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2018, bear archery, bow, promo, lineup, bowhunting elk, elk

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.

elk hunting, idaho, public land, archery, diy, bear archery

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.

elk hunting, idaho, public land, archery, diy, bear archery

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.

elk hunting, idaho, public land, archery, diy, bear archery, bear approach

Tools of the trade

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

elk hunting, idaho, public land, archery, diy, bear archery

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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elk hunting, idaho, public land, archery, diy, bear archery, bear approach

elk hunting, idaho, public land, archery, diy, bear archery

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.

elk hunting, idaho, public land, archery, diy, bear archery, kifaru, argali, hunting backpack, 2018 bear archery promo

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 

 

late season archery hunting, film

Today we are releasing our latest hunting film, THE COLD.  This film was shot over the course of two years spent late season archery hunting for mule deer.  The COLD is both a descriptive word for late season hunts, but also represents a sickness. In this case a sickness for chasing rutting mule deer. Watch as Zack puts his skills to the test searching for a mature buck.  Presented by Vortex Optics

And if you missed the teaser you can watch it HERE and a blog post giving some of the backstory of this hunt and film can be read HERE.

If you’re still doing Christmas shopping don’t forget we have a great line of apparel for the outdoorsmen or woman at our MONTANA WILD STORE.

-Zack Boughton

 

august, rush, film, antelope, speedgoat, pronghorn, montana, wild, video, rifle, hunt, hunting

August is always an exciting month in Montana. Its the start of the archery season, and a great time to get your hunting skills sharp before elk season gets underway. Chasing antelope in the rolling hills of Montana is a rush and definitely one of our favorite archery hunts. AUGUST RUSH is an archery hunt from a couple years ago, where Zack and myself find success with our good friend Branden VanDyken.

If you are gearing up for an antelope hunt, make sure to check out our latest Pronghorn inspired t-shirt HERE.

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-Travis

bear, hunting, montana, spring, video

With spring bear hunting in full swing here in the West we are releasing BUSTED.  This film, shot in 2013, follows Zack as he looks to arrow a black bear in the mountains of Western Montana.

Supported by: Bear Archery

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There would be no dark timber, no wallows and downfall this September. The subsititues would be coulees filled with sage and brush, patchy timber, clay buttes and grassy bottoms. The elk would be more visible but also much more educated. The name of the game would be spot-and-stalk, which was fine with me. When we arrived at our campsite a few days before season we were welcomed by seeing a dozen bulls trotting off from a pond nearby. The elk were here, we just needed to find the half blind, deaf and dumb ones and we’d be ok.

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The first day started quick. We spotted a herd feeding up back towards the hills as the east was beginning to lighten. The wind was still working in our favor and we quickly looped ahead. A couple bugles littered the morning as we dropped the packs. I snuck up to the last bush before the saddle I figured they would travel through. Travis stayed back with the camera in a more hidden position. I slowly stood to see if they were still coming. A small raghorn was looking my way but didn’t appear to recognize me. There were a bunch of bulls behind him and I crouched back down and put my release on the string. A minute later the first of about 10 bulls came through at 56 yards. Raghorn, spike, raggy, raggy, raggy, damn raggy! The last two bulls came into view, both small immature bulls. I cow called and one stopped perfectly broadside. I held my pin behind the shoulder. He was toast if I wanted him. I let down and they trotted off. Well things were off to a good start but where did the herd bull go? We dipped over to the next small ridgeline and sat down. Soon we saw a good bull emerge across the basin, pushing cows and softly bugling. They had made it to the timber and the game was over at the moment.

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Right now your probably thinking it’s just another cheery day in Montana out elk hunting but I’ll give you one word that will change your mind, mosquitoes. Heavy rains dropping multiple inches of moisture in late August had spawned the gnarliest hatch of mosquitoes that anyone had seen in many many years. At any moment you could have 20-100 mosquitoes swarming your body thirsty for blood. It made life miserable as they were there 24/7. Any semblance of scent control was out the window as you had to constantly be spraying bug spray to have any degree of comfort out there. The daily bite average had to be over 20 bites even with bug spray and head nets, which were worn during times of the most intense attacks.

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After a few days of this we were greeted by heavy rain for two days. Our boots were wet and with nothing to build a fire near our truck we were stuck in the truck with wet layers, socks and sleeping bags courtesy of a leaky topper. We camped it out, it’s part of the adventure right?

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When the rain had resided we began hunting again. The mud stuck to your boots in large amounts. Turning your boots into 5 pound mud clogs. We still found elk and even a couple nice deer but stalking in mud that was multiple inches deep that squeaks and sloshes makes a quiet approach almost impossible.

elk, hunting, montana, wild, films, bowhunt, sitka gear

A day after the rain the hordes of mosquitoes were back which made for equally difficult stalking conditions. Trying to sneak through the timber within 100 yards of a bull with 10 cows is tough when your trying to swat mosquitoes out of your eyes and ears, add in a second guy filming and it gets even harder. Over the next week I was within 100 yards of 7-8 bulls that I’d be more than happy to tag. It seemed the elk had a sixth sense and would do everything opposite of what they had been doing prior to the stalk and contrary to what you thought they’d do. Add in a few stalks blown by dumb hunters (me) and a couple by death by mosquito and I was feeling a bit angry and frustrated. My time was up for the time being and it was my turn to pick up the camera and get to filming. Four days later Travis had a bull down and we were headed back to Missoula with an elk in the truck.

elk, browtine, bull, hunting, montana

We knew we had to return. We had about a week and a half until we had to head east for mule deer and I had a grudge to pick with these bulls. As we pulled into our morning spot the truck read 74 degrees. This was at 5:30 am. It was hot and daily temps for the next two days would easily surpass 85 degrees. The elk were back in their first and last hour regiment and sightings were minimal. The third morning the bulls were pumped up though, with 5 different bulls firing off in one small basin. After a couple hours we had closed the gap on the one bull staying vocal after the sun had risen. He was up at the head of a small draw. The boots came off and we headed up the side of the draw. After twenty minutes we heard coughing and hacking about 70 yards in front of us. After sneaking around a couple bushes I could see a cow shaking her head and blowing her nose trying to clear her airways of something. It seems she had sucked in one of those pesky mosquitoes. I glassed around her but saw no elk. I decided to loop up around a hundred yards. As we started dropping down into the timber I heard a bugle right back where we had been just ten minutes ago. They had circled under us and they were now up and moving. A few minutes later as we closed the gap on the bull a collared cow busted us and the gig was up. As we got back to the packs Travis says, “I wonder if that bull smelled the estrus I sprayed while I was waiting as you were watching that cow?” All I could do is laugh and shake my head. Sabotage at it’s finest.

elk, hunt, stalk, sitka, bear archery

Two days later we quietly slipped down a ridge. It had once again rained and everything was quiet. As we sat down to glass we quickly spotted two bulls. One fed over the far ridge and the second bedded in a group of brush. It looked like a stalk was possible and we closed the gap. We peeked up over the ridge across the basin from him and he was still there looking complacent as he chewed his cud.

elk, montana, wild, hunting, bow, archery

I got landmarks, took off my raingear and headed off. As I crept over the ridge I knew the brush was taller than I had expected. I kept sneaking in closing the gap and the far hill was only 60 yards. He was close but I couldn’t see anything. As I stepped back to move further down the hill I heard grass being ripped up. I turned back and saw antler tips through the brush. He was now on his feet feeding. I stepped back up but my only gap left a shooting lane that only revealed his upper back and head. No shot. He soon had wandered downhill behind the brush. I looked down the hill and noticed one small gap and the area behind it looked grassy. I hoped he’d head that way. After a tense moment that felt like ten I saw him coming. I was ready and as soon as he was a step from hitting my lane I drew. He proceeded to turn downhill and then enter my gap quartering away too hard. He was 45 yards and after just over a minute of being at full draw he turned broadside. My pin settled behind the shoulder and the arrow was off. It made a loud smack and he ran down the hill. I could see my arrow sticking out and as soon as he disappeared I heard crashing and wheezing. I knew it was over, all the effort fighting the elements and matching wits with some of the most educated elk in the state had finally paid off.

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-Zack

[Well September is a busy busy month.  Archery season is only so many days long and throw in time spent filming and getting some work done and it always seems like time is too short and the personal days you get to hunt too few.  This fall has been a whirlwind and we’ve been very blessed so far.  I just wanted to give a quick update on the elk hunting and some recent success I had before we head back out the door to chase mule deer.  Enjoy!]

Two days prior to opening day Zack and myself wandered the hills, searching for bugling bulls. Our ears were instead filled with the buzz of little pests.  The mosquitoes were like the plague.  The heavy rainfall that this area had received at the end of August rejuvenated the mosquitoes in the area to biblical proportions. We quickly made a detour to the closest town to buy mass quantities of bug spray and cross our fingers that our Thermacell would deter a small portion of the hungry critters.
mosquitoes, sitka solids
Zack was up first, while I had the camera in tow. The elk hunting was difficult, between hunting pressure and avoiding the mosquito swarms. Stalks on bedded elk usually ended in a blood buffet for the mosquitoes. Staying still for more than five minutes was a chore and  spending time behind the glass was rather frustrating.

hunting mosquitoes, sitka shooter glove, vortex summit

Zack still managed a bunch of great encounters and passed on multiple bulls, hoping to lure the herd bull in close. Before we knew it another heavy rain storm was upon us.  The gumbo mud appeared in full force and our boots instantly turned into ten pound weights.  Living out of the truck became quite the task.
Gumbo, mud, montana, bad, nasty
After battling the elements, the sun regained its strength, but not without a price.  The mosquitoes had flourished in the new rainfall and we were now on the brink of insanity. Zack was frustrated and gave myself the opportunity to hunt the last four days of our trip. I made the best of my time, finding multiple bulls, and breaking the 100yd mark on numerous occasions.

elk, bull, wapiti

Our final morning we found a large herd we had been following. Our wind was swirling all morning and half the herd split for cover. A lone bull stole 6 cows and wandered elsewhere.  We pursued, seeing opportunity in the landscape they were headed. Removing my boots and going into ‘full ninja’, I crept in to 35 yards, cow calling the bull to his feet before deploying an arrow.

Ninja socks, hunting, stalking, socks

The shot looked good, but the penetration was not as expected.  Lung blood littered the ground, but slowly dissipated into a timbered coulee.  After an hour of searching we relocated the bull, who was bedding and standing every hour in the thick brush.  With no opportunity for a stalk, we waited the bull out for 6 hours, before he finally bedded in a position where I thought a shot might be possible. I got back into my ninja socks and crept in to within bow range.  The bull was about to stand to re-bed once again, I came to full draw, fighting the heavy crosswind before putting pressure on the trigger.  The bull stood stunned as I put two more arrows in his chest before taking his final breath.

Metcalf 2, mystery ranch, sitka gear, core, merino, elk ridge, snapback, knife

After examining my first shot, I found out my arrow placement was too low given the downhill angle.  My arrow had pierced one lung and struck the sternum. I thanked the good Lord above that I was able to recover this animal and felt relieved to know that the animal would not go to waste. This elk season has brought about so many challenges, yet this season has been my best elk season to date. Once again I have been overwhelmed with the knowledge you gain elk hunting year after year. The confidence is high going into the remainder of the season.  Elk meat is in the freezer!

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-Travis

We’re fresh to the antelope hunting game.  This was our second year but we both were able to fill our tags with a bow.  It wasn’t easy but is definitely achievable for the everyday hunter.  Rather then tell you my story of my hunt I figured I’d write down my advice, tips, and insight on what we’ve learned about antelope hunting.  Much of it is common sense but hopefully you might be able to learn something that will help you be successful if you choose to go after antelope with a bow.  Nothing is absolute in hunting so take these with a grain of salt and as always experience is the best teacher.

1.  In case you forgot antelope can see extremely well.  This seems to be their #1 defense from predators.

2.  If an antelope sees you once, your chances of getting to within bow range are slim to none.

3.  Stalking an antelope in your socks is the most silent and generally best method to close the gap.

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4.  In rolling open country your much better off cover lots of country in your truck and trying to locate them from afar.  Hiking around is preferable if you know there are goats around but often you can cover many many miles without a sighting and hiking in 80-90 degree heat will drain you physically and mentally very quick.

5.  Your truck is easily picked up by antelope from very long distances.  If they see your truck they will be more alert and your chances of getting close diminish.  Strategically using your truck to get to new areas and then using your feet to move into good positions to glass lots of country is key.

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6.  In our experience, antelope on public ground generally have no pattern.

7.  Antelope are small targets and are easily missed.  Practice with your bow daily while on your hunt.

antelope, bowhunting, montana, wild, archery, practice, bear archery, glendel

8.  Wind is almost always a factor and can and will limit your effective shooting distance to very close ranges on many days.

9.  Stalking bedded bucks, especially solo bucks is a great method for getting close.

10.  Bucks don’t stay bedded in one spot for long.  When you locate one try to make a sound game plan and act quickly.  This is where instinct comes into play.  Trust it and go.

11.  Hunting a blind will give you the best chance at getting a good shot and filling your tag.

12.  Don’t expect antelope to regularly hit the same water hole unless it’s THE only water for the surrounding 5+ miles.  This scenario seems to be quite rare.

13.  Antelope don’t like blinds.

14.  You can put up a blind and immediately hunt it with success but having it up well ahead of time will increase your chances of bagging a buck.

15.  Bring lots of arrows and broadheads.  Nothing kills a hunt like running low on either one of these.

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16.  Practice shooting from a blind and chair before hunting your blind.  You don’t shoot the same as you do from your feet and having confidence to make any seated shot will help you convert your opportunities into notched tags and meat in the freezer.

17.  Set your blind in a spot where the prevailing wind is in your favor and where you will get a good broadside shot.  Good blind placement is key.

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18.  Take lots of reading materials to your blind and having multiple games on your phone makes the time pass easier.

19.  Don’t overlook the use of a decoy.  Early in the season a well placed decoy can draw in a buck from a long ways away.  It’s best to get as close as you can and then put up your decoy in a spot where you can get a shot if the buck heads your way.  Use the terrain to your advantage and try to get them to take a pre-defined path to the decoy that presents you with a good shot from some type of cover.

20.  Being able to discern land ownership is very helpful.  Hunting GPS Maps makes a great line of products that make this very easy, and I actually shot my buck on land that I was able to access using their Montana chip.

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21.  Have fun.  This is key to any hunt.

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Hopefully one of the above will help you in your next hunt.  If you have any advice you’d like to add please leave a comment below and we hope your next hunt is a success!

-Zack

bear hunting, Montana Wild, black bears, bowhunting, archery, Nikon D7000, hunting videos, timelapses, Bear Archery, Anarchy, Carbon Express

Spring in Montana.  It brings beauty and beast to the western half of the state each and every year.  Mostly it’s been beast.  Since Travis killed his bear, we’ve been blasted with rain almost every day.  The state of the weather flips on a dime it seems and the second you think the weather is shaping up, well think again.  The conditions have been making my goal of arrowing a black bear more and more difficult.  With the rain and longer days the grass is green almost everywhere, and it’s making the bears less and less reluctant to stay in the open for long.  Fortunately we’ve still been getting after them and we have upped the bear count to 20 for the year with 7 seen in the last 7 days.  Let’s just say seeing bears doesn’t convert into killing bears.  Often they are a ways off and on the move.  I could have killed at least 4 with a rifle, but the challenge of the bow makes it more intense and rewarding when it’s all said and done.

bear hunting, Montana Wild, black bears, bowhunting, archery, Nikon D7000, hunting videos, timelapses, Bear Archery, Anarchy, Carbon Express

The Backroads

The weekend started slow as we left town and drove 30 miles into the mountains.  We were able to glass one clearcut before the rain started coming down and hard.  Soon we were fogged in and had to call it a day.  It’s a bummer when you can’t even get out of the truck, but the mountains make the rules.

The next day we were in a spot we hadn’t hunted this year but knew held bears.  We had ran into two last year doing some elk scouting and there was plenty of open landscape to glass.  About 20 minutes in on our bike Travis made a crazy good spot.  There was a good black bear crossing some rocks and moving up a north facing slope.

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Bear #17

He was about 850 yards across a deep ravine.  We watched him bed down right behind that tree and watched him for a while.  He seemed to be staying put despite it only being 8AM.  We decided we better try to locate him and try to get a shot.  We backtracked on the bikes and went down into a steep ravine before climbing up onto the ridge the bear was bedded on.  We had taken landmarks and knew we only had to go down this ridge about 100 yards.  We slowly started creeping down the ridge.  I knew we were getting close but it was thick.  The wind was perfect, the only problem was we had a bunch of downfall between us and the bears position.  Finally I saw black fur through the trees.  He was still laying down and I could see his butt and legs.  We were only 45 yards away, but there was no shot with all the branches and downed trees.  There was no option of approaching him any other way and getting a clean shot so I kept sneaking forward.  Every step was slow and we were being as quiet as we could be.  Of course a chipmunk decided now was a good time to start screaming at us.  That combined with one tiny, and I mean tiny twig breaking was enough to make this bear sleepily sit up.  I could see him sitting there, groggy, and contemplating laying back down.  Well his intuition had the better of him, and he slowly stood and walked back down and to our left.  There was never a shot and we were only 37 yards away at that point.  We slowly crept down the hill only to never see him again.  It was a letdown but it felt great putting such a stalk on a mature wild animal.  I truly believe this is the best way to hunt, and I hope you’ll never see us hunt from a treestand over bait.  I feel that bears should be hunted fair chase, spot and stalk just like every other animal unless they become a problem or there’s zero open terrain to catch a bear in.  It’s just seems like the American way to throw out your bait and sit there and pick your bear.  You just learn so much more being out there, seeing new areas, learning about animal movements, and experiencing God’s country.  It’s also going to be so rewarding when it comes together.  We left that area and decided to explore some new roads on the other side of the highway.  Well we made it way up in the mountains and decided to get some more time in with the new Razor HD spotting scope before the weather changed.

We found a few new areas that looked promising as far as bear hunting or some elk scouting but it’s still a little brown that high up and the snow is still sticking around.  We both took turns on the scope but only found one lone cow elk bedded in a small cut in the timber.

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We finally packed it up and head back to Missoula.  After a couple hour break we were back up the mountain and glassing more open country.  After about 20 minutes Travis made another solid spot.  He could see a nice blond bear about a mile away.  Ordinarily we would have gone after this bear right away.  On this day we pulled the spotting scope out and took a closer look.  Good thing because it was a sow and two cubs and it saved us a heck of a trek.  We watched them until the weather began to change and we knew it was time to call it a day.

bear hunting, Montana Wild, black bears, bowhunting, archery, Nikon D7000, hunting videos, timelapses, Bear Archery, Anarchy, Carbon Express

A beautiful sow and two cubs

The next day we woke up at 545 only to find it raining and foggy.  We’ll looks like we’re sleeping in.  When I got up around 930 it was clear out and sunny.  Uhhhhh ok Montana you win.  Looks like you’ll let us hunt this evening.  Well of course as we start heading out of town the clouds start building.

bear hunting, Montana Wild, black bears, bowhunting, archery, Nikon D7000, hunting videos, timelapses, Bear Archery, Anarchy, Carbon Express

Spring storms

About 2 minutes into driving the dirt road it starts pouring rain.  Soon it began to hail and we were surrounded by lightning.  We decided to see if it would pass and reluctantly turned around as it was just too dangerous to get out of the truck.  We rallied some mud puddles and made it about a mile down the road before we stopped to get a few timelapses.  We’ll by the time we had finished some filming it was turning out to be pretty nice again.  We figured we’d drive back up top and at least glass and see if we saw anything pop out of the timber.

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Searching

We continued to glass for about an hour but only were able to spot one lone mule deer doe.  The weather was shifting so much I’m sure most of the animals were seeking cover in the timber and waiting for nicer weather to really come out and feed.

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Things aren’t shaping up to be too great the rest of the week.  It’s raining now and the forecast is calling for 100% tomorrow.  I’m sure we’ll be back at it again this weekend.  It’s coming down to crunch time as this Thursday marks the one week mark until season is over and it’s officially summer fishing.  I hope we can pull it together and get one more chance before it’s over.  If not it’s been an amazing spring and time spent in the mountains is always a blessing.

-Zack