Idaho Elk Guides-Elk City Zone---Big Bull Down!...Story Posted Here Now

BlacktailMaster

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Sep 8, 2023
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I recently purchased a Non-Res Elk City Zone B Tag for 2023. Never hunted Idaho before. I am an experienced hunter but in Washington State for Blacktails and Muleys mainly. Have hunted Roosevelt Elk in Coastal Western Washington but Idaho Elk is obviously a different challenge.

I have been studying OnX, Go Hunt, Google Earth, etc. to plan my hunt but have been thinking that a guide might be wise if I can afford it. I have the opportunity to make a scouting trip over a weekend between now and October 10 (opening day). Did a google search for Outfitters/guides but have had a hard time finding ones that specifically are for Units 14, 15 or 16 (Elk City Zone).

My son is going to join me...25 years old and in extremely good shape...recently finished his college football career as a MLB at a big school and has been bouncing around NFL teams but not made any money yet lol so I have a great packer!

I have never used a guide before so I thought I would come here to get some advice and possibly a good contact or two.

Here's what I have learned so far:
1. Many guide services seem to have specific areas, which makes sense, however I am having a hard time finding one for my area/zone.
2. It seems as though many of these guide services include the price of the tag, etc as they have an allocation? I have already spent around $900+ on tag/license. Not trying to go too cheap here but just trying to understand this space.
3. I have seen the fully guided, semi guided and drop/spike camps options...would love to get input on folks experience with each.
4. My son and I are very capable back country folk with good gear (done many wilderness deer hunts in Washington over the years), have the atvs/truck to get to a trailhead so I have wondered if there is an alternative style of guiding that is just a guide that joins someone without all of the fancy tents, food etc. I am very willing to pack in all my food, tent, etc. What I really need is just the guide portion...and I am willing to pay for it.

So, any advice you might have I would love it. Thanks in advance.
 
Usually if a guide is not booked right now I'd be really wary.
Idaho has geographical borders for outfitters so they do not overlap. If you want to hunt a certain area there is only one outfitter permitted to guide there. https://huntingidaho.org/find?specie=elk&zone=elk-city

Both outfitters listed in your zone have good reputations, but if you do get a spot with them, you most likely will be getting a cancellation hunt, or get shoehorned into a spot they created from extra staff.

Your odds for success simply because of their knowledge of the country increases your odds. This is knowledge it may take you 4-5 years of hunting that area to gather yourself. If you can hunt blacktail spot and stalk successfully, then you can hunt Elk. Just cover more ground. If you have a chance to hunt with a good outfitter for your first elk hunt, then do it. It will make the learning curve less steep. If you are delaying your first elk hunt because you think you need an outfitter, don't be silly but don't expect success either.
 
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I recently purchased a Non-Res Elk City Zone B Tag for 2023. Never hunted Idaho before. I am an experienced hunter but in Washington State for Blacktails and Muleys mainly. Have hunted Roosevelt Elk in Coastal Western Washington but Idaho Elk is obviously a different challenge.

I have been studying OnX, Go Hunt, Google Earth, etc. to plan my hunt but have been thinking that a guide might be wise if I can afford it. I have the opportunity to make a scouting trip over a weekend between now and October 10 (opening day). Did a google search for Outfitters/guides but have had a hard time finding ones that specifically are for Units 14, 15 or 16 (Elk City Zone).

My son is going to join me...25 years old and in extremely good shape...recently finished his college football career as a MLB at a big school and has been bouncing around NFL teams but not made any money yet lol so I have a great packer!

I have never used a guide before so I thought I would come here to get some advice and possibly a good contact or two.

Here's what I have learned so far:
1. Many guide services seem to have specific areas, which makes sense, however I am having a hard time finding one for my area/zone.
2. It seems as though many of these guide services include the price of the tag, etc as they have an allocation? I have already spent around $900+ on tag/license. Not trying to go too cheap here but just trying to understand this space.
3. I have seen the fully guided, semi guided and drop/spike camps options...would love to get input on folks experience with each.
4. My son and I are very capable back country folk with good gear (done many wilderness deer hunts in Washington over the years), have the atvs/truck to get to a trailhead so I have wondered if there is an alternative style of guiding that is just a guide that joins someone without all of the fancy tents, food etc. I am very willing to pack in all my food, tent, etc. What I really need is just the guide portion...and I am willing to pay for it.

So, any advice you might have I would love it. Thanks in advance.
I sent you a Private Message.
 
Good luck! My group is looking at the Elk City Zone for next year.
 
**Update**

After countless hours E-Scouting, taking input from from folk on Hunt Talk (thanks all who DM'd me) and watching every YouTube video on the country I could find...we spent two days scouting over the weekend. Pretty amazing time we had! Saw 2 elk...one bull while driving from E-Scout location to location. At one of our E-scouted spots we heard an elk bugling so we responded...it was a fantastic game of cat and mouse...we never did see the animal(s) but it was great (ran out of time...had to keep scouting and get back home to Western Washington). As y'all know scouting is more than just finding animals...figuring out where they are is big. We found them. Super excited. And, in case someone is wondering if it was another hunter bugling...if it was, then kudos to them for finding themselves in that deep of a roadless, trail-less canyon lol. Anyway, 100% certain it was at least one bull.

I will keep updating on our hunt. So far, we are dialed in on a trail...hoping to get to the trailhead early enough to make sure we are one of the first in. Might do a post on trailhead etiquette. In Western Washington, a road/trail/gate usually leads to a clearcut and usually if you see someone at the road/trail/gate you pass it up unless it is a main artery. Not sure what the protocol is in Idaho because some of the roads/trails/gates lead to massive areas that can handle multiple hunters.

Anyway, thanks all and happy opening day...whenever yours is!
 
That’s incredible man congrats to you and him
Thanks, tough gig working out everyday and waiting on that next call...takes a toll mentally but he is a tough kid. Just needs his next shot. In the meantime, he is pumped to help me try and snag an elk this year...although he will bring his cleats in case he gets a call...then we head out and get him to the closest airport lol.
 
You’ve gotta be a proud dad I know I would be!!!! I’m kind of in disbelief! I wish the best of luck to you both! Get an elk and Let us know if he gets signed to someone I’ll be rooting for him
 
re: trail etiquette
First in place is first in right...but if you can walk faster than them, then pass 'em and go where you are going.

A couple times I've had folks in front of me in the dark. First time, when they went up the hill, I went down in the draw. Killed a bull at first light. Second time there was someone on the finger we wanted to be on and they flashed their headlamp at us. We went to the next finger (1/4 mile or so). There we heard the bull bugle, went to the next finger, and killed him at first light.
 
re: trail etiquette
First in place is first in right...but if you can walk faster than them, then pass 'em and go where you are going.

A couple times I've had folks in front of me in the dark. First time, when they went up the hill, I went down in the draw. Killed a bull at first light. Second time there was someone on the finger we wanted to be on and they flashed their headlamp at us. We went to the next finger (1/4 mile or so). There we heard the bull bugle, went to the next finger, and killed him at first light.
The flashing light means come by for B&G
 
I am glad to hear that you had success on your elk scout. I have a Elk City B tag and will be going that way on October 17.
 

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