Newsletter 9 12-12-2005
I figured it was about time for an update. Perhaps the most amazing news is that I finally got around to updating the photo gallery of the website. I didn't realize it had been so long since I'd last done that. It's really kind of a pain for someone as lazy as me...since I don't use a digital camera I have to scan the pictures, then photoshop them to the right size and resolution, then upload them to my website with my archaic dial-up connection, and then I can finally get them laid out on the website. I'm also running out of clever little captions (all right, maybe they never were all that clever, but I tried!), for each photo so please cut me some slack in that department! I would just quit the photo gallery thing completely except that I get so many positive comments from people that seem to enjoy them. I include photos of nearly every animal we take, be it miniscule, middlin', or monstrous whereas many other outfitters' websites will include only pictures of the 5 or 10 biggest critters they've bagged in 15 years or however long they've been doing it. That might cost me some hunt sales but at least the folks that do choose to hunt with me have realistic ideas about what to expect. Anyway, the most recent pictures I've added are at the end of page 8 and all of page 9 of the photo gallery. The gallery is now up to date with the exception of the Montana lion hunt from last week since I haven't developed those pictures yet.
The first moose hunter of the year drew a tag for the new 7 day season. He started out hunting on his own and when he contacted me we had only 2 days left to hunt. There are a lot of moose up here but to try and be selective with only 2 days to hunt is pushing it a bit. We saw several bulls the first day but either passed on them or were unable to make a shot opportunity. Early on the morning of the second day we took an average bull about 37" wide and Bob had a freezer full of great meat. The hunt was at the end of September and although the leaves were still thick the bulls were rutting like mad. With a few more days to hunt I think we could have pulled out a monster but given what we had to work with I think we did alright.
The next moose hunter had a 7-day hunt planned for the beginning of November. I was really looking forward to this one because all the leaves would be off and there would be a good chance of snow on the ground to improve visibility even more. As it turned out we did have great snow but a mix-up on the tag cost us 2 1/2 days of our hunt while we waited for the Fish and Game office to open on Monday morning so the hunter could get a duplicate tag. Despite that we had a great hunt and saw a total of at least 42 moose in about 3 1/2 days of hunting. On the first day out, the first moose we saw turned out to be an absolute monster...one of the biggest I've ever seen and clearly 50" plus. I guess it caught us both a little flat-footed though and despite a couple shooting opportunities no lead was flung in his direction. Over the next 2 days we passed on some bulls, one of which looked to be around 45". Thursday morning we ran into a group of 3 bulls, one of which was tremendous. This time powder was burned, lead was flung, but all we had to show for our effort was a small clump of cut hair. Shortly after that we encountered another bull which we initially rejected because he wasn't as wide as we were hoping for. But after watching him a bit more and noticing the great depth of his palms we decided maybe he was a shooter after all. By the time we decided this it was a little tougher shot...and another bull escaped our clutches. Friday morning was the last day of the hunt and we essentially went out with the intention of making meat...which we did pretty quickly with an average bull. Overall, the moose hunting was a blast this year and I'm looking forward to some of you pulling tags in years to come.
The whitetail hunt this year was pretty fair, although we didn't knock down any monsters. We took a total of 4 bucks, one 3x4, two 4x4s and a 5x5. Three of the four bucks taken this year were the hunters' first whitetails and one of the four was the hunter's first deer of any kind. It was a lot of fun to see these guys connect. There was a very nasty case of stomach flu that came through camp this year and cost people some valuable hunting time. I also lost two hunters due to the fact that they didn't purchase their tags in advance and the nonresident deer tag quota was filled for the first time in many years. I was monitoring the quota closely online and there appeared to be plenty of tags as usual but apparently the Fish and Game had a backlog of purchased tags that they had not updated on their website so the tags remaining in the quota went from around 750 to zero in about 1 day. Definitely a lesson to be learned there...as soon as you know for certain that you'll be deer hunting in Idaho you should buy your tags to avoid disappointment! The locals knocked down some great whitetails this year and a neighbor kid connected with an incredible 32" muley. The deer hunting keeps getting better every year and I don't think next year will be an exception due to the fact that we've made it to mid-December now and the snow is still relatively shallow. The killer winters are always the ones that start early and stay late so even if winter really turns it on now I believe we'd have only minor mortality.
The final bit of news I have is on our Montana lion hunt from last week. I had 3 hunters booked for the first week but one guy had a complication with Montana's online licensing system and consequently missed the 8/31 deadline for purchasing a mountain lion tag. He still came along with his father-in-law to enjoy the hunt, but not as a shooter. So we had 2 lion hunters for the first week and one got his cat on the first day and the other got his on the second. Both hunters were subscribers to the one lion in the tree is better than two in the bush school of thought and both lions happened to be females. So we didn't account for any monster toms in Montana this year but both cats will make awesome life-size mounts.
I haven't started with the Idaho lion hunts yet this winter but am looking forward to what should be a good year, especially with the additional guiding territory I purchased from the adjoining outfitter. This winter is booked for lion but there may be some possible windows for bobcats remaining. I'm also working on getting next winter booked now.
The spring bear season is getting close to being booked but I still have the first week of May open for a spot and stalk or baited hunt, and an opening for a single hunter during the 4th week of May for spot and stalk.
Well, I think that about does it...as well it should since I've written a goldang book here! Hope you all had a great fall and I wish you a Merry Christmas!
If you'd prefer not to receive this newsletter just let me know and I'll remove your name from the list. If your name was somehow duplicated on my list and you receive more than one copy of the same newsletter let me know and I'll try to take care of that too. Thanks.
Newsletter 8 9-30-2005
It's been a few months since the last newsletter so I thought I'd send out a quick update. Since the last newsletter was in June there's not a lot to report in terms of hunting activity but I'll fill you in nonetheless.
I booked no archery deer hunts this year. I'm not sure why I'm not getting a few more bowhunters as we've had good success on nice bucks in the past. But whatever the reason, as a consequence, I spent a lot of time cruising timber in Washington and Alaska to fill in the gaps. Shortly after I returned from my last job in Washington I heard from a local hunter. He drew one of the new moose tags that have only a 7 day season and had been hunting on his own without much luck. By the time he contacted me he only had 2 days left to hunt. He did not want to end up eating his tag and we had a narrow window of opportunity but we did manage to find him a 34" bull on the second morning. It would have been nice to have had a bit more time so that we could have waited for a bigger one but with what we had to work with I think we did alright. I have another hunter booked for a 7 day moose hunt this fall and I'm looking forward to that as I'm confident we can find a dandy bull in that amount of time.
Rifle season is pretty well filled up for this fall although there are still a couple small holes early in the season if someone is looking for something last minute. Deer numbers and age structure are looking very good so with a little of the right kind of weather I think we'll do well.
Acquisition of the new outfitting territory is going well although the Forest Service's ability to drag out an incredibly simple process never ceases to amaze me. It will definitely be completed in time for lion season this winter so I'm looking forward to having all that additional area to hunt. The deadline for purchasing a Montana lion tag has passed but you can still purchase Idaho tags and I still have openings available for this winter.
If you're considering a bear hunt for the coming spring now is a good time to get that set up so that you can lock in the dates you prefer.
Hope you're all experiencing some great hunts this fall.
Newsletter 7 6-21-2005
I thought it was about time to fill you all in on what's happening here. It was a less than spectacular bear season for us as we ended up killing only one bear for 4 1/2 hunters (no, the 1/2 hunter wasn't a midget, he just booked a 3-day trip so it was basically half a hunt). The bear numbers seemed about usual but we just seemed to have a hard time connecting this year. The first week we hunted there were 2 hunters and they saw a total of 8 bears for the week but they never popped a cap due to the bears being too small, being sows with cubs or being unable to get within range. The next week there was one hunter and he killed a nice red bear on the 3rd night of the hunt. The third week of hunting was another single hunter and he saw a total of 7 bears. He missed another nice red bear but was never able to connect. The half a hunter was for the final 3 days of the season and we were skunked on it, whether it was due to the hot weather or the increased people activity in the woods due to Memorial Day I'm not sure. Anyway, despite or because of the lack of blood on our hands this spring we're rarin' to go for next spring. There are still openings available for a couple of the weeks in May.
On a brighter note, I've completed the purchase of the neighboring outfitter's territory which means that I've got a lot more country for lion hunting this winter. With that area added to what I already have it's now a considerable chunk of northern Idaho we're free to roam around and I'm excited about finding some cats in the new area. I've still got openings for the Idaho lion/bobcat hunts in January and February. The Montana lion hunts which are always very successful are still available for the second week of December. Lion tags for Montana have to be purchased by August 31st which is coming up fast so if that interests you we should probably get rolling.
This new area is currently permitted for only lion and bobcat hunting so I'll be beginning the process to add deer, elk, bear and moose, which should take about a year or so.
The moose draw was held in April and I've heard from one successful applicant so far so I'm looking forward to another moose hunt this fall. If you'd be interested in applying next year just let me know and I'll help you with the process next spring.
I've got plenty of archery deer openings left in September and one good week is left for a November rifle hunt. Plenty of deer tags are still available.
Hope you're all having a good summer and if I can help you out with a hunt just drop me a line.
For those of you interested in applying for an Idaho moose tag, the time is now! The application period is 4/1-4/30.
I can guide in controlled hunt areas 1-1, 1-2, and 2. The regular moose season is 8/30-11/23 and you can apply for an antlered moose tag in any of those 3 units:
They're giving 50 permits in 1-1 and that hunt number is 3001. In 2004 draw odds were about 13% for this hunt. Success in 2003 and 2004 were 87% and 84% and the average spread of the bulls taken was 36.4" and 37.9".
They're giving 30 tags for 1-2 and that hunt number is 3003. 2004 draw odds were about 15%. 2003 and 2004 success was 87% both years and average spread was 38.8" and 40.9".
They're giving 20 tags in Unit 2 and that hunt number is 3007. Draw odds were about 7% last year. 2003 and 2004 success was 100% and 80% and average spread was 36.2" and 34.2".
They've also started a new antlered bull hunt in 1-1 for 2005. It's only one week long, 9/24-9/30, and they're giving 20 tags for it. I prefer to moose hunt a little later in the fall when more of the leaves have fallen and there's a better chance of snow on the ground, both of which vastly improve visibility. However, I'm guessing that draw odds will be considerably better for this new hunt. Your competition in the moose drawings is about 95% resident hunters and I think the vast majority of the resident hunters would want the regular long season. As I mentioned, I do prefer to hunt later in the season but I do think we'd be able to find some bulls during this 9/24-9/30 week. So you may want to consider applying for this hunt to increase your drawing odds.
If you choose to apply for one of the other regular season hunts which do you choose? Well, I'd toss out Unit 2 unless you have a particular reason for applying for it, since it has had considerable lower drawing odds and the moose hunting is at least as good and probably better in 1-1 and 1-2. The difference between 1-1 and 1-2 is negligible. I'll just lay out the differences as I see them and let you make your choice. I can only guide on a portion of 1-1, whereas I can guide on all of 1-2. But the portion of 1-1 I can guide on is very good and contains plenty of territory for hunting. Our house and bunkhouse is located in 1-2 so the hunting is very close by, whereas it's about a 45 minute drive to hunt 1-1, no big deal though. I haven't seen any difference in quality or quantity of moose between the two areas. Honestly, if it were me applying, I'd flip a coin and be happy with either unit.
If you'd like to get a cow moose the hunt to apply for is in Unit 1-1, hunt number 3103. They're giving 20 permits (5 more than last year) and odds were about 40% last year. They're also giving 10 permits in Unit 2, hunt number 3104, but drawing odds will be much worse there. It used to be that a person could only harvest one moose in their lifetime in Idaho, be it cow or bull, but this year they made a rule change so that a person can harvest one of each in their lifetime.
To apply for a permit you must first buy an Idaho hunting license which is currently $128.50. To do this you can go to this webpage: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/licenses/fees/nrlic.cfm , which will give you a link to a site where the license can be purchased online, or a phone number you can call to purchase it. You can also download a pdf form to mail in with your license fee. You'll need the hunting license number for the moose permit application. The $128.50 license fee is nonrefundable. The moose application fee is $1,515.00, all but $6.00 of which is refunded if you are not drawn. You can go here, http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/hunt/ch/apply.cfm for the controlled hunt worksheet, which can also be submitted via phone, internet or regular mail. Basically all you need for it is your name, date of birth, hunting license number and your first choice hunt number. There's also a space for a second choice hunt number which you can fill in but the only way you have a chance at your second choice is if there are less first choice applicants for it than there are tags offered...and that never happens! Results of the draw will be out by at least June 10th, and usually it's considerable earlier than that. Good luck and if you have any questions just let me know.
Newsletter 6 3-14-2005
Just thought I'd drop a quick note to update you on what's new at Buckshot Outfitting. The biggest news is that I'm in the process of buying out the outfitter that borders me to the east. We've negotiated the terms and all of the paperwork is at the licensing board in Boise now. There's still a fair bit of red tape to wade through but the sale should be complete within a couple of months. It's really a nice chunk of country that will complement my current territory well. It's basically all of the area between my existing territory in Unit 1 and the Montana border. The current outfitter is permitted only for lion so for this year that's the only benefit we'll see from it, but that alone will be a fantastic expansion. He has been taking 4-6 lions off the area every year for quite some time. I don't intend to take that many lions off of it but I am looking forward to being able to find more cats in the coming winters and slightly increasing my harvest.
As soon as the sale is final I will initiate the process with the licensing board, the Forest Service and the Fish and Game to have deer, elk, moose and bear hunting added to the permits so that I can conduct those activities on the additional territory as well. I don't expect that to be a very speedy process but hope to have it completed for the fall 2006 season. I know it will offer good deer, moose and bear hunting but I'm not sure about the elk yet. I will spend some time scouting over the next year and decide whether or not I feel I could offer some quality elk hunts there. Rumor has it there is some good elk hunting there but I obviously need to see it for myself before I get too carried away.
I believe I've already updated you on how well the Montana lion hunts went in December so I'll pick up from there. We've had by far the mildest, most snowless winter I've ever seen. It made conditions very difficult for cat hunting. Fortunately I booked only 2 lion hunters in Idaho for this year and they were both able to connect with good cats, one of which was a really good tom. We also picked up a few bobcats. I haven't seen the harvest numbers for the lion season yet this year but I expect them to be way down. I think a lot of locals didn't even bother to hunt with the poor conditions we had. These factors, plus the additional territory, should translate into a good Idaho lion season next winter. I still have good dates available for those hunts. There are also still lion hunts I guide in Montana available. My dad lives and hunts in the Swan Valley of Montana where we guide the first week of December and he has been finding lots of lions all winter long despite the poor conditions.
For those of you interested in Moose, the application period, 4/1-4/30, is coming up soon. If you've already contacted me about your interest in applying for moose I'll be in touch in April to give you the details on how to apply and which units are available. If you are interested and haven't talked to me about it yet, just let me know and I'll make a note to contact you when it's time to apply.
Spring bear season is just around the corner and I still have some great dates available for either baited or spot and stalk hunts. Due to a cancellation I've got a week available with no one booked so if you have a group of 2-4 you could be the only hunters in camp that week. I expect to have another good bear season.
Another mild winter should have done good things for our deer herd and I have dates available for both early archery season and rifle rut hunts. Every year it seems more and bigger bucks come out of the areas we're hunting in Bonner and Boundary counties.
Thanks for bearing with me and if you have any questions don't hesitate to drop me a line. If you'd rather not receive this newsletter or if I've somehow got your address duplicated so that you're receiving the same newsletter more than once just let me know and I'll take care of it.