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New Zealand.  Lord of the Rings, amazing scenery, epic proportions of rain, huge brown trout, more sheep than humans.  The list goes on of unique characteristics about the unique islands far from just about anywhere.  This past February and March we visited the South Island for about 5 weeks.  Our main goal was to fish for the large brown trout that NZ is so famous for.  We’ll have a blog post on that later.  With that much time on the island I figured we should try to diversify our activities a bit and try to get out and hunt tahr or stag, two species that seem to draw most hunters to the area.  After announcing our plans to come visit the island we got a message from Ben Tumata from Big Game Hunting New Zealand.  He told us he’d be happy help us out if we wanted to hunt.  Some back and forth messaging and we were on the board to take advantage of Ben’s week off.  He was and is a stud for offering to take some guys out as friends on a New Zealand Tahr Hunt especially without ever meeting us.

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Tahr Country

We met up with Ben and organized and sorted gear.  From there we took the rigs up to the hanger and started weighing out gear to see what we could and couldn’t take in on the heli.  Fortunately we just slid under our weight limit and we started loading up.

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Ready to go!

Before we knew it we were all on board and the rotors started to spin as the engine fired up.  The weather had cleared and we were in for a beautiful ride up into our hunting area.  For those who have never rode in a heli it’s something I’d highly recommend.  Our two heli flights were definitely highlights of our trip.

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Weaving our way down to our final destination.

We spotted a few tahr on the flight in and saw some of the most beautiful country we’ve ever laid eyes on.  Montana will always be #1 in our minds but the country we flew over and got to hunt in here was equally impressive.  After unloading the heli the pilot took off and like that we were deep in the New Zealand backcountry with only the sound of the river a few hundred yards away.  We quickly sorted gear and put up tents.

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Ben setting up his M.I.A. Tent

Ben had a killer wall tent that he has been designing and refining over the years.  He’s calling the brand M.I.A. Gear and his tent and stove set up was money.  It was lightweight but extremely study and weather proof and served as a great spot to get warm and eat dinner ever night when we got back to camp.  Based off Ben’s advice and time spent hunting tahr we were really in no rush to get up the mountain.  The tahr typically bed up high in the cliffs and in the evening will start coming off the mountain to feed.  We took the next couple hours to soak up the sun and glass up a few nannies high up in the cliffs above camp.  Around 2 or 3 we shouldered our packs and headed up the drainage.  This was new country to everyone and we used the river as our path to get up to the head of the drainage.

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Boulder hopping our way up the canyon.

After climbing up to a high knob with a 360 degree view we dropped our packs and broke out the spotters.  We quickly started turning up tahr.  A lot of young bulls and nannies and kids occupied us for the first few hours.  As the shadows started to lengthen in the valley we spotted two bulls high in the cliffs below a hanging glacier.  The wind blew their long coats as they slowly dropped elevation.

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Letting the music lure our bulls down the mountain

Ben and August sized up their horn and body size and determined they would be worthy of a closer look.  We sat and watched them for about an hour as Six60 “Closer” played on Ben’s small speaker setup.  We all had a good laugh as the tahr seemingly listened exactly to the music and slowly got “closer, closer to you!” Soon we picked up and made a loop out of sight to get ahead of them and wait to see if they’d show up on the big apron of grass that emerged from the base of the cliffs. We shuffled closer and finally decided we were in a good position.  There were 3 tahr up on the hill now within 400 yards and getting closer.  We patiently waited until the biggest bull finally crested a small rise at about 60 yards.  Travis was ready and centered up the reticle and let a shot rip.  The shot found it’s mark and we had a nice bull on the ground.

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Travis with his bull tahr

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Ben explains to Josh how to age a tahr based off it’s horns.

Light quickly faded as we admired the bull.  He was a good bull hitting the tape at 11 3/4″.  We made quick work of the bull and soon had him loaded up.  The weight wasn’t heavy but the grass had become dew covered and the descent down the mountain included lots of slipping and sliding.  We crossed back over the river and finally rolled into camp.  Everyone was in good spirits and we had a few celebratory beers as tahr backstrap sizzled on the stove top.

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Tahr, sauteed onions, and a cold beverage

Day 1 was in the books and what a day it was.  Watch the video below to see how Day 1 played out high in the mountains of New Zealand.

Special thanks to Ben and August and if you’re interested in hunting any big game animals free range in New Zealand definitely hit up Ben at his website > www.bghnz.co.nz/

Written by : Zack Boughton

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As a DIY public land hunter, I have learned that your ultimate hunting rig is a crucial piece to hunting comfort and success. The money I do have I spend on tags and gas, not hotels and lodges. My gas bills alone during the fall will make most house wives cringe. So when it comes to my vehicle of transportation, I need it to be a home, a kitchen, lockable gear storage, and a means to access the sacred elk hunting grounds. Below are the steps I’ve done to  build my ultimate hunting rig:hunting rig, ultimate hunting vehicle, hunting truck, outfitting truck for hunting, sleep in truck, ARE caps, hunting, ARE MX series, cap, are topper, ARE cap, A.R.E. cap, dodge ram 1500

 

Step 1 is to own a reliable 4wd truck. A used truck is preferred, because if you are like me, the paint is going to get scratched, mud on the interior, a rock beaten under carriage, and occasional elk blood in the truck bed. If you’re scared to get your truck dirty, it probably won’t fit the bill for the ultimate hunting rig. Another note is get a truck with a bed that is at least 6′ long. If you plan on sleeping in the back of your vehicle, you need the added leg space.

hunting rig, ultimate hunting vehicle, hunting truck, outfitting truck for hunting, sleep in truck, ARE caps, hunting, DECKED storage, hunting storage,dodge ram 1500Step 2 is to purchase a truck cap. I have owned LEER and now A.R.E. and honestly the A.R.E. latches, handles and overall construction make it the top dog. Add the Rival LED Light Option and you are set for one badass hunter hotel (also makes for great lighting for images). Check out Big Sky Toppers for A.R.E. cap options in Bozeman. They are good dudes and will make sure to treat you well.

The biggest perk of having a truck cap is it transforms your boring truck bed into a dry location for you to sleep, store gear, cook food, and lock important items in your truck. Planning to shed hunt this spring? BOOM! You now have a safe place to stash your obese pile of brown gold in one locked location. Too tired to setup a tent for the night? KAPOW! Just blow up your backpacking air mattress and you have a cozy, warm shelter. Driving in a complete downpour with three of your favorite hunting buddies? No worries! All your gear will be dry in the back of the truck. The numerous benefits of a topper are so WORTH the money. The truck cap I went with for my truck is the A.R.E MX Series cap. The reason being, I sleep in my truck constantly throughout the year and I wanted maximum headroom. The MX Series has a slightly elevated roof for extra room. The DECKED drawer storage unit takes up about 12inches in the bottom of my truck bed, so any extra head space makes the sleeping quarters more comfortable.

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elk steaks, ultimate elk hunting rig, hunting truckStep 3 is to add a storage unit to your truck bed for organization. I prefer DECKED truck bed storage. Solid construction, easy installation, weather proof, and problem free. All around quality unit, that I have had zero problems with. The added drawers allow me a secondary lockable storage area and also allows me to organize gear in the back of my truck.

decked unit, decked drawer system, truck bed storage, build the ultimate hunting truckStep 4 is to buy a hitch carrier. This allows you to store a cooler and/or gas on the back of your truck. You don’t have to fowl your bedroom with gas fumes and the cooler is easy to access for food and drinks while on the road. Extra gas is a necessity! Many of the locations we hunt are +1 hours from the nearest gas station and I don’t want to make any unwanted detours during my hunts. My time is valuable and I want to spend my time hunting elk, not hunting down gas.

hunting rig, ultimate hunting vehicle, hunting truck, outfitting truck for hunting, sleep in truck, ARE caps, hunting, dodge ram 1500Other items I added to my rig is a Yakima rack system and a Load Warrior rack. This gives me extra space for storage and allows me to put elk racks on my roof if they don’t fit in the back of my truck (typically a good problem to have).

hunting rig, ultimate hunting vehicle, hunting truck, outfitting truck for hunting, sleep in truck, ARE caps, hunting, ARE MX series, cap, are topper, ARE cap, A.R.E. cap, dodge ram 1500, yakima load warrior, yakima hunting rackA few additional items that I would like to add to my rig down the road is a beefy front bumper and winch. Throw in a good set of tire chains and you can go just about anywhere. To see the full walk through on how I have setup my truck for on-the-go hunting, check out the video below and also please SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for notifications of our latest videos.

-Travis

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This fall we had the opportunity to work with our long time partner Bear Archery on a promotional video to help launch their 2018 lineup of bows.  With tags in Montana we hoped to fill during rifle we knew we would need to venture out-of-state to shoot an archery elk video.  With a quick turnaround we knew a September elk hunt would fit the bill.  One short scouting trip left me with some local info but film permitting forced us to hunt areas of the unit which I’d never stepped foot in.  With enough previous elk experience under our belt we still felt confident we could show up and eventually be in the thick of things.

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Sunset over Elk Country on night 1

We arrived late in the afternoon and were able to dip into the head of a basin that we hoped to hunt in the morning.  A faint bugle and a few elk spotted just before dark left us feeling hopeful for the morning.  The alarm came quick and without much pause we were headed down the mountain and began to sidehill through a large, timber filled basin.  We had hoped to hear bugles but were greeted only with small amounts of sign and nothing of much excitement.

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Other than a small bull this was the best sign we saw all morning

After the morning hunt we hopped into the truck and decided to move a few basins to the north.  A short drive down the road revealed multiple camps setup on the basin we had just hunted.  Our fingers were crossed that the next spot would be empty but we only found more of the same.  That night we quickly chowed down dinner and then scrutinized the maps and tried to decide on a new spot hopefully with less people.  Two days later we were in a new area with much more depth to the topography.  We hoped this would keep a few people out and our hike in the dark left us thinking of what might lie up the canyon.  As dawn barely began to show itself we heard our first bugle not more than a few hundred yards up the trail.  As we waited for shooting light we could hear multiple bulls sounding off further up the basin.  We continued up the draw and soon decided the best bet would be to chase the bull bugling closest to us and go from there.  We quickly climbed uphill following this bull headed to his bedding area.  When I felt we were on the verge of spooking some of the herd I decided now was the time to challenge him.  The next five minutes were spent exchanging bugles as I slowly worked closer.  Without a caller and with a cameraman in tow this can be a tough game to play but this day it worked to perfection.  As I moved up an elk trail I saw tines through the small pine trees ahead of me.  With an open lane in front of me I hooked up to my D-loop and waited.  As the bull disappeared behind the last tree separating us I drew.  Soon he emerged in the opening at 22 yards looking for his challenger.  One quick cow call slowed him enough to take a shot before he cleared my lane.  My arrow hit further back than I’d hoped but still caught lungs and I was able to watch my bull crash in a small rock field just 80 yards away.

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Tools of the trade

We took a few minutes to soak in what had just happened and then went to find my arrow.

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300 grains of steel

Stuck in a log my arrow was covered with bubbly, red blood.  It was a sight for sore eyes as it had been a few years since I’d been able to tag a bull during archery season.  A short walk left me admiring an awesome bull elk taken on our beautiful public lands.  We are truly blessed to do this.

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As we finished breaking the bull down it began to pour rain.  With about six hours of daylight left we knew we could get this elk back to the truck before dark but it would be wet and miserable.  For elk hunters it’s what we expect and the pain and hardship is eagerly welcomed.

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The Kifaru Argali making its maiden voyage and performing flawlessly

Two trips up and down the mountain left us at the truck, sipping a cold beverage pulled from the YETI.  With daylight quickly fading we packed the truck up and headed home.

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One quick stop and then back on the road

After getting home Travis quickly got to downloading all the footage and beginning the edit process.  A week later the edit was done and delivered.  Here is the 1 minute Bear Archery promotional film:

 

If you haven’t checked out the new lineup of bows from Bear Archery you can do so right here > 2018 Bear Archery lineup

The bow I shot was the Bear Approach, an entry level bow that prides itself on exceptional value.  When I got it I wasn’t entirely stoked knowing this was an entry level bow.  As an avid hunter I like to have the best equipment I can get my hands on but I swallowed my pride and gave the bow a chance to show its true colors.  After shooting and successfully hunting with this bow I was blown away at the feel and value that any bowhunter could get from a $399 bow.  It shot as good as I could shoot, was quiet and dead-in-hand, and most importantly easy to tune.  I had about 4 days to setup and tune this bow before hunting with it and if I didn’t feel comfortable with it I definitely wouldn’t have taken it.  At the end of the day it has to feel good in your hand and shoot well and this bow did both.

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2018 Bear Approach

-Written By Zack Boughton 

 

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Today we officially released our latest elk hunting film The Outlier.  This film has been a multi-year project for us and it’s hands down our best hunting content to date.  Follow along as four good friends battle to fill their elk tags with bows in hand in the Missouri River Breaks.  The film is available for purchase through our store on the website and also through Vimeo On Demand.  More information can be found on the films website www.theoutlierfilm.com

Purchase DVDs HERE.

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Purchase a DVD and T-Shirt combo pack HERE.

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And purchase the film digitally through Vimeo On Demand HERE.

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Its a fact that people that spend time in the mountains tend to be happier and carry a good attitude throughout their daily lives.  Exploring the mountains and gaining elevation equals having Good Altitude!  We are proud to release our lineup of Good Altitude Apparel!

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MTN GRAY COLORWAY

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HUNTER TWILL COLORWAY

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RED COLORWAY

To purchase Good Altitude hats click HERE.

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MTN TOP BLUE COLORWAY

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CHARCOAL COLORWAY

To purchase Good Altitude shirts click HERE.  As a way of giving back, 3% of the sale of this product will go towards conservation (RMEF, BHA, TRCP).

the outlier official trailer

We are proud to announce The Outlier Official Trailer.  This is our first full length elk hunting film and we excited for the July 10th full film release!

Shot in 2015, this film follows four friends as they hope to fill their archery elk tags during Montana’s general archery season.  Filmed on public lands in North Central Montana.  To read more about the film please visit the website > www.theoutlierfilm.com 

You can also view the first trailer HERE.

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September Calls is all about the instinctive draw to one of the most special times of year, September.  Here in the West September marks the elk rut and for archers it’s the time of year they most patiently wait for.  Beautiful landscapes, bugling bulls, crisp mornings, long hikes through God’s country and hopefully a punched tag and full freezer.  Get your September Calls Apparel today!  All September Calls apparel products are part of our 3% For Conservation offering and will help assist in conservation efforts here in Montana and across the West.

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September Calls Hats

To purchase September Calls Hats click HERE.

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STONE COLORWAY

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MIDNIGHT BLUE COLORWAY

To purchase September Calls T-shirts click HERE.

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The Montana PRO Apparel lineup is designed to mean many things.  PRO-Montana, PRO-hunting, PRO-fishing, PRO-publiclands, PRO-streamaccess, PRO-conservation, PRO-camping, and so on.  The core premise of the logo is to be “PRO” whatever it is that you want the hat to represent.  It doesn’t mean you are a “professional” at anything.  Although you could definitely wear the hat with that purpose.  All PRO apparel products are part of our 3% For Conservation offering and will help assist in conservation efforts here in Montana and across the West.

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Montana PRO Flat Brim

You can view and purchase our Montana PRO Flat Brim HERE.

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Montana PRO Curved Brim Hat

You can view and purchase our Montana PRO Classic Fit HERE.

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As of April 2017, Montana Wild has acquired a majority of the designs from the Bozeman based company Promont Outdoors. We are excited to continue producing high quality products with these awesome designs.

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PRO Design

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September Calls Design

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Good Altitude Design

The designs PRO, September Calls, and Good Altitude will now be available through our STORE. Based off the generosity of the acquisition by the previous owner we’ve decided to help “pay it forward” by donating 3% of the sale of those products back to conservation (RMEF, BHA, TRCP).  You can read more about the 3 Percent For Conservation HERE.  As product releases to the public we will have updates on product offerings on the website and through our social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram.

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The Outlier.  If you haven’t heard about this film or seen the first teaser yet you should do so.  You can learn more HERE.  This is our largest film project to date and will be our best work yet.  Shot over the course of an entire archery season in Montana’s Missouri River Breaks, this film was no small undertaking.  I spent 40+ days in the field between filming and hunting and it was a great chance to capture some amazing moments and be part of some great elk hunts.  Going into this project we knew it would involve a lot of moving pieces and we would be filming with Josh and Brandon making things even more interesting.  With that in mind we hoped to capture some short snippets of what went into making this film.

Go check out the film’s website theoutlierfilm.com and read more about this film.  We expect the film to be released via DVD and VimeoOnDemand coming July 10th!

Zack