amazing fit. Despite the stats not being what you thought they should be. So what do I mean by that? If you find a units, you write down your top 10 list, go check the map, make sure it's got the access you like to hunt. How, what are the road situations?

Are there too many roads? Are there not any roads? Make sure you know what the terrain looks like. Are you someone that likes to hunt steep country and get away from the crowd? Or are you not that person? I don't like to hunt steep country. If I don't have to, I'll be the first to admit that. So just make sure you know what you're getting into, what the habitats like.

If you're looking for that deep timber Aspen habitat, you'll want to check the map and make sure it's not a bunch of sage flats in that unit. And the 3D mapping at GoHunt can be a great service for that. There's lots of maps out there, but just make sure you check the map and know [00:22:00] what you're signing yourself up for.

If those lines start getting really tight, that's a big red flag for me. I don't want to be billy goating up and over mountains too much if I don't have to. And so check that map, make sure you know what you're getting yourself into, make your top 10 list or your top five list and come to December 1st, ready to get that tag and start the 2024 season.

That's all for this episode. The next one I believe we have is Alaska, which is a really interesting one. I'm not sure many people have applied for Alaska in the past. And so that'll be next, but thank you for listening and good luck with application season this year. I want to see you get a tag. And one last time, if you are looking to sign up for insider or explorer, this black Friday special they have going on is a can't miss opportunity.

Use the code Western to sign up for insider, and you're going to get a hundred dollars of credit to the go hunt gear shop. [00:23:00] If you're signing up for Explorer, the mapping only option, use the code Western, you're going to get 50 of in store credit at the GoHunt gear shop, which Explorer is only a 50 product.

So you're basically getting GoHunt's mapping tools for free. So keep that in mind. If you're looking to increase the knowledge, if you're looking to use all of the tools we've talked about today, this black Friday special is amazing. I've never seen this good of a, if a gear shop promo for the go hunt insider or go hunt mapping services, use the code Western.

There'll be a link down below the codes in the description, get the tools. Get that tag this year and good luck on the hills.[00:24:00]