Posts

,

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

,

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

My Montana Wild Internship

internship, outdoor, photography, film, video

Are you a young, motivated individual who is passionate about the outdoors, and filmmaking & photography? Are you looking for an internship to develop those skills? If so, look no further. Montana Wild is looking for interns for 2017, and you could be one of them. Follow along as I take you through my summer as an intern for the guys at Montana Wild!

montana wild, internship, hunting, fishing, photo, video

Taking a break from running the camera and throwing a salmonfly sure isn’t a bad gig.

As I approached my final summer as a college student at the University of Montana, I knew that I wanted to stay in Montana for the summer and work somewhere that’s directly related to media arts, which is what I’m studying in school. Shortly after making this decision, I saw a post on Montana Wild’s Facebook page that they were hiring, and also had internship positions available. From there I got ahold of Zack and Travis Boughton, and sent them my cover letter, resume, and portfolio. Shortly thereafter, I met up with the guys to talk about being an intern, and the next thing I knew, I had landed myself the sickest summer job around. I was stoked!

montana wild, internship, fishing, photo, video, smith river

Snapping photos, rowing, fishing, and camping on Montana’s Smith River.

What I didn’t know going into this internship was how many awesome places I was going to go while working. The major highlight of my internship for me was floating the Smith River and seeing first hand how important of a resource it is for Montana. Not only was it an awesome place to experience, but over the course of the trip I was able to shoot a wide variety of photos, and get to use some new gear for the first time. It gave me time to try new things, and ask questions that greatly improved my photography as a whole, but specifically fishing related photography and astrophotography. During that trip I also was able to see firsthand how the guys at Montana Wild work on a production. Being able work side-by-side with Zack and Travis helped shorten my learning curve greatly.

montana wild, internship, spring, summer, fishing, hunting, photo, video

Camping while on the job.

I also went on trips shed hunting, bear hunting, and a few days of salmonfly fishing/filming in SW Montana, where I was able to gain experience shooting on a cinema camera for the first time. Running a professional grade film camera allowed me to get a closer look at all the settings available to the filmmaker but also what it takes to make these cameras really shine. When you make that step up inherently you are going to make mistakes and being able to have a focused yet fun setting to make those mistakes was a great way to learn. After the shoot I had the opportunity to edit all my footage and work with high quality slow motion video for the first time as well. Aside from shooting and editing content in the field, as an intern for Montana wild you will learn the ins and outs of social media, advertising, brand and social promotions, and what it takes to run a successful brand and social media platform.

montana wild, fishing, internship, filming, summer

Running the Sony FS7 while Zack navigates some whitewater.

montana wild, internship, film, photography, outdoors, hunting

Chase packs out during a spring bear hunt.

Over the course of my internship I had the opportunity to work on a wide range of daily tasks that took me to some pretty incredible places. Daily tasks included the following:

  • Creating and scheduling daily social media posts
  • Creating focused, branded content packages for social media
  • Brainstormed photo/video content ideas
  • Shooting photo/video content
  • Editing photo/video content with Adobe programs
  • Coming up with blog post ideas. Writing blog posts
Montana Wild Internship

Developing skillsets, one click at a time.

If you are looking to become an intern for Montana Wild in the future, you should have some experience or be proficient with Adobe software. Specifically Lightroom, Photoshop, and Premiere. Having a strong grasp of the basics is a necessity of the internship but will really allow you absorb much more during your internship. The more you already know the better, but that brings me to my next point.

By now you’re probably wondering, “So what am I going to get out of this internship?” other than a summer full of stoke, brown trout, camera gear and laughs. The answer is A LOT. Over the course of my internship I was able to improve my skills across the board from shooting photos and video, to editing said shots in Premiere, Lightroom, and Photoshop. When it came to shooting content, my technical skills improved drastically when it was time to set up gear, or quickly getting camera settings to desired levels to capture a shot. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and knowing how to use your gear to its fullest extent will greatly improve the content that you end up with. Subsequently, the content that I was shooting greatly improved as the summer went on. This was partially due to being out and shooting more frequently, but also because I had a resource to bring my work back to and be critiqued. Seems like a solid gig so far doesn’t it? Well it gets better yet. If you’re a college student, you more than likely will be able to receive credits towards graduation for your work over the course of the summer. In my case, I was able to get 6 credits, which meant less class and more time in the mountains come September!

montana wild, internship, hunting, film, photo

Spending time in the mountains with the guys meant more knowledge gained about cameras but also about hunting and backpacking.

Interested in working in the hunting and fishing media industry as a career? Not to worry, as an intern for Montana Wild not only will you build skills that will help you succeed in the future, but you will also have the chance to make connections by learning the ropes and insider tips from Zack and Travis. This will also allow you to meet other like minded people in the industry, and in today’s world, being talented at what you do, having job experience, and knowing the right people will get you far. Like what you see? If so send the guys at Montana Wild an email to info@montana-wild.com with the SUBJECT line: Montana Wild Internship.  Be sure to send a resume, cover letter and a portfolio of any photo/video work you’ve done.  Good luck!

Written by Calvin Connor

,

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

,

TOOTH & FANG – Discount Week

tooth, fang, coyote, hunt, hunting, montana, wild

If you haven’t seen the teaser for our 3-year coyote film project, watch below.

For this week only (1/15 – 1/22) you can rent the film for $1.99 or purchase for $7.99. That is almost 50% off the normal cost. Tooth & Fang is a 46minute film that takes a closer look at why the management of coyotes is necessary across the West. Filmed over the course of three years this film showcases some perspective as to why we hunt coyotes and why achieving a balance is important on so many levels. Purchase or rent the film HERE.

,

THE COLD – The Backstory

huge mule deer buck

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.

late season, mule deer, hunt, hunting, archery, idaho, bucks

Zack wondering where the heck a good buck can be found.

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.

mule deer, hunting, idaho, phoneskope

Using the truck and spotter to cover country. Not a bad option when your new to the area and it’s cold.

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.

mule deer, hunting, buck, montanawild, late season, bowhunting, late season archery hunting

I think he’s a shooter.

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.

hunting, mule deer, sunset, montana wild, film

Another day in deer country.

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.

idaho, mule deer, bowhunting, late season, montana wild

Zack pumped to overcome the odds and fill his tag.

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.

mule deer, camp, wall tent, bowhunting, late season archery hunting

Back for year 3. This time a wall tent came to help stay warm during the cold nights.

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.

bowhunting, mule deer, late season, hunt, idaho

Long hikes and few bucks characterized the early part of the hunt.

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.

mule deer, deer, buck, hunting, late season, idaho

The best of the bunch, protected by numerous does.

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.

mule deer, hunting, idaho, controlled tag, late season, bowhunt, late season archery hunting

Enjoying another beautiful night in God’s Country.

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.

Zack Boughton

 

, ,

10 Great Outdoor Instagram Accounts

Instagram is hands down our favorite social media platform.  We love photos so we inherently are drawn to it and it cuts out most of the worthless garbage you get on other platforms like Facebook.  Get on, scroll through some photos and your done, day not wasted.  With that said there are some individuals that crush it on Instagram and we thought we’d share a list of 10 Great Outdoor Instagram Accounts.  Take a look and enjoy!

#1 – Steven Drake (@stevendrakephoto)

Drake is one of the best photogs in the outdoor industry and can hang in the most remote and brutal conditions all while snapping epic photos.  He’s a force to be reckoned with and we’re stoked to see images from his next adventure.

steven drake, photo, photographer, moose, hunting, canada

#2 – Brad Christian (@bradschristian)

Brad helped lead the charge while at Mathews by utilitzing captivating, unique and beautiful images of the hunt to help shape the industry for the better.  He’s also one talented dude behind the camera himself and he now works with the fine folks at Sitka meaning you’ll be seeing more awesome work from him in the future.

brad christian, photo, photographer, mathews, sitka, bozeman, elk

#3 – Sam Averett (@samaverett)

Sam was one of our very first interns and he quickly became one of the dudes.  His solid skills with the camera have since then progressed quickly and now he’s one of our favorite guys to keep up to speed with.  He’s hard to pin down but we hope this won’t be the last time he will be showing up on our page.

sam averett, photo, photographer, elk, sheds, washington, badass

#4 – Nick Kelley (@ngkelley)

Nick works at Outside Magazine and lives up to the level of skill one would expect from an employee at such an inspiring brand.  He’s an exceptional photographer and his work takes him across the globe shooting and documenting the outdoor lifestyle.

nick kelley, outside, magazine, photographer, flyfishing, brown trout, underwater

#5 – Jordan Gill (@jordangillphotography)

Jordan is another young gun with a mean eye for sick photos.  His work has been utilized by powerhouses YETI, Sitka and Mathews to name a few.  He has a strong beard game, need we say more?

jordan gill, photo, photographer, montana, hunting, sitka

#6 – Puffin (@swishersweetswag)

Mixing it up here at #6.  We’re not even sure what this guys real name is but he’s darn fishy and doesn’t adhere to any standard fly fishing trends in the appearance department.  He’s a fresh look at fly fishing in an industry filled with old guys who think they know it all.  If you like looking at dandy fish, there is no shortage.

swishersweetswag, puffin, fly, fishing, trout, canada

#7 – Jerrin Uecker (@jerrin_uecker)

Another young guy making a name for himself is Jerrin.  His skill with the camera is beyond his years and his work is typified by great use of natural light and color.

Jerrin uecker, photo, photographer, montana, antelope, Great Outdoor Instagram Accounts

#8 – Sean Kerrick Sullivan (@sully_land)

Sean crafted a spot in the snowboard community as a talented photographer and still shoots some of the best snowboard images year in and year out.  He also has a nack at taking great fishing images and is one that will keep you on your toes as to what his next post might be.

sean kerrick sullivan, photo, photographer, snowboarding, snowmobiles, backcountry, Great Outdoor Instagram Accounts

#9 – Derek Olthuis (@derekolthuis)

Derek is one of the fishiest dudes we know, possibly only surpassed by his good friends.  Whether it’s brown trout, bull trout, brookies or any other trout species chances are he’s caught one bigger than you and had a heck of a time doing it.  He keeps things fun and isn’t afraid to share some knowledge to make your next trip on the water more enjoyable.

brown trout, derek olthuis, fishing, Great Outdoor Instagram Accounts

#10 – Chris Hood (@chrisjhood)

Last but not least is Chris Hood.  He’s just wrapping up a long, long trip around the country in his van and the images are breathtaking.  Whether it’s hunting, fishing, landscape, portrait he can crush it on all fronts.

chris hood, glacier, park, photo, photographer, montana, nps, Great Outdoor Instagram Accounts

 

Written by Zack Boughton (@zackboughton)

 

 

,

OVERLOOKED – New Hunting Film

hunting, antelope, montana, film, video

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.

fast food, t shirt, shirt, antelope, hunting, montana

-Zack

,

Goat Country – The Epilogue

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

,

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