Bear Hunting the Pacific Northwest Idaho – a state like no other! Image

Bear Hunting the Pacific Northwest Idaho – a state like no other!

Updated: June 30th 2017 @ 8:47am

bears guides hunting idaho

Never will I forget my first encounter in those beautiful Rocky Mountains.  A splendor and peacefulness that simply cannot be found anywhere else in my opinion.  Add to that, as I scanned the dense woods floor, I caught movement approximately 20 yards behind the already-hit bait.  It was a black bear – and not just any bear.  He was a whopping 6 foot, 6-inch bruiser that offered a perfect broadside shot.  As my late husband John and I skinned the bear and prepared to get him to the vehicle, we could not help but reminisce several bears we harvested over the years at this precise bait site.

Many areas of Idaho offer reduced bear tags simply because they want to reduce the number of bruins.  Something worth mentioning however, is that not all of Idaho is equivalent.  There are some areas that include a very low number, while others are abundant.  So, how do you know where to go?  Read on!

Idaho is divided into several game management units.  For instance, hunt units 17 and 20 boast an abundance of bear, many of which are off-colored.  For example, you may get a cinnamon or chocolate or possibly a blonde color phase black bear.   

Bitterroot Outfitters owned and operated by Tom and Shannon Henderson are based in Hamilton, Montana and guide bear hunters in Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and breathtaking Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (both located in game units 17 and 20).  They guide bear hunters spring and fall, but spring is probably your best opportunity to take a bear. 

When spring arrives, bruins are just coming out of hibernation and very hungry. While in hibernation, their bodies have burned all the calories and fat they acquired before hibernation. Hunting fall season is risky business because you never know how hungry the bears will be.  They may have had a bumper crop of huckleberries, raspberries, strawberries, elderberry, etc. and when you arrive in the fall, the bears are already moving slower and much sleepier as they prepare for another long winter nap.

As of this writing, Idaho spring bear hunting season begins in game units 17 and 20 on April 1 and runs through June 30.   Their fall season dates are August 30 thru November 30.  For more information on other game unit black bear season dates, please refer to page 67 – 69 of

Now that you can hardly wait to get to Idaho, here is what needs to be done:

Contact Tom and Shannon at Bitterroot Outfitters via their website –  From their home page, you have access to their phone number, email address, bear hunt information and the registration page.  They do require $1,000 non-refundable deposit with each individual registration page.  Keep in mind, although the deposit is non-refundable, you can purchase insurance should plans change.  Tom and Shannon are well-known for their hospitality throughout the area.  They work very hard for their hunters, so depending upon the time of year, it may take a while before you hear back from them.  If they are in the back-country, there are no cell phones, internet, etc.

            Bitterroot Outfitters offers both 3 and 6 day hunts.  Cost is $1,600 or $2,600 respectively. 

            Second item on your Priority list will be taking care of your Idaho license expense.  Here is a table that includes resident and non-resident fees:






















    *Not necessary to purchase bait permits if you are using a guide. 


When my husband John passed away, I did not know if I would ever get back to “our” playground again.  However, I can honestly say that since my first trip back to Idaho in 2016, I eagerly await my return in 2017!  There’s just something about those mountains – you will see exactly what I mean when you get there!


-Vikki Trout 

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