Well things have been pretty crazy and hectic around the house lately. We’ve been planning our most extensive fishing trip we’ve ever went on. We’re heading into the Wilderness of Northwest Montana for six whole days in search of wild cutthroat trout and the elusive bull trout. On top of that we’ve been setting game cameras and getting the bows dialed in for season. Throw in work, some video editing, and a whole slew of other activities and times a flying. On Friday we made it out to test a couple rods that we had set up to chase bull trout with. Dan at Grizzly Hackle was nice enough to work with us on this project and get us set up to swing some junk in front of some bull trout this next week. We decided to get on some water on the lower Blackfoot and toss a few to get used to these big rods. First cast and I had a chunky little cutt on the end of my line.
We soon picked up and moved up river a bit. Travis and I found some open water and started to find our grooves with the new setups.
I landed a few, and we missed a couple, but I feel better now about getting into the groove right away on our trip. Hopefully we can find some bullies and trick them into clobbering our big streamers.
We followed this up by hitting the hills on Saturday and picking up a couple of game cameras that we have had up for a little over a month now. We crawled up a gnarly road into our spot and began picking our way through the forest. As soon as we made it off the dirt road we were more than impressed with how well the Optifade blended into the surroundings. The Open Country pattern works amazing in a wide variety of habitats, and I was a bit skeptical at how it would blend into the darker green timber. The pattern matches the color of the trees so well that it’s actually extremely effective, and I already feel more confident as a hunter with this camo. If you want some of the best designed hunting gear be sure to check out sitkagear.com for more.
We had left this camera unlocked and when we made it to the camera the cable had been gnawed on and the camera was crooked. We found the culprit after we reviewed the photos.
We kept scrolling through and saw a lot of 1-3 year old bulls. We had a couple good ones swing through but no giants.
This bull was the largest we got on the camera in this location. Unfortunately it’s a bit blurry, but he’s a good 6×6 and a definite shooter.
Another pretty decent bull for the area showing up on the 23rd. If only his top ends would grow out a bit. With the hot weather the wallow was dry. Last year it wasn’t dry until the end of July so I’m hoping we can see some rain soon that will keep this area good and wet. We decided to pull this camera and get back and shoot the bows a bit in a real world setting. It’s always good to get out and shoot in the woods before season just to get that mental imagery in your head.
After some arrow flinging we picked things up and moved on to our second spot. After an hour drive and a stop for some ice cream we finally were parked and ready to set out for camera #2.
We found a good number of rubs on the way in and got a bunch of solid footage for a new scouting short that should be out in a few weeks. Hopefully it will get you stoked to get back into the elk woods.
After some delays to get a few shots, we finally made it to our other Moultrie which was set over a small water hole.
This was the first time we had set a camera in this area. It’s always interesting to go check a camera in a new area. You hope that your camera is going to have a good number of photos and some cool animals captured on the card. We were lucky enough to see that it had taken 290 photos in just a months time.
We pulled the card and fired up the Mac.
Soon enough we had a few good bulls showing up on the camera.
This was a cool looking bull with solid character in his left G2.
We had a couple moose drop by for a drink.
Finally we had a group of five bulls swing by. A couple of these bulls are shooters just based off the character of their headgear. Speaking of wild headgear, just two day before we checked this camera we had one of the most unique bulls we’ve seen drop by.
One things apparent, he has something wild growing off the right side of his face. It’s hard to tell if it’s part of his antler or some weird growth. Either way he’s a crazy looking bull.
Overall the day was a success. We checked two cameras, shot the bows in the woods, and filmed a short video. We have some backup bulls to chase if the Breaks don’t work out according to plan. Tomorrow we head deep into the wild and will be fishing for wild, native trout for six days. The cameras gonna be rolling and we hope we can capture some great footage for you guys.
We’ve been slacking a bit on fresh content on the website, but it’s not for lack of effort. A few days of fishing haven’t stirred up much, and we decided to take a little break from the Missoula scene and head home for a few. We loaded up our growing pile of gear and headed north. We soon made it to our parents house located on the beautiful Flathead lake.
The first day ended up being the nicest of the four, and we fortunately were able to head down to the lake and enjoy the summer weather. Our German Sheppard Max, is just learning to swim and his form is beyond poor most of the time. His ambition for the water is second to none though. We were hoping to share his unique swimming technique, but the weather never allowed us to get back down to the lake with the camera. The weather quickly decided to change as it does on those hot dog days of summer and thunderstorms rolled in and out most every night.
When it pours in really pours. We got about an inch of rain during a half an hour fit of weather. Things of course cleared back up nicely as the sun set, and we got ready for the next day which would be filled with plenty of elk scouting.
The next morning we left the house bright and early and got comfortable in the truck. About ten miles into our drive off the highway we encountered a big downed log over the road. Apparently the strong winds that accompanied the rain from the previous night did some work on this tree. We were a bit bummed, but decided to head home and grab the chainsaws and come back and clear things out. On the way down we saw a forest service truck headed up the mountain, and despite my words of wisdom, Travis decided against flagging him down and seeing if he was clearing roads that day. Of course after heading back and getting the saws, we once again returned to the spot where the tree was down, and it had been conveniently cut down by the forest ranger. Zack 1 Travis 0. Soon we were at our spot, and off we went into the jungle like terrain. We had plans to set up two game cameras after last season left us with a feeling that this spot might hold a good bull or two. Sure enough there were fresh elk tracks along the game trail we planned to set the first camera on.
After searching for a tree that was small enough to accomodate my Moultrie M80, we got to work setting up the first camera of the day.
After testing a couple angles, we finally got things set up to maximize quality pictures and locked her up. The terrain in this area is extremely dense. It’s literally a battle to wander off this main game trail. The bushes are overhead, and things get tight and dense real quick. This is by far the best trail we’ve found in the area, and we hope to get a good idea of what’s hanging in this spot from just this one camera. Even though we both have Breaks tags it’s always good to keep tabs on some local hunting grounds, you never know when a big bull might show up and at the very worst it’s some quality scouting for next fall when I will be looking to tag my elk in the dark timber of western Montana.
We packed up and made a big loop into some territory we had yet to explore. We found a nice big north facing slope full of dark downfall. This area would make a great bedroom for a big bull during the fall. I’m sure we’ll be cold calling this area once or twice next time we hunt the area. We finally located another trail to set up our second camera and got to work. Some serious bush pruning was due to keep the bushes from growing in front of the camera during the following months. After about a half an hour we had camera two set up, and we were back to the trail on and on the way to the truck.
As we were walking back up the logging road Travis spotted a young blonde black bear feeding off the side of the road. He was young and stupid, and we were able to get fairly close to him and watch as he fed for over half an hour.
We kept sneaking closer and closer as he fed around a small bend in the road. After about twenty minutes we had closed the gap to 60 yards. We were in plain view on the side of the road, and I’m surprised it took him so long to finally see us. When he did he reverted to his cub like instincts and ran as fast as he could to the nearest tree and clung.
After a minute he decided to back down to the ground. We snuck up to the tree only to see him pop out on the road about a hundred yards up the road. He then decided running away was a bit better tactic and that was the last we saw of him. We weren’t done seeing bears yet. After getting in the truck we had only driven about a mile when a small black bear showed up on the road only a hundred yards in front of the truck. He went screaming off into the timber. Another half mile down the road and we again saw a chocolate phased bear feeding in the road. He decided to run down the road. Man those bears can truck, and he dipped back into the woods in the tightest spot possible. I don’t even know how he squeezed back into the woods at that speed but he did. We cruised back home and cracked open some fresh beers. The next day was again less than stellar weather.
I decided that this day would be a good day to get a whole slew of bullets made for the upcoming hunting season. I set up our .223 die and press and got about 60 rounds loaded. Next was the 6×284, and I loaded up 40 of those with a 75 grain V Max. The two main hunting rigs are sighted in and ready to rip.
As is the usual, the weather finally began to turn nice just as we headed home to work. I hope everyone had a great fourth of July and hopefully some fish will start popping up on the site soon.
Summer is never long enough so we always try to make the most of the weekends knowing they come in short supply. This weekend the plan was to fish, scout, and sit a stand or two in the open country in hopes of luring in a coyote. We left the house at 6AM and drove east to a spot we’ve called coyotes at before. We walked in to our stand and called for about half an hour in hopes of getting to test out the new Vortex on the AR-15.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to call anything in. This area only holds a couple smart coyotes and trying to call them in the summer makes things even more difficult. We figured if we were going to be in the area we’d give it a shot. We quickly moved on and headed back down to the river and got geared up for a long day on the water. We were fishing the upper Clark Fork, and with the warm weather we hoped a hatch might come off at some point during the day.
Things started out a bit slow as the water was still running high and fast, but the clarity was fairly decent. Of course the one day we decide to take a good drive and commit a day to fishing the wind decides to make a heavy appearance. It would only pick up as the day wore on. The Clark Fork fished just mediocre. We never netted a trout over 14 inches. A handful of healthy whitefish decided to eat and put on a good show. The eagles have a strong presence on the upper stretches of river as we saw at least eight during the first four hours of fishing. They were very vocal and we saw two nests with juvenile eagles in them.
After numerous missed hits and plenty of walking under the summer sun we decided to move on to new waters with a small pit stop at the local gas station for some tasty ice cream. Once again we began exploring miles of new water. Of course the wind only decided to pick things up a notch and began to make just about any cast impossible. We even managed to watch a three hundred pound willow tree branch get ripped from a tree. Mother nature sure can be hard to get along with sometimes. We kept fishing where we could cast downwind.
We soon worked up a feeder of the Clark Fork in search of any browns lurking in the deeper pools and undercut banks. We had lots of strikes from smaller fish and a few larger browns and rainbows chase and nip the tails of our streamers, but we never laid into anything of good size. We tried a variety of different patterns and found that white was really moving the fish. We finally trekked back to the truck and fired up the grill.
We grilled for about an hour and then sipped some beers until dark. A long day under the sun wears you out quick, and it wasn’t long until we were out for the night. The next day we decided to get into the mountains and do a bit of backup elk scouting. Even though we both drew tags for elk we always like to keep tabs on some areas that have potential. It’s always nice to have a few spots to hunt that are within an hour of home and having cams up gives us an idea of what’s lurking in the dark timber come September. We decided to make a 3 mile loop around a mountain where I’ve ran into some good bulls in the past. We found a fair amount of fresh sign, and the area still seems promising. We aren’t the only hunters in the area though. About half way through our hike we found a marker on a tree along a good game trail.
We kept moving on unfazed though. We know the area gets pressure, it’s just a matter of hunting harder and smarter than the 90% of hunters that won’t give it that extra bit during season. We soon came across a seep in the mountain where the deer and elk water as they move from their feeding and bedding areas. This was going to be camera spot number 2 for the year. We quickly set up the camera that will catch animals in both the seep and walking along the game trail.
We bought a couple Moultrie M80 game cameras this year and hopefully they will work well and give us some cool pictures to look at in about a month. We skirted around the hillside and back to the truck. We parked in a nice clearing and to our surprise held a healthy population of gophers. Well let’s just say we spent some time slinging lead at gophers. Managing the small game population always provides some good fun, and after about an hour of shooting the gophers had wised up and kept their heads below ground. We moved on and drove back down to the river. We were sitting in the truck enjoying some PB&J’s when a couple guys pulled up with their personal drift boats in tow. They came over and we chatted for a while. They claimed to be from Missoula and acted like they knew the river. Either they were pulling our chain (California plates made us think twice about this) or they haven’t learned much about fishing etiquette on the river. We told them we were going to fish one large pool about a quarter mile upstream. Of course we had been fishing there about ten minutes when they showed up and proceeded to fish the same hole about 70 yards downstream. I wasn’t a fan of their bad manners or the wind so we picked up and decided to call it a day. The fishing wasn’t even close to hot so it was an easy decision. The weekend was a bit duller than we had planned, but it can only get better from here on out right?
It has been almost a month since we set our game cams and its been obvious that the elk have been hitting our wallow. It was finally the day to set the stands and allow 2 weeks rest before getting in the stands for opening day.
Setting the stands took a little longer than expected, for we were setting two stands in the same tree so that we can film the hunt.
Planning where you put your pegs is a crucial part in setting stands and having easy in and out access.
Here is some of our most recent animals cruising by where our stand is set. Can’t wait til September 3rd!
Warm weather has been upon us here in western Montana. Zack and I decided to trek out and setup my game cam on a wallow we encountered last year. The road allowing close access has been washed out during runoff, so we had to manage a 4 mile hike to the money spot.
After 2.5 hours of hills, we finally made it to within 150yards of our destination, when I noticed a large 5X6 bull elk standing exactly where I planned on setting up the game camera. We were stoked after not seeing an elk all day.
Within the last 1000 yards of our hike back to the Dodge, I was excited to find the first elk shed of the year. Maybe we’ll get a chance to see that bull this year and hopefully he’s put on some growth.
Today my brother and I headed out towards our elk stomping grounds from last year. We decided to set one stand to see if we could call in a coyote and then sight in some rifles. It was good to get behind a rifle again even though a couple gophers would have felt different. After that we headed up to a wallow we discovered last year to set up a couple game cameras in hopes of getting some photos of some good bull elk. On the way we saw a nice 5×5 in velvet and already I wonder what the cameras have on them.
It was awesome to see a bull and here in a couple weeks we’ll be taking the photos off them and hopefully have some great pictures. Check out our edit from the day.