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The Middle Fork Chronicle 2005


Hello from Idaho.

We had a great season this year here on the Middle Fork. We killed 13 elk for 19 hunters (68%), and 9 bucks for 11 deer hunters (82%). The age structure of the herds we hunt just keeps getting better. It breaks down like this: for bulls we harvested three 4x5s, two 5x5s, six 6x6s, and one 320-point 7x7; for bucks we harvested two 3x4s, and seven 4x4 (Five of which scored 168-172 points.). We all noticed an extra large number of spikes. A good percentage of 4x5 and 5x5 bulls and six 300-point bulls along with one huge 7x7 that got away; they don't get big by being stupid. We also saw three bucks that would push the 180 score. Our bighorn ram population is also doing well with some big rams waiting for that lucky hunter to draw a tag. As always we had a great time lion hunting this year and ended up with some worthy adventures.

Our bighorn ram population is also doing well with some bug rams waiting for that lucky hunter to draw a tag.  Any Bow-hunters out there we have a late season (Dec 1- Dec 31st) for elk and deer of either sex.  These are lodge hunts with lots of opportunity.  A Lion hunt can be added to this we also have 2-3 openings for Lion hunts in mid December, end of January and February depending on snow.  We have a large lion population and some big toms.  We found tracks of two toms working our area this fall that are Boone and Crockett potential.  My hound dogs are tuned and ready and so am I.

Elk Chronicles
Hunt 1
Grouse Camp

I can’t think of a better group to start out the season with than the four Jersey boys and the two Texans.  All of them are professional bullshitters and one of them even gets paid for it, he is a lawyer.

Lyle, Buck, and I were guiding this hunt with Troy putting’ out that good food that he is famous for.  Grouse Camp is a nineteen-mile ride and takes most of the day to get there.

After a couple of cold frosties and a hot meal we hit the old fart sack, ready for the opening day, and what a day.  I guided Reno and Bino.  We had bulls bugling the 1st thing in the morning.  Now the bulls in this hole had embarrassed me two years in a row on opening morning.  

I had told the Jersey boys that we were going deep and staying late, and that is what we did.  We snuck down to 500 yards and waited all day for this bull and his cows to feed out.  This bull was bugling, racking trees, and growling.  With fifteen minutes of daylight left we had cows within 75 yards, but the bull wouldn’t step out.

I let out a bugle call and here comes Mr. Bull. Bino had to take him at 125 yards in self-defense.  Opening day and a nice 6x6 on the ground.  We didn’t get to camp until midnight and we were serenaded by bulls the whole way back.  

Lyle was guiding Tom and Bill.  Bill scored on a nice 6x6 bull as well.  They saw a 300 + bull but they could not get on it.  

Buck guided the Texas boys Chad and David.  I could tell right off that Buck was going to be smarter or totally bewildered by hunt’s end.
Reno scored on a good 5x5 on day three.  This was a cold rainy, snowy day.  We had us a heck of a race getting on this herd of elk.  At one point I had to offer words of encouragement to Reno, which I believe had the desired effect, but I did catch hell about it for the rest of the week.  Chad scored on a 4x5 the last day of the hunt.  There’s quite a story that goes along with this bull, actually two stories, Chad’s and David’s. We’ve yet to hear the closing arguments.

This was a great fun hunt; the Jersey and Texas boys are always welcome in our camp.

Hunt 2
Grouse Camp

Lyle and myself with Troy cooking took Jeff and Dennis up to Grouse camp.  Lyle and Jeff had a 5x5 sneak in opening morning.  Day three Jeff killed a 6x6 at 70 yards.  Dennis and I spiked out at Macrate Ridge, we got into elk, and had bulls bugling but we couldn’t put it together.  Dennis was bow hunting and he’s a great sport. We went into some hellholes looking for a big bull.

Hunt 3

This time period is actually an in between for us.  Our unit 28 opens Oct 15 and we have two camps to set up, firewood to cut, feed to pack, and horses and mules to shoe.  Buck, Troy, and I broke down all but one tent at Grouse camp.  We leave this for a late season spike camp.  We took off for Buckhorn, and of course it rained and snowed all day, aah life in the Rockies.  Lyle had another hunt to guide so Buck and I set up camps for the next week.  Lots of work, but we had fun.

Hunt 4
Duck Point Camp

Lyle with Bob Graham cooking headed to Duck Point with Chris and Jim.  Jim killed the best bull of the year a 320-point 7x7.  He also killed a nice 4x4 deer on the way down the last day.  This camp produces good bulls every year.

Hunt 4
Buckhorn Camp

Buck, Ben, I with my horseshoeing buddy Dave Otte doing the cooking took off with Jim, Harry, and Ziggy, all repeat customers.  This was the fifth year that Harry and I were in camp together.  X-2 Harry’s hunting partner had to have surgery so he couldn’t make it this year.

Ben guided Harry to a 6x6 bull opening morning of unit 28.  Ben bugled him in from 1,000 yards away.  Harry said the bull was out for blood and he had to shoot for fear of his life.

Buck and Ziggy had a 6x6 at 70 yards, but Ziggy was trophy hunting and passed him up.  I was real proud of Ziggy, we usually hunt together and he likes to shoot.  He is one hell of a shot.  On day two, Ziggy decided that one day of trophy hunting was enough so he dropped a 4x5 bull on the way back to camp.  I told Ziggy maybe next year we could try for two days of trophy hunting.  

On day three I was guiding Jim. We hunted together last year and we have a great time together. After a good afternoon nap Jim heard a bull bugle below us and of course we went after him, and he went the other way. Jim kept after them and I went up to the horses bugling as I went away, which worked because Jim killed a nice 6x6 right before dark.

Harry and Ziggy both killed deer.  Zig’s buck scored 168 points, a nice buck.  This is a great camp; we are already booked through ’07 on this hunt.

Hunt 5
Buckhorn Camp

Lyle and I with Marci cooking and Buck packing headed back to Buckhorn for a deer hunt with Jeff, Chris, Steve, and Dave from Washington.  We had a great time hunting deer.  Steve and Chris both killed bucks that scored 168 and 169 points.  Dave and Jeff’s were 140 class bucks.  We had some great stalks and good hard hunting.  Steve’s deer was a four hour-long stalk.  Ending with a great shot and a fine buck.  

We didn’t get the snow that we usually do this hunt so spotting deer was tough, but Jeff and Steve have excellent game eyes and know how to glass.

Lyle, Dave, and Chris made a video re-enactment of Chris killing his buck that was pretty damn good along with some funny parts that kept us laughing one night.  

Hunt 6
Buckhorn Camp

Lyle, I, and Jim Hawkins doing the cooking and Buck packing again headed to camp with Berend, Don and Tom.  We’ve been elk and lion hunting together for five years.  This year they brought Jeff along.

Don and I hunted some rough country in the mourning with fresh snow on the ground; Don slipped and broke a rib.  Bad luck, on the way back to camp we crossed some elk tracks and followed them.  Lyle was hunting the same bunch from below and he pushed a 6x6 right past us.  Don had his bull broken rib and all.

The next day Tom killed a 4x5 in the same area; we call it the “Meat Locker.”

The third day Jeff killed a 5x5.  There were over 200 hundred elk in this herd and a big 7x7.  Berend and I wanted that 7x7.  We chased several 5x5s and 100 cows till dark.  We almost had him twice and we could have killed a nice 5x5 several times.  It was snowing hard and we had a two and a half hour walk back to where the horses were tied somewhere on the mountain.  We made it back to camp for dinner.  The next day we went to my favorite honey hole where saw twelve bulls; two 6x6s, seven 5x5s, three 4x5s all in one bunch but none we wanted to shoot.  Makes next year look good.  

Buck season had closed in unit 28 so of course we had good snow and the bucks were everywhere; two 180-point class bucks and seven 170-point class bucks were seen this week. Along with hundreds of elk; two 300+-point bulls, and that big 7x7 still running around laughing at us.

Hunt 7
Tappan Camp

Buck, and I with Gretchen cooking headed down river to the Tappan Cabin, this cabin dates back to the 1880s and is right on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.  We had Dale and Tim hunting with us for the last hunt.

We have two spike camps set up along with hunting out of the cabin. We saw lots of elk, but no big bulls down low, so Buck and Tim headed to Soda Camp to spike out. Dale and I headed to Grouse camp to do the same. We saw some good bull tracks but we didn’t find them and decided to head over to Soda Camp. We saw a good bull there a couple of days before. Dale is a tough, retired Army Col. and it’s a good thing because we were wearing out some horseshoes looking for the big bull.

Soda holds a lot of elk; it’s their winter range.  The trail there is steeper than a cow’s face and rocky as hell.  The wolves had been in camp howling at Buck, Tim, and the stock the night before.  Well wouldn’t ya know, the morning of the last day there’s no horses or mules in the corral.  They had broken out during the night.  

Buck took off after the stock.  Dale, Tim, and I hunted our way back to the cabin.  Tim found a bunch of elk on a ridge with two bulls, one a nice 6x6.  Tim and I made a long stalk to within 370 yards.  We weren’t getting any closer.  Tim tried a shot when they stood up but didn’t connect.  Tim was disappointed but the good part is he’ll be bigger next year.

Karla, the crew of Middle Fork Outfitters, and I want to thank all of our hunters. We appreciate you hunting with Middle Fork Outfitters and we look forward to seeing you on the trail in the future!


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