High of 44degrees, variable winds, possible showers, time to dust off the fly gear! Zack and myself met up with our friend Jeff for an afternoon of winter fishing. Jeff had just two days ago pulled in a 20+in brown trout, so we had high hopes.
Jeff and Zack settled into two nice looking holes in the river. After about ten casts I saw a large brown trout come out of the water! Fish on! Zack had his first fish of 2012, and it put up one of the most amazing fights I’ve had the pleasure to witness. That brownie looked more like a dolphin coming out of the water than it did a trout! I managed to net the beast, but not before it snapped the tip of Zack’s fly rod.
With one fly rod down, Zack picked up the camera, while Jeff and myself searched for more fatties. Jeff hooked into a couple…… or should I say handful of fish, but couldn’t bring one to the net. I wasn’t having much luck, other than I was able to untangle more than one of my rats nests that I acquired. That’s a small success right?
I was determined to catch a fish. We hit hole after hole with not much success.
We got to a hole with an overhanging log, and after a couple attempts, I managed a perfect drift under the log. My indicator disappeared. I finally reeled in my first fish of the 2012 year! It was a 12in brown, but fought like every first fish of the year should (catching air, diving under logs, etc.). I passed the fly rod on to Zack, figuring he had the lucky touch that day. The next hole Zack fished he hooked into a MONSTER trout! The fish was on and off in a couple short tugs, but I got a glimpse of that trout for a split second, and let me tell you, it was a BEAST!
Zack pulled in a minnow rainbow a couple moments later and passed the St. Croix back to its master (me). I hooked up with my last fish of the day in a deep whirlpool. It turned out to be the first rainbow of the day.
Jeff was in overtime and had only a couple more holes to hook up with a fish for the day. As Zack and I were walking upstream Jeff starts whistlin and yellin. I ran downstream, crested some tall grass and saw that Jeff had an amazing rainbow in his net. Jeff had earned it, after hooking into so many fish earlier in the day.
What a great way to end a winter day in January. Today seemed alot more like spring fishing than it did winter fishing. With warm temperatures in the forecast, be looking for more fly fishing action from the Montana Wild Crew. Zack and I have been working around the clock on our 4 hunting episodes and giving a ‘facelift’ to Montana Wild. Expect BIG things in the near future.
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!
Opening morning of rifle season started at 3am and consisted of a 4 hour drive to get to our hunting spot. Zack, Tyler, Cole, and myself were all looking to score on a big mule deer. At first light we came across a group of mule deer off in the distance, but no bucks to be seen. I spotted a nice mule buck climbing an adjacent coulee. We quickly geared up, and worked around a ridge, hoping we would be able to cut-off the buck. Unfortunately we somehow misjudged how close we were and ended up bumping the buck twice over a couple more coulees. Tyler and Cole decided they had seen enough and headed back to the truck, while Zack and myself wanted to get a better look at this buck. Zack was on the camera, while I carried the 6×284 over my shoulder. After reaching the top of the ridge, I spotted the deer at 300yards. I dropped to the ground and got a good rest on my backpack. The deer was in full velvet! Unfortunately, I still couldn’t decide if the deer was a shooter, and the deer quickly made his way behind another ridge.
We didn’t see many deer the remainder of the morning and decided to trek back into some deep coulees, where we thought the deer would be bedding with the 30mph wind gusts we were having that day. We hiked almost 2 miles up and down through the cactus and desert brush before getting to a nice outlook where we did some glassing. Zack spotted the same buck we had been chasing earlier just over 100yds away bedded down in some shade! We quickly put a plan together and I decided he was a very unique buck and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The only problem was the deer was bedded down facing directly towards us. I was very confident with the shot at hand, but decided I needed to try and get the buck to stand in order to get a better view of his vitals. I setup in a somewhat uncomfortable position on the rock in front of me and got a steady rest. Tyler did a couple predator calls to get the buck to stand out of his bed. The buck stood directly facing me, his velvet glowing in the sun, I took my time settling the crosshairs on his chest and squeezed off the 108yd shot. Boom! The buck dumped right where he stood!
I was all pumped up and quickly made my way down the rocky hillside. It felt great to get my hands on such a nice deer and was my first time putting a tag on any animal in velvet.
It was time to do the dirty work and get the deer quartered and pack him back to the truck 2miles away. After packing out Zack’s elk just a couple weeks ago, this deer seemed like a breeze to carry out.
Big thanks to Tyler, Cole, and Zack. Zack filmed the entire hunt, and I can’t wait to show the amazing footage we captured this weekend. I’m in the process of Euro mounting the buck and will post pictures as soon as I finish. Big things to come from Montana Wild!
The weekend of rifle season was finally upon us. Our guns lead us to northeastern Montana, in search of big mule deer. Zack and I were going to meet Tyler and Cole McCann for a three day hunt, with some coyote hunting in the mix. It was bound to be an exciting weekend, for the McCann’s always seem to bring about some sort of unforgettable hunting experience.
We headed out Friday morning, giving ourselves enough time to try our luck at some fly fishing on some new waters. We stopped at a little known river that spanned across rolling meadows.
The river gave up some high energy fish right away. Zack missed the biggest fish of the day, which was about 18″. I tried my luck with some streamers and had some nice browns take a taste or two, but didn’t quite get hooked. After an hour of getting our lines wet, we hit the flat highways of central Montana once again. I happened to catch a snooze or two, which Zack had fun with by scaring the sh** out of me by swerving, emergency breaking, and yelling. Ya he’s that guy.
We arrived safely and headed out for a couple hours of scouting and tried a couple coyote stands. We managed to get one coyote to howl for literally a half hour straight, but couldn’t get him to get within eyesight.
We headed back to Tyler McCann’s house where we prepared for our opening day hunt. The next morning we had little sleep and awakened at 3am, ya I didn’t typo, 3am! We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us to some public land that was suggested by the old farmer McCann. Not to say the drive wasn’t entertaining. We got pulled over by some reservation cops, which were super unhelpful and gave us the wrong directions to our hunting spot (video to prove it). After driving 18 miles out of our way, we finally found our hunting spot. The sun was just rising over the mountains when we spotted our first set of mule does.
Shortly thereafter we spotted a nice mule buck. I’m going to make this short and sweet, but we managed to get within 108yds of the buck and I decided that the unique 4×6 mule buck in velvet was too good to pass up. (full story will be posted soon) I dumped the buck in his tracks. It was a very exciting moment for myself and a huge relief after having such a rough bow season.
We had the deer gutted, quartered, and back to the truck by 2:30pm. The rest of the day we searched for more deer, but only crossed paths with a couple does. The next day we decided to hunt some new land near the Harlem area. The morning started very slow, and it was apparent that the mule deer, whitetail, and antelope population were extremely low from winter kill along with blue tongue. That morning we didn’t see a single deer, and decided our best bet for the day was to attempt a couple coyote stands. There is no shortage of coyotes in this area and we spotted about 5-6 that morning. Tyler put the smack down on a young female coyote that we found eating on a dead cow. It was a very well placed 300yd+ shot.
The remainder of the day consisted of long range bow shooting competitions between Tyler and myself. The shots were mostly taken around 70-80yds with a 20mph crosswind/backwind. We both were surprisingly very accurate for the conditions. Around 3:30pm we took one of the McCann’s small boats up the Milk River in search of more coyotes.
We managed to put together a couple stands before the boat broke down on us. We had no choice but to bushwack back to the house. Along the way Zack managed to smoke a coyote, with an impressive headshot (video to come soon).
We attempted a couple more stands, with no success. The sunsets in eastern Montana were a sight for sore eyes, as the second day of rifle season came to closure.
Our final day of our hunt was located just south of Havre, Montana. My brother Zack and I traveled about 2.5miles into some foothills before spotting some mule bucks. We came across a bachelor herd of 5 bucks, 2 of them being sizeable animals. Zack spent a good amount of time sizing them up, before deciding they just weren’t what he was after. We ended the morning hunt after spotting 3 more bucks.
Zack is still in search of filling his deer tag this year, and is hoping that he will be able to tag a big one during the rut. On our way back, we stopped once again to get a little fly fishing under our belts. We pulled in some smaller fish that were still exciting to catch.
The trip was a success and I couldn’t be happier with the buck I put down opening day. We filmed the entire hunt and will have it posted as soon as I have the footage edited. All I can say is the footage is A+ quality and I can’t wait to post the episode. I still have an elk tag to fill and am hoping to seal the deal on a nice bull over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned and hunt hard!
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!