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Idaho 2020 Recap

tomengineer

Active member
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
237
Three of us flew out to central ID October 15th-24th in search of mule deer. We split up, hiked an estimated 80 miles combined over a 6 day hunting period. We saw 80+ does, 8 cow elk, one dead bull elk and 5 bucks, one of which was a shooter (for us). We were not successful although two of us could've shot small bucks had we wanted to fill our tags. It was an exhausting adventure during which we learned a lot. We had help for a couple of excellent folks on this forum and Rokslide and we know there were deer in our areas we just couldn't seem to find them. I'll try to summarize what we learned below.

Logistics - Flying with firearms wasn't a big deal. We flew from upstate NY into Salt Lake and didn't have any issues. Follow the TSA guidance and it will likely go well for you. They only charged us for a second checked bag for the rifle cases.

Camping/Hiking - We planned to spike camp out and day hunt from that location for 1-2 nights then relocate. This was not a bad initial plan but two things really limited us here. 1) The tipi tent we selected was far too heavy to hike with. We envisioned needing much more space than we really needed. We only slept in the tent 2 nights of the 6 with the remainder being day hunts for the weight savings. 2) One member of the party was not in adequate shape to hike to spike camp. This left 2 of us to carry the remaining community gear and at that point it was not worth it. The tipi was fine as a base camp but if I did it again I would do a smaller tipi or individual bivy sacks for maximum flexibility.

Finding Mule Deer - I personally could not have covered more ground than I did over the week. I hiked approximately 40 miles but failed to glass any bucks. In retrospect I probably should've glassed more and walked less. While I do feel like I was glassing systematically I'm sure my inexperience glassing for mule deer (first trip) cost me some spots. I'm not sure what I would try next time other than possibly a pair of 15x or 18x binos combined with a spotting scope. I was carrying 10x42's and my eyes much preferred them over the spotter but they lacked magnification. The one shooter mule deer I did see over the week I actually bumped from his bed walking a higher elevation trail. With my rifle on my pack I was not able to get a shot. The locals we spoke with were having the same experience with regard to finding shootable bucks.

General - I would still recommend hunting with a group as for me it adds fun/companionship to the experience. I would suggest however you plan to allow maximum flexibility to each individual with regard to transportation and hunting means and methods. We each found our own style over the week and it was key we were able to hunt the way we wanted to.

That's all I can think of. Hopefully that helps anyone considering a high country mule deer trip. Not the results we'd hoped for but that's part of hunting. Feel free to PM me if you have questions about any of the above.

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DouglasR

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
461
Location
East central, Il
Finding a dead bull :( what’s the story behind that?

Besides weight how did the tipi and stove do? What brand did you end up going with?
 

tomengineer

Active member
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
237
Finding a dead bull :( what’s the story behind that?

Besides weight how did the tipi and stove do? What brand did you end up going with?
My hunting partner found the dead bell via smell when we was hiking to a glassing spot. Looked like it had been dead 2-3 weeks as it smelled pretty bad and animals/birds were into it pretty well. It was a shame as in my eyes it was a solid bull. He left it where it lay.
 

tomengineer

Active member
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
237
Yes. I always find more deer with my butt planted. A spotting scope is very valuable for mule deer hunting. It's amazing the deer you'll find with it that you missed with the binos.
I was kind of torn between that thought and something one of the bios in my region told me when I asked him what mistake eastern hunters or flatlanders made when they went out for mule deer. He said "look for deer for a bit and if you don't see them relocate". Plus without an experienced mule deer glasser next to me to show me what I was missing it was easy to tell myself I had glassed the area out and I needed to move.
 

JLS

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Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
10,579
Location
Where the Wild Things Are
I was kind of torn between that thought and something one of the bios in my region told me when I asked him what mistake eastern hunters or flatlanders made when they went out for mule deer. He said "look for deer for a bit and if you don't see them relocate". Plus without an experienced mule deer glasser next to me to show me what I was missing it was easy to tell myself I had glassed the area out and I needed to move.
Yeah, that's always a tough call. More than once I've glassed the heck out off hillside, got up to move, and watched a buck bound off over the ridge. There's so much nuance to how long to glass, to include time of day, time of year, available cover, weather, hunting pressure, and so on.
 

Bagel_7

Active member
Joined
Jul 13, 2017
Messages
69
Not that I am the most experienced hunter. But at times I scan a hill with my binos a few times over before I see deer. You could scan passed them or they could just be behind trees and feed out into an area you can see. I think moving to get a slightly different angle can help at times. Sorry the trip wasn't more successful for you guys. Send a PM with the OnX waypoint of the dead bull so I can grab the dead head thanks :ROFLMAO:
 

BrianID

Active member
Joined
Nov 11, 2003
Messages
257
Location
SE Idaho/El Paso, TX
Thanks for coming back and reporting and congratulations on a successful trip. Even though you didn't tag any deer, the stuff you learned from this trip will really help you plan future hunts out west.

Glassing mule deer takes practice to get good at. Coues deer are even more difficult. The best advice I could give you is to go with someone experienced at glassing. It will really surprise you on how many deer they spot compared to you. Putting even your 10X on a bipod will help.
 
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