Idaho has populations of Rocky Mountain Bighorn and California Bighorn Sheep. Idaho’s stereotypical mountain country is home to the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. California bighorns live in the high desert country of Southern Idaho, and count towards a Rocky Mountain for those of you going for you Sheep Slam. When applying for bighorn sheep, Idaho should be on your short list. With no point system in place and applicants limited to applying for only one once-in-a-lifetime species per year, Idaho is going to be your best bet at beating the odds of drawing a sheep tag.
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Idaho are doing well.
Rocky Mountain bighorns live in the central mountains from Hells Canyon as the west border to Montana as the border to the east and Highway 84 as the border to the south. Much of the terrain in this area is some of the steepest, most rugged and remote wilderness country found anywhere. There are a few physically easier hunts to choose from, but for most of these hunts, plan on using horses, floating the river through, flying into the wilderness, or backpacking in to access sheep country.
While the average ram coming from Idaho is typically in the low to mid-160s, there are a handful of 170” class rams and a few 180″+ harvested each year. If you are only looking for a 190″ ram, your choice is easy – you need to apply for unit 11 in Hells Canyon.
California bighorns occupy southern Idaho’s Great Basin canyon and rangelands south of Interstate 84.
All of the California bighorn sheep units are physically easy compared to the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep units. With exception to unit 46, the California sheep population is stable. Unfortunately, sheep numbers in 46 continue to decline and IDFG has cut a tag on this hunt as a result. The other herds are doing well, and in 2020, 15 of the 17 California bighorn hunters were successful. If a hunter is in decent shape and gets off the road and hunts hard, he should have no problem filling his tag with a mature ram.
How to Get an Idaho Sheep Tag
- You can apply for an Idaho sheep hunting tag through the annual Idaho Fish and Game lottery. You must buy a hunting license and apply during the month of April.
- Each winter Idaho auctions off a statewide sheep tag at the national Wild Sheep Foundation convention. It usually sells between $30,000 & $120,000. (Unit 11 is excluded every other year.)
- Idaho offers an annual raffle for a statewide sheep tag administered through the Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation. (Unit 11 is excluded every other year.)
We work with some truly exceptional sheep hunting outfitters in Idaho. When you draw a tag, be sure to get in touch with us for recommendations.
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