Archery elk unit 66a
Hey guys, i'm looking for some info on unit 66a for archery elk. How are the elk numbers? Have wolves moved into the area? If so how bad? How are the crowds? Any info is greatly appreciated. I'm trying to decide on a hunt for next year, so any suggestions are welcome. Thanks!
I have hunted that unit before. There are wolves not too bad though. The elk numbers are down at least the cow population is. Which is a reciepe for disaster. No cows equals no calves. Lots of people hunt that unit because they are either locals or they are still living in the past when the elk herd was huge. The fish and game have done a terrible job of managing this unit. They offer 1000 tags for the diamond creek zone all together for cows. This is why there aren't many elk in there anymore. Good luck choosing a hunt if i were you i would hunt the island park zone. Everyone says the wolves are way bad and so no one hunts it. Therefore the elk numbers are way up from a couple years ago.
bugle13, I would disagree with Darrin. I've spent some good time in that area. I just don't see the elk herds doing so poorly. The herd in 66A will winter in the Tex Creek Zone, and they've been doing pretty well there, and the habitat that they go back to in 66A has been great as well. Calf recruitment rates have been doing well zone-wide, well enough to afford the extra cow hunts in the winter time to curb depredation complaints. I don't think it's a bad choice at all. If you look at the success rates, the Diamond Creek Zone has hunted just as good or better than Island Park Zone's units. But I will say that I hope Darrin is right about there being more elk in Island Park than there were a couple of years ago. I've spent a lot of time up there, and it is beautiful country to hunt.
I am strictly going off what the fish and game said in their latest survey of elk numbers. I hunt diamond creek for deer on the general hunt and i truly have noticed a drop in quality bulls and the number of elk. Yes it is still a good unit but i think there are many other units that are producing well. I guess i just have a bitter taste in my mouth because 66a and 76 is designed to be a trophy hunt but they offer too many cow elk tags. That is all i am saying. If you go to the idaho fish and game website and click on science then click on wildlife you can see where i get the numbers i am telling you. Hopefully this clarifies my comments.
Darrin, you are right, cow numbers were down in the 2008 winter survey. But they also noted in the same report that calf recruitment rates were really good, and on the whole the section on the Diamond Creek Zone was pretty positive, I thought. IF&G thinks they can manage it as a trophy zone and keep cow numbers low to appease depredation concerns, as long as calf recruitment remains high, and the habitat continues to be prime.
I'm not arguing with you for the sake of arguing, I'm just discussing how I read the report. I can see how you think it has been managed poorly with all the cow tags. You may have a valid point.
Another problem we have is that we're going off of the 2010 Progress Report, which is pretty old. The 2011 report was due to be out by the end of 2011, but obviously is way over-due. Also, they were unable to do a lot of winter surveys this last year due to a lack of snow. Hopefully we'll have better info next year.
I guess what I'm saying is that when it comes to Unit 66A, there's not even enough elk in there to warrant a winter survey. They summer there, and then head into Unit 66 during the winter. I see it as a very good choice for archery hunters in the early season, and all you have to do is look at the stats for the later Unit 66 rifle season to see that a ton of elk are harvested every year. It is sustaining itself nicely, and I think that's been due to habitat. I get a feel for how the summering herd in 66A is doing by looking at the bloated Unit 66 winter counts.
Plus, the last five year average success rates show that the Diamond Creek Zone is still in the very top places to archery hunt in the state:
The Bottom Line average stats for the last five years:
Unit 66A – 15% success, 41% 6-points or better harvested
Unit 76 – 17% success, 39% 6-points or better harvested
You are certainly right though that 2011 saw a drop in quality bulls harvested. We'll have to wait and see how it looks this year.
I sure hope you are right IdahoHombre cause it makes me sick to think of what the elk quantity and quality was five to ten years ago. I would see elk everywhere and really nice bulls also. I think another thing that hurts the unit is that the tex creek tag has a cow tag that anyone can buy and if we get a hard winter many elk from 66a could be shot. I agree i am not arguing with you just wish the elk were as plentiful as five to ten years ago. I think it is on the rebound but we will see.
Thanks for the info guys! I am starting to lean towards unit 76 (same tag) hoping to find an area away from roads and crowds. Anyone have an opinion on wich unit is better 66a or 76? I plan on making some scouting trips this fall to hopefully find areas the elk go to for the rut and when pressured during the hunt. Also does anyone have some suggestions on maps for these units? Thanks again
Well both of you have valid points. But being from spending a lot of time in Soda Springs both 76 and 66a are good units. Lots of area 76 is a huge unit. The downfall is that it is open to atv's. This brings in tons of hunters and lots of road hunters. Some of your best options will be to get a good topi map and find an area with little or no four wheeler access. I have spend nearly 25 years living and hunting southeast Idaho. The population of elk is usually great and I absolutely love the area. Pm me if you have any questions I would be more than happy to help a fellow hunter out.
both units hold large bulls, 66a has some isolated spots but the number of hunters in there is sickning.
I do agree with ivorytip I stopped hunting in 76 and 66a because of the crowds.