Busy seems to be our go to word recently, but its tough to put it any other way. After Stan’s bear we headed back into the mountains for 1 & 1/2 days. Since Stan had tagged out, I had a couple days to hunt with Zack. I decided to check out a new area and that morning we found ourselves climbing up a steep ridge through the fog.
As soon as we crested the steep ridge and made our way along one of the old logging roads, I had spotted a black figure below us. A large black bear was feeding on the lush grass below. We made it to 100yards of this bear, waiting for the bruin to feed along the road to our position. The bear different plans and bumped off the road and bedded down in a thick patch of trees below.
That evening we attempted to relocate the large black bear. While waiting for the large bear Zack spotted another bear in the distance. We watch the bear settle into some dark timber and bed down. We setup our spotting scope and located the bedded bear in the trees. I decided to put in a stalk and hope the wind would hold its current direction. Zack and I snuck to 30 yards of the sleeping ball of fur. I ranged the bear, and came to full draw as the bear stood. Too small. The bear was tough to judge while sleeping, but now that the bear was standing I knew it was too young for my arrow.
That night we glassed until dark, not seeing the big boar we were after. The next morning I inhaled my granola breakfast, anxious to glass the grassy roads just over the ridge. Almost like clockwork I spotted the bear directly on the old logging road where I had stalked the smaller bear the evening before.
We were having some issues putting together a game plan on how we were going to get close to this bear. The wind was going to be blowing directly towards the bear from the only location we could get a shot at the bear. We decided to work to a better vantage point and see if the thermals would change. The bear worked behind a group of trees, and I took my eyes off the bear to close the distance. Next thing I know, I can’t find the bear anywhere! So frustrating, I sat there in disbelief. The bear had to have seen or smelled me. Blackie was gone for good and it was time to head back down the mountain to prepare for Zack’s upcoming bear hunt.
It has started, Zack’s road to redemption. He will arrow a nice bear this spring, and he has been almost too close for comfort. We will have a full blog post of Zack’s spring bear hunt, but here is a quick rundown on what we have been experiencing. We picked our location, grabbed our cameras, packed our Mystery Ranch packs and loaded our bikes. Oh wait…. My bike got stolen, lock cut off and all two days before leaving on our trip. Karma is a b*&$% and whoever took it is hopefully enjoying my Specialized mountain bike. Thankfully I have great friends that loaned me a bike for my trip.
We spotted 8 bears on the trip, 1 blonde, 4 chocolate, and 3 black. Zack got full draw on three bears, two were passed up because they were too small. One monster black bear was called into a fawn decoy at 25 yards within 3 minutes!! It was amazing seeing a black bear full on sprint to a decoy, only to not present Zack with enough time for a shot. Can’t wait for the footage to come out in 2014. We are excited and anxious to get back out there.
After experiencing a broken water filter, along with 80 degree temperatures, we decided that melting snow for our water intake was not going to be our best option to survive the backcountry. We made one last attempt to locate a mature black bear, but the temperatures had the bear activity to a minimum. We shortly thereafter received the memo that the Snowy Mountain Rifle 300WSM was finished and ready for test firing. Making our way back to town, we were anxious to check out the finished rifle.
The guys over there at Snowy Mountain did an outstanding job on the 300wsm! One of the best looking long range hunting rifles I have ever seen. The day had finally arrived. Sighting in the new long-range cannon.
The rifle blistered the targets downrange! Tight groups, sniper optics, jewel trigger, alongside the lightest kick I have ever felt from a large caliber rifle, made this one sweet rifle. We will have a full write up and permanent page with the specifics on the custom SMR 300wsm in the near future.
We will be back in the mountains soon. Zack is still looking to arrow a mature bear after four encounters at 30yards or less. Have a great Memorial weekend!
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!
Year three of my short elk hunting career, and it was back to the Missouri Breaks. The goal, arrow a mature bull in 5 days.
As we bounced our way down the familiar dirt road, the temperature read 56F. It was 5:30 AM, and we had just completed our 6 hour drive from Missoula, MT. The headlights illuminated the sagebrush, and soon we were geared up and ready to hunt. With headlamps on we started working up a long ridge full of coulees on both sides. We knew if we wanted to catch a bull on his feet it would be necessary to be in position before daylight. These elk often will stop bugling for the morning by sunrise and stay on their feet for maybe an hour longer before bedding. As the sun rose we continued walking.
That morning we glassed the hillsides for hours after sunrise. With over 5 miles covered and many more glassed, we had to return to the truck. Our only finds being some mule deer does, a hunter on a horse, and 3 trucks and a horse trailer. Great start! We weren’t worried yet though, after our first trip to the Breaks when Travis was hunting, (see story here – Elk Season Continues) we had high hopes of finding mature bulls daily. That night we glassed a basin that held multiple bulls the last time only to find it empty. The next day we went back hoping some bulls would filter into the area overnight.
We made it back down into this basin well before sunrise. No bugles and no elk in the hills. We could see elk in the river bottom and hear them sounding off. The riverbottom consisted of willows that are thick and only huntable from a blind or treestand. A boat is extremely helpful and neither a boat or treestand are in my elk plans as of now. We continued to move on in hopes of locating a bull and getting a stalk in. That night was no better. We headed back, cooked up some hot dogs, and got ready for another early morning.
Day 3 and we were in a new area. With some deep coulees away from the road and river we had high hopes of finding some elk.
Just like any other morning the name of the game for us had been get in the area early. If we hear bugles then close the distance. If we don’t hear anything then break out the binos and spotting scope.
On this morning we had to resort to option 2, get out the spotting scope and binoculars. We heard nothing and got zero responses to any type of calling. We glassed until 10 and then decided to loop back to the truck. After once again hiking close to 5 miles, we were amused to find our only bull of the day, a small raghorn, just 600 yards from the road.
We were starting to get just a touch worried. It was Day 3, and we had yet to find the elk and especially not any great bulls. It appeared that the elk had shifted drastically with the heavy pressure that had recently been plaguing the Breaks. The Missouri Breaks is a love/hate area. Your not going to feel like you’re alone by any means. On this trip it was no exception. There were trucks parked at almost every access each night and the sounds of ATV’s or boats on the river were common while hunting. The amount of time your able to actually hunt each day is very limited. You get about two hours in the morning and about two at night to catch a majority of elk on their feet. The elk have to be some of the most hunted in Montana and are very smart. The bugs are often clinging to any exposed skin and the temperatures hot. All of those negatives fades away when you see some of the bulls out here. They aren’t extremely plentiful, but there are some real toads running around. One day when we were hunting earlier this season, we stumbled into a 320 class bull hanging with a 350 in a secluded draw. Unfortunately, that hadn’t happened on my trip, but just the thought of a bull like that around the next corner keeps a guy hunting hard and we did. Most days we easily covered 8-10 miles hiking ridges, crossing coulees, and working creek bottoms.
I knew it was only a matter of time. Finally on the morning of Day 4 we found a bull. We had been hiking in the dark for about 20 minutes when I decided to throw out a bugle where two draws met, hoping for a single bugle in response. One echoed out from a long ways off about a minute later. We knew he was a ways up the draw so we spent the next twenty minutes climbing to the top of a ridge to glass and hope to spot this bull. After ten minutes of glassing I spotted a group of cows. Sure enough a bull popped out. We pulled out the spotting scope as the early morning wind tried to tear through us. It was shaping up to be a particularly windy and cloudy day, and they appeared to be content to mingle around in the bottom of a small draw. We geared up and snuck closer. After about a half hour we had pulled to within 300 yards of the cows and spotted the bull bedded in the bottom. As we decided on a game plan the cows started working our way. With the wind swirling bad we decided to keep our distance until we could assess the bulls position and how we would go in for a stalk. Of course as we repositioned to get a better view of the bull, the cows fed down below us at around 100 yards. All of a sudden the bull was with them again. If we had stayed put and the wind held, I could have already had a 60 yard shot at him. Now we were above and upwind of them. Soon the bull and cows bedded, and we began a long and arduous process of circling around to get into position for a shot on the bedded bull. After a half hour of belly crawling carefully through the short grass in the bottom we were ready to start moving into position. Of course as we moved in he decided to exchange his current spot for one more tucked away. He now was further from the spot we were working towards, but he was bedded broadside at least.
We kept moving forward, hoping we could get close enough for a shot or that he’d get up again soon and present a shot. We still hadn’t been winded and we crept to within the 100 yard mark. As we worked through the last little dip we peaked over to find that he had repositioned and now was bedded facing away. Great, all this time and now I’m 70 yards from a bull that is bedded with his a** facing me. We decided to wait for a few minutes and see if he’d get up again as we were in a good position if he did. Unfortunately, the wind suddenly shifted as it often does, and before you know it all 5 of the elk are over the ridge. Exciting and frustrating at the same time. The scenario just wasn’t right that day. The elk had beaten us again. I tried to second guess myself, saying that I should have cow called to get him to stand, but with the wind and length of shot, I never would take that on an alert animal. We made it back to the truck and took a mid-day nap.
That night we moved up the same draw some ten miles before hunting again. We did see some mule deer and elk sign but no elk. We hoped this new area would hold some bulls looking to avoid the strong hunting pressure down low.
The next morning we worked down to the creek bottom in hopes of catching some elk coming off the water and moving back into the hills.
After about an hour of glassing we had only turned up two raghorns and a couple spikes. I was leaned back on my pack in a state of heavy depression when I heard the sound of two bulls fighting and some cow talk. They sounded like they were a ridge north, and we hustled to cross over to see if we could locate them. As we cleared the next ridge I saw a bull on the opposite hillside climbing up through the sand with his tongue out. He appeared that he was running from a fight. We let him cross over the top and then slowly worked to the edge to see if any elk were still in the bottom. Of course as we slowly worked around the edge we spooked a bull below us in the timber. He booked it over the same ridge as the other bull and once again we sat there in disbelief. We had put in so many miles and hunted from sun up to sun down for 5 days and had only one stalk to show. Not exactly my idea of how the hunt was going to play out. I figured with the success we had had on the first trip, we were going to storm in there and be on bulls everyday and definitely get a shot. I was hoping to redeem myself for not getting one last year in the Breaks, but that hope was fading fast. On Tuesday morning we humbly packed up the truck and headed for home. It was time to get back to a regular work schedule and get back to the dark timber of Northwest Montana. It felt a little too similar to last year, but I knew we still had a lot of season and many opportunities to come.
If you missed the first write up about our recent fly fishing trip into the Montana backcountry, be sure to read the post “The Unknown – Backcountry Cutties.” During our six day trip we not only set out to explore some of Montana’s most beautiful water, but to legally target and fish for native bull trout.
In the earlier part of this century and also within the last few decades, the bull trout was seen as a cannibal of the trout family. Many viewed it as a trash fish because of it’s highly predatory nature and its voracious appetite for other fish. There numbers soon began to plummet due to extensive logging ruining spawning habitat along with unchecked fishing practices. Today they are now found in healthy numbers and are addictive to catch. We had never fished for these trout but felt confident we could get into a few. Very few people fish for bull trout so as long as you can find them, you should be able to catch some. I figured they would be easiest to find on the main river with its deep holes and long runs. We decided to bushwack down to the river off a nearby dirt road and set up camp. To say the canyon we’d be fishing was stunning was an understatement.
We immediately scouted for a suitable campsite. Fortunately we found a small sandy area along the river and got situated. Bull trout can grow upwards of 3 feet and are very powerful fish. For this trip we decided to take a couple 8wts. It’s best to play these fish quickly and without a sturdy rod, a big fish might be running downstream with no end in sight. A big thanks goes out to Dan @ Grizzly Hackle. He was gracious enough to help outfit us for our trip. If your around Missoula, be sure to swing by. Whether it’s trout, steelhead, or tarpon, they have what you’re looking for.
We quickly set up the rods and hit the river. Immediately we found great looking water. I honestly felt like I was in some exotic place and surely not Montana.
The water is deep emerald and the surrounding rich forests and moss covered cliffs made me feel like I was in New Zealand or deep in the Canadian backcountry. The first hole looked promising and we spent almost an hour drifting streamers through every nook and cranny amongst the rocks.
Finally I heard those magic words, “I got one!” Travis had hooked into the first bull trout of the trip. After a short fight we had a nice bully in the net.
Travis was pumped up. This was his first bull trout on a streamer and things were looking good. We kept moving up the canyon, methodically working each hole. One of the problems we encountered on this stretch was the depth of each hole. Often you couldn’t see the bottom. I know some of the holes were at least 20 feet deep and with the current it was just plain tough to get your streamer deep enough and in the right spot.
We fished hard that day but never got into another bull trout. The scenery keep us in good spirits and we slowly worked our way back to camp.
With the clouds rolling in we decided to call it a day and hang out by the fire.
We had an amazing view of the river, a hot tasty meal, and good conversation to finish up the day. Just down river there was an osprey nest perched on a tall dead tree next to a tall cliff. Mom was screaming her head off and even did a bit of fishing.
Over the course of the trip we got a chance to fish a lot of water. Another day of our trip was spent exploring a second deep canyon upriver.
This canyon is only accessible from one end or the other. We worked in from the bottom and immediately were met with beautiful water. This canyon consists of long deep pools, large boulders, and some solid rapids. The water is ideal for bull trout, but again we were up against very deep holes. With little room to cast it was difficult to properly fish much of the water.
After a few hours we were beat down. The water looked perfect but the fish just weren’t emerging from the shadows.
Just as I was about to turn and begin fishing back to the truck I heard Travis yelling. I headed over to see what was going on. He had a bull trout chasing from one of the larger boulders, and I intently watched as he worked his streamer along the boulder. After a few misses he finally connected. Although it was a juvenille bully, it did re-energized me to continue working a deep run. After a long cast I let my fly drift back and down about 60 feet. I then slowly twitched my streamer across the current. Boom! These trout attack the fly and often it initially feels as if you have a snag. They soon realize their caught and the fight begins. After a few surges and small runs, I turned him into the shallows and chalked up my first bull trout of the trip.
Over the course of our trip we learned a lot about where to look for bull trout and how to fish for them. The key is to go deep and get twitchy. White and grey seemed to work best for us. Also they enjoy lurking next to any type of rock formation that allows them cover and a quick path to small fish passing by. Another characteristic we found was that when they do feed, they often will fall back into the tail out of a pool where the river condenses into a smaller area. Two pictures down are three bull trout sitting in a tail out of a pool we found.
Travis was also pretty excited that his homegrown flies did the trick. Grey Gandalf was doing work and a couple white variations had success also. The few days we spent fishing for bull trout was very educational for us. We were able to successfully explore a few areas that held bull trout and learned more about where to find these bad boys. We even got a chance to sight fish for them. I’m already looking forward to next summer as we found another spot where the bull trout are fairly numerous and should be easy to catch with the knowledge we acquired during this trip.
As they say, “The tug is the drug.” Watching your streamer get hammered is by far one of the most fun aspects of fly fishing that I have yet to experience. I now understand more of why people love fishing the salt flats for tarpon. Maybe one day. Hopefully Travis and I can get working on the video before hunting season get’s too far underway. I think we got some awesome footage and can’t wait to share it with everyone.
There’s only 16 days till archery elk opens in Montana. Since June we’ve been scouting a few locations that we know hold elk. Our biggest asset when scouting is trail cameras. We usually set up 3-5 cameras starting in early June and head back a month later to see what’s been showing up. This is a great way to size up the local elk herd. If your camera is set up over water or along a game trail you can begin to determine when the best times to hunt these areas are and which way the animals are generally traveling as they move from one area to another. Travis and I went out a few weeks ago to check a couple cameras we had in the same general area. If you missed our post on that trip be sure to check it out in our post “Dog Days of Summer“. On this day I brought the camera along and filmed a short piece showing some of what goes into a day in the elk woods. Enjoy and as always, ***please watch in HD***
We found plenty of nice bulls with lots of character. Nothing crazy big but both spots should be good come September. If you haven’t made it out there’s still plenty of time to nail down a good spot. Grab a map and find a deep, dark hole away from roads and chances are you’ll find elk.
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.
It’s been a long last few months. Travis and I have had hundreds of miles pass beneath our feet this spring in search of black bears. My search has been for a bear that I could arrow with my bow and it’s no easy task. As the season was winding down we still were optimistic about getting one last chance. It was another early morning as we left the house at 6 and headed into the same spot where I had stalked a bedded bear previously. We mostly have mornings off and had been hunting them with more success than one would expect. On this morning we decided to leave the bikes and hike down a steep face to a logging road that ran about 600yards above a creek bottom. The hike down was not fun. I fell three times and was starting to think we were wasting our time and energy trying to find a bear with everything in sight being so green. About two minutes later I spotted a black blob. Bear! A nice bear was feeding up along a tree line and right onto a logging road that ran 300 yards below us. Travis and I quickly started moving. We were hoping this was finally our moment where a bear would walk along the road and we could set up and take a 20 yard chip shot from above.
We soon were down above the logging road at twenty yards and began to wait. The bear had fed behind some trees on the logging road where it makes a turn and heads our way. After fifteen minutes we still had yet to see him come out of that spot. We decided we better sidehill above that position in case he decided to start up the small draw above the logging road. We made it up the hill about 250 yards before we spotted him carelessly feeding on tall green grass in the corner of the road. We watched him for a few minutes, but decided we better go back and get in position again. Well we make it back and again waited for another fifteen minutes and still no bear. Back up the hill we go, wondering what the hold up is. This time we only had to go about twenty yards before we spotted him down the road slowly walking out of the corner. I’m thinking ok, he’s just filling his belly and then he’s gonna keep walking down this road and walk right by us. Nope. He’s obviously was in no hurry to go anywhere as he continued to feed in that spot. With the wind and rocky hillside we just couldn’t stalk him there either. It’s either he comes to us or no dice. After about ten more minutes he decides to run down into the draw below the road. S&*i! The brush is so thick there’s no way we’re going in after him without being heard. We sneak down to the road and start looking for Yogi. Out he pops at 140 yards, and he plops down next to a stump and starts licking his paws and belly.
This bear decides it’s officially nap time and after grooming himself he settles in and begins to take a nap. It’s still really windy and not very warm for June. We decide that it’s best to give him at least an hour to settle in and see if he’s going to really fall asleep or get up and move on. For the next half an hour he slept and only lifted his head twice. We were situated in a small draw with the wind swirling behind the first ridge and then continuing on over the second ridge. Either he caught a few small wiffs of our scent or just was uneasy with the windy conditions. We figured while we wait we can put the spotting scope to use and get some good close ups of our sleepy friend.
So an hour passes and he’s bedded in a bad spot for a stalk. I can’t go down into the brush without him hearing me and I guess the shot from the road above him at about 40-50 yards. The only reason I didn’t opt to try the shot from above was I didn’t want to take that length of shot in the wind and at such a steep angle. Before we could make any kind of move he slowly sat up, yawned, and started moving back up towards the road. I know he’s not going to stick around long and this clearing is maybe two hundred yards square so he’s going to be headed for the timber. We start busting it around the road hoping to catch him before he beats us to the road. I figure I can either get a close shot on him just off the road or catch him as he comes up onto the road. As we round the bend and start down the home stretch I feel the wind hitting the back of my neck. More stellar conditions eh. At this point we are no more than 50 yards from the bear. We slowly keep creeping forward when all of a sudden he comes running up and across the road and up into the timber. At this point I had some very choice words that started with f,s,d,a and possibly others. Another failed stalk and again within 50 yards of a bear. What happened to all the stupid bears that stare at hunters as they walk straight at them? Oh well, I had my chance once and blew it already so I can’t complain too much. We hiked a bit more but it was already late in the morning, and we decided to face the hill we had come down earlier in the morning and get back to the truck.
Over the course of the next week we made it out four more days before the season ended but didn’t get a chance to see another bear. The weather was rainy almost every day and made for poor conditions to hunt in with a camera in tow. By this time of the year it was green everywhere, and it was simply just luck to actually see a bear out on a road or in a clear cut. It’s ok though. We got one bear down on film and saw 22 this spring. We hunted about 18-20 days so we averaged about a bear a day, and I figure that’s pretty darn good for my second year of bear hunting. I’d call it my first year since I only hunted one day last spring, but I shot a bear that one day so I figure I better count it as a year.
Overall it was an awesome spring and we got to see a lot of sweet critters out in God’s country. Any day your blessed enough to be out there is a good day in my book. We learned a lot about bears this spring, and I’m already looking forward to next year. We have a handful of good spots now and know where to look for the bears so I’m confident next spring will be even better, and the bears might want to be a bit more scared. Next spring both Travis and I will be trying to get one with a bow, and our good friend Cole McCann just moved to Missoula to attend the University so I’m sure we will be trying to get him one with the rifle as well. That does it for hunting until September, but we’ve already set up a game camera and got a little fishing in so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we switch gears and start posting up a whole lot of good Montana fishing.