Middle Fork Outfitters Elk Chronicles 2017

Greetings to all, this was Middle Fork Outfitters 14th season and my 22nd guiding in the Frank Church Wilderness. I’m happy to say that I enjoy this job guiding as much as I did 22 years ago when I first started.

We hunted and fished with some great outdoor people and had a successful season spending time in the wilderness. Our summer was busy guiding trail rides, a few fishing trips, and cleaning trails in anticipation of hunting season.

Our first bugle hunt was down at the Tappan Cabin with Robin, a local gal from Salmon who is a fine hunter and avid shooter and Carl, a lifetime hunter from North Carolina, and Derik one of our guide school students who was finishing up his class time by helping with the hunt. The first day we got on a rag horn that was right on the trail. Bailing off the horses Robin fired a few shots but was not able to connect, the next day she came down with the flu – never fun especially when you’re in the backcountry. We moved camp to Simplot & she flew out early, we appreciate her strength, tenacity, and friendship.

The day Robin flew out Carl  I & Derick headed up the hill behind the cabins. We hadn’t gone far when Carl spotted a bull bedded on the opposite ridge, it was a 5 pt with a deformed horn. He took the shot and went home with a fine meat bull. Carl & his buddy Eddie booked another hunt for next season.

The group for the second hunt ended up cancelling due to work. I took the opportunity to hunt for myself that week with a good friend and past hunter. Pattie and her boyfriend Brad we explored some country that I hadn’t hunted before. We found plenty of elk sign and had some good long hikes but didn’t end up packing any meat out.

 The next week was camp set up time for Buckhorn. Nara & I packed in some supplies, cut firewood, & cleaned up the camp of fallen trees for a few days. Reed and Hana, friends and river guides on the Middle Fork, joined me to set up the rest of the camp. Reed has been in packing training for a few years and is making a good hand. After a few days of working light to dark, we had the camp ready for hunters.

We went to Buckhorn for the 4th hunt with 3 hunters from Pennsylvania Keith, Kevin, Nick & Sam from Kentucky. Sam hunted with is a couple of years ago & was back for another bull, Josh and Tom and myself were guiding & Sara was cooking her great meals.

Josh and Sam connected on a nice 6 pt the first day, Tom & Keith missed a bull in the burned timber, Nick & I got into elk at the end of the day. Nick made a good shot at a rag horn and had his first bull. We really enjoyed this group of great guys. Sam re-booked for 2018 and we will see the Pennsylvania boys again.

The 5th hunt was back at Buckhorn with Bruce, Andy, Grant and John all from Oregon. John missed a bull the first day, I thought we could get back on the elk when they fed out that afternoon and we did. Bruce made a good shot on a 5 pt. Josh was guiding with me and Sara was back in the cook shack making her awesome meals. Josh sang some of his songs and I even recited a few of my poems. We hunted hard all week and had a great time with these gentleman, we look forward to hunting with them again.

We went back to Buckhorn one last time for the 6th hunt. Fred & Gordon were back for another season. Fred brought along his brother Marvin & brother-in-law Wayne. Josh was guiding with me and Nara was running the cook tent putting out great food. We had a good storm the first day and decided it was best to watch it snow from camp & rest up from the ride in.

The first day of hunting Josh, Fred & Marvin scored on a double. Fred’s bull scored 347 pts – a great Middle Fork Bull, Marvin’s was a rag horn. They came away with a great story & amazing pictures; definitely a memorable hunt. The next day Wayne missed a 350-class bull after a gut wrenching stock.

The last day Josh & I were guiding Wayne & Gordon. Josh spotted three bulls, the same ones we had hunted the day before. Josh and the boys made the stock & I was to bring the stock down after the shooting was over. Imagine this I fell asleep next to the fire. When I woke I looked through the spotting scope & one of the 6 pts looked like he was sleeping. On second looked I realized he was dead. I missed the whole show. While I was snoozing, they had snuck up for a try at a double. Wayne killed a 307 bull & Gordon missed the 350 + bull. The good thing is he will be even bigger next season.

The 7th & last hunt was with my good friend & Middle Fork River Outfitter Ken Helfrich and his buddy Ken. This was Ken’s 3rd hunt & Kens 2nd hunt with us. Ken Helfrich killed a 208 buck a couple of years ago with me and we were back looking for the big bucks. The first day we looked at a 170 buck, not the one we were looking for, we saw 15-20 bucks a day but nothing big. We dint kill and bucks this week & turned down a rag horn. It was a pleasure to be out with these guys hunting, we turned down bucks everyday & went home happy without filling any tags.

2017 was a great season! I want to thank Josh, Tom, Reid, Hannah, Sara & Nara for a great job. These folks are professional guides & cooks & I appreciate all the hard work they do to make hunting season a success. Also a special thanks to all our hunters and fisherman. We thank you for choosing Middle Fork Outfitters & hope to see you again on the trail.