2019 Spring Bear in Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho (Unit 20A)

JaredMoon

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The posts would be OLD but poster “shinglemonekey”...
I'll do a quick search of the forum for his/her stuff. Thanks for the info, and I agree I am building the trip with a friend of mine and it is getting me pretty excited. All the talk about snow is making me think I'll need to grab a different shelter, one capable of having a stove. I have the Kuiu Mountain Star 2P which will likely keep my friend and I warm but if three of us go I may change out to Summit Refuge 3P. I may do this anyway just so I can ensure we have some extra heat with a TiGoat Cylinder Stove. Thoughts?
 

JaredMoon

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Hey everyone, update on the flight. I heard back from G&S Aviation with a quote of the following:

Cold Meadows: $495 round trip with 900lb gear limit
Chamberlain/Cabin Creek: $450 round trip with 900lb gear limit

Provided just like with other services this is their CURRENT pricing structure and is subject to change.

Other than that, this appears to be the spot I will bear hunting for sure as my hunting patterns missed the deadlines for POW and Oregon. I may wind up going to South POW Wilderness Solo if I do draw as missing out on that tag would be lame.
 

twsnow18

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Are those prices per person?

I searched for those posts from ShingleMonkey but no luck, looks like his account was probably deleted.

If your going late May or anytime in June, I wouldn't bring a stove personally. Even in early May, your probably good without it. Lows of 30 and highs around 50 +/-, seems to be the norm, but to each their own.
 

Tjay

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JaredMoon
This hunt was last week of April. We were a week or two early but everyone had chances and saw bears. Elevation was not very high, 2000' at river and however high you went up.
 

JaredMoon

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Are those prices per person...
Yes the price for G&S was per person, the only service that was total so far was Gem Air. Acknowledged on the stove that will make the trip a little less expensive haha. My current Kuiu tent kept me warm by myself in the eagle cap in similar temperatures so I know it will keep two guys warms.
 

JaredMoon

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Okay, I received another (and I believe my final) quote for air services into he Frank Church from Sawtooth Flying Services. They also suggested flying into Cabin Creek as I believe it is a more reliable air strip during the snowy/muddy spring months. They also fly out of McCall. Their quote for 2019 flights is listed below:

The following prices are PER person:

$450*-includes roundtrip flight & meat out to the following air strips:
Cabin Creek, Cold Meadows, Chamberlain, Cougar Ranch, Indian Creek, Lower Loon, Mahoney, Root Ranch, Thomas Creek

$495*-includes roundtrip flight & meat out to the following air strips:
Bernard, Flying B, Soldier

*1st 150#s of gear is included in price & additional gear weight is 45/#

Flights to Dewey, Mile High, and Vines cost between $500-$850 per hunter.

So far these guys seem to be the cheapest. Now it is time to decide, I specifically like how McCall Aviation grants access to a meat cooler so that we can freeze our meat prior to driving back to home.

In summary flying to Cabin Creek quotes stand as follows:
McCall Aviation: $525/hunter
G&S Aviation: $450/hunter
Sawtooth Flying Services: $450/hunter
Gem Air: $1439.25 Total (Seems high but gets cheaper with more hunters also quoted to Cold Meadows)

I'll let you all know who I go with when I send the deposits.
 

LCH

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Those seem to be reasonable prices to me. I don't know anything about bear hunting there, but it would definitely be an adventure.
 

BuzzH

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I've flown into the Frank a half dozen times for work and fly exclusively with Middle Fork Aviation out of Challis. Pete Nelson owns the business and I've flown with him and several of his other pilots, all of whom have a metric shit-ton of experience flying in the Frank.

They pay attention to every detail, have a checklist and maintenance record for their aircraft that exceeds the USDA/FS requirements. I've flown into Cold Meadows, Bernard, Indian, and Thomas Creek.

There are places I don't mind trying to save money, but when flying into the Frank, I want the best. If I were to fly into hunt the Frank, I wouldn't use anyone else, and I don't care what they charge...my 2 cents.
 
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BuzzH

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So you know what the strips look like, in case you want to know:

Soldier bar:



Mahoney:



Mahoney again, saw a plane get banged up on this strip (private plane). The pilot messed up the prop and broke his wrist when landing:



Thomas creek, Pete was the pilot:

 

BuzzH

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Finally, if you fly into Thomas, that's where I've seen the most bears the times I've been in the Frank. Thomas has a lot of good trail access to little loon, Marble, White Creek, Mahoney, etc. Before you "plan" to hike this trail or that, I would contact the Salmon or North Fork Ranger districts to make sure. Not sure if Jim Upchurch is still working or has retired, but he was the right guy to talk to about the trails. Whoever you talk to, make sure they've actually seen or hiked the trail. I've been totally screwed in that country by just assuming that trails on the map, actually exist on the ground...many don't. Its not a place where you assume anything and best to have your chit together.
 

brymoore

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I’ve always used Arnold Aviation to fly into the Frank.

From my many days in the Frank, finding bears shouldn’t be a problem if you know how to glass for bears.
 

BigHornRam

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"There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but not a lot of old bold pilots."

Something to consider when hiring an air charter service.:D

Never bear hunted there but think Indian Creek would not be a bad choice of strips to fly into to hunt spring bear. Sounds like a fun adventure you are planning. Good luck!
 
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JaredMoon

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Finally...

Awesome info dump, thank you! I haven't checked with middle fork aviation but I will send them a note. The pictures and info are great, I am not looking to get the "cheapest" flight in but rather one that seems appropriate based on competition. Concerning the Thomas strip, that seems pretty close to the boundary of the wilderness and honestly I'm concerned about pressure (particularly as we will be bow hunters competing against rifle and hound hunters) - did you see a lot of pressure in those areas the times you went? Thank you for the note on the trails, I'll get in contact with the ranger districts to discuss trail maintenance. And I couldn't agree more concerning the not "assuming anything," by hunting buddy and I have spent 10+ years as US Army officers so we tend to plan everything to the Nth detail. That and we are firm believers in having a PACE (primary, alternate, contingency, emergency) for all aspects of our missions (to include this one). Again thank you for the help and photos, I will be sure to heed your advice.
 

JaredMoon

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"There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but not a lot of old bold pilots."
Hahaha clearly you haven't flown with old Vietnam Era pilots still serving as Warrant Officers in the Army...those dudes are freaking wild...but they could balance their landing gear on egg shells if they wanted haha. Thank you fro the note though, we are really looking forward to the trip.
 

BigHornRam

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Don't forget to take advantage of the numerous hot springs scattered around the middle fork country. If I remember right, there is a good one right near the Thomas strip. Fair bit more timber in that area vs downstream, and that will be helpful when trying to get within bow range of a bear.

Also have flown with Middle Fork Aviation and give them high marks.
 

JaredMoon

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Update: So I was successful in drawing for Prince of Wales but didn't realize I was drawing for Spring 2020 (fine print and lacking experience haha). Ultimately, I'm very happy with that result because it means I will be headed into the Frank Church this spring chasing bears. As it looks now I will be solo as my two friends weren't able to make it which is unfortunate but will be alright I'm sure. That being said I have heard from a few pros and others that the first to second week of May might be a little too soon particularly given the precipitation (snow) they have received in the Frank this year so far. Additionally, I checked out the first and last spring frost data for the Cascade, ID area (to gain an understanding of temperatures associated with snow pack melt) and it seems the last spring frost is almost ALWAYS in July. Given, you lose about 3.3F for every 1,000 feet, I imagine it stays frosty in the mountains for quite some time

All of that being said, I don't mind moving in snow and keep reading that mid to late May is the prime hunting time for big boars so I believe I will target that time window (mild adjustment from original plan). As it stands now I think I am going to fly into Cabin Creek.

I am also considering switching from bow to rifle (300 win mag or 308 win). I haven't fully decided yet but given the fact that I will be alone I believe this may be the best option for safety and success. Bottom line, I am very excited and will keep you all posted as my plan is solidified.
 
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twsnow18

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I’d recommend as late in May as you can this year. The mountains north of Boise received 74” of snow in the last 7 days. Record setting. Our winter had been average up until the last 10 days. Honestly the first week of June if you can, would suck to put all that time and money into the frank and be post holing in 2 feet of snow when the bears are 2000 feet below you.

I know you haven’t been on the forum long, but BuzzH is very knowledgeable, I wouldn’t overlook his suggestions. Rifle is a good call though. I’m looking forward to following along, thanks for sharing with us.
 
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