Hunting the Frank Church during the general deer season.

Shazbutt-Steve

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Canby Oregon
I have no friends that hunt, but I do have two friends that want to hike the Frank. I have a general season tag and it starts 9/15. My question to any of you is- If we fly in during that time are we going to be wading through other hunters? If the airstrips are chaotic with guys packing in this way and that way I'd rather hunt somewhere else or just start at a trail head from a road and save money. This time is also the beginning of elk season. I sent an email to a charter asking how busy it is during the general season and they emailed me back with no info on business, just that they'd be happy to accommodate our flight.
 

Scott85

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Nov 22, 2018
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The airstrips look like small cities, you will have to hike to get away from the crowds just like if it was a trail head.
 

WyoDoug

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Cheyenne, Wyoming
I don't hunt that area so I won't pretend to know it. However, you will have hunting pressure from what I see in the reports on it. Getting away from that will be fun. You will want to plan on hiking a mile or two is my guess on it to try and get away from other hunters.
 

Shazbutt-Steve

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All of these points make sense. Maybe we'll see about floating from one airstrip to another with a lot of hiking in between. I've got maps coming, so I'll see how doable it is. Thank you all for the feedback.
 

JLS

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Somewhere in the basalt rocks
All of these points make sense. Maybe we'll see about floating from one airstrip to another with a lot of hiking in between. I've got maps coming, so I'll see how doable it is. Thank you all for the feedback.
Look at some topos. You aren’t going to backpack from many of the airstrips to sheep/early season mule deer country. Your two best bets are Cold Meadows and Chamberlain, neither of which are close at all to the river.

@BuzzH has a lot of experience flying into this country. Maybe he can give you some more in depth insight to airstrips.
 

Scott85

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You best be in best shape of your life, everything is up if you are going via river and a lot more up than down if you fly in. Like JLS said mule deer are going to be high up, at least the packout is be down hill.
 

brymoore

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Idaho
The deer graze on the airstrips if size doesn’t matter. Trophy bucks will be high and deep from the river.
 

coleslaw

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Jun 13, 2018
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Wisconsin
Save your money and walk in from the trailheads. It doesn't take much to get away from the "crowds" in the Frank. The topography will make sure of that ;)
A float trip would be kind of cool though. Pretty sure you will need a permit, but they are neither expensive nor hard to reserve.
I went to the Frank last October and I train for triathlons. It beat me up pretty good and I was happy to leave, though at the same time, I couldn't wait to go back. Everything is vertical and it was hard just to find a flat spot for a 2 person pup tent.
Anyways, ended up shooting a forked mule deer a mile from the truck while packing our camp down the mountain on the last day. Saw a few cow elk, plenty of doe mule deer and a few wolf tracks.
 

Shazbutt-Steve

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Canby Oregon
Save your money and walk in from the trailheads. It doesn't take much to get away from the "crowds" in the Frank. The topography will make sure of that ;)
A float trip would be kind of cool though. Pretty sure you will need a permit, but they are neither expensive nor hard to reserve.
I went to the Frank last October and I train for triathlons. It beat me up pretty good and I was happy to leave, though at the same time, I couldn't wait to go back. Everything is vertical and it was hard just to find a flat spot for a 2 person pup tent.
Anyways, ended up shooting a forked mule deer a mile from the truck while packing our camp down the mountain on the last day. Saw a few cow elk, plenty of doe mule deer and a few wolf tracks.
I'll take that into consideration. I was thinking about doing the float just to show my non-hunting friends a different way to backpack and if there's no deer there is other units that start their general season in October. Also, flying in will show them how big this wilderness is, and thats important to me right now considering I've known about the Frank for 20 years and never set foot in it. I am ashamed. What's even worse is- I'm from Ohio and have an excuse. My friends grew up in Oregon and didn't even know it existed! It baffles my mind! Of coarse my general season here will be going on in October and I may focus on that... I don't know. It'll all be worth it. I will think hard about hiking in from a trailhead though.
 

Shazbutt-Steve

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Canby Oregon
Look at some topos. You aren’t going to backpack from many of the airstrips to sheep/early season mule deer country. Your two best bets are Cold Meadows and Chamberlain, neither of which are close at all to the river.

@BuzzH has a lot of experience flying into this country. Maybe he can give you some more in depth insight to airstrips.
I've got a map ordered. I'll look into those two and get an idea of a loop or a return trip to the same airstrip instead of floating.
 

coleslaw

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Wisconsin


Couple of really neat videos of some guys flying in and floating The Frank. Would love to draw a November deer tag and do something similar.
 

Fire_9

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Lewistown, MT
You’d probably see elk hunters in there that early but I doubt there’d be many deer hunters. Talk them into going in October and I think you’d have a lot more enjoyable trip. You better like snakes if you want to go in that early...
 

Idhikker

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Sep 11, 2017
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If you fly into the airstrips in September, you’re looking at 3000-4000 elevation gain the get into the high country where the deer are. It’s not feasible for people are aren’t real athletes.

The deer numbers are low. The stats are skewed by 9 outfitters in the unit. I’ve talked to about 20-30 nonresidents and residents who are new to the zone and the success rate is well under 10%. Few can hack the rugged terrain so they have little chance.

I’d highly recommend backpacking in the summer to enjoy the Frank. It’s not very good hunting even if you backpack in real deep and get up high. In November people can find deer a lot easier and most shoot 140-160” bucks.
 

Shazbutt-Steve

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Canby Oregon
What about unit 12 and 17? The Bitterroot looks tough and exciting. The reg's say one deer. That makes things easier. Looking at the stat's- the harvest rate is low, but so is the hunter numbers. And it's in October which should be better than September in the Frank. I assume that area gets snow early.
 

Idhikker

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What about unit 12 and 17? The Bitterroot looks tough and exciting. The reg's say one deer. That makes things easier. Looking at the stat's- the harvest rate is low, but so is the hunter numbers. And it's in October which should be better than September in the Frank. I assume that area gets snow early.
Lolo, Selway, and Frank zones have been smashed by wolves, bad winters, habitat limitations, and challenges of managing federal wilderness. Central Idaho has some limitations.
 
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