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.
September 3rd would have to be one of my favorite days in my calendar. This date marks the beginning of archery season here in Montana. Zack and I headed to our hunting spot east of Missoula for a 3-day hunt in hopes of putting down a bull elk. We had plans of hunting out of our tree stands that we had previously set up. Zack and I are in the process of trying to film every hunt this year in hopes of catching some amazing HD footage of 2 college men who have a passion for the outdoors.
We arrrived at 1am September 3rd to get a nights rest and be up the following day at 5am to climb into our stand. The first day was cold for early September and stayed in the 30′s for much of the morning.
We were underdressed to say the least and spent the first morning shivering in our stands. The wallow we had been hunting was dried up and we didn’t see any action. We did however here our first bugles of the year! The bugles kept us motivated to stay in the stand throughout the day, but still no elk crossed our paths. We did have a blonde coyote creep silently to within 30yds of our stand, and we almost got a shot on him before he smelled something wasn’t right. Oh that coyote would have made a beautiful rug.
Right before sunset on opening day we heard more bugles and decided to make a last attempt at seeing some elk. We gathered our gear and headed towards the bugles. Zack decided to bugle along some dark timber and quickly had some cows respond, followed by a bull. I tried to move to go setup in case the bull was headed our way, but 5 steps later I saw a 4X4 starring right at me through some short trees. He quickly spooked and our hopes of a bull on opening day diminished.
The following morning was still very chilly and we dressed more appropriate for the conditions. I made the decision to give the treestand one last chance and we sat in the stand til noon, with nothing to show. After lunch we decided to hike through some areas we had heard bugles the night before. We quickly found some fresh scraps and hurdled over some dense log jams in some thick timber. We hiked for about 2.5 hrs without seeing or hearing an elk. Zack put out some more cow calls and with 30seconds we see a nice 5X5 cruising down a trail towards us. We setup in our only shooting lane, I range 40yds to the nearest tree and I draw back. The elk instantly stopped, only to have a large tree covering his vitals. Blown opportunity. Zack was thankful I didn’t kill the elk, for he forgot to hit record on the camera. It all happened so fast. I was kicking myself for not having my mouthcall ready to stop the elk where I had wanted him to. We hunted back to our camp without any trace of any bulls.
The morning of Day 3, we knew that we were going to get on a bull and hopefully have it down in the AM. We quickly set out to a short outcropping of trees that we had been hearing elk the previous 2 days. Right at sunrise we could hear a bull scrapping close buy. We do some cow calling, hoping the bull will come out of the dark timber. With no prevail the bull stayed in the timber, with no hopes of sneaking up on him. Time to move downhill to a bull we heard chuckle moments before. We soon made it to a logging road and heard some sticks breaking below us. We quickly made our way to a an opening and could see a large 4X4 feeding right towards us. We setup on the road, and 20minutes later the bull walks perfectly broadside 38yds away. I draw back…….
only to have my arrow drop to the ground! I didn’t seat my arrow nock deep enough! The bull ran off and so did my hopes of dropping a bull opening weekend. We were so close.. I am still sick to my stomach about the mistakes I made, only to learn and make improvements so they don’t happen again.
Here is a quick summary of our weekend and the event leading up to my arrow falling out of my rest.
Next weekend were off to the Missouri Breaks in an attempt to drop a 300 class bull for Zack. Should be exciting and action packed.