Rattle for Whitetails in Elk Country

Clearwater River

We all know that the whitetail deer is America's number-one big-game animal. However, in my humble opinion, some whitetail hunting lacks a key ingredient of a truly great hunting adventure: wilderness. But what if you could combine North America's number-one big-game animal with some solitude and adventure? With that combination you would-again in my humble opinion-end up with a number-one hunting adventure. That's exactly what you get hunting whitetails in Idaho's mountains.

I regularly hunt in the Clearwater River drainage of central Idaho during the last few days of the rifle season, which closes November 20. While a person can hunt with a rifle at this time, I always hunt with my bow. An archery-only season takes place in December, but I prefer hunting in November, when the rut is in full swing. During the last two decades, I have seen only two other hunters more than a mile from a road.

My usual approach is to strap a tree stand to my pack and get well off the road. Because these back-country deer see relatively few hunters, and because the buck-to-doe ratio is fairly even in remote areas, these bucks respond well to rattling and calling. I search for fresh rubs and scrapes and then put up a tree stand and rattle and grunt until the buck I want comes in.

Idaho issues about 10,000 nonresident deer tags each year on a first-come, first-served basis. During the past few years, these tags have not sold out. There is no limit on resident tags. A nonresident hunting license and tag costs $363.50. A resident tag and license adds up to $29.50. Contact: Idaho Department of Fish and Game (800-635-7820; www2.state.id.us/ fishgame).
-Dwight Schuh