Bird Hunting in Idaho

Bird Hunting for Grouse, Quail, Chukar, and More 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. 

Game SpeciesDatesDaily/Possession LimitsRestrictions
Forest Grouse (Dusky, Spruce, Ruffed) – Area 1Aug 30, 2020 – Jan 31, 20214/12 (combined)See https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/upland for definition of Area 1
Forest Grouse (Dusky, Spruce, Ruffed) – Area 2Aug 30 – Dec 31, 20204/12 (combined)Rest of state
California and Bobwhite QuailSept 19, 2020 – Jan 31, 202110/30 (combined)Season limited to: Ada, Adams, Benewah, Blaine, Boise, Bonner, Boundary, Camas, Canyon, Cassia, Clearwater, Elmore, Gem, Gooding, Idaho, Jerome, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Lincoln, Minidoka, Nez Perce, Owyhee, Payette, Shoshone, Twin Falls, Valley, and Washington
counties ONLY. Rest of state is CLOSED.
Gambel’s and Mountain QuailCLOSEDNONE
ChukarSept 19, 2020 – Jan 31, 20218/24
Hungarian PartridgeSept 19, 2020 – Jan 31, 20218/24
Sage GrouseSeason to be set by mid-August1Permit validation required
Sharp-tailed GrouseOct 1 – 31, 20202/6See https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/upland for definition of Area 1. Permit validation required.
Pheasant – Area 1Oct 10 – Dec 31, 20203/9, cocks onlyBenewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Idaho, Kootenai, Latah,
Lewis, Nez Perce, and Shoshone counties.
Pheasant – Area 2Oct 17 – Nov 30, 20203/9, cocks onlyBannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark,
Custer, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison, Oneida,
Power, and Teton counties. See https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/upland for additional rules for WMAs.
Pheasant – Area 3Oct 17 – Dec 31, 20203/9, cocks onlyAda, Adams, Blaine, Boise, Camas, Canyon, Cassia, Elmore,
Gem, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, Owyhee, Payette,
Twin Falls, Valley, and Washington counties (including all islands
in the Snake River except Patch and Porter Islands). See https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/upland for additional rules for WMAs.
Pheasant – youthOct 3 – 9, 20203/9, cocks only

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. This information was last updated August 6, 2020.

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 also find in Idaho, too. Dusky grouse, also known as blue grouse, inhabit the mountains of Idaho. 

The daily bag limit for forest grouse is 4 in aggregate of the three species. 

Chukar

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 daily bag limit for chukar is 8 birds.

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. 

There are three separate areas defined for pheasant hunting and the season dates vary by area. There is a daily limit of three birds (cocks only), with special rules and permits necessary for Wildlife Management Areas (WMA).

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. 

There is a daily bag limit of 2 birds. You will also need to purchase a separate permit to hunt sharp-tailed grouse in Idaho.

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 daily bag limit is 10 in aggregate. Note that there is no legal hunting season for mountain or Gambel’s quail. Quail hunting is not open state-wide; check regulations for the legal areas to hunt quail.

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. There is a short season that requires a special permit to hunt sage grouse. Gray partridge (Hungarian partridge) is another great species for bird hunting in Idaho, with a daily bag limit of 8 birds.  

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 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 if captive game birds will be released.

COVID-19 Restrictions and Updates for Idaho Hunting

There are no restrictions on the hunting season due to COVID-19, but the State of Idaho reminds hunters to observe social distancing practices and stay home if you feel unwell. Any changes will be communicated via the Idaho Department of Fish and Game COVID website.

Hunter education courses are being conducted online and the field day requirement is temporarily waived.

License Requirements for Bird Hunting in Idaho

In addition to the fee table below, hunters must pay an Access-Depredation Fee for the first annual license purchased each year. It is not applicable to additional or daily licenses. The Access-Depredation Fee is $5 for resident adults and $10 for non-resident adults; $2 for resident youth and $4 for non-resident youth.

License*ResidentNon-Resident
Hunting – annual$15.75$97.75 (not valid first 5 days of pheasant season)
Non-resident 3 day small game$35.50 (not valid first 5 days of pheasant season)
Junior hunting (10-17 yrs)$8.25$31.75
Sage/Sharp-tailed grouse permit$5.75$5.75
Upland game bird permit (required for pheasant hunting on WMAs)$28.75$51.75

* License fees, laws, and availability is subject to change. For the latest information please go to https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/upland The last update of this information was on August 6, 2020.

Last modified: August 25, 2020

5 Responses to :
Bird Hunting for Grouse, Quail, Chukar, and More 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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