It has recently been noted that the world class elk taken by city dwellers, and would be preppers and survivalists, in Idaho’s national parks, are a thing of the past. Those campsites which used to house truck campers, hobo camps, and military surplus tent enthusiasts are laying empty, windswept, and weedy.
Those trophy bulls, writes Andrew McKean for Outdoor Life™, can now only be found in private properties with river bottom hayfields that will accommodate these majestic animals under the guns of these independent ranchers. The problem, writes McKean, is wolves.
Wolves have been protected, and to many notions, over protected, for the last several decades in national parks. And it is because of these protections that much of the game has been driven from the parks to adjoining areas where private livestock, and property owner rights, make it safer for a herd animals to migrate hither and yon for breeding and grazing purposes.
None of this really affects me as a wildlife photographer per se. I would rather hunt wolves any day as opposed to elk, bear, deer, or bison. What gathers my attention the most is the reference to those empty camp sites and abandoned stands.
A wildlife photographer’s best friend is said to be “down yonder”. In my experience, my favorite people are those found to be “Way Down Yonder”. I absolutely abhor company and love solitude. So it is definitely in my sphere of contemplation for the winter season, to haul my camper out to Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho’s Panhandle National Forest, up near Packsaddle Mountain, and see what kind of lupine footage I can find. Here, in retrospect, are three strategies for a successful hunt in Idaho.
- Consider your purpose and make adjustments as needed. Why do you hunt? That is a question I asked myself once while covered in doe blood, my hands greasy with winter fat from a deer I had just ended the existence of. Did I need the meat? No, we had a beef ranch at the time and had several fields full of angus to eat, money in the bank, plenty of food to be had from several different resources. I came to the conclusion that I enjoyed the competition of hunting. So I exchanged a gun for a camera.
- Make sure you are well prepared. When I go camping these days, I use a pull behind fiberglass trailer that runs heat and air conditioning from a dual fuel generator that will fire up from propane gas or electricity. Above and beyond that I have two solar generators that will mount on the roof of my camper to run heaters for emergency purposes. I also keep twenty plus gallons of potable water in the storage unit of my trailer.
- Be well armed. I cannot stress this enough. In this day and time you should not only want to be armed for dangerous animals, but for dangerous people as well. Generally my photography kit includes a Glock 17 with three 17 round magazines, (on my waist), a KelTec Sub2000, (fitted for Glock 17 mags and folded into a backpack with a bug-out bag holding five 17 round magazines), and a Smith and Wesson Model 629 Mountain gun holstered on my load bearing vest with molle straps.