Idaho Squirrel Hunting Season: [What To Know]

Idaho Squirrel Hunting Season

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data, there were more than 295,281 licensed hunters in Idaho. Many of these hunting enthusiasts look forward to the squirrel hunting season. If you’re an avid hunter, here’s what you’ll need to know before heading out to the woods for squirrels or other small game animals. 

In 2018, Idaho added the red squirrel to the small game animals, meaning people can hunt them during the regular hunting season. In addition, the Idaho code 13.01.06 300.03 classifies the Eastern gray squirrel and Eastern fox squirrel as unprotected animals, meaning you can trap or kill them anytime throughout the year. 

In this article, I’ll share essential information about the Idaho squirrel hunting season, including the season dates and some valuable tips to make the most of your hunting trip. 

If you’re an avid squirrel hunter, it’s essential to understand the rules governing small-game hunting. 

Armed with this knowledge, hunters can approach squirrel hunting responsibly and ethically while ensuring the protection of endangered or threatened species.

Idaho Squirrel Species

Idaho is home to several types of species. The two most common types are the following:

American Red Squirrel

The American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus Hudsonicus) is native to the state, and in 2018, it became a game animal. They are abundant and can be found all over Idaho’s forests. The American Red Squirrel weighs 7.1 – 8.8 oz, with a length of 11-14 inches, including their tail.

These squirrels are known for their territorial behavior and can defend their territory aggressively. They communicate through various vocalizations, including a lengthy descending trill and a chatter of assorted notes and chucks.

Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel

The Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus brunneus) is a small mammal native to western Idaho. It is a threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2000.

The population of this squirrel has unfortunately declined by 80% since 1985, so it is essential to be aware of this if you come across them during your hunting adventures.

This species is federally protected under the Endangered Species Act and classified as a threatened species. 

According to the Idaho Fish and Game website, you cannot hunt, take or possess them. 

Idaho Squirrel Hunting Season Dates

The red squirrel is the only one that has designated hunting dates. Licensed hunters can legally hunt them beginning August 30-March 31. 

As mentioned above, gray and fox squirrels have no specific hunting dates. This is because there’s an abundance of them, so the state allows anyone to kill them. 

Of course, this can change in the future. Human development has significantly impacted squirrel populations, as it has altered and destroyed much of their natural habitat. 

Small Game Animals

Below is a table of the small game animals and dates, for Idaho residents and non-residents. 

SpeciesHunting Season
Red SquirrelAugust 30 – March 31
California and Bobwhite QuailSeptember 17 – January 31
Pheasants (males only)October 8 – December 31
Chukar and Gray PartridgeSeptember 17 – January 31
Cottontail Rabbit and Snowshoe HareAugust 30 – March 31

Do You Need A License To Hunt Squirrels In Idaho?

Residents and non-residents must possess a valid hunting license to hunt any game, including squirrels. You can get one at the Idaho and Game offices, participating tackle shops, department stores, etc., or by phone at 1-800-554-8685. 

Visit this website to see the updated fees on licenses and permits.  

Hunting Regulations

When it comes to squirrel hunting in Idaho, there are specific regulations and requirements that I need to be aware of. These regulations are in place to help maintain healthy squirrel populations and ensure the safety and enjoyment of all hunters.

License Requirements

All hunters must have a valid license to hunt squirrels, small game or big game animals legally. You must also complete a hunter education course if you were born after January 1, 1975. 

For first-time hunters, Idaho offers a Hunting Passport program, which allows residents and non-residents to hunt without completing hunter education, as long as I’m accompanied by a licensed mentor.

Hunting Methods

There are several ways I can hunt squirrels in Idaho. Air rifles, like the Crosman 760 Powermaster pump air rifle, are commonly used for small game hunting. Air pistols, especially a .22 caliber air pistol, are another option.

Crossbows with a draw weight of no more than 40 pounds are also allowed.

Best Hunting Locations in Idaho

Idaho has numerous squirrel hunting spots across the state, including forests, woodlands, and mountains. 

These areas offer unique hunting opportunities that vary regarding the squirrel species available and the landscape. Some notable locations include Payette National Forest, Boise National Forest, and Sawtooth National Forest.

Public Hunting Lands

Idaho provides numerous public hunting lands, such as national forests and state-owned lands. These areas are open to all hunters, and I should always adhere to hunting regulations and respect the environment.

Private Property Hunting in Idaho

If I prefer to hunt on private property, you must first obtain permission from the landowner. It’s essential to respect the landowner’s rules and regulations and be considerate of their property.

 Private lands can offer unique hunting experiences and even more opportunities for hunting various squirrel species.

Does Idaho Have Any Protected Wildlife You Can’t Hunt?

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has a list of wildlife species classified as Protected Nongame, Threatened, or Endangered

No one can legally take or possess these species, as they’re strictly protected under Idaho law.

Some examples of protected wildlife in Idaho include:

  • Bald eagles
  • Peregrine falcons
  • Wolverines
  • Spotted frogs
  • White sturgeon

Below is a table with the protected nongame squirrel species. 

SpeciesScientific Name
ChipmunksTamias spp.
Wyoming Ground SquirrelUrocitellus elegans nevadensis
Great Basin Ground SquirrelUrocitellus mollis
Northern Flying SquirrelGlaucomys sabrinus
Golden-mantled Ground SquirrelCallospermophilus lateralis
Southern Idaho Ground SquirrelUrocitellus elegans nevadensis
Columbia Plateau Ground SquirrelUrocitellus canus


Why Are Some Squirrels Protected In Idaho?

Some squirrel species are protected in Idaho because they are considered essential members of the state’s ecosystems and are at risk of decline due to various factors, such as habitat loss, disease, and over-harvesting.

Protecting these species helps maintain the ecosystem’s balance and prevent further declines in their populations.

Hunting Tips and Techniques

Spotting Squirrels

When hunting squirrels in Idaho, locating their activity areas is essential. 

According to the Idaho Department of Fish & Wildlife, some of the best places to find squirrels in Idaho include the Boise National Forest, the Payette National Forest, and the Clearwater National Forest. 

These forests offer various habitats suitable for squirrel populations, including mixed conifer forests, hardwood forests, and sagebrush steppe habitats. 

Remember that public lands may have specific restrictions or closures during different times of the year. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to research the locations where squirrel hunting is allowed and plan your trip accordingly. Doing so can ensure that you are hunting in a permitted area and avoid any legal consequences.

Best Time to Hunt

The ideal time for squirrel hunting in Idaho largely depends on weather conditions. Favorable weather for hunting includes mild temperatures and low wind conditions. 

It is best to avoid hunting on cold, windy days when squirrels are more likely to stay hidden.

Additionally, hunting during early morning or late afternoon hours is recommended due to squirrels’ increased activity during these times. 

This will increase the likelihood of a successful and enjoyable hunt.

Equipment and Gear

Equipping yourself with the right gear can make all the difference in your hunting experience. Here is some essential hunting gear:

  • Hunting License and Permit: A valid hunting license and a small game permit is required to hunt squirrels. 
  • Boots: Sturdy and comfortable boots are essential for walking and hiking in the woods.
  • Game Bag: A bag or backpack to carry hunting gear and harvested squirrels.
  • Binoculars: for scouting squirrel activity from a distance.
  • Knife: A sharp knife is necessary for field dressing and skinning squirrels.
  • Hunting Clothing: Camouflage clothing that matches the environment can be helpful for blending in and staying hidden from squirrels.
  • Ammunition: Depending on your weapon of choice or bow used, appropriate ammunition or bolts are necessary for hunting squirrels.
  • Map and Compass: A map and compass can help you navigate in the woods and find your way back to camp or your vehicle.

Safety Tips and Considerations

Following safe hunting practices and being aware of squirrel conservation efforts is essential when hunting in Idaho.

Since some squirrel species in the state are protected, understanding local regulations and conservation initiatives is crucial for a responsible hunting experience.


I know you have questions about squirrel hunting in Idaho! So here are answers to some of the most common ones:

1. Do I need a hunting license for squirrel hunting in Idaho?

Yes, you need an Idaho hunting license to hunt squirrels. Hunting without a valid license is a misdemeanor and can result in the loss of hunting privileges. 

3. Are all ground squirrels legal to hunt in Idaho?

Some ground squirrels, such as the Northern Idaho ground squirrel, are protected in Idaho. You can legally hunt Paiute ground squirrels. In addition, if you hunt in the southwestern part of the Payette River and north of the Snake River, you won’t have to worry about encountering endangered ground squirrels. 

If you’re unsure which ones you can hunt, contact the IDFG Region office

4. How can I find information about Idaho squirrel hunting regulations?

To stay up-to-date with Idaho squirrel hunting rules, you can find free booklets and brochures at local vendors and Fish and Game offices

Final Word

Only the red squirrel is classified as a small game animal in Idaho, and you can legally hunt them during the regular hunting season. 

The Eastern gray squirrel and Eastern fox squirrel are unprotected animals because of their high population. So the state allows licensed hunters to shoot, trap and kill them year-round. 

As with any hunting activity, responsible practices are vital to preserving the environment and the squirrel populations. 

Adhering to the guidelines established by the IDFG website, hunters can continue to enjoy squirrel hunting in Idaho for years.

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