October 24, 2007
100 Best Public-Land Hunts: Idaho
By Scott Bestul
St. Joe Ranger District, St. Joe National Forest
Location: north Idaho
Size: 750,000 acres
Idaho's state record typical whitetail, a 186 4/8 Boone and Crockett, came out of the Shoshone County portion of this national forest in 2005. From the town of St. Maries east to the Montana border is all prime whitetail country, especially along the St. Joe River corridor and its drainages, according to Ed Mitchell, of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Both sides of the river are national forest, with only intermittent areas of private land. "It's not flat," Mitchell says, "but if you're willing to waddle even a little bit, you can lose about 90 percent of the competition in the first half mile." This is more temperate country than the Clearwater region: The St. Joe is heavily forested in firs, spruces, hemlocks and cedars, and there's less open space in the woods. Still-hunting is the preferred hunting method, Mitchell says, "and a good brush gun is a fine thing to have."