Lessons learned: hunting partners

E-Rock

Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2017
Messages
57
Location
CDA, ID
The following is somewhat of a expression of frustration but there are reminders for all in hunting partners and expectations. Yes its long, but it was a frustrating week. I almost ended up leaving partway through as it how it was turning out, it wasn't worth my time, but my dad was with, so stuck it out and nothing good happened.

This story starts off from about 4 years ago, shortly after I started elk hunting and digging into randy Newberg and other elk hunting videos on YouTube and podcasts. I had a buddy I knew that invited me to go out with him to Colorado with others he knew to elk hunt an OTC unit.

The way this group hunted was go about 10 miles into the national forest and set up camp there. Near this camp spot were various meadows that they would sit only in the evening and they would be somewhat successful; about 1 or 2 elk a year on average. But group size was like 5 or 6 every year.

I went there when I was living in the Midwest 4 years ago, and 2 years ago as it was an excuse to get out west. 2 years ago my dad came for his first elk hunt. A little over a year ago I moved to north idaho and have more access to elk hunting closer to me.

Typically my buddy I first went out there with was on a 2 year cycle with his wife to let him go out west. So this year he looked at applying for a deer tag in a new unit while my dad and I would get elk tags.

This is where the turn goes wrong.

This deer tag was in a unit hit hard last winter and the elk tags were only good for 5 days. In addition it would be only the 3 of us, myself, my dad, and my buddy.

We had looked at this unit last year a bit and during application season, but after he drew not too much conversation occurred. After my September archery hunts I dug hard into making hunt plans for various areas of the units. I assume my dad will rely on me. But my buddy still didn't know 100% for sure if he wanted to use this tag as winter kill and animal densities were a worry for him. However, he never started looking at this area until late September/esrly October.

As it was a new area to us, we didnt know the deer, elk or animal location and behavior so I had put together about 8 different hunt plans areas that basically covered the unit for high probabilityof elk and deer. I sat down with him and my dad to go over the unit over 2 hours, describe the unit as its completely different than where we have hunted and walked through multiple areas. Basically, the goal was to be mobile in hunt areas to find the elk and deer and cross off areas where they are not. (The units we were looking at was about 36miles by 36 miles).

After I walk through specific areas, I get a message a few days later from him indicating the specific wilderness study areas in our unit that we can access. This was after I had mentioned them to him the overviewnight. So kinda frustrating that either he wasn't paying attention or that the other night was his first time hearing about that so it slipped his mind. Again, the only reason we were gonna be hunting this unti was because he was the one with the deer tag. Otherwise we would have been hunting elk like whitetail in the other unit.

A few days later, (in early to mid October) he started digging into message boards and Facebook groups about the unit he had is deer tag in and that really dissuaded him from hunting there due to the winter kill. He was thinking of returning is tag, but by the time he looked, we were 5 days out from leaving; regulation required at least 30 days. Once he drew the tag, research on that unit, especially with the winter kill should have started and looking at the regulations on decision making should have been looked at.

After he realized he couldn't return the tag, he did reach out to CPW and talked about the unit. But through talking with the game warden, a certain area got placed specifically in his mind; yet its one depended on migration. The 8 or so hunt areas and plan for being mobile got thrown out the window and he doubled down on an area that I actually ignored in my hunt areas as it wasn't and 2nd season elk looking area or an area that mule deer bucks would be (that area requires migration to occur)


I was supposed to meet my dad and buddy in town Thursday morning, but did not make it until the evening as I hit winter storms in Montana and Idaho. But when I got there. They had set up camp, about 5 miles (approximately 30 mins on good roads) back from a main county road. This would mean of I wanted to keep the hunt plans active I had looked at, I would be needing to drive 30 mins out to the main road, the maybe an hour after that to hit other areas. Unfortunately for my expectations, we had a bunch of snow and rain happen so those roads went from 30 mins in a truck to impassable until they dried.

We end up stuck back in a part of the unit (less than 0.5% of the total area of our hunt units) where elk had not moved into yet.

His hunt style has definitely been influenced by Midwest whitetail hunting as well as the other unit where they hunt meadows. When I proposed us walking to find deer (I had given up finding elk in this unit after Friday scouting it) he thought it was a new idea. (Saw 22 mule deer does, no bucks).

After two days of hunting, we packed up camp and moved to the unit where they sit meadows. Moving within the unit was not happening. We tore down camp Sunday night, drove all night and got into the other area with the people we know that hunt meadows.

We had two full days to hunt there, however it was cut short for me as my dad ended up with elevation sickness and needed to get down to lower elevation.

So no elk or deer were killed.

Basically the big take away I will give everyone from this is the following: as you start talking hunt areas and plans, make sure all people on the party are expecting the same type of hunt i.e., are we having a really accessible basecamp to get to various parts of the unit, or getting deep back in there. Also, make sure that hunt styles are similar. Even as I was trying to discuss and talk with my buddy that we can walk and glass and search for animals, he was still expecting to sit on a know and watch deer walk down the whole draw for him to shoot. He was not used to a spot and make a move kind of hunt. Also, effort needs to be taken in the hunt planning process. Even if you re-iterate in conversation over conversation about driving and checking out different areas, it doesn't always stick.

For me, it really just solidified for me that even in my 30's I don't want to waste a hunting season with poor planning and poor execution. As well as having mix-match hunting styles. There's something important about hunting the hunt how you want to hunt it. Yes adaptation needs to happen during the hunt, but when you end up in the corner of a unit, away from the hunt areas you had planned, it's definitely frustrating
Choose your hunt partners wisely...
 
Or choose to have no hunt partners. Few arguments save for those among the voices in ones head at that point.

Hard to fathom why you would come to Colo from Idaho to hunt deer/elk OTC. I go the exact opposite direction.

Never pick hunt partners who will hunt mountain mule deer and elk using whitetail tactics. Check.
 
Or choose to have no hunt partners. Few arguments save for those among the voices in ones head at that point.

Hard to fathom why you would come to Colo from Idaho to hunt deer/elk OTC. I go the exact opposite direction.

Never pick hunt partners who will hunt mountain mule deer and elk using whitetail tactics. Check.
Definitely enjoy only a few, but with similar hunt styles. Part of the hunt is getting my dad out there, part may be nostalgia. Idaho non resident draw is tough. But a saying I have that I should have listened to is "nostalgia hinders progress"

Either way, definitely learned items and want to share.
 
Definitely enjoy only a few, but with similar hunt styles. Part of the hunt is getting my dad out there, part may be nostalgia. Idaho non resident draw is tough. But a saying I have that I should have listened to is "nostalgia hinders progress"

Either way, definitely learned items and want to share.
Thought you were now an ID resident?

Agree fully cannot be too careful who you sign on to hunt with.
 
Thought you were now an ID resident?

Agree fully cannot be too careful who you sign on to hunt with.
Yep idaho for myself this past year. My dad, not so much. Just need to look more at tag allocation if there's units here.
 
I have never been into the merry band method of hunting. Never been much for planning things to death either. Late August I arrived at my Africa lodge: "Well, Pat, what do you want to shoot this trip." Me: "Whatever needs to be shot. Surprise me." Some farmer had a fabulous bull waterbuck that wasn't breeding but tough enough to keep the other guys from doing anything. Shoot him if you can. Great price. Never saw the bugger but I did take a fine impala and springbuck on the property. Whatever.
 
Definitely enjoy only a few, but with similar hunt styles. Part of the hunt is getting my dad out there, part may be nostalgia. Idaho non resident draw is tough. But a saying I have that I should have listened to is "nostalgia hinders progress"

Either way, definitely learned items and want to share.
You hit it here. Time to evolve and find new hunting partners in ID with similar hunting styles. It was a nice setup in CO when you lived out east and didn’t know anything different. Now it’s time to capitalize on being a resident in an outstanding place to hunt.

Figure out how to get your dad a tag along the way. Start with the Dec 1st WWW rodeo. Even if he can’t get a tag every year, when he does, it will be a much better experience since you will already have learned about the area more by hunting there yourself. Plus, there is nothing stopping him from joining you even if he doesn’t have a tag in his pocket.
 
I hunt by myself most of the time
But the few times I have gone out west with others I have made it very clear that even with us being on the same trip it doesnt mean we will be hunting together every day or even for a few days this is with the same tags . I think you need to keep things open as far as any game plans
If im going to hike to another place and stay a few days I have the gear and they know before hand I may do that
 
Bringing semi-motivated hunting partners on general non-premium hunts like pronghorn, whitetail deer, turkey, and cow elk usually isn’t a problem. Roll with the punches. Live and learn…

I would never bring a hunting partner on a premium, once-in-a-lifetime hunt like moose, bighorn sheep, or mountain goat or overseas hunts. Call me selfish, but I approach these type of hunts with a business and work attitude. You don’t want to waste these hunts - too hard to get tags and plan for the travel.

Good luck and happy hunting, TheGrayRider.
 
North Idaho sure isn't Colorado as far as elk density and hunting styles. Whitetail style still hunting can be pretty effective here in the jungle if your scouting tells you there are elk around. Trying to defeat elk noses has made me a better whitetail hunter. A rainy day like today would be a great day to be creeping through the timber.

I've had some good hunting partners in my 30 years here. Now I prefer to hunt alone or with my sons and granddaughter. I think my partners and I drifted apart as far as hunting when we focused on bringing up our own kids in the woods. That, and I snore like an old Homelite chainsaw.

I do have one irregular hunting buddy now. We go out one or two times a year. He's in his forties and I love testing my knees and fitness keeping up with him. He's a better hunter than me and I learn from him. He was going to be my Alaska partner this year but his work got in the way.

A perfect hunt for me right now would be going out with my granddaughter and her shooting a mature bull, then all my buddies showing up to pack it out!
The funny thing is that I have friends who would definitely do this.

I've been on HT a while now and there are definitely people on here I would hunt with. Some in the CDA area.

You've got me thinking it's time for me to put together another CDA/Spokane HT meet and greet. Remind me in January.

If you are so inclined, BHA has good folks in CDA also. BHA is looking for mentor hunters for their learn to hunt programs based out of the Farragut shooting range.

If you are a veteran your may find brothers at North Idaho Archery. Maybe even if you are not. LEOs hang out in their too. The best bunch of over-planning, mission oriented guys around.

Finding hunting partners is a tough deal in a new place. I think those of of us who hunted from an early age have those knock around buddies from our teenage years. But then you get married and have kids and that gets harder. I'm lucky to have survived some of my teenage hunting buddies. I won't go anywhere near them with guns around now.

Hunting partner relationships are not a marriage. There is no lifetime contract. Unsafe with weapons? I'm out. Asshole? I'm out. Too loud in the woods? I'm out. Don't carry your weight in your backpack or food and gas money? I'm out. Partying? I'm out. (Real men sip whiskey in camp ;) ) Can't get your butt out of bed at zero dark thirty? I'm out. Better to not hunt together and stay friends. I lost one of my best hunting partners because it was my turn to make the day's sandwiches in the camper and I put mustard on his. We are friends still, but that was our last hunt. We still joke about it. He's a retired police tactical shooter and improved my marksmanship a ton. (I've never hunted with @Big Fin, but if you ever get the chance, remember the "no pucky on sandwiches" rule!)
 
I only hunt alone or with my wife, and she doesn't carry a gun. She'll carry an elk quarter though!

This story made me sad. But, if you learn from it, then that's a good thing. You're young in elk hunting years.
 
I have three hunting partners who could call any time and I will go no questioned asked. Two are my brother and the last one is my brother in law. We have tried out 2 other people in the group, and we have learned these 3 things:
1. We will help you get a tag if does not impact my tag chances.
2. You are welcome to share splitting up the chores.
3. Make up your own hunt plan for the unit. We will help some but we are out there for our hunt, and we are not there to babysit.
 
Plus, there is nothing stopping him from joining you even if he doesn’t have a tag in his pocket.
That is definitely true! I picked up my own Kodiak Canvas this year after spending last year mule deer hunting in my buddies. The later seasons where my dad would come out, its way easier to handle than a wall tent.
 
North Idaho sure isn't Colorado as far as elk density and hunting styles. Whitetail style still hunting can be pretty effective here in the jungle if your scouting tells you there are elk around. Trying to defeat elk noses has made me a better whitetail hunter. A rainy day like today would be a great day to be creeping through the timber.

I've had some good hunting partners in my 30 years here. Now I prefer to hunt alone or with my sons and granddaughter. I think my partners and I drifted apart as far as hunting when we focused on bringing up our own kids in the woods. That, and I snore like an old Homelite chainsaw.

I do have one irregular hunting buddy now. We go out one or two times a year. He's in his forties and I love testing my knees and fitness keeping up with him. He's a better hunter than me and I learn from him. He was going to be my Alaska partner this year but his work got in the way.

A perfect hunt for me right now would be going out with my granddaughter and her shooting a mature bull, then all my buddies showing up to pack it out!
The funny thing is that I have friends who would definitely do this.

I've been on HT a while now and there are definitely people on here I would hunt with. Some in the CDA area.

You've got me thinking it's time for me to put together another CDA/Spokane HT meet and greet. Remind me in January.

If you are so inclined, BHA has good folks in CDA also. BHA is looking for mentor hunters for their learn to hunt programs based out of the Farragut shooting range.

If you are a veteran your may find brothers at North Idaho Archery. Maybe even if you are not. LEOs hang out in their too. The best bunch of over-planning, mission oriented guys around.

Finding hunting partners is a tough deal in a new place. I think those of of us who hunted from an early age have those knock around buddies from our teenage years. But then you get married and have kids and that gets harder. I'm lucky to have survived some of my teenage hunting buddies. I won't go anywhere near them with guns around now.

Hunting partner relationships are not a marriage. There is no lifetime contract. Unsafe with weapons? I'm out. Asshole? I'm out. Too loud in the woods? I'm out. Don't carry your weight in your backpack or food and gas money? I'm out. Partying? I'm out. (Real men sip whiskey in camp ;) ) Can't get your butt out of bed at zero dark thirty? I'm out. Better to not hunt together and stay friends. I lost one of my best hunting partners because it was my turn to make the day's sandwiches in the camper and I put mustard on his. We are friends still, but that was our last hunt. We still joke about it. He's a retired police tactical shooter and improved my marksmanship a ton. (I've never hunted with @Big Fin, but if you ever get the chance, remember the "no pucky on sandwiches" rule!)
Yes, the North Idaho jungle and creeping through the woods is still effective. I like the moving aspect, never know what is over the next ridgeline/creek. Utilized that this year archery elk and had cow elk within 20 yards twice this year, no bull was around. Its the going to where the elk are at, vs. waiting for them to possibly show up in a location that got me.

But sounds like you have a great time going out with family and enjoying the hunt! Keep it up. There is something about teaching or bringing others on a hunt and helping them that is fulfilling to watch and see them succeed.

And for sure, met a good buddy here on this forum and have hunted with him a few times around here. Good people on this forum for sure. Both of us are Minnesota transplants to North Idaho.
 
I only hunt alone or with my wife, and she doesn't carry a gun. She'll carry an elk quarter though!

This story made me sad. But, if you learn from it, then that's a good thing. You're young in elk hunting years.
I too hunt alone or with my wife, period! She and I have 20+ years working together..sometimes disagreeing, but always learning from our mutual mistakes. She has carried out more than her fair share of quarters and backstraps plus she not only is a great shot with her
.270, she helps with the deboning, butchering and does most of the cooking. I don't need nor want another hunting partner. She also has taught me patience and persistence. I'm a very lucky husband. With a few more Colorado elks hunts in front of us!
 
I used to think I would make a good hermit. Covid lock-down made me realize I was fooling myself, and I am actually a pretty social guy. I like hunting camp, with a group of guys. But the key is that we pretty much each have our own camp (or sub-groups do), sharing the base camp location. We will some of us hunt together, some solo, but make sure everyone has a rough idea where everyone is headed going out in the morning. Or, that's the way we used to do it.
Now, my wife and I are hunting partners. Took over 30 years to convince her to join in, and she has become hooked. As much as I loved the years hunting with my best bud out in TN and OR, I have to say my wife is my favorite hunting partner.
I have only had one negative experience with folks sharing hunting camp, and I still got a lot of hunting in and refused to let an idiot ruin my hunt. He wasn't in camp the next year...
I try to make it clear if a group hunt that I am selfish - selfish in that I am there to hunt, not to whine, and will do my best to make sure we all have a good time. I refuse to let someone else ruin my good time - if we get "that guy" in camp, well, he can hunt with like minded folks or hunt by himself.
I guess I am rambling. I think I can see how someone might ruin a camp and a hunt, but I am slow enough to invite that I usually have a pretty good picture of the person before they are asked to come along.
Makes it easy, too, that I don't have a spread of family members I am obliged to hunt with.

David
NM
 
Gastro Gnome - Eat Better Wherever

Forum statistics

Threads
110,346
Messages
1,916,921
Members
34,721
Latest member
jeemeeyah
Back
Top