Super Hunt: A father, a Son and an Unforgettable Idaho Elk Hunt

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Super Hunt: A father, a Son and an Unforgettable Idaho Elk Hunt

Super Hunt winners get the best of the best by being able to hunt any open hunt in Idaho for the species they draw, and keep hunting, general or controlled hunts, until they tag an animal. No license is needed to enter a Super Hunt drawing for either residents or nonresidents.

The first drawing will be for eight elk, eight deer, and eight pronghorn, and one moose hunt. One Super Hunt Combo entry also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for all four species – elk, deer, pronghorn and moose. The deadline to enter the first drawing is May 31, and winners will be notified by June 10.

Hunters may enter the drawings at license vendors, Fish and Game offices, online or by calling 1-800-554-8685.

For more information, including frequently asked questions and photos of previous winners, visit the Super Hunt page on Fish and Game’s website at https://idfg.idaho.gov/superhunt.

A second drawing will be for two elk, two deer, two pronghorn, and one moose hunt. Another Super Hunt Combo entry will also be drawn. The entry period for the second drawing is June 1 through August 10, with winners notified by August 20.

If you are wondering what a Super Hunt experience can look like, check out this story about 15-year-old Star resident Jackson States, who drew one of the elk tags last year:

A father, a son, and an elk hunt of a lifetime

 

Super Hunt: A father, a Son and an Unforgettable Idaho Elk Hunt

Jackson States of Star was 14 years old when he drew a Super Hunt elk tag in 2019, and he didn’t even know he was entered in the drawing. His father, Shawn States, applied for controlled hunts for both of them and bought entries for Super Hunt elk tags as well — 10 for himself, and five for Jackson. Although Jackson ended up with the tag, the  experience the father and son shared was one they won’t soon forget.

Shawn has been an avid elk hunter for more than a decade, and even before Jackson’s Super Hunt tag, he had aspirations to hunt the early season controlled hunt in the Owyhee Elk Zone. This particular controlled hunt provides rifle hunters the opportunity to hunt elk during the rut in an area that consistently produces trophy bulls, and at a time when only about 15 elk hunters share the area.

Unsurprisingly, the Owyhee Mountains are exactly where Jackson’s Super Hunt started, and right where it ended.

After scoping out the country on Google Earth, Jackson and his dad went there to check things out on the ground a couple weeks before the season, taking an overnight trip to hike and camp in the Owyhee Mountains. What they saw was promising. Two days before the season started, Jackson was back and ready to hunt, this time with his dad, uncle, and one of his dad’s friends.

Jackson and crew scouted hard the day before the season and saw some nice bulls, but most of them were on private property. They ended up finding some public land that looked promising, but after spending the first day on a ridge glassing for bulls, they saw nothing worth harvesting. On their way back to camp that afternoon, they had a chance encounter on the road that ultimately put Jackson on his bull.

“We were driving back to camp on our four-wheelers, and a truck was coming down the road in the opposite direction,” Jackson said. “So we stopped and we started talking to the guy, who said he was trying to find an injured cow.”

A fortuitous encounter

As it turned out, the driver of the truck was a rancher who owned a bunch of property in the area.

“I introduced him to Jackson and told him about his Super Hunt, and asked if the landowner would mind if Jackson hunted on his property,” Shawn said.

The landowner was happy to give the young hunter permission to hunt his land.

“That was just by sheer luck, and it was actually on his property where we ended up harvesting Jackson’s bull. That was pretty cool that we just happened to meet him and he gave us permission.”

The next day, Jackson hunted in the morning and saw some spikes, but didn’t see any big bulls. The group came back to camp for lunch and to rest up before heading back out in the afternoon to scout the land they had just been given permission to access.

“We started climbing a ridge to get a vantage point, and we got about three-quarters of the way to the top and were just looking around, when all of a sudden — there was a bunch of trees and a patch where you could see through — there was a herd there, and that’s when we saw him,” Jackson said.

A storm and a stalk

The herd was about three-quarters of a mile away from their truck, but moving. After running back to the truck to grab his rifle and gear, Jackson and the group moved toward another ridge in an attempt to head them off. When they got there, the herd was higher than they anticipated.

As this scene was playing out, a rainstorm was brewing and heading toward the hunting group, and as they planned and executed their stalk, they found themselves in the middle of a downpour. With the wind and the rain Jackson’s favor, he made his way closer to the herd.

“I was the only one with a rain jacket,” Jackson said. “We kept stalking, and we heard a distant bugle. Dad called back, and they responded, and another bull responded. Every once in a while, you could hear them calling and talking to each other — it was really cool.”

Finally, the group spotted the herd bull in an opening at about 100 yards. As Jackson worked to find a rest for his rifle, the bull moved further into the trees. This happened a couple more times before Jackson got to a grove of aspens, rested his gun on a tree branch, and set up his shot. Now at 75 yards, the bull bugled just before Jackson pulled the trigger and ended his first successful elk hunt with a beautiful six-by-six on the ground.

“It was really a cool hunt. I’ve hunted elk for many years, and usually I hunt with a rifle,” Shawn said. “The whole thing, with the stalk and the rain and the wind and hearing them bugle — it was just a really cool hunt. In fact, I think it was the first time Jackson has heard elk bugle.

“A Super Hunt kind of takes the pressure off,” Shawn added. “We knew if we didn’t harvest that week that we would have other opportunities. That unit has a pretty high percentage of bulls, and we were seeing 10-20 bulls a day. That’s something I’ve never experienced, nor has Jackson. In some ways, it’s almost like a walk in the past, because you think, ‘That’s what it would have been like before everyone was hunting.’”

The hunt was another stroke of luck for Jackson after drawing a bull moose tag in 2018 and harvesting one.

“It was special for me because (other than the moose hunt) I hadn’t been successful for a couple of years. I had been elk hunting once before, and otherwise had hunted for deer. I had never heard an elk bugle before. It was really just a lot of stuff that I’d never had in my hunting experience, and it was really cool to be there with my dad, my uncle, and my dad’s friend,” Jackson said.

Shawn States with this trophy bull elk in Idaho

Deadline for first Super Hunt application period is Sunday, May 31

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