Frank Church Wilderness in Central Idaho
This outfitter specializes in guided fair chase wilderness hunts focusing on Elk, Mule Deer and Black Bear.
The hunting concession is located in Unit 27 and consists of approximately 300 square miles of pristine game-rich backcountry in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River drainage. With a private airstrip served by several charter operators, transportation is easy. From their main lodge, you will travel by horseback to well-equipped, high elevation spike camps deep within wilderness area.
They use experienced guides whose goal is to provide you an honest opportunity for a traditional hunt in the most remote wilderness of the lower 48. Their knowledge of and passion for hunting will make this experience of a lifetime.
This wilderness outfitter in Idaho offers two primary options: traditional, remote wall tent, horseback, combo hunts and lodge-based hunts. Each option provides a unique experience for hunters looking to pursue elk, mule deer, black bear and, in some cases, mountain goat or wolves.
TRADITIONAL, TENT-BASED, COMBO HUNTS
The September and October hunts are what you think of as a traditional Western combo hunt. You’ll pack in with horses and mules to a remote wall tent camp. From there, you’ll leave with your guide on horseback every morning to go hunting.
LODGE-BASED, COMBO HUNTS
In November, the game usually moves down out of the mountains, so late hunts are conducted out of the comfort of the lodge. You’ll leave on horseback every morning with your guide to go hunting, just like you would on an early hunt.
Both options offer unique opportunities to experience the Frank Church Wilderness of Idaho.
- The choice depends on the time of year, your physical abilities, preferences, and the kind of hunting experience you’re seeking.
- All hunts are seven days, fully guided 1:1 or 2:1, depending on your preference.
DID YOU DRAW A TAG?
Or maybe you’re looking for a hunt that’s just a bit more custom.
Mountain Goats – If you draw a mountain goat tag in Unit 27, this outfitter has some great billies in his area. We can help you apply, and once you draw a tag, we’ll help you book a customized guided hunt.
Black Bear – This area has some spectacular bear hunting, and if you’d like to experience a wilderness bear hunt, we can set that up for you.
Wolves – Wolf hunting is a specialized thing, and if you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at them, the Frank Church is one of the best places in the world to do that. Let us know if you’d like details.
MOST HUNTERS FLY TO BOISE, IDAHO AIRPORT
From Boise, you’ll charter a backcountry flight to the outfitters’ private strip in the wilderness. Pickup points for charters are Boise, McCall, Cascade, Salmon, Challis and Sun Valley. There are several quality and very experienced charter companies that can handle your (and your game) transportation needs.
- Typically, you and your gear are scheduled to will fly in the day before your hunt starts.
- Costs for these charter flights vary depending on location, but typically range from $380 to $550 per flight. The type of aircraft that is typically used is a Cessna 206 or equivalent. Payment for these charter flights are made directly with the charter aircraft company. The outfitter can help you arrange the flights that will meet your schedule and desired pick up location.
- Successful hunters will have their harvest packed back to the lodge and stored in our temperature controlled meat hanger. Meat can be coordinated to be transported to a professional butcher in Boise, or taken out with you when you leave the ranch.
NOTICE ON WEIGHT LIMITS:
Upon booking, you will be required to sign the following: I, the Client, hereby CERTIFY that the total of my weight, combined with all of the gear I plan to pack into the backcountry, weighs less than 300 pounds. I acknowledge that it is potentially unsafe for both the horse and rider if a rider and their gear weigh more than 300 pounds. I understand and agree that I may be weighed with my gear upon arrival, and if the total weight exceeds 300 pounds, I may not be allowed to participate in the hunt on horseback, and no refund will be issued to me.
TAGS AND LICENSE
You will need an Idaho hunting license and the tag(s) for the animal you’re hunting. At minimum, you’ll want to have an elk and a mule deer tag. If you’re hunting in September or October, a black bear tag is also highly recommended, and a mountain lion tag any time of year is always a good idea… you just never know.
*This information is subject to change per Idaho Fish and Game Regulations.
The success of your hunt may very well depend on your physical & mental preparation and ability. There are no “easy” or “canned” hunts in this part of Idaho. Hunting here is the Real McCoy.You only live once and you might as well take care of the one body you have. You’ve likely heard this before, but because it is so important, We’ll repeat it again. You should be doing some type of physical exercise (aerobic and anaerobic) at least 3-4 times/week and more is better. If you really want to burn calories, exercise first thing in the morning and if time allows, once or twice a week, add a workout in the afternoon. Remember to eat healthy and balanced meals. With proper exercise and eating habits, you’ll be healthier, stronger, happier and a better hunter.
The following are things are suggested depending on you physical ability and age. In order to get aerobic exercise you need to do these for at least 20 minutes straight, each time. We recommend 30-60 minutes/time.
- Running or brisk walking – at least 2-3 miles
- Biking (mountain or road bike)
- Organized sports – (Basketball, Hockey, Soccer or Tennis)
- Exercise machines (Stairmaster, Nordic Track, Treadmill, Bike)
- Circuit training w/free weights or universal system
- Aerobic type classes (Tai Bo, step aerobics, etc.) – don’t laugh as you be surprised as to how well this improves agility and coordination and the scenery is usually great
Make sure you hike around town or the local hills with the boots and pack you’ll be wearing on the hunt because if you have sore feet, everything else is secondary.
SUGGESTED GEAR LIST
Be sure to talk to the outfitter prior to your hunt about what specifically to bring, but here are the essentials for this hunt:
- Footwear – Your boots are the most important pieces of equipment you will bring. We prefer all leather for most mountain hunting situations. The Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 is the best we have used in any situation PERIOD! After you’ve spent all that money and time finding the right set of boots, don’t cut corners on cheap socks.
- Clothing – In general, stick with synthetics (Fleece, Schoeller, Saddlecloth, nylon/poly blends etc.) or wool. For backpacking, synthetics tend to be lighter and quicker to dry. Smart Wool or Merino is hard to beat.
- Underwear- Layering with multiple items is better than wearing just one or two heavy layers. Synthetics are the way to go for comfort, moisture wicking and warmth. In August, bring lighter weight material; in mid-September and later, you should bring heavier weight underwear.
- Packs – You will use an internal or external frame pack. External frames are cheaper and will work. Internal frames are more comfortable and quieter for hunting (our preference). You will need at least a 4500 cubic inch external or a 5000-7000 cubic inch internal. If you bring an external pack, get one with a built in sleeping bag compartment. In that case, you will want one that holds at least 5,000-6,000 cubic inches also. Put your backpack (if external type) in a large duffel for the commercial flight as it will be less likely to get damaged by the airlines.
- Sleeping – You will be sleeping in your sleeping bag every night, a mummy bag is the warmest and lightest and what we recommend. A thermarest, is necessary (NEO AIR). A full length is the most comfortable, but a ¾ length will also work. For sleeping at night, you want a headband or stocking cap to sleep in. Sleeping in a set of long underwear will keep your bag cleaner and it will be easier to face the morning cold. For a pillow, We generally put my Down jacket in my stuff sack or a pillowcase.
- Gear Bag – Your gear should weigh 45 – 60 -70lbs max including food, water, tent and weapon. Try not to pack to much extras, you will have a animal to help pack out!
In the Field
Lodging and accommodations
Depending on the time of year and the weather conditions, you may be spending the week hunting out of either our comfortable lodge or one of our high elevation spike camps. Based upon our expert guides’ instincts, game movements and weather conditions, a variety of hunting methods may be employed. Spot and stalk or early season calling (for elk) are our usual methods. The country that we hunt is steep, rugged and untouched by man. We use stock as much as possible, but you still need to be prepared to do some hiking.
typical daily schedule
The daily hunt plan will be made up by your guide. His experience and skill will take you in search of the species of choice. With that said please talk to you guide and discuss plans and your ideas. If you need a rest day or want to go deeper or stay out longer, please talk to him. Without communication they don’t know what you need or like. This is your adventure and they will do what they think is needed but sometimes your wants are different then others so you need to communicate your opinions. It’s VERY IMPORTANT.
Aside from helping where you can… Your job is to shoot well when the time comes. This is the one aspect of the hunt your guide can’t do for you. Only shoot when you are comfortable and know you can make a clean quick kill.
It is ONLY your fault if you pull the trigger and miss or wound in any circumstance. Your guide will do their best to get you ready and present a shot. Be ready.
During the hunt you will encounter a variety of challenging situations, this is the nature of the northern wilderness and having a positive and strong mindset will determine how you handle these challenges.
The guides will do their best to communicate with you throughout the hunt and your overall success will be determined on your ability to work with your guide to get the job done.
Interested in booking this trip? If you have not yet received pricing please request it here, and be sure to reference the trip number at the top of this page. Please note that reservations are not considered finalized until agreed upon deposit is received. This ensures agreed upon dates and current pricing. Quality outfitters are in high demand so let us know right away, as some trips do book years in advance.
When you’re ready to book, if you haven’t already ask your Outdoors International Consultant for updated pricing.
If it looks good, your consultant will write up a booking agreement for you. Remember, our service is free to you. There are no added costs.