Finally, a new hunting short film! Dead On 20 is the first installment of Montana Wild’s Season 2. This short film documents Travis’ first season of bear hunting. On May 20th, 2012 Travis headed into the mountains for a 3-day spot and stalk backpack bear hunt. After one failed stalk on this same bear he was finally able to seal the deal with his .300 and put a beautiful bear on the ground.
If you’d like to read the complete story of Travis’ bear hunt the click here>>> Travis’ 1st Black Bear
As always, for the best viewing experience please watch in HD with a pair of headphones. Enjoy!
Over the course of the next month we will be releasing our first fly fishing short and also the second episode of Season 2. Episode 2 will document Zack’s quest to arrow a bear in Montana. With four stalks it’s sure to be one you’ll enjoy.
Year three of my short elk hunting career, and it was back to the Missouri Breaks. The goal, arrow a mature bull in 5 days.
As we bounced our way down the familiar dirt road, the temperature read 56F. It was 5:30 AM, and we had just completed our 6 hour drive from Missoula, MT. The headlights illuminated the sagebrush, and soon we were geared up and ready to hunt. With headlamps on we started working up a long ridge full of coulees on both sides. We knew if we wanted to catch a bull on his feet it would be necessary to be in position before daylight. These elk often will stop bugling for the morning by sunrise and stay on their feet for maybe an hour longer before bedding. As the sun rose we continued walking.
That morning we glassed the hillsides for hours after sunrise. With over 5 miles covered and many more glassed, we had to return to the truck. Our only finds being some mule deer does, a hunter on a horse, and 3 trucks and a horse trailer. Great start! We weren’t worried yet though, after our first trip to the Breaks when Travis was hunting, (see story here – Elk Season Continues) we had high hopes of finding mature bulls daily. That night we glassed a basin that held multiple bulls the last time only to find it empty. The next day we went back hoping some bulls would filter into the area overnight.
We made it back down into this basin well before sunrise. No bugles and no elk in the hills. We could see elk in the river bottom and hear them sounding off. The riverbottom consisted of willows that are thick and only huntable from a blind or treestand. A boat is extremely helpful and neither a boat or treestand are in my elk plans as of now. We continued to move on in hopes of locating a bull and getting a stalk in. That night was no better. We headed back, cooked up some hot dogs, and got ready for another early morning.
Day 3 and we were in a new area. With some deep coulees away from the road and river we had high hopes of finding some elk.
Just like any other morning the name of the game for us had been get in the area early. If we hear bugles then close the distance. If we don’t hear anything then break out the binos and spotting scope.
On this morning we had to resort to option 2, get out the spotting scope and binoculars. We heard nothing and got zero responses to any type of calling. We glassed until 10 and then decided to loop back to the truck. After once again hiking close to 5 miles, we were amused to find our only bull of the day, a small raghorn, just 600 yards from the road.
We were starting to get just a touch worried. It was Day 3, and we had yet to find the elk and especially not any great bulls. It appeared that the elk had shifted drastically with the heavy pressure that had recently been plaguing the Breaks. The Missouri Breaks is a love/hate area. Your not going to feel like you’re alone by any means. On this trip it was no exception. There were trucks parked at almost every access each night and the sounds of ATV’s or boats on the river were common while hunting. The amount of time your able to actually hunt each day is very limited. You get about two hours in the morning and about two at night to catch a majority of elk on their feet. The elk have to be some of the most hunted in Montana and are very smart. The bugs are often clinging to any exposed skin and the temperatures hot. All of those negatives fades away when you see some of the bulls out here. They aren’t extremely plentiful, but there are some real toads running around. One day when we were hunting earlier this season, we stumbled into a 320 class bull hanging with a 350 in a secluded draw. Unfortunately, that hadn’t happened on my trip, but just the thought of a bull like that around the next corner keeps a guy hunting hard and we did. Most days we easily covered 8-10 miles hiking ridges, crossing coulees, and working creek bottoms.
I knew it was only a matter of time. Finally on the morning of Day 4 we found a bull. We had been hiking in the dark for about 20 minutes when I decided to throw out a bugle where two draws met, hoping for a single bugle in response. One echoed out from a long ways off about a minute later. We knew he was a ways up the draw so we spent the next twenty minutes climbing to the top of a ridge to glass and hope to spot this bull. After ten minutes of glassing I spotted a group of cows. Sure enough a bull popped out. We pulled out the spotting scope as the early morning wind tried to tear through us. It was shaping up to be a particularly windy and cloudy day, and they appeared to be content to mingle around in the bottom of a small draw. We geared up and snuck closer. After about a half hour we had pulled to within 300 yards of the cows and spotted the bull bedded in the bottom. As we decided on a game plan the cows started working our way. With the wind swirling bad we decided to keep our distance until we could assess the bulls position and how we would go in for a stalk. Of course as we repositioned to get a better view of the bull, the cows fed down below us at around 100 yards. All of a sudden the bull was with them again. If we had stayed put and the wind held, I could have already had a 60 yard shot at him. Now we were above and upwind of them. Soon the bull and cows bedded, and we began a long and arduous process of circling around to get into position for a shot on the bedded bull. After a half hour of belly crawling carefully through the short grass in the bottom we were ready to start moving into position. Of course as we moved in he decided to exchange his current spot for one more tucked away. He now was further from the spot we were working towards, but he was bedded broadside at least.
We kept moving forward, hoping we could get close enough for a shot or that he’d get up again soon and present a shot. We still hadn’t been winded and we crept to within the 100 yard mark. As we worked through the last little dip we peaked over to find that he had repositioned and now was bedded facing away. Great, all this time and now I’m 70 yards from a bull that is bedded with his a** facing me. We decided to wait for a few minutes and see if he’d get up again as we were in a good position if he did. Unfortunately, the wind suddenly shifted as it often does, and before you know it all 5 of the elk are over the ridge. Exciting and frustrating at the same time. The scenario just wasn’t right that day. The elk had beaten us again. I tried to second guess myself, saying that I should have cow called to get him to stand, but with the wind and length of shot, I never would take that on an alert animal. We made it back to the truck and took a mid-day nap.
That night we moved up the same draw some ten miles before hunting again. We did see some mule deer and elk sign but no elk. We hoped this new area would hold some bulls looking to avoid the strong hunting pressure down low.
The next morning we worked down to the creek bottom in hopes of catching some elk coming off the water and moving back into the hills.
After about an hour of glassing we had only turned up two raghorns and a couple spikes. I was leaned back on my pack in a state of heavy depression when I heard the sound of two bulls fighting and some cow talk. They sounded like they were a ridge north, and we hustled to cross over to see if we could locate them. As we cleared the next ridge I saw a bull on the opposite hillside climbing up through the sand with his tongue out. He appeared that he was running from a fight. We let him cross over the top and then slowly worked to the edge to see if any elk were still in the bottom. Of course as we slowly worked around the edge we spooked a bull below us in the timber. He booked it over the same ridge as the other bull and once again we sat there in disbelief. We had put in so many miles and hunted from sun up to sun down for 5 days and had only one stalk to show. Not exactly my idea of how the hunt was going to play out. I figured with the success we had had on the first trip, we were going to storm in there and be on bulls everyday and definitely get a shot. I was hoping to redeem myself for not getting one last year in the Breaks, but that hope was fading fast. On Tuesday morning we humbly packed up the truck and headed for home. It was time to get back to a regular work schedule and get back to the dark timber of Northwest Montana. It felt a little too similar to last year, but I knew we still had a lot of season and many opportunities to come.
Montana Wild is proud to announce that we have teamed up with Bear Archery and Trophy Ridge for the 2012 season! I have developed a relationship with Bear Archery for the entirety of my bowhunting career. My first bow was the Bear Assualt, which brought me my very first bow kill, and got me hooked on the sport of bow hunting. All I know is Bear, and I am very excited to continue into 2012 as part of the Bear Nation.
Our first day shooting the Anarchy was in inclement weather. We had a steady rain, wind, and colder temps, but weather is not always sunny for a bowhunter and we weren’t going to let a little weather rain on our parade. Most guys would have stayed in because they don’t want to get their new bow wet. Not us, we expect the most from our equipment because you never know what the conditions might be when you chasing that trophy of a lifetime. We have put over 150 arrows through the Anarchy over the past 3 days, and I must say I am impressed. The Anarchy was very stable, regardless of the gusting winds, and felt very dead-in-hand upon release.
We have mostly been just getting comfortable with the new bows and have been shooting mostly inside the house. We will have more feedback and info in the near future along with some pre-season videos. Make sure to check out our gear page in the next couple weeks for a complete review and specs on our hunting gear for 2012. Tomorrow we are heading back to the Five Valleys Archery range to start sighting everything in. Only 16 more days til opening day for bear/turkey season here in Montana and we are really going to be busy from now til then. One of our goals for this spring is to get a turkey on film with a bow. We also will be putting in the miles chasing black bears. We hope to get one if not two with our new Anarchy’s. The word on the street is that some are already out so we should be able to hit the ground running once April 15th rolls around. We will be filming everyday we get out and we hope to capture some amazing footage and stories. Our 2011 hunts will be showing up online sometime in mid-May so be sure to check back for those.
Big thanks to Jason over at Bear Archery. It’s great when people can respect what you do, see the potential that we have, and want to invest in us.