Idaho Spring Bear

idahohikker

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A hunt residents should be happy to help with. Come have a great time and kill a bear. Montana and Wyoming also have good spring bear hunting. Spot and stalk is lots of fun and totally doable for hunting. On multiple trips I've spotted bears on day one.

Nonresidents wondering where to go have lots of options. The units with the most bears killed, say top three, are well known. They're good and have a lot of bears killed to some extent because of their popularity. Not crazy busy in those units from my experience but also kind of nice to get off the beaten track a bit more.

Salmon, McCall, Sawtooth, Beaverhead, Lemhi all have at least decent bear numbers. The Middle Fork and Selway Zones are not very accessible due to high country access points until Mid June or later when the bear hunting starts to drop off or get closed. You could target a mid June backcountry hunt in there and make it work but access will be a challenge and the bear hunting won’t be easy that late and in huge country. You could also do a fly-in hunt earlier in the season when the greenup is closer to the river and animals are closer to winter range. That would likely be a better hunt. You could have a wolf, lion, bear combo hunt and just an amazing time in deep backcountry. The other main access point to the Selway and Salmon Zones is along the river roads. Steep hiking but a good number of bears if you hike away from access points.

In general, for the average guy not messing with the lower priced tags which are more difficult to access and rugged to get around will make for a more successful hunt. Buy full price and go for it.

Throughout the state, you'll want to do your research to see if the road you're planning on taking will be open. Anything above 5,000 feet is a red flag. Call the forest service office and post on here if you want about the roads. Look at Snotel and information available online about snowpack. Many will be closed or impassable. You might be good for a while and then hit a snowbank. A common good approach is to find a lower elevation road and hike up from there. 4 wheelers are very helpful for getting around when access might be hit or miss.

Northern Idaho has more bears generally speaking than south and central Idaho. Panhandle, Clearwater, and Lolo areas can be productive. You will have to plan for how you hunt with all the dense timber but there are bears around and more wolves up there too.

Pioneer and more desert units south of I-84 don't have a lot of bears.

Normally the later part of April through early June the hunting can be good. May is a nice middle ground. You might want to hunt a little lower or higher depending on the timing.

Feel free to PM. Depending on volume and where you're looking, I might be able to help. I don't know that much about the areas north of the Salmon River Breaks. Anything south of that I've probably ventured through and hunted at least a little for some critter.
 
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idahohikker

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Oh, an important follow-up point. Many nonresidents want to combo scouting and spring bear. It's mostly useless. You could drive the roads and get a brief look at the country but fall deer and elk hunting is a totally different deal than spring bear. You'll see zero elk or 500 elk during spring bear season depending on where you go and it will have basically zero correlation to fall.

Hunt in the spring where there's good bear hunting. Hunt in the fall where there's good deer and elk hunting. If you want to scout, do it after the 4th of July. You should know this unless you're a rookie.
 

Jacob_Outdoors

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This thread is perfectly timed. I’ve been looking into bear hunting Idaho, but as a NR combing through all the info can leave you with a lot of questions. I appreciate all the info, and will probably be reaching out after the holidays. The combo predator backcountry hunt sounds awesome. I usually save the fly in trip for deer, but you’ve piqued my interest.


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idahohikker

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The Frank Church is an awesome place. There is near-universal agreement between biologists, hunters, etc. that the elk and deer hunting is tough. There's a lot of bears, cats, and wolves though. Spring would be a breathtaking time of year. Either that or go on a long backpack trip with a flyrod. Trophy country.

Pick an airstrip along the Middle Fork. Hike your tail off. Spot bears. Wonder how you are going to get to them. Go shoot them.

You can do a similar hunt in Hells Canyon which is also super rugged and remote. A wheeler to get high or drive the river road.
 

CApighunter

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Idahohikker was a huge help planning my spring bear trip this year, anyone considering unit 19 feel free to PM me with any questions. Can’t wait for the 2020 season to roll around.
 

Jacob_Outdoors

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The Frank Church is an awesome place. There is near-universal agreement between biologists, hunters, etc. that the elk and deer hunting is tough. There's a lot of bears, cats, and wolves though. Spring would be a breathtaking time of year. Either that or go on a long backpack trip with a flyrod. Trophy country.

Pick an airstrip along the Middle Fork. Hike your tail off. Spot bears. Wonder how you are going to get to them. Go shoot them.

You can do a similar hunt in Hells Canyon which is also super rugged and remote. A wheeler to get high or drive the river road.
We deer hunted in the Frank this year. It was a great trip.


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Lochtsa71

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Don't sleep on the Owyhee, especially if you are after a color phase. Please consider purchasing a wolf tag too, they are very cheap for non-residents.
 
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idahohikker

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Don't sleep on the Owyhee, especially if you are after a color phase. Please consider purchasing a wolf tag too, they are very cheap for non-residents.
Definitely a wolf tag. I've been in the Owyhees a fair amount and my grandpa has been in there a ton. Never saw a bear or seen any sign. Tell me more... I'd imagine they'd be in the timbered areas which are few and far between.
 

Lochtsa71

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Definately the timbered areas. In early spring, they move quite a bit on south facing slopes searching for vegetation. It is a sleeper unit/area because it simply doesn't get glassed hard in comparison to more known areas. We find them in the deep draws and at lower elevations following the green line in unit 40 (Mahagony and Chariot Gulch).
 
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IDLassie

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Idaho
Lochtsa71, I'd like to actually see a picture of a bear in unit 40.
There is no bear seasons in unit 40, 41 or 42.
Spent 30 years in the country never seen a track anywhere.
 

MrE4853

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Aug 27, 2019
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I’ve been thinking about a spring bear hunt in Idaho, following! Anyone have experience getting dropped off by jet boat in hell’s canyon?
 

338edge

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Tagging in. Thanks for all the info. Tons of bear in unit 11. I was there on a DIY elk hunt in 2010.
 

Jbake108

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Dec 16, 2019
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From my experiences last year this initial post is amazing. I went into a new area, just a spot on the map.
I Ran into snow. I was a little surprised with how much sticks around on the north facing slopes considering at same level on the south, was completely gone. Parked and hiked up a ridge from much lower elevation and was into bears within a 1500’ climb. Hunting the receding snow line seems to be a great tactic.
Just be prepared to bring it all back down that elevation you’ve climbed up.
 

JJBuck

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Dec 13, 2019
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Idahohikker must be feeling the Christmas spirit! Giving away lots of good info. I've been to ID for spring bear the last two years and I wondered why I waited so long to pony up and go. So much fun and I haven't even harvested one yet!
 

RimRunner

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Mar 29, 2019
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I have been pouring over internet threads and google scouting it seems like unit 39 gets all of the attention, so I was looking at 43 or even possibly up along the snake in the Craig Mountain WMA my head is kind of spinning with all of the options and info anybody have a more dialed in opinion? Ill be coming from Oregon but driving extra doesnt bother me I would prefer spot and stalk
 
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idahohikker

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There isn't a bad option among what you've described. Pick somewhere and go. You just want to avoid getting snowed out or places without any bears.
 
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