Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

"Accessing Local Knowledge"

Some of the best kept secret hunting spots are known by ranchers and farmers. And, sometimes simple little comments they make can lead you to a great hunt. In 2001, my dad and I drew late-season muzzleloader deer tags in Idaho. We had each hunted the area in years past, but knew very little about where the deer would be in mid-November. Though it was a 15-day hunt, and we were planning to hunt all 15 days, we were still concerned about finding some trophy bucks. In mid-October, I decided to make a one day scouting trip to the area. The purpose of the trip was primarily to find a spot where my dad and I could park our 24 foot camp trailers and camp. But, it turned into more, and a simple conversion resulted in our hunt being much better.

While riding a few of the roads and trails in the area, my wife and I stopped and spoke to a rancher and his wife who were looking for cows. I explained to the rancher that I was looking for a place to hunt and asked him what he knew. His first comments were more warnings than anything. He explained how most of the lower country was private and posted. I assured him that I understood and that I would be careful where I hunted.
The conversion then changed and we began talking about the ATV riding. I told him how my wife was the one who really enjoyed the riding. He chuckled and said that his wife was the same way. The common ground that we found lead us into talking about much more. I asked about the ranching life and how it was living in Idaho. We spoke for about 20 minutes before the subject again turned to deer hunting, and that's when he gave me some great information.
Simply, he said, "Just over this hill is a chunk of land that is not private and there are more deer that winter over there than anywhere else in the valley." At that time, I didn't think much of it just rode through and looked at it, then went home.

We began our hunt at a little higher elevation, as it was still quite warm with little snow on the ground. By the end of opening day, I discovered that the deer were few and far between in the high country and I needed to look elsewhere. So, on day 2 I headed for that little canyon where the rancher had told me so many deer wintered. Wow! To my surprise there were quite a few deer in that little area. I decided to hunt there, hoping that eventually there would be a big buck following one of the many does.

Over the next week and a half, I saw approx. 8-10 24-inch or better bucks, and could have shot several of them. And, my dad and I each missed an extra big buck, the kind we were really looking for. Of course we were bummed about missing the big one, but it was a great hunt because we were seeing lots of deer and good bucks everyday, which made the hunt much more fun.

The moral of this story is that ranchers, especially the ones that don't hunt, can give you great information on where you might find a big buck. Be nice, make conversation concerning something other than hunting, maybe offer to help them find a bull, as I did, or fix a fence, etc. If it all works out, they'll give you some information you can really use.

Good Luck All!

Written by: Brian Latturner

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

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