Bird Hunting in Idaho

Bird Hunting in Idaho

Who knows how many grouse are hiding in Idaho. Isn’t it time you found out? 

More than 50 million acres of Idaho is publicly-owned. That certainly puts the state in the top ranks for public land and national parks, but what does Idaho have? Quite a bit, actually. Idaho is one of the most mountainous and forested states in the country, with all sorts of treasures waiting to be discovered. And few other states have five different kinds of grouse all within reach. There are parts of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness still left untouched by humanity. The parts of Idaho that have been touched can still be difficult to access. That is why programs like Access Yes! exist, which so far has opened about 400,000 acres of private land and 500,000 acres of public land. 

Barring the option of locking fees, residents pay $15.75 for an annual hunting license. This does not include the $2 access-depredation fee which you’ll need when first buying a license for the year. Nonresidents pay $97.75 for an annual hunting license and $10 for the access-depredation fee. A nonresident license is not valid for the first five days of pheasant season. A 3-day license costs $35.50. 

Grouse Species

Ruffed grouse in Idaho are not exactly the same thing as ruffed grouse in other places. They’re less experienced with being chased by avid hunters and can sometimes be found just hanging out by the side of the road. Depending on who you ask, their behavior might have more in common with spruce grouse — which you can find in Idaho, too. Dusky grouse, also known as blue grouse, inhabit the northern mountains of Idaho. 

The season for Area 1 opens August 30 and closes January 31. Area 2 opens the same day, but closes December 31. The daily bag limit for forest grouse is 4 in aggregate of the three species. 


Idaho has some of the best chukar hunting in the Pacific Northwest. They prefer arid areas with sagebrush and much of the population resides in southern Idaho.

The season opens September 16 and closes January 31 with a daily bag limit of 8.

Ring-Necked Pheasant

The population of pheasant in Idaho has declined sharply in recent years. If you really want to find pheasant while bird hunting in Idaho, you might have to look hard. Southwest Idaho might be good, as well as the southeast. 

Area 1 opens October 14 and closes December 31, while Area 2 opens October 21 and closes November 30. Area 3 opens the same day, but closes December 31. There is a daily bag limit of 3. Adults will need to buy a $51.75 permit for hunting in wildlife management areas. 

Columbian Sharp-Tailed Grouse 

Idaho boasts one of the largest populations of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in America. Good places to look are in the southeast including both Power and Oneida counties. Conservation Reserve Program fields offer some of the best opportunities for hunting sharp-tailed grouse. 

The season opens October 1 and closes October 31 with a daily bag limit of 2. You will need to purchase a $5.75 permit. 

Quail Species

While Idaho has both bobwhite and California quail, you’ll probably have an easier time finding California quail. Their range goes from southern Idaho all the way up to the beautiful Palouse region in the Idaho Panhandle bordering Washington. They prefer to be near streams or rivers that have dense cover for them to escape predators. 

The season opens September 16 and closes January 31. The daily bag limit is 10 in aggregate. 

Other Species for Bird Hunting in Idaho 

There are plenty of other species for bird hunting in Idaho. Sage grouse are distributed across sagebrush habitats and are mostly limited to areas in southern parts of the state. The season runs from September 16 to 22. There is a daily bag limit of 1 and you will need to purchase a permit. The season for gray partridge, another great species for bird hunting in Idaho, opens September 16 and closes January 31 with a daily bag limit of 8.  

Related Conservation and Non-Profit Organizations for Idaho Bird Hunting

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

Ruffed Grouse Society

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association

The Hunter Safety Course and Dog Training for Bird Hunting in Idaho

Anyone born after December 31, 1974, will need to complete an approved hunter education course before purchasing a license. There is an internet course and field day option available for anyone 9 years old or older. Idaho also offers a hunting passport, which lets any first-time hunters older than 8 to hunt without having to complete an education course. They will need to be accompanied by an adult mentor. 

You will need a sport dog and falconry training permit in order to train your dog for bird hunting in Idaho.

The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for the most up to date information on bird hunting in Idaho.

Last modified: August 10, 2018

5 Responses to :
Bird Hunting in Idaho

  1. jeff says:

    Blue grouse are found throughout the mountains of Idaho, not just northern Idaho. I have hunted blue grouse a few miles north of the Nevada border. Your comments are grossly too vague.

  2. Brian R says:

    There’s five different species of Grouse in Idaho: Mountain Grouse (Ruffed, Dusky, Spruce), Greater Sage-grouse & Columbian sharp-tailed grouse. All these grouse are native birds. Then there’s the invasives: Pheasants, Chukar, Hungarian Partridge & Quail. There’s also Dove season as well as Turkey seasons, giving hunters an opportunity to harvest 11 different species of birds in the state. There’s also no closed season on Eurasian Collared Doves, another invasive species.

    A sport dog training permit is only required if you are releasing game birds (chukar, pheasants, ducks, etc.) in the course of training. You can run your dog on wild birds and shoot pigeons to your heart’s content without needing to a permit.

    Montana has better sharptail country, Nevada has better Chukar country, the Dakotas are the best for pheasants and you should go to Arizona for quail and doves. You should check out those states first!

    1. A.J. DeRosa says:

      Great information thank you!

    2. Tony Garbo says:

      But no state has as many within easy driving distance AND waterfowl (now including swan) AND fishing that is awesome.

  3. Jay Nelson says:

    Hunters should be aware that the Idaho legilature passed a new trespass law that removes the posting requirement for private land and imposes severe penalties for even first time offenders. If you come here, be damn sure you know where you are at all times.

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