Advice for 18 year old doing spring bear in Idaho first time

atorres

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Hey y'all, I'm Aidan and I'm 18 from Texas. Me and my buddy are planning to do a spring bear hunt in Idaho for the first time this year after we graduate. I've hunted elk the past couple years in CO but never bear and never Idaho. I need advice generally, but obviously the first thing I need is to figure out where I'm going. One of the reduced units would be nice because of the cost, but if it comes down to it I'm willing to pay the cost for the best unit.

My thoughts so far have been in and around the Selway area: 12, 16, 17 etc. I know the panhandle is good too of course and I've heard some good stuff about the Salmon area. Kinda overwhelmed at the moment cuz I know there's bears everywhere, trying to figure out what the best way to go is. We're planning to pack in however far we need to and stay around five days at a time before we come back out for food, so wilderness area is ok, maybe even preferred. Only catch with wilderness is we're on foot so we need to be able to get to where we need to be from the roads.

Other thing is we need the units that go till June 30.

We're spot and stalking so units with fewer bait kills would probably be better. I imagine that goes without saying with the wilderness heavy units.

Appreciate any advice y'all have.
 

WCB

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Watch as many instructional videos, read any instructional spring bear hunting in the mountains article search the IDGF website for any harvest or population information.

Then would contact the local Idaho Game and Fish officer or biologist for that area and ask questions on populations and general time of year things. If you can have some areas in mind that will help. They get tons of calls from guys that just ask hey is region X good? Or, where should I go?.

Call with some more specific ideas in mind like..."I'm looking at the west side of unit 12 along xyz road, how is the bear population there?" or 'How is the pressure in that area?" Have some pointed question and always throw out "Is my thinking right or are there other areas I should look at"

Be very polite and always ask if they have 10 minutes or so...Briefly explain your situation. If they are willing to stay longer fine but soooo many people don't get to the point and are so general it is like they want the district biologist to give them the last 10 years of data plus tell them about every bear they have spotted and what road it was off. I have very good friends who are biologists and pointed questions catch their interest or hold it for longer than the guy not prepared.

Now would be a good time to call as it is a bit slower than spring summer and fall.
 
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atorres

atorres

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Watch as many instructional videos, read any instructional spring bear hunting in the mountains article search the IDGF website for any harvest or population information.

Then would contact the local Idaho Game and Fish officer or biologist for that area and ask questions on populations and general time of year things. If you can have some areas in mind that will help. They get tons of calls from guys that just ask hey is region X good? Or, where should I go?.

Call with some more specific ideas in mind like..."I'm looking at the west side of unit 12 along xyz road, how is the bear population there?" or 'How is the pressure in that area?" Have some pointed question and always throw out "Is my thinking right or are there other areas I should look at"

Be very polite and always ask if they have 10 minutes or so...Briefly explain your situation. If they are willing to stay longer fine but soooo many people don't get to the point and are so general it is like they want the district biologist to give them the last 10 years of data plus tell them about every bear they have spotted and what road it was off. I have very good friends who are biologists and pointed questions catch their interest or hold it for longer than the guy not prepared.

Now would be a good time to call as it is a bit slower than spring summer and fall.
So looking at the numbers from IdFG, it looks like the percentages of bears killed by spot n stalk is WAY lower than I realized. Unit 17 seems to have a pretty good number. Unit 1 is the best by far in that regard but I think we're gonna avoid the grizz country if possible.

Honestly I'm in the dark here, is that a good way to make a determination or would it make more sense to just look at total number of bears killed to determine population? Also is there a success rate stat somewhere?
 

P Carter

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So looking at the numbers from IdFG, it looks like the percentages of bears killed by spot n stalk is WAY lower than I realized. Unit 17 seems to have a pretty good number. Unit 1 is the best by far in that regard but I think we're gonna avoid the grizz country if possible.

Honestly I'm in the dark here, is that a good way to make a determination or would it make more sense to just look at total number of bears killed to determine population? Also is there a success rate stat somewhere?
I wouldn’t necessarily put full trust in the method of kill stat; not sure how accurate that is. (Bears need to be checked, so the total harvest stat should be pretty darn accurate.) I don’t think they have a success % stat on bears in Idaho.
Keep in mind that, if you absolutely want a bear, hounds and bait would be the best bet. But they take a whole lot of time. Again, just noting that I wouldn’t be put off by the percentage of spot and stalk kills. Up north, glassing would be limited to clear cuts or walking closed logging roads, both of which are great fun and can be productive.
 
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atorres

atorres

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I wouldn’t necessarily put full trust in the method of kill stat; not sure how accurate that is. (Bears need to be checked, so the total harvest stat should be pretty darn accurate.) I don’t think they have a success % stat on bears in Idaho.
Keep in mind that, if you absolutely want a bear, hounds and bait would be the best bet. But they take a whole lot of time. Again, just noting that I wouldn’t be put off by the percentage of spot and stalk kills. Up north, glassing would be limited to clear cuts or walking closed logging roads, both of which are great fun and can be productive.
What's a good region for spot and stalk? Planning to do some looking into salmon and McCall areas.
 

P Carter

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What's a good region for spot and stalk? Planning to do some looking into salmon and McCall areas.
Any areas with mixed timber and open slopes. Think central to south central Idaho,
5,000-7,000 elevation. Plenty of that country and any of it can and will hold bears.
 
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atorres

atorres

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Any areas with mixed timber and open slopes. Think central to south central Idaho,
5,000-7,000 elevation. Plenty of that country and any of it can and will hold bears.
Good to know, thanks. Do any of the reduced units in that general area have good numbers? The lower price is a magnet for me, but if it means I'm playing with a worse unit I'm not interested
 

P Carter

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Good to know, thanks. Do any of the reduced units in that general area have good numbers? The lower price is a magnet for me, but if it means I'm playing with a worse unit I'm not interested
My understanding — which would be incorrect — is that reduced price/second tag units are aimed at reducing predator population to increase elk/deer herds. I don’t know that they correlate to bear numbers. That said, if you find a good location, right altitude, sour-facing slopes, away from roads, you’ll find bears no matter what units you are in.
 
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atorres

atorres

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My understanding — which would be incorrect — is that reduced price/second tag units are aimed at reducing predator population to increase elk/deer herds. I don’t know that they correlate to bear numbers. That said, if you find a good location, right altitude, sour-facing slopes, away from roads, you’ll find bears no matter what units you are in.
Right. Considering looking at the McCall area based on what I'm hearing about glassing ability in the northern stuff
 

WCB

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So looking at the numbers from IdFG, it looks like the percentages of bears killed by spot n stalk is WAY lower than I realized. Unit 17 seems to have a pretty good number. Unit 1 is the best by far in that regard but I think we're gonna avoid the grizz country if possible.

Honestly I'm in the dark here, is that a good way to make a determination or would it make more sense to just look at total number of bears killed to determine population? Also is there a success rate stat somewhere?
Also, besides method or success percentages you want to take into consideration # of days guys hunted. Some states provide that. It breaks down basically say:

Licenses for region X sold: 1,000
Number of Bears Harvested: 250
Success Rate: 25%
Average days in field per hunter: 4

This basically means the average dude spent 4 days total hunting. Also, consider probably 60% have no idea how to hunt in the first place and 30% probably never even went hunting success rates are very relative.
 
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atorres

atorres

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Also, besides method or success percentages you want to take into consideration # of days guys hunted. Some states provide that. It breaks down basically say:

Licenses for region X sold: 1,000
Number of Bears Harvested: 250
Success Rate: 25%
Average days in field per hunter: 4

This basically means the average dude spent 4 days total hunting. Also, consider probably 60% have no idea how to hunt in the first place and 30% probably never even went hunting success rates are very relative.
All makes good sense. I was told ID doesn't have success rates anyway. At this point I realize there are lots of units with lots of bears, I am trying to select out of those one that is open enough to spot and stalk
 

Elknutty

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The unit doesn’t matter. There are bears in most units across the state. Reduced bear tags are in units where there are a lot of bears. P Carter is correct from a management standpoint. I would find an area with a few openings, not a lot. Areas with a lot of openings don’t concentrate bears. Smaller openings will concentrate bears looking for grass. Follow the green up, meaning look for the edge where there is little green grass from the receding snow to where there is more grass. I Pick a spot and sit there for hours glassing. Sometimes I will see bears in the morning, sometimes mid day. Just bc you put your glass on an opening and don’t see a bear, doesn’t mean there isn’t one near by.

I also agree with P Carter’s comment on not putting faith in the take method. Baiting takes a lot of work, and is way more work in the backcountry. Imagine backpacking bait or horse packing bait once a week for miles.
 

Bcreek86

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We rely pretty heavily on calling in the spring and have tremendous success bear hunting glassing south facing slopes in the morning and evening and call sets in the timber during the afternoon hours as soon as the elk calves start dropping we us calf elk distress. Lots of sitting and glassing the same area for hours. You will reach into your bag to get a snack and look back to the same clearing you’ve glassed 65 times and boom there’s a bear dead center in the middle of it. Get a good quality glassing setup and get some good snowshoes and trekking poles. You will thank me you did.
 
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atorres

atorres

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The unit doesn’t matter. There are bears in most units across the state. Reduced bear tags are in units where there are a lot of bears. P Carter is correct from a management standpoint. I would find an area with a few openings, not a lot. Areas with a lot of openings don’t concentrate bears. Smaller openings will concentrate bears looking for grass. Follow the green up, meaning look for the edge where there is little green grass from the receding snow to where there is more grass. I Pick a spot and sit there for hours glassing. Sometimes I will see bears in the morning, sometimes mid day. Just bc you put your glass on an opening and don’t see a bear, doesn’t mean there isn’t one near by.

I also agree with P Carter’s comment on not putting faith in the take method. Baiting takes a lot of work, and is way more work in the backcountry. Imagine backpacking bait or horse packing bait once a week for miles.
What you're saying about more limited open area makes good sense. I just want to make sure I don't end up watching two small clearings on a whole hillside, somewhere in-between. Hard to figure out where I need to be to get what I need
 
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atorres

atorres

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We rely pretty heavily on calling in the spring and have tremendous success bear hunting glassing south facing slopes in the morning and evening and call sets in the timber during the afternoon hours as soon as the elk calves start dropping we us calf elk distress. Lots of sitting and glassing the same area for hours. You will reach into your bag to get a snack and look back to the same clearing you’ve glassed 65 times and boom there’s a bear dead center in the middle of it. Get a good quality glassing setup and get some good snowshoes and trekking poles. You will thank me you did.
Cool thanks. I might have to pick up an elk calf call.
 

kylem

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I’ve spent many days in north Idaho watching real small openings and have had pretty good success doing it. It makes for a real long day staring at a few openings you can completely pick apart in 15 minutes, but I’ve had pretty good success doing it that way.
 

sneaky

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So looking at the numbers from IdFG, it looks like the percentages of bears killed by spot n stalk is WAY lower than I realized. Unit 17 seems to have a pretty good number. Unit 1 is the best by far in that regard but I think we're gonna avoid the grizz country if possible.

Honestly I'm in the dark here, is that a good way to make a determination or would it make more sense to just look at total number of bears killed to determine population? Also is there a success rate stat somewhere?
17 is grizz country as well. May not be many, but right across the border in MT there's a pile of 'em.

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sneaky

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Cool thanks. I might have to pick up an elk calf call.
You glossed over the most important advice he gave you. Glassing setup, snowshoes, and trekking poles.

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atorres

atorres

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You glossed over the most important advice he gave you. Glassing setup, snowshoes, and trekking poles.

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I have glassing stuff and poles, snowshoes I do not have. Never thought about it before. Are they likely to be necessary in the McCall region in late may-june?
 

Bcreek86

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I have glassing stuff and poles, snowshoes I do not have. Never thought about it before. Are they likely to be necessary in the McCall region in late may-june?
You could get away with no shoes in 24 in may-June.
 
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