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The 2015 Montana elk season will likely go down as one of the toughest seasons I have had to date.
On any given hunt I feel that each time you step into the field, you are given one opportunity in which you need to capitalize on. Some hunts have more but every hunt seems to have at least one. If I don’t make the best of it, it is nobody’s fault but my own.
It started during the archery opener in early September. The weather was hot and the bulls were not bugling at all. The previous year I made good sitting on a wallow and hoped it would prove beneficial again. Needless to say, that wasn’t the case this time. On the 5th day of the hunt we did locate a nice bull and my girlfriend (Sondra) was able to pull that bull right in. This was that one opportunity and I blew it. I should have taken the shot when I had it and not been greedy to let him keep closing the distance. Round one = tag unfilled.
We were back the next week and again we hiked deep into this general area. While taking a few minutes to relax at the top of the ridge, we came up with a plan, grabbed our gear, turned around and walked 5 steps to see a bull whirl and speed away. Another opportunity blown. I got complacent. This is what ruins most opportunities. Round two = tag unfilled.
My focus changed and we headed to WY where I killed a great bull. Then there was the other tags I filled before I was to return to MT. (See my previous blogs)
Opening weekend of the MT rifle elk season. Over a hundred miles put on in 4 days on foot and no shot opportunities at an elk. But spectacular views and hanging out with great friends made it all the better. There were a couple of opportunities that turned sour and myself and a good friend who has never elk hunted were left wondering, “why?” Round three = tag unfilled.
I ventured to MT and killed a unique muley in November (see previous blog) and that left one tag that was unfilled. My MT elk tag. It was the last weekend of the rifle elk season as we put on the miles the day after Thanksgiving to try our luck one more time. My family met Kurt and Jason, dear friends of ours, in the SW corner of MT, deep into elk country. It was rumored that there were over 6000 elk now in the valley. But this isn’t my kind of hunting. Watching guys drive around and wait for the elk to cross public land isn’t my cup of soup. We hit it hard, hiking deep into the mountains in -20 degree weather. Those hunters on horses can’t be beat to get in there that is for sure! But we tried! Kurt, Jason and I had to question our insanity at times. But we kept at it never laying our eyes on any branch antlered bulls. I was beating my brain trying to come up with ideas. I really wanted Kurt to get his first elk.
It all came down to the last day and I decided to check one last area before we ended our hunt. Low and behold; I was able to turn up 5 bulls bedded on a tract of state land! After making sure everything was legit for a stalk we headed out on the long pursuit it seemed. After using the terrain to our advantage we were able to close the distance to 411 yards of the bedded bulls before they stood. We both were able to take a bull out of the group! Round four = tag filled!
One thing I really learned on this trip was to never give up! I dang near threw in the towel a few times and thought I would go home with my first tag unfilled. It all came down to the end and what a great ending it was!! For two hunters to fill both tags in the final hours of the season at dang near the same time with an OTC tag on public land is something that is unheard of! The good Lord was looking down on us on this trip!
Packing out one bull is one thing, packing out two bulls is another! The 8 hour pack-out was a tough one with blistering cold conditions but I can assure you, there was never a complaint had!
Patience was another huge factor in this hunt. Like any hunt, patience needs to be present!