Idaho whitetail hunt

Jake Bannon

nymphs for steelhead....
Kind of a late report but thought I would share my annual whitetail hunt in Central Idaho. It was a great year with many exciting moments that can only be experianced in true wilderness. We stayed in Pierce, Idaho with good friends and hunted 15 or so miles out of town. Our tactic is mainly to stick and move by doing alot of rattling and grunting, we sit for 40 or so minutes and then move one before our next sequence. For this we wanted cold temps to keep the deer moving throughout the day, finding bucks combing timbered ridges for does was our key to success. However as our luck would have it we were stuck with warm temperatures with daytime highs in the mid 50s :(

We had left super early in the AM to suffer the 9hr drive early and sneak in an afternoon hunt. We must have seen a 70 or so mule deer with a few good bucks by Lyon's Ferry, kinda south eastern WA. After our arrival we checked into our room in town and threw on our hunting gear. We checked out some new area and after I tried the first rattling sequence I sat for a while and decided to move on. Out of no where I hear sticks crashing in the heavy timber, I could tell it was a deer but wasnt sure if it was a buck or how big it was. I blew my grunt tube at him and he did a 180 and started walking right at me. It ended up being a nice little 4x4 that I let walk, a little small and being the first day and all I wasnt in that big of a hurry to fill my tag.

The very next day we did not see much but a couple white flags running threw the timber as we had been busted on several occassions while walking. Hunted till around 1 and decided to go to another location. So me and my dad are just start walking back to the truck when we hear a gun shot from right down in the timber. Mind you this is a place that we usually hunt all week and never see another hunter in the same area so were both thinking what the hell just happend. We can hear deer running threw the timber because theres a ton of sticks breaking and it sounded like they were heading uphill on the old skid road which we had been walking. A decent buck pops out on the road and my dad throws his gun up and takes a shot busting up his shoulder. The deer takes off over the ridge and were giving the victory 5s when a monster 160 class buck jumps onto the road right behind the smaller buck, it started running back to thicker forest when I threw up my gun and squeezed the trigger but theres no shot......I forgot to take my saftey off!!! The big buck dissapeared into the timber untouched. We recover my dad's buck to find a respectable 5x5, a little weak in the eyeguard dept. but a nice deer. Next morning first daylight my dad offers to be my caller if I wanted and I gladly accept. As soon as he started banging the antlers together I spot a deer coming to us up the gut of a heavily timbered swail, he came to us on a frozen rope. He was a decent little basket buck, just another little 4x4 but the exciting part was he just kept coming and coming and never stopped. He came in so close that I could reach out and literally touch him with my gun barrel. I could hear him breathing he was so close, he never smelled us or anything. He walked off after being fooled by the rattling antlers and repeated buck grunts my dad was using. As cool as it was it was the only deer we had seen that day.

So the the next day comes and we are sitting on a super old skid road with really thick forest on both sides, a big buck had chose to work the ridgetop which the road was on, there were many fresh scrapes as well as rubs along this road. Were sitting and after an hour goes by I hear massive crashing coming right toward us, like a train going threw the woods. Thats when two cow elk come running straight at us with a large white and grey wolf nipping at ones heels. The wolf chases the other down over the hill side and the other stands broadsaide 30ft from us. Short minutes later the cow that was being chased returns back panting like a tired dog but she lost the wolf. The rest of the herd comes up on the road and all ten or so elk start trotting directly at us as were sitting quietly in disbelief. They get so close that we have to stand up to make sure they are aware of our presence. They then see us and take off down the ridge. We look at eachother completley astonished of what just happend and out of the corner of my ear I hear a twig break right behing me. I turn around and the wolf is staring at me no more then 25ft, I stand up and the wolf decides to back off and head back into the underbrush. After that whole scene we saw nothing but a little spike the rest of the day, deer movement was minimum due to the higher temps.

Day 4 comes and we decide to head back to the spot I had the close encounter with the small buck. We saw no deer activity during our 2 hour sit, we decide to pick up and move. Just as we start walking we catch movement on two deer coming down the spine of a timbered finger ridge. I threw my scope up and it was a decent buck chasing a doe. They quickly appear into a small opening but I had no shot due to some smaller tree branches in my way. I decide to take a couple small steps to avoid the sticks when the buck catches my movement and takes off. I was depressed as I could be as I was getting a rather itchy trigger finger and numbered days. Once again we had seen no deer for the remander of the day.

The next morning My dad and I switch it up a bit. I would go with a different buddy whos tag was already filled and my dad would go with our friend who was rather new to the whitetail game as he is used to Mule deer in more open country. Me and him hike up this smaller ridge where I had seen the buck chasing the doe the previous day hoping to catch him on his daily run about (scrape line). Our party had named this ridge "Junior High Ridge" because a couple days ago my dad's buddy had 6 different bucks come into one calling sequence but not one was over 2 1/2yrs old. I was looking to fill my tag because A: I only had a couple days left and B: Every morning one of these younger bucks would come to our calling and C: trigger finger was starting to kick in. We get up there just as its starting to get daylight, and the second I stop walking to get situated in my spot I can hear sticks breaking in the thick gut of this swail. I catch movement of a deer not more than 30yds and I throw my scope up to see its a doe. The doe quickly moves out of my scope and walks in a buck, its still not quite light enough to really judge the buck but I can tell he is decent sized. Our friend hears my saftey click and the boom of my gun sends him a foot in the air. The buck runs not but 50yds before crashing. I walked up to the buck and to my surprise he seemed bigger than he was in my scope. A very respectable 5x6 with a broken G3. Not the end of the world but I sure wish he had it.

All in all it was a great trip, I am way more of a meat hunter than a trophy hunter but its not everyday that I am able to hunt rutting whitetails, and if it comes down to the last day I would be more than willing to shoot a doe. This is my biggest buck Ive shot out of the ten deer I’ve harvested so I was more than pleased. I apalogize for no field pics of my buck but I forgot to put the camera in my pack the day I shot it :beathead:. Backyard shots are lame but better than nada I guess.


Not bad at all. Hunting during the rut is the best! I would have shot that wolf. Those things are becoming a real menace to the elk populations.
I think they have or will have a season on them. Not sure though. From what I hear they are becoming a little overpopulated in spots.
God I love hunting in idaho. My whole family is from potlatch Idaho so I go over every year around thanksgiving to hunt whitetails. I got a little 3x3 this year cause i missed the big buck. I love steelhead fishing but nothing compares to hunting whitetail with your close friends and family. I kinda wish it was deer season still, had a blast this year. Great report. :thumb: