Hunting & Fishing  Idaho Elk/Mule Deer Hunt Questions

240nmc

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Jul 6, 2013
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I’ve booked a backcountry Idaho Elk & Mule Deer Hunt on the Western Side of the State for late October early November and woul like to hear some recommendations regarding gear etc...

My current hunting is in the SE Carolina region so cold weather gear is pretty much is Cabelas stuff and with still hunts. I have been to Montana (Dome Mountain Ranch) twice for Elk hunts but that was 10 plus years ago and the only gear I really have left is my Schnees boots. My current cold weather gear is the heavier Cabelas goreTex stuff that may not be the best for my trip. I have used Harkila and Seeland clothing when hunting in Germany but that’s almost like a fashion show and US gear is easier to get than importing Harkila.

I have HS Precision 260 REM shooting 120 ttsx at 2950 FPS and regularly practice out to 300 yards off sticks and sitting. I have competed for years in NRA HP completions although not so much anymore. I’m in shape and workout 4 times a week (boxing, KBs, functional training, and cardio. I’m closing in on 60 years old but have no real limitations. I will up my conditioning this year and have talked my gym owner buddy to add a stair climber to his equipment that I will start using as part of my routine. I regularly work tire flips into my regime say 150 flips using a 350 pound tire once every two weeks. I will be in shape for this trip.

What I don’t have is the quality of clothing that I believe is needed. I always see Sitka gear but haven’t really looked it over as a $450 coat is not need for North Carolina. What should I be looking for and what is a good kit to handle the weather changes for that time of year? I will be in a back county camp so I got to live with whatever I bring. I’m all in for practical and i=not looking for the highest end gear but know that it can make the difference between a great hunt and misery. Looking for a good layering concept. And any other recommendations you might have.

This forum is the best and your feedback is always good.
 

adb77

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Oct 5, 2014
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Good luck on your hunt. You can build a layering system from mountaineering brands/shopping sales etc. far cheaper than a matched set of Kuiu, Sitka or First Lite. I frequently buy used gear(except for baselyers)on face book groups, forums. Wool for next to skin base layer, lightweight insulation layers, then wind/rain barrier. November in Idaho could be rough, especially high elevations. Sleep system/shelter equally important.
 
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sodakhunter

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Feb 21, 2017
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I was in Idaho this fall for a week.
Get some good boots with insulation kennetrek or Crispis.
I have lots of Kuiu stiff and it worked well. Wool base layers seemed to dry faster
i have a First lite sawtooth hybred jacket that i took. First hoodie thing i ever used and i was glad i had it. Give this piece a hard look
Headlamp with a red light if you’re going to be on horses
I had a kifaru gun sling that was great.
binos that give your dope as always shooting up or downhill it seems.
Lots of other stuff but thats the highlights and some of the things i would definitely take. Keep it light.
 

264win

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  • Oct 15, 2008
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    Good boots that are broke in.

    Quality merino wool base layers from head to toe.
    Quality waterproof jacket and pants/ bibs.
    This with good layering can handle any weather you get.

    I always wear gaiters, but that is due to most hunting pants being to short.
     

    AFGWS

    Airplane light repair man
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    Feb 16, 2017
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    Personally, I'd stick with your Schnee's if they are in decent shape and get some socks and liners. I have all First Lite, and use it to build layers clothes wise. I'd also drop money on a good pack. I currently run a Kifaru EMR, and am looking for an X-ray for a day pack. A good set of binoculars is also a good investment for hunting out west.
     
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    SamsonSimpson

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    Stick with your Schnees. If they’re uninsulated then get some good merino socks and liners.One of the best mountain boots you can buy.

    Look into stone glacier for packs and outerwear. They’re doing some good things over there. Firstlite would be a close second. Layers are key.

    is this a guided trip or are you setting off on your own? Packing an animal comes to mind. People in Idaho will help you pack for a fee. Bolo for their info when you get to town. You said western so are you talking orofino or hells canyon area?

    In the mountains of N. Idaho I’d shack up for 10-14 days for archery elk season. Base camp was a wall tent. I used to use a harness butt pack for short morning or afternoon hunts, but would pack a tarp and pad for days that I may end up sleeping away from camp up on the mountain.

    Absolutely good waterproof or heavily resistant gaiters. 100% a must.

    Solid rain gear is a must too.
     
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    3-0-hate

    Captain Nimcompoop
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    Lost in Idaho...
    I live and hunt in Idaho...

    Your boots will be good to go as long as they are still waterproof and in good condition. As far as the clothing goes, your best bet is to layer. I like to say that Idaho weather is stuck on stupid.. It never knows if its going to be hot and sunny or cold and snowing, and it likes to switch on a whim from one extreme to the other. Be sure to incorporate a lightweight waterproof shell that is easily stowable in your pack. Also, I strongly recommend some good long johns.. Firstlite makes some now that can zip on and off so you don't have to strip all the way down to take them off.

    Good luck with your hunt, it sounds like you're at least going to be physically prepared for it.. That's usually the biggest battle.
     
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    240nmc

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    Jul 6, 2013
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    Thanks for all the tips and I’m looking at the Sitka gear for the layers and have a local store that will work with me on pricing. My Schenee boots are in great shape and I use two sets of felt liners and alternate so feet are dry each day. They are a bit heavy but very comfortable and warm. I have a set of Swarovski binoculars with a built in range finder. We will be hunting out of a base camp on a guided hunt so I‘ll need a day pack with essentials.

    Looking at the Sitka Subapline line and will be able to use it here in the SE. Still have some cold nights of hog hunting so I can play around with layers in the colder nights although we don’t have the wind you guys do out west. I remember my tips to Montana and the wind can be brutal.

    I have a 300 yard range at the club about 3 miles from the house so I’ll be practicing regularly. Here the Carolinas our hunting shots are 80 to 200 yards with most being at a 100. I regularly practice at 300 shooting plates and can position shoot and not ride the bench. Since I don’t compete in HP anymore and don’t have to deal with wind dope, I will practice some using my H&R M12 22LR match gun with 800, 900, and 1000 yard reduced Palma targets to 100 yards. Shoot on a windy day and it helps reading the wind. Sometimes I’ll move them out to 200 yards and it gets interesting. good practice since we don’t have high winds and it’s the best I can do to simulate conditions.

    Need to start looking at packs, don’t think the old AlICE pack is going to work like it does hunting out of a climber....

    Thanks for the tips.
     

    adb77

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    Oct 5, 2014
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    Kifaru packs are hands down the best in my book, I’ve never had stone glacier. But have had mystery ranch. Most Kifaru models switch from day pack compressed mode to meat hauling quickly.
     

    AFGWS

    Airplane light repair man
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    Feb 16, 2017
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    Kifaru packs are hands down the best in my book, I’ve never had stone glacier. But have had mystery ranch. Most Kifaru models switch from day pack compressed mode to meat hauling quickly.

    I'll second the Kifaru recommendation. My next day pack will be an X-ray. I find my mult-day Kifaru to be a little much sometimes, but it does compress down a lot.
     
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    Lightning8

    Sergeant of the Hide
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    Feb 10, 2019
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    I live in GA and been hunting Wyoming last 6 years. I am retired Army so I used a lot of my Army issue - especially pieces of the ECWS. Weather changes rapidly during a week and even in a day. As others stated - wear layers. I used Salomon boots and have three pairs I take - light, medium, heavy insulation.
     

    3-0-hate

    Captain Nimcompoop
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    Lost in Idaho...
    I use a Cabelas pack right now. It’s not the best but it’s not the worst. Aluminum external frame. It will pack anything and everything well, but I must admit that I am super jealous of my buddies new Eberlestock hunting pack.
    The Kifaru stuff is legit as well.

    Also, bring a sporting scope and a tripod, as well as a tripod mount for your binos. If you’re not used to the west, it’s big open country and you will likely spend a lot of time glassing hillsides. A tripod setup for your binos helps a ton with eye fatigue.
     

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    msstate56

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    Having been on several trips out west I have come to like my KUIU pack with carbon fiber frame. I like most of the clothes I’ve tried from KUIU, but I hate their camo patterns. The Talus hybrid pants are my favorite. Super down ultra jacket is nice as well. Look at Kryptek gear too. It’s often overlooked, but I’ve been wearing their clothes for years, and my original (7+ year old) gear still works well. The Altitude soft shell jacket and pants are awesome. They have dropped the price significantly.
     

    cmush

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    Adding to the echo chamber here, but merino base layers, good, broken in boots, wool socks with liners, and a good fitting pack will be huge for your comfort. You can also check out the classifieds over on Rokslide. I've pieced together most of my kit over there. Hunters are as bad as gun guys in always wanting to try something new each season and dumping it at the end to buy the next, best thing. I personally run First Lite wool (someone else mentioned the Sawtooth Hybrid and I love mine), SKRE softshell pants and jacket, and a Mystery Ranch Selway.
     
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    afv338

    anthony
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    Feb 21, 2017
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    i went out to idaho 3 years ago hunted the sawtooth mts drop canp, know the area you are going to where i was it was dangerous steep with loose rocks dont go with out trecking poles and dont go cheep on them. your sleeping system is as important as your gun i went light and it wasn't good. the first night the fucked stove the outfitter had had holes in the exhaust pipe we woke with the tent filled with smoke i almost cut a hole in the side of the tent as i thought it was on fire. we dealt with this the first three nights, i had a roll of aluminon foil i packed it took 3 days to get the pipe wrapped and bent right i wanted to kill the outfitter. the temp went from single digits to 70s mid day. we had a good spring for water but i would buy a life straw water purifier, weights nothing to pack, we brought food but i also brought a msr pocket rocket, fuel,and mres and was glad i did i used mountain house. if you are packing in by horse do some riding before you go or you will be sorry, i owned horse's at one time so that was not a issue but i had hunting boots on only brought one pair as he had a weight limit for the pack in again trying to save weight. he put me on a Belgium im six feet and had to climb on a rock to get on him. on the way in he slipped and went dam near down to his belly i didnt have ridding shoes on and could not get my feet out of the stirrups my life passed before my eyes i stayed on but it could have been very bad i got my feet out and did not use them the rest of the way in. have some one bring a extra rifle for the group. i cant express this more also get a map of the area and bring a compass even if you have a gps if your with a guide and some thing happens to him your fucked. hope your trip goes better than mine it was a trip from hell. i have kuiu and sitka gear i like the kuiu much better they give 50 off first orders in my opinion they are better and costs less.
     

    240nmc

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    Jul 6, 2013
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    Thanks for all you tips. I went with Sitka gear as I had a selection near me that I could try on etc... Ordered the Kuiu zippered Merino wool LJs and the Farm to Feet Merino socks. My Schnees are in great condition as they get used once a year here in South Carolina and are broken in and maintained. Lexi aluminum walking poles and might change out to carbon fiber. Glass is Swarovski 8X42 EL and I know 10X is better out West but the 8s work best for my all around use.

    Added one element to the training regime is box steps with a weighted vest. 20 inch box with a toe drag on the side of the box going up, and then down. Keeps you from cheating using your momentum. 20 R/L 4 times. Legs burn like crazy.....

    I’ll be ready.

    Thanks again.
     
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    AFGWS

    Airplane light repair man
    Minuteman
    Feb 16, 2017
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    82
    Thanks for all you tips. I went with Sitka gear as I had a selection near me that I could try on etc... Ordered the Kuiu zippered Merino wool LJs and the Farm to Feet Merino socks. My Schnees are in great condition as they get used once a year here in South Carolina and are broken in and maintained. Lexi aluminum walking poles and might change out to carbon fiber. Glass is Swarovski 8X42 EL and I know 10X is better out West but the 8s work best for my all around use.

    Added one element to the training regime is box steps with a weighted vest. 20 inch box with a toe drag on the side of the box going up, and then down. Keeps you from cheating using your momentum. 20 R/L 4 times. Legs burn like crazy.....

    I’ll be ready.

    Thanks again.

    If you decide to switch trekking poles, S&S archery is what I would consider the gold standard for carbon poles
     

    MK20

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    Apr 17, 2018
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    It would help to know what part of the western side of the state you want to hunt as it varies in terrain greatly. Regardless, I would practice shooting a little further. See if you can get out to 600 because there is a decent chance you may need that skill depending on where you want to hunt. Get some good layers as it will go from really nice to freezing and rain/snow really quick. Waterproof shell is a must. LRF is a must as well, especially as you don’t live out here judging distance will be hard.
     

    Baron23

    Check 6
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  • Mar 19, 2020
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    I always see Sitka gear but haven’t really looked it over as a $450 coat
    My only comment is about the Sika....I live in Maryland and am primarily a water fowl hunter with my buddies on the eastern shore who came up blowing ducks and geese out of the sky AND were very frugal about it.

    We all used to make fun of people who paid for Sika....until one of us got some. Then the tune changed.

    It is OUTSTANDING. Expensive, hell yeah....but outstanding.
     

    240nmc

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    Jul 6, 2013
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    It would help to know what part of the western side of the state you want to hunt as it varies in terrain greatly. Regardless, I would practice shooting a little further. See if you can get out to 600 because there is a decent chance you may need that skill depending on where you want to hunt. Get some good layers as it will go from really nice to freezing and rain/snow really quick. Waterproof shell is a must. LRF is a must as well, especially as you don’t live out here judging distance will be hard.
    Near Riggins, ID. Western side around the Hells Canyon area. I shot NRA HP and 1000 yard matches for years and while I don’t do that anymore, I do have about a mile of powerline on my hunting lease acreage that I shoot extended ranges. LRF is built into the binos and provides slope angle.

    Thanks for the reminder about shooting longer distances. My local gun club is only 3 miles from the house and it’s easy to run over, shoot a session at 300 on steel and be home in an hour.
     

    240nmc

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    My only comment is about the Sika....I live in Maryland and am primarily a water fowl hunter with my buddies on the eastern shore who came up blowing ducks and geese out of the sky AND were very frugal about it.

    We all used to make fun of people who paid for Sika....until one of us got some. Then the tune changed.

    It is OUTSTANDING. Expensive, hell yeah....but outstanding.
    I’m spoiled around here as our deer season runs from September to January 1st. Most is warm weather hunting and your best gear is a thermacell and red cedar oil bug spray. I use a product call Cedarcide from Texas and you can spay down, smell like a cedar tree and hunt in shorts and the bugs will leave you alone. In the swampy areas, the thermacell is a life saver. I’ll use the Sitka gear here in the SE and the subalpine fits in with our timber lands. They need a pine straw pattern for around here!
     
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    MK20

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    The land of many waters
    If you are going to be hunting near riggins you better be prepared to shoot farther than 300 by a good bunch. I would have a good set of shooting sticks or a tripod and some good glass. Definitely have a good, lightweight layer system as that area can see large weather swings. You will likely have some weird and noticeable winds so I would have a good windshell no matter what and would also practice shooting in wind.
     

    Aftermath

    Recoil Fetishist
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  • May 14, 2013
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    The other thing about hunting around Riggins and the Seven Devils area, which is not far from me at all, is to be ready for the weather to be VERY warm, even late in the season.
     

    240nmc

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    Jul 6, 2013
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    If you are going to be hunting near riggins you better be prepared to shoot farther than 300 by a good bunch. I would have a good set of shooting sticks or a tripod and some good glass. Definitely have a good, lightweight layer system as that area can see large weather swings. You will likely have some weird and noticeable winds so I would have a good windshell no matter what and would also practice shooting in wind.
    I have a Bog Pod with a saddle, and my Swaro EL binoculars. Do think my 260 Remington shooting 120 TTSX at 2950 is too light? I also have 140g load too.