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Flatlander

Moosings - Idaho - 2019

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As a kid I can remember visiting my grandparents and cousins in Idaho and Montana.  We'd all be outside eating homemade ice cream and reminiscing about old times when the conversation would inevitably turn to the time Grandma got chased up a tree by a moose, or when one got a tire swing stuck on its antlers at the cabin in Island Park, or when one chased my cousin Brian home after he fell off the snowmobile. Still today at just about every family gathering just when things start to quiet down someone will call out in his direction "MOOOOSE!"

These experiences and many others shaped my admiration of the largest member of the deer family. When we would spend summers at the family property in Clancy, MT, the most prized of all sightings was a bull moose.  Their huge black bodies, contrasted by wide flat, white palms in the creek bottoms or black timber are mesmerizing.  While attending college in Rexburg, ID I spent as many hours as possible exploring the Big Hole mountains just outside of town. I hunted elk and deer there but was always distracted when an 8' ungulate would cross my path.  One day in November while looking for a cow elk I watched a behemoth bull moose peruse the timber apparently roaming for a second cycle cow and I promised myself that one day when I had the time and money I would be back for one of the beasts.

Those lean college years didn't allow me the opportunity to trophy hunt, let alone do justice to a once-in-a-lifetime venture. But I took note of the favorable draw odds, especially for residents, and committed that the day would come. Before leaving my native born state again I scrounged up the few hundred dollars to purchase a lifetime license ensuring that the NR cap for such a tag would never become a barrier to entry.

So this year, 10 years removed from my post-collegiate departure, I decided the time had come to begin the process of grinding away at the 18% draw odds. I figured that even without a point system in Idaho the expectation was that I would draw a tag within 5 years.

So imagine my surprise last Friday when I was greeted by this

ID Moose Result.jpg

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Since this tag is once-in-a-lifetime and I will likely never experience this again, I want to share my experience with those who might be interested in following along.

For those who do not know, Idaho is a pretty well kept secret when it comes to trophy species. What I mean by that is not that they have a lot of trophy caliber animals, but when it comes to their once-in-a-lifetime species, they have a unique combination of circumstances that keep their draw odds curiously reasonable in a time when point creep, draw strategies and ever-slimming odds are the norm. There are three factors at work here that keep this phenomena intact: First; although Idaho is growing rapidly it is still one of the least densely populated states in the west. Second; There are no bonus points, your odds today are very likely going to be your odds a few years from now. In the ten years since I left Rexburg, the resident draw percentage for this hunt has only reduced from 20% to 18% despite a consistent success rate above 90% and maintaining an average bull spread near 40". Third; Idaho requires applicants to choose to either apply for any one of the three O-I-L species (Moose, Mt Goat, Sheep) or to apply for a limited entry for deer, elk and antelope.  Because deer and elk both have OTC general seasons in much of the state residents can be guaranteed plenty of hunting without a special draw, but Idaho is as much mule deer country as it is potato country. So many residents are reluctant to pass up a chance at a rut/migration carp tag to apply for other tags many residents consider a novelty.

Just as impressive as the draw odds are the resources that ID has available on their website.771535033_MooseDrawOdds.JPG.9f7a63ecbde49bf94290c05ee7b7b7c4.JPG

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Along with harvest data and draw odds there are also interactive unit maps with surface management layers and boundaries. They do a top notch job of making it super easy to research and explore your options, even if you aren't previously acquainted with their regulations and systems.

After calling some family and friends, I wasted no time in reaching out to an old friend who was the wildlife manager for this unit when I lived there. It didn't take long to find our that he was still in the area and happy to help get me pointed in the right direction. He even gave me the address of a bull he knew of in the unit.

IMG_3962.thumb.jpg.4abf56967911755791583027b7f41829.jpgIMG_8968.jpg.febc1451365012e99d893a8957320139.jpgIMG_0056.jpg.10ec8a81842794e2514e432c7bec42ac.jpg

With that connection made its time now to start the process of figuring out gear, times, methods and locations for the hunt. I will likely only get one scouting trip in July, other than that I will be running off of what I can remember from a decade ago and a few dropped pins from my game warden buddy. So if you are interested in seeing how this turns out, check back and I will update the thread with gear prep, e-scouting, and other updates along the way. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experience if you have any.

Thanks for checking in.

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This is awesome!!! I’m on board for the whole trip here!!!  Thanks for putting this up!  Is this unit short range only?

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So cool. That will be a great adventure! Looking forward to it.

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12 hours ago, yotebuster said:

This is awesome!!! I’m on board for the whole trip here!!!  Thanks for putting this up!  Is this unit short range only?

Nope. This is a general hunt.  I am kicking around the idea of hunting with my bow as calling is an option and most of the moose encounters I  have had were at pretty close range. I am reconciling that in my mind with the fact that the surface ownership is pretty mixed and I could be potentially be trying to capitalize in brief windows when the moose is on accessible land. We will see, but in the meantime I am working on getting both the rifle and the bow set for a moose size opportunity.

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35 minutes ago, Flatlander said:

Nope. This is a general hunt.  I am kicking around the idea of hunting with my bow as calling is an option and most of the moose encounters I  have had were at pretty close range. I am reconciling that in my mind with the fact that the surface ownership is pretty mixed and I could be potentially be trying to capitalize in brief windows when the moose is on accessible land. We will see, but in the meantime I am working on getting both the rifle and the bow set for a moose size opportunity.

Probably good thinking.  My hunt was short range and I had a lot of people tell me I should use a bow.  I’m not much of a bow hunter unless the tag tells me to.  Ended up shooting mine at 20 yards with a slug gun but he was running so a bow wouldn’t have worked.  Same story where I was.  Not a lot of places where you could arrow one and have him go 200 yards and still be on the land he was to start with.  

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D0118525-E245-40C9-9D65-09426A15DF58.jpeg.90eda93ebcdb9583bcca298bea0bd48c.jpegAnother pic floating mine out.  I’m so jealous of you right now!!!  Literally the funnest hunt I’ve ever been on!!

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3 hours ago, yotebuster said:

D0118525-E245-40C9-9D65-09426A15DF58.jpeg.90eda93ebcdb9583bcca298bea0bd48c.jpegAnother pic floating mine out.  I’m so jealous of you right now!!!  Literally the funnest hunt I’ve ever been on!!

That pic is rad.  What badass way to pack a moose. Did you do any calling on your hunt?

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3 hours ago, CatfishKev said:

Congrats man, I'd love to kill a moose!

Hopefully this thread provides a road map for you and others. Its way more do-able than I thought it would be, at least so far.

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7 hours ago, Flatlander said:

That pic is rad.  What badass way to pack a moose. Did you do any calling on your hunt?

Tried lots of calling.  Not sure if we missed the rut or what.  We went down for a few days Labor Day weekend to scout/hunt.  Saw some cows and little bulls.  Then, going off friends in Utah’s recommendation of when the peak of the moose rut was we went the first week of October.  I called in one little bull to about 150 yards across the river, but I think he was more just curious.  Spent 4-5 days calling and never did call one in or hear a moose make any noise at all.  Killed mine on a small island and he was on it with another 35” bull and two cows.  Funny thing was the day before we had lunch about 200 yards from that island and spent a solid 1.5 hours calling while quietly eating lunch.  I know without a doubt those moose where there the whole time and didn’t even stand up to look.  I wouldn’t bank on calling them in.  That being said I might just suck at it. 

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Well the tag came in the mail today.

823C2A7D-CAA3-446B-98D8-C5A592881CF6.thumb.jpeg.c22c25259765680adc34a981eca605cb.jpeg

IDFG also included a nice letter outlining the requirements for reporting, all moose must be checked in with F&G, and suggesting hunting methods and explaining moose behavior. 

Also got the camp situation figured out today. Picked up a new-to-me 2006 Nomad camper. Should keep us dry and warm.5CBDDC07-0C7A-4AAC-9746-90EE452F24EF.thumb.jpeg.602ce5af03e8649a45afc2d760e00f92.jpeg

Should start testing moose loads next week while also setting the bow up with heavy arrows/heads.

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2 minutes ago, PRDATR said:

Nice looking trailer is it a 27'?

 

Yes, it’s a 2006. Nothing special feel’s like a big upgrade from our 1996 Coachmen.

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