Posts

Bear, Camp, top 10, reasons, black, montana

Let me preface this by by saying that the following statements, events, and recounts of events are all true. Except, of course, for the ones that aren’t. In truth, I know almost nothing about bears and bear hunting, this is all speculation.

bear, camp, montana, wild, 10, reasons, tips, hunting, black bears, backcountry, fire, camping

Reason #1 – Tomahawk Chucking
First things first, if you’re in bear camp you’d better be throwing a tomahawk or two. Get to camp, dump your crap, and troll backroads in your freak-nasty Dodge until you spy a suitable round of firewood that one of your Keystone slurping, chew-mowwing brethren has left behind. Sling that bad boy in the bed and get to camp stat. You don’t need to bear hunt tonight anyway. Undoubtedly, you and the homeboys will spend the rest of the week playing grab-ass and squabbling about who threw it best. Assuming none of you are a direct descendant of Sitting Bull, you’ll all be horrid. Good luck. Loser washes dishes.

bears, bear hunting, montana, tomahawks, behring made, sitka

Reason #2 – Big Bonner’s
Camping beats actually hunting almost every time if you’re doing it right. After acquiring your tomahawk target you’re going to need to get a big ole’ bonner (bonfire) started. If you’ve been blessed with super neat hunting buddies like Jay and  I have, they’ll probably say something like: “Hey you little gremlins, get a raging bonner started before we die out here!” Awesome. Gather as much wood as possible and get it going. Since you and the boys were busy farting on each other when your Boy Scout camp counselor explained how to start a fire, you’re going to have to grab the gas can and get aggressive. Mission accomplished.

camping, Yeti Coolers, adventure, bonfire, how to, tips, wild

Reason #3 – Crop Dusting
It’s noon by the time you drag your un-showered ass from the tent on day two. You’ve missed Bear:30, but just the morning shift. If you’re lucky your camp cook James has already whipped up a fresh pot of coffee; which will be about 15% actual coffee, and 85% grounds. Delicious. When you’ve chewed and swallowed your morning coffee, grab your pack and get to hiking. With any luck you’ll be hot on the six of the best beer drinker in camp. We’ll call him Zack. Stay close, and make sure you’re breathing hard. When last night’s beers hit bottom, you’ll be the first to smell it.

“Dude, they aren’t even bad!” Zack laughs.

Right. You could pass him, but it’s pretty steep. You might just have to suffer through it. Don’t stress, you’ll get him back in time.

Reason #4 – Bear Snacks
“Dude, you want some candy?” Travis asked as we filled our packs for the evening hunt. I stared at him like it was an of inside joke that I wasn’t in on.

“Uhh..no I’m good, thanks,” I said.

“Your loss,” he replied.

I’d never hunted with these guys before, and I sure as hell didn’t want them to think I was that greasy kid from the second grade who never grew out of his baby fat. You know, the kid you were afraid to high-five because of the sweat-induced film that always covered his hands? I didn’t need that crap.
Two weeks later, Zack, James and I were huffing and puffing our way through mile-three of a lengthy pack out at around 1 a.m. We reached the halfway point and scrounged for a place to take a load off.

“Dude, you want some candy?” Zack asked.

I could have cried. You bet I wanted some candy. Two Rolo’s and a stale gummy worm later we were ready to roll. Energy stores replenished, we stumbled through the next few miles without a hitch. Long story short, bring some kind of sugary bear-snack when you hit the hills chasing spring bruins. You never know when that same sugary snack that propelled your beefy, second-grade pal through recess will save your ass on the mountain.

bear, black, hunting, spring, montana, sitka, snacks, candy

Reason #5 – Ronnie, Lonnie and Connie
If for some reason you stumble on a bear or two worthy of naming, there are a few things you should know. For starters, names that command a certain sense of badassery should be reserved for bears to match. Average sows with cubs need names you might overhear at the local supermarket or while attending the neighborhood book-club. Margaret, Sharon and Barbara are fail-safe. Jason, Matt and Paul are good names for those schmedium boars, while Kenneth is only acceptable if he shows potential for future badassery.
Size isn’t the only thing that comes into play when naming your bears, though. Attitude should be a taken into serious consideration. On the first evening of bear camp, Zack and I spotted Ronnie (Coleman). He sauntered back and forth atop a knife ridge about a mile and a half distant. He ripped 35 inch trees apart with his brute strength, and ran sprints to and fro in some kind of high intensity interval training. As we watched, he laid beneath a hanging log and leg-pressed a monstrous ponderosa for ten sets of ten. We elected to chase him in the morning.

Ronnie was big, but it wasn’t sheer size that earned him his name, it was mostly his attitude. We saw Connie, his sister, out with the cubs later that night, and his brother, Lonnie, later met the business end of Zack’s rifle. But we never caught up with Ronnie, likely due to his aggressive attitude and peak physical condition.  If your unfamiliar with Ronnie Coleman the video below will get you up to speed.

Reason #6 – Bear:30
What the hell is Bear:30 anyway? Good question. Bear:30 – not to be confused with its close cousin, Beer:30 – is when those veteran bruins get up and slow-ride their way to a favorite munching ground. Maybe it’s where the grass is the best, maybe it’s where the honeys are. Regardless, if it’s Bear:30 you need to be in the woods; and I don’t mean chilling in the whip, “glassing” with a cold beverage.

By Bear:30 you should have summited at least two peaks, crop dusted your buddies, and be looking into country that hasn’t seen a human-being since Lewis and Clark. Once you’re there, chill out. Bear:30 generally runs from around 6:30-9 in both the morning and evening, give or take a few minutes. Find a good spot and set up, it’s only a matter of time until Lonnie makes an appearance; or even better, Ronnie.

Reason #7 – Bear Chronic
Graminoids are monocotyledonous, generally herbaceous plants with narrow leaves sprouting from the base. This includes members of the family Poaceae, Cyperaceae and Juncaceae. Simple right? Actually, it is. All that shit is just grass. However, we like to use its scientific name: Bear Chronic. Bear Chronic grows everywhere, but where you find the highest concentrations of the stuff you’ll also find the bears. When Ronnie, Lonnie and Connie awake from their long winters nap they’re headed straight for the thickest, juiciest Bear Chronic.

Frequent users argue that Bear Chronic is non-habit forming, but we know better. Side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, abundance of Bob Marley apparel, lack of motivation and over-use of words like ‘gnarly, chill and rad.’ Street names for the substance include, ‘Astro-Turf, Dinkie-Dow, Bo-Bo and Donna Jauna,’ so keep your ears open.
Old logging roads usually hold large quantities of Bear Chronic, so check ‘em out. You should be seeing piles upon piles of bear dung to boot. If so, you’re definitely in the sweet spot. Come back a little before Bear:30 and wait for the action to start.

grass, sunrise, hunting, logging roads, springtime, bear chronic
Reason 8: Stump Bears
“I’ve got one,” James hissed.
Travis ditched the spotter and hustled to where James was glassing. I followed suit.
“Where is he?” I whispered.
The abstract directions that followed guided my glass to rest on a big, black…something.
“Uhhh…has it moved?” Travis asked.
The answer is no. It hadn’t moved, ever, at least not since it came crashing down in the blaze that charred it pitch black. The moral of the story is this: nine times out of ten, it isn’t a bear. It’s a stump bear. Yeah yeah, we know, it really looked like a bear, and you swear it was moving just a second ago.
Everybody wants to be the guy that spots the bear, you’re a hero if you do. But it’s likely that you won’t be that guy. Someone in the group might be, but it probably won’t be you. Stay frosty, keep your eyes on him, and if your stump bear takes off running or stands up on it’s hind legs, then and only then, would it be appropriate to alert the posse.

Reason 9: Truck Mobbin’
“Do you say ‘mobbin’ too?” Jay looked at me.
“Yeah man, mobbin’, it’s basically all I do,” I mumbled between bites of my tailgate turkey sandwich.
Being from the Tennessee, I guess Jay had never ‘mobbed.’ Mobbin’ is basically the act of cruising the Dodge – or whatever truck brand you and your daddy choose to associate with – down some backroads and kicking it. Whether you’re headed to town or back to camp, more often than not you’re bumping your favorite beat – Avril’s 1992 hit Sk8er Boi – and Tokyo drifting every corner. Or not, maybe you’re just chatting up an evening GP (game plan) with the dudes. Whatever the case, you’re mobbin’.

mobbing, dodge, dirt roads, logging, spring, bear, bear hunting

Reason 10: Ticks
Ticks are a terrifying creature. If the thought of a nickel-sized insect braving the dangers of your ass-crack to suck your blood doesn’t terrify you, you’re either a SEAL, or impressively dimwitted. I’m leaning towards dimwitted. Anyways, the aftermath of a long pack out left me standing alone in my kitchen at 3:30 in the morning. I was starving, but I struggled pouring the milk into my Frosted Flakes. Standing in the half light of the kitchen, I ran my hands through the mane. The little beasts were everywhere. I abandoned the cereal – a cardinal sin – and hit the shower. I think I pulled five or six of the little buggers off of me that night; most of which had taken residence in my fledgling mullet. I wrestled with my emotions as I contemplated cutting the hair I had worked so hard to achieve. I had already limped past the awkward stage. You know, when it’s too long for you to be a responsible adult but not enough to achieve your desired degree of mullet success? On the other hand I had serious personal issues with the tick-farm my hair was becoming. But I had already come this far, I couldn’t let them win. I kept it and returned to my soggy bowl of cereal.

So that’s it. There’s ten good reasons why you need to be chasing spring bears with your buddies. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t see how anything will. More bears for the rest of us I suppose.

-Written by Sam Averett

sam averett, bear, hunting, montana, wild, toyota, spring, handlebar, mustache

 

tooth, and, fang, coyote, hunting, predator, calling, quest

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.

coyote, hunting, film, montana, wild, predator, call, foxpro, shockwave, snowy mountain rifles, hsm ammo, the, hunting, shack, snow, camo, vortex, optics, viper, hslr, fhf, gear, 6xc, caliber, fur, shockwave

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.

coyote, hunting, film, montana, wild, predator, call, foxpro, shockwave, snowy mountain rifles, hsm ammo, the, hunting, shack, snow, camo, vortex, optics, viper, hslr, fhf, gear, 6xc, caliber, fur, shockwave

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.

tooth, and, &, fang, coyote, hunting, coyotes, predator, predation, northern, lights, montana, ranching, land, cattle, calves, sheep, lambs, montana, wild, film, video

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.

generator, hunting, 2000 watt, bowhunting, elk, rack

Now to start, I love the solitude of a remote hunt or a backcountry fishing trip, but the truth of the matter is that with my occupation, leaving all the electronics behind is not a regular occurrence. This past Fall we had the dire need for a generator while shooting our latest and most extensive elk hunting project. The need to charge camera gear, batteries, and general gear was a must. It just so happened that the stars aligned and we had the chance to try out a new portable inverter generator, the Generac IQ2000.

generac, iq2000, best, portable, generator, elk, hunting, fuel, efficient

Upon first impression, the generator is fairly lightweight and compact. The weather resistant finish was a nice touch, and everything seemed very well put together. The setup instructions were extremely easy to follow. The one small fumble I had was putting oil in the generator. They provide you with (oil name here) oil to put in the generator before starting, but they do not tell you how much to put in. You either have to pour extremely slow until you see oil about to overflow or continusely check with a dipstick your oil level. I managed to have a little overflow, but a few sheets of paper towels fixed the problem.

setup, run, generator, generac, iq2000, rv, portable, lightweight

Starting the machine is extremely easy; turn the knob to CHOKE, pull the start cable and then move the knob to RUN position and your generator is up and running. The front gauges are all very easy to read. You have watt usage, gas level (1-gal tank), run time, generator status indicator, and a three power mode switch easily visible. The overall design is simple, energy effecient, and dummy proof.

generator, IQ2000, montana, wild, yeti, coolers, power, hunting, honda

For us we were using the generator at elk camp to charge our computers and camera batteries at night and during the downtime in the middle of the day. This generator was the perfect tool for this, on top of being very quiet and low vibration. I could actually communicate with the rest of the hunters in camp over the hum of the generator. We were able to run the generator on the ‘economy’ (most gas efficient setting) while charging 1 computer, 1 Nikon battery, 1 Sony FS7 battery, 1 Sony A7s, and 4 AA batteries for about 10-11hrs on 1-gallon of gas.

montana, wild, work, on, the, road, portable, power, generator, generac, iq2000, 2000, watt

We tested the generator in 90F weather in Eastern Montana and in 10F in Idaho, and it performed flawlessly. Regardless of conditions it started with a couple pulls.

2000 watt, generac, generator, block, charging, batteries

Overall I was extremely impressed with the Generac IQ2000. It is the perfect size/weight/function I need as a hunter/filmer/photographer on the road. Not to mention it is the best value for its price that I have found. Other reviews online back this same opinion. If you are in need of a 2000watt generator, we highly recommend taking a look at the Generac IQ2000 generator. Quiet, simple, and reliable.

hunting, inverter, generator, generac, IQ2000, 2000, watt, charging, portable, quiet

For more information on their products visit: www.generac.com

-Travis Boughton

montana, wild

We are adding another key piece to the puzzle here at Montana Wild.  Below is a job description for the position we are looking to fill.  This is an outline and simply that.  If you feel you have a skill-set that will add to our brand PLEASE apply. This job is not for the faint of heart. This is WORK and most do not understand what we do here at Montana Wild. Long days and late nights are frequently a part of this job.  Strong work ethic is absolutely neccessary! We are computer nerds and camera pack mules 90% of the time. If fame and fortune in the hunting/fly fishing industry is your goal, DO NOT apply. If you want the job to get a short term of experience, DO NOT apply. If you can’t see yourself living in Montana happily for a long term, DO NOT apply. We want level headed, positive & creative people who have a passion for the outdoors that want this job to potentially be their career.  We don’t want an ’employee’, we want another person dedicated to the Montana Wild brand, lifestyle, and family.

Digital Content Manager

First and foremost we are looking for a creative talent that is outgoing and passionate who can manage the digital content, social media streams, and build web content here at Montana Wild.  We are also looking for people with experience in video/photo editing, graphic design, website design, and journalism. This person may also be active in participating in planning and producing future projects and giving constructive creative feedback.  If you’re the jack of all trades, even better! Editing of photo/video and being able to proficiently utilize a camera for both video and photo will be necessary.  We provide some training but you absolutely need to have experience.

Duties May Include:

-Developing and creating content for social media and social media campaigns.
-Develop branding strategies
-Managing photo and video content
-Label and organize video in accordance to specific film projects
-Edit short 15-45 second videos
-Shoot photographs and short video for social media, marketing, and editorial purposes
-Design and develop marketing strategies for branded apparel
-Ship orders and manage day-to-day operations of apparel side of brand
-Studying and developing marketing strategies to be implemented through social media specifically Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
-Creating detailed post schedules
-Create blog posts around hunting and fishing
-Provide a critical eye with regards to creative projects
-Build interactive websites
-Handling clients and customer relations

Qualifications/Skills that we are looking for in a candidate:

-Experience in the outdoor field, preferably hunting and/or fishing
-Video/Photo experience and knowledge of Adobe programs such as Premiere Pro & Lightroom.  Looking for at least 2 years of experience.
-Past experience managing social media, developing marketing campaigns and managing digital media content.

-Ability to build and manage websites
-Graphic Design experience
Demonstrate passion and a strong work ethic
-Familiarity with the Vimeo and Youtube platforms
-A strong background in storytelling
-Familiarity with website creating platforms

 

**YOU MUST MOVE TO MISSOULA, MONTANA FOR THIS JOB**

Please send resume, cover letter, availability, and any creative material or portfolios to Zack Boughton at  work.montanawild@gmail.com

 

We are also taking applications for internships for Spring/Summer 2016.  These can involve photo/video production and editing, social media and general day-to-day duties.  Let us know what you are looking for in an internship.  Please make a note in the subject line of the email if that is what you are applying for.

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

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

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

The, crags, hunting, film, tour, sitka, montana, wild, mule, deer, spot, and, stalk, buck, first, deer

Last fall Travis had a handful of days to fill his first ever, archery mule deer tag. Boots tight and arrows dialed in, we set foot in the badlands of Montana, with hopes of capturing this adventure on film. The result was an unforgetttable hunt, with the ups and downs that come with hunting spooky public land mule deer. Make sure to catch the full film in the 2015 Hunting Film Tour. Check here for a showing near you: huntingfilmtour.com

 

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

[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