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Hey everyone, first topic post but I am trying to plan an archery elk hunt for Fall 2018. So far, I really like what Idaho has to offer. I understand that it will be fixed blades only, no lighted nocks, and the expectations on units in the state may require some deeper digging on my part. But I'm just looking for advice about best time of year (Thinking mid-Sept), other web-areas to research, and OTC, non-resident tag purchase. I've been looking at the bottom of the state (Smokey-?, Snake River area, anything more open as that is what my limited experience has been in thus far). I'm also coming out of Kansas City, Mo and would have 9 days (including 2-3.5 days of travel) to allot for this hunt. This would be my first elk hunt but not my first western hunt (if you consider western Nebraska, west). Physical limitations wont be an issue and i would like to think I'm half-competent. Again, not looking for secret spots or anything. Just some advice on maybe equipment (footwear/sleep system especially), state regs I may not be privy too, and any elk knowledge.
Thank you all for your time, Joe
One suggestion I have is to apply for a controlled hunt since you have to fork out the $160+ for a license anyway (Idaho is a random draw state). Another is to find roadless areas WITH OHV restrictions. You'll still have idiots not following the rules...but not as many.
Timing is a tough call. Early = hot temps but unpressured elk. They can still be called in.
Mid = more pressure but more bugling.
Late = slightly less pressure, still some bugling but a higher chance of bad weather. It was a mudfest the last week this year. However, if you are in a ways dealing with weather odds are pressure will be low.
Joe, I went to Idaho last year. Drove out from Wichita KS. Hunted mid October for Deer and Elk.
This is my .02 cents. You will need two days driving out and two days driving back. It is a long way! When you figure in stopping to buy groceries, setting up camp and breaking camp down it is a long process. On the way out I stopped in Kemmerer Wy. Then made it to Pocatello ID the next morning to get groceries and a wolf tag. Then headed to the hills to make camp and was ready to start scouting the next morning. On the way back I left early thinking I could make it back to KS. Started driving down the canyon around 0500. 4 miles in I almost hit an cow and calf elk. 10 miles in I almost hit 4 mule deer. After that I slowed down. Made it to western Colorado before I called it quits and got a hotel. My GPS showed me getting home at 0300 in the morning if I had not stopped. To me it's not worth it to push that hard.
The hunting was good but not great. The were deer and elk around. Locals said last year was hard on the deer. We got lucky and were able to find a few. The elk were there but I have a curse so they were never in any real danger. My friend who is an Idaho resident hunted a lot and was not able to fill his tag either. The elk we were on, were still bugling but I never heard a cow call. In fact cow calls seemed to make them run to the next hill side. Your experience may be different.
I am not an expert. I have hunted Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah for elk. I will tell you this is BIG country. I Colorado if you walk 5 miles you feel you are getting close to a road or trail that is coming in from the other side. In Idaho if you walk 5 miles you are just 5 miles away from where you started waking. The area we were in was also very steep. All the states I have hunted have had steep areas. It seems like everything in ID is steep! Not trying to scare you. Just my observation.
Talk to the biologist and game wardens. They were very helpful. I did get checked in the field one day. The warden was very professional and helpful. As a matter of fact he forgot to tell us we were getting close to a unit boundary when he checked us. He came back to the trail and ran up to our location to let us know we were getting close to going into another unit. The Idaho Fish and Game people I talked to were great.
On that note. Make sure you have a good map or GPS. I used On X and Avenza to make sure I stayed in my units.
As for gear make sure you have an ax or chain saw. It snowed on us and took down tarps we had set up and knocked down trees in camp. Has to cut them up to get out of camp to go hunting. I would have snow chains as well even in September. I used Crispis insulated Nevada boots. They were just about perfect. There were a few days were it was single digits in the morning and my feet got cold. But my feet are always cold. I used a military sleep system as I was staying in a wall tent. In September I think you could get away with a good 20 degree bag. Might need a local to chime in on that one. I would have a good pack frame ready to go. But I also would have a light weight set up with daypack or lumbar pack with the bare essentials. I used both setup. Like I said there are some really step areas. It's nice to grab a bottle of water, a power bar and a lighter and go for a walk in some of that terrain. If you go by yourself make sure someone know where you are headed.
Great state for an adventure. I was there for two weeks. I will go back but only after I have enough leave to stay for two weeks again. It's a long drive and there is a lot of country for the elk to hide in. Throw in the wolves and a snow storm and it can be a tough state to hunt. I would stay longer if you can somehow manage it.
9 days with travel from Mo doesn’t leave much time to learn a new area, especially considering your a new elk hunter. Personally I would look at CO or a Gen tag in wy and save travel time while your at the beginning of the learning curve.
And another 2 cents.
It is rugged country. You will need much more time like others said. Many areas get so much ATV pressure, regardless what the laws are.
There are many other options out there.
It’s great that your planning now, it gives you plenty of time to research.
Idaho is beautiful country.
Thank you very much for the replies and inboxes! I'm still looking into a lot but the information has been extremely helpful.
Thank you everyone, Joe
I like the Southeastern Units for bow elk.
Some crowd control on the holiday and on the wknds but during the week not bad at all. Lots of grazing Sheep/cattle in many area's.
Good luck, Robb
30 years ago my father-in-law and me were crawling up out of a canyon (I say crawling because we could actually reach down and grab roots to help us up). I told him god was watching out for us. He asked why and I said we hadn't been able to kill any of the elk we were chasing.
Much of Idaho really has no trails. On another hunt the guy with horses told me to not hunt down several canyons because he wouldn't go there with the horses.
I've hunted more than a few times in Idaho and down around the north fork of the Clearwater..... Colorado and Wyoming mountains are hills compared to Idaho. LKH, I can relate, we went down one side of a mountain and the seat of my pants never left the ground.
KC9 I beg to differ. The highest mountain in Idaho is 12,662 (elevation) Colorado highest mountain is 14,439 ft. (elevation), and Colorado has 58 mountains over 14,000 ft. and 759 mountains over 13,000 ft. I don't think referring to mountains of Colorado as "HILLS" would be an accurate description.
KC9 your right about the mountains in Idaho. I got a friend that live in Idaho and he won't even hunt the bitter root area. Lewis and Clark almost didn't make it in those mountains worst part of their trip. It's like taking the steps or climbing the side of the building.
zimmy- I have hunted CO, WYO, NM and ID. I understand KC9's point. I don't think he is discounting the altitude. The mountains in CO and WYO are what I consider "traditional". Rough/rugged terrain with meadows and parks. Where I hunted in ID, it was steep and flat spots did not exist. The ridge tops are knife edge. The bottom the drainages is shaped like a "V". From an unrelenting standpoint, ID trumps anywhere I have hunted.
You know I live in Orofino, the gateway the North Fork of the Clearwater on the Clearwater NF. I have hunted in WY, MT, VT, and NY/PA. I can tell you that the mountains in Idaho are not as broad and gradual, they are young, sharp and steep as hell. One trick if you come out here to hunt is to use google earth for movement corridors: saddles, finger ridges, etc. I bow hunt only these funnels and do quite well. You can try calling, but remember that calls only bring wolves. Rules for calling in wolf country: (1) only call when they are talking naturally and don't call loud, (2) only use cow and calf calls unless you hear a bugle, (3) only bugle in heavy timber. Bulls only bugle in heavy timber or thick brush. Wolves cannot penetrate this terrain and cover. They call from 0600 to 1100AM in September. Evening hunting is a waste of time, I only hunt in the mornings anymore. Good luck guys.
Once you get into Idaho mountains very few benches and flat areas, either straight up or down. If you laid out flat the terrain of every state in the lower 48 Idaho would hold the largest area.
Not me but I did watch it die in about 2 minutes after shot.
Not me but I did watch it die in about 2 minutes after shot.
This is not the state you are looking for (Waves fingers in front). But there are animals around that is for sure, here is the one myself and partner rounded up this year.
Ive live near Pocatello, Ive hikes hunted or ATVed about it all. This year opening week had mid nineties, the rest of the weekends we were in snow. I try to hunt where there are fewer hunters, Generally an easy proposition. climb up 2000 feet or down 2000 feet, Then you will be hunting with guys that know what they are doing. Like anyplace, the bozo hunters are close to the trailheads