Find your hunting getaway in Idaho

There is lots of public land for hunting, and some private land, too.

rphillips@idahostatesman.comSeptember 12, 2013 

_MG_7630.JPG

Slopes above Brownlee Reservoir provide thousands of acres of public hunting land.

ROGER PHILLIPS — rphillips@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

In some states, finding a good place to hunt can be as challenging as finding a wary buck, but Idaho has lots of prime lands to offer a dedicated hunter.

Idaho has a wealth of public land for all types of game. If you’re new to the area, or you’ve only recently started hunting, consider these as good places to start.

But beware: The more accessible it is, the more people are likely to be there, so you’re going to have competition.

SNAKE RIVER

Southern Idaho’s largest main waterway crosses a mix of private and public lands. The river has lots of waterfowl and upland game, and there is a lot of public land adjacent to the river, as well as public islands in it.

If you’re boating, almost the entire Snake is open for hunting.

You can find the main river and side sloughs filled with ducks and geese; islands with quail and pheasants; and toward Brownlee Reservoir, chukars on rocky slopes.

Where: A good source of information on public access points can be found at snakeriverwatertrail.org, which shows boat launches along the river.

Note: Some islands in the river are private property, so if they’re posted “no trespassing,” stay off them.

FORT BOISE WMA

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game manages several wildlife management areas that are open for hunting.

This one is near Parma, and it is a favorite for upland bird and waterfowl hunters, which means it gets crowded. But it’s a large area with numerous ponds and large swaths of grass and brush patches.

There are numerous ponds and sloughs in the area for waterfowl hunters, as well as access to the Boise and Snake rivers.

Pheasants are stocked at the WMA starting in October, and there’s also quail.

The WMA also includes Gold Island in the Snake River, both of which are accessible by boat.

Where: It’s northwest of Parma. There are several access points to the WMA. For a map, go to fishandgame.idaho.gov, and click on “Hunting” and “Hunting Access/Maps.”

Note: Upland bird hunters must wear orange, and pheasant hunting does not start until 10 a.m.

C.J. STRIKE RESERVOIR BRUNEAU/GRAND VIEW

This huge area around C.J. Strike Reservoir has waterfowl, upland game and some big-game hunting. Several areas along the south shoreline of the reservoir have stocked pheasants with parking areas and kiosks with maps showing the public hunting land.

The upper end, where the Snake River dumps into C.J. Strike Reservoir around Loveridge Bridge off Idaho 51, is popular for waterfowl hunting. It has numerous islands and ponds that are good waterfowl habitat, as well as access points to the river and some public land around Grand View.

Idaho Power owns and operates the 270-acre Turner Ranch along the Bruneau River, which is managed as a youth hunting area. Adults can accompany the youths, but they cannot hunt there.

The ranch has fields, natural cover, ditches, river frontage and fields. There are upland birds and waterfowl, but pheasants are not stocked there. For maps, go to idahopower.com and look for “Wildlife Habitat” under the “Our Environment” header.

There are also scattered parcels of land open for public hunting in the Bruneau area owned by Idaho Fish and Game, and there are vast tracts of lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management south of Bruneau and Grand View.

Where: South of Mountain Home. You can access the upper end of the reservoir and Bruneau from Idaho 51, or Grand View and the area below the dam from Idaho 67.

Check the maps at fishandgame.idaho.gov; click on “Hunting” and “Hunting Access/Maps.”

Notes: If you’re hunting where pheasants are stocked at C.J. Strike, you must wear orange, and pheasant hunting does not start until 10 a.m.

MONTOUR WMA

This popular spot for stocked pheasants is located along the Payette River near its namesake of Montour between Horseshoe Bend and Emmett. It’s about 45 minutes from Boise. It’s a mix of natural cover and agricultural fields, with lots of ditches running through the area.

It has several access points, and there’s also some waterfowl hunting nearby on the Payette River.

Where: Located off Idaho 52 between Emmett and Horseshoe Bend. Check the maps at fishandgame.idaho.gov; click on “Hunting” and “Hunting Access/Maps.”

Notes: If you’re hunting where pheasants are stocked, you must wear orange, and pheasant hunting does not start until 10 a.m.

BOISE RIVER WMA

This is the largest of Idaho Fish and Game’s wildlife management areas in Southwest Idaho, and it encompasses thousands of acres of land around Lucky Peak Reservoir.

It’s all big-game range, and there are opportunities for upland game birds as well.

This WMA provides vast tracts of land for big-game hunters. Deer are the most common animals, but there are also elk, bear, mountain lion and pronghorn.

Hunters can often find quail in the creek bottoms and brushy areas where there are springs and seeps available. There’s also some partridge and chukar hunting, and forest grouse hunting at the higher elevations.

Where: The most popular access points are located off Idaho 21 and Blacks Creek Road east of Boise and north of Interstate 84.

Check the maps at fishandgame.idaho.gov; click on “Hunting” and “Hunting Access/Maps.”

LAKE CASCADE

This large reservoir is a waterfowl magnet in the fall and has lots of public access, especially when the reservoir is low and vast mudflats are exposed.

There’s good waterfowl hunting for boaters or those who prefer to walk in.

Prime hunting areas are at the north end of the reservoir in the Payette and Lake Fork arms and near Sugarloaf Campground.

Where: It’s about 75 miles north of Treasure Valley on Idaho 55.

Notes: It’s open and exposed, so portable blinds are your best bet, or a boat blind.

FOREST SERVICE LAND

Forests offer huge tracts of land for hunting and are the breadbasket for big game hunters.

The three major national forests in Southwest Idaho are the Boise, Payette and Sawtooth.

The best way to find these areas is to buy a National Forest Service map for each area, which are available at sporting goods stores or at Forest Service offices, such as the headquarters at 1249 S. Vinnell Way in Boise, which also houses BLM offices.

There’s a wide variety of maps for public lands available there.

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

Much of the public land south of the Snake River is managed by the BLM. This area also includes vast tracts of public lands, which are often intermingled with large private ranches.

Having a good map of the area can be critical to staying on public land for hunters, and while it may seem desolate, the desert teems with wildlife.

ACCESS YES PROPERTIES

These are private lands that Idaho Fish and Game leases for public hunting access.

Access Yes properties host a variety of hunting opportunities. Some land owners enrolled in the program provide unlimited access, while other want to be notified before you hunt there. These properties change from year to year, so make sure you check to check at fishandgame.idaho.gov. Scroll to the bottom of the home page and click on the Access Yes logo.

GPS HUNTING MAPS

Distinguishing between public and private lands can be tricky, even if you’re an excellent map reader.

One sure-fire way to make sure you’re on public lands and also find those small parcels of public land mixed with private land is with a program from Montana-based Hunting Maps GPS.

You install the company’s map overlay on your GPS, and it shows land ownership, while the GPS lets you know exactly where you are at all times.

The owners of private land parcels are also listed if you’re seeking permission to hunt private lands but don’t know who to contact.

You can find the program at sporting goods stores, or go to huntinggpsmaps.com.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service