Western Hunting Journal, Premiere Issue whj001_premiere - Page 67

Hunting Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness Mule Deer On this trip to the Middle Fork of the Salmon we were scheduled to fly on November 1, which was opening day as two large groups had already reserved the day before. After checking weather reports a storm was supposed to move in on our fly day so we opted to fly in on October 30, two days before our original plan. This allowed us to make sure we made it into hunting camp and a bonus day of fly fishing. When purchasing an Idaho non-resident hunting license, you are given a three-day fish- ing license. Now the pilot was telling us it was time to end our hunt two days early or be stuck un- til the storm passes. The next morning Kyle joined me on my hunt to help pack my deer. We headed out three hours before first light to make it past the rock outcropping and climb the open slope of the mountain that towered above the Salmon River. Hiking into a large ba- sin as the sun poked over the mountains it didn’t take long to find a four-point. He was chas- ing a doe into a small cut and the decision was easy. Resting the rifle across my camera tri- pod the shot caused the buck to instantly drop, above the trail. The next morning clouds were making their way across the peaks. As the plane landed; our tent and gear were packed ready to be loaded. Before this trip it had been several years since I had last looked at the Native American paintings. The plane made it off of the ground and banked steep in the river canyon walls flying upriver and past the rock outcropping with the map of my hunt. I know that it won’t be long before I head back into Frank Church’s River of No Return. WHJ SPECIES Mule Deer, though there are some Whitetail that are on the fringe of the wil- derness. Backcountry mule deer in Idaho took a hit in the winter of 2016-17 with most of the mortality coming from fawns and year- lings. Mature bucks also had a higher than average mortality since they have low fat reserves going into winter after the rut; however thanks to the large amount of open lowlands and south facing slopes that have early green-up the deer populations tend to bounce back quickly. SEASONS There are three units that take up most of the Frank Church wilderness; 20A, 26, and 27. The general season for these units is Sept. 15 through Oct. 31 and the d