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.
Another weekend is upon us. We’ve been back on the sprawling expanse of rivers that course across Montana, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Friday we set out to begin filming for one of a few short videos we’ll be producing this spring. Not much for details on the project other than we’re going to be filming about 7-10 days for just this project, and I hope we can make it better than I envision it in my head.
The day started with a bang though. Travis and I were looking for a new area to fish and had our eyes out for the parking area. We passed it and turned around. As we took a left off the highway, our attention was on the river and where we were about to park. We only had to cross the railroad tracks and gear up. As we slowly neared the tracks I instinctively looked right and left. When my eyes made it to the left side of the vehicle I saw a gut wrenching site, a train barrelling down upon us. I stopped on a dime as the train roared past us just 15 feet away. No horn, no warning, just raw reality. A little unnerving doesn’t quite describe it, but I’m glad it happened. I truly think God meant for that train to scare us. It humbled both of us and made a lasting reminder that life is never to be taken for granted. We enjoy so many amazing things in our lives and especially in a state such as Montana. It’s just a good reminder to be thankful for what you have and to make sure you put forth your best foot each and every day because you never now when it’s going to be your last. We quickly tried to forget what had just happened and get out on the river. About five minutes after wetting my boots I was into a spunky rainbow. Three fish were pulled from that hole and the vibes were good. We knew some big fished lived amongst the depths and snags of the river and it was only a matter of time before we laid into one.
We moved on and decided to hit a hole hidden under a bridge that has netted us some good fish in the past. With the camera rolling I began methodically working the hole. After about 5 minutes I hooked up on a strong fish. At first it was more dead weight than anything. I slowly worked the fish into the slow side water and caught my first glimpse of this beast of a fish. It looked like a baby steelhead. Once it saw me it was headed deep back into the current. I yelled to Travis that I was gonna need a bit of help to land this brute. After about 10 minutes of trying to wear him down, I wasn’t making much progress. With a 5wt rod and 4x tippet I had less control than the fish did. As he tired he wouldn’t move into the slow water. He would only slowly drift backwards towards the tail of the pool. I knew if he made it out of the pool I was toast. Travis got in as deep as he could and we gave it a go. I pulled as hard as I dared to try to get him close to the surface. It was now or never and I tried to impart my will upon him. Travis swooped in with the net and chaos ensued. The fish fought with all its might. All I could see was a monstrous trout thrashing on the wooden edge of the net. My line went slack and I hoped to see the net rise from the water with my largest fish ever. Unfortunately, it came up empty. That pig of a fish won. We were a little upset, but after our close call with the train I easily remembered how blessed I was just to be on the river with my brother. Travis estimated this rainbow at about 24-26 inches. It was the biggest fish either of us have seen in the rivers of Montana. We continued to fish on and did catch a small brown who was set on trying to fly. A decent rainbow finished our day off and considering the time of year we were pretty stoked. We still have room to improve.
Today Annie and I headed up to Rock Creek to see how the infamous river was faring with such a light winter. It wasn’t long before Annie had her first fish hooked up.
The river sure has changed since last spring. The heavy runoff we saw last year has altered almost every hole. It’s cool because it’s almost like fishing the river for the first time again. There’s still a decent amount of snow and the water temp isn’t quite there yet. There’s fish to be had but not in true spring fashion. We landed about 5 fish today, and I was reminded that the fish of Rock Creek make up for their size with their stunning colors.
Tomorrow Travis and I are headed back out for a full day on the river. Hopefully, we can get some shots. I can’t decide if snow is going to be a good thing or not. Might make for some sweet shots or it might make for some slow fishing. I guess well find out soon.
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.
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.
Opening morning of rifle season started at 3am and consisted of a 4 hour drive to get to our hunting spot. Zack, Tyler, Cole, and myself were all looking to score on a big mule deer. At first light we came across a group of mule deer off in the distance, but no bucks to be seen. I spotted a nice mule buck climbing an adjacent coulee. We quickly geared up, and worked around a ridge, hoping we would be able to cut-off the buck. Unfortunately we somehow misjudged how close we were and ended up bumping the buck twice over a couple more coulees. Tyler and Cole decided they had seen enough and headed back to the truck, while Zack and myself wanted to get a better look at this buck. Zack was on the camera, while I carried the 6×284 over my shoulder. After reaching the top of the ridge, I spotted the deer at 300yards. I dropped to the ground and got a good rest on my backpack. The deer was in full velvet! Unfortunately, I still couldn’t decide if the deer was a shooter, and the deer quickly made his way behind another ridge.
We didn’t see many deer the remainder of the morning and decided to trek back into some deep coulees, where we thought the deer would be bedding with the 30mph wind gusts we were having that day. We hiked almost 2 miles up and down through the cactus and desert brush before getting to a nice outlook where we did some glassing. Zack spotted the same buck we had been chasing earlier just over 100yds away bedded down in some shade! We quickly put a plan together and I decided he was a very unique buck and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The only problem was the deer was bedded down facing directly towards us. I was very confident with the shot at hand, but decided I needed to try and get the buck to stand in order to get a better view of his vitals. I setup in a somewhat uncomfortable position on the rock in front of me and got a steady rest. Tyler did a couple predator calls to get the buck to stand out of his bed. The buck stood directly facing me, his velvet glowing in the sun, I took my time settling the crosshairs on his chest and squeezed off the 108yd shot. Boom! The buck dumped right where he stood!
I was all pumped up and quickly made my way down the rocky hillside. It felt great to get my hands on such a nice deer and was my first time putting a tag on any animal in velvet.
It was time to do the dirty work and get the deer quartered and pack him back to the truck 2miles away. After packing out Zack’s elk just a couple weeks ago, this deer seemed like a breeze to carry out.
Big thanks to Tyler, Cole, and Zack. Zack filmed the entire hunt, and I can’t wait to show the amazing footage we captured this weekend. I’m in the process of Euro mounting the buck and will post pictures as soon as I finish. Big things to come from Montana Wild!
The weekend of rifle season was finally upon us. Our guns lead us to northeastern Montana, in search of big mule deer. Zack and I were going to meet Tyler and Cole McCann for a three day hunt, with some coyote hunting in the mix. It was bound to be an exciting weekend, for the McCann’s always seem to bring about some sort of unforgettable hunting experience.
We headed out Friday morning, giving ourselves enough time to try our luck at some fly fishing on some new waters. We stopped at a little known river that spanned across rolling meadows.
The river gave up some high energy fish right away. Zack missed the biggest fish of the day, which was about 18″. I tried my luck with some streamers and had some nice browns take a taste or two, but didn’t quite get hooked. After an hour of getting our lines wet, we hit the flat highways of central Montana once again. I happened to catch a snooze or two, which Zack had fun with by scaring the sh** out of me by swerving, emergency breaking, and yelling. Ya he’s that guy.
We arrived safely and headed out for a couple hours of scouting and tried a couple coyote stands. We managed to get one coyote to howl for literally a half hour straight, but couldn’t get him to get within eyesight.
We headed back to Tyler McCann’s house where we prepared for our opening day hunt. The next morning we had little sleep and awakened at 3am, ya I didn’t typo, 3am! We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us to some public land that was suggested by the old farmer McCann. Not to say the drive wasn’t entertaining. We got pulled over by some reservation cops, which were super unhelpful and gave us the wrong directions to our hunting spot (video to prove it). After driving 18 miles out of our way, we finally found our hunting spot. The sun was just rising over the mountains when we spotted our first set of mule does.
Shortly thereafter we spotted a nice mule buck. I’m going to make this short and sweet, but we managed to get within 108yds of the buck and I decided that the unique 4×6 mule buck in velvet was too good to pass up. (full story will be posted soon) I dumped the buck in his tracks. It was a very exciting moment for myself and a huge relief after having such a rough bow season.
We had the deer gutted, quartered, and back to the truck by 2:30pm. The rest of the day we searched for more deer, but only crossed paths with a couple does. The next day we decided to hunt some new land near the Harlem area. The morning started very slow, and it was apparent that the mule deer, whitetail, and antelope population were extremely low from winter kill along with blue tongue. That morning we didn’t see a single deer, and decided our best bet for the day was to attempt a couple coyote stands. There is no shortage of coyotes in this area and we spotted about 5-6 that morning. Tyler put the smack down on a young female coyote that we found eating on a dead cow. It was a very well placed 300yd+ shot.
The remainder of the day consisted of long range bow shooting competitions between Tyler and myself. The shots were mostly taken around 70-80yds with a 20mph crosswind/backwind. We both were surprisingly very accurate for the conditions. Around 3:30pm we took one of the McCann’s small boats up the Milk River in search of more coyotes.
We managed to put together a couple stands before the boat broke down on us. We had no choice but to bushwack back to the house. Along the way Zack managed to smoke a coyote, with an impressive headshot (video to come soon).
We attempted a couple more stands, with no success. The sunsets in eastern Montana were a sight for sore eyes, as the second day of rifle season came to closure.
Our final day of our hunt was located just south of Havre, Montana. My brother Zack and I traveled about 2.5miles into some foothills before spotting some mule bucks. We came across a bachelor herd of 5 bucks, 2 of them being sizeable animals. Zack spent a good amount of time sizing them up, before deciding they just weren’t what he was after. We ended the morning hunt after spotting 3 more bucks.
Zack is still in search of filling his deer tag this year, and is hoping that he will be able to tag a big one during the rut. On our way back, we stopped once again to get a little fly fishing under our belts. We pulled in some smaller fish that were still exciting to catch.
The trip was a success and I couldn’t be happier with the buck I put down opening day. We filmed the entire hunt and will have it posted as soon as I have the footage edited. All I can say is the footage is A+ quality and I can’t wait to post the episode. I still have an elk tag to fill and am hoping to seal the deal on a nice bull over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned and hunt hard!