elk

The 2013 Elk Plan Live Chat - Draft Plan Questions and Answers

Bugling elk

 

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission approved the release of a draft elk plan for public comment at their August meeting.  Biologists are conducting an online chat in regard to the draft elk plan on August 29, 2013 from 6 - 8 pm MDT.

We look forward to taking your comments and addressing your questions.

 

 

Chat guidelines

 

In general, for your post to be approved, please follow these simple guidelines:
Be respectful. Stay constructive. Stay on topic. No objectionable language. 
 

Comments that violate these guidelines generally will not be made public. You participate at your own risk, and take personal responsibility for your comments, your username, and any information provided.

 

 

 

Elk Plan Document

Trophies Come in All Sizes!

Well, the Super Hunt tag thing didn't go as I had planned.

The morning of October 1, I found myself 80 yards from a really heavy bull. Trees were thick, but open enough. Weather was bitterly cold, which was refreshing. Elk were going crazy.

After watching a bachelor group of small bulls walk by I heard that infamous deep grunting bugle from behind me. I took off running in that direction trying to keep my balance on the steep slope. He would scream every time I did, but I wasn’t gaining ground. I knew he would be in a clearing soon so I kept on trucking. Finally, when I heard him singing I knew he was close. I got down and began looking around and there he was! Massive antlers. I didn’t even count points, I didn’t have to. He was huge!

I waited and waited for a shot trying not to be seen by his cows. Finally, he stopped in between two trees that gave me about a foot wide shot at his vitals. I took the shot. The sound and smell of that old Win 270 filled the air. I watched the bull react. He was confused but that was all. I couldn’t get another shot in. He turned and followed his cows up the hill and if he wasn’t hit then he had one heck of a funny walk.

This was Monday morning at 0930. I spent the rest of that day and every daylight hour until Thursday noon looking for him. Not a lot of blood and no bull. They had walked into the thickest stuff I have ever walked through. I was cutting branches and ripping out bushes. I literally went insane those few days. Not even magpies and crows gave me a clue as to where he was. I hope it was a bad shot and he made it for next year’s archery. I puked several times knowing the biggest bull I have ever taken aim at slipped through another season.

After a long drive home and a lot of coffee I grabbed my family and we headed out to the desert. About 6pm my 6-year old son says, "Dad, elk!!" I look and see cows 50 yards ahead. I hop out and sure enough there was a bull, a small 5x.

I got back in the SUV and both my kids said, “Shoot it Dad. Shoot it.” I said it’s not big enough. Then Hunter, my kiddo said, “Are you kidding me?! He is huge.”  Ha.  That’s when I realized where the true trophy in this hunt was. After several pictures that "trophy" bull is now hanging in my son’s room. I guess trophies come in all kinds.

All in all, not what I wanted from my Super Hunt, but what I needed. It was great!   - John Thornley

The Whole Mountain Came Alive...

Before sun-up opening morning of the 2009 rifle elk season it was 15 degrees in Unit 4.  My son and daughter in law, Jordan and Courtney, and I hiked 45 minutes to a clearing that we'd seen elk before. While I waited there for shooting light, Jordan & Courtney decided to backtrack a little bit and head down a well-used game trail & sit overlooking a smaller clearing near the bottom of the drainage. A few minutes went by and the magic time had arrived. All of a sudden a shot from above on the ridge road rung out and the whole mountain side came alive. A herd of elk came crashing down toward me. As I waited to see what or where they came out, I caught glimpses of several cows and a spike bull weaving through the trees on the far hillside, heading just below where I was positioned.  It didn't take long until those same elk single filed right below me at about 125 yards. As I waited for the spike bull to show itself, I suddenly saw a 6X5 instead. Understandably I didn't have time to even ask to myself where he'd come from before I pulled the trigger and down he went. What an awesome hunt. With the help of my kids we had him skinned out, quartered and packed out back to camp by early afternoon!   - Troy Hess

Nice Shot.

I was just going for a drive and spotted these elk on the hill side outside Garden Valley. Out of season so I shot them with my camera...

- Neal Bernklau

Surprise!

It was the second day of cow season and my dad had already shot his elk so we were trying to get mine. My dad's friend Nick told us to walk this one trail that was really steep. We got about 45 mintutes in when my dad had to use the "outhouse," so I was sitting there waiting when I saw two cows. I didn't say anything to my dad cause I thought it would be funny. I was aiming gettting ready to shoot when I just happened to look over and I saw his huge swaying rack. I repositioned myself and just let it rip. The next thing I know my dad is freaking out and well you can see the picture for the rest. But let me tell you one thing, I had only taken one animal before and that was a deer. This was huge for me. When we got phone service I called everyone on my contact list... Idaho is just the best. No questions asked! - Joshua Hutchinson

Panhandle Check Station Results

Elk Harvest
Frankly, I’m not a big fan of check stations.  They’re spot checks at a single location and there are a lot of factors that influence the data other than the size of the elk herd.  (That’s why I do like the mid-winter flight data, even though it’s a lot more expensive.)

We’ve run two stations pretty regularly since 1974 (a few scattered before that as well).  Hunting seasons have changed a lot, so I truncated the data at 1991 in the graphs below.  That’s the year we moved from a September either sex opener, to a standard October 10th bull opener.  You could probably make a decent argument that the graphs should only go back to 1998, when we started the A/B tag system.

So, in VERY general terms, bull elk success rates are looking decent at both check stations, and hunter participation has been declining through both stations since about 1992:

I gave up on trying to make comparisons for cow harvest.  Sometimes the cow season opened on a Friday, sometimes on a Saturday; sometimes it was 7 days long, sometimes 3, etc.  That analysis will just have to wait for the report card data to come in.

Wolf Harvest
From October 1-24, 2009, hunters took 7 wolves in the Idaho Panhandle.  Hunters have taken 9 wolves during this same period this year.  We also had an earlier opener this year (August 30th) with 6 wolves taken prior to October 1.  If we follow the same pattern of harvest as 2009, we would have a final hunter harvest of about 40 wolves.  In general terms, this would take care of most, if not all of the expected reproductive increase.  Trapping should result in a decrease in the Panhandle’s wolf population.