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Thread: Last elk hunt of the year - early Decembr in Idaho

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    Really Senior Member jon_norstog's Avatar
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    Last elk hunt of the year - early Decembr in Idaho

    We gave up the Oregon hunt Saturday, 11/28. My brother Paul had a tag for the 4-day December elk muzzle-loader hunt in the "Dworshak Zone" in Idaho, beginning 12/2. He got a cow year before last and it was looking like we would get snow this year. I tried to buy a tag for this hunt in August, (I have a lifetime ID hunting licanse) but they were all sold out, so as in the last two years I was there to “help” hunt and so we could keep track of each other. Years back I could always carry a .22 and bring back a grouse or two. They were scarce last year and nowhere to be seen this year. So what the hell - carry a camera!

    Used to be you could count on some snow during the regular elk season; what with climate change elk rifle season tends to be warm and dry, hard to track the animals plus you make a lot of noise walking around. Also the wolves have really changed elk behavior. You can’t just blunder around in the woods and get lucky, not like you used to. December used to be impossible in these mountains, but now it is more like late fall.

    The area we are hunting now, above the North Fork of the Clearwater, is very steep and the wolves have a tough time operating ... they are out of luck unless they can catch an elk or deer in a flat place like an old logging road. One catch on this hunt is with a muzzle-loading rifle, you get one shot so you better make it good.

    We have a good general idea where the elk are going to be so we would hunt as a team: while Paul took a likely position I would slowly work around him in a half-mile to mile circle. We have walkie-talkies so we can stay in touch. There were hardly any hunters in the area and the animals were not being startled into making stupid mistakes. I was carrying a camera instead of a rifle so I took a mess of pictures.

    It was a lot warmer than the Oregon hunt, temperatures in the low teens at night and mid-twenties during the day, plus the sun was out every day of the hunt, We have a campsite we keep going back to, above Breakfast Creek at maybe 2700 ft elevation. Steve and Mike showed up and set up a pretty flossy camp, while Paul put up his old wall tent.

    ] Attachment 114583

    Morning before the fog burned off, looking toward the North Fork way below. It was cold and sunny the whole time.



    Paul is looking down into a big clearcut to see if any elk are moving through it.



    This is the main road runs down to the Dworshak Reservoir and onward to Weippe.



    Lots more coming. This site only allows so many photos per post.
    Last edited by jon_norstog; 01-26-2021 at 08:32 PM.

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  3. #2
    Really Senior Member jon_norstog's Avatar
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    We and the elk had a good moon, late at night and early morning. It was convenient for those of us who have to get and pee. This was the second morning.

    Attachment 114562

    Br'er Wolf was here, compare to my size 12 boot print. The only tracks I saw were of lone wolves, no packs.

    Attachment 114563

    An elk bedded down here

    Attachment 114564

    There's a trail!

    Attachment 114565




    And more coming!

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    Really Senior Member jon_norstog's Avatar
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    What to do? Follow that trail down!




    Getting a little steep, isn't it!



    Now THIS is steep! Over 100% slope ... I had to hand-over-hand using tree branches


    At the bottom, an old logging road and a place where several elk were bedding down



    Now what?

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    Really Senior Member jon_norstog's Avatar
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    I found the trail from here, left that abandoned logging road and into thick trees



    Deer! A buck was acting out here, raising hell, maybe trying to get his antlers to shed.



    The trail led me into old growth cedar, fir and spruce below a ridge. Nice hangout.



    I'm late to the party.


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    Really Senior Member jon_norstog's Avatar
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    I sneaked around a bit then got up on the ridgetop.

    The ridgetop is more old growth, a place Paul and my son-in-law Wesley call "the Cathedral" It is a kind of hangout for elk and deer .. Wesley got caught in an elk stampede there one year.



    There was beaucoup hoarfrost - it was a glittering world



    Well that day wore on. I heard a gunshot but it wasn't Paul. On the way out we saw where two elk had bedded down on a sunny spot in the middle of the trail we walked in on. Loafing there while we knocked ourselves out looking for them.

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    Really Senior Member jon_norstog's Avatar
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    So the next day we gave it another show in the same area. I did the sam big circle as the day before and closed it up about 1 PM. Then Paul moved to a stakeout where he could see the places the elk had bedded the previous day and I did a slow drive along a likely-looking trail. There's Paul on the trail ...



    This IS a likely-looking trail!



    I was really close on this cow. They don't do their business in their bed - this one was startled. I hoped she would run Paul's way.



    End of the day, end of the hunt!



    That was the hunt that was. We broke camp next morning and got back to Sandpoint around 2 ... cleaned up, went over and surprised my granddaughters. GRAMPA!!! And they were on me like that!

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