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How do you feel about brush and timber? Elk hunting ranges from really good to IMO terrible. Just really unit by unit and sometimes just one ridge or drainage to the next. Tons of opportunities for whitetail hunting, not much for mule deer if that’s more your thing
Two words: Totally different. As in, "I can't believe I am still in the same state." It's a very different mind game hunting open country compared to the rugged wet jungles of northern Idaho. Some can make the switch, it drives other folks crazy.
I grew up in the north. Killed a lot of deer and elk up there with a lever action .30-30 with iron sights. It's more still hunting because the brush and timber is SOOO thick. It's taken me a while to get used to the spot and stalk style hunting down here. In a lot of ways, I still suck at it and want nothing more than to get the wind in my favor and creep through a draw trying to see them before they see me.
It's just a different style of hunting. Like Ben said above, some can make the switch, some can't.
The whitetail hunting is phenomenal. The elk are there but - like others have stated - it is thick pretty much anywhere you go up there. I still think it is pretty good elk hunting but spotty. A lot of that country is what many call farm land elk. Small herds generally always together. A lot less bugling in my time living there. But fun if you can find them. A different world for sure.
Like everywhere, I hunted unit one this year for white tail and muley. most of my honey holes had trucks there with Washington plates. Normally it’s a slam dunk for whitetail up there. Lot more people every year
Hell's Canyon Mule Deer herd is in recovery from rough winters in '16 and '17. They also got hit with EHD. The tags were reduced. I had a limited draw for 18 last year and returned the tag. Even though I returned the tag and paid the ($3) return fee, I am wait listed until 2021. I used to see 180+ bucks all the time in there. Now the Salmon side is almost whitetail only. BUT, they are really nice whitetails. The ranch I had permission on on the Salmon side is now owned by a Texas Corporation. There is good BLM if you have OnX and a boat. IDFG published today the muley fawn recruitment for 2020 is up, so that is good.
Recent access agreements between IDFG and corporate timber have opened hundreds of thousands of acres fee-free. Your hunting license is your pass. This is walk-in, day use access. Although some of the companies will sell you and ATV permit. You also need a corporate camping pass if you plan to overnight.
If you are a meat hunter for elk, North Idaho can be great. Greenfield cow hunts have mostly replaced Ag Depredation hunts. In the Palouse Zone, for example, if the get the Archery elk tag, you can rifle hunt antlerless only within 1 mile of tilled ground from August 1-29. Then Any Elk Archery Aug 30- Sept30. They recently changed the rule to include ground which is used for crop "storage", I.E. haystacks. If you are handy with Google Earth and OnX, you can find a lot of accessible ground to hunt.
It is still not a crapshoot. The irony for me is I see mostly bulls in bachelor mode during this hunt. I've tagged cows in August and you need to get on the "guttin' and gilling' " right away.