ID Panhandle Moose

westbranch

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Updating with few pics.
I have spent a few more days exploring since the original posts. Spent a day hiking into some meadows that I have wanted to check out for a few years, surrounded by great looking ridges/creek bottoms, looks prime for moose (and elk). Due to huge even aged stands of timber there was minimal sign from prior years.

Tons of old burned out tree stumps and snags from the 1910 fire. Some limited moose sign: old droppings, one somewhat fresh set of tracks. Creek drainage to the west looked a little more promising, and have heard some good things about that area. Cool area, but definitely tougher hunting.

meadows.jpg


Put a lot of miles on driving logging roads on checkerboard timber company/national forest ground. Some high elevation (just under 5k ft) marshes and creek bottoms with clearcuts and brushfields nearby is the most promising area. Tons of ATV/SxS traffic and weekend recreation. Probably the general area most moose hunters will be, for good reason between access and habitat.

marsh.jpg


Off a road with a little less traffic hiked into a creek bottom and found some good sign (big tracks) and a spot to hang a camera.

trail cam.jpg

Elderberry is definitely preferred browse by elk and moose in this brush country. Really broken up in here. Rocky Mountain Maple is another popular one.

browse.jpg
 

westbranch

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Also drove around another roadless area, covered 30+ miles on these roads. Between a Saturday evening thru Sunday morning did not see another vehicle or person.

Did see a couple cow moose while driving, good sign in general. Dusky grouse strutting on the road is cool, cell phone camera is not able to pick up the colors of the bird.

dusky.jpg

Big ridges with some good looking creek bottoms and some high elevation basins with ponds. But tough access with minimal roads and trails. Calling a bull closer to a road would be necessary in this country. Not seeing many other hunters would be nice too.

ridges.jpg

Free snowmobile

sled.jpg
 

westbranch

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Due to closures shortly after my last trip out in early July I have spent less time then desired looking for moose. I did spend some time in the small part of the unit that was still open but it was hot and smokey and pretty much just practiced swinging the fly rod around.

Cow moose in early July, did find some really good sign in this general area.

moose2.jpg

Smoke from the main fire on one of the rare clear days from the last 2 months:

fire view.jpg

Fishing break, did ok on small cutthroats in a few spots on this river:

fishing.jpg

A lot of fish in this spot that we could coerce into rising. And the smoke was rough this day so we moved on.

fishing2.jpg

This meadow had some fresh sign, but at 1 mile from the road not going to be a realistic spot to hunt. Also surprising but not unexpected how little elk sign was on surrounding ridges in this roadless area. Burned out cedars are remnants of the 1910 fire:

meadow.jpg
 

westbranch

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A few pics not from the moose hunting area due to trying to escape the smoke. Fished more days this summer then I have in quite a few years which is great. Even managed to catch a 17" bull trout on this river:

canyon.jpg

Toured a fish trap in central ID as part of some volunteering that I am involved in. Neat stuff.

fish trap.jpg

Bull trout hanging out by the trap:

bull trout.jpg

Took some back roads home from central ID and saw some elk just off the road here.

elk.jpg
 

westbranch

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Majority of closures were lifted about 2 weeks ago, so my wife and I were out covering some ground last weekend. Mainly ended up verifying a couple areas were not going to be realistic for hunting due to limited access and rough country. If we had found a lot of sign I may have reconsidered, but overall just less critters in those areas too. Hard to imagine how much different elk hunting was in these areas 30 years ago compared to now.

There is still some corporate timberland that is closed, which hopefully will be lifted soon with the rain and a weather forecast that looks good for both fires and hunting. Sitting in the office this morning getting a few projects trying to work ahead, but still getting distracted by looking at the same spots on Onx that I have looked at 100s of times. Planning on a long day out tomorrow for some more scouting, working M-F and then getting out next Saturday to setup camp and hunting for 10 or so days. Going to need to be back in the office for a couple days, then back to more hunting if needed.
 
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Shortbowshot

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Not sure what your unit is like. When we were up there the rutting bulls we found were almost exclusively as high as they could get. Above the dark timber.
 

westbranch

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Thanks for documenting this, really excited to follow along on this process from the scouting to the hunt.

Good luck!

It is interesting how things never seem to work out as planned. Mainly due to the fires, heat and closures this summer but it seems like something always comes up so I feel under prepared.
 

westbranch

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ID Panhandle
Not sure what your unit is like. When we were up there the rutting bulls we found were almost exclusively as high as they could get. Above the dark timber.

Yes, they definitely like to spend time on the ridge tops. But we have bumped into a few bulls that were sticking with cow moose down in thick brush while we were elk hunting. No way I would want to pack a moose out of some of those spots, an elk would have been bad enough.
 
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