First Ever Elk Tag/Hunt: Idaho Bannock Zone

HuntFishFight

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2021
Messages
28
Hey all,

First post. Been hunting for about a year now. I've hunted every species I can in that time. I'm 37, so way behind the average hunter experience-wise. I've spent a lot of time in the military (including currently), and I've found many parallels between that and hunting (planning, risk-mitigation, land navigation, marksmanship, integrity, physicality, and so much more). So I've been very at-home in this environment...

Anyway, I purchased a "BANNOCK A" tag in Idaho this morning. Signed into my Idaho account the very second they opened for purchase, then waited in the "waiting room") for 3 hours. Ended up with "BANNOCK A". Wasn't my first choice, but I'm ecstatic to finally have an elk tag in my pocket!

Bottom line question: Does anyone have experience/advice concerning this unit, or any general advice? I've been researching my ass off every way possible my first hunting year, and will do the same for this specific unit/hunt (started already). I've read every forum I could find on this unit so far. So I don't want this to come off as a lazy post. NOT asking for specific locations/etc. I consider starting this dialogue as an extension of my research. I'll be scouting on foot at LEAST twice (hopefully more) over the next year, my only limiting factor being that it's a 10-hour drive.

I bought this tag for the antlerless "any weapon" (rifle) season. I'm in this for the meat and experience. But if I'm reading the reg's right (I may not be), the tag also offers an early season archery opportunity? I've never even fired a bow, but I'm so excited at the hunting opportunity as a whole, that I plan on getting one and practicing hard for the next year, so I can take advantage of both seasons!

I have dozens more unrelated questions (been researching this forum without an account for over a year). But I'm so stoked to have gotten an elk tag that it motivated me to launch this post right away. I'm sure I'll post many more soon, and I look forward to hearing from the community.

Thank you all in advance.
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2020
Messages
96
Congratulations on the tag. I will be upfront that your not going to get any answers from anyone that has decent information with the question formatted like this. 2 things will help you. Stay around for awhile and try and contribute and learn over time. (people can see how long, and how often you interact on here) Use these posts to ask direct questions related to things you actually want to know not locations. IE is it better to glass here or there, times of day people hunt, equipment used, scouting techniques etc etc. Also learn to use the search function. Almost every question you could have has likely been asked before. Look first. Even if someone told you exactly where to hunt you would still likely be sub 40% odds of connecting. Do your scouting. Learn from your mistakes. Plan to have a few trips before your successful. Guys that have hunted there whole lives struggle hunting out west the first few times. I was one of them. There are a lot of guys with a ton of knowledge on here. You just have to learn how to ask for it. Good luck with your hunt. I will be out there in a different zone as well.
 

bsnedeker

Senior Member
Joined
May 17, 2018
Messages
2,084
Location
MT
Agree with above. If you have general hunting questions about gear and tactics please feel free to ask away, that's what we are here for!

Do not ask for info about specific units. You really shouldn't even be putting unit numbers into your posts. You'll mostly get responses that will be less-than-helpful, but even worse, you may actually get someone that offers good advice! How is that bad? What was the first thing you did after you drew that tag? Did you google the unit number? In a few weeks if you google that same thing this thread will come up. Every single person hunting that unit who doesn't know where to go is going to read the same advice you are and that is how hunting spots/units get ruined.
 

sterlryu

Newbie
Joined
Dec 2, 2021
Messages
4
Hi, I'm not very experienced myself, but maybe a year or two more down the same path as you (military vet, started hunting in my mid 30s). I took my first elk in Idaho this year solo diy and did some prep year round.

Winter
  • Got an "A" tag to focus on bowhunting in September.
  • Had been learning to shoot a bow the past year and took a blacktail with it (took 2 lessons at a local archery range to start good habits, then shot my bow once a week at least).
  • Read books and watched youtube videos (Randy Newberg's OnX series on youtube is great) about elk behavior (summer bachelor groups > pre-rut behavior > peak rut) as well as their priorities during different time periods (food / sanctuary > breeding)
Spring
  • Looked at the units in my zone and looked for public land and access points on topo maps (caltopo / OnX)
  • Worked out logistics (I didn't have enough vacation days so aimed for labor day weekend + the rest of the week) and started looking for areas I could access, but could get in away from roads, and would hold elk when I was going to.
  • Started practicing calling (Should have really done more calling - I kind of let if fall off and my bugling held me back in Sept)
  • Hiking / backcountry skiing on weekends, kept shooting my bow.
Summer prep
  • Called the regional biologist about areas I was looking at. She told me to look at a certain elevation and aspect in my unit, told me not to worry about water sources in my area, so I revised my scouting plans.
  • Drove out over the 4th of July to scout, saw no sign of elk, but confirmed access points and glassing points, trails. Picked out 2 glassing points from my first trailhead and 2 from my back up trailhead and 1 for my back-up, back up trailhead. Truck overheated going over one of the mountain passes in 90 degree weather.
  • Worked on my rig to get it in good shape - oil change, coolant flush, etc.
  • Shot my bow at least twice a week, bareshaft then broadhead tuned the bow, got used to using a rangefinder, figured I was good to shoot out to 40 yards (less than 4 inch groups at the range)
  • Went on 2 more weekend backpacking trips and kept figuring out gear and system.
I've got an Idaho tag again this year in the same area, so I'm going to prep similarly again, with some changes to my gear (more arrows to shoot grouse!) and more time spent practicing calling. Taking a look at the Bannock zone, looks like there's less public land, so maybe you should spend more time upfront figuring out land access.

Hope this helps!
 

Pocoloco

Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2021
Messages
82
Congrats! Hunted back east for 30 years, always wanted to hunt out west. Moved out west 2 years ago and our family has put a bull in the freezer both years. Advise from a rookie to elk hunting, find a big hill, put twenty pound pack on and hit that hill every week. If in mountains purchase mountaineering boots, not hiking boots, Zamberlan 2090 or 2092 are awesome. Purchase best binos in budget, last year I ran Trinovids 10x42 this year NL pure 12x42 and worth every penny, elk just jump out w the 12s. Scout in summer for terrain, not elk as they move. Here is where those boots come in. We are on elk everyday because we drive 1 hour down rubicon esq trail then hike into nasty terrain where normal folks don’t and it is full of it elk. Dont call, public land elk have heard it all and a rookie is not likely to trick them and even if you do a bull is unlikely to leave his herd to check you out, more likely to bugle then take his herd up over the hill. I learned that the hard way, during my archery tag or as a I like to call my scouting season. Climb the highest peak that you can glass into the most drainages and setup a carbon fibre tripod for your binos with Outdoorsmans stud. Tripod and stud is a must have. Let that glass you invested in find the elk.

Get up early in the morning, hike into that nasty terrain you found in the summer and glass as the sun comes up, if your leaving the jeep as the sun is rising you are too late.

Now the hard part, getting a bull on the ground out: havalon baracuta w saw blade, reg and boning blade along with razor pro with the zipper option for getting skin off. Parachute cord to tie legs up while working to quarter them. When rolling carcass over build ledge on slope with boulders to stop it where you want. Good game bags, hang meet in trees and hike out with nothing as you will be exhausted. Head in next day with big pack or e packwheel and figure two days to pack out.

You will earn your beer back at camp. Elk hunting is hard but addictive, I now work out 4 days a week to ensure I stay in elk shape. Have fun !
 

KY7x7

Newbie
Joined
Dec 3, 2021
Messages
7
I'll be calling for my buddy in that zone this fall and possibly going in with a deer tag. As of now I know nothing except its lots of private land, prolly gonna be a challenge
 
OP
H

HuntFishFight

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2021
Messages
28
Congratulations on the tag. I will be upfront that your not going to get any answers from anyone that has decent information with the question formatted like this. 2 things will help you. Stay around for awhile and try and contribute and learn over time. (people can see how long, and how often you interact on here) Use these posts to ask direct questions related to things you actually want to know not locations. IE is it better to glass here or there, times of day people hunt, equipment used, scouting techniques etc etc. Also learn to use the search function. Almost every question you could have has likely been asked before. Look first. Even if someone told you exactly where to hunt you would still likely be sub 40% odds of connecting. Do your scouting. Learn from your mistakes. Plan to have a few trips before your successful. Guys that have hunted there whole lives struggle hunting out west the first few times. I was one of them. There are a lot of guys with a ton of knowledge on here. You just have to learn how to ask for it. Good luck with your hunt. I will be out there in a different zone as well.
Thanks for the feedback, brother. Good luck w/your hunt too!

I actually received several good answers (including DMs), so I feel good about the decision to post. I appreciate your feedback though. I really tried to make it clear that I'm not asking for anyone's secrets. I know how this works, and wouldn't do that. And I've studied enough forums (through said "search" function) to know that some folks get pretty offended at questions, even when those questions are pretty generic. I was really just asking if there was general feedback about the area...Turns out there was. I got it in several responses, so I consider it successful.

Again, good luck on your hunt!
 
OP
H

HuntFishFight

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2021
Messages
28
Agree with above. If you have general hunting questions about gear and tactics please feel free to ask away, that's what we are here for!

Do not ask for info about specific units. You really shouldn't even be putting unit numbers into your posts. You'll mostly get responses that will be less-than-helpful, but even worse, you may actually get someone that offers good advice! How is that bad? What was the first thing you did after you drew that tag? Did you google the unit number? In a few weeks if you google that same thing this thread will come up. Every single person hunting that unit who doesn't know where to go is going to read the same advice you are and that is how hunting spots/units get ruined.
Hey, thanks for the feedback man. I think I may have been unclear. That's my fault.

I knew very well I'd get some offended responses by asking for feedback on an area. But if I was afraid of those responses, I wouldn't have posted. I got tons of great feedback, and totally appreciate it (far more positive than negative, including some great DM's). One day, someone will post a question asking for general feedback on a unit I've hunted, and I look forward to giving productive feedback to that poster! Same thing in fishing: Not asking for your spot or bait, just asking for general feedback on the lake...

Just an example, so you understand where I'm coming from: Here in California (hate to admit it, but that's where I'm from/at, lol), there are about 10 "Deer Hunt Zones". There are something like 9 additional "special hunt zones". I've hunted 2 total so far. If someone asks "Hey, any feedback on D4 Zone?". Since D4 is one of the zones I've hunted, I'd give them a response that speaks to the general terrain of D4 (mountainous? Manzanita? Oak trees/Acorns? thick timber? water resources?), amount of private vs public, maybe some access points, the general weather by season, etc. Maybe I'd give some of the outfitter options (even though I have no desire to hunt w/a guide, I know who some of them are, because I'm local). That's the kind of feedback I think is acceptable to ask for in this setting. I think that's why this setting exists.

The zone I'm inquiring about looks to be roughly 4,000 square miles. So I didn't intend to blow anyone's spot out by asking, and I don't think any responses did.

That's honestly all I'm inquiring about, bro. I enjoy backcountry, extremely hard, long and challenging hunts. If I got a grid coordinate of a giant bull with his antlers stuck in a fence, there for my taking, I wouldn't go take him. Not here for an easy hunt.

I really do appreciate your feedback!
 
OP
H

HuntFishFight

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2021
Messages
28
Hi, I'm not very experienced myself, but maybe a year or two more down the same path as you (military vet, started hunting in my mid 30s). I took my first elk in Idaho this year solo diy and did some prep year round.

Winter
  • Got an "A" tag to focus on bowhunting in September.
  • Had been learning to shoot a bow the past year and took a blacktail with it (took 2 lessons at a local archery range to start good habits, then shot my bow once a week at least).
  • Read books and watched youtube videos (Randy Newberg's OnX series on youtube is great) about elk behavior (summer bachelor groups > pre-rut behavior > peak rut) as well as their priorities during different time periods (food / sanctuary > breeding)
Spring
  • Looked at the units in my zone and looked for public land and access points on topo maps (caltopo / OnX)
  • Worked out logistics (I didn't have enough vacation days so aimed for labor day weekend + the rest of the week) and started looking for areas I could access, but could get in away from roads, and would hold elk when I was going to.
  • Started practicing calling (Should have really done more calling - I kind of let if fall off and my bugling held me back in Sept)
  • Hiking / backcountry skiing on weekends, kept shooting my bow.
Summer prep
  • Called the regional biologist about areas I was looking at. She told me to look at a certain elevation and aspect in my unit, told me not to worry about water sources in my area, so I revised my scouting plans.
  • Drove out over the 4th of July to scout, saw no sign of elk, but confirmed access points and glassing points, trails. Picked out 2 glassing points from my first trailhead and 2 from my back up trailhead and 1 for my back-up, back up trailhead. Truck overheated going over one of the mountain passes in 90 degree weather.
  • Worked on my rig to get it in good shape - oil change, coolant flush, etc.
  • Shot my bow at least twice a week, bareshaft then broadhead tuned the bow, got used to using a rangefinder, figured I was good to shoot out to 40 yards (less than 4 inch groups at the range)
  • Went on 2 more weekend backpacking trips and kept figuring out gear and system.
I've got an Idaho tag again this year in the same area, so I'm going to prep similarly again, with some changes to my gear (more arrows to shoot grouse!) and more time spent practicing calling. Taking a look at the Bannock zone, looks like there's less public land, so maybe you should spend more time upfront figuring out land access.

Hope this helps!
Thanks so much man! This is amazing info!

Taking your last point first, I'm pretty bummed about reading that this tag has a lot of private. I've read that a lot, not just from you. As I said, it was one of the only tags left by the time I got in. I signed in at the very SECOND the Idaho site opened. But once you're in the "waiting room" you get assigned a random entry number; took 3 hours before I was let in to buy a tag. By that time, my first three choices were sold out. So I was at work scrambling to figure out which of the remaining tags to get while trying to work simultaneously, lol. I plan on researching a lot to locate public land that is very hard to access; I have no problem hiking a day or more in, and starting camp there. With how big this unit is, I'm hoping I can find that situation somewhere...

I've talked to 2 bio's so far. I plan on doing that more.

One of the reasons I was set on Idaho is because I can get there in about 10 hours; that means I can scout SEVERAL times prior to season. Take a few long weekends here and there... I have 2 little kids who love the outdoors and hiking, so we'll make vacations out of it!

I appreciate your calling advice. I started by hunting turkey. I realized immediately, that I should've practiced calling more. I'm absolutely committed to doing that part right for elk. Great advice.

Lastly, I'm beyond impressed at your success in such a short time. I've been amazed by how hard this has been! I hunted Blacktail for the first time this year. I probably spent 20 days in the field, and even hunted locally after work several days. I would cover 6-10 miles a day...I saw TWO bucks that whole time! I hunted my ass off! Those things are incredibly illusive. I'm in CA, where it's mostly thick timber...more open terrain for you, or same? Then you pulled off your solo, DIY elk hunt within the first year or two? That's amazing man. That's my goal, but it's a lofty one...

Such great positive feedback, and I truly appreciate it, my friend.
 
OP
H

HuntFishFight

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2021
Messages
28
Congrats! Hunted back east for 30 years, always wanted to hunt out west. Moved out west 2 years ago and our family has put a bull in the freezer both years. Advise from a rookie to elk hunting, find a big hill, put twenty pound pack on and hit that hill every week. If in mountains purchase mountaineering boots, not hiking boots, Zamberlan 2090 or 2092 are awesome. Purchase best binos in budget, last year I ran Trinovids 10x42 this year NL pure 12x42 and worth every penny, elk just jump out w the 12s. Scout in summer for terrain, not elk as they move. Here is where those boots come in. We are on elk everyday because we drive 1 hour down rubicon esq trail then hike into nasty terrain where normal folks don’t and it is full of it elk. Dont call, public land elk have heard it all and a rookie is not likely to trick them and even if you do a bull is unlikely to leave his herd to check you out, more likely to bugle then take his herd up over the hill. I learned that the hard way, during my archery tag or as a I like to call my scouting season. Climb the highest peak that you can glass into the most drainages and setup a carbon fibre tripod for your binos with Outdoorsmans stud. Tripod and stud is a must have. Let that glass you invested in find the elk.

Get up early in the morning, hike into that nasty terrain you found in the summer and glass as the sun comes up, if your leaving the jeep as the sun is rising you are too late.

Now the hard part, getting a bull on the ground out: havalon baracuta w saw blade, reg and boning blade along with razor pro with the zipper option for getting skin off. Parachute cord to tie legs up while working to quarter them. When rolling carcass over build ledge on slope with boulders to stop it where you want. Good game bags, hang meet in trees and hike out with nothing as you will be exhausted. Head in next day with big pack or e packwheel and figure two days to pack out.

You will earn your beer back at camp. Elk hunting is hard but addictive, I now work out 4 days a week to ensure I stay in elk shape. Have fun !
Thanks for the input man!

So here's a question...I plan on calling ID DFW next week to confirm this. I'm asking you now because you mentioned archery season being your scouting season. I was thinking the same...

In the ID regulations, the tag I got shows three seasons (archery-any elk, rifle-antlerless only, and muzzloader-antlerless only). I bought the tag because it was one of the few antlerless rifle tags left. Being a rookie, I feel like rifle antlerless is my my best bet at getting a tag, finding a legal animal, and (hopefully) harvesting an anima. But now that I have this tag, I'm curious if I can use it for two, or all three, seasons.

I plan on getting a bow this month, either way. If this tag allows me to hunt archery before rifle on the asme tag, I feel like it's money well spent! In that case, my archery season will be my scouting season too (and maybe I'll get lucky).

If you don't know the answer to this question, no worries man. Only asking because the way you phrased the "archery/scouting" thing. I'll be checking w/ID DFG directly either way.

I attached a screenshot from the regs for reference.

Again, thanks so much for the feedback!
 

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HuntFishFight

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2021
Messages
28
I'll be calling for my buddy in that zone this fall and possibly going in with a deer tag. As of now I know nothing except its lots of private land, prolly gonna be a challenge
Yeah man. I've read that a few places. I plan on searching very hard for some remote public. Don't mind having to hike through miles of rough terrain, but I hope that opportunity exists! Good luck!!!
 

Scooter37

Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2018
Messages
50
Yes you can archery hunt then rifle then muzzleloader all with same tag . That zone it doesn’t look like it even requires you to be on private or within a mile of irrigated land so that’s easy. Some A tags have a rule like that.
Be aware though the IDFG would prefer you to buy a archery and a muzzleloader permit / permission slip if you choose to hunt either of those methods.

I live over in D5 not real happy about it either 😀
 
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HuntFishFight

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2021
Messages
28
Yes you can archery hunt then rifle then muzzleloader all with same tag . That zone it doesn’t look like it even requires you to be on private or within a mile of irrigated land so that’s easy. Some A tags have a rule like that.
Be aware though the IDFG would prefer you to buy a archery and a muzzleloader permit / permission slip if you choose to hunt either of those methods.

I live over in D5 not real happy about it either 😀
Man, that's outstanding! What a bonus! Yeah, I saw the archery/muzz permit options in the IDFW store. Putting 2 and 2 together, I figured that was the case. But trying to learn the intricacies of 8-ish different state regulations when you've never hunted, AT ALL, can be daunting. This tag was expensive...but to hunt 2 or 3 seasons off one tag honestly feels like a pretty damn good deal!

I hunted D5 a lot w/my 3-5 tag this year (my first year). I also hunted A Zone, just to get more experience, being that A Zone starts a month earlier, and we can have 2 tags. Got my 13 y/o boy both those same tags. I hunted HARD. I went in 6 miles in, through very rough terrain, and backcountry'd it three separate times, for 2-3 days each trip. 105-ish degrees on two of those hunt;, almost no water sources (due to this drought situation). I know I was deep because I didn't see a single person on any of those trips. Saw 2 bucks, total, through all of those trips! And they were a spike, and forkie...

Hunting here is not easy man. It's never easy, right? But this place gets downright demoralizing. I saw more deer in one day in ID than I've seen my entire life in CA. I'm sure you've been very successful here, and I know I'll be successful too. But damn the learning curve is steep, and the opportunity limited!

Thanks for the feedback man. I'm stoked!
 
OP
H

HuntFishFight

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2021
Messages
28
Congrats! Hunted back east for 30 years, always wanted to hunt out west. Moved out west 2 years ago and our family has put a bull in the freezer both years. Advise from a rookie to elk hunting, find a big hill, put twenty pound pack on and hit that hill every week. If in mountains purchase mountaineering boots, not hiking boots, Zamberlan 2090 or 2092 are awesome. Purchase best binos in budget, last year I ran Trinovids 10x42 this year NL pure 12x42 and worth every penny, elk just jump out w the 12s. Scout in summer for terrain, not elk as they move. Here is where those boots come in. We are on elk everyday because we drive 1 hour down rubicon esq trail then hike into nasty terrain where normal folks don’t and it is full of it elk. Dont call, public land elk have heard it all and a rookie is not likely to trick them and even if you do a bull is unlikely to leave his herd to check you out, more likely to bugle then take his herd up over the hill. I learned that the hard way, during my archery tag or as a I like to call my scouting season. Climb the highest peak that you can glass into the most drainages and setup a carbon fibre tripod for your binos with Outdoorsmans stud. Tripod and stud is a must have. Let that glass you invested in find the elk.

Get up early in the morning, hike into that nasty terrain you found in the summer and glass as the sun comes up, if your leaving the jeep as the sun is rising you are too late.

Now the hard part, getting a bull on the ground out: havalon baracuta w saw blade, reg and boning blade along with razor pro with the zipper option for getting skin off. Parachute cord to tie legs up while working to quarter them. When rolling carcass over build ledge on slope with boulders to stop it where you want. Good game bags, hang meet in trees and hike out with nothing as you will be exhausted. Head in next day with big pack or e packwheel and figure two days to pack out.

You will earn your beer back at camp. Elk hunting is hard but addictive, I now work out 4 days a week to ensure I stay in elk shape. Have fun !
Just re-read the part of your response dealing with the animal on the ground. That's some good info. They say the "hard work starts" after the kill, right? I hope I'm able to partake in that hard work sometime in these next couple years. Thanks.
 

JacobW

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2020
Messages
10
Hi, I'm not very experienced myself, but maybe a year or two more down the same path as you (military vet, started hunting in my mid 30s). I took my first elk in Idaho this year solo diy and did some prep year round.

Winter
  • Got an "A" tag to focus on bowhunting in September.
  • Had been learning to shoot a bow the past year and took a blacktail with it (took 2 lessons at a local archery range to start good habits, then shot my bow once a week at least).
  • Read books and watched youtube videos (Randy Newberg's OnX series on youtube is great) about elk behavior (summer bachelor groups > pre-rut behavior > peak rut) as well as their priorities during different time periods (food / sanctuary > breeding)
Spring
  • Looked at the units in my zone and looked for public land and access points on topo maps (caltopo / OnX)
  • Worked out logistics (I didn't have enough vacation days so aimed for labor day weekend + the rest of the week) and started looking for areas I could access, but could get in away from roads, and would hold elk when I was going to.
  • Started practicing calling (Should have really done more calling - I kind of let if fall off and my bugling held me back in Sept)
  • Hiking / backcountry skiing on weekends, kept shooting my bow.
Summer prep
  • Called the regional biologist about areas I was looking at. She told me to look at a certain elevation and aspect in my unit, told me not to worry about water sources in my area, so I revised my scouting plans.
  • Drove out over the 4th of July to scout, saw no sign of elk, but confirmed access points and glassing points, trails. Picked out 2 glassing points from my first trailhead and 2 from my back up trailhead and 1 for my back-up, back up trailhead. Truck overheated going over one of the mountain passes in 90 degree weather.
  • Worked on my rig to get it in good shape - oil change, coolant flush, etc.
  • Shot my bow at least twice a week, bareshaft then broadhead tuned the bow, got used to using a rangefinder, figured I was good to shoot out to 40 yards (less than 4 inch groups at the range)
  • Went on 2 more weekend backpacking trips and kept figuring out gear and system.
I've got an Idaho tag again this year in the same area, so I'm going to prep similarly again, with some changes to my gear (more arrows to shoot grouse!) and more time spent practicing calling. Taking a look at the Bannock zone, looks like there's less public land, so maybe you should spend more time upfront figuring out land access.

Hope this helps!
Good advice.
 
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