Super Hunt winner tells his tale.

Idaho Super Hunt tags are one of the most unusual hunting opportunities in the West.  First, you don’t need a state hunting license to enter a Super Hunt drawing.  Two, if you win, you have the opportunity to hunt in any open hunt for your species.

Every year, 34 hunters win Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo tags.  The drawings began in 2004, which means only 442 hunters belong to this rare winner's circle. 

Before you go learn more about Idaho Super Hunts, read one winner's Super Hunt adventure.

Gavin Moody elk Super Hunt
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Photo provided by Gavin Moody

Gavin Moody of Boise was hoping for a Super Hunt tag for deer, instead he got the elk hunt of a lifetime.

In his second year of entering the Super Hunt drawing, Moody bought one entry each for deer, elk and moose. Much to his surprise, he drew the elk tag. Moody said he didn’t have a hunt in mind, but everyone he talked to recommended the Owyhee Desert and its famous elk herd that consistently produces trophy bulls.

On his first preseason scouting trip, Moody noticed a juniper tree that was stripped of bark about 10 feet up with 2-inch branches broken off.

“It was mangled,” he said.

Curious what it caused it, he realized it was an elk rub, and later on that trip, he spotted a bull that may have been responsible.

“Oh my God, the biggest bull I’ve ever seen in Idaho steps out,” he said. “He’s got tips on the tail, and I was speechless. He was just incredible, something you dream about.”

He had to wait three weeks to see if the bull would stick around, and to his surprise, he spotted the elk in almost the exact same spot at daybreak on the first day of his hunt.

Unfortunately, the bull slipped into the timber in a spot that was unapproachable, and “that was the last glimpse I saw of him.”

Moody was disappointed, but it didn’t last long. All around him he could hear bulls bugling, which continued for several days.

He and his wife, Monica Fackrell, were lulled to sleep each night by howling coyotes, and they woke to the sound of bugling bulls each morning.

“She was so excited to hear them rutting,” Moody said.

They also faced some tough early season hunting conditions with hot weather and a full moon that seemed to make the animals nocturnal and delay the rut. But a storm midway through his hunt changed that. The elk became more active in cooler weather, and the rut kicked into full swing.

“Every elk on that mountain started talking again,” he said.

They saw elk daily, including bulls, and it was a rare chance for him to be selective and take the bull he wanted rather than the first one he saw.

“In general hunts, you see a bull, you put him on the ground,” Moody said. “This hunt gave me the opportunity to look at elk and judge them.”

They spotted a herd traveling along a ridge and got in front of it and waited for the elk to arrive. They heard multiple elk bugling around them, and before long, a bull wandered within 100 yards of them. It was a six-point, Moody said, but not the size of antlers he was seeking.

It walked away, and they could hear another bull approaching.

“This elk walked within 15 yards of us, bugling and carrying on,” Moody said. “You could smell him.”

But this one wasn’t big enough, either.

A third bull walked into view, and Moody said he was a monster.

“I’m thinking ‘Wow, this one is big.’”

Moody was ready to fill his tag with this trophy bull, but after spying it in his scope, he realized one antler was broken off.

Then he passed on a third mature bull. Again, its antlers didn’t measure up, but that was about to change.

A few minutes later, a small herd of cows and calves wandered by, and a bull was trailing them. Moody waited for the bull to appear, and when he saw it, he knew it was the one he wanted.

“I didn’t count points, I just looked at the size and mass,” he said.

Moody had bought a Sako 7mm magnum rifle specifically for the hunt, and practiced with it so he was confident shooting out to 400 yards, but that long-range practice wasn’t needed.

“This elk died within 15 yards,” he said.

They held their position for a few minutes after ensuring the bull was dead, and watched as another one walked in and sniffed it, then turned and walked away.

He counted six bulls in the vicinity and figured his was the herd bull.

“It was just a fantastic hunt,” Moody said. “The number of big bulls was incredible.”

Moody said it’s his biggest bull elk ever, and regardless of how it ranks, the hunt ranked as his best.

“I haven’t scored him,” he said. “To me, the points don’t matter, it was the experience.”

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