Idaho Do-It-Yourself! 2008

We all think it would be great to be able to go on guided hunts, out of state or not, but lets face it, most of us just can’t afford it. I know I can’t! If you do your homework you can plan an awesome do it yourself hunt for fairly cheap. My state of choice was Idaho, and for about $470 I got my license and rifle deer tag.
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Idaho High Country

We did our homework on where to go. There was no scouting involved due to the distance and cost of traveling to a different state. When it came to choosing where to hunt, it was almost just a finger on the map. With a little help from Google Earth and a lot of help from topo maps, we found some great areas. Our main focus was mule deer so we concentrated on south facing slopes and high elevation.
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Walk-In Roads

Idaho has some great ideas for their mountain road systems! They have different types of roads, some for all vehicles, some atvs only, and others walk-in only. Many hunters in Idaho choose to use atvs because it is legal to ride them on the highways, but for those of us who don’t use them we all know how frustrating it can be when you have just walked one, two, or even three miles up a road and an atv goes cruising past you. For this reason, we absolutely loved the walk-in only roads. And they proved to be pretty successful for us. While we where there we harvested four of our five deer on walk-in roads.

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Glassing Ahead

A huge part of our success during our trip was glassing (using your binoculars). A good pair of binos is a must if you want see more deer and harvest big bucks. I know what you’re thinking, that’s just more money to spend, but you can get a good pair for fairly cheap and any 10×40 or 10×42 binos will do. I prefer roof prism or pinnacle style because they have a smaller frame, they’re lighter, and they’re more clear. Remember, the better that you glass the better chance you have of harvesting a great buck.
Next on the list is having a good pack. There are lots of packs out there so make sure you shop around to find the one that’s right for you. There are many important features that I look for in a good pack. The first thing I look for is versatility. Can I use this pack for deer, bear, and elk? Second, is it comfortable? Third, is it the right size? Can I put everything I need in this pack, whether it is for a day hunt or a week hunt. And fourth, does it have a good warranty? The best one for me was a no-brainer! Badlands 4500, this is an amazing pack. (This pack can be seen above in the pic titled Walk in Roads) Hands down it is the most comfortable pack I have ever put on, even with the meat of a 200 lb bear inside. The warranty is the best part, it’s lifetime, no questions asked. You wont find that with any other hunting pack, period.

THE HUNT
We struggled for the first three days of our ten day hunt, only seeing a few deer here and there, mostly does. The few bucks that we did see in these first few days were either too small or they just out-smarted us.

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The Double

On the fourth day of our hunt our maps paid off when we discovered a great set of walk-in roads. We knew there would be animals here so we started glassing. Low and behold Gary spotted a bear. We hiked up the road only to find the bear long gone, but on the way back down we stumbled upon two bucks. Josh got a very respectable three point and Frank got a nice fork. That’s a double.

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Double Number Two

Day five, we woke up to find that we had a flat tire, so we headed for town. With this set back we didn’t have time to make it up to the same roads we were hunting the day before, so we decided to explore closer to town. Though we didn’t see very many deer ourselves, we did get to watch another hunter in the bottom of a canyon harvest a very nice 6×6 bull elk. On day six we got up early and decided to head back up to where we got the double just two days before. We took a different road that split off and went around the other side of the ridge. We headed up the ridge only to find that it had snowed the night before. We cut two sets of fresh tracks, following them up the old gravel road until they climbed the bank. Looking up the bank, there stood a tall sharp tipped three point. It was Gary’s turn. He pulled up as the buck whirled around. As I was watching this happen I saw another larger four point buck stand up to follow. I pulled up and KABOOM, down he went. Gary hollered “give me a chance” as the smaller three point buck continued to run. It made it about eighty yards before Gary shot. The buck, wounded, took off and ran only 40 yards before he dropped. Yet another double.

After getting the bucks down to the road, Josh headed back to the truck to get the deer cart. Gary and I built a fire and started cooking a couple of Mountain House meals for lunch. Let the work and celebration begin! We warmed up and got our bellies full. After cleaning the bucks we hauled them back to the truck.

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Gary’s Excitement

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The Pack Out With The Deer Cart

So all in all it was an experience that I will never forget, my first out of state hunt. For all you guys that say you can’t afford to do it, you’re wrong. It just takes some research and time. I did it all for less than a $1,000. The D.I.Y. hunt is always more rewarding than a guided hunt because it’s all on you whether you’re successful or not.

Stay on the look out for my post for Idaho 2009. It should be up in late October.

About the Author

Levi Binford

Levi Binford

From the time that Levi first went hunting with his father he was hooked for life. When he's not working he's usually in the woods or on the river, and has been very successful in his young hunting career.