Tag Archive for: film
For many hunters their season ends with the close of rifle. Honestly by then we’ve had plenty of hunting and sleeping in sounds about right. BUT, then you take a few days off and you instantly wish you were back out there. About three years ago we looked into extending our season and late season archery hunting seemed like just the ticket. Rutting mule deer bucks pushing out of their summer hideouts would cover hillsides for miles right!? Not so quick bud.
That first year was definitely one where we learned a lot. Deer were plentiful but finding a buck pushing into the 150-160″ range was difficult. In a week we saw two and made stalks but the steep country and crunchy snow made life tough for bowhunting. Swirly winds sealed our fate and we went home empty handed but ready to tackle year 2. The following year we put in a little more time researching areas and decided to move to a new unit. This time we had more realistic expectations but also knew that finding a true 200″ deer could definitely happen. With some snow moving in we were able to find more mature bucks although navigating the public/private landscape made approaching some deer almost impossible.
As a hunter new to the area most of the first 4-5 days really felt like 90% scouting and 10% hunting. After starting to hone in on some of the habits of deer moved in on the winter range we decided to hike up onto a ridge that would allow us to glass into a couple key basins that the deer used to bed in. Sure enough that morning a few hours after the sun was up we found a big buck slowly feeding up through the juniper. He was a stud. His gait was characterized by a solid limp and I’m sure he’d had a long night chasing does and fighting with other bucks.
We were able to bed him and watch him eventually fall asleep, head rested in the snow in front of him. With the snow frozen from cold overnight temps we had to wait till the sun heated up the west facing hillside. I finally decided on a long zig-zag path that would eventually lead us to within 40-60 yards of his position. We weren’t sure what the wind would be like on the other side but he was the kind of deer we came on this hunt for and there was no way we weren’t going to give it a shot. Two hours later we hit the last patch of open dirt and now it was snow and over 80 yards to go before we would be within shooting range of his last position. We slowly crunched through the snow. I figured there was no way the buck hadn’t spooked by now as it was very loud. As I slowly crept ahead I saw antlers ahead amidst the thick juniper. It was him and he was only 40 yards away. My heart went from 0 to 100 in an instant. The bucks rack shifted back and forth a few times but he never spooked. After about ten minutes of observing him he stood up. I could see his chest but branches made for an obstructed view of his vitals and there wasn’t any ethical shot. He slowly began to feed downhill. As soon as he was out of sight we looped ahead of him and waited. After twenty minutes we hadn’t seen nor heard anything and again figured he was gone. We went back up the hill and grabbed the packs. I was curious as to what he had done and wanted to go follow his tracks to learn more. Sure enough as we got to about 30 yards of his last position I saw horns again. Apparently he had only fed a short distance and then re-bedded. We again were pinned with no shot. We were so, so close but eventually the wind betrayed us and he bolted. Game over.
The next morning we returned to the area but this time a few ridges over. We watched another great buck chase does and fend off a smaller but still impressive buck. As sun began to rise the deer began their daily route back up to the juniper covered hillside. I knew two good bucks were in the group and we quickly shifted into position. After a few minutes I saw a doe 70 yards to my right. They’d picked a trail one away from the one we were sitting on. The big buck hit a gap at 70 but it was too long of a shot to make quickly and they eventually hit our wind. One buck spooked and one still to go. We began to creep down the hill. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement. It was a doe being pushed by a buck. I crouched down and saw 4 points on one side through the juniper as the buck nudged the doe once again. The doe was on to me and bounced up the hill. The buck wasn’t quick as keen. He stepped up into my opening at 20 yards and my arrow flew true. He bolted and I thought I’d shot the smaller of the the two big bucks. Emotions were high. After a half hour we began tracking. A short ways later I saw tan in the snow. As I walked up on my buck I had a mix of emotions. I was ecstatic that I’d been able to fill my tag on a 4×4 on such a difficult hunt but I was disappointment that it was a young deer and not one I’d shoot if I’d been able to identify him better prior to the shot. Lesson learned.
We took a few photos and then proceeded to quarter him up and make the relatively short trek back to the truck. Year Two had ended in success but given the circumstances of the prior day it felt as if we had unfinished business. We’d surely be back next year.
Our original plan for year 3 was to come down for the end of the season. When a good friend wanted to join we shifted the dates to accommodate his schedule. We would now be hunting the opening week of the season. We knew there hadn’t been much snow but we’d give it a shot. When we showed up the day before the opener we were sorely disappointed to see a rifle cow hunt ending with guys on 4-wheelers everywhere. This pressure would surely make the big bucks extremely hard to find and with no snow it was shaping up to be a tough hunt. Sure enough 4 days later and we’d only seen small two and three year old bucks and many, many does.
With our film permits limiting where we could hunt in the unit we went back to where we’d seen a few good bucks in the past. We turned up a nice 4×4 and proceeded to hunt him over the course of the rest of the hunt. Each morning we could find him somewhere out among about 30-50 does and small bucks. They’d eventually fill their bellies and start working back up the mountain. Cutting them off was a guessing game and trying to avoid all the other deer proved to be a challenge. We got close but his daily routine never had any pattern to it. With a hundred elk in the area it was a zoo some mornings and keeping tabs on this buck proved to be quite the task.
The weather was warm and sunny one minute and cold and blistery the next. We covered country mid day hoping to find other bucks. We went miles in to the nastiest areas only turning up does with little bucks. The snow wasn’t present in the mountains and the big bucks hadn’t pushed into their wintering area. Our timing was off and we re-focused on our target buck.
Again we relocated him. His general pattern was there but there was no consistency in his path back to bed each day. One day it would be a 1000 yards different from the day previous. As we neared the end of our hunt we found him honed in on a hot doe. It was just two of them and there were far less other deer in the area that morning. As we moved to cut them off they shifted their path at the last minute, rounding the hillside away from our position. We looped ahead and picked them up again. They were now in the bottom and we watched from above. They moved slowly and worked up into a shaded and snow covered face. After a short time the two bedded. It wasn’t the best area but it appeared I might be able to make a huge loop and get behind and above them. If the snow was soft enough in the shade I might be able to close the distance. It was now or never and again I set off on a stalk that we hoped would end with an arrow airborne. Tune in on December 5th to see the trailer for the film and December 12th to watch the full film and see if I can fill my tag on a mature mule deer buck.
With rifle antelope season opening here in Montana on Saturday we decided we’d keep those hunting vibes going by releasing a short antelope film from this past season. Travis drew his first rifle antelope permit and wanted to take full advantage of the new opportunity. With only a few days blocked off to hunt he knew he’d have to cover a lot of country and keep his fingers crossed that he would turn up a good buck. After hunting areas with lots of other hunters, the move was made to an area that was less obvious and very much overlooked. A buck was spotted and the next day Travis headed back to see if he could punch his tag.
We also recently released an antelope themed T-Shirt. You can purchase your Fast Food T in our STORE.
Montana’s Antelope draw results came out today. If you put in go to MyFWP to check your draw status. With that said we decided to put up a short film we shot in 2013 that documents our first successful archery antelope hunts. We learned a lot and were fortunate enough to come back with two bucks.
Also, be sure to check out our store. We have updated our inventory on some of our hats and T-shirts as well as added a few new products. Our Outlaw knife is also back in stock. You can check it all out here > Montana Wild Store
If you missed Part 2 you can read it here > Smith River, Montana – Part 2
Part 3 – The Trip Days 4&5 and Our Thoughts
The last two days of our trip were blessed with more sun and gradually warmer weather. The only decent fishing we saw the last two days was mid-afternoon on Day 4 when a gray drake hatch came off for a few hours. Fish were stacked in pods along a few banks and in some foam lines where a dropped anchor and a few casts through the right zone resulted in fish. Again the views were stellar to finish out the trip. Enjoy the photos from the last two days and I’ll wrap up below with my thoughts on the current state of the Smith River.
Thoughts on the current State of the Smith
First off I strongly feel that the Smith River Drainage is a resource and area that we need to preserve for generations to come. Whether it’s fisherman, campers, recreational floaters, mountain bikers, hunters, ranchers, etc we need to make sure this valley continues to thrive naturally as it has since it was settled by early cattle and sheep ranchers. I have my own personal thoughts on the proposed mine and those are constantly evolving as the process and situation continues to progress. I think right now given what I’ve read and seen that the mine is a bad deal for Montanan’s and the Smith River Valley. Our historic track record with mines has only resulted in mine companies making their money extracting resources and then the waste and damage is left with the people of Montana and public taxpayers. Mining is a subject that is a double edged sword in my head though. Our society relies on mining in almost all aspects of our lives. Is it right to be ok with mines in South America and Asia that tarnish their environments because we never have to live with the consequences or eye sores of those mines? Do we really care about conservation and the environment or do we only care when it’s in our own backyard and effects our happiness? I think there are ways to responsibly mine and have minimal impacts on the surrounding areas. We just need to be active in making sure all parties are accountable and that we have good forward vision with each project that comes up. Most importantly though, we all need to be involved in these subjects and do our own research. Don’t believe what Trout Unlimited or Tintina Resources tells you just because they sent you an email or postcard with some fancy facts and info on it. Don’t let a social media post sway your opinion. Go read, talk to people about it, experience it first hand, dig a little deeper, gain an understanding and most importantly BE ENGAGED!!! That process is so, so important on so many issues we currently face as sportsmen and as people who love wild places and public lands and waters.
-Written by Zack Boughton
-Photos by Travis Boughton, Zack Boughton, Calvin Connor
If you missed Part 1 you can read it here > Smith River, Montana – Part 1
Part 2 – The Trip Days 1-3
Day 1 broke under a fresh couple inches of snow. A light snow filtered through a soft glow steadily growing over the eastern horizon. The diesel turned over and we pulled the boats over towards the launch. After a few minutes of playful jabbing about the weather we took it upon ourselves to unload the snowy boats and begin our day.
A little over an hour later and we had our three rafts in the water and loaded with our gear for the next 5 days. Despite the frozen hands and a bitter edge on the day the overall moral was high and everyone was eager to start our push downriver. One thing we had been concerned with over the past week was the condition of the river. A long week of warm and sunny weather had sent a push of water downriver from the mountains and had bumped the river. The water clarity wasn’t ideal but from all reports it seemed that the river would give up fish in all but the dirtiest of flows. After the group shotgunned a beer we split up and pushed off. The next few hours went off without a hitch and the weather had yet to unleash more than a light snow and a gentle breeze.
Montana quickly showed her teeth though. A brutal wind out of the West whipped up the canyon and fired the wet snow in a horizontal pattern that had us wishing we had brought ski goggles. The fishing was slow for those willing to freeze their hands working a streamer or nymphs along the fishy water which was hard to find with clarity that was all but nonexistent. As we pushed into the afternoon we switched gears from fishing to just making it to camp so we could attempt to build a fire.
After finding some wet wood along the float we finally rounded our last bend of the day and anchored up to set up our first camp of the trip. Everyone was feeling cold and wet despite plenty of Gore-Tex and warm layers. The first order of business was to build a fire. A strong group effort resulted in a fire finally gaining some strength and we began the process of piecing together camp and a warm meal. (Tip #1 – although you can find wood along the float, I’d recommend bringing fire wood with you for each night. Wet wood sucks and most campsites have very little in terms of firewood near camp)
With a belly full of elk meat and potatoes we all huddled tight to the fire until the urge to sleep overcame any warmth the dwindling fire could provide. With calculated promptness we all found our ways into our sleeping bags and tents hoping the next morning would break with clear skies and a touch of Montana sun. A quick peek from the tent in the morning revealed blue skies. That short moment of happiness was quickly humbled by taking one look at the frozen waders and boots littered around camp. A team effort set in motion a small fire and a breakfast of bacon and eggs and a warm cup of coffee. As the sun finally rose high enough to throw it’s warm rays on our camp Sam hooked into the first fish of the day, a nice golden brown who wanted a red worm breakfast.
With the storm gone and the sun out we finally could enjoy some warmth and some of the most stunning river views found in Montana. With each bend of the river a new view seared it’s spot in our memories as we casually rowed and fished our way downriver.
A few things were apparent by the end of Day 2. The fishing was tough. Our best fishing came when we pulled in and worked inside bends hard with nymphs. It seemed a guys could pull a half dozen fish out of each good run if he wanted to put in the time. Unfortunately with a good chunk of water to cover each day we couldn’t spend time in all the spots we wanted. We also found good fishing at the low ends of the tributaries which were all open this year due to a new regulation change. Again with little time to spare these moments were kept short and sweet but kept everyone in the game and catching fish. The more obvious take-away from the day was that the Smith River is easy on the eyes. The grandeur of the mighty rock walls and faces almost lose a bit of meaning since each bend reveals a new epic view. As we floated beneath these towering giants I was surprised no one has died from falling rock. With some cliff walls easily pushing a hundred feet or more, even a small rock would be life-threatening if it dislodged and found you at the bottom of its fall. After a long day we pushed into camp and began the process of unloading the rafts and assembling camp. With the forecast calling for more sun we hit the hay and got some much needed rest in anticipation of another long day starting early in the morning.
Our goal for the afternoon was to go bear hunt on some public land near our camp. A moderate hike put us up on a ridge we hoped held good grass. Unfortunately the snow from our first day had stacked up and covered the hillside and ridge we were hunting. We saw one set of bear tracks and a bunch of elk and deer tracks as we slowly climbed up above the Smith River canyon. With little for options given the snow, we sat down and glassed the hill across the canyon to the north. A few minutes in and Sam spotted a nice black bear traveling across the opposite hill. The bear fed his way down into the timber as he dropped out of sight into the canyon looking for anything green. With a precarious snow covered canyon below the decision was made to work back to camp and cook up dinner for the evening.
To read about the rest of our trip and hear our thoughts on the current state of the Smith River read Part 3 which will be live on our site tomorrow!
-Written by Zack Boughton
-Photos by Travis Boughton, Zack Boughton, Calvin Connor
Coyote hunting, its a controversial topic for many. To most hunters it seems to be an obvious necessity to keep a balance between predators and prey. Coyotes affect deer, elk and antelope numbers in many regions of Montana. An overpopulation of coyotes will reduce fawn survival rates drastically and put added stress on the wildlife in that area. Coyotes have a strong knack to survive the harshest conditions and have a rapid ability to reproduce.
On top of that, coyotes are the largest cause of death for cattle and sheep calves in the spring season. When a rancher has a $50,000 loss in one year due to coyotes, you know they are a huge problem. Coyotes affect many ranchers livelihoods and have a much larger impact on livestock than many realize.
Tooth & Fang is a very unique coyote film that goes into some of the reason behind coyote management. We traveled thousands of miles, talked with many ranchers, and visited some of the most beautiful landscapes that Montana has to offer. This three year film project shows a rancher’s perspective on how coyotes affect the wildlife and livestock on and around their ranches.
Don’t be mistaken, we made sure to show some of our best coyote encounters while helping balance the coyote populations on multiple tracts of land throughout the treasure state. Here is the teaser below. Help support our future film endeavors by renting or purchasing the film HERE.
RENT THE FULL FILM HERE.
This past year we had the chance to chase mule deer on public land in October. In less than perfect conditions Zack found a buck worthy of an arrow, but could just not seem to connect with a shot. Its never easy to shrug off a miss, especially when your bow is still on. Sometimes its all a mental game when archery hunting, and if you can overcome that mental hurdle, you will most likely succeed.
More hunting videos are on the horizon!
“I love a ground-dog burrito!” We had just spotted a questionable looking Mexican restaurant and already the stereotypes were being heavily flung around. What would you expect from a truck with 4 dudes and a solid five hours plus rallying I-90?
An hour later we emerged, bellies full and hoping that no one would be feeling “spicy” in a few hours. We were in the home stretch and soon enough we’d be looking over the waters of the Bighorn River for the first time. A little over a month earlier we had gotten the call from Smith Optics to shoot a lifestyle film for their latest web series “Life Beyond Walls.” Wanting to keep it within the borders of the Big Sky state yet still get a little road trip in, the Bighorn was an obvious choice. A tailwater with above average flows this year meant it was opposite the rest of the state and hopefully full of aggressive trout. Finally we hit the river and pulled onto the bridge in St. Xavier. The water below us was swollen and running a green/brown color. We all started talking about hooking “slam pigs” and raucously expelled typical bro banter.
That evening we cruised into Fort Smith and swung into the Bighorn Angler. Bryen and Shelly were there to greet us and give the lowdown on the fishing. A few dozen flies later and we began to organize and sort fishing gear in anticipation for the morning.
Morning came early and after a few slight bobbles getting everything loaded up we finally arrived at the boat launch. We dropped the boats and got ready for a long day on the river. At the moment we had the place to ourselves, little did we know that in an hour this would be full of twenty different rigs hoping to launch.
Soon we pushed off, hanging to the bank and searching the wide featureless water. A slow twenty minutes put us at the first small island and a pit stop was ordered up. Fifty yards upstream multiple fish were chowing down on the morning buffet. Two casts later and two great browns had hit the net.
At that point the boat train had engulfed us. Despite the crowds one thing became apparent, we were having a lot more fun than the other boats. Typical to many rivers there was a lack of yelling, laughing and general good times. Weird. Our float continued under hazy skies as we banged streamers into every nook and cranny we could find. Dozens of fish later we hit our takeout and headed back up to sneak in a second short float. Mice were skated, the golden sun sank in the West but no fish stuck. Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin” blared from Lungren’s cell phone as we pulled in under the light hum of a lonely light guarding the Three Mile boat ramp. Day Two was complete.
With a good day of fishing under our belts we figured we’d take a risk and give the lower river hell. “Chuck and Duck” was the game plan and flashes and strikes ensued from all the likely spots. A short ways later the line stopped in it’s tracks and a hefty flash gave us a look at the largest fish of the trip. A quick fight ensured there was no chance of him getting away and a plump rainbow laying in the net left the group acting like a bunch of wild monkeys.
Good call boys, good call. Apparently this lower river was the real deal. A few hours later we had changed our tune as things were downright slow. The water had picked up decent color from some of the small feeder creeks and reading the river became much tougher. We embraced the day and enjoyed the great scenery and even better company.
After lunch we split up and started working a small island. Twenty minutes later a couple goldeyes had been caught. No one in the group had ever caught one before so this was news to us. One came on a dry and another hit a streamer, apparently they were hungry little buggers.
As the float neared its end the roar of a diversion dam pulled everyone back into full attention. Cameras were carefully pulled from the boats and walked downriver. Travis and Sam pushed off and lined up above the man-made rapids. Sam was first and found the right slot, easily pushing through. Travis was up next and despite his best efforts was pulled over into the edge of the main wave formed off the dam. A healthy splash and the skiff cut through the wave and slid downriver.
We all were beat from another long day under the sun and pulling into the Riverview Lodge was very welcome. Steve had worked some magic and got us the bottom half of some prime real estate. With a great view of the valley and a full kitchen we got dinner on the grill and got some much needed rest for Day Four.
Day Four again saw us boating fish and seeing plenty of new water. Streamer fishing was the choice mid-day as staring down a bobber just didn’t get us too fired up. That evening found us anchored up on a long seam with a long line of noses extending downstream. Hookup after hookup with no boats in sight was the story.
Fast forward to the takeout. Now I’ve depleted the old Ford’s gas gauge plenty of times but this one was shaping up to be interesting. We had ran our own shuttle and the driving distance between takeouts was further than expected. The gas light had been on for about 30 miles and 20 more remained before we got back to the lodge. It was 11PM when the engine sputtered and the power steering went out. Yes I was a dips#&* and should have put more than $30 in the tank yesterday. We were stranded. Two hours later the Ford had been towed to the nearest fishing access and both boats were safely parked back at the lodge. The following morning found us back at the truck with a 5 gallon gas can pouring precious fluid back into the fuel hungry beast. We were back in business!
This would be our final morning and we figured a quick hammer sesh through the top 3 miles would be just right. A few hundred oar strokes and Travis was into another nice brown. The cameras did their thing and in a flash the brownie was back in the river.
It wasn’t long and again we had hit the end of the road. The launch was in sight and the trip was complete. The boats hit the trailers, and we grabbed our stuff and hit the road.
As we drove home we relived the past four days. All the ingredients of a great fishing trip had left everyone feeling satisfied. We are excited to share the film with you here tomorrow! Be looking for it to go live tomorrow August 12th on the Smith Optics website and if you haven’t checked out their other films from the “Life Beyond Walls” Series you should do so! We also had the pleasure of testing out the new “Guide’s Choice” sunglasses which will be available soon.
These things are absolute beasts on the water and will definitely make the best days better. Look for them at your local fly shop this fall. Also a big thanks goes out to Steve Galletta and the crew at the Bighorn Angler. Their expertise is unmatched and the lodging they provide for anglers is superb. Check them out next time you hit the Bighorn.
And last but not least, a special thanks to the awesome crew at Adipose Boatworks. They have a rental boat there at the Bighorn Angler if you want to give one a spin on your next trip.
The time has come, Bucknasty Browns is now live and online. After touring this spring with The F3T, we are proud to share our film with everyone. Enjoy!
BUCKNASTY BROWNS hats and tees here>http://montana-wild.com/store/