Spring Black Bear – Idaho

springbearid001Location
Idaho

Camps, Cost & Dates

Joseph Plains Camp (Bear & Turkey) $2800
May 11-15
May 16-20

White Bird Camp (Bear & Turkey) $2800
May 12-16
May 17-21
May 22-26

Boulder Creek Lodge in the Lochsa Wilderness (2 bear/wolf) $2600
May 8-12, 4 spots
May 15-19, 4 spots
May 22-26, 4 spots

Boulder Creek pack-in Tent Camp (2 bear/wolf) $2600 *Two separate camps to choose from.
June 19-23 – 6 spots ( 4 in one camp and 2 in another camp)
June 26-30 – 6 spots (4 in one camp and 2 in another camp)

Species
Black Bear, Color Phase Bears, possible turkeys and wolf

Overview
This black bear hunt in west-central Idaho take place in big canyons, over bait. The terrain is rugged, and bears live amid the brushy, thick-timbered draws. Though bear densities are extremely hight, they are seldom seen, which is why baiting is the only approach, here.

Idaho Spring Black Bear

springbearid016We’ve been on the Joseph Plains hunt many times over the years. It’s one of our favorite bear hunts in North America, in some of the country’s most beautiful, rugged terrain. The fact bait can be used in this area, and hunts take place on private land, greatly boosts success rates.

This is an any weapon spring bear hunt over established baits. Shots range from 15-150 yards, and 70% of the bears taken in recent years are color phase, with cinnamon being most common, chocolate, next.

The camps consists of small cabins and a main gathering hall for meals. The camp is basic but comfortable and each cabin features a gas heater for those chilly nights. You might share a cabin with a fellow hunter. Showers are available as are flush toilets in the main gathering hall, which is a historic school house once used by local ranching families.

Hunts usually take place in the afternoon, when bears are most active. Those who want to hunt in the morning, or sit all day, can, but due to the late nights and long daylight hours, most hunters choose to sleep in and hunt during the afternoon/evening hours, or hunt turkeys in the morning.

springbearid004Trail cameras are used to track movement and evaluate bears. Archers will want to pick flat terrain to hunt from, for if a bear is hit on a steep ridge, tracking jobs and pack outs can be brutal. For rifle hunters, big bore guns are not an overkill, as it’s best to anchor a bear, quickly, in this steep terrain.

Accessing most baits is easy, as hunters can usually be driven to the site where they are dropped off and picked up. This makes it a comfortable, fun hunt for all ages and experience levels.

This is a high elevation hunt, where mornings and evening can be chilly early in the season. This is where we’ve spent most of our time with the outfitter. We’ve also hunted from their lower elevation camp in White Bird. The White Bird camp is in a pristine river valley surrounded by mountains. Hunts in both of these camps typically start later in April and run through the end of May. This outfitter has a 95% success rate over the years in the Joseph Plains camp, with shot opportunities running higher than that.

Do-it-yourself turkey hunts can be added for no additional cost, other than your tag. Turkeys are of the Merriam’s subspecies and are often hunted in the morning, while bears are hunted in the afternoon. You’ll do your own calling on these turkey hunts.

The outfitter also offers multiple late season spring bear hunts in the wilderness of northern Idaho. Though we’ve not personally experienced this hunt, there are two options: One is a tent camp style hunt, packed in on horses and the other a wilderness lodge camp. Two bears can be taken on these hunts, as can wolves should the opportunity present itself. This outfitter begins these hunts in late May and runs through late June.

Tag & License Costs

  • $154.75 for nonresident hunting license.
  • $186 for regular season nonresident bear tag.
  • $31.75 for reduced bear tag (wilderness lodge/pack-in hunts), hunters can get 2 bear tags each on this hunt.
  • $80 for nonresident turkey tag, hunters can get 2 tags.
  • $31.75 for wolf tag, only good for wilderness hunts.
  • -6% Idaho sales tax on cost of the guided hunt.

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Travel Planning
If choosing to drive, accessing both camps is easy, even by car. If flying, the closest airport is in Lewiston, Idaho. From there, rent a car and head south two hours, to bear camp. If wanting to spend time around Boise, the drive north to camp takes about four hours. The closest town to both camps is Grangeville.
Once tagged out, it’s usually your responsibility to get the bear hide sealed, a tooth pulled and your kill, registered, which is done in Grangeville, about 45 minutes from camp. Take a cooler to transport hide, skull and any meat, which is your responsibility to transport home.