Idaho has great Elk. However, with no point system and everything being random draw, it is difficult to plan a hunt there. I have put in for many years, have drawn many deer tags but have had zero luck getting an elk tag. That is, until this year.
I finally drew an Idaho elk tag in 2014. My only problem with the tag was I already had a pretty busy fall lined out. In addition to an Idaho elk and deer tag, I had drawn tags in three other states, not to mention hunts I would be going on with my brothers and nephews. Having too many great tags in one year is a good problem to have. However, I knew this was a tag I couldn’t pass up.
The land was familiar, I had hunted deer in this unit before. Based on the other hunts I was going on, I planned to hunt the opening day and to come back the last week of the hunt. We made a few phone calls to some friends to help cover our bases on where to start looking. Jed from Albion took us out and showed us some good spots. Another friend Kirk went out on the hunt with us. A couple of good ole Idaho boys.
On the opener I saw a nice 6 point bull that scored around 310”. My nephews tease me that I am too greedy and that would be a great bull for Idaho, but I was hoping for something a little better. Having a bunch of tags in your pocket is nice and allows you to be a little pickier.
It was really fun hunting elk in the desert where not many people would guess there is elk. After a full day of hitting it hard, and not finding anything big enough, we headed off to hunt deer. We were super successful with deer this year. I will post pictures and stories of the deer also.
After hunting deer for a few weeks I had planned on heading back to Idaho to hunt elk for a week or so. Unfortunately my wife needed neck surgery. I love her with all of my heart and she comes before any hunt. After her surgery she quickly recovered and told me to get out of the house and go back to Idaho. I was probably driving her crazy and she must have needed a break. So with two days left for my hunt, my brother and I went back to Idaho.
We met back up with Kirk. He took us to where he had seen some bulls but we saw nothing. They had been pushed pretty hard because of the cow elk hunt and all of the deer hunts. The elk had dug in deep and I was beginning to think about eating my tag. Seeing nothing, we worked our way up on to the highest ridge and began to stretch the optics. (Here is a plug for investing in good optics, it will save you a lot of steps in the boots.) Much to my surprise I saw some elk. I was looking into the sun and the elk were 4 miles (GPS) away in some cedars across a private valley. It was pure desert but I was pretty certain they were bulls.
We hadn’t seen anything else and the clock was winding down, so we decided to go chase the elk in the trees. We rode the horses the 7 miles back to the truck and trailer and loaded up. Driving through town meant we were able to stop and grab lunch (much better than a smashed sandwich out of the saddle bag). After lunch we drove the truck over to the base of the mountain where we had seen them. The road was rough, we unhooked the trailer and continued driving. We ended up approximately 1/2-3/4 mile from where we had last seen the elk as they disappeared into a sea of cedars.
We had high hopes of the game coming back to where he had first spotted them. Cedar flats are extremely hard to hunt and get a good vantage point so we glassed and quietly waited until it was almost dark. My brother who we call the “elk guide” (he only glasses for elk even if you are hunting deer, antelope, or bear) suggests that I head into the trees and sneak up on them, at this rate they weren’t going to come out until after dark. I knew the chances of surprising them in the cedars and getting a shot were really low, especially when I wanted a big bull (I wasn’t just hunting any elk). Anyone who has done that knows it is next to impossible, a waste of time and I told my brother that.
Soooooo......after telling him what a stupid idea that was I found myself sneaking into the cedars. I did it because i had no better idea. Not too far in to the trees I bust the elk. First bull I see is a little guy. “Nope” I tell myself. Next bull looks really good but is at a dead run. I pull up and take a quick good shot. It was only about 60 yards away. When I shot, elk started running everywhere. I was right in the middle of them. My mind was racing, “Did I hit him”. I had a good look but he was running through the cedars. I raced to the edge of the cedar patch to get a better view. I saw small bulls running left. I saw small bulls running right. I am sure that I shot at a bigger bull. Then at 240 yards I see two bulls working through some burnt cedars. One had tall horns and I could see he was limping. I had hit him. I put another one in the chamber and put another round in him. He piled up, rose and then disappeared. I know I hit him good both times, but my mind was second guessing. I slowly worked my way over to where I had last seen him. I did not want to push him so I took my time.
As I got closer I could see horns sticking up out of the grass. I was flooded with emotion, I felt so excited I actually shot one! As I came closer my excitement was dashed, the horn looked much smaller than the one I had shot at. “Crap, I shot a small bull running in the trees,” I thought to myself. As I came up to the animal I saw that one side was broken up pretty good and the other side was a real nice tall 6. He was a heck of a bull who had busted up his rack fighting with the other bulls.
I had hit him hard both times with my .300 WSM. Man these animals are tough. I rolled the dice and was able to get a great bull after 3 days hunting. Getting him out was another chapter of the adventure. The horses were 7 miles away. Needless to say we walked in the door at 6am the next morning (Sunday). We had started our day at 4am Saturday. Talk about a great way to spend 26 hours. What a crazy adventure! Thank heavens for great hunting partners and a wife that loves me in spite of my addiction to being on the mountain hunting. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to harvest such a fine mature bull. Monday we are headed to Colorado hunting elk. I will post pictures and the story of my brother’s bull elk soon. Until then remember, “Never miss the HUNT of a lifetime”.
We use an app called PointHunter to help us apply for these hunts.
Try it out for yourself.
Watch how it works on youtube.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwWaV0trHrw
Download now athttps://www.gotmytag.com/download/BTHF