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SE ID rut, weak or strong?

Bullshot

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2018
Messages
407
Location
Two days into the rising sun
Does anybody have insight on the strength of elk rut behavior in far SE Idaho or eccentricities unique to the area. I have a general capped bow tag, can schedule to hunt any one week of the season I want, and truth be told I am not terribly excited. I know, I know, blasphemy! I’ve only been there once before but my last time out, with a rifle, I found almost no evidence of the encouraging elk sign or behaviors like I would find almost anywhere I’ve been in CO or WY. No old rubs, no old wallows, no beaten down trails or great concentrations of scat. I wonder if elk even herd up and if there is much competition between bulls for harems, satelite dynamics, etc. The population seems very low and scattered, quiet and more elusive than other places. Distance from roads or trails didn’t seem to correlate to anything. I found sets of fresh tracks around 7500-8000 ft in dense pine and aspen belts, so there were some elk around in mid-oct, still on summer range. But it just felt a bit off as if just random nomadic individuals. This time, I’ll be there in Sept and spike camping around 8K and hiking in further from there, max you can get from a road is about 2-3 miles and there isn’t much more up I could go than 9000 feet, and can’t go down into private, which seems like it would be really hot and dry that time of year anyway. Just a little perplexed and wishing I was more “up” in my mindset for this solo trip. I hunt as much for the experience as I do for the kill and really don’t care if I get one at all, but just taking my bow for a quiet walk in the woods is not my goal either!
 
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HuntDon

Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2020
Messages
28
Location
Idaho
Probably not a helpful response but it depends on the year. I hear bugles every September but some years it is more frequent than others. I focus less on calling and more on the need of elk. Bulls follow cows during that time but the cows generally stick to the area where they can fill their needs. The unit I hunt is almost devoid of water. A few years ago I called IDFG and asked about a particular unit. They told me that unit is really dry and drought is a serious issue. With that in mind, I set out to find water that was not shown on google earth or on maps. I figured water found on maps would be overrun with hunters. It took me five or six scouting trips but eventually, I found a spring at high elevation. It was covered in elk sign so I threw up a trail camera. Within a few weeks I had a ton of elk on camera and no other hunters. I have taken an elk from this spring three years in a row. I am not sure if you're from Idaho or if scouting before the season is even an option. In my opinion, understanding a particular unit is the most important aspect of finding elk.
 

westelker

Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2021
Messages
50
Does anybody have insight on the strength of elk rut behavior in far SE Idaho or eccentricities unique to the area. I have a general capped bow tag, can schedule to hunt any one week of the season I want, and truth be told I am not terribly excited. I know, I know, blasphemy! I’ve only been there once before but my last time out, with a rifle, I found almost no evidence of the encouraging elk sign or behaviors like I would find almost anywhere I’ve been in CO or WY. No old rubs, no old wallows, no beaten down trails or great concentrations of scat. I wonder if elk even herd up and if there is much competition between bulls for harems, satelite dynamics, etc. The population seems very low and scattered, quiet and more elusive than other places. Distance from roads or trails didn’t seem to correlate to anything. I found sets of fresh tracks around 7500-8000 ft in dense pine and aspen belts, so there were some elk around in mid-oct, still on summer range. But it just felt a bit off as if just random nomadic individuals. This time, I’ll be there in Sept and spike camping around 8K and hiking in further from there, max you can get from a road is about 2-3 miles and there isn’t much more up I could go than 9000 feet, and can’t go down into private, which seems like it would be really hot and dry that time of year anyway. Just a little perplexed and wishing I was more “up” in my mindset for this solo trip. I hunt as much for the experience as I do for the kill and really don’t care if I get one at all, but just taking my bow for a quiet walk in the woods is not my goal either!
Last year I hunted the unit west of Driggs. PM me if that is an area you are considering and I can provide you some interesting details etc. Good Luck
 

IdahoNick

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
537
SE Idaho elk hunting covers a lot of territory. Some units have decent numbers, but most units in SE ID have very scattered and transient elk populations with low densities.

As far as rut goes, they screw just as hard here as they do in CO or WY, but I think it is just not an easy task to locate elk in most units in SE ID.
 

BrianID

Active member
Joined
Nov 11, 2003
Messages
262
Location
SE Idaho/El Paso, TX
3rd week of September would be a good guess for peak rut activity. I've been in heavy rutting activity multiple times on the opener on August 30th and watched bulls bugling and chasing cows during the rifle deer hunt in mid October on multiple occasions. All it takes is one "hot" cow to get the bulls fired up.

Hunting pressure can make the elk much less vocal and less visible. Many of the elk in SE Idaho have also learned private land they can go to when pressured to avoid being harassed by hunters.

Last year I hunted the unit west of Driggs. PM me if that is an area you are considering and I can provide you some interesting details etc. Good Luck
OTC tags are already sold out so he already had to pick his unit.
 
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