Opening weekend on the Hi-Line
The weekend of rifle season was finally upon us. Our guns lead us to northeastern Montana, in search of big mule deer. Zack and I were going to meet Tyler and Cole McCann for a three day hunt, with some coyote hunting in the mix. It was bound to be an exciting weekend, for the McCann’s always seem to bring about some sort of unforgettable hunting experience.
We headed out Friday morning, giving ourselves enough time to try our luck at some fly fishing on some new waters. We stopped at a little known river that spanned across rolling meadows.
The river gave up some high energy fish right away. Zack missed the biggest fish of the day, which was about 18″. I tried my luck with some streamers and had some nice browns take a taste or two, but didn’t quite get hooked. After an hour of getting our lines wet, we hit the flat highways of central Montana once again. I happened to catch a snooze or two, which Zack had fun with by scaring the sh** out of me by swerving, emergency breaking, and yelling. Ya he’s that guy.
We arrived safely and headed out for a couple hours of scouting and tried a couple coyote stands. We managed to get one coyote to howl for literally a half hour straight, but couldn’t get him to get within eyesight.
We headed back to Tyler McCann’s house where we prepared for our opening day hunt. The next morning we had little sleep and awakened at 3am, ya I didn’t typo, 3am! We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us to some public land that was suggested by the old farmer McCann. Not to say the drive wasn’t entertaining. We got pulled over by some reservation cops, which were super unhelpful and gave us the wrong directions to our hunting spot (video to prove it). After driving 18 miles out of our way, we finally found our hunting spot. The sun was just rising over the mountains when we spotted our first set of mule does.
Shortly thereafter we spotted a nice mule buck. I’m going to make this short and sweet, but we managed to get within 108yds of the buck and I decided that the unique 4×6 mule buck in velvet was too good to pass up. (full story will be posted soon) I dumped the buck in his tracks. It was a very exciting moment for myself and a huge relief after having such a rough bow season.
We had the deer gutted, quartered, and back to the truck by 2:30pm. The rest of the day we searched for more deer, but only crossed paths with a couple does. The next day we decided to hunt some new land near the Harlem area. The morning started very slow, and it was apparent that the mule deer, whitetail, and antelope population were extremely low from winter kill along with blue tongue. That morning we didn’t see a single deer, and decided our best bet for the day was to attempt a couple coyote stands. There is no shortage of coyotes in this area and we spotted about 5-6 that morning. Tyler put the smack down on a young female coyote that we found eating on a dead cow. It was a very well placed 300yd+ shot.
The remainder of the day consisted of long range bow shooting competitions between Tyler and myself. The shots were mostly taken around 70-80yds with a 20mph crosswind/backwind. We both were surprisingly very accurate for the conditions. Around 3:30pm we took one of the McCann’s small boats up the Milk River in search of more coyotes.
We managed to put together a couple stands before the boat broke down on us. We had no choice but to bushwack back to the house. Along the way Zack managed to smoke a coyote, with an impressive headshot (video to come soon).
We attempted a couple more stands, with no success. The sunsets in eastern Montana were a sight for sore eyes, as the second day of rifle season came to closure.
Our final day of our hunt was located just south of Havre, Montana. My brother Zack and I traveled about 2.5miles into some foothills before spotting some mule bucks. We came across a bachelor herd of 5 bucks, 2 of them being sizeable animals. Zack spent a good amount of time sizing them up, before deciding they just weren’t what he was after. We ended the morning hunt after spotting 3 more bucks.
Zack is still in search of filling his deer tag this year, and is hoping that he will be able to tag a big one during the rut. On our way back, we stopped once again to get a little fly fishing under our belts. We pulled in some smaller fish that were still exciting to catch.
The trip was a success and I couldn’t be happier with the buck I put down opening day. We filmed the entire hunt and will have it posted as soon as I have the footage edited. All I can say is the footage is A+ quality and I can’t wait to post the episode. I still have an elk tag to fill and am hoping to seal the deal on a nice bull over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned and hunt hard!