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Following up on Cameron's post, I've hunted the Red River area out of Elk City. Good country, but very steep in many places with lots of thick foliage, trees, etc. Quite a few elk in there, too. Also quite a few Black bears... and some moose.
I've heard this outfitter is good, for that area, but my knowledge is second hand, as I've not hunted with him. I know he does drop camps.
Regardless of what you do, you're going to love it. I'm not slamming guides, but why not put the hunt on yourself. There's plenty of guys on this board who would offer info on good areas. I'm sure no one will tell you there secret spot, but man there's critters all over these hills. You just have to want to go get them, as I found out last season. Look at the Idaho fish & game sight and how many elk were taken from the different regions. I only have one year left to hunt in the great sate of ID before I move off, so I have problems of telling you what I've been told from many long time ID hunters. OK is not to far off, plan a trip up here a scout for a little time. If you plan it right, and do a little (a lot) of hiking, you'll find the critters. Again I'm not slamming outfitters, nor do I know of any that are good/bad. I just know I did all of the leg work when I got my elk and it made it that more enjoyable. Of course I got some good advive from these guys, so I have to give them credit (thanks again hunttalkers!). Whatever rout you take, you'll love it up here. Best of luck and happy hunting!!!
Idaho is a tough state for Outfitters to hunt, as they have no advantage over private parties. Most of the good land is Public for Elk, so the average outfitter can't take you anywhere you can't get by yourself.
Idaho is a very easy state to scout from 1000 miles away. Do a bit of research, and see where you want to go, use the IDFG stats to make sure there are Elk being killed there. Call a biologist. And then get the Topo maps. Find an area that has NO roads. And has one obstacle for the ATV crowd, and you will find a paradise of hunting.
The rule of thumb I have heard, is 80% of all hunters don't go more than 1/4 mile from a road, and 90+% don't get past 1 mile from a road. I am sure these are numbers someone made up (maybe even me...
) but I think they are reasonable. I even hear of people who will not hunt downhill for Elk, as they don't want to pack it back up hill.
If you are willing to hike for an hour, it will be just you and the Elk (or Wolves
The Elkcity/Red River area is interesting to consider, as the F&G has been bad mouthing the area for the last 5 years, claiming there are no Elk left up there, blaming hunting, wolves, bears, Mt. Lions, Y2K, the Castro Administration, Oliver North, Monica Lewinsky, Global Warming, and a vast right-wing consipiracy. There may be a few other causes I left out, but that is close...
That being said, I think the number of hunter days (indication of pressure) is falling up there. And I think competition by other hunters is worse than thinning by nature. I think the Non-resident activity may have fallen up there, so you might be able to negotiate a deal witht the Outfitter (Outfitters in Idaho have geographic terrritory).
Just a thought, on how to investigate a new area, from 1000 miles away, and perhaps even go "against the grain" on the hunt.
Public Disclosure: I have hunted this area mentioned, and killed Elk there, but will not be hunting there this year as I do not think it is my best chance of putting some 300+ horns on the wall.
thanks to all for the input. we have actually considered a do-it-yourself trip, but have been a little nervous about taking the plunge...but ya just might have me convinced. i just printed off the hunting stats published on the idaho f&g website. i also bought the delorme atlas for idaho, as well as a copy of "big game hunting in idaho." got some studying to do...
Good luck on whatever you decide Todd. There is a good chance at getting a bull in any area in Idaho as long as you get away from the crowd. We hunt Idaho every year as you know and we will easily see over 100 elk in a week and a half and no other hunters.
I have hunted Idaho three times and had a wonderful time each time. I will agree there are elk in most locations. If I do not get drawn this year I will hunt the Pan Handle. I have hunted Salmon two times and there is a place just out side and north of the city of Howel that is a good location. The bad part is there a bunch of locals. You will notice it on the map. If you call the Bio. and say you are a non resident he will send you a location that is close to this.
The last time I went was absolute south east corner of the state. This unit had people/quads everywhere and We had a tough time getting away from the other hunters. The unit gets really hammered the first couple of days and the elk move west and north.
I have never hunted with a guide so I can not help you, sorry. You do not need a guide to hunt. Do as the previous post suggested and do your homework. Look for good bull to cow ratio, hunters afield, success rates, go to the maps then call the bio.
The people on this forum are good heads and will try to help you.