December in Montana. The weather is unpredictable and many have put up the fly rods and rifles for the year. It’s a risk-reward time of the year when it comes down to fishing. Just catching fish is a success and often it’s just painfully slow on the water. With the rain steadily falling we threw the waders in the truck and met up with Anthony from the False Casts and Flat Tires crew and hit the road. Not surprisingly we were the first truck at the access. We figured most would settle for a beer and some football on a cold rainy day with the mercury hovering just above 40 degrees. Our plan was to settle for a beer and some streamers on a piece of water we hadn’t visited in a good 6 months. It only took about 5 minutes before Anthony decided to get the ball rolling.
We quickly moved upstream with eats in almost every hole. I quickly was on the board when a beautiful brown hammered my fly just feet from me as I was finishing my retrieve.
It was almost silly the streamer bite was so good. Any decent water seemed to hold a fiery brown willing to mount a vicious attack on any invader of its territory. Soon Anthony had another killer fish on. He had been holding in a very small sliver of water, and a precise cast fooled him.
We kept skipping past each other as we fished upstream. Soon Travis was hollering just upriver. I looked and saw the Echo doubled over. I quickly made it to him to help net his fish. After a few minutes it was apparent this wasn’t just any fish. This was a PIG! After a couple close calls I finally slipped the net under a rainbow that could be mistaken for one straight out of Alaska.
We snapped a few hero photos of this stud rainbow and then let him slink back to his lair.
After everyone’s success it was time to crack open a cold PBR and take it all in. Laughs were had all the way around. Despite the inclement weather it had easily turned into one of the best days on the water. We had been fortunate enough to catch one of those moments where the fish are just eating and it doesn’t matter what you put in front of their face. Unfortunately this brown wasn’t so fortunate. He had seen his last Montana summer and most likely had died of old age.
Again we kept the streamer train moving. After our early success we soon began to loose a little steam. Multiple eats resulted in near misses and the hook just didn’t set. The rain had subsided and the bite seemed to cool off. I was able to trick one last brown though.
He was a solid fighter as he took to the air 3 or 4 times before finally making it to the net. It’s always fun to see the differences between every brown trout. Some are bright and others more subdued in color. The size, shape and type of jaw always seem to vary and are one of my favorite species of trout to catch. It had been a stellar couple of hours, but all good things must come to an end. As we worked back down stream we were left with nary a bite. As quickly as it had started it had shut down. We hit the golden hour that day and all left with smiles on our faces. I want to thank Anthony for bringing his camera and snapping some killer photos. I’m sure we’ll be back on the water soon. If you haven’t fished in the winter before then get out and get after it! You don’t catch fish on the couch.
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.
Lately we have been busy filming a bunch for a short film, so today we finally decided to take a break. We called up local fishing legend Ian Orlando and headed out to the Rock.
We haven’t been on this creek since pre-runoff 2011, so most of the holes we used to love and cherish have disappeared. Today was a day to explore and hopefully find some good pockets of fish. While the water looked good, the fishing was slow. I was able to get a few to eat but the good ones spit the hook.
We headed upriver in search of some new water and found a hole that looked fishy. Ian and I decided to play a game of FISH, and we both did well under pressure. Multiple rainbows and white dogs were fooled in this single hole. We didn’t really have rules, other than you had to catch a fish in less casts than the person before hand.
We left the remaining fish in the hole to rest in peace. After hiking upriver a good mile, we found nothing but flat water. We jumped in the Dodge and took the icy roads south. Along the way we managed to plow through some impressive puddles, which the Dodge handled like a champ. Our next fishing access was semi-ice covered, but looked like a fun/dangerous challenge.
The trout were being picky, but one hungry white dog made his way onto the ice. Not much to complain about when your fishing in pure sunshine and 50 degree weather in March! The fishing can only get better.
I figured since we launched out website that I’d encourage everyone who enjoys our site to subscribe. By subscribing you’ll always be the first to know when we make a new post or upload a video. Just head over to the right side of the page and enter your email into the subscription box and click “subscribe.” You’ll also be helping us gain the traction needed to improve our content and production. We’ll be making 2012 an even bigger and better year and we’ll have much more content to share with you guys this go round. I hope you all have either been making it out on the water or getting ready to hunt this spring, if not we’ll I guess just have to live vicariously through our posts. Have a great weekend and we’ll be posting up some more sweet spring fishing in the coming days.
If you missed our last post, Travis landed a very respectable bull trout on Sunday. It was the last fish of the day and his biggest to date.
The very next day we were back on the river. The sun was out but the temperatures were a touch lower than in previous days. Cold hands and iced up guides were about the only bad thing we had going for us though. The very first hole I hooked into another bull trout. Back-to-back bull trout on film in two days. I guess the fishing is pretty good right now. This bullie came screaming out of the water at me after I set the hook, nearly spraying me with ice cold water. After attempting to keep him in the tail end of the pool, he decided to run downstream. The chase was on and soon I was tangled up in my line with both feet. I shuffled about 200 yards downstream through continuous riffles trying to get close enough to net him. Finally, he tired and I got in front of him. He drifted into my net and I had my best bull trout to date.
We continued fishing without much luck and decided to switch spots. After a short lunch we were back on the river. I wanted to fish a couple holes within throwing distance of the truck, and figured I could tough it out in my sweatshirt and without gloves. A stiff breeze had picked up and it got miserable quick. I was about to pack it up when my bobber sunk under once again. I had another solid fish on and once again got run over attempting to land him. My fish landing abilities have been far from beautiful, but once again I made it work out and we had another solid trout in the net and on camera.
I landed a few more fish but nothing too exceptional. We picked up our gear and headed to one last spot as the sun dipped low in the west. The only thing we caught were more cold hands and iced up rod guides.
We have gotten a chance to log some solid shots so far this winter/spring. Hopefully we can pull in some more fish on film in the following weeks as we hope to make a short video highlighting the exceptional early season fishing of Montana.
Well it’s officially one year since we started Montana Wild. When we started this blog we didn’t know what we were doing or where we would take it, and its still not quite clear. One thing sticks out vividly though, and that’s all the good times we had doing it. I’m sure glad we did because we have a lot of great memories to look back on and had a lot of laughs along the way. I guess I did have a vision of where it would hopefully take us though. I figured that outdoor media was behind the trend of other adventure sports and what better way to make your passion into a career than to start documenting our escapades with photos and video. So far it’s working out, and I’m pretty excited with the progress and the quality of work we produced in our first year. We’ve made this a full time job and hope to not look back. We’ve already surpassed our short term goals and were setting the bar even higher for 2012. I think there’s been a noticeable progression since our first post and video. In the next week we’ll have a post up that gives a recap of our first year and how far we’ve made it.
Today Travis and I decided that we’d celebrate the first year by hitting the river in hopes of logging some shots. We left the house early and made our way to the river. The weather wasn’t ideal for filming or fishing, but we were set on making the best of it.
After a few empty holes, I finally had a trout succumb to my trickery. I could tell he was a good fish and he decided to take me for a ride. The river was small and he decided he’d had enough of that pool for one day. He slipped back into the rapids and I had to follow him back to the next small pocket of slow water. With all the downed logs in this river I had to keep him on the correct side of the river to actually get another chance to net him. After some awkward angles and a few tense moments I slipped my net under his fat belly and had myself a very respectable cutbow.
After a few camera shots we got him back into the water to be caught another day.
We fished the rest of the day and caught a healthy number of fish but nothing worth writing home about. Hey it’s another day on the river and another blessing to be counted. Tomorrow we’ll be back out and Travis is going to be running the rod and reel. I’ll be running the Nikon and hopefully capturing some moments to be remembered. Until then tight lines to ya.
A fly trip to fish and film the Missouri river…
Winter?… What Winter? It’s pretty much spring here in the Western part of the state, and spring means one thing, some mean fishing to break in the new year. The plan was to cruise over to the Missouri River and catch some more nice fish to start off the year. We got up at 4:30 AM to get the boat and headed off down the highway headed east. Temperatures dipped to -8 degrees along the drive, and we were wondering if we may have underestimated Old Man Winter. Fortunately, as we wound down through the windy highway to Wolf Creek the temperature quickly rose into the mid 20s. We swung into Craig and stopped by the Headhunters fly shop. The guys were super nice and we picked up a few nymphs. The fly selection definitely can be drastically different at times compared to the river’s surrounding Missoula. If your lost just ask anyone at the Headhunters and they’ll put you on the right track.
After getting our shuttle taken care of with Mark, we got back in the truck and headed to the put-in at the dam. We quickly got to the put-in only to realize Travis had left our boots in the truck bed. They had been wet and had frozen on the way over. A mandatory beer delay had to take place while we did some thawing. We soon were in our waders and gearing up to another trio of Missoulian anglers. By the time we put the boat in there were about 7 other boats that had showed up for a day of fishing. Some of these fellows seemed to have a little attitude. As Jeff put it, “These dudes are mean muggin us.” Let’s just say we got the vibe that either these guys didn’t like us being there or they really must hate fly fishing. I can only account for the other boaters that day, but we all were pumped up to be getting on the river. We even left a PBR for the shuttle driver (we left a note telling him not to drink and drive).
Finally we were drifting down the river and fishing. Travis was rocking a Sow bug and a Lightning bug rig with some splitshot about 8′ deep. It was windy and on the cold side, but things soon heated up as Travis hooked into a solid rainbow. After a few missed netting attempts, Jeff was finally able to slide the black rubber net under our first fish of the day.
The Missouri River is known for it’s large fish size and entertaining wind. This respectable rainbow is extremely common and very often outdone proving this is an exceptional trout fishery and one everyone should fish at least once.
After that things started to pick up. Travis had multiple hookups on some large Whitefish and one smaller Brown trout. Jeff was getting itchy at the oars and soon the guys switched spots and we got back to fishing.
Finally we were catching up to some boats that had left earlier in the day. They were anchored up fishing some nice bends in the river. We stopped for lunch and then quickly drifted through in search of our own little slice of river that would hold a good number of hungry fish.
I immediately spotted a nice pool where a small branch of the Mo came back and met the main channel. We beached the boat and Jeff started casting. The pool was slow with a nice drop off providing some holding water for what appeared should be a good number of fish. After only a couple casts Jeff had a strong rainbow on the end of his line. I’m sure he told himself to “let er run!” Jeff had his first nice fish of the day just as another group of floaters drifted by.
We proceeded on as the sun was beginning to drift lower and lower. We continued to get into fish and we were more than happy with the day considering it was only the 4th of February. Travis and I have never fished this river before and Jeff has only a handful of times. Reading a river that large is definitely a different mindset. I’m glad we were able to read enough good water and get the fly in the right spot. Oh and it always helps when the fish cooperates.
The fishing only got better as the further the sun started to set over the western skies. Again this warm weather had some good things going for the river. There was a strong midge hatch from about 1-530 PM and we saw numerous fish hitting top water. With the fish feeding we were able to land another few good rainbows to add to the day’s list.
The river was in full form as we found good trout and good views throughout the whole float. I felt like I was capturing some good video of the day and vibes were high. As we neared the end of our day, Travis once again layed into another fun fighting rainbow. If you start it with a bang then ya better end it with one to.
We found our way to the boat ramp in Craig and got the raft loaded for the long ride home. Another solid day on the river in the books and many more on the way. Travis is working on editing all the footage together from that day and we hope to have that up for you guys by Friday. If your around Missoula we hope to see you at the Fly Fishing Film Tour on Friday night.
Its January 3rd, most people would be thinking about skiing, sledding, and yes maybe even some ice skating, but not us! We’re thinking about fishing! The weather has been so spring-like that we have the fly fishing itch once again. We met back up with Jeff and took off for the Bitteroot. Today was going to be more of a filming mission, since we managed to land some nice browns last week. We were greeted with frost and some colder temps on this particular morning. Jeff is sometimes a little ‘clumsy’ on his feet and he started out great for the first 30yds of wading into the river…….before he tripped and fell into the river! Haha I couldn’t believe it. Fortunately he didn’t get water in his waders and we had extra layers in the truck.
Zack was rocking some tandem nymphs (zebra midges are working well), while Jeff was throwing his prototype streamer we named the J-Pro (aka Jeff Prototype). As the story goes the J-Pro streamer came about as an accident. Jeff said he accidently tied this deadly combination together by accident one night and decided to fish it, and has been catching nice browns ever since.
The morning was starting off slow, and could have been due to the colder morning temperatures.
We saw hundreds of birds that morning and were constantly being watched by a couple of wary bald eagles. Ducks were constantly flying overhead, along with large groups of Canadian Geese.
Jeff made his way to some calm water and was stripping streamers off the opposite bank. The ‘J-Pro’ did the trick and Jeff hooked into a nice brown trout. At the time I was filming Zack and didn’t get the hookup/fight, but still managed some photos and small amount of footage.
The rest of the day was slow fishing. Zack ended the day with two nice hookups. He landed a nice rainbow, but I was way downriver filming Jeff at the time. That is the tough thing about trying to film two people. Sooner or later your going to miss shots of fish, but oh well. We had to end the day short and go to work. Have to make the money, or there’s no fishing. Fishing>Working. More updates soon, including our Missouri River trip!
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 past weekend we headed home for Thanksgiving to see the parents and do some hunting. Zack was anxious to pull the trigger on a buck as he hadn’t seen anything worth shooting throughout the season. Early Saturday morning we loaded up on the ATV and headed up the mountain. The area we were in is very thick forest and holds some nice mountain whitetails. Unfortunately there wasn’t much snow on the ground and the woods were just too loud to sneak up on anything. After a tough morning of hunting we decided to bust out the distress call and try to round up some predators. We had seen numerous fresh coyote tracks and knew they were in the area. We set up on a small frozen lake and Zack began calling. About six minutes into the stand I spotted a coyote dropping down through the timber towards our position. Before Zack could reposition the coyote was already tip toeing out onto the ice at 70 yards. Over the course of the next five minutes he slowly worked to withing 50 yards but was wary. He was starring us down so we had to remain very still.
He knew something was up but wasn’t in any hurry to leave. As soon as he turned Zack repositioned his gun. The coyote stopped and looked. Zack had to very careful to minimize his movements so he could get a shot. The coyote slowly worked back to the snowy bank. As soon as he turned his back Zack moved into a shooting position. The coyote stopped and looked back for the last time. Zack made sure I was on the coyote with the camera and let the Remington sing. The coyote dropped on the far bank and Zack had his first mountain coyote.
We were pumped up and we headed over to check him out. It was an average sized male and we were pretty excited to catch the whole thing on film. Go ahead and check out the video!
The following day I sat in a tree stand we had set up. Once again I was hunting solo and the GoPro battery died as I tried to film this hunt. It was the final day of rifle season and my last chance to fill my doe tag for that region. A young buck walked by after sitting for 30 minutes. I had already filled my buck tag and let him walk. About ten minutes later I was surprised to see a doe feeding through the woods only 30 yards away. It is surprising how silent deer can be! The doe spotted me reaching for my bow, she proceeded to stomp and bark at me at 18yards. Boom! A rifle shot echoed from the nearby forest. The doe took her attention off of me, and I took that opportunity to get my release on the D-loop. The doe started to make her away from my stand. I drew as she passed behind a tree at 22yards, I held on her until she stopped perfectly broadside at 25 yards. Wham! I couldn’t see my where my arrow stuck her, but I could see she was bleeding bad. She ran 30 yards before she piled up.
I found out I had made a perfect shot, with a clean pass through. It was a great way to end the rifle season, two does in 5 days!
So far 2011 has been a successful season. With my elk still waiting for something to be done with it and Travis dropping two animals in the last week, it was time to get the elk boiler set up.
I made a few trips and finally found something big enough to accommodate an elk’s skull. The item was a 100 quart stainless pot from Big Sky Restaurant Supply here in town. Now the amount of water that this would need to boil out an elk was considerable, and I had some questions about the strength of our turkey fryer’s legs. Sure enough I got it set up and one started bending. I made a few trips and got a handful of bricks to give that big boy some better support.
I finally got my elk in there and got the process rolling. Now it had been about three weeks since I had shot my bull so it was gross to say the least when I pulled it out. Don’t leave it in a bag if it’s going to sit around for longer than a few days otherwise there might be some critters crawling around when you open it. Soon mine was done. Travis got his in there and about 10 hours later it was done also.
If you haven’t European mounted your own game give it a try. It’s very easy to do yourself if you have a free day and are ok with some interesting smells. Basically we slow boil the head with a few tablespoons of dish soap for 6-10 hours, scraping flesh every 45 minutes or so until clean. After that let it dry and whiten with you method of choice. If your on a budget it’s an easy way to save money. Just one head pays for itself. There are tons of online resources and it’s a no brainer to do it yourself. Get it? No-brainer. Ya, stupid I know. If you have questions feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to help you out. Just this morning Travis threw in the last piece to the puzzle, his velvet buck.
Hopefully he can keep the moisture off the velvet. He’s got some pretty decent jimmy rigging going on here. After that we just have to whiten these bad boys up and get em on the wall. This weekend we’ll be back to the field after some more deer.
Yesterday was the end of the 2011 Montana archery season. I’m not too stoked on that. It’s going to be a quick transition from bow to rifle and this morning I drove north to pick up some rounds from my Dad for my 6×284. With only a few days to make sure the rifle is still on it was a task that had to be done. On the way home we decided to dust off the old fly rods and swing some streamers and nymphs along one of Montana’s many beautiful rivers.
The rivers this time of year are amazing. The fall colors pop and the fishing is usually superb. Today it started slow and never really got going to hot.
Travis hasn’t had the most amazing archery season so it was only fitting that he pulled in the big fish for the day. We finally found some slower water and got to searching the depths for an elusive brown.
Travis started it off with a small brown followed up with this fun sized rainbow.
Soon Travis was into another fish. This was a sizable brown but he was very camera shy. He slipped out of the net before the Nikon got a good look at him. Travis didn’t let it phase him. He kept dropping his flies into the right seams and loaded into an even bigger one.
Fall is a great time to catch those big browns that get ever so smart during the summer. Head out and try your luck. All it takes is one day on the river to make your season.
Soon we had to pack it up and head home to gather up our rifle gear and get to the range before sundown. Finally we got to the range and joined a full line looking to get their gear ready for the Montana big game rifle season.
My 6×284 was already pretty much dialed. I just tested some fresh rounds my dad had loaded and they flew great. Travis’ X-bolt 300 Win. Mag took a little finesse to get sighted in properly. After a few rounds and some scope adjustments we had her dialed in for opening weekend.
This next weekend we head to Havre, Montana to join up with our good friend Tyler McCann for some mule deer hunting. Let’s hope we see some big ones.
We decided it was time to make some stickers. Just got these bad boys fresh off the sticker machine. We have 16in ($8) and 30in ($25) stickers, which we would sell at cost if interested. Check the photos below for sizing.
Well it’s been about a week since I completed my #1 goal for the season, which was to arrow my first bull. This year has been amazing. Of the 21 days Travis and I have hunted this year we’ve only had 2 where we didn’t see or hear a bull. Compare that to last year and it’s night and day. We were in and around the elk constantly and unfortunately Travis has had some bow malfunctions otherwise he’d have one down long ago. We did get some great footage of it though.
My 10th day of archery season put me close to Missoula hunting with my brother. He had recently hunted one of our spots and said the elk were rutting hard so we knew we’d get into elk. After crossing a river and an hour hike which climbs 1800 vertical feet we set foot on an open ridge and started hunting.
Immediately we spooked some cows off a logging road. I was a little down after that but within ten minutes we rounded a bend and heard bugling in a small, well used basin. We slowly crept down to where the basin necked and set up. I could tell the elk were moving down towards the logging road and soon we could hear twigs breaking. Either the elk were going to come on a trail at 10 yards or scale some shale at around 40. They chose the later and two cows slowly crept down onto the logging road. They were very cautious but fortunately we had the wind in our favor and they never caught our scent on the road. Finally a raghorn 3×4 followed. I had one small gap through the branches and as soon as he stepped into it I settled my 40 pin on him and let my Easton rip. I could tell I hit him hard and within twenty seconds I heard him crash and die just a hundred yards from where we sat. I was pumped up to say the least. That rush of adrenaline is unreal.
We gave him about 30 minutes just to be safe and then set off to check out my first elk. I found the arrow minus the broadhead. I stuck him quartering away and the Montec CS buried in his opposite shoulder after penetrating both lungs.
Soon I had my hands on him and boy did it feel good.
He sure doesn’t compare to the bulls I chased this year in the Breaks but he’s still a trophy in my book. He’s got some great chocolate horns and let’s just say he’s a tasty fellar. It’s only my second year with a bow, and my second year of serious hunting so I was stoked to get it done.
Well after we got to my bull, three other bulls filtered into this same basin bugling like crazy. I told my brother he needed to use my bow and see if we could double up. Sure enough a bull was going to work right up over the logging road. Travis unfortunately tried to sneak too close as he didn’t want to take a long shot with my bow. The elk saw him and bolted but continued to linger and bugle below us. We then headed back to my elk. I went to grab my backpack and all of a sudden a nice 5×5 is chasing a cow down straight towards me. The cow saw me and turned but the bull stood at about 40 yards and bugled. He stood around for about 5 minutes and then continued chasing that cow. Travis unfortunately was below me and behind some tree so he didn’t get a chance at this guy. It was most likely a good thing because I had never packed a bull out and it was tough to say the least. One of our packs was not neccessarily built for a 80-100 pound quarter but it got the job done. Thankfully it was all downhill.
Overall it was an experience I’ll never forget. We did manage to film the hunt and got some great footage. It might be a while before we get it edited so be sure to keep checking back with us cause it should be pretty darn sweet.
Big thanks to Travis for filming and helping pack out my bull. Couldn’t have done it without him.
So it’s been about two months since we made it on our yearly fishing trip up North near the South Fork of the Flathead River. This country is amazing. Finally we found time to get an edit done. Be sure to watch in HD.
To check out the original post with pictures and some backstory on the trip click here. In the future we’ll have a shorter ”highlight” style edit up to accompany this one.
Also, I just shot my first elk so be looking for an update on that next week.
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.
Not much new around the Montana Wild camp but we did head out to the river this morning. The fishing wasn’t great but I did catch a nice rainbow to start off the morning.
Only a few days till school and only 7 days till hunting season. We’ll be checking our game cameras once more before archery opens and hopefully we’ll have some action opening weekend.
Most every serious fisherman has a yearly trip. This trip was extra special, for our Dad was coming along with us on our 3 day trip. Our voyage takes us north to the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness to fish small rivers for native cutthroat trout. The country is wild and beautiful and a three hour drive put us far from any urban environment. We were able to get some great photos and some awesome video which we’ll have edited and posted soon so check back.
The first day found us fishing near our campsite which was settled on the riverbank. That morning we hit some holes that we had found last year and we caught lots of smaller fish.
Although we caught mostly small fish the first day, the scenery was more than enough to keep us smiling.
Day 2 started out with a search for fishable waters. We quickly found a nice stretch of river and started our way upriver. Right away our Dad (Eric) hooked up on a nice cutthroat.
Eric was excited to say the least, for this was his first time able to fly fish this summer.
As we continued upriver, we found what turned out to be one of our favorite holes of the trip. We all pulled nice fish out of this hole back to back.
One of the fish out of the honey hole proved to be a survivor of some sort of attack, for he only had 1 eye.
The fishing started to slow down, so we headed back to base camp to grab some food. Zack and I decided to make the last 3 hrs of daylight count and hit some bends and riffles close by.
I ended up landing this nice westlope cutthroat, which turned out to be our only trout of the evening. (Not to say we didn’t miss some hits)
Day 3- Our Dad headed home after a slow morning fish, which left Zack and I to explore more waters for our final chance at some fish before we headed out of town. We found a beautiful creek, and started casting some dries.
After fishing 3 holes straight with no sign of fish, we came upon a hole that showed some fish hitting top water. After snapping off a couple, we quickly started having luck and pulled in some of the biggest fish of our trip. We encountered a bear on the way and somehow managed a couple dozen mosquito bites and a pocket full of memories.
Well the day’s are getting shorter and that means summer is slowly leaving us for fall. Travis and I have been trying to get in some fishing in cause there’s only 23 days till archery season! Stoked. Anyways we headed up to the Blackfoot to get some fishing in.
If your ever looking to take a guide out around Missoula be sure to check out Doug Jones @ Clear Creek Outfitters. He’s a good friend of ours and always knows the goods. He said that the spruce moths were coming off in the mornings and sure enough we showed up on the river around 8:30 and they were everywhere. The fish were keyed in on them and we were surrounded by rising fish for a good couple hours.
A size 12 caddis did the trick, and I finally got in some fun dry fly fishing. The small fish were everywhere and it was tough to keep them off your fly. A couple good fish missed my fly, and I didn’t catch any fatties. Overall it was a fun hatch to be able to fish.
Travis and I set off down river and I milked a couple more fish to the net before we headed home.
A couple days later we were headed up to Holland Lake which is north of Seeley Lake.
The lake is fed by a small river which has a great waterfall just a few thousand yards up from the edge of the lake. It’s an easy mile and a half hike in.
On the way down from the falls we got to see a small black bear and he let us get about 50 yards from him.
After that we made it back to the Dodge and has a great feast on our tailgate. We were eating subway and drinking some Bud Light Limes next to a family going on what looked like a week long backpack trip. I don’t think those kids made it more than a couple miles before they dropped to their knees screaming at their dad. We rooster tailed out of there and headed to the lodge to rent a canoe. After three hours of canoeing, fishing, and swimming we headed back towards Missoula. Of course we had to stop and throw a few flies on the way.
Overall it’s been a nice relaxing week and next Tuesday were headed to the South Fork of the Flathead to do some fishing.
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.
The Montana Wild crew had another 2 days off to explore new fishing grounds. The rivers here in Montana have started to drop and the fishing has begun to get hot. We headed to the North Fork of the Blackfoot, with hopes of finding large native cutthroat trout. The North Fork is a true image of God’s beauty here in Montana.
The North Fork is an image of true backcountry fishing. The trail that we followed zig-zagged along the river endlessly. Right away we noticed the water was clear, but the river was still moving quickly, with minimal fishing opportunities.
Five miles upstream, we made it to a forest service cabin. This is the point where the 50-60lbs of camera/camping gear was starting to wear on our shoulders and we made the critical decision to head back downstream and fish the holes we had seen on the hike up.
Zack started the afternoon off lofting some casts into some calm currents.Within minutes Zack had hooked up with a nice fish. Zack of course managed to try and tangle the fish in some logs, but fortunately landed the fish safely.
Zack decided he would give me my chance to prove myself on the North Fork. I quickly hooked up on a couple beautiful cutthroats.
Within a couple hours we could tell a storm was brewing to the west of us. We continued to battle the winds and rain. I pulled in a couple smaller fish and hooked up on what felt like a large bull trout that took off into the rapids and broke off my fly. Zack landed another great cutty in less than stellar conditions.
We made it back to the Subaru, which we had taken through a knee deep puddle on the trip up to the North Fork. The Subi had been running rough and we were fortunate enough to make it out of the North Fork safely and decided to camp by the Upper Blackfoot for the night near Lincoln, Montana.
After an easy night camped next to the Upper Blackfoot, we again got the rods ready and started fishing. The Blackfoot was far from hot so we left and headed on down to a lesser known river.
Travis dredged up this nice brown from behind a boulder.
Eventually Zack landed his first fish on a long drift with a stonefly nymph.
We finally decided we’d had our fill of fishing for the day and headed out. Be sure to check back soon as were headed back into the mountains in preparation for elk with our bows.
The month of July is usually a great month for fishing here in Missoula, Montana. This year has been historic and most every river is still very high. Just this week the fishing looks to become substantially better. With the water high we decided to search down some coyotes and get back into the elk woods to do a little pre-season elk scouting. The day started early as we exited the interstate and started thinking about seeing some coyotes in the crosshairs.
On our first stand we didn’t see any coyotes but we did get to spot some cow elk feeding up the draw. We rallied the Subaru further up the road which was suffering the effects of some winter runoff. We crested the road into a large basin and set up again. Immediately we spotted 3 coyotes roaming the middle of the basin. The howler got them interested, but they hung up around 600 yards and the distress calls never got them closer than 450. We then hit the road and soon enough got a nice look at a good sized mule buck.
We then set up on a 3rd stand. We got a good response from the howler immediately but they seemed a ways off. We figured they were just over the ridge but as we crossed it and set up again we spotted 2 coyotes about 1/2 mile up the hill on the treeline.
We mis-judged their position and they had spotted us crossing the ridge so our hunt was done. We figured if we weren’t getting a coyote that day then we sure had to get a gopher.
On the way down we found a dead cow elk. She unbelievably got her back leg stuck in the very bottom strand of barb wire in the process of jumping the fence. How she did it amazes me but she spent her last day stuck in that fence.
Afterward we loaded up and drove to another spot where we did a little elk scouting.
The 1st ridge we hiked up we found a small wallow and a good trail with a decent number of rubs along it. It isn’t the best spot ever but it was a spot that we could definitely hunt.
We got done with that around 4 and decided to try some fishing on the way back to Missoula. We headed to Rock Creek which was loaded with cars at every fishing access. Definitely reminded me to never fish the Creek on the weekends again. We stopped at a few spots and Travis landed a couple small trout on a Parachute Adams. Overall it was a great day to get out and do some stuff your passionate about.
My brother Zack and I finally had some time to head out and take a couple days to scout some new land for elk. We decided to head out east of Missoula and hike a couple miles back into the mountains.
After hiking for 3 miles, we finally made it to the snow level and decided to camp next to a small mountain lake. The lake was still scattered with ice, and the surrounding landscape was covered in snow. This picture above is our campsite. It was tough to find any sort of dry wood to burn for a fire, for the last 3 hours was nothing but rain.
You can never have enough experience in the mountains, and this was a great trip to get our feet underneath us. We woke up around 9am the next morning and packed up camp and prepared for the hike down.
This trip was a success in the end. We saw plenty of elk rubs and poop to give us evidence that this area contains elk at some point during the warmer months. We didn’t see any elk, but we saw a mule buck and plenty of whitetail to keep our hopes up. It was great to get our first day of 2011 scouting out of the way and be looking for more scouting trips in the future.