Western Hunting Journal, Premiere Issue whj001_premiere - Page 64

The authors rifle, a Savage Light- weight Hunter in 7mm-08, rest on its perch after shooting a mature Idaho mule deer. Below, Notching his tag on mature mule deer, the author takes the time to reflect on his hunt. to lift the three-point restric- tion for bucks and you can harvest two deer during the general season if you wish to buy a second non-resident tag. Even when the heavy snow- storms hit last winter causing a panic amongst mule deer 62 WESTERN HUNTING JOURNAL hunters throughout the West and especially Idaho, the deer of the Middle Fork did very well. Used to cold temperatures and thanks to a very late winter arrival the deer made it into January with good fat reserves. Idaho Fish and Game prepared hunters for a possible disas- ter but once the spring thaw came the deer surveys showed that most of the younger class animals did suffer drastically but the healthy middle-aged and even older, mature-aged deer survived with normal loss rates. This next year the hunt- ing should be good, though you will find fewer younger bucks and does and that might be a concern for the following years. It all depends on this past spring’s fawn recruitment and how this next winter fares. For now, IDFG is optimistic for the Middle Fork mule deer. A mile from the airstrip is one of the many homestead ranches. The homesteads were part of the great American West and settlers came from the east to find riches and a new life. This life was simple, and hard, with the flood plains created eons ago as water eroded the steep mountains into fertile soils for alfalfa, corn, beans and other crops. Cattle, sheep, and horses were raised at the settlements. Still today, while hiking the creek drainages, you find many large flat openings and if you take a good look around you will often find the remains of a rock pile where the land was cleared, or a rough-cut fence, the foundation of a house, and even a metal plow that once toiled the land. The ranch that is near the airstrip where I hunt is still a working lodge with a large grass field where younger deer are spotted feeding in the fields each evening. The ranch was first established over a hundred years ago by two fur trappers named Voller and Mc- Nerney, and later a local Ida- hoan named Tom McCall ran a fishing and hunting camp as well as a small sawmill at the site. Eventually the ranch was sold and a large lodge was built with a swimming pool heat- ed by natural hot springs and used as a retreat for presidents