Unit 41 Idaho Late Buck

HighCountryCommando

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Jul 8, 2018
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This is my first foray in to the non-resident hunting experience. I spent months and months researching and over the last few days of being in Idaho I've had some clarity that will greatly influence my out of state hunting decisions in the future. This is a non-resident perspective, so its not indicative of what residents might experience given the fact they typically draw the tag and conducting scouting efforts more often.

There are a number of things I have learned about this hunt specifically and Idaho in general. First, and what will come as no surprise to many, is that harvest odds are skewed toward resident hunters. After speaking with IDFG bios and other hunters I would estimate that non-resident odds for this hunt are likely an par with the general hunt odds (on average between 30%-40%). Second, while there is a lot of talk about winter weather pushing deer out of Nevada into the unit, the reality is there is enough winter habitat in Nevada that a lot of those deer stay in Nevada, at least for November. I admit a massive once in several decades snow storm will likely push more deer into the unit, but for the vast majority of years you are regulated to hunting resident deer. Resident deer numbers are low and they are widely dispersed. The biggest concentrations are near the Nevada/Idaho boarder and I'm pretty sure everyone understands that fact, given the numbers of camps and atvs we saw in this area. If you don't like crowds the good news is there is tons of the unit to the north, but hardly have any deer either. I think most of the resident deer in this unit think they are antelope or chuckar. Which brings me to my next point. There are four controlled antelope hunts and a general deer hunt before the late deer hunt. Throw in the fact that this area sees high traffic due to chuckar hunting and safari sight seers (atv herds), and deer in the open country are constantly being pushed and are on the move. I spent time scouting this summer in the far reaches of the unit only to consistently find antelope or chuckar hunters had blown the basin. With so many roads and easy topography an atv will get you absolutely anywhere. Yes there are wilderness areas, but when has that stopped anyone? I have been hunting the most barren off the beaten path places I can find trying to get away from other parties and hunters and so far have not been able to accomplish it.

My second rant, I know there are limited options for how state fish and game agencies conduct surveys, but their are no controls in place to keep hunters from fudging the numbers, either in harvest, or antler points. I spoke directly to a bio from the Southwest region office who admitted that at least for unit 41 harvest rates and antler points are likely less than what is reported to the agency, but they post what they get in the absence of better data.

What have I learned so far? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I have also learned that there is so much important info you can only get from being on the ground. My take is that unless you can draw a unit every 2-3 years, your at a huge disadvantage (as a diy hunt) when it comes to harvest rate and quality, no matter what the published harvest rates and quality indicate.

I think a lot of folks apply for unit 41 hoping for an experience more like unit 40 or 42, which at this point is hilarious. I drove through both of those units on my way to unit 41 and saw more than 10 times the deer from the truck than I've seen hiking my butt off in 10 days in this unit. A week of unit 41 scouting this summer revealed 10 bucks, the biggest a 23" 4x3. So far after 10 days of hunting, I have seen 4 bucks, the biggest a 21" 2x3. Also, by my estimation the rut began a few days ago. I've completely changed my expectations since researching/applying for this unit. The first 3x3 I see is toast. I will say this, the country is absolutely beautiful, the basalt is hammering my tires, and man are there a ton of antelope out here.
 

hallywood 24-7

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Jul 3, 2014
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Well I read your comments on 41 !!! with everything you said do you have any advice for me? I drew the tag this year and thought it was a really good tag but after reading what you said my expectations may be changing. Are there places that you can get away from people? Any info would be greatly appreciated my phone # 360-921-2290 text or call thanks for taking the time..

Sincerely Kyle
 

HighCountryCommando

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Jul 8, 2018
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101
If you want a deer in these drought conditions find some ag fields in the north near the Snake River and sit on them for a week. Don't expect a huge buck it's not managed for trophy deer. I put this tag on par with a 3rd season Colorado hunt that only takes 1 or 2 points to draw. As a non resident you could hunt Colorado way more frequently than this unit and your chances although slim either way are much better in Colorado for shooting a big buck. If you are a resident nearby you could probably scrounge up a couple 25"+ bucks in a summers/fall worth of scouting or have access to private land. But it is some wiiiiiiiide deserted country. Make sure you got 10 ply tires and 2 good spares.
 

hallywood 24-7

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Jul 3, 2014
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If you want a deer in these drought conditions find some ag fields in the north near the Snake River and sit on them for a week. Don't expect a huge buck it's not managed for trophy deer. I put this tag on par with a 3rd season Colorado hunt that only takes 1 or 2 points to draw. As a non resident you could hunt Colorado way more frequently than this unit and your chances although slim either way are much better in Colorado for shooting a big buck. If you are a resident nearby you could probably scrounge up a couple 25"+ bucks in a summers/fall worth of scouting or have access to private land. But it is some wiiiiiiiide deserted country. Make sure you got 10 ply tires and 2 good spares.
Thanks for the heads up I have 10 points for deer and elk in Colorado need to burn them one of these days. I was going to take 2 weeks off for this hunt what are your thoughts first 2 weeks of the season or the last 2 weeks ?
 

hallywood 24-7

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Jul 3, 2014
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@hallywood 24-7 it's time for you to get some boots on the ground brother man!
I know I've spent the last few years hunting Montana a lot but I play the point game in 9 states the thing that really bums me out is I have 14 points deer and elk Wyoming and Utah but it sounds like they are going to make it harder to draw tags :( but your right I need to start burning some points!!!
 

HighCountryCommando

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Jul 8, 2018
Messages
101
If you've hunted Eastern Montana, and stayed within a mile of the roads, then you should be very familiar with the quality found in 41. There's just a lot less deer in 41 but you'll likely see few pigs on private if you pound the north end. You can set up a spotter on the North side of the Snake River. Plenty of high spots to cover a lot of terrain and glassing mostly private where the deer you see are strictly look but don't touch. I tried that approach problem was it it takes quite a while to spot a deer from that side and get to it before it moves on to private.

I just don't think anybody realizes how pounded the unit gets by antelope and general deer hunters before the Nov hunt. Go look at the Idaho regs and see the number of seasons and hunters that get a crack at the landscape before you do. Not to mention the ATV safaris, but they're typically gone across the unit come the middle to end of September. But they do their job of focusing game into the cracks and far corners of the unit.
 
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