Hunting moose in Idaho
For many hunters, drawing a moose tag is one of the most exciting moments of the year. Moose hunting in Idaho is a controlled hunt, and in order to apply to hunt this trophy species, you will need to have an Idaho hunting license and apply to Idaho Fish and Game between April 1-30 for a controlled hunt tag. If there are tags left over which have not been assigned, you can apply for the late draw, usually held in August.
Moose are found all over the state of Idaho, although their range changes and so one area may be experiencing declining numbers, while another may find the number of moose in their region increasing. 50 years ago Idaho's moose population was numbered below 1000 animals. Those estimates have increased to between 10,000 and 12,000 moose in Idaho, providing the opportunity for more hunters to tag one of these trophy animals. Hunters will not be able to hunt moose every year like they would deer, but will only be able to harvest one bull and one cow in their lifetime.
Even though the numbers of moose have increased greatly, the chances of a hunter actually getting a moose will increase if they use certain skills and tactics during their hunt. Doing research before the hunt actually arrives will help you to find out where the moose are, which will usually be away from human traffic. The tag that you draw will determine the area that you're allowed to hunt in, but it will not tell you where the most moose will be, or even where the most hunters will be. Hunting with the masses will reduce your chances, not only because there will be less moose per human capita, but because more human activity in an area will scare away the animals.
Doing some preseason scouting of the area in which you have drawn a tag will help you become familiar with the location, and will help you to recognize signs that moose frequent that area. Some hunters make use of trail cameras as part of their research, helping them to identify areas of moose habitat. Google Earth can also be of assistance if you are unfamiliar with your tag area, as it can help you identify elevations, wooded areas, and places where water would be a draw for the wildlife.
To increase your success you will probably need to do some moving around. Hunt fringe areas and timbered areas. During the rut, or breeding season (which is one of the best times to hunt moose), cows will congregate around lakes and ponds, which will in turn attract the bulls. Any areas which have sources of food and water for the animals will be good areas in which to hunt. Moose will stay in the higher elevations early in the season while it is still warm, but the later in the season that you hunt, the deeper into the forest you will need to go, so be sure to be prepared to be able to find your way back out with GPS or a good compass. Moose have a great sense of smell, and so when you are setting up your camp, don't set it up close to the area that you intended to hunt. Set up a little distance away so that the noises and smells of your camp will not scare away any moose that maybe nearby. While you need to be far enough away to avoid detection, you also want to minimize the distance that you will have to carry back hundreds of pounds of meat once you have made the kill.
Seasoned hunters often find that using birch bark or a fiberglass moose call is an exciting way to hunt moose. Using a moose call, or using an old bone or antler to rake trees, will fool the moose into thinking that there is another moose nearby and will be drawn to the location. Learning how to mimic a calf moose in distress can also draw in a cow moose who comes to investigate. Some hunters even make use of moose decoys, which, although they are much larger than duck decoys, are used in the same way that duck decoys are used, by making the moose think that there is a friend in the neighborhood he should come and visit. This is especially useful when the decoy looks like a cow moose, as it will draw a bull to that location. This will also help keep the attention of the bull away from you the hunter, and onto the decoy.
Learn to recognize fresh signs that a moose has been in the area. Learn the difference between fresh and old droppings, rubs and tracks. Check for bedding areas as moose will often use the same bedding areas year after year. When you spot a moose be sure and stay downwind as you try to get close enough for a shot, so that the moose is not spooked by your smell.