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Some nice animals in there with very little hunting pressure for most of it.....because there is very limited access. There are a couple trailheads in. Pack animals would be highly recommended, or a party of two or more hunters in very good physical condition.
A person could get a bull down and loose the meat because of the time involved in getting it out.
hey t-bone, sounds like you have been there before. we are looking at going in on the south side of the crags around wilson creek. sarting there and then maybe up in the crags a bit. we were thinking if it was another dry year those high lakes may have a few more elk around them. whats your thought?
There is quite a bit of water in there so they won't be super concentrated around it. The further in you go, the less pressure.
My Dad and I hunted sheep for 10 days in there during general elk rifle season and saw and heard elk in full rut every day. Right in the bottoms to clear up above timberline. In the entire 10 days we didn't see a single hunter, or hear a rifle shot...
We did run into a couple of granolas back there who's gender was in question. I still wonder if they were a man and woman or what?....
The problem won't be finding elk, it will be getting it out. Seriously, I could see losing elk meat due to the time involved in getting it out.
The name says it all. It is some of the toughest realestate this side of Hell. Take a horse or enough guys to get your elk out fast. He is right about losing meat. The season can be very warm in the early part. When you start to train for this hunt next week, I would figure on getting in "sheep shape" times two. You will have to be in shape to get to the elk and ten times as fit to get them out. I also hunted sheep in that area and wouldn't even consider a bull unless it was a monster. There are much easier places to kill an elk in Idaho.
I won't tell you specifics. Wilson Crk or YellowJacket trailheads give you jump off points to 100's of square miles of elk hunting. Like I mentioned before, we saw them down in the bottoms to above timberline. Hunt it Mid Sept to early Oct and you won't have much problem finding them.
You will be questioning your sanity when you see the country. Don't pull the trigger when you're too far in.
The way I have always wanted to hunt these, is from the bottom up. Take a raft, float down the river to the drainage you want, and then hike up. Kill a monster bull, pack it down to the river, load it in the raft, and be out the next day.
So far, I have not found anybody stupid enough to try it with me, but I am pretty sure it is another one of my brilliant ideas.
IMHO, the problem with much of the backcountry of Idaho, is the trailhead system. I have hunted from the West side, in the Big Creek drainage, and there are 50+ rigs at the end of the road. You have to be willing to hunt what the horse hunters have bypassed, which makes it tough. It is hard to out walk a horse....
Elkgunner, We're planning a float trip next year in that country, I know Tyson (TBONE) knows were.... We're gonigto try back up in My Neighbors Sheep country.. Although 4 of us are putting in for Sheep again, I hope one draws, Will be a good excuse for a float trip
Actually it would be better if NO-ONE drew, then We'd all just hunt Elk
All great "Epic Adventures" always suffer from too many people bailing out at the last moment. I have a great story about hunting in the Owyhees, getting flat tires, hitchhiking at midnight, and getting picked up between Jordan Valley and Marsing in a stolen vehicle.
When I tell that story, people always say, "You shouldn't have been hunting alone", but they never say "I wish I was there.."
On our Summer float trips, we lose about 1/2 the people from March to June, as people just come up with other obligations. My daughters think seeing Bighorn sheep is an every year thing, sometimes they even quit eating lunch to watch them....
I think it can definitely be done, and it follows my basic rule, of putting one obstacle between you and everybody else, and the that river definitely does.
AS for the permit, you need a permit any time you are on the MF. It just depends if you are in the lottery season or pre-/Post- season. If you are planning on this season (2003), you better be getting a permit, and have a bit of flexibility. I'm waiting until they call my name on the Sheep Tag.
There is still some river traffic in September, and with controlled launches, you could get shut out on your first choice day. But, +/- 2 days will get you on. If your plans are for next year (2004), then you have time to get the permit this October, and be assured of the day you want.
I know guys who do it every September in Kayaks and Canoes, and love the area, and have it all to themselves.
As for our May trip last year, Marsh creek was a 1/2 day. We launched at the highway at noon, and creek boated rafts down Marsh. It is a fun 20+ mile "Pre-float" to the main attraction. We then got to Dagger Falls, spend 45 minutes scouting the falls to run, and then got better judgement, and portaged the falls, re-rigged boats, and spent the night at the Falls. From there out was 4 days, none too long, as the water was 5.5' on the MF guage, which is moving reasonably well.
I have been on the river in August, at 1.9, and the upper part, is a bit bony. Heavy rafts would be work. The other options are to go light (the best idea), and save the cargo room for the Elk on the way out. The other idea is to fly to Indian Creek or Thomas Creek, and just boat down from there.
At that flow in Sept, 25 miles will be a long day on the Oars, so you kind of need to look at which drain you are hunting, and how to get there.
All that said, it would likely qualify as an "Epic Adventure".