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Montana Wild, Outdoor Apparel, Stoke, Rifle Build Tee, Fast Food Pheasant Snapback, Wild State Trucker, Montana PRO Buckle Tee, Topo Trout Trucker

With spring just around the corner, chances are you’re looking for some dope new outdoor apparel to wear out on the water, and up in the hills. Good news for you, we’ve got everything you need right here. Whether you’re a die hard fly fisherman, or a custom rifle fanatic, we’ve got the perfect piece of gear for you. Want to do some shopping? Click HERE. You can view our full line of apparel under the SHOP section of our website, or scroll down to check out the latest and greatest from Montana Wild. Don’t wait too long, they’ll be gone before you know it!

Topo Trout Trucker

The Topo Trout Trucker simply put is the bees knees. This leather patch hat is clean and simple. Rep your trout addiction with pride.

-Premium Airflow Trucker Mesh

-Premium leather patch

-Curved brim

 

 

Topo Trout Trucker, Montana Wild, Fly Fishing, Stoke, Apparel, Bozeman, Missoula, Billings, Helena, Denver, fishing, trout, hunting, outdoor media, fly fishing film, SKWLHALLA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MW Trout Trucker

Montana Wild has teamed up with Simms Fishing for a deadly trout trucker hat combo. Get them before they’re gone!

-Snapback (one size fits most)

-Crown Fit: Low

-Simms Premium Thread Design

-Limited Edition

 

 

MW Trout Trucker, Montana Wild, Hunting, Fishing, Fly fishing, Montana, Bozeman, Billings, Helena, Missoula, Denver, fishing film, outdoor media, stoke, get bent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild State Trucker

Rep your favorite state in style with our new Wild State Trucker. We all know you’re a little wild and that you love the greatest state of all-time…Montana.

– Premium airflow trucker mesh back

– Premium Branded Bills leather patch

 

 

Wild State Trucker, Montana Wild, apparel, stoke, Montana, hunting, fishing, rodeo, western, fly fishing, brown trout, last best place, hunting, elk hunting, deer hunting, western

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast Food Pheasant Snapback

Own the most badass pheasant hat on the planet. The Fast Food Pheasant Snapback is a show stopper to say the least. Wear it in the field while you hunt upland birds, or on the water while you slay bucknasty browns. Available in maroon (flat brim) and black (curved brim).

-Snapback (one size fits most)

-Premium Thread Design

-Premium Branded Bills leather patch

 

 

Fast Food Pheasant Snapback, Montana Wild, apparel, outdoor apparel, upland, bird hunting, hunting, bird dog, fast food, stoke, prairie, game bird, shotgun, Montana wild

 

 

 

 

 

Montana PRO Buckle Tee

The rodeo inspired Montana PRO Buckle Tee is the perfect way to show off your Montana pride. This limited edition colorway is only here until its gone!

-Fits true to size

-Soft to touch

-M|L|XL|2XL

Montana Wild, Outdoor Media, fly fishing, hunting, conservation, film, photography, stoke, second amendment, Montana, Missoula, Bozeman, Billings, Denver, rodeo, western, Montana PRO Buckle Tee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rifle Build Tee

Who isn’t dreaming about their next rifle build? Hit the range, mountains, or night on the town in style in our new Rifle Build Tee. Comfortable, classic fitting, and ready for your next adventure. We love guns, do you?

-Soft to touch

-Fits true to size

-Super Soft Print

-M|L|XL|2XL

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild

It’s now been over a month since I embarked on my first ever mountain goat hunt.  Since then I’ve spent a good amount of time elk hunting and every time there is high, rocky country my eye wanders looking for those white specs.  I’ve actually spotted about a dozen goats now in areas I’d never think of looking if it hadn’t have been for this goat hunt.  Each time I watch them I’m reminded of their sheer agility and willingness to live in some truly wild places.  Back to my hunt though.  The plan was to get on the mountain a few days before season, locate a billy I’d seen during scouting and fill my tag quickly.  The plan sounded good enough.

mountain, hunting, goats, montana, wild, backpack, kifaru, bear archery

Kifaru Markhor loaded for 5 days.

With a heavy pack and fresh legs we started up the trail.  The weather was clear and warm and we made quick time en route to our first glassing location.  Cresting the ridge two hours later and glassing down into the first basin revealed a billy working across the top of some large cliffs.  So far so good.

mountain goat, montana, hunting, mountain goat hunting

A younger billy showing off in a maze of cliffs.

The next two days would be spent glassing from a large ridgeline, affording us a view into 4 different basins.  The closest basin was where I thought our target goat was living and sure enough on the first day we located him bedded under a rock edge.  Despite their white color the mountain goats were proving to be difficult to spot at times.

mountain goat, montana, hunting

Our target billy taking advantage of the topography. Well hid and shaded.

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild, scouting, big 3

The daily jaunt up and down the ridge to glass and then glass some more.

That night we watched him peel around the edge of the basin headed towards the easiest trail to access and hike in the unit.  With a day till season he’d surely not make such a silly decision right?

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild

The last sight of this billy. Around the bend into a bad zone for him.

The following day was one that didn’t build much confidence for the opener.  Our day began and ended the same, posted up along the ridge letting the glass do our walking.  Only a nanny and kid were spotted during the long day.

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild, sitka gear, vortex optics, mountain goat hunting

Wondering where all the goats are at.

With all the nearby goats pushing further into the unit we hoped overnight we’d have a few work back into the closer basins.  The plan was to wake up first thing and look for our billy, if he didn’t show we’d make a long push along a ridge we believed was safe to travel along, leading us into a remote basin that seemed a sure bet to find a goat.

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild, camping, backcountry

Camped out with the next days ridgeline looming.

The next morning broke to more beautiful weather.  As soon as we could see we were scouring hillsides looking for white specs.  Thirty minutes revealed nothing and we knew we needed to make our push towards the remote back basin.

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild, sitka gear, bowhunting, mountain goat hunting

Goat country doesn’t lack in beauty.

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild, hiking

The route better than anticipated. Still a “no-fall” zone.

The route proved doable and we soon crested over the top.  The basin sprawled out before us.  With game trails worn deep into the ridgeline we figured it would only be a matter of time before spotted a goat.  Unfortunately that afternoon only turned up a small group of sheep.  Disappointing but I guess that’s hunting.  We retraced our steps in time to take a last look for our same billy before we hit the tent for the night.  He was nowhere to be found and we got some needed rest before waking up hoping that the goats would reappear.  The next morning we quickly made it to our glassing point hoping a billy would be back into the nearest basin.  Nothing showed and the surrounding areas were devoid of goats as well.  Our move to test out new country in hopes of catching a billy off guard had proved futile.  We begrudgingly packed camp knowing today would be a long one.  A 1500′ drop would get us back to the trail and back up the mountain we’d go in the opposite direction.  As we crest the pass I got cell service and a text message told of a billy shot right off the trail where we now stood.  Apparently mountain goats can make easy and fatal mistakes.  With other camps on the pass we figured we’d drop elevation again to push deeper into the unit.  It wasn’t ideal but it would put us into some remote mountain goat country.  Three hours later we’d dropped to the bottom and climbed up to our next camp.  We were physically drained and took an hour to eat and take a short rest.  With rain in the forecast we knew we needed to push on and try to find a billy.

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild, vortex optics, kifaru, mountain goat hunting

More wild and vast country.

A look into a vast chuck of country only revealed one goat, two miles across the basin.  He’d be safe for now.  We quickly sidehilled across the ridge to the next saddle.  Only a few seconds into glassing a goat was spotted bedded under a rim of cliffs.  The spotter revealed he was a billy and we knew a move had to be made quickly.

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild

Bedded for optimal visibility. Typical goat move.

With adrenaline fueling our legs we sidehilled hoping our remote movements wouldn’t be observed by our target.  His bed afforded a perfect view of all below him and a careful stalk would be necessary to get close.  A mile out we had to begin utilizing the small amount of cover we had.  Staying behind trees and small boulders got us to 1000 yards.  He was now up and feeding.  100-200 yard openings would need to be covered as he fed up the hill and not looking in our direction.  Some patience was necessary but eventually we got to 300 yards.  He was still unaware of our presence but with a rifle built for it’s light weight and ruggedness and not it’s accuracy I knew getting closer would make this stalk into a guaranteed kill.  Another sprint in the open with the billy feeding away put us underneath him and to our last zone of cover.  As I peeked up over the boulders my rangefinder told me he was 190 yards away.  With a good rest this would be a sure shot.  I eased onto my pack and chambered a round.  The view through the riflescope was utterly clear and somewhat unreal.  The moment had come, I looked at his horns and although I knew bigger existed on the mountain this day had been an experience that embodied what I wanted the hunt to be.  It felt right and I confirmed Travis had him in the spotter.  As he stood slightly quartering away I eased into the trigger until it broke and the last thing I saw was the goat flip over and begin a short tumble down the mountain.  The next few moments were spent riding out the adrenaline high and realizing that we now were deep in the mountains with lots of work to be done and darkness quickly approaching.

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild, wildflowers, mountain goat hunting

Life and death. A solemn and sobering moment.

mountain goat, hunting, montana, wild, mountain goat hunting

A beautiful location to end the journey.

A mountain goat tag is a very special thing to have.  That said mountain goat hunting doesn’t entitle you to a trophy or a goat, it only means you get to have an experience unlike any other and one you surely won’t forget.

Zack Boughton

It’s now August and most bucks have put on about as much antler growth as they’ll get before shedding their velvet.  With season starting soon this is a good time to get in a few quality days of mule deer scouting in hopes that your season will be a success.  With that said, scouting for mule deer in the high country can be a daunting task if you aren’t sure where to start. Ever wonder where you can learn about the necessities of backpack scouting? Below we’ll take you through some of the process so your next trip into the mountains is time well spent.

mule deer, scouting, mountains, high country, summer, mule deer scouting

Your first order of business should be deciding where you want to go. Mule deer have a wide range of habitats ranging from sage flats, to high mountain peaks above tree line. Depending on your physical ability, and willingness to hike, you’ll have a wide range of options to chose from in Montana and many other western states. I personally like to scout in more remote locations and at higher elevation. If you are willing to do the hiking it takes to get into the backcountry, you’ll eliminate many of the struggles that people sticking closer to roads and town will have due to human pressure on the animals.

scouting, maps, montana, mule deer, mule deer scouting

When preparing to scout the high country, I try to look for a few key things that will be essential for deer to live there. Food, water, and cover are the main three, but other things come into play as well. When looking over country on Google Earth, it can be hard to figure out where all of these necessities are located, but if you pay attention to detail, you will be much more successful at finding deer. For instance, much of the high country in western Montana is rocky and rugged. This means that in an area that’s super rocky, you’re going to want to look for grassy meadows in bowls, basins, and on top of ridgelines for food sources. Another great food source for high country bucks are burns. Burns provide regrowth, and abundant amounts of food for deer and elk to feed on in the summer months, but can make glassing much harder, and make the animals much less predictable due to the abundance and wide range of feeding locations. When looking at a spot on google earth, I always try to think about: “Where are they going to eat, how are they getting there, and what are they eating?”

montana, mule deer, scouting, wildlife

When scouting high country mule deer, you will want to have a very select list of gear in your arsenal, and know how to use it well if you plan on being successful at finding that giant velvet buck you’ve been dreaming about. When packing for a trip, I try to keep three important things in mind: space, weight, and durability. You’ll want to make sure you have everything you need, while eliminating items that you don’t think will be necessary. As a general rule, I tell myself that If I’m not going to use something three or more times on a trip, then it’s not going in my pack. This obviously excludes necessities like first aid kits, bear spray, and emergency survival gear, but you get the point. Below is a list of some of the items that always come with me into the backcountry, that are easy to find in different weights and sizes depending on how much money you are looking to spend.

  1. One or two person lightweight tent (I prefer a two-man tent to keep myself and my gear dry in the event of a storm.)
  2. Lightweight packable sleeping pad
  3. Sleeping bag & compression sack
  4. Water purification pump
  5. First Aid kit
  6. Bear Spray or a side arm
  7. Mountaineering boots (Although not a necessity, a stiff boot with added support will make your hikes and time scouting much more enjoyable, avoiding unnecessary foot fatigue.)
  8. Binoculars
  9. Spotting scope
  10. Lightweight compact tripod
  11. Freeze dried food items (Mountain house, Backpacker’s Pantry, etc.)
  12. Snacks ( anything from Cliff Bars to trail mix/jerky to a bag of M&M’s. You will want to bring something to snack on while glassing / have a way of getting some calories in you without stopping to make a Mountain House)
  13. Eating utensils
  14. A 100 Ounce water bladder or a couple one liter Nalgene bottles.

Now that we’ve gone over what gear to bring on your trip, it’s time to discuss packing your pack. Ideally, you are going to want to have a good sized pack that can easily hold all of your gear. I like to keep in mind when packing my pack that if it were hunting season, I may need more room on the way out in the event that you do harvest a buck. When putting your gear in your pack you will want to make sure you are distributing weight evenly, and that you aren’t putting the important things that you may need to access quickly at the bottom of your pack. I know it sounds like a no brainer, but the last thing you want is to be desperately digging around for your spotting scope as a stud buck is heading for the timber off in the distance.

scouting, summer, deer, montana

A couple of weeks ago I went scouting in Southwest Montana, and it was an eye opening experience for me, in the sense that I had no idea how big the country was going to be. This was my first time scoutng in that specific spot, and had an awesome experience. Over the course of the two days we spent in the backcountry, we spent time scouting between 6,500 – 8500’ and were able to locate a good number of bucks, in a wide range of locations. On the first day we packed in at dark hoping to reach a solid glassing point by daybreak. After reaching where we had planned to start glassing, I quickly realized that the country we were in was much larger than I had imagined. As the day went on we covered more country, locating multiple water sources and stopping at a few more good vantage points to glass, but only located a few deer. After a midday nap, followed by hunkering down in a hailstorm, we moved to the next ridge and sat down to glass.

mule deer, scouting, montana, high country, burn, mule deer scouting

It wasn’t long, and Zack had spotted a group of bucks bedded down. As the evening went on, we worked our way around the bowl, glassing it from multiple vantage points, and turning up more and more deer. A lot of times the key in scouting the high country is finding the pockets where the deer like to frequent. Many times when you find one group of deer in a basin, there will be many more as well.

montana, summer, deer, hiking, camping

The following week, I headed into another promising backcountry area with a good friend in hopes of locating more bucks and bulls before the fast approaching season. After my experience the week before, I knew going into it that the country was going to be much larger than it looked on Google Earth, so I planned accordingly bringing extra food and water for the hike in. After a six mile hike, we set up camp and glassed the last hour of the evening, turning up one small buck. As the next morning rolled around, we got up and glassed the first couple of hours on the other side of camp from where we had glassed the night before. Just as I was about to move to a new spot, I found a group of bucks feeding through the bottom of a basin surrounded by cliffs and shale slides on all sides. Although none of the bucks were shooters, it was nice to know that I was finding deer in areas where I had predicted they would be because of readily available food.

montana, hiking, scouting, hunting, summer

Over the course of the day we hiked an 8 mile loop up to one of the surrounding peaks, and back. This gave us the opportunity to spend the middle of the day checking out new country, and glassing occasionally in spots that looked like they would have the best chance of holding animals. We didn’t turn up any more bucks that day, but it was an awesome way to see the country first hand, and get an idea of what areas we needed to focus on come September. As we got back to camp and built a fire, the wind picked up, and the temperature began to drop as a storm rolled in. Although this was a less than ideal situation, we came prepared, and were able to layer up and hunker down for the night while the storm passed.

Camp

The next morning, we decided to glass a new spot closer to camp, and to our surprise, turned up three more bucks, but again no shooters. That afternoon, we packed up camp, and began our hike back to the truck. About half way into the hike, we came across a ton of bear sign. This was no surprise to us, and if you plan on hunting and scouting in the high country, and wilderness areas in particular, then you’d better be ready to encounter bears. This isn’t something that should scare you, or deter you from going into these areas, but it is something to be aware of and prepare for.

flat tire, montana, nighttime

Whether you are on the drive into the trailhead, or ten miles from the truck, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be prepared for any situation. My final piece of advice would be to double check everything from your tire repair kit in your truck, to your first aid kit in your pack before you leave, because you never know what can happen out there. Luckily, if you come prepared, you can keep a little problem at bay and fix it before it becomes much more serious. Do your research, pack smart, come prepared, scout hard, and have an awesome time doing it.

Written By: Calvin Connor

Edited By: Zack Boughton

Photos: Travis Boughton, Zack Boughton, Calvin Connor

In the past I had seen only hunters in the high country using trekking poles for sheep hunts. I never really thought they would benefit my everyday hunting endurance and performance. This last summer I finally tested a pair of trekking poles, primarily using them for summer scouting hikes and during parts of the hunting season. I was greatly surprised how beneficial they were, while still being lightweight and not cumbersome. Below are 4 reasons why you should think about adding a trekking pole to your hunting gear arsenal.

1) Trekking poles help you balance. When hiking steep inclines, declines, and sidehills, trekking poles give you a third contact point with the ground. This allows you to have better balance and stability. I found that trekking poles in wet or snowy conditions was a life saver.

2) Gain better rhythm & hiking pace with trekking poles. On my first scouting trip using a trekking pole I noticed not only that I was able to hike faster, but also able to gain a rhythm in my hiking pace. Over long periods of hiking I noticed less fatigue, not to mention being able use arm strength to aid in pushing uphills and slowing impact on downhills. This was critical for long hikes, steep ascents, and also when packing out heavy loads.

 

3) Feel safer on technical hikes. When scouting this past summer, I had a steep ascent to a ridgetop that was covered in downfall. This stuff is nasty and I had no choice but to leap frog through the fallen trees. Having a trekking pole to help aid my balance, allowed myself to not fall and get speared by short branches on fallen trees. Overall I felt more comfortable in sketchy hiking situations when using a trekking poles.

4) Trekking poles have multiple uses. Not only are trekking poles a great hiking aid, but they can also double as a rest for your binos while glassing. I can’t stress having a steady rest when glassing enough. If your binos are shaking, your not picking up those small details on the hillsides.  Also, if you need a shelter you can use the trekking pole as a support for your tent or rain fly. This allows you to leave tent poles behind and possibly cut weight out of your overall backpack weight. The uses are endless, but creativity is a must. There is an Easton Connex accessory that makes your trekking poles into a pair of shooting sticks, which comes in very handy.

I highly recommend the Easton Carbon 3 Trekking Pole. Its easy to make height adjustments, lightweight, comfortable to use, and stays locked when heavy weight is added onto pole. The Carbon 3 poles come with powder baskets and tips for hardpack or snowpack conditions.

 

-Travis

 

Hunting out of your backpack is something every hunter should try at some point.  The endeavor isn’t easy.  Day after day of hunting in the backcountry with only your backpack will mentally and physically wear on you.  If you haven’t trained in some way to handle the extra stress that a backpack hunt will put on your body then I recommend attempting a 2-3 day hunt about 5 miles back.    Backpack hunting is by far one of our favorite ways to hunt and it can make a big difference in the quality of animals you can hunt.  It allows you to really connect with the land and gain a greater appreciation for the outdoors.

hunting, montana, wild, black bears, sitka gear, backcountry, rifle

With rifle season about to begin it often can pay off to get out further away from access areas.  During the first 3 weeks we’ll be doing just that as we look to hunt in areas that just don’t see many hunters.  Already this year we’ve hunted with camp on our back over a half dozen times, and figured we would give you a quick look into what we carry.  The goal when backpack hunting should be to stay warm, dry, and happy.

elk, hunting, montana, wild, bowhunting, sitka, bear, archery

This past week we did a quick 2 day trip about 5 miles back.  We were searching some high country basins for mule deer.  Despite not seeing any bucks it was still a success and was a good prep for some longer trips we have planned for rifle season.  Below is some of what I generally will carry in my pack for trips from 2-7 days.  Click the photo to enlarge.

backpack, hunting, montana, wild, camping, mule, deer, elk, bear

Pack:  Mystery Ranch Metcalf

Tent:  MSR 2 man

Bag:  Mountain Hardware 20 degree bag

Pad:  Therma Rest Neo Air

Layers:  Merino Wool top, Jetstream Jacket, Jetstream Vest, Kelvin Hoody, Timberline pant, Stormfront pant, Dewpoint Jacket, 1 baseball cap, beanie, Smartwool long underwear, 2 pairs of socks, 2 light gloves, 1 heavy glove.

Food:  Dehydrated meals, Clif Bars, trail mix, jerky, dark chocolate, fruit snacks, candy

Boots:  Danner Crag Rat

Others:  Backpacking stove, water filter, 4 game bags, CamelBak 75L, Vortex Razor 65mm spotting scope, tripod, 2 knives, knife sharpener, firestarter, 2 lighters, GPS, headlamp, 75′ para-cord, extra shoelace, notepad, pencil, toiletries, first aid kit

elk, hunting, montana, wild, backpacking, camping, backcountry

This list doesn’t include everything and is just the essentials.  It’s not a perfect list and should simply get you started in the right direction if you’ve never done such a hunt.  We don’t weigh our gear and get worried over ounces due to the heavy camera gear that we constantly carry.  If you can, go as light as possible.  You legs will thank you and you’ll be able to hunt harder.  As the season progresses we’ll try to keep notes on what does and doesn’t work for us out there on the mountain.  The vibes are good going into rifle season and good luck to everyone out there!

-Zack

 

If you missed Part 1 be sure to read it HERE before continuing.

The crack of dawn arrived quickly and we all slowly emerged from our tents to tackle another day on the mountain.  The hours were getting long and full days on the mountain will mentally take a toll on you.  This morning the goal was to work the upper end of a drainage we had yet to hunt.  We were hoping the warm weather would push a bear or two up into the newly exposed areas.  We slowly climbed up and around the mountain.  It was just after 8am when we crested over the final ridge.  A small basin of lush green grass was below us.  We glassed for an hour without any luck.  We grabbed the predator call and began a series of calling, hoping to entice any bears in the area to show themselves.  After twenty five minutes we called it quits.  We relocated to the top of the hill and settled in for a long day of waiting for a bear to emerge.

idaho, backcountry, wilderness, bear, hunting, spring

We settled in and layed under a tree for the next 8 hours.  The only animals to show themselves were a few lonely mule deer who were traveling up the basin.  No one was feeling super confident about the area and we made the call to work back down to the low clearing which we had spotted three bears in over the past five days.  We stealthily worked back down the mountain but didn’t turn up a bear.  With only an hour of light left we decided to try calling again.  Zack began a sequence of distress calls that went on and off for the next half an hour.  Nothing had emerged and Travis and I had thrown in the towel.  I was slowly working back to my pack when Travis motioned for me to get down.  Zack had stayed back on the rock and had spotted a good bear that stepped out into the clearing.  He was 400 yards up the hill and slowly feeding left to right.  A scramble ensued as we quickly set up the packs so I could get a solid rest.

Travis had moved away to check a small clearing to the left, Zack was stationed on a small rock and I had started making my way back to the packs. All of a sudden I looked up to see Travis frantically pointing up the hill, Zack had spotted a bear above us and motioned for me to get ready for a shot. Anthony VonRuden, Montana Wild, Mystery Ranch, Vortex, Long Range Shooting, Snowy Mountain Rifle Company, Idaho Hunting, Montana Wild I made a solid rest out of the packs as Zack got the camera ready. I steadied my breathing and Travis called out the yardage, 405 yards. I turned the dial on the Vortex to 2.75 MOA and settled the crosshairs. The bear turned broadside and I squeezed off the shot. It was a solid hit but the big boar turned and ran uphill, he slowed to a walk and I sent another round his way. I missed him just high but it didn’t matter the bear tipped over and rolled to a stop twenty yards down the hill. My emotions overtook me and I had to take a minute to gather myself. I told the guys that this was my most meaningful trophy to date. Bear Hunting, Sitka, Montana Wild, Vortex, Idaho Bears, Idaho Bear Hunting Our work was not finished, we snapped some photos and started taking care of the old boar. We made it back to camp at around two in the morning. After a few hours of sleep we broke down camp and loaded our mystery ranch packs to brim. It was still another twelve miles to the trailhead and we would all be carrying packs in excess of seventy pounds. This hunt was a true test of our resilience and determination. I know that I will not soon forget the adventure that we shared and look forward to many more challenges to come! Lone Wolf Knives, Bear Hunting, Punching Tags, Bear Hunting

Zack and Travis got the cameras rolling and I settled my sights on the black chest of the unaware bear.  This time I would wait for a prime shot.  As if to tempt me, the bear took a few long minutes before turning broadside.  As he did I slipped my finger onto the trigger and began the slow squeeze.  At 15 ounces the trigger cracked easily and my shot connected with a loud “thwack!”  The bear looped uneasily uphill and began to slow.  I quickly fired another round.  It missed him just high but it didn’t matter as he tipped over on the steep hillside.  I rolled to the side as a surge of emotions overcame me.  We had overcome the previous night’s failure and had come back in epic fashion.  Thoughts of my dad and his history with this place made the moment one of my most memorable and I told the guys that this was my most meaningful trophy to date.  We quickly grabbed our gear and began the hike up to my first Idaho black bear.

black, bear, hunting, idaho, wilderness, backcountry, montana wild, boughton, vonruden

black bear, hunting, snowy mountain rifles, vortex, razor hd

Our work was far from finished though.  We snapped some photos and started taking care of the old boar.  When we finally finished our work on the bear we threw him in the Mystery Ranch Metcalf and began the short hike back to camp.  We rolled into camp and enjoyed another night by the fire with fresh backstrap roasting in the golden flames.

bear, hunting, black, backstraps, idaho, montana, wild, spring

We crawled into our tents that night at 2AM.  It had been a long six days in the mountains.  Our feet we’re blistered, our hands cut and dirty, and our legs sore and achy.

camping, idaho, wilderness, backcountry, msr, tents

Sleep came easy that night, but was quickly disrupted as our alarms began ringing at 5AM.  No one wanted to get up, but with 12 miles ahead of us it was necessary to get an early beat so we could make it back to civilization in time to check our bears in before heading back to Montana.  We quickly broke down camp and distributed our gear amongst the three Mystery Ranch packs.  It was twelve miles to the trailhead and we would all be carrying packs in excess of seventy pounds.  This hunt was a true test of our resilience and determination and the test would only be over when we finally laid eyes on the truck.

black bear, hunting, idaho, montana wild, mystery ranch, metcalf

As we dropped elevation our packs buried deep into our shoulders.  The pain was there but it was some of the best pain I’ve felt.  Pushing yourself to your limits and seeing what your capable of is something that is so rewarding and I’d encourage everyone to get outside their comfort zone this year.  You just may surprise yourself and I know that I will not soon forget the adventure that we shared and look forward to many more challenges to come!

Yeti, coolers, bear, hunting, idaho, montana wild, travis boughton

Special thanks to the following killer companies for making the best gear out there: Snowy Mountain Rifles, Sitka Gear, Vortex Optics, Mystery Ranch, YETI Coolers, Hunting GPS Maps, Danner Boots, Lone Wolf Knives, MSR, and Garmin.

-Written by Anthony VonRuden.  Edited by Zack Boughton