Sun Valley Area - Planning DIY and guide recommendations

Chasin Fin

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2017
Messages
33
Location
CA
All,

this is my first post and first just wanted to say thanks for all the hours or reading material on the site as there seems to be a ton of knowledge and info. First, quick intro, I bought my 5 year old son a bow for christmas and he loved it so i bought one (never shot one before - left handed) and have really falling in love with archery. Never really been a big game hunter as the rifle approach and lack of connection with the game just didn't appeal to me (to each their own). However, with a bow, things have changed and I'm hooked! Not only the act of shooting but the trade of fine tuning a bow has been a blast. Thanks to all the forums, it has given me confidence to try this on my own and was able to shoot a turkey will a bullhead a couple weeks back at 8 yards. Really exciting to be that personal to the hunt and i can only imagine a larger animal.

Fast forward, my family and I visit Ketchum/Sun Valley once or twice a year (have condo and good friends live there) and given how much I'm liking archery hunting, i figured i might as well start laying the ground work for future elk hunting which seems exciting due to the OTC tags and perhaps yearly tradition. I've done a fair amount of research on the surrounding zones/etc and will enlist my friend to take some hikes this summer along with a summer trip to scout but i had a few questions and any help would be appreciated.

1) I noticed Idaho does offer some "Controlled Hunts" which i assume are awarded by a draw? I'm guessing these are better units/limited number of hunters/etc. If there are specific archery only areas where drawing a tag would increase my chances at success? I figured it would be a good idea to lob in just in case i'm lucky in one of controlled units. Unfortunately, i haven't found more info on the web so maybe i just need to do some more digging but if anyone has direction, it would help me from chasing my tail.

2) Considering i have zero experience elk hunting, i'm sure there is a huge learning curve. I was considering a guided hunt for my first time but would like it to be in one of the surrounding units as I figured it would be best to concentrate on zones I will be hunting for the foreseeable future given the proxi to Sun Valley. Anyone have any recommendations on guides in this area or drop camp providers? I'm not a "guide" fan as I love the thrill of success/failure on my own and what leads up to it but feel this might be a good way to get a jump start on elk hunting tactics. Also, its tough for me to break away from the family for 5 nights to hunt so my local friend and I will likely only be doing 2-3 day hunts at a time.

3) Is there an elevation I should be focused on for scouting? When looking at google earth, there just seems to be a ton of area that looks solid but obviously the land is mass and can take some time so certainly would prefer to focus on areas that have a higher probability of seeing animals. Clearly some of the peaks in these zones are steep and rugged.

Ideally, i'm looking to start a new tradition of elk hunting that will hopefully be something i can take my boys to experience as they get older (Oldest is 5). Idaho is beautiful country and we really enjoy our time out there now as we already got him into fly fishing. I won't be hunting in 2017 so first year will likely be 2018 as we are doing a float on the Salmon which i'm pretty pumped for and hear its a great trip.

Thanks for your time and any and all help is greatly appreciated.
 

jlhois

Senior Member
Joined
May 9, 2015
Messages
398
Location
Boise
All,
1) I noticed Idaho does offer some "Controlled Hunts" which i assume are awarded by a draw? I'm guessing these are better units/limited number of hunters/etc. If there are specific archery only areas where drawing a tag would increase my chances at success? I figured it would be a good idea to lob in just in case i'm lucky in one of controlled units. Unfortunately, i haven't found more info on the web so maybe i just need to do some more digging but if anyone has direction, it would help me from chasing my tail.

The controlled hunts are a great way to increase your odds at a "trophy" unit managed for quality hunt. Trophy is based on the eye of the beholder as not all hunts are created equal. Some are managed for trophy, some for opportunity (antlerless tags). I feel that Idaho Fish and Game does a pretty good job publishing harvest data/draw odds.

Idaho Fish and Game - Controlled Hunt Drawing Odds

Idaho Hunt Planner | Idaho Fish and Game

2) Considering i have zero experience elk hunting, i'm sure there is a huge learning curve. I was considering a guided hunt for my first time but would like it to be in one of the surrounding units as I figured it would be best to concentrate on zones I will be hunting for the foreseeable future given the proxi to Sun Valley. Anyone have any recommendations on guides in this area or drop camp providers? I'm not a "guide" fan as I love the thrill of success/failure on my own and what leads up to it but feel this might be a good way to get a jump start on elk hunting tactics. Also, its tough for me to break away from the family for 5 nights to hunt so my local friend and I will likely only be doing 2-3 day hunts at a time.

I am a DIY hunter so cannot give specific advice on this but can see some value in this. You can research outfitters on Fish and Game website. You may want to consider Huntin' Fool or Go Hunt if you are going that direction as they partner with most of the outfits. They can better help address all of your questions.

Given that you may have an extra year you may want to consider Elk 101's Elk University by Corey Jacobson. He has some good content complied and it helped me jump up the learning curve.

Mike Eastman wrote a pretty good book on Elk hunting. Good start.

Subscribe to this thread and read all the posts. There is a ton of experience on this forum and you never know when someone will drop some serious knowledge.

3) Is there an elevation I should be focused on for scouting? When looking at google earth, there just seems to be a ton of area that looks solid but obviously the land is mass and can take some time so certainly would prefer to focus on areas that have a higher probability of seeing animals. Clearly some of the peaks in these zones are steep and rugged.

Elk are where you find them. I tend to look in the nasty terrain but have found them all over the place. It takes boots on the ground and if I were you I would cozy up to your local friend and get eyes on a lot of country.

Good luck.





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mtnwrunner

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2012
Messages
2,210
Location
Lowman, Idaho
Little wood river outfitters out of Carey and ask for Dustin Hennefer to be your guide. Great guy and knows his stuff.

Randy
 

alexanderg23

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
503
Location
Wasilla, AK
I would start with the class from elk101.com Well worth the $!!!

I would also try and find other mammals to shoot with the bow before going after elk. "Buck fever" is real and the process of killing, recovering and butchering game takes a lot of learning.
 

mntnguide

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
301
Location
Central ID/Western WY
Little wood outfitters like mentioned above is a top notch outfitter and Dustin is a damn good guy and guide... also Sun Valley outfitters owned by Bryant Dunn is a great outfitter with many return clients which says a lot about them as well. Couldn't go wrong with either one

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kjack_74

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Burns, Or
I'll second or third the University of Elk Hunting. I've been hunting since I was 12 and in the woods on hunts since Dad could sling me over a shoulder and I still learned a TON in that course and it helped me justify some of the things I've always done as sound practices ... In short it's basically like a user's manual for elk, sure there is more to it and some nuances in this unit or that drainage but by in large it will get you 10 years of experience for 100 bucks and the time it takes you to read it (then re-read it to scribble down a few more notes)

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Chasin Fin

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2017
Messages
33
Location
CA
Thank you all for your reply's. Agree completely with you on Elk 101. I purchased this a month or so back and am about half way through it which seems very helpful as he has a great way of communicating. I will certainly be reading this again.

Also, i should have clarified that i have shot larger animals with a rifle so i do have an understanding of game management but no doubt buck fever will be present on the first bow hunt. I do plan to try my luck on a local buck and pigs this year and next in preparation for a ultimate elk hunt.

Thanks again for the help, those links were helpful in digging into the controlled hunts as well which look like there are several Archery areas south of SV that seem to produce fairly well so i guess it doesn't hurt to apply for.

Looking forward to my first adventure for an Idaho elk. Thanks again.
 

sdfuller

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2017
Messages
186
Location
Reno, NV
Just call First Lite and ask em where the elk are! They're located in Ketchum and might know a thing or two about the local elk populations ;)


And since I told you that you should let me borrow that condo for a week!
 
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Chasin Fin

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2017
Messages
33
Location
CA
And since I told you that you should let me borrow that condo for a week!

I'll give you a good deal! It's right in town. Long-term rental now but I plan on full remodel this summer and will be renting it out.
 

theleo91386

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
712
Location
Eastern Washington
Little wood river outfitters out of Carey and ask for Dustin Hennefer to be your guide. Great guy and knows his stuff.

Randy
This is the best advice you're going to get. Be in shape, he covers ground like you wouldn't believe and it's all vertical.

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Calbuck

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2013
Messages
360
Location
Shasta County, Norcal
If you decide to hunt DIY, it won't be very difficult to find animals in the areas you're asking about..I've personally hunted up there with zero knowledge of the area and was successful both times I hunted. Just gotta put boots on the ground and start lookin around
 
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Chasin Fin

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2017
Messages
33
Location
CA
Thanks everyone. One item i forgot to ask, what hard copy maps do you guys order for a specific unit/area? Always nice to have good maps while you are out there. Thanks!

You guys certainly live in outdoor paradise. I'd move out there in two seconds if i we didn't have so much family locally. some day...
 

jlhois

Senior Member
Joined
May 9, 2015
Messages
398
Location
Boise
Thanks everyone. One item i forgot to ask, what hard copy maps do you guys order for a specific unit/area? Always nice to have good maps while you are out there. Thanks!

You guys certainly live in outdoor paradise. I'd move out there in two seconds if i we didn't have so much family locally. some day...

I carry Garmin with Birds Eye topo. No hard maps for me, call me crazy.


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