The ranch lies within Unit 19, where you can buy two bear tags over the counter. It's also a place that offers lots of opportunities for a color-phase bruin. Up to 50 percent of the black bears in north-central Idaho are brown, cinnamon, blonde or something in between. The color-phase bears tend to have longer hair, and since the early-season pelts are less likely to be rubbed, they make for a luxurious trophy. Bears here are not huge, however. They range from 150 to 375 pounds. Mature boars square between five feet and six feet six inches (measured nose to tail).
Although you're unlikely to take a book bear here, hunting for them is fun and challenging in this steep country, and I do mean steep. The Salmon River (Idaho's River of No Return) divides some of the most remote backcountry wilderness in the Lower 48. With elevation changes that take a hunter from 2,100 feet above sea level to 8,000 feet and beyond, the Salmon River gorge is the second deepest canyon in the nation, right behind Hells Canyon. It's home not just to black bears but to Rocky Mountain elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats.
The folks at Shepp Ranch like to hunt in the spring when the bears come out seeking green grasses and broadleaf plants, particularly arrowleaf balsamroot. That's typically during the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May. They usually quit hunting bears just before they go into full rut.
Hunters rise early and leave the ranch either on horseback or jet boat to access remote trails. Hunting is primarily along the side canyons and requires........(continued)