Eager to begin the drive through the Bitterroot Mountains pass, we left Missoula before 8 a.m. The pass was in decent shape, with only a few icy spots over the bridges. Thankfully the most recent snowfall had melted, and the roads were clear for our drive to Kooskia, ID.
Once in Kooskia, we purchased our general license, whitetail and wolf tags at Tom Cat Sporting Goods. It’s always a wonderful feeling to meet great people in our travels—those who fully appreciate sportsmen, and welcome hunters.
After our few purchases in Kooskia, we had a 35 mile drive to the John Creek trail head. Here, we met up with Jesse Maushak, the Guide, and his Mom, who will be our cook for the week. With a handful of horses tied to the trailers, and all our gear organized and laid out, it was time to get loaded and on the trail back to camp, a 6-mile ride in.
The ride to camp was steep from the get go, as we climbed a few thousand feet off the highway and trailhead. Watching the power of the draft and quarter horses, who pack not only us hunters but the weight of our gear is an astounding sight. These animals live for this journey and these trips; they do it so well.
The trail brought us along some spectacular vistas, with creek bottoms, meadows and heavy timber on the mountainside. In a little over two hours and without any incident, we made it to camp as the sun was setting in the horizon. Much to our excitement, we watched a small 4×4 whitetail chase a doe in the big meadow right outside camp.
The history of the cabin and how it was built is an entire story in itself. A saw mill once existed here, allowing the wood to be cut and produced for this 20×30 structure. A simple, yet effect layout, with dining and living on the main floor, and sleeping in the loft. An old wood stove provided the warm drying heat we all enjoyed as the evening temperatures began to fall.
After unpacking, having a nice dinner and some conversation, we all retired to our beds. A long few days of travel and a big first day of hunting ahead, there was no shortage of bedtime camp noise on this day.