It was sometime in February after a day of fishing when Zack, Travis, Anthony and I huddled around a computer reviewing pictures and reminiscing the past hunting season. As always the conversation turned to the coming hunting season and plans began to materialize. We decided that Travis and I would start hunting the last weekend in April. Zack and Travis had hunts planned for the first two weeks of May when the hunting would be ideal for spot and stalk hunting with a bow. The goal was to try to get me my first bear with a rifle to start the season off with a bang. After juggling school and work we finally made time to get out to the range and get the rifle dialed and ready to go.
We made quick work on the range as we sighted in and then took a few shots over on the 600 yard range. It was go time, now we just had to wait a few weeks until our schedules meshed and we could get up in the mountains. After two long months of waiting the call finally came. Zack and Travis would have a few days to get out after a win at the Simm’s Shoot Out competition. They were on the road back to Missoula and it was time to load up the pack. On Friday afternoon I met up with Zack, Travis, and Brandon to get ready for our hunt. Before long, the bikes were loaded into the back of the truck and we were off to the trailhead. After an uphill ride we reached the base of a steep ridge where we stowed the bikes and took off on foot. The hike was steep but it felt good to be back in the mountains.
After a couple of miles we rounded a corner and entered what looked like bear heaven, there were clear cuts separated by dark timber and a creek running through the middle of it all. We soon spotted fresh bear sign and our excitement levels rose. It was still pretty brown and seeing some sign definitely took a little bit of the edge off us all. We continued hiking and stopped to glass every time the trees opened up enough for us to get a clear view of the opposing ridge and basin. As we hiked single file along the ridge I heard the unmistakable voice of Travis saying “Bear!!…………I gotta bear!” I turned to see Travis looking up the drainage through his Vortex binos. Zack quickly set up the camera and got some footage as we discussed the game plan. Everyone agreed that the bear was big and worth a stalk, but he was over a mile away and there was only about an hour and a half of daylight left. The race was on and we busted ass up the ridge. Once we reached where we had planned to camp we dropped our packs and continued towards the spot we last saw the bear. Forty-five minutes after Travis spotted the bear we came to the corner where we had last seen him. Zack and Travis turned the cameras on, I checked the wind and it was go time. We crept around the corner as slowly and quietly as possible while keeping our eyes peeled for the bear. We rounded the corner and the bear was no place to be seen; we decided to keep moving. We didn’t go another 10 yards and I spotted the bear in a dip below us not 80 yards away. I quickly dropped to the ground and everyone else followed suit. We sat there and discussed the next move. From where we were located I didn’t have a clear shot at the bear and we weren’t sure if the bear was heading towards us or away. We decided that we needed to get to a high spot 15 yards in front of us if we were going to get the shot on film. Travis and Brandon stayed back and filmed from their location as Zack followed me forward. At that instance I felt what every hunter dreads……..the wind at the back of my neck. I thought for sure the stalk was blown and the bear would be gone. As we continued forward the wind switched back and was once again blowing in our face, but the bear was nowhere to be seen. Still we crept forward until we could see the entire dip that the bear was in….still no bear. My heart sank as I looked around. At that point I was sure he had winded us and took off. I turned and shrugged my shoulders to Travis and Brandon and figured the hunt was over for the evening. When I looked back over my shoulder there he was, standing 90 away with his head down feeding. I swung my pack off and sat down; quickly I rested the rifle on the pack and waited for him to come up on the road. Adrenaline was now strongly surging through my veins and moments later he appeared back on the side of the logging road. I turned to Zack and he gave me the green light. I settled the cross hairs and squeezed the trigger. A few seconds later and my first bear was dead not 50 yards from where I shot him.
Congratulations and high fives were shared between us all as we headed downhill to the bear. As I approached him I saw his gray face, split ears and large paws; the sure sign of an old bear.
I was overcome with excitement to have killed such a big mature boar as my first bear and it was a surreal moment kneeling beside an old warrior of a bear who had seen many hunters in his time.
I punched my tag and we raced to get as many pictures as we could before dark. Soon we were all working away to get the bear skinned and quartered.
Before we knew it the Mystery Ranch was loaded down with meat and hide and we were headed to camp. The 3/4 of a mile back uphill to camp was grueling. It’s a lot of work in the backcountry and the four of us all teamed up to pump enough water for 4 meals and gather wood for a fire. The moon was out and it was all laughs around the campfire.
Needless to say a warm fire and some freeze dried food put us to bed quickly. The next morning we were up and heading down the hill with our packs heavier than the trip up. Though the weight of the bear was a burden on my shoulders I couldn’t help but smile knowing I had killed my first bear with good friends in the backcountry.
Finally we rolled around the last Forest Service gate and quickly dumped our packs and took a well deserved rest. We unloaded the meat and threw it in the YETI. The end of an amazing hunt was here and it had only been one day!
I can’t thank Zack, Travis and Brandon enough! I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. The next week will be spent finishing school and then we will be back in the mountains searching for a bear in hopes of sneaking close enough to let an arrow loose.
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!
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 are super excited to be teaming up with Sitka for 2012! Sitka is known for their high performance, high quality camo, along with being a company that is always on the cutting edge of the hunting industry. Be sure to check out their movie Searching For West which will be pushing the envelope for hunting films.
We always are true believers in the gear we use. Last year we bought Sitka because we thought it looked like solid hunting gear and had heard only good things about it. Well after a year of hard hunting we are firsthand believers that Sitka is for real. Sitka gear plain rocks! The quality, mobility, warmth, abitlity to dry, and breathablility of Sitka is unmatched. The past year we were die hard users of the Ascent Pant, Traverse Zip T, and Traverse Glove. After 70+ days of wear they looked great still and performed just like they did on day 1. We were excited when we contacted Sitka and were able to work out a deal to work with these guys for 2012.
For 2012 we will be wearing Sitka’s Optifade Open Country pattern. This is an awesome pattern for just about any landscape. It’s going to work perfect this fall in the Missouri Breaks, and we’re getting excited to put the new gear to the test.
The materials they use and the craftsmanship and attention to detail set these guys apart. Be looking for more photos, and information on the Sitka systems we will be using over at our Gear page soon! Until then check out www.sitkagear.com for more info.
Mark Seacat is pushing the envelope of what a hunting film should be in his new film Searching For West. We’re looking forward to seeing the end product when it’s released online on August 22nd. So grab a set of headphones and watch the trailer in HD and see what you think. (Be sure to see the website for more info and a look at how you can win $30,000 in gear)
About Searching For West:
“The hunt is a pursuit of balance, while searching for the unknown. The balance that death has struck with life, the one sustaining the other. Everything we eat was alive once. The farmer clears his field in autumn for new life in the spring, and there’s a rhythm to it all. One man in one place, doing just one thing at a time.
Mark Seacat’s son, West, was born 10 days before elk season. Husband. Father. Hunter. Where does he draw the line on how much to sacrifice?”
We got in contact with Mark earlier this year, and he was able to get us onboard with Sitka for the season. We’re excited to work with someone who is passionate about creating compelling video, and hopefully can help us progress as we continue to try to grow as filmmakers ourselves.
Here is the latest of our hunting edits. Zack did an amazing job filming and editing the footage. Check it out! More awesome hunting edits in the near future!
We started up the truck and finished grabbing our gear. Camo on, calls ready, and a full clip of V-max bullets. It was day one of a three day trip to North Central Montana to become the hunted. We would be calling coyotes in open coulee country in hopes of capturing some sweet winter hunting.
That first morning we got to our second stand only to spook a coyote just as we were pulling up to park adjacent to a deep coulee. We called that stand but drew a blank. Over the course of the next few stands we had one hang up at 700 yards that didn’t come in and another that we spooked walking into a promising stand. A little discouraged with the conditions we headed to a spot that has produced in the past. Sure enough after about 4 minutes of calling we saw a coyote charging to our left at about 400 yards. Before we could swing the camera and shooters into position we lost sight off him.
I knew as he would get closer he would catch our wind before popping back up into sight of Tyler and Travis. Sure enough about 2 minutes later we saw him running in the other direction. Running away over numerous finger shaped ridges left us no chances at a shot. We finished that evening with no luck and looked forward to the next day.
Well all I can say about day 2 is WIND. All caps because it was so damned windy we couldn’t even think about calling. Wind speeds were around 30mph and gusts of 50mph were common. Combine that with a windchill of 15-20 below and let’s just say we bought a case of beer and watched some football to pass the time. Forecasts for the following day were ideal. They were calling for no wind and a daytime temperature of 4 degrees.
Day 3 found us up early and chomping at the bit. Conditions were ideal and we quickly got set up on our first stand. We called a long coulee full of dead cottonwoods and sage but never had any takers. Over the course of the next 6 stands we sat some beautiful spots but never saw a dog. We new something was up. Either the area had been hit hard by hunters on ATV’s or planes or the coyotes had moved down into the valley were the livestock and game was herded up. Sure enough our first stand back down in the valley was a winner. We set up to call at the end of a couple coulees that dumped into a prairie dog town. After 10 minutes and just as Tyler was about to shoot a rock, Travis made a good spot on a dog standing on a ridge at 260 yards. Travis was in search of his first coyote but couldn’t get repositioned quick enough. Tyler made a quick shot with his AR-15 and dropped our first coyote of the day.
The next stand we switched up the call after about 7 minutes. A few minutes later we stood up after not seeing anything and sure enough right behind us was a coyote. He quickly spotted us and took off. I turned the Nikon back on, switched to live view, and got focused. This took place over the course of literally a few seconds, and just as I said I was on him Travis lit off a round. The coyote dropped and Travis had his first coyote out of the way. He made a quick shot on a running coyote at around 150 yards to top it off.
After checking out the second unlucky coyote of the day we walked another 800 yards and set up again. Again, after about 7-8 minutes of calling I spotted a coyote walking up the bottom of a draw. By the time I got the guys on him he disappeared into the sage. We looked and glassed for 5 minutes but couldn’t see him. We figured he had a den there and had went into it. We had Travis stand up to see if he was still down there and would spook. We saw nothing and of course as we all stood I spotted him begin to walk off in the same spot we thought he had disappeared in. Within seconds I was on him with the camera and Travis made another great moving shot at 300 yards.
We followed this up with another stand just another 700 yards away. We had a coyote coming in at about 600 yards but he was spooked by a small herd of mule deer. We had spooked these deer on the way in and our chances at 4 in a row were gone. We headed back to the truck to relocate to a new location.
We gassed up the Ford, filled up our bellies with a hearty gas station meal, and left to finish our day off strong. After pulling off the highway we drove a half mile down into a vast open drainage spotted with sagebrush. We quickly got setup and started wailing on the distress call. Soon Travis had 3 coyotes spotted coming in from our right. As the coyotes neared us I had 2 of them in the frame on the Nikon, and I tried to communicate to both shooters which coyote to take. The coyotes wouldn’t stop running in and disappeared behind a small ridge. Soon one popped up at 150 yards and stopped. I was on him and Tyler squeezed off a round. A burst of dust and the coyote was charging away. Tyler narrowly missed him as he dodged and weaved his way out through the bottom. We all were amped up even though we were leaving empty handed.
Lets just say we were definitely heating up after a rough morning. To make a long story short, on our next stand we convinced a territorial female to come within range after 20+ minutes of calling. We used 2 distress calls, howls, barks, and pup distress. She even ate a field mouse seconds before Travis dropped her.
With 4 coyotes on the day we decided to wrap it up with one last stand. We were able to spot 2 coyotes out at 800 yards, but they just wouldn’t cooperate. We think they had spotted us walking in. We were able to coerce one into starting to circle downwind, but with light fading we couldn’t bring him in close enough. We had an awesome day though. Overall we saw 15 coyotes that day. We called 7 into range and killed 4. At the end of it all it turned into a very worthwhile trip. I was able to capture Tyler and Travis over the course of those 3 days and get all 4 kills on film so throw on the headphones, make sure it’s in HD and enjoy!!!
I hope you guys enjoyed the video and we look forward to creating more soon.
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.
Last Friday we got to get back into some wolf country.
Today we went to a spot where we had heard a wolf had been killed at earlier in the week. We hiked back into some clear cuts that had no road access in hopes of hearing or seeing wolves. Unfortunately, we only found some deer and elk tracks. Later we drove some more access roads and did see some tracks. These tracks were probably 3 days old so we turned around and headed back down to the main road. On the way down Travis spotted movement in the brush. We stopped and found that a young mountain lion had been trapped. Neither of us had seen a mountain lion before so we got close and snapped some photos.
After a few photos I tried to move a few feet closer so I could get a more clear photo and the mountain lion began to try to pull free from the trap. I backed off and before we knew it the cat had managed to pull free. The cat booked in the opposite direction and we went to take a look at the trap. The trap had shut with one of the cat’s claws stuck between the metal bars. I opened the trap and took the claw. We jumped back in the truck and crossed to the drainage’s other side. Immediately we spotted fresher tracks that crossed the road. They were following a heavily used deer game trail.
With the snow being warmed and re-frozen almost daily, it was difficult to accurately tell the age of the tracks. I’d figured they were just over a day old. The area seemed promising as there were ample clear cuts to try calling in. Hopefully we can get them to respond some how to the calls or else it’s going to be a tough hunt for one very elusive animal. At the end of the day we spotted two moose.
Tomorrow we’ll be heading back out deer hunting. We have to give ourselves a couple more attempts at bagging a buck. I’m already anticipating getting back out after a wolf later this week. We’ll keep you posted as we go.
Check out the latest from Montana Wild. This is footage from our last trip to Havre, MT where we met up with our good friend Tyler McCann. Check out the post from that trip here. The trip didn’t go quite according to plan and we missed some pretty epic shots with the camera but overall we had a blast and got to see some coyotes drop. Be sure to check it out fullscreen in HD.
Travis and I are headed out tomorrow to go try to get on some wolves in the Western part of the state. We’ll have some more updates showing up soon so check back.
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.
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.