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AMBUSH 2 – Hunting Public Land Elk

elk hunt, archery, montana, wild, rmef, sitka, sub alpine, film, bowhunt, bowhunting

FINALLY!!!! To finally be able to release this film to the public is a relief. AMBUSH 2 was shot in 2013 during September and has been sitting in our archives since then. We didn’t know what to do with the film, but have come to the conclusion that it is best to release the film to view for FREE. This archery elk hunt captures my first successful archery elk hunt and it was truly a monumental moment for myself. To wait for days, just to get one opportunity…. The encounter is pretty remarkable. We sat watching this bull wallow for 15 minutes before he stood. Watch AMBUSH 2 below and please share if you enjoyed the film.

To read the original blog post click here > FOUR YEARS IN THE MAKING

 

Travis

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THE OUTLIER – Teaser & Website

the outlier, film, video, elk hunting, montana, missouri river breaks

Today we are stoked to announce that the website and first teaser for our film THE OUTLIER is now LIVE!!!  This has been our largest film undertaking to date and it will hands down be our best film we have created.  Shot in 2015, the film follows four elk hunters through the Missouri River Breaks as they hope to fill their tags with bows in hand.  100% Public land, DIY hunting, this film showcases the hunt first and foremost but mixes in a public lands and conservation message that is so important especially in today’s current climate regarding wild places.  Enjoy THE OUTLIER Teaser below and be sure to go to the website (www.theoutlierfilm.com) to read more about the project and see photos from the trip.

As a commitment to elk, conservation, and public lands we will be donating 5% of the proceeds from the sale of the film back to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Zack

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Buzzer Beater Bull

elk, hunt, montana, rmef, missoula, bozeman, great falls, livingston, malta, dillon

As fall of 2013 rolled around, I was headed to Montana to start my freshman year at the University Of Montana, and unknown to me at the time, a journey that would would take me on an unforgetable ride over the course of the next four years. Growing up in Wisconsin, western hunting was something completely new to me, and I couldn’t wait to jump in feet first. Instead of spending my mornings in a cold ground blind, come September I would set out into the mountains of western Montana in search of my first bull elk.

elk, hunting, montana, sunrise, bull, moon

Elk country.

After getting to know a few locals and doing as much research as I could, I was ready to head out into the field. To be completely honest, my only goal that first year was to find elk on public land, and go from there. If I got something, great, but I was as excited as could be to just get out and explore. After wandering around aimlessly for a few days, I went out with a friend who had hunted elk before, and got my first real elk hunting experience. Somewhere in the middle of a 4:30 AM hike in a snowstorm without the right gear, I found myself questioning what I had gotten myself into, but by the end of the day, I was hooked. This first season would go on to be a great learning experience, as I found myself “in elk” a handful of times, and learning something valuable with every encounter. Being that western hunting is about as opposite from hunting in Wisconsin as it get’s, I found myself hiking further, spending more time behind my glass, and realizing that if I was going to take this seriously the following year, I’d need to step my game up.

vortex, optics, razor, glassing, elk, montana, western, missoula

Locating the herd.

Over the course of the next two seasons, I found myself not only spending more time in the woods, but being much more strategic about how I would spend my time there. Learning how to elk call, paying more attention to detail while glassing, and hunting in a wide variety of locations lead to a mixed bag of success including mule deer, whitetail deer, cow elk, antelope, and black bear. Although despite the many stalks, calling set ups, and extremely close encounters, I had yet to wrap my tag around a bull’s antlers.

calvin, muledeer, buck, wester, mt, montana, 406

Heavy packs and good times.

Some of the biggest lessons learned throughout these seasons are as follows:

Time:  As with anything, the more time you spend doing something, the more likely you are to be successful. This means getting out whenever you can, and making your time in the field count by hunting as hard as you can. It doesn’t matter if the weather is crappy, or the animals aren’t being as active as you’d like them to be. Go as often as possible, and stay for as long as you can. The bottom line is, you can’t kill them from the couch.

 

Distance: One of the biggest keys to success in western hunting is getting away from other hunters, and finding animals that aren’t as pressured or educated from previous human encounters. This means lacing up your boots, throwing on your pack, and hitting the hills for a day full of hiking. If possible, I generally try to hunt in areas that are at least two to three miles from the nearest road. This will cut your competition in half, and greatly increase your chances of seeing larger numbers, and a better quality of game animals.

hunting snow, elk, hunt, western, montana

As I entered my fourth season of hunting in Montana, I had gained a ton of knowledge, had drawn a limited entry bull elk tag, and for the first time in my short elk hunting career, was feeling confident in my ability to fill my bull tag as the season approached. As archery season began, I found myself surrounded by elk, and calling in a bull pretty much every time I went out. My skills as a hunter were growing, and the lessons I had learned from previous experiences were giving me the advantage I needed. At this point it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before I would release an arrow, and on the morning of September 12th, I did. Unfortunately, the shot was followed by the unmistakeable sound of my arrow hitting the bull’s front shoulder blade. After hours of searching, and scratching my head as to how I could have possibly messed up an opportunity that I had worked so hard for, I went home without a bull. Luckily, I was able to locate the same bull a few days later, and was pleased to see him chasing cows around like nothing had ever happened.

phoneskope, razor, hd, vortex, optics, elk, digiscoping

Time to strategize a gameplan.

As the season went on, I continued to hunt hard, getting out every day I could, but the majority of the elk in my unit had made their way onto private land. This meant that hunting far from the truck wasn’t going to increase my chances by a whole lot, and if I wanted to fill my tag, I was going to have to take a different approach. As I set out for the final week of Montana’s general season with a bull tag burning a hole in my pocket, I knew that if I wanted to be successful I would need to spend my time in areas surrounding the private land that was holding the majority of the animals. On November 25th, I headed into a spot that bordered a section of private that I knew frequently held elk. After watching the main herd of 40 + branch bulls feed past me a mere 100 yards on the wrong side of the fence, I glanced over to my left, and there stood a bull on my side of the fence. After a few chaotic seconds, I settled my crosshairs and my rifle roared, followed by the unmistakeable “whop!” we all hope to hear after pulling the trigger. After four years of learning, making mistakes, and hunting my hardest I was finally able to wrap my tag around an awesome first bull.

elk hair, hide, hunting, western, montana

Taking in the experience.

elk, hunt, first, bull, internship, montana, wild

Memories.

Over the course of the last four years, the journey to harvest a bull elk has been an unforgettable one, taking me to some of the most beautiful places montana has to offer, and allowing me to witness things in nature that I would have never imagined. Teaching yourself how to hunt elk on public land is no easy task, but with the right mindset, a willingness to learn from your mistakes, and a little bit of an obsession that keeps you coming back for more, it’s a journey that will eventually pay off in a big way.

 

Words by: Calvin Connor

Images by: Calvin Connor & Gus Conrad

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Grabbing Opportunity

black, bear, story, archery, bowhunting, bowhunt, montana, wild

Its not very often that my black bear tag makes it past the spring season. This year was different. I had limited days to spring bear hunt with my bow after preparing to move to Bozeman and had failed to get any decent opportunities to arrow a bruin. It was somewhat exciting to have a black bear tag for the fall season, and considering the locations I would be hunting elk and deer, the likelihood of seeing black bears was high. I was excited to see what opportunities would present themselves.

montana, wild, black, bear, hunt, brown, archery, sitka, gear

Chasing elk through prime bear country.

Fast forward to September. I had just finished a grueling 9 day out of state hunt. I failed to fill my tag and was now back in Montana to hopefully help call an elk in for Zack. After grinding through a couple days of work, we had just enough time to pack up the truck and head out for a 2.5 day backpack elk hunt. I must say it is nice feeling being able to enter the elk woods with a bear, wolf, and elk tag in your pocket.

bear, tag, black, montana, notched, tags, elk, hunt, night, hunting, headlamp

The hunt started with Zack taking the lead as we crossed creeks and finally entered a timbered stretch littered with elk sign. Zack ripped a few bugles along the way, hoping to locate a bull. With no responses, we slowly followed a game trail, still stalking the timber hoping to catch a glimpse of a bull. Magpies rang out their typical cry and Zack crept slowly in their direction. Suddenly Zack froze and waved me to creep up to his position. 130yds away was a stout black bear ripping at some sort of animal carcass.

elk, carcass, predator

Just what a bear is looking for to fatten up.

With no bear tag left for Zack I was the only option for a stalk. I picked my stalk line, made sure the wind was good and proceeded to ninja to 43yards. I got ready for a shot and waited for the black bear to turn broadside. The bear was moving around the carcass eating on various pieces and occasionally moving away and then wandering back. Finally he remained in a single position on the carcass. I drew, settled and released. The bear ran 15 yards, looked around and then proceeded to come back and feed. I must have misjudged my yardage or my broadhead dove as I missed low. I crept up to 37yards from the unaware bear. I drew, really took my time to pick a small spot and released. This time I saw my arrow hit its mark as the bear whirled and took off on a death march down the mountain and out of sight.

bloody, arrow, vanes, bohning, blazer, vane, easton, fmj

Good blood on an intact arrow.

Zack and I looked for my arrow and found it completely intact and covered in blood. I felt good about the shot and with light fading fast I followed the direction the bear had sprinted. The blood trail was minimal, so I made the decision to just go look for the bear. Zack and I spread out and started searching. After about two hundred yards later I heard Zack holler.

black, bear, dark, brown, arrowed, archery, bow, montana, wild

Cautiously approaching.

I crept his way arrow nocked, only to see the motionless mound of fur that lay ahead. He was done, a quick clean kill. The beautiful dark brown boar was a sight to behold as he lay in a patch of timber littered with elk rubs. The trees in the area were perfectly displaced and made for some unique photos.

bear, paw, paws, mtns, black, brown, claws, montana

Good sized paws, but extremely stinky from the elk carcass.

This was my first time having a fall black bear tag and also my first bear with a bow. A memory that will live with me forever and an adrenaline filled stalk that I won’t soon forget.

montana, archery, black, bear, spot, and, stalk

bloody, arrow, quartering, black, bear, brown, easton, fmj

-Travis

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Wildgame Wednesday – Elk Burgers

There’s something about a good elk burger that just never gets old.  Elk in the freezer is something to be proud of and once it hits the grill it’s something to be savored.  You can work up a great elk burger in about a thousand different variations but this is one of our current favorites!

elk, burger, montana, grilling

INGREDIENTS:

-2 pounds of Ground Elk Burger

-4 Hamburger Buns

-2 Roma Tomatoes

-4 slices of Pepperjack Cheese

-4 slices of Red Onion

-4 leafs of Lettuce

-3/4 cup of sliced jalapenos

-3-4 garlic cloves

-3 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

-4 of your favorite beers

elk, burger, ingredients, montana, grililng

To begin put your burger in a bowl or similar container.  Cut garlic cloves into small pieces and add to bowl.  Add Worcestershire sauce.  Mix by hand until the garlic is mixed evenly among the burger.  Separate the burger into 4 equal amounts and press into a tight, round ball.  Flatten each ball to create your patties.  Season with salt, pepper or any other choice of seasoning as necessary.  Recently we’ve been grilling a lot on our Traeger Pro Series 22 Grill which is awesome and super versatile.  Turn the grill on and let smoke for 4-5 minutes then turn up to the highest setting.  On a regular propane grill we usually grill these on medium to medium-high heat.  While the grill is heating up we like to go cut our cheese, tomato, onion and jalapeno.  When the grill is hot place the burgers and onion slices on the grill.  Cook the burgers for 4-5 minutes and then flip and add your cheese and jalapenos.

elk, burger, grilling

Place your buns directly on the grill grate or the above heating rack for 2-3 minutes while the cheese is melting.  After 4-5 minutes of cooking remove the burgers from the grill, add toppings and condiments and enjoy!!!

elk, burger, montana, grilling, traeger

The Outlaw Hunting Knife

outlaw, blade, knife, montana, wild, behring, made, knives

We instantly found common ground when we first met James Behring. We both had a passion for hunting and our overall personalities meshed well. It didn’t take long for us to get a few Behring Made knives in our hands and immediately we were impressed. James craftsmanship is top notch, and his blades have personality to go along with the razor sharp blades.

James Behring, behring made, montana wild, american made knives, knife, hunting, archery, handmade, custom, the outlaw

During 2014 we had the pleasure of using two different Behring knives.  They performed well but we had a few changes in mind that we felt would improve the knife for our use in the field. That winter we came back to the Behring Made shop and chatted with James about various details that we felt would make the knives perform better in our hands. From there the idea took off to build a colab knife between Behring Made and Montana Wild.

knife forging, building a knife, custom, hunting, the outlaw, behring made, montana wild

After our first round of testing, James took our input and went straight to the sketch pad to draw out new blade designs. James came up with two new prototype blade shapes.  From there we decided to stick with an epoxy finished paracord grip, because we felt it added great feel and grip to the blade and also helped us reduce overall weight of the knife.

knife, sketch, drawing, custom, behring, made, montana, wild, the outlaw, knives, hunting

behring made, hunting, knife, custom, montana, wild, the outlaw, elk, deer, antelope

The two new prototypes consisted of different blade and handle shapes, which we got to test on three different bears this past spring.

black bear, behring made, custom knife, bear, knives, hide, tanning, montana

From there James took our feedback and drew up a final prototype blade design. We were now down to the final details, and set out this fall with 3 final prototypes to test.

knife sketch, behring made, the outlaw, montana wild, hunting, fishing, custom, paracord

Our archery season was very successful and we were able to test the prototypes on 4 elk total.  Overall we were very impressed with the knives and the slight modifications we had made from our first round of prototypes. The feel and ability to hold an edge was top notch and the blade handled joints, meat, and caping extremely well.

elk, knife, test, behring, made, montana, wild, sitka, gear, the outlaw, hunting

Overall this has been a great process that in turn created a solid product that we think a lot of hunters will be extremely happy with. In the “disposable society” we live in it’s great to hold a knife built to withstand a lifetime of use and something that will only get better with age.  To top it off these knives are handmade in Missoula, MT!  Below is a video detailing some of the process we went through to get to the end product.

The knife is now available here> THE OUTLAW

There is also more specs available here> Knife Specs

Elk Camp – A Family Tradition

colorado, elk, rifle, hunting, sitka, gear

Hunting is best done with family and friends, the memories made with them will far out reach the antlers that grace the walls.

wall tents, hunting, elk hunting, hsm ammo, elk, bull, sitka gear

For me hunting has always been something that is meant to be shared with loved ones. From hunting with my dad while growing up in Tennessee to our annul Elk Camp in Colorado. The time spent with caring people that are as excited as you when you fill your tag is something I’ll always cherish.

wall tents, hunting, elk hunting, hsm ammo, elk, bull, sitka gear

This year in Elk Camp was no exception. Its where smiles and laughter is the norm, warm coffee and good times are sure to be found, and where everyone helps out. From cleaning the dishes to skinning fresh elk hide. There’s always someone there ready to give you a hand.

wall tents, hunting, elk hunting, hsm ammo, elk, bull, sitka gear

Introducing new people to elk hunting is a big reason we have elk camp as a tradition. I remember the first time I was invited, I had the time of my life. As a fourteen year old boy I was hooked from the moment I set foot in camp, and the fact that I filled my tag, was just icing on the cake. Ever since then they can’t seem to get rid of me. I learned so much, from how to skin an elk to life lessons that I’ll have forever.

wall tents, hunting, elk hunting, hsm ammo, elk, bull, sitka gear

My buddy Nick was able to come out this year for the first time to try and bag a bull and gain the elk hunting experience. Opening morning came and after a six mile hike we were back in a remote basin as light began to flood the sky. We watched several cows filter down to a watering hole three hundred yards below us. About an hour after sunrise a group of elk worked their way up the ravine to the pond, there was a bull in the back. Nick was ready and when the bull stopped he executed the shot. Excitement was, strewn across his face.

wall tents, hunting, elk hunting, hsm ammo, elk, bull, sitka gear

wall tents, hunting, elk hunting, hsm ammo, elk, bull, sitka gear

In that week I watched several other friends fill their tags as well as my dad. He shot his biggest bull and I was happy to be there to help him skin it out. I was able to fill my cow tag and have already enjoyed grilling some tasty steaks.

wall tents, hunting, elk hunting, hsm ammo, elk, bull, sitka gear

wall tents, hunting, elk hunting, hsm ammo, elk, bull, sitka gear

It was an amazing week spent hunting and hiking the mountains with my dad, girlfriend, and good friends. Elk Camp is a special place and it will always be my home away from home. Until next year, I’ll be patiently waiting.

wall tents, hunting, elk hunting, hsm ammo, elk, bull, sitka gear

– Jay Siske

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THE PACK OUT

pack, out, elk, quarter, quartering, gutless, method, montana, wild, hunting, bowhunting

elk, hunting, pack, out, quartering, backpack, archery, montana, wild, video, mystery ranch

You’ve seen the photos before, a guy packing out the bull of a lifetime.  The pack looks like it could easily weigh over a 100 pounds but everything appears to be packed nicely and the rack is held in perfect placement.  How did they do that?  Well more often than not this is a process of trial and error for many and from the beginning we had to learn the hard way.  The first few seasons were a quick learning curve that showed the importance of a quality pack and the knowledge of how to properly use it.

mystery ranch, backpacks, metcalf, elk, hunting, deer, packing, out, montana, wild, video

In just the last year I personally have been involved in the packing out of  11 big game animals.  Over the previous years the number has been double that.  With that much time spent quartering and packing elk, deer, and bear we’ve quickly found out what works and what doesn’t.  Last fall we partnered up with Mystery Ranch Backpacks to create an elk hunting film that broke down the process of quartering and packing out a bull elk.  The following is the culmination of many days spent hunting elk, fighting off mosquitoes and hiking heavy packs back to the truck.  Enjoy!

 

We will follow up this post with a blog post here very soon on the same process.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or us the “Contact Us” tab of our website to shoot us a message.  If you enjoyed the film please share with fellow hunters in hopes that more people will have a comfortable and awesome pack out this fall! (FYI it takes 3-4 trips to packout an elk if you are solo. In my case I had Travis pack out a quarter during each trip while he was filming back to the truck.)

-Zack

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Persistence Pays

montana, wild, bull, elk, bowhunting, archery

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.

montana, wild, video, elk, bowhunting, track

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.

glassing, elk, hunting, montana, film, videos

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.

mosquitoes, elk, hunting, montana, vortex optics

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?

elk, hunting, montana, mud, danner boots

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.

elk, bowhunting, montana, video, bear archery, wild, 2014

mystery ranch, elk, backpack, hunting, montana, wild, sitka gear

elk, hunting, camp, fire, montana, wild, video, archery

 

-Zack

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Mosquito City, MT

[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!

elk, hunting, bowhunting, missouri breaks, bull, montana, wild

mystery ranch, hunting, metcalf, 2, II

-Travis