Our Spring Break was not spent at some tropical oasis with scantily clad women. Instead, we have been working our butts off to finish our film submission for the Hunting Film Tour. The Hunting Film Tour is a new tour, created by the same crew that runs the very successful Fly Fishing Film Tour. We did not plan on having this film on the big screen, but when the opportunity presented itself, we jumped at the idea of showcasing our best elk footage from 2012 on the big screen. The elk encounters we captured is truly jaw dropping. Not many people can say they filmed a 14-year old bull walk out of the trees at 8 yards, and stare you down! The end of the film is surely to have you on the edge of your seat and ready to dust off your bow. Below is the teaser for our upcoming short film AMBUSH.
Elk hunting takes you to some of the most amazing locations in the world. Many times elk hunting is more about the experience than it is chasing the elk themselves. Watch as we travel across Montana going from the desolate dry desert to the dark timber in search of lifelong memories in the outdoors.
Ambush shows you how two young hunters adapted to the conditions at hand to arrow two mature bulls over the course of Montana’s archery season. To see the whole film please attend one of the many stops of this years Hunting Film Tour. For more information on tickets and tour dates check out www.huntingfilmtour.com
The Hunting Film Tour will be making a stop here in Missoula, Montana on May 3rd at The Wilma. All of us here at Montana Wild will be there! Thanks to everyone for their support over the past year. We truly appreciate our fans that share the same passion for the outdoors as us. We have some really amazing projects planned for 2013!
Bear hunting is a key tool in managing predators across the West and especially here in Montana. No, we do not want to wipe out the entire population of black bears; actually I think they are an amazing animal and without actually hunting them I’d never have gained that appreciation. By hunting them we simply are doing our part in keeping a balance, which is weighing heavily in the predators favor in certain areas which we hunt. Black bears kill fawns and elk calves in high numbers in the spring and have only one known predator, humans.
Bear hunting is one of my favorite types of hunting that one can partake in here in Montana. It gets you back into the mountains and forces you to get back into shape. It’s not hard to see bears, but I can say that it’s much more difficult to close the gap, relocate the bear, and try to sneak within bow range.
This past Spring we saw 26+ black bears. I had set a goal of taking a black bear with my bow and was planning on sticking it out unless a true giant crossed our paths. Travis and I had some amazing close encounters, and many great memories. It is truly amazing to be out in the wild, getting close to a predator that has the power to take down a human being. With spring like conditions and lightning storms, we were given the full Montana bear hunting experience. Watch our latest short film Trial & Error as I get close to multiple black bears in my pursuit of an archery kill.
We are excited for the upcoming spring, and will be going out on numerous hunts with the camera in hand. To follow along with us be sure to join us over on our Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/Montana.Wild.Productions.
My watch woke me at 6:00. We had survived another night camped on the edge of some serious bear country. We begrudgingly crawled out of our warm sleeping bags and stepped into the crisp morning air. We quickly packed up camp and headed north up the dark logging road. We were again headed to a new location, situated below the ridge we had hunted only one day earlier. Just as the sun began to creep through the tree tops we slipped into a good location to call.
We called for 20 minutes. Nothing. It seemed as if the elk were ghosts. Leaving us sign but never seeming to show themselves. We moved up through a ridge full of the regular downfall.
We worked slowly and patiently, knowing a bull could be lurking anywhere in the dark timber. We called again with no success. We tried cow calls, bugles, raking, and a combination of all three at times. The elk were just being stubborn, or at least that’s what I’d like to think.
We continued on undeterred. We were constantly reminded of the bulls that roamed and call these thick mountains home. Rubs would crop up out of the blur of grey trees, and often in the most dense areas. This only served to fuel the fire further.
We pushed on and stuck to the game plan. Sneaking through the woods as quietly as possible and calling in any area that seemed good.
Over the course of this trip we were thoroughly impressed with the Open Country pattern on this trip. While one might not think that a lighter patter would be ideal for the dark timber, the pattern actually blended with the woods amazingly well. Let’s just say if an elk came in it wasn’t going to be seeing us.
As we neared the truck that morning it was beginning to set in. We were running out of time and we needed to find an elk. When half your time is running the camera your season is cut in half, and Travis and I needed to seal the deal soon. We had worked hard and knew it could only be a matter of time. Just keep a positive mindset and keep pounding away. As Cameron Hanes would put it, “Go Beast Mode.” We hung out at the truck and had lunch, contemplating the options for the evening. As we sat and talked we began talking about a water source. In the two years we had hunted here, we had never found a creek, wallow, or seep. We knew the elk had to drink somewhere, and we decided to check out a small pond back down the road. It’s easy to access and I figured wouldn’t hold any promise. Well I was wrong. After some inspection we found some quality sign around the pond. Nothing to amazingly fresh, but we knew they’d be back sometime. We continued to walk the waterline and found a natural blind another hunter had created. I knew it was there for a reason and shortly after I found why it was there. There was a heavily used wallow that had been carved into the ground almost three feet from years of use.
The only real fresh sign were a few sets of bear tracks. I still had my bear tag and a good feeling began to make it’s way into the depths of my brain. We got back into the truck and decided to quickly head to a new area and make a final decision for the night around 3PM. After a few hours of exploration we had yet to uncover anything too mind blowing and relied on our instincts. Travis and I both had a good feeling about the wallow, and with our knees sore from the constant climbing over and through deadfall we decided to go back and spend the final evening sitting in the natural blind on the edge of the treeline. I’m not usually one to sit in place for long, but I knew our chances were better here than busting brush all night. We threw on new layers and walked the 400 yards from the truck to our natural ground blind. We setup and settled in for a patient evening.
As we sat I wondered about the hunter who had made this blind. Was it meant to be that we found it? Did he already shoot an elk from here or had he made it and was looking to come back to it at another time? I said a prayer and leaned up against the log as Travis and I waited and listened. After about thirty minutes I decided to lay down. Sitting in one spot usually isn’t my thing, and I can get very sleepy staring at the same piece of real estate for too long.
Soon I felt like I should man up and be ready for anything. This was our last night and I needed to be in the best position to have my bow in hand if something did sneak in. I got back up and waited. I’m glad I did because twenty minutes later Travis told me he heard something walking our way. He always seems to hear things before me, and I got my bow in hand and waited. Sure enough the sound was unmistakable, an elk was making his way through the tight trees and headed for the pond. Soon I could see a chocolate set of antlers peeking through the limbs. He was getting close and the adrenaline hit hard. I hoped our wind was good and got into my shooting position. He was on a path that would bring him very close to us. As he finished his way through the tight trees he soon closed to twenty yards. When he made his way behind the last set of trees, I drew my Bear Anarchy. He stepped out at 8 yards and stopped. At this point I could only see his head and half of his huge neck. Travis had a full view of him only a few feet to the right of me. I was nervous as the bull waited and listened. Moments later a squirrel began chirping 100 yards behind us. The bulls head swung instantly, inspecting the area. He wasn’t looking directly at us but soon turned his head and stared at the two of us, sitting dead still staring back at him. With his ears alert I figured a mature bull like this would bust and I’d never get a shot. Well he didn’t. He looked right through both of us, and I know that our camo served its purpose. He didn’t see us as humans. He slowly turned and began walking towards the wallow. At this point I’d been at full draw for a minute. Between holding my bow back and the adrenaline, I was beginning to shake. He slowly walked away, only giving me a Texas heart shot. I waited. He neared the wallow, taking one slow step at a time. Soon he turned broadside with his front leg back. My pins were shaking all over even though he was 30 yards away. It had been almost two minutes now and I was on the verge of letting my bow down. I took one last deep breath, and as he stepped forward with his right leg I released my arrow. It was a hard hit behind the shoulder. He instantly bucked and went screaming into the timber. I could see the blood instantly coming from his right side as he ran off, and I knew that he wouldn’t make it far. I could hear him crash up onto the road. He ran down the road and then there was a loud crash followed by silence. I sat and listened. Nothing. He had to be down. Travis and I decided to give him thirty minutes just to be safe.
We grabbed our packs and slipped out into the golden meadow. As we neared the wallow we could see where he had stood when I shot him. A few short feet later the blood trail began. It wasn’t huge, but enough to follow easily.
We slowly made our way into the timber and soon found my arrow, covered in rich red blood and broken off just behind the broadhead.
I slipped the arrow back into my quiver knowing it would only be a few minutes before I laid hands on my second elk. We made it up to the road and followed his tracks down the side of the gravel logging road. The blood had been covered by a truck that had passed earlier leaving us only his hoof prints. We soon began looking for blood where he had crashed off the side of the road. That’s when I saw those white tips just over the weeds on the side of the road.
I couldn’t believe it. After 120+ miles this year and hunting through some of the gnarliest deadfall imaginable, my bull was laying only 20 feet from the road. It was ironic but also a blessing as he was truly one of the largest bodied elk I’d seen.
He had wedged himself in a very interesting spot. His rear half was on top of a rock and wedged against a tree. His front half was about to slide under a downed log just behind him. They just don’t always fall in the best spots as this year has shown us, but I couldn’t care, my #1 goal for the year was complete.
The character and the mass on this bull was also truly awesome. His left side held incredible mass throughout. His third tine was palamated and thick. The right side also had good mass but only held three points. Along with that he either had lost his brow tine or G-2 over the years as he had one set of tines protruding from his forehead. I figured with the huge body, heavy mass, and a degenerated right side that this was an old monarch of a bull. A true king of his domain.
I couldn’t believe it, after so much hard work it was the most simple of tactics that paid off. It truly goes to show you that you can make elk hunting as complex or as simple as you’d like and still be successful. This bull had lived a long life. He had survived many winters, avoided numerous predators, and kept his distance from many hunters, only to be killed in the most simple of setups. I later had him aged by a biologist, and he was estimated to be 9 or 10 years old. I’m extremely blessed to have harvested such a beautiful, old bull in only my third season of chasing elk. He’s going to be tough to top next year.
Not only was I able to harvest an elk, but I was able to do so with my brother by my side. A guy just can’t ask for much more. It’s a memory that will last a lifetime for both of us, and Travis was able to beautifully capture the whole hunt on film. We’re really excited to share the footage here in the future as it’s by far the best elk footage we’ve captured in our short two years of filming our hunts.
Once we had taken some photos we began the process of determining what to do with him. If we cut him up as he lay he would slip down under the deadfall below him and it would be miserable to attempt to cut him up. We drove up the road and got service. We called our dad and told him the good news. We told him of the situation and asked him if he could bring a chainsaw and a tow rope up the mountain and help us pull the beast from his final resting place. After an hour and plenty of time to relive hunt he showed up. Smiles were had by all, and then the work began. The tow rope barely made it to the elk. We tied it up to both rear legs and cleared some small trees. The diesel quickly pulled the 700-800 pound elk up to the side of the road.
God truly answered my prayers on this night. We shot an awesome elk, on film, and didn’t have to spend at least 12+ hours packing him out of the jungle. Not only that but my brother was there for the hunt, and my Dad made it up to see my bull in one piece this year. I’m truly excited for the future and all the amazing things that lay ahead of us out there in God’s country.
I also found a few thing interesting about my hunt this year compared to last. Last year I shot my bull on my first day hunting the mountains of Western Montana after hunting the Missouri Breaks. This year I shot my bull on my first full day back in the mountains after 5 days in the Breaks. Last year I ambushed my elk at 40 yards from my knees. This year I ambushed my elk from 30 yards off my knees. Last year I shot my elk quartering away, and he ran and looped left only making it about a hundred yards before he took his last breath. This year I also shot my elk quartering away and he also made about a hundred yard loop to his left before crashing. Nothing too crazy but definitely an interesting comparison of the two seasons.
Thanks for reading my story. This is a post that I look forward to writing each year, and I can’t wait till 2013. So far it’s been a truly awesome season. We helped my good friend Tyler McCann kill his first bull this year, and I was able to take a great elk also. Now it’s Travis’ turn, and we’ll be working hard to get him a bull before archery season is over.
For me elk hunting has become a passion and a lifestyle. For now, my #1 goal each season is to arrow a bull elk with my bow. This year was no exception. In 2011, just my second year bowhunting elk, I was able to arrow my first elk. He was just a raghorn, but a trophy nonetheless. If you you’d like to check out my 2011 bull elk please read a bit more here – My 2011 Bull Elk. Being the person I am, I constantly am looking to improve and challenge myself no matter what it is I set my mind to. This year it was two-fold. One I wanted redemption in the Missouri Breaks. Last year I had been very close but couldn’t seal the deal. After time spent with filming Travis in the Breaks this year, I knew I had a very solid chance at doing just so. My second goal was to arrow not only a bull but a mature bull. Mature can mean a lot of things and each elk is different, but in my mind I had a solid idea on where I’d draw the line.
After 5 days in the Breaks I had only one stalk to show and no elk. The action was slow and with lots of other hunters pressuring the elk, it was just tough hunting. It was turning into another year chasing elk and not much as far as actual hunting. I hadn’t given up on the Breaks, but it was time to switch gears and hunt a bit closer to town. This summer Travis and I had placed game cameras in a few areas that seemed promising. With photos like this cropping up, I knew we had to at least devote a weekend to chasing elk in the deep, dark timber of Northwest Montana.
Our bags were packed and on the morning of the 23rd we hit the road. We arrived at our spot at 5:45AM and started our hour hike in with camp on our backs. As we made our way up the old logging road we hoped that we would be catching some part of the rut and that the elk would be fired up. We heard no bugles on the hike in, but we quickly set up camp and dropped over the nearest ridge to begin hunting. Travis was up first. I’d run the camera for the first day and a half and then we’d switch. As we began hunting it was very apparent, the dark timber was starkly different than the open country in the Breaks.
From stands of lodgepoles scattered with downfall, to more open slopes covered in brush that grows overhead, it’s beautiful and frustrating at the same time. It really is a magical place and this area has to be one of my favorite places to hunt elk even though it’s one of the hardest places also.
As we worked through the brush we finally heard our first bugle. The bull was below us, and we knew he was working up the north facing slope to bed for the day. Unfortunately the wind was headed straight downhill. After exchanging some bugles we had closed in to about 200-300 yards attempting to flank him on his right side. As we tried to sneak along the only game trail we heard hooves pounding up through the jungle. We were busted. There is literally no such thing as stalking a bull in these woods. Between the thick brush and downfall, it’s impossible to move around without sounding like a rhino. Add a backpack and the noises that a human makes moving through the woods, and you simply aren’t going to get close to much. You simply must call them to you or sit in wait in one spot and hope an elk passes by. We pushed on, at points wondering if we were even elk hunting. It surely wasn’t possible that an elk would want to be in this tangled mess. As soon as you begin thinking that your often humbled by an obnoxiously large rub.
We knew they were around and it was only a matter of time before we found one. Most of the rubs were easily less than a week old. The fresh smell of pine lingering and the sap freshly beaded up on the tree. Now if they would just pipe up and bugle it might get exciting. Before long though it was mid-day, and we worked back to our camp to rest up for the evening hunt.
Around 3:30 we headed back into the darkness. We worked a couple old growth ridgelines and dropped into the tops of a few drainages in search of a bull. We called multiple stands, waiting for 20-30 minutes before moving on with no success. Half the battle was moving any considerable distance in these woods. It’s so thick that you sometime can only hike a mile an hour. We continued on. Our only find that evening being another impressive rub and some scattered elk sign.
The next morning we were back at it again on the same north face. Travis and I worked back down the hillside to where our trail camera had been posted up this summer. The camera had been on one of the only game trails in the area, and it cut across a wide face that the bulls came up in the mornings as they headed to their beds in the deep, brushy thickets. After just a couple minutes of calling Travis could hear an elk coming up through the bushes towered overhead. We held our ground and hoped he’d come up to the game trail. We couldn’t move because he’d hear us and know we definitely weren’t two elk, so we sat and waited.
The brush was so thick here he’d have to work to inside 20 yards. As he pulled within 50 yards we crouched behind a down tree. Moments after I spotted antlers just above the brush at 30 yards, a solid 6×6. Seconds later he stopped behind some trees at 20 yards. He listened and stood still. He either trusted his instinct or didn’t like the complete silence above him. He turned and bolted down the hill and stopped. Travis bugled and raked and then threw out some excited cow calls. The bull came back up the hill but flanking us to the left. Travis had a glimpse of him at 40 yards until he stopped and began circling us trying to get our wind. Well with nowhere to move, it was only a matter of time. He finally smelled us and was gone for good. That’s just tough conditions, conditions we need more practice in. Again the bull was silent the whole time. Not necessarily the conditions you’d dream about. Hopefully we’d be able to catch the rut somewhere, but apparently not in this area. We hunted back to camp and made the decision to move locations.
We drove back down the logging road and decided on a new spot. The beginning of the hike in was actually bearable. It was fairly thin and there was sign hidden amongst the brush. We kept pushing on hoping for some clearer forest and talkative elk.
The only problem was that it just kept getting thicker. Up here it can be frustrating trying to move to areas when you don’t know what the vegetation consists of. A map only tells you so much, and once your in the woods you never get a chance to see out. It’s just trees and brush in every direction. Sometimes you just have to set out and explore and hope something good comes of it.
After a while it got downright silly. You definitely couldn’t say we were elk hunting. Bushwacking some major jungle was the name of the game. Wouldn’t you know it though there was sign in here too. The animals are straight crazy to call some of this home.
After a solid hour we finally emerged onto a ridge that significantly opened up. We began slowly working the deadfall in hopes of being quiet enough to setup further down the ridge and call. Some rubs started showing up, and we knew we were in the right area. Again we felt it was only a matter of time.
After calling three setups we had not had any luck. We slowly made our way out and hoped Tuesday would be a better day. We’d have one day left to try to seal a deal on a bull before we had to head back to Missoula for work. We cooked dinner, dumped the SD cards, and got in the tent for the night. Tomorrow was going to be a good day.
As you progress as a hunter you expect the best out of your equipment. When it comes down to that one moment of truth, you want your arrow hitting its mark everytime. To me a custom bowstring is one of the best ways to get your bow to shoot more consistent and tighter groups. We recently approached Amanda and Joe at Proline Bowstrings (www.prolinebowstrings.com) about getting some for our Bear Anarchys. Some online research had pointed me right to their strings, and when reading about them I only heard great things about the strings. We immediately got a couple sets sent out and got them broken in immediately. Right off the bat my bow felt 100% better on the draw and at full draw.
To me a custom bowstring gives your bow a more solid back wall that delivers less string creep. This helps me hold my anchor the same every shot and leads to tighter and more consistent groups. They also are made of a superior material in most cases and aren’t nearly as prone to stretching out as most stock strings will do. This eliminates problems with your bow such as timing issues and inconsistent arrow flight. You also don’t have to worry about your string twisting and throwing your peep off. Immediately after the new string were on, my groups improved and I was far more accurate. You also get to pick your colors and customize your bow which is pretty sick in my opinion.
These strings are going to last longer and provide superior durabilty. When we had the new Prolines installed they fit to the spec of the bow perfectly. All the servings and loops were built better than any I’ve seen. No flaws or imperfections could be found.
If you looking to make your bow that much more deadly or are in need of a new string be sure to talk to Amanda at Proline,and she will get you all dialed in with a killer setup for your bow. Give her a call at 513.259.3738.
Anything that makes you more confident as a hunter and is withing your budget is a must in my opinion. Everytime I pick up my bow I’m a lot more confident it will be slinging arrows perfect just as it should. Get a pair of strings, you won’t regret it.
Be looking soon for some sick wilderness fly fishing content from a 6-day trip and also some elk scouting photos to show up to keep that stoke high.
For 2012 we kicked off the hunting season with a few days of turkey hunting at the parents house. We got up bright and early to the sound of gobbling turkeys off in the distance. We made it down into a small clearing unnoticed and proceeded to get to calling. A few toms we’re headed our way but never got close enough for a quality shot with the bow, those dang turkeys! This was our first attempt at calling in a bird and we got real close. A bit of lack of experience and no decoy probably was our downfall, but we got to lay eyes on some toms and got them all fired up and strutting like champs. The second day out we were hoping our luck would swing, but the weather had other plans. Snow was falling and the birds were shut up and hunkered down in the woods. After that Travis and I spent the rest of the spring in the mountains chasing bears and never got another day of turkey hunting in. We decided to throw a short edit together from our short time spent chasing turkeys and we hope you enjoy it. Next year I can guarantee we’ll be back on the birds and this time I think we just might bag one or two. And again, for the best viewing pleasure please watch in HD with a pair of headphones.
Tomorrow were headed out to cast some line and hopefully lay into a few fish. We plan on getting some filming in and we’re crossing our fingers the fishing is good and we can have a little summer fishing edit up in the next week or two.
It’s been a long last few months. Travis and I have had hundreds of miles pass beneath our feet this spring in search of black bears. My search has been for a bear that I could arrow with my bow and it’s no easy task. As the season was winding down we still were optimistic about getting one last chance. It was another early morning as we left the house at 6 and headed into the same spot where I had stalked a bedded bear previously. We mostly have mornings off and had been hunting them with more success than one would expect. On this morning we decided to leave the bikes and hike down a steep face to a logging road that ran about 600yards above a creek bottom. The hike down was not fun. I fell three times and was starting to think we were wasting our time and energy trying to find a bear with everything in sight being so green. About two minutes later I spotted a black blob. Bear! A nice bear was feeding up along a tree line and right onto a logging road that ran 300 yards below us. Travis and I quickly started moving. We were hoping this was finally our moment where a bear would walk along the road and we could set up and take a 20 yard chip shot from above.
We soon were down above the logging road at twenty yards and began to wait. The bear had fed behind some trees on the logging road where it makes a turn and heads our way. After fifteen minutes we still had yet to see him come out of that spot. We decided we better sidehill above that position in case he decided to start up the small draw above the logging road. We made it up the hill about 250 yards before we spotted him carelessly feeding on tall green grass in the corner of the road. We watched him for a few minutes, but decided we better go back and get in position again. Well we make it back and again waited for another fifteen minutes and still no bear. Back up the hill we go, wondering what the hold up is. This time we only had to go about twenty yards before we spotted him down the road slowly walking out of the corner. I’m thinking ok, he’s just filling his belly and then he’s gonna keep walking down this road and walk right by us. Nope. He’s obviously was in no hurry to go anywhere as he continued to feed in that spot. With the wind and rocky hillside we just couldn’t stalk him there either. It’s either he comes to us or no dice. After about ten more minutes he decides to run down into the draw below the road. S&*i! The brush is so thick there’s no way we’re going in after him without being heard. We sneak down to the road and start looking for Yogi. Out he pops at 140 yards, and he plops down next to a stump and starts licking his paws and belly.
This bear decides it’s officially nap time and after grooming himself he settles in and begins to take a nap. It’s still really windy and not very warm for June. We decide that it’s best to give him at least an hour to settle in and see if he’s going to really fall asleep or get up and move on. For the next half an hour he slept and only lifted his head twice. We were situated in a small draw with the wind swirling behind the first ridge and then continuing on over the second ridge. Either he caught a few small wiffs of our scent or just was uneasy with the windy conditions. We figured while we wait we can put the spotting scope to use and get some good close ups of our sleepy friend.
So an hour passes and he’s bedded in a bad spot for a stalk. I can’t go down into the brush without him hearing me and I guess the shot from the road above him at about 40-50 yards. The only reason I didn’t opt to try the shot from above was I didn’t want to take that length of shot in the wind and at such a steep angle. Before we could make any kind of move he slowly sat up, yawned, and started moving back up towards the road. I know he’s not going to stick around long and this clearing is maybe two hundred yards square so he’s going to be headed for the timber. We start busting it around the road hoping to catch him before he beats us to the road. I figure I can either get a close shot on him just off the road or catch him as he comes up onto the road. As we round the bend and start down the home stretch I feel the wind hitting the back of my neck. More stellar conditions eh. At this point we are no more than 50 yards from the bear. We slowly keep creeping forward when all of a sudden he comes running up and across the road and up into the timber. At this point I had some very choice words that started with f,s,d,a and possibly others. Another failed stalk and again within 50 yards of a bear. What happened to all the stupid bears that stare at hunters as they walk straight at them? Oh well, I had my chance once and blew it already so I can’t complain too much. We hiked a bit more but it was already late in the morning, and we decided to face the hill we had come down earlier in the morning and get back to the truck.
Over the course of the next week we made it out four more days before the season ended but didn’t get a chance to see another bear. The weather was rainy almost every day and made for poor conditions to hunt in with a camera in tow. By this time of the year it was green everywhere, and it was simply just luck to actually see a bear out on a road or in a clear cut. It’s ok though. We got one bear down on film and saw 22 this spring. We hunted about 18-20 days so we averaged about a bear a day, and I figure that’s pretty darn good for my second year of bear hunting. I’d call it my first year since I only hunted one day last spring, but I shot a bear that one day so I figure I better count it as a year.
Overall it was an awesome spring and we got to see a lot of sweet critters out in God’s country. Any day your blessed enough to be out there is a good day in my book. We learned a lot about bears this spring, and I’m already looking forward to next year. We have a handful of good spots now and know where to look for the bears so I’m confident next spring will be even better, and the bears might want to be a bit more scared. Next spring both Travis and I will be trying to get one with a bow, and our good friend Cole McCann just moved to Missoula to attend the University so I’m sure we will be trying to get him one with the rifle as well. That does it for hunting until September, but we’ve already set up a game camera and got a little fishing in so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we switch gears and start posting up a whole lot of good Montana fishing.
Spring in Montana. It brings beauty and beast to the western half of the state each and every year. Mostly it’s been beast. Since Travis killed his bear, we’ve been blasted with rain almost every day. The state of the weather flips on a dime it seems and the second you think the weather is shaping up, well think again. The conditions have been making my goal of arrowing a black bear more and more difficult. With the rain and longer days the grass is green almost everywhere, and it’s making the bears less and less reluctant to stay in the open for long. Fortunately we’ve still been getting after them and we have upped the bear count to 20 for the year with 7 seen in the last 7 days. Let’s just say seeing bears doesn’t convert into killing bears. Often they are a ways off and on the move. I could have killed at least 4 with a rifle, but the challenge of the bow makes it more intense and rewarding when it’s all said and done.
The weekend started slow as we left town and drove 30 miles into the mountains. We were able to glass one clearcut before the rain started coming down and hard. Soon we were fogged in and had to call it a day. It’s a bummer when you can’t even get out of the truck, but the mountains make the rules.
The next day we were in a spot we hadn’t hunted this year but knew held bears. We had ran into two last year doing some elk scouting and there was plenty of open landscape to glass. About 20 minutes in on our bike Travis made a crazy good spot. There was a good black bear crossing some rocks and moving up a north facing slope.
He was about 850 yards across a deep ravine. We watched him bed down right behind that tree and watched him for a while. He seemed to be staying put despite it only being 8AM. We decided we better try to locate him and try to get a shot. We backtracked on the bikes and went down into a steep ravine before climbing up onto the ridge the bear was bedded on. We had taken landmarks and knew we only had to go down this ridge about 100 yards. We slowly started creeping down the ridge. I knew we were getting close but it was thick. The wind was perfect, the only problem was we had a bunch of downfall between us and the bears position. Finally I saw black fur through the trees. He was still laying down and I could see his butt and legs. We were only 45 yards away, but there was no shot with all the branches and downed trees. There was no option of approaching him any other way and getting a clean shot so I kept sneaking forward. Every step was slow and we were being as quiet as we could be. Of course a chipmunk decided now was a good time to start screaming at us. That combined with one tiny, and I mean tiny twig breaking was enough to make this bear sleepily sit up. I could see him sitting there, groggy, and contemplating laying back down. Well his intuition had the better of him, and he slowly stood and walked back down and to our left. There was never a shot and we were only 37 yards away at that point. We slowly crept down the hill only to never see him again. It was a letdown but it felt great putting such a stalk on a mature wild animal. I truly believe this is the best way to hunt, and I hope you’ll never see us hunt from a treestand over bait. I feel that bears should be hunted fair chase, spot and stalk just like every other animal unless they become a problem or there’s zero open terrain to catch a bear in. It’s just seems like the American way to throw out your bait and sit there and pick your bear. You just learn so much more being out there, seeing new areas, learning about animal movements, and experiencing God’s country. It’s also going to be so rewarding when it comes together. We left that area and decided to explore some new roads on the other side of the highway. Well we made it way up in the mountains and decided to get some more time in with the new Razor HD spotting scope before the weather changed.
We found a few new areas that looked promising as far as bear hunting or some elk scouting but it’s still a little brown that high up and the snow is still sticking around. We both took turns on the scope but only found one lone cow elk bedded in a small cut in the timber.
We finally packed it up and head back to Missoula. After a couple hour break we were back up the mountain and glassing more open country. After about 20 minutes Travis made another solid spot. He could see a nice blond bear about a mile away. Ordinarily we would have gone after this bear right away. On this day we pulled the spotting scope out and took a closer look. Good thing because it was a sow and two cubs and it saved us a heck of a trek. We watched them until the weather began to change and we knew it was time to call it a day.
The next day we woke up at 545 only to find it raining and foggy. We’ll looks like we’re sleeping in. When I got up around 930 it was clear out and sunny. Uhhhhh ok Montana you win. Looks like you’ll let us hunt this evening. Well of course as we start heading out of town the clouds start building.
About 2 minutes into driving the dirt road it starts pouring rain. Soon it began to hail and we were surrounded by lightning. We decided to see if it would pass and reluctantly turned around as it was just too dangerous to get out of the truck. We rallied some mud puddles and made it about a mile down the road before we stopped to get a few timelapses. We’ll by the time we had finished some filming it was turning out to be pretty nice again. We figured we’d drive back up top and at least glass and see if we saw anything pop out of the timber.
We continued to glass for about an hour but only were able to spot one lone mule deer doe. The weather was shifting so much I’m sure most of the animals were seeking cover in the timber and waiting for nicer weather to really come out and feed.
Things aren’t shaping up to be too great the rest of the week. It’s raining now and the forecast is calling for 100% tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll be back at it again this weekend. It’s coming down to crunch time as this Thursday marks the one week mark until season is over and it’s officially summer fishing. I hope we can pull it together and get one more chance before it’s over. If not it’s been an amazing spring and time spent in the mountains is always a blessing.
It’s here. The final hunting episode from the 2011 season. In the 4th installment we follow Zack along as he chases elk with the stick and string. Things started out with a couple long weekends in the Missouri Breaks. This was new country to us and we got after it the best we could. We found the elk every day but just couldn’t seal the deal. They came tantalizingly close and we learned a bunch that’s going to make us successful when we return this fall. Zack decided to switch it up and fight it out with the elk close to home. He sealed the deal with a great shot @ 40 yards on the first day back in the Western Montana woods.
Here’s the blog posts leading up to Zack nocking his 2011 elk tag:
Be sure to watch in HD and with a pair of headphones. Enjoy!
Look for our first fly fishing project of 2012 to be dropping at the end of next week. We were delayed for almost two months on this project, but this terrible weather finally spared us enough time to get some solid editing in and finish it. If you like what you see please subscribe to our posts by entering your email into the right sidebar or visit our Facebook page and [LIKE] us.
Memorial Day weekend is always hit or miss in Montana. Well this year it was a big ole swing and a miss. If there was one good thing about the crappy weather though it was the fact that we were forced to stay home and glue our butts in front of the computer and do some long awaited editing. Two eight hour days and I’m glad to say were finished with our first short fishing film of the year. We should have that up here later this week so be checking back and we’ll also be releasing our 4th and final installment of hunting episodes from 2011.
Well by Monday we had the itch to get back after it and we geared up for a long day doing something in the great outdoors of Montana. We drove up into the mountains and headed off on a gated logging road in search of bears. We were in new country and sort of looking for sign and hoping the area was a good one. We ended up making it up to the snow line which probably wasn’t the best hunting strategy following a snow storm in the mountains. I think the weather had pushed everything down towards the valley but I wanted to check out a new area. We found some sign and a pretty solid area that we’ll definitely go back to as soon as the weather warms up and the bears start moving up to higher country.
We headed back to the truck and figured we’d kill the afternoon with some fly fishing. The water is still high and off colored and even the creeks are tough fishing but soon enough there was some tug in the line and a little fishy in the net. I led things off with a solid string of whitefish and couldn’t seem to trick the old trout but Travis finally warmed up and landed a few nice browns.
We ventured back to the truck and got back into hunt mode to finish off the holiday. We once again found a gated road and headed off on the bikes. This spring weather makes for some on and off showers that come and go like a ____________ (insert your own lolz here). It made for some beautiful scenery or some very gay bears in the area.
The video below was basically how we felt about it.
After that we kept hiking for another mile and a half but didn’t see much other than a lone cow elk. We cruised back and got to the bikes and loaded up. Of course it was all downhill and when your on a bike you can cruise pretty fast. Well just our luck about two minutes into biking back down the mountain we round a bend at about 20mph and there’s a cinnamon black bear feeding up the road. He saw us and went scorching back into the woods. We tried tricking him into making a second appearance with the distress call but he was a little too smart for that trickery. Of course we had the pleasure of seeing another rainbow right afterwards.
We figured it would be pretty unreal if we were to find a bear at the end of the rainbow. Like all such dreams we didn’t find a bear at the end and had to call it a day.
Travis and I have been getting after it this spring, and if you check in often you’ll see that we may just have put down a bear on film. Anyways it’s been an interesting spring around here. Its felt more like summer than spring at times and it helped those hillsides green up in no time.
After spotting our first two bears of the season it seemed we couldn’t go a day without spotting one. We had started mixing things up and were hunting the mornings hoping to catch them before they went back to the timber. We had went back up to an area that we know holds bears all spring and where we had failed an earlier stalk. Sure enough we round the corner that leads us to an overlook of a whole drainage and bam, bear spotted. We start moving up the logging road, because at this point were about a mile out still. As we get further up the road we stopped to glass again. Just our luck, it was a sow and two cubs. Man those little guys are cute.
We tried to go up and get closer to the sow to get some footage and actually spooked a bear right off the logging road. We didn’t find the sow and cubs and we hunted hard the rest of the day. We knew the area was holding bears, but we thought we’d let things cool down in the area before going back. On Saturday we loaded up the truck and headed to a new area west of town about an hour. We drove way up the mountain and were glassing clear cuts hoping to make out a bear. We’ll the only thing we found was big white truck that had beat us up the mountain that morning. We weren’t sure what he was up to but we knew any bear stupid enough to stay out in the open after this truck drove by was probably already dead. We turned around and went back to the tried and true method of hunting, gate hunting.
Chances are if you find a gate and go in a mile or two your bound to find more game than cruising the dirt roads. Our friend Adam had told us this could be a good area to bike into and glass the clear cuts, and we were more than happy to check it out. We had biked only about ten minutes when we rode up on some extremely fresh scat. We figured we’ll ride the trail another 1/4 mile and if we don’t see him on the logging road we’ll sit down and see if we can call him in with the distress call. Well about twenty minutes go by and we hadn’t seen anything so we took a seat on the edge of the road and I pulled out the trusty distress call. Now I figured if I call in a bear it’s probably gonna be a big one, and to be honest I didn’t think I actually would call a bear in. Well about five minutes in I see a brown head coming up the hill and its only about 40 yards away. A very pretty, chocolate colored black bear was coming in.
So this bear is at thirty yards and what do ya know, my bow is on my back. Good one idiot. So I start trying to size up this bear. I really was shooting for getting one with a bow unless it was a real toad and then I wouldn’t mind slinging some lead. Well this was a mature bear and had a perfect coat on it. To top it off it was in the sun at thirty yards on film. I finally decided I’d use the old thunderstick. Right as I look through the scope to take a shot the bear trots off about sixty yards into some downed trees and bushes. Dang it you idiot Zack! I throw out a few more distress calls hoping it will show up again and offer me a shot. I ask Travis if he can see it and he says he’s pretty sure it’s going to come up on the logging road. I start scrambling to get the bow off the backpack and an arrow nocked. Right as I get my bow off the bear comes out on the logging road looking right at me sitting in the middle of the road. I get an arrow nocked and range him at 52 yards. He’s still there looking at us and acting goofy. I figure he’ll come a little closer and at some point he’ll present a shot. Well right then he turns and starts walking away. A few whistles and he stopped and looked back. I figure he’s at 60 at this point and settle my pin in. I shoot and it slips right over the top of his back and he’s gone. Well that was a rush.
At this point I’m a little bit pissed off. I just had broke numerous rules I set for myself for the year. Number one and the biggest flaw was that I shot at an alert animal past 40-50 yards. Now depending on the animal this can fluctuate with it being the shortest for deer. After watching the footage I could see that old Yogi had dropped a solid foot before my arrow got there. Yes I’m a slow learner and no you won’t see that happen again. I am confident past 60 and just should have know that he wasn’t going to sit there and watch the arrow hit him. Second I rushed the shot. I knew the bear wasn’t going to hang around very long and I shot as my pin was rising up to my spot. I’m almost positive I shot higher than I had intended to because of this. These two factors led to a clean miss which I’m totally ok with. It’s amazing how hunting can go from nothing to an adrenaline fueled frenzy in a matter of moments. Things happen so quick it’s easy to forget the basics. If anyone has any ideas on how to practice for these situations please let me know because I can’t think of too many ways at the moment. Overall, it was an awesome day and one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Be sure to check back as there’s going to be more stories about bears and this time they’re coming home with us.
Zack and myself have spent 6 days now looking for black bears. This past Monday we headed to a new bear location Zack had pinpointed via internet maps. We passed multiple rednecks, doing who knows what, but probably attempting to shoot stuff off the road. We continued up a long dirt road until we got to a corner where we could see a couple large clearings about 1 mile away. Zack stopped the truck, we glassed…. Bam! I see a cinnamon bear with my eagle eyes. This bear was about a mile away feeding along what looked to be a logging road. It was tough to size up the bear from this far away, but we had no choice, we had to try and get a good look at our first bear of the year!
With no direct route to the bears location, we followed the road we were on currently until we hit 2-3 feet of snow. Once again there were some people drinking beer in the snow, doing apparently nothing. We unloaded our bikes, hoping we could walk our bikes over the snow until we hit the next south facing slope and continue to bike the logging road until we were within walking distance of the bear we spotted. The search started and we were sent off with some remarks from the two guys drinking beer– “you guys are crazy!”
We biked a good 400 yards after we got off the snowpack, to find out that there was more snow, and that the logging road was filled in with a bunch of 6 year old trees. Across the ravine we saw that the road looked to be in much better shape, so we continued to walk our bike until………. the road ended. Great! We could see another logging road 400 yards below us. We bushwacked down to the logging road with our bikes and continued biking around the next bend until……. the logging road ended again! Ok we were starting to walk ourselves into a miserable hike out. The snow was deep on these north facing slopes and apparently none of these longing roads connect anymore. To make a long story short, we ditched the bikes after walking them in for a 1.5 miles, hiked another 1.5 miles.
We found the cinnamon bear, but he was a little too small for our liking, but what’s hunting without an adventure? For all we knew that bear ‘could’ have been a monster of a bear (maybe next time). It was good to finally lay eyes on a bear, and we were in better physical shape then we were a day before. The hike out was not fun, specifically the part where we were carrying our bikes over our shoulders up a steep hill for 400 yards.
Our next hunting adventure was two days ago May 12th. We headed to our most popular bear hunting spot, this time with our mountain bikes. The access to the basin we hunt is limited, and the mountain bikes save us about 30 minutes of hiking for the first quarter of the trip into bear basin.
We hiked for another mile before we found some fresh bear scat that had to be no older than 24hrs. We continued walking until we got to a large clear cut. We sat down and picked the whole hillside apart. We didn’t see anything and I was ready to continue hiking, but Zack wanted to wait another 10 minutes and see if anything walked out…. Literally 1 minute later Zack spots a nice black bear! We sat and watched this mature bear for 5 minutes trying to pick out the direction it was going to move. The bear at one point stood up on its hind legs, and even at 1000 yards we could see it had a large white patch on its chest.
The bear was moving towards the dark timber, so we had to move fast. We started running around the long loop of logging roads, hoping we would get down the mountain in time to catch him before he made it into cover. We were running down the trail when we ran into another bear at 70yds! This was a year old bear and was feeding on some grass, we hunkered down on the road. Our wind switched, he smelled us and was gone into the woods. That was fine with us, we wanted to get on the bigger bear anyways, and we continued jogging down bear scat lane. Finally we made it to the clear cut where the bear had been feeding, but there was no sign of him. We sat down and waited. I saw some movement 150 yards from us along a lower logging road. I could have just grabbed the rifle and waited for the bear to walk into one of the openings in the trees, but he was in a prime spot to get him with a bow, so the stalk was on. The only problem was that we had to cross a fairly steep gravel bar to get on that logging road. Zack was short stepping down the gravel, when a branch he was using as a support broke! He slid 30 feet on his butt down the gravel bar, camera and all….. I see the bear run off. Game over. It was my choice to try and put a stalk in on this very mature bear, and its unfortunate we didn’t take advantage of our situation, but that’s how hunting goes. On to the next one! Were off to raft the Lochsa tomorrow! Should be a heck of a good time!
Considering it’s hunting season again here in Montana, we decided that we should begin the release of our 4 hunting episodes from the 2011 season. This was our first year ever filming hunting, and we’re excited about what we were able to capture on film and share with everyone. It takes innumerable hours in the field to capture quality footage and then another slew of hours behind the computer to create a hunting webisode. This first episode follows Zack as he attempts to arrow a deer, spot-and-stalk style on public land. For the best viewing experience please watch in HD, fullscreen, with a pair of headphones. If your a touch short on time please refer to the video on our Vimeo page, as it has markers that let you jump between the 3 stalks.
I hope you enjoyed the first of four episodes. We’ll release one every 2-3 weeks from now on. Here’s a quick outline of the remaining episodes:
Episode 2: Montana Rifle Mule Deer
Episode 3: Travis’ Elk Season
Episode 4: Zack’s Archery Bull Elk
Well with work, school, and trying to get the bows dialed in, we didn’t get this video out quite as soon as we would have like but better late then never. Take a look as we prep the bows for the big game season here in Montana. Tomorrow we’re headed home to chase some turkeys and after that we’ll be getting up into the mountains in search of a mature black bear. Watch the video, get stoked, and get out there!
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.
Montana Wild has recently teamed up with the Montana based company Ripcord, maker of the #1 fall-away rest. Zack and I have had great results with Ripcord in our past bow ventures and are very excited to have such a reliable rest on our bows for 2012.
The Ripcord Code Red is one of the most highly acclaimed fall-away rests on the market. With no bounce back and full arrow containment, its tough to beat Ripcord. If you’d like to know more head on over to the Ripcord website and check them out.
The bows should be showing up on Friday and soon enough we’ll be set up, sighted in and ready to hunt.
Yesterday we finally had some hunting product show up at the doorstep. That means it’s only a matter of time before we have the bows setup and the bears start showing themselves. I know we’re on the verge of some great spring fishing but it’s never to early to think about hunting.
We got 6 dozen of the Carbon Express Maxima Hunter KV’s. We’re both pretty excited to get these badboys cut, wrapped, fletched, and shooting straight. The KV is the strongest arrow on the market, so it’s should put a solid hurt on some critters.
The arrows are made with a layer of Kevlar, which is pound for pound 5 times stronger than steel and considerably lighter. They also have Dual Spine Weight Forward which helps your arrow recover out of the bow faster and get on target. Combine all that with the a BuffTuff finish and BullDog nock collars and you have one wicked arrow.
If your in the market for arrows be sure to head over to Carbon Express’s website and check out their selection. They can get you all setup with an arrow that’s perfect for your current bow and have a solid variety of options to choose from. As soon as we start shooting them we’ll have product reviews and some video up. Tomorrow hopefully we’ll be back on the river somewhere so keep your head up cause it’s almost the weekend.
Finishing up the final touches to our most recent video. We’ll be taking you along as we drop four coyotes in a few short hours on the last day of our 3 day hunt on the Hi-Line.
As you can see there are a lot of cuts to putting together an edit. I’ve put in a lot of hours on this along with working on finishing up our episodes from 2011. Be looking for this video sometime on Saturday.
So it’s been slowing down here on the blog but don’t worry we’ve got plenty of content lined up for you guys. Travis and I have been working hard trying to get some edits produced and finished up so we can share some of our best hunts and footage from the year. These things are time demanding. I think I’ve spent a good 50 hours just on the first edit. We will have 4 solid episodes from 2011 on top of the footage we already have up from the year. Here’s a brief rundown:
Episode 1 – Zack archery deer hunts
Episode 2 – Travis’s elk season and his 1st bull
Episode 3 – Travis’s velvet mule deer buck
Episode 4 – Zack’s archery bull elk
I’m still hoping I can bag a wolf this year and it would be a great topper to a phenomenal 1st season for us.
We have big hopes for 2012 and we’ve already been thinking about opening day. Before you know it we’ll be straight into spring fishing and bear hunting and hopefully capturing more great footage. To tide you guys over here’s a sweet elk hunting video to get you stoked about this September.
Well my bow hunting season has been quite the challenge this year. My season has consisted of mistake after mistake. Finally this morning I had the day to myself and went out and put a doe down after only 1 hour of hunting.
My brother and I were supposed to go out and film our hunt, but Zack had college priorities he had to tend to. This was fine with me, but for some reason I always end up filling a tag when the camera isn’t around. My morning started off at first light with a nice 1.75 mile hike in. I spooked about five deer in the dim light about 1 mile in. I slowly hiked to the spot where the deer seem to migrate and once again was spotted by a whitetail before I could even get an arrow nocked. Ten minutes later I spotted two does making their way around a ridge. I used trees as cover and crept to within 100yds. The deer positioned themselves in some small pine trees and I quickly dumped my backpack and tippy toed another 40yards. I finally made it to 47 yards of the two deer. I drew, stood up, and settled my 50 pin on the doe. BAM! My arrow knocked the whitetail off her feet! I hit a little high, and quickly put another arrow through her chest.
This has already been one hunting season I will never forget. On October 29, 2011 my friend Jordan, his Dad Bill, and myself traveled to some backwoods of hunting district 285. The morning started early and we arrived at our trailhead an hour before sunlight. The weather was less than glamorous, with rain beating our camo and some gusty winds to go with it. Jordan and myself headed out 2 miles in the dark before splitting up and heading our own routes around a large ridge. I took the right trail, while Jordan took the left. By this time it had started to snow lightly, and shooting light was upon us. I followed this ridge about .75 miles, glassing the hillsides around me and the valley below. This terrain is fairly steep and the trees can be pretty dense at times. With only some old elk sign, I decided to choose an outlook to do some more glassing. The snow had started to thicken. At one point I caught a wiff of the smell of elk. I took the next 400 yards slowly, and knowing there had to be elk in the area. As I approached a ledge I noticed a tan butt no more than 100yds from me. I quickly posted up next to the closest tree and dropped my pack. I started glassing the elk and noticed there were 4-5 cows and one bull. I got my self positioned in a spot I felt would give me the greatest opening to shoot and checked the wind direction (was perfect). I couldn’t tell if the bull was legal due to the snowfall, so I waited until I could get a better glimpse of his horns. A couple minutes later I had two bulls feed perfectly into my shooting lane. My adrenaline started pumping. I ranged them at 118yards, took a good rest on my pack laying in front of me. Both bulls were legal, and slightly quartering away. Booom!! I let my shot rip at the bigger of the two bulls, aiming at the opposite shoulder. The bull dropped in his tracks, as the other elk scurried around the ridge. I quickly locked in another round and started running down the hill towards the bull, and put another one in his chest for good measure.
I could hardly even believe what happened, and so early in the morning (830am). After having so many chances during archery season, I finally got my bull and first elk ever! Everything just came together too perfectly. God definitely answered my prayers that morning.
The one day that my brother and I weren’t out filming, and of course I shoot a bull that day, but I couldn’t be happier to have my first elk down. I quickly tagged the 6X6, and stood there for a good 10 minutes just admiring every detail of this big game animal.
Jordan and Bill heard my gun shots and found me an hour later. Bill helped me gut and quarter the bull. We were in grizzly country, so we kept our rifles close by.
The pack out was no easy task. We had almost 3 miles back to the truck, 1/2 mile being steep uphill hiking. We toughed it out and got everthing out in two trips. Big thanks to Jordan for helping me get his beast out.
We made it back to the truck at 415 pm. All of us were tired, but there is nothing better than a successful day of hunting with friends. I have had quite the rifle season so far, shooting both my mule buck and my elk within 7 days of each other, and only 7 days into the rifle season. Big thanks to Jordan and his family for their hospitality. More adventures to come!
Its coming down to the final days of archery season here in Montana. Our good friend Tyler McCann made the roadtrip over to join us in one last archery elk attempt.
The location we were hunting is the same area that Zack shot his bull just 2 weeks ago. The bulls have been very vocal for the past couple weeks, but we didn’t hear a bugle until mid morning. We quickly tried getting close to some bulls that were responding to Zack’s bugle. We spotted a raghorn 5X4 about a quarter mile away and started cow calling. The bull responded immediately and started heading our direction. I setup on the leftside of this bulls path, while Tyler setup to my right and behind me 60 yards. The bull fed to within 30 yards of me. I drew back…… my bow once again had a malfunction and my arrow came unocked. Blown opportunity! That has been my story this year. Bow malfunctions and stupid mistakes. Below is a screenshot of the video Zack capture during the hunt.
It was getting close to mid-day and the elk activity quickly diminished. We took a nap until the evening hunt and we were surprised with how uncomfortable it was to sleep when your cold and don’t have enough layers on.
We didn’t see any elk the rest of the day, but spooked something in the trees at one point. We headed down the ridge empty handed after a long day in the mountains.
The next day we decided to try one of our elk hunting spots from last year. We arrived to the sound of zero elk and just a bunch of hunters. Due to road closures, our spot has become overan with hunters. The highlight of our morning was bugling in a couple hunters and flinging some arrows at grouse.
The next couple of days we didn’t see much. Tyler snuck up on a nice 5X5, but the bull worked into the dark timber before he could get a shot. We did get a good look at a nice mule deer buck that we saw of the side of the road. Opening weekend of rifle season will be in Havre, Montana this year. The Montana Wild Crew will be filming a big mule deer rifle hunt this year. Look for an update in the near future!
Well it’s been a few weeks since we’ve dropped any new posts so it’s finally time to make an update. It’s been a busy few weeks of school, work, and hunting. Two weekends ago Travis and I were back in our spot from opening weekend. We found tons of large rubs, hunters bugling their faces off constantly, but no elk. After two days of no sign or sound of elk we moved camp about 5 miles to the west.
Again we little fresh sign and again week old rubs and scat but no elk were currently holding in the area. We moved again. Getting to our last spot of the weekend I spotted a cow in the bottom of a coulee. We geared up and started a stalk. After working to within 40 yards we saw they had bedded and that we would need to re-angle ourselves to get a broadside shot. Soon we had backed out and were again moving close to what we thought were 2 cows. The wind swirled at about 50 yards and one of the cows busted up and barked at us. Soon 4 other cows and a bull poped up. By the time Travis was ready and the bull stopped he was 85 yards out and his arrow sailed well left.
The next weekend we were back at the Missouri Breaks. Conditions were very poor for elk hunting as the temps rose into the low 90s the whole weekend.
We soon found out that the elk were moving to bedding areas after only about 45 minutes of shooting light. This made it very difficult to locate and set up in front of the elk. With so many coulees and ridges for these elk to work up it was highly dependent on right place at the right time. Calling to these elk often sends them running and generally only allow you to locate and then hope to cut them off so the conditions were by no means excellent. The evening hunts were all but non-existent other than at most half an hour before dark. The high temperature and moderate hunting pressure kept them clammed up and bedded down.
To make matters worse about 300 head of elk were on the refuge all weekend and a solid half mile of vehicles showed up for the nightly elk show. The only upside was we got to see a bunch of bulls and got a few decent pictures.
Nonetheless we still had some action but it was pretty limited. Our good friend Bryce had a few bulls show up on game camera but he wasn’t able to seal the deal either.
During the day we did spend some time honing our skills on some wary prairie dogs and it was a good way to kill the long wait between morning and evening hunts. I smoke this guy at 52 yards.
We soon headed out empty handed and I won’t be filling my elk tag in the Breaks this year.
This weekend we’ll head home to Bigfork and see if we can’t get on some more elk. A couple small but shootable whitetail bucks are frequenting our stands and hopefully we can get something on the ground. The elk seem to be finally really rutting but only time will tell.
This year I drew a Missouri Breaks archery tag for units 620, 621, and 622. I’d never been there and had only heard of the big bulls, insanely bad mud, and possibly lots of hunters. We headed out Friday morning and got right into our 6 hour drive east.
Basically the country drops down from the mountains into great rolling flats and eventually turns into deep coulees that run about 3-5 miles down to the Missouri River. It’s open, lightly timbered country and despite being able to see for long distances the elk disappear just as easily as in a heavily timbered forest.
We got camp set up near our good friends Bryce and Tyler’s camper and met another hunter Mike who’s quite the character and a very funny dude. Around 5 we headed out and started hunting. About 45 minutes into our hike we smelled elk and immediately spotted them feeding up a small draw.
A small group was slowly feeding uphill and we spotted this nice bull bringing up the rear. We soon worked around the draw to cut them off.
As we got closer we could see around 15 elk bedded down. The herd bull kept to his feet but they never left that area during shooting light. The terrain only let us get to within 100 yards of the bull and we had to stay put till dark. Around 8 o’clock we backed out and hoped we could get back on them in the morning.
The next morning we got back into that creek bottom at dawn and soon heard a few bugles echoing across the valley.
We soon located a herd of 20-30 elk moving north up the draw. We were on the wrong side of the valley so we moved well ahead of them and tried to cross without the elk seeing us. We were closing the last 100 yards or so with the elk only about 300 yards away when they turned and started working up the hillside. If they would have just continued on they would have walked broadside to me at about 60 yards. Again we had to stay put until every last elk had made it out of sight.
So far this year we’ve seen or been on bulls every day we’ve hunted so it’s been easy to stay on your horse and keep chasing these buggers. We headed back to camp and meet up with the boys.
That night we had a close encounter with a bull in a timbered draw and got to have a stare off with a calf at 15 yards but again no luck.
Day 3 was full of hiking and not much for elk.
We saw a few spikes that morning and for the afternoon we decided to work a new ridge which spans about 20-30 square miles to give you a feel for the size of the country.
We only saw a small bachelor group of mule deer bucks. We got back in the truck and headed back to our morning spot to see if we could see or hear anything in the area. We saw a good 6×6 cross the bottom of a marsh right and sunset and we knew we’d have elk in the area come morning.
As soon as we got down into our spot the next morning we heard a few faint bugles.
We soon worked over a couple ridges and immediately heard a lot of cow talk and a bull bugling. They were headed up the ridge towards us and we set up. I had one shooting lane and the elk started working right through it. They were 60-70 yards away and soon the bull enter my lane. After a few more steps I let an arrow fly and heard a loud thwack. I new I had hit him and he ran off about 50 yards carrying his left front leg. I thought it was a perfect shot but he didn’t topple over immediately. He soon slowly walked off and across the draw and bedded down.
We soon retrieved my arrow which had been broken off about 8 inches up from the tip. I had hit him in the front shoulder blade. Considering he had bedded down I was hoping it was a fatal shot. About 3 hours later we slowly worked towards where he had been bedded. As we crossed the bottom of the draw we saw a coyote working up towards the bulls location. Whether that was coincidence or whether he had smelled blood and was looking for a meal we’ll never know, but as soon as we got up there the bull was gone and we saw and heard elk crashing up the hill. There was no blood trail and no blood where the elk had bedded. I had not gotten a bull. He’s still out there with a very sore shoulder but he’ll live. Well be back in a few weeks to hopefully seal the deal on a Missouri Breaks bull.