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2021 Idaho Panhandle -- The Scouting Begins (for me at least)

Lucky_Lep

Active member
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
115
Location
N. Nevada
Finally got out this past weekend to scout for my first Elk and Deer OTC in the ID Panhandle. Not just the first ever Elk hunt; my first ever DIY hunt. Thanks to you all on this forum, I knew going in it would be steep and it would be thick. Yes, and yes. Surprisingly, while my cardio was as bad as I thought it would be; my knees, hips and low back don't bother me at all. It's the muscles between the shoulder blades that are killing me. I'm guessing from the trekking poles, but I can't think of anything else. So either I've never used those muscles before, or I was doing something horribly wrong. (Totally open to any feedback/thoughts/criticisms on this.)

Friday was travel and camp set up day. Unbelievably, I didn't take a single pic of the campsite, but I did get one of the river by camp (first photo). Those of you in the Panhandle on Friday know that it RAINED. Closest lighting strike was about 1.5 miles away. My 15+ year old tent failed me and I got pretty wet. My buddy in his brand new REI tent was bone dry.

Saturday was hiking day. Steep (or so I thought) in some parts, but pretty thick through out the hike (next 3 photos). But then we got into a clearing for lunch (5th photo). Up to this point, we had seen 2 scat for elk, and 1 for bear. Lots of old rubs all over the place, but no "new" tracks on/near the trail. We cruised down the trail a little further and came upon a lot of game trials. Ran around the woods and found a lot of beds. Popped over the ridge -- boom grocery store of feed. No pictures because the clouds rolled in and the lighting started cracking again. We were about 4 miles in from the trailhead, so we headed down the mountain and completely forgot to take photos, but did mark our maps (me - goHunt, him - OnX). Also, on the way down, we came across a new pile of bear scat on the trail, that was still steaming, right before the trail entered shoulder high brush on both sides for a few hundred yards. Sorry, no photos, but I am sure y'all will understand our heads were on swivel for a while.

Sunday was another hiking day, in a different spot. BUT, before we got to the trailhead, we ran into these two (photos 6 & 7). Didn't see any bulls. Tried my weak attempt at calling, and Momma looked at me like -- "that's all ya got? You know it's August and my kid is right over their, right?? What are you thinking rookie?"

On the way to the trailhead, we came across this opening (photo 8). The trail for this morning's hike was mild (at least at first) and sunny (photo 9). We came across this opening (photo 10) and spent the rest of the morning scrambling around looking at trails and beds all over the place. Rubs that looked new, and tracks that were also new. Lots of waypoints dropped. We tried to get to the clearing on the other side of the grove of trees on the left of photo 10 by walking the ridgeline, but we cliffed out. So we went down to the rock ledge in the middle of the photo and walked around (photo 11). After an hour of exploring, we started to head back and that's when I realized the trails on Saturday that I thought were steep - were not. And Sunday morning's trail was less than mild. No, steep was what we experienced hiking up from the rock ledge (photo 12). We made it to the top and back to the car in one piece.

That, sadly, was the end of this scouting trip. I am already looking forward to September's trip. We'll be in totally different areas and hopefully with different and better experiences. Thank you again to everyone whom I chatted with over the past few months. The insights were very helpful. And thank you to all the people who have been posting over the years. Reading all of the older posts was also very helpful.
 

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Kiwi

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
1,520
Location
New Zealand
Great photos and always nice to spend time in the mountains. The panhandle is a place that I'd like to hunt one day.
 

westbranch

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2017
Messages
630
Location
ID Panhandle
Good to see you got up here. Sounds like a lot of closures should be reduced in the next week or so. Is Sept another scouting trip and you are hunting in Oct?

The upper back soreness/tightness might be due to posture with a pack on. Possible shoulders were "shrugged" or you were hunching forward a bit?
 

Lucky_Lep

Active member
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
115
Location
N. Nevada
Good to see you got up here. Sounds like a lot of closures should be reduced in the next week or so. Is Sept another scouting trip and you are hunting in Oct?

The upper back soreness/tightness might be due to posture with a pack on. Possible shoulders were "shrugged" or you were hunching forward a bit?
Thanks for the article. It is the trapezius muscles that are aching. Even though it seems like a conditioning issue, I'll also work on readjusting the pack. Thank you!

Next trip is planned for end of Sept. Should be in the rut, and a couple weeks before rifle in October. Are you heading out this year?
 

westbranch

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2017
Messages
630
Location
ID Panhandle
Thanks for the article. It is the trapezius muscles that are aching. Even though it seems like a conditioning issue, I'll also work on readjusting the pack. Thank you!

Next trip is planned for end of Sept. Should be in the rut, and a couple weeks before rifle in October. Are you heading out this year?

Yes, next two weekends will be elk hunting / moose scouting. Then have extra time off last week of Sept and early Oct for moose hunting.
 
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