What's all this River of No Return stuff, anyhow?

dgibson

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There was an article in this month's Outdoor Life about "adventure" trips for hunting and fishing. One of the desinations mentioned was the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness Area in Idaho, where they said that getting a sheep tag was (relatively) easy. They also made it very clear that the area was not for the feint of heart, giving it 5 for 5 in physical difficulty.
Thus the easy tags, I suppose. Anyway, has anyone ever hunted the area? Or even hiked it, for that matter? What's it like? I want to set an impossible physical goal for myself (remember, I'm a fatlander
)and doing a summer backpack trip into this area sounds like a good one. I've read a little on the USDAFS website ( http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/payette/main.html ) but would like some real people's opinions on the area.
 

brokfut

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The Frank Church/River of No Return is Vertical. It is some of the most remote, rugged, unforgiving terrain in the lower 48. I don't hunt in there anymore just because of my age and physical condition. I do hunt in Idaho area 21 which is ajacent to the wilderness area. There are a couple of outfits out of Salmon that run horseback operations in the summer if you want to take a look at the country and get a feel for what you would be in for. I would recommend you spend some time in there before jumping into a hunt unprepared. Good luck...fabulous country to hunt.
 

Wally Dog

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dgib,
Access via jetboat is generally available in any of the early seasons. But remember only the Main Salmon River is navigable and most of time the better rams don't come down country toward the river (and the ewes) til on into late October or November. It's incredible but tough country.
WD
 

Ithaca 37

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I hunted in the unit you're looking at, around Pungo Mountain and Marble Creek in 1990. You can fly in to an airstrip near Marble Creek and backpack from there. It's a killer, so if you're looking for a challenge that would be the place. It took me over a month to recover from my exhaustion. I'd recommend doing a summer flaot trip first to look the area over. I found a real nice ram and let my hunting buddy shoot it. It scored 176 B&C. I was looking for a bigger one and never found it.
 

dgibson

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If I decide to make a go of it I will definitely spend some time there in the summer when I don't have the cold to contend with and to do some scouting. I'm looking at this as a pie-in-the-sky goal...right now I probably couldn't walk across a meadow at that elevation without an oxygen mask.
Thanks for the input, folks!
 

BigHornyRam

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Darren,

I took a ram out of the Middle Fork country in 2001. Best hunt of my life. I will be posting some pictures soon so you can see how steep this country is.

I bought a raft trip from Idaho Wilderness Co last year at a FNAWS auction and will be doing it this summer. Great way for the family to see this country, do some fishing, hiking or what ever.

Last year Idaho went to 10% maximum non resident allotment on sheep tags, so the odds are a lot poorer than they once were. You also need to purchase a non refundable apox. $120 hunting license prior to putting in for the draw. I was lucky and purchased a life time hunting license prior to moving away from Idaho. Evan though I have to pay the $1500 non resident tag fee, I am considered a resident for the allotment purposes. In 2004 I will start putting in for the California Bighorns.

Good luck if you decide to put in sheep in Idaho. Let me know if you want any help selecting a unit or if you some how draw a tag!

Paul

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 01-30-2003 09:17: Message edited by: Paul C ]</font>
 

ELKCHSR

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The first year I had any thing to do with fire fighting, I was following 2 buldozers all day for a couple weeks in the area some where. Very rugged and beutiful!!!
 

Moosie

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Is that the 27 Area ?

ODDS in Idaho are fairly OK for Sheep. NOT good for NON-RES. but OK for RES. I still haven't drawn though


Paul, Kudos on the Lifetime licence. I hear ALOT of people do that when they leave !!! Works great !!
 

T Bone

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Paul,

I'm in the same boat as you. I picked up a lifetime license before I moved to Nevada. Are you 100% sure that you and I with the lifetime licenses are included in the resident allotment?

I just assumed I'd go into the nonresident allotment, but I like what you're saying. That encourages me to cough up the $1500 app fee.

On your middle fork hunt, were you on the east or west side? I've been putting in for the east side for years but havn't drawn. I hunted rams there with my Dad 15 years ago and the Crags area got into my blood. If you drew and killed on the west side, you're one of few that have got rams there. I've heard there are some big boys in there, but its tough spotting because of all the timber.

T Bone
 

dgibson

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Paul, thanks for the clarification! I went back to re-read that blurb and the guy's hunting was done in the 90's, so I guess it was before the adjustment for NR's. That's OK if I don't get it for a while...I'm going to need the time.
And if I never get it I won't be too sorry; that's what pipe dreams are for. I'm still going to visit someday, just to see what all the fuss is about.
 

Horn Seeker

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That is some beautiful country hah Ithaca! I hunted Pungo with my dad and his buddy in 2001. We flew into Thomas Creek and packed several miles up Marble Creek, then would hike up Pungo each day in search of Rams. We saw two good rams way across a canyon then some snow and fog blew in and that was the last thing we saw!

I would never hold out for bigger than a 170ish ram in that country though. You are hard core! My dad was 61 years old when he did that hunt and he impressed the shit out of me.

good Luck
 

BigHornyRam

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I put in for the 27L hunt because I already had a Yukon hunt booked, and figured it would be a good year to apply for a next to imposible tag. Then as luck would have it, I drew the sucker. Of only 2 tags available, a California guy and myself drew tags, so I know that I was lumped in the resident allotment.

I hunted on the west side and spent some time on the east side glassing the west. When I found my ram, I was camped in the same place that the fellow who took the largest native ram in Idaho was camped. That's all I'm telling. Most rams are not big by Montana standards, but once in a while theres a big boy found. You will not find a neater, tougher place to hunt bighorns than Central Idaho!

Paul
 
D

Deerslayer

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T-Bone...I bought the Resident Louisiana Lifetime License many years back before I moved out west......and I hunt that state as a Resident until the day I die no matter where I live. Paul is correct...your in.....
 

Ithaca 37

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Horn Seeker, I passed on the 176 ram because a buddy of mine told me he'd seen a ram in that unit the previous elk season that would score over 185. That's the one I was looking for. On the last day of my season I ran into a Forest Ranger and was telling him about my hunt. He told me they had found the big ram in the Spring where it had died during the winter. It scored 186! I spent the whole season looking for a ram that was already dead! Passed up some real nice rams, too.
 

HUNT2MUCH

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dgibson, your talkin about the wildest, meanest, sheep country in Idaho, there are a couple of diff units, so make sure you are on the right side of the river when you put in, also consider a guide if you can handle it , call Stanely Potts, the best sheep guide in the country..but there are better sheep units in Idaho, do some research,Stan guided the gov tag into a real nice ram last year, he'll give ya straight info..h2m
 

BigHornyRam

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Hunt2much,

I heard that Stan as well as neighbor outfitter Steve Zettle sold both their hunting outfits to one individual. Don't know who the buyer is at this time. I know Stan has had his outfit for sale for several years and wish him the best in retirement. After reading his book "The Potts Factor Versus Murphys Law" he deserves it!

Paul
 

HUNT2MUCH

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Paul, I'm headed by his place this weekend to chase a few steelies, I'll find out the story h2m
 
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