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I just watched an episode of Stuck n' the Rut where they packed 33 miles into a wilderness area only to find 1 small herd of elk. They mentioned the wolves had killed everything and they had only seen a few deer tracks in that long pack in. I was thinking of hunting there someday but not if the wolves are that bad everywhere.
Selway / frank church / Lolo units have been decimated ! So sad.
They might have packed 32 miles past a herd a mile from the trailhead....
I saw more wolves than elk in 2015.
It's pretty beat up..BUT...it may be starting to be on the rebound. I spoke with a fish and game guy this spring who was up trying to find wolves in the Lolo area for collaring and he said he was having a helluva time locating any them or even any sign. He also said he had seen way more elk this year then he has in the past 5 years. Saw his first few spikes and some cows with calves. He hadn't seen a spike elk in 5 years!! Wolves were killing all the young. Don't get me wrong, it got decimated but hopefully those herds can make a comeback. He said they shot a pile of wolves from the helicopter and he thinks they may have "accidentally" wiped out two entire packs. I hope so. It's a tragedy, that is some beautiful elk country and was a legendary herd.
Sometimes "Accidents" are a blessing.....
Any chance that the wolves that were there have just moved on since the elk and deer have all been eaten? Seems to me those rats would just migrate to where game was more plentiful once they decimate a herd. Man I hate wolves....
And to think there is a push to bring wolves to Colorado....
Don't kid yourselves, those Sept wilderness elk hunts in ID with a rifle get hammered! Those tags get sold out every year. Because guys go long distances with a rifle they think the elk should be everywhere! Guys, they get killed off more by hunters than wolves! No, I don't care for the wolves but there are plenty of huntable elk if you know how to elk hunt!
These days hunters are expecting that it should be easier! (grin) It's not! You work your tail off in most cases for every elk you locate! This is a big reason for us ID hunters to take advantage of every bull we come in contact with, they aren't around every rock & tree! It's called Elk Hunting! It's like anything else in this world, you get out of it what you are willing to put into it!
No matter how good of a elk hunter you are. You can't kill them if they don't live there period !
This is true! What happens though is we & others hear this stuff every year here, even in the areas we live in & hunt. The areas we focus on are a 5.9% success rate to take a cow or bull with your bow. Over 6,000 hunters hunted the same zone as we did last year, that's a lot of pressure, that's more hunters than elk! (grin) The elk are there, not tons of them but plenty to hunt! You just need to not be afraid to both penetrate the woods & call.
Most hunters do not call even close to enough to locate elk in unseen terrain & timber. In more open country glassing is king. If they would utilize both as needed they would locate more elk. The key to calling & glassing is to locate elk, that's # 1 priority before you can hunt them! Sure there are times & days you do not see or hear a thing but that's just part of the hunt, don't give in & you will have your opportunities!
Many hunters in every state have these same issues in finding & killing elk, it's not just in ID. Those guys killed elk in the video, they just thought it should be easier! (grin) It's not, you will work your tail off to locate & finally kill your bull but it can be achieved every year if you know what you're doing! It's OTC in most areas here, you need to be prepared mentally & physically to get it done, when you do it's that much sweeter! (grin)
I for one am glad elk hunting, killing & packing is not easy! It should be the ultimate challenge!
"They might have packed 32 miles past a herd a mile from the trailhead...."
Sure, that's possible and even likely if wolves are having a significant impact on elk populations. Those herds closest to human activity are the last to go....
ElkNut, Hunt is an elk killin' machine. I'm pretty certain he figured out how to get it done quite a few years ago. God Bless men.
Hunt, I sent you a PM
Hunted 17 in the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness for 8 days back in 2014 I think. We did a loop, got 12 miles by trail in at the deepest and did close to 100 miles total on the hunt - we covered a lot of ground and did a lot of glassing.
We didn't hear one bugle, see one elk scat/print, or see a single animal. We saw a single doe track. Saw old moose sign in one area and old wolf scat everywhere we went.
I've never seen so much habitat so devoid of large animals.
This was the only sign of elk we ever found.
Ike, HUNT...those without an agenda understand exactly what you're saying.
But wolves only kill sick and old elk. When I see a pro wolf bumper sticker I want to ram it with truck. I'll tell them that their car was old or sick. Just trying to counter act AGW. Doing my part for the environment.
WV, I wasn't questioning Huntman's hunting abilities, I'm sure he knows that.
The question by the OP was "Is Idaho That Bad"? The answer is no! There is no state that doesn't have those dry spots or areas void of elk during ones hunt! This does not imply there are no elk anywhere in that state even though it may feel like it at times! (grin)
Take this Forum here, on a yearly basis there are countless posts of guys complaining about the lack of elk & tons of hunting pressure in CO. These guys claim they've seen 2-3 elk in 7 day hunts & no bugling at all. Then you have others that heard 2 bugles in their 7 day hunts & few to no elk seen, in many cases it's these same guys who are having issues filling a tag or even having opportunities year after year! -- But now look at Lou, Cnelk & Octwill, they all hunt the same state of CO as the guys not getting into elk! These guys are in countless encounters every year & fill not only their tags but help out others in the process. Do you think they hit areas void of elk from time to time, of course they do. Instead of belly aching over it they move on if nothing is in their area & head to others until elk are located. It doesn't matter how many areas they have to search, they will find elk!
The same applies to the state in question, Idaho! There are spots void of elk from time to time so you get the heck out of there, you don't hang around for 3 days hoping for miracle appearances by the elk. This is one big reason I suggest to guys, especially newer ones that don't know the country not to Bivy hunt! They need to know their country better before putting all their eggs in one basket. They're better off staying mobile so they can branch out until they find the elk. If they end up finding elk 3-5 miles deep now they can consider a bivy style hunt if they so wish! But to roll the dice & commit for 7 days with no real backup plan is a crap shoot at best, problem is you are now committed! It can be a great hunt or a flop, most flop!
Along with Lou & Sage Buffalo's thoughts, most guys walk right past elk in the first 1/2 mile to 2 miles & don't even know it! For some reason most guys think you need to go deep or nothing at all, this is a myth!
In a nutshell, fortunately no, Idaho as a whole is not that bad!
In a nutshell, those "belly aching" over a lack of elk are out of state hunters with a very limited amount of time to hunt. Not residents with the knowledge of the areas and, the knowledge of being a seasoned elk hunter. You are comparing apples to oranges Paul. That's the pro's and con's of living where we live. But, the vast majority of the people you are referring to don't live scouting distance from where they hunt.
To non residents like me, that's the biggest argument against the wolf debacle. Sure, you guys have got to live with them. But, nonresidents that used to have the opportunity to go to these areas and find more abundant elk, are simply up the creek without a paddle due to the kill off of the elk by the wolves. With a very limited time to scout, these hunters have an average of 10 days to fly in or, drive into their state of choice, rent a car if flying, get to their area, scout while hunting and hope it's year the elk are using where they chose. What would you do different versus what they are doing in this situation?
I have friends in Idaho I hunt with . We hunt public ground , not terribly difficult to access our area. We see elk and deer in reasonable numbers . What I usually don't see are people walking more than a mile from the road . Not sure why some areas get hit more than others by the wolves but I'm glad our area seems unscathed .
Those units in years past held a great deal of elk. Now.... at best they MAY be making some kind of comeback from can only be described as devastation. Hunters didn't kill all the elk in Lolo. Not even close. The biologists had it down when they were telling everyone that would listen that herd recruitment was down to almost nothing. Hunters weren't killing calves. Hunters weren't causing aborted calves due to stress in the winter. Bears take a good number... but wolves were the apex predator straw with year round pressure. That all adds up to a crash.
Only one real cause, tipping point of that crash. We all know what it was. Why the tap dance around it I have no idea. If a person were looking into an OTC out of state hunt..... up to you.... but facts are facts. Numbers have been devastated in those areas from what they have been historically.
Of course Wolves have had an impact on big game populations, no question there. A man can't always use wolves as an excuse for not filling a tag here. When no elk are found, move on! Heck, I can take you to lots of places here in ID that don't have elk! (grin) The key is finding the ones that do!
No doubt that area has suffered as have others but look at it as a challenge! We go through this every year here. What's amusing is "The Sky Is Falling" attitudes! I prefer to stay positive with a don't give up attitude.
Truth be told, I love OTC Elk Hunts! They sift out the weak! (grin)
WV, Bugle While Still Dark to locate bulls, last two hours before day break till just after it! You'll eventually find them. Nice thing about it, when you hear a return bugle you know it's a bull & not a hunter! There's a ton of additional info on this subject but that's for another time!
I hunted unit 10 for years. No more. Nothing there to hunt. And yes, I know what I'm doing. Unbelievable stupidity bring in those Canadian wolves.
I have a friend here in CO who hunted an OTC unit last year for 11 days, public land that he can access through private so he has virtually no competition. It has a reasonably high success rate every year. I know the area and it has a LOT of elk, great habitat.
He saw one elk in 11 days. In talking with him, it seems he was hunting the wrong places at the wrong times, using all the wrong strategies (walking through the woods during midday, cowcalling as he goes, sitting a night waterhole in early a.m., etc..).
Can't blame wolves for that.
As a sidebar to the Idaho wolf debate, I'd like to bring attention to Idyllwild's pearl: "We didn't hear one bugle, see one elk scat/print, or see a single animal."
Tracks don't lie. Elk can go unheard and unseen. But if there aren't any tracks or scat, there aren't any elk. I've scouted some great habitat but never hunted it for lack of tracks and scat. And I don't just mean fresh sign. Not even pellets that were years old. Conversely, I've kept hunting areas even when I haven't seen or heard an elk in a week because I did keep seeing fresh sign.
Jaquomo, short of knowing the area and scouting a bunch. How do you tell a night watering hole from a morning one? And what's wrong with using some light cow calls as you move along?
Mossyhorn, in the NoCo OTC elk units the elk have become so accustomed to cow calls that they sneak in to check the source of the calling, often taking 30 minutes or more to get there. Then they almost always sneak in downwind. A hunter on the move while randomly calling (unless trying to sound like a herd of elk when specifically moving in on some or moving into position) is doing little more than educating them. Its a very rare thing to get a bugle answer to a cowcall mid-day there. If that happens it's generally from a bedding area, and in those Continental Divide basins the wind swirls like a toilet bowl as soon as the morning thermals settle so staying clear of bedding areas will keep the elk in the area.
Aside from using cameras, waterhole use can usually be determined by the mud in the tracks at the edge of the waterhole, and also by the direction of the tracks relative to bedding areas. In his case, they were watering enroute to nighttime feeding, and we're circling back to bedding in the mornings on the opposite side of the ridge.
Just to be clear, I'm not doubting the experiences of Ike and others in areas decimated by wolves. That's a reality.
Where I live the CDOW slaughtered as many deer as possible during the initial CWD panic. Outside of private land where they weren't allowed to eradicate them, it was nearly impossible to find a deer on public land in that area no matter how skilled the hunter. They simply weren't there anymore.
Thanks jaquomo, those are some good tips. Thanks for breaking that down!
Jaq, I think your last post cuts to the crux of what many are saying. I would hope that anyone with at least a little experience understands that if you're not exceptionally brilliant and make stupid decisions like your examples in a previous post, your chances of success are drastically diminished. I also think most understand many people try to justify why they don't hunt as hard as they could/should. Things like too hot, too dry, too wet, too many hunters, full moon, blah, blah, blah. I agree those are nothing more than excuses. Bottom line, the elk are still there...you just need to make the necessary adjustments to those conditions. If you don't, you have nobody but yourself to blame.
HOWEVER, if the elk aren't there in at least reasonable numbers, it don't matter. You can call all you want, wake up at midnight all you want, walk the soles off your boots all you want. Your chances for success are directly proportional to the number of elk in the area(s) you're hunting. Period. ElkNut says the areas they hunt have a 5.9% success rate. That's pathetic. They still kill elk there, and that's great, however, most NR's don't have the advantages he has of being intimately familiar with those areas. As TD points out, facts are facts.
I don't know if I will ever hunt Idaho for elk. However if I do the first thing I would do is look at the areas that have never seen a wolf. I am not a rookie elk hunter but I am not a seasoned one like some of the guys here. As a rookie or realitively inexperienced elk hunter you need to stack the deck in your favor.
It's no secret the Lolo, Selway, Frank Church have had wolf problems. Can an experienced elk hunter find an elk worth shooting in them areas? More then likely they can but the odds for a rookie not so much.
Sounds like parts of Idaho are getting like parts of Montana. As a non-resident that killed several elk in MT, it just became not worth it. When you only have 6-7 days and set up camp in a spot where wolves have been or just moved in, the elk are gone. Tough to have to re-spike camp with only a couple of days left. I understand the frustrations as I witnessed the wipeout of the whitetail population in northern WI due to wolves. Even worse for the western states as big open spaces and mountains are way harder to drop wolf populations as just too much land to cover for a few wolf hunters (legal or not). Punted on MT elk a couple of years ago and now in NM. Hopefully, the new wolf implants in the Gila by the feds will not have a long life span!
Fulldraw, rookie elk hunters will experience difficulties no matter the area hunted! Add wolf issues into the mix & yes it can become more difficult but not impossible! They need to hunt smart & look for areas that may contain elk within a GPS mile of roads, avoid the trap of bivy hunting, this reduces the risk of being committed to one area or spot! By being mobile you can hit 10 different areas in a 7 day hunt, this increases your odds tremendously in locating elk!
Welka, I agree it would be tough to reset up a camp with short times spent during ones elk season! But finding elk in wolf country isn't as insurmountable as believed. The areas we hunt have one of the highest concentrations of wolves in the state, sure there are less elk but they are still there! If we go two days without locating them by putting on 6-10 miles a day burning boot leather we resort to the night calling, it;'s our magic wand! I've used this in 6 different states that I can recall, the results are amazing! I only use it as needed, it's not an every morning occurrence! -- The bugle is our number one source for locating elk & it has been for many years. One thing I will add is that no way do we wait for bulls to bugle, we will start the party in nearly every case no matter the Sept dates. There are days we will hear a bugle without calling but they are few, we get them fired up, this gives away their location, that's all we need! (grin) One bugle is all we ask for! With the right method that bull is in trouble!
Welka, echoing what Elknut suggested, in areas of low elk density it's a good idea to only spike camp when you find a concentration to hunt that's too far to effectively hunt from a mobile base camp. That distance varies by individual, of course.
My area has a very low elk density for a couple reasons (not wolves) and the elk move constantly in timber between food sources. Glassing is impossible and they rarely bugle in daylight. When they leave a big ridge and move to a different drainage I can't reasonably reach, I can hook up and move my base camp miles to another drainage, be hunting that evening (after a nap) and if elk aren't there, move again by morning - while bumping out some locator bugles from the road along the way.
Wolves survive by being extremely mobile. When we hunt low density elk, we need to think like a wolf and keep moving until we find elk.
ElkNut, Jaquomo I totally agree with you guys. Staying mobile is very beneficial. That's why I don't understand why you see new guys wanting to do drop camps.
Being mobile is another way to stack the deck in your favor.
It is sad what the wolves have done and hopefully those area can bounce back, but it shouldn't be an excuse for NR hunters. The one perk of being a NR everywhere is that I can hunt anywhere I want with the same amount of travel time. I cant put boots on the ground scouting but I can easily find success rates and where wolves have decimated herds online. I have hunted OTC colorado and been 6 miles in and glassing elk everyday(not hearing bugles) and had 2 guys hike past us planning on going another 5 miles in. 3 days later they came hiking out saying they bugled their way in and spent 2 days bugling and there seem to be no elk so they were hiking out. It was tough to hunt the elk without them being vocal, but there were elk in there. This year will be my first time hunting Idaho OTC but am pretty excited and think I have a solid area. I have done my research and success rates are decent and there are occasional wolves but not enough to damage the herd. I am committing to backpacking in but not too deep to back out if we aren't finding them.
Paul, wasn't your success 100% before the wolves? Isn't it 100% now? I think you absolutely know what you are talking about, share, and are a really nice guy!! : )
From a conservationist standpoint, I'd have to ask why hunters continue to support this destruction by buying tags where the elk population has been demolished? I do not hunt places where I feel the game is not plentiful or mismanaged.
Paul, wasn't your success 100% before the wolves? Isn't it 100% now? I think you absolutely know what you are talking about, share, and are a really nice guy!! : )
The only way I'd hunt an area that had for the sake of argument, 20% of it's past numbers.... is if i knew it only had 5% of it's normal hunting pressure...... =D
There are no elk in Idaho! (grin)
Bill, yes, between my Son & I we have taken elk for 26 straight years in Idaho. There has been two years I believe that I did not take an elk here. For quite a few years now Idaho has offered a 2nd tag to residents, I have filled that 2nd tag a few times so the average of elk taken in that time span is much more than an elk a year, the same applies to my son. Idaho can be tough to hunt but in my opinion it is fair.
I'm not sugar coating anything here, you will get out of your hunt what you put into it! You want to take your elk here every year, be prepared to hunt your rear off! The methods of take for us are many! We are very versatile & do our best to explore any & every means possible to be successful in taking 5 & 6 point bulls, we do not hunt cows. Don't get me wrong, taking cows is fine, it's just not for us! --- We've taken bulls by Challenging them, Calling their hot cow away, Advertising Bugles, Call & Stalk, Cow Calling, Contact Buzz, Slip In Silent, Breeding Sequences, Glassing For A Spot & Stalk, Tag Team, Lone Hunts, etc. -- Number 1 way for us is calling to locate, listen to their message & form a plan for a close encounter, we are all about Reading The Situation & adapting to it! We could also baby sit the elk & hunt them for a week but it's not our style, we are methodically aggressive! (grin) Thanks!