1st Elk Hunt in Montana

tntrker

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Aug 7, 2018
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Upstate SC
After booking my dream hunt in Feb, I headed West Oct 25th from South Carolina. I picked up my friend in Tn along the way. We stopped in Kansas City Kansas to visit Cabela's main store. We thought they may have some of their bigger mounts in it. They had their Mule Deer Museum, "largest collection of mule deer in the world". Pretty impressive and added to our excitement since we both had Elk/Deer combo license. Spent the night there in KC after hitting a few drinks, steaks, and world series last game, and headed West again the next morning. We stopped in Cheyenne Wy for the 2nd night and hit a place called Sanfords. Cool little pub and grub joint. Few beers there as well. Next morning we were at it again and stopped in Cody WY for lunch. Got a picture of a cool Jackalope that had shed it's rack already..We drove up to go thru Yellowstone Park South entrance via the Tetons Park. We got there Sunday the 28th, which was the last day the store was open at Old Faithful. Got great discounts on shirts for the family. We drove thru seeing Elk, Buffalo, and all the beauties of the park. Went to Livingston, MT that night, got a room and found another cool little grub & pud joint to eat supper and drink a few. The next morning we were to check in at noon on the 29th. After meeting Mtarrowflinger from these forums, cool dude, to give him his Cheerwine and Bojangles from SC, we called our guide which said to come on in early if we wanted. We drove back to Emigrant to check in and check our rifles. I get there to the range and find out I have no magazine in my 30-06 ( it was left back in SC on my gun cleaning station). After ensuring I was still driving tacks, the guide called every contact he knew of with no luck finding a new mag for my rifle. I hit Mtarrowflinger up to see if he had any ideas and he pointed me to a place that had 1 left. So I drove 45 min to purchase a new mag, stopped back at the Old Saloon in Emigrant for a burger and a beer. Drove around looking at all the Mule Deer and elk herds until supper time at the ranch which had buffalo meatloaf ready for us.
First day out Tuesday morning, my friend had 1st choice at shooting which we didn't spot anything we wanted to tackle on a 1st day out. That evening, we put a stalk on a small herd that had a 5x5 that had broken off his "fish tail" fighting I assumed but had some long front gear. I liked him so we stalked him and 8 other cows. As we headed around a "ridge" top, we see a hunter coming up on some adjacent "state-land" and could tell he had no idea of the herd headed towards him. We back tracked to the other side of the mountain in hopes of the herd getting pushed back onto the ranch land. After setting up approx 20 min later we see the herd coming back over the top. Wound up being a perfect stalk but a cow stayed between the bull and me. They got within 400 yrds, I was not going to shoot past 450 yrds due to the 30-06 ballistics, and 2 wolves showed up to run the herd off. End of the hunt for us. 2 other hunters tagged out with each a good size 4x4 for both.

Day 2 starts with us riding the ranch checking out the herds to see what bulls were present in each. We saw, on average 2-4 herds each day with each herd having at least 20 to one that had well over 200 elk in it. While heading to another part of the ranch, I spot 2 Mule Deer fighting on ranch land. We stop and watch them then proceeded on to a herd of elk spotted coming across the road onto ranch land. There was an impressive 5x5 in it but was smaller than the 5x I saw the day before. We decided to go back to the Mule Deer I saw. After getting above the muley, we stalked down towards him and belly crawled onto a point over looking where we last saw him. There he was, 250 yrds away bedding down. I range him and and get set while the guide stands up and walks up the ridge whistling trying to get him to stand up. The muley was snoring already and paid him no attention. The guide started rolling rocks down our ridge which woke up our deer and I had a perfect shot. Done deal. My friend had taken off with the extra guides that morning and he bagged a muley 30 min after I did. Both were 5x5's. That evening we were going to take of on horses to check out some back county but it got to snowing and windy around noon and that day was over.

Day 3 we were riding around again checking out the herds which produced no bulls. Lunch at the ranch and we were back out searching. My friend takes off with some of the guides and I head out with the others. A big 6x6 was spotted in a herd 1,500 yrds away. The stalk begins! We began the hike which would put us at 400 yrds watching a small clearing on the mountain side hoping the herd would pass though it. They did and there was my bull from Tuesday evening. I wanted him. The guide tells me the "big 6x is with this herd" and I hold off. We never saw the herd bull so we skirted around in hopes the herd would come out into the open. We set up on a point 425 yrds away from the tree line. Sure enough, the elk come out of the woods and I'm looking at them straight in front of me as they come out, beautiful. As they file out into a field, here pops out" my bull" (5x5) again and he starts fighting with a smaller bull. Watching all this in my scope was exciting. I'm wanting to pull the trigger but the guide assures me the bigger herd bull was in there some where and to wait for him. It gets dark with no herd bull arrival..My friend had stalked his 5x5 but wound up mistaking his bull with a smaller bull while looking through the scope. He didn't see his until it was topping the ridge..no elk

Day 4 our morning starts with the morning rides again. Our herds we were on the day before are still around and looked as if they were going to stay put. We go back to the ranch, eat an early lunch, pack some snacks and head off for my friends bull. We stalk it to 500 yrds away on an opposite ridge. Most of the herd is bedding so we wait in windy rain/snow mix. After about 2 hrs, his bull gets up and walks towards us which blocked him by a smaller ridge between us. He missed his chance. approx 1 hr later that bull shows himself and my friend shoots over his back. I was sitting 30 yrds off to the side to take the shot had he missed. The bull looked like he was hit due to a spot in his hide so I didn't shoot. When he stopped running and ate before topping the ridge, I knew then he had missed. So my friend and 2 guides take off after that herd while Me and 1 guide head to 2 more guides that had my herd spotted. They were 2 1/2 miles away, the LONG stalk begins. We get to within 350 yrds topping the side of the front ridge and there are some bedded cows, the wind started swirling as we got closer so we backtracked the ridge to come up on it's top. Belly crawl the last 75 yrds and there is the herd bedded down 600 yrds in front of us. I get set up in hopes they would feed off to the left putting them within 400yrds. After about 30 min, 5 cows and my 5x5 bull head off the the left just as planned. A cow between him and me again the whole way. I hear "we're screwed, that cow just winded us" from the guide and sure enough, each head popped up and they started running back towards the main herd. This caused all the other elk go into ALERT mode. They were at 600 yrds. No shoot for me and my 30-06. The guide asked if I wanted to use his 30 Hart. He dialed it to 600 and told me to hit it through both shoulders. Shot 1 rang out I hear "Great Hit"! I'm chambering another round and I look into the scope to find my bull for a follow up and BINGO, there popped out the herd bull. A nice 6x6!! Split second later I'm finding my bull running and slowing down. He stops at 660yrds. I hold even with his heart but across his back, "Great shot" again and I see him stumbling out of sight behind a ridge. It started snowing and was getting dusk by the time we got to him. He had stumbled down the ridge and never made it into the trees, 30 yrds away, We got him field dressed and covered him up with some cedar limbs and started the long hike back. My friend has took off after the bull he missed, when they got to the ridge top that the elk went over, his 5x5 was 270 yrds away on the other ridge about to top it. He shot it (7mm) and it rolled back down to within 100 yrds of them. His guides wound up field dressing him and getting it out that night. Mine would require a little more work. They couldn't take the horses on the route we had taken so Sat morning they trailered up some horses, drove 25 miles around the mountain, rode up and over the mountain the elk had been on and quartered my Elk. They didn't make it back until Sat evening. I would have liked to have gone along but they had left early so I was forced to drink a few and watch ballgames all Sat. What a great time and experience.

Side story: I had "over prepaired" and I knew it but wanted to be ready for anything. My pack, first aid kit, overnight kit, bear spray, Glock. Well one evening, I was talked out of taking all that stuff. "no need too" I was told. So that evening We just go out with a few bottles of water and our rifles. On our way back in that evening, wolves were spotted on the opposite side of the ridge we were on by some spotters. The guides run off with our rifles. I turn to my friend and point out that now we have no 1st aid, no trauma kit, no fire starter, no PISTOL, and NO RIFLES and we are standing in the middle of the woods in Montana where we couldn't even outrun a badger at that point and it's getting dark...We just laughed and hollered "get bear" until the guides found us heading in the direction of the truck 1 mile away.
 

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way_south

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2018
Messages
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Location
South East LA
Looks great, I am starting to plan for a hunt out west for fall of 2020. It'll give me some time to get in better shape and buy gear. Where'd you go in MT? sounds like you had a very good experience and I am looking for something along those lines.
 

Joseph08

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2018
Messages
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Location
Dallas, US
I really like the fine details you explained in your hunting story. Interesting to read! I have personally never hunted an elk and i found it a difficult task to do. But definitely looking forward to since i would love to do that.
 

KHNC

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
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Location
NC
After booking my dream hunt in Feb, I headed West Oct 25th from South Carolina. I picked up my friend in Tn along the way. We stopped in Kansas City Kansas to visit Cabela's main store. We thought they may have some of their bigger mounts in it. They had their Mule Deer Museum, "largest collection of mule deer in the world". Pretty impressive and added to our excitement since we both had Elk/Deer combo license. Spent the night there in KC after hitting a few drinks, steaks, and world series last game, and headed West again the next morning. We stopped in Cheyenne Wy for the 2nd night and hit a place called Sanfords. Cool little pub and grub joint. Few beers there as well. Next morning we were at it again and stopped in Cody WY for lunch. Got a picture of a cool Jackalope that had shed it's rack already..We drove up to go thru Yellowstone Park South entrance via the Tetons Park. We got there Sunday the 28th, which was the last day the store was open at Old Faithful. Got great discounts on shirts for the family. We drove thru seeing Elk, Buffalo, and all the beauties of the park. Went to Livingston, MT that night, got a room and found another cool little grub & pud joint to eat supper and drink a few. The next morning we were to check in at noon on the 29th. After meeting Mtarrowflinger from these forums, cool dude, to give him his Cheerwine and Bojangles from SC, we called our guide which said to come on in early if we wanted. We drove back to Emigrant to check in and check our rifles. I get there to the range and find out I have no magazine in my 30-06 ( it was left back in SC on my gun cleaning station). After ensuring I was still driving tacks, the guide called every contact he knew of with no luck finding a new mag for my rifle. I hit Mtarrowflinger up to see if he had any ideas and he pointed me to a place that had 1 left. So I drove 45 min to purchase a new mag, stopped back at the Old Saloon in Emigrant for a burger and a beer. Drove around looking at all the Mule Deer and elk herds until supper time at the ranch which had buffalo meatloaf ready for us.
First day out Tuesday morning, my friend had 1st choice at shooting which we didn't spot anything we wanted to tackle on a 1st day out. That evening, we put a stalk on a small herd that had a 5x5 that had broken off his "fish tail" fighting I assumed but had some long front gear. I liked him so we stalked him and 8 other cows. As we headed around a "ridge" top, we see a hunter coming up on some adjacent "state-land" and could tell he had no idea of the herd headed towards him. We back tracked to the other side of the mountain in hopes of the herd getting pushed back onto the ranch land. After setting up approx 20 min later we see the herd coming back over the top. Wound up being a perfect stalk but a cow stayed between the bull and me. They got within 400 yrds, I was not going to shoot past 450 yrds due to the 30-06 ballistics, and 2 wolves showed up to run the herd off. End of the hunt for us. 2 other hunters tagged out with each a good size 4x4 for both.

Day 2 starts with us riding the ranch checking out the herds to see what bulls were present in each. We saw, on average 2-4 herds each day with each herd having at least 20 to one that had well over 200 elk in it. While heading to another part of the ranch, I spot 2 Mule Deer fighting on ranch land. We stop and watch them then proceeded on to a herd of elk spotted coming across the road onto ranch land. There was an impressive 5x5 in it but was smaller than the 5x I saw the day before. We decided to go back to the Mule Deer I saw. After getting above the muley, we stalked down towards him and belly crawled onto a point over looking where we last saw him. There he was, 250 yrds away bedding down. I range him and and get set while the guide stands up and walks up the ridge whistling trying to get him to stand up. The muley was snoring already and paid him no attention. The guide started rolling rocks down our ridge which woke up our deer and I had a perfect shot. Done deal. My friend had taken off with the extra guides that morning and he bagged a muley 30 min after I did. Both were 5x5's. That evening we were going to take of on horses to check out some back county but it got to snowing and windy around noon and that day was over.

Day 3 we were riding around again checking out the herds which produced no bulls. Lunch at the ranch and we were back out searching. My friend takes off with some of the guides and I head out with the others. A big 6x6 was spotted in a herd 1,500 yrds away. The stalk begins! We began the hike which would put us at 400 yrds watching a small clearing on the mountain side hoping the herd would pass though it. They did and there was my bull from Tuesday evening. I wanted him. The guide tells me the "big 6x is with this herd" and I hold off. We never saw the herd bull so we skirted around in hopes the herd would come out into the open. We set up on a point 425 yrds away from the tree line. Sure enough, the elk come out of the woods and I'm looking at them straight in front of me as they come out, beautiful. As they file out into a field, here pops out" my bull" (5x5) again and he starts fighting with a smaller bull. Watching all this in my scope was exciting. I'm wanting to pull the trigger but the guide assures me the bigger herd bull was in there some where and to wait for him. It gets dark with no herd bull arrival..My friend had stalked his 5x5 but wound up mistaking his bull with a smaller bull while looking through the scope. He didn't see his until it was topping the ridge..no elk

Day 4 our morning starts with the morning rides again. Our herds we were on the day before are still around and looked as if they were going to stay put. We go back to the ranch, eat an early lunch, pack some snacks and head off for my friends bull. We stalk it to 500 yrds away on an opposite ridge. Most of the herd is bedding so we wait in windy rain/snow mix. After about 2 hrs, his bull gets up and walks towards us which blocked him by a smaller ridge between us. He missed his chance. approx 1 hr later that bull shows himself and my friend shoots over his back. I was sitting 30 yrds off to the side to take the shot had he missed. The bull looked like he was hit due to a spot in his hide so I didn't shoot. When he stopped running and ate before topping the ridge, I knew then he had missed. So my friend and 2 guides take off after that herd while Me and 1 guide head to 2 more guides that had my herd spotted. They were 2 1/2 miles away, the LONG stalk begins. We get to within 350 yrds topping the side of the front ridge and there are some bedded cows, the wind started swirling as we got closer so we backtracked the ridge to come up on it's top. Belly crawl the last 75 yrds and there is the herd bedded down 600 yrds in front of us. I get set up in hopes they would feed off to the left putting them within 400yrds. After about 30 min, 5 cows and my 5x5 bull head off the the left just as planned. A cow between him and me again the whole way. I hear "we're screwed, that cow just winded us" from the guide and sure enough, each head popped up and they started running back towards the main herd. This caused all the other elk go into ALERT mode. They were at 600 yrds. No shoot for me and my 30-06. The guide asked if I wanted to use his 30 Hart. He dialed it to 600 and told me to hit it through both shoulders. Shot 1 rang out I hear "Great Hit"! I'm chambering another round and I look into the scope to find my bull for a follow up and BINGO, there popped out the herd bull. A nice 6x6!! Split second later I'm finding my bull running and slowing down. He stops at 660yrds. I hold even with his heart but across his back, "Great shot" again and I see him stumbling out of sight behind a ridge. It started snowing and was getting dusk by the time we got to him. He had stumbled down the ridge and never made it into the trees, 30 yrds away, We got him field dressed and covered him up with some cedar limbs and started the long hike back. My friend has took off after the bull he missed, when they got to the ridge top that the elk went over, his 5x5 was 270 yrds away on the other ridge about to top it. He shot it (7mm) and it rolled back down to within 100 yrds of them. His guides wound up field dressing him and getting it out that night. Mine would require a little more work. They couldn't take the horses on the route we had taken so Sat morning they trailered up some horses, drove 25 miles around the mountain, rode up and over the mountain the elk had been on and quartered my Elk. They didn't make it back until Sat evening. I would have liked to have gone along but they had left early so I was forced to drink a few and watch ballgames all Sat. What a great time and experience.

Side story: I had "over prepaired" and I knew it but wanted to be ready for anything. My pack, first aid kit, overnight kit, bear spray, Glock. Well one evening, I was talked out of taking all that stuff. "no need too" I was told. So that evening We just go out with a few bottles of water and our rifles. On our way back in that evening, wolves were spotted on the opposite side of the ridge we were on by some spotters. The guides run off with our rifles. I turn to my friend and point out that now we have no 1st aid, no trauma kit, no fire starter, no PISTOL, and NO RIFLES and we are standing in the middle of the woods in Montana where we couldn't even outrun a badger at that point and it's getting dark...We just laughed and hollered "get bear" until the guides found us heading in the direction of the truck 1 mile away.
You told me about this hunt, but i just now saw your story! Nice job! This is how a guided hunt should be! NOT the cody carr so called hunt i went on. I know yours cost a little more,but it is quality! Cant believe you saw wolves. Did you not buy a 50.00 tag? I had one, only saw a few sets of tracks tho. Sounds like a great place!
 
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tntrker

tntrker

Senior Member
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Upstate SC
You told me about this hunt, but i just now saw your story! Nice job! This is how a guided hunt should be! NOT the cody carr so called hunt i went on. I know yours cost a little more,but it is quality! Cant believe you saw wolves. Did you not buy a 50.00 tag? I had one, only saw a few sets of tracks tho. Sounds like a great place!
I was not aware of the wolf tag opportunity but I would have had I known. It would have done me no good with that encounter of the 2 that scattered the herd we were on. The elk were probably 100 yrds, tops, over our side of the ridge. Those wolves came full speed over the top right at them. They must have been stalking them as well and went for it. They all took off to the left which dropped off behind a peak we were halfway on, towards the area that other hunter was coming up. If he was still there I'm sure he got a show. It all happened so fast, and I was watching it all unfold in amazement, I never really though about shooting them until it was too late. The second time there was NO WAY I could have gotten over the ridge to skirt those on the other side. We were almost at the bottom of the ridge when a spotter told us about them on the oppisite side. Those kids grabbed our rifles and RAN up and over. It was 800 ft, AT LEAST, incline over that thing. They never stopped running out of site and still didn't get a shot at the wolves.
My take on the whole physical side is this: CARDIO, CARDIO and more cardio. I had been getting fitter for this trip by hitting the gym and hiking some ridges with my backpack filled with weight. The guide was great in knowing when I needed a quick break without me saying anything. But MAN, I was ready to stop when he did. I was waiting for the adjustment of accumulation to the elevation but I thought they may have to pack me out a few times. Nothing muscle related but MAN I just never could breathe. The stalks themselves were never too much an issue, but the trek out was the roughest. I guess due to the "coming out" not "headed after" mind set. We topped out a 9k feet but stayed mostly 6k- 8k so those few thousand feet was putting me to the test. I had hoped to use this as a builder to start doing some DIY hunts but there is noway I could have came out of there with meat on my back, much less 3-4 trips in one night. Kudos to all you that do, respect and pride you deserve!!
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2018
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Congrats! I hunted that area with an outfitter a couple years back and had success. A couple guys from the group went back this year same timeframe as you and were successful but said there were quite a few grizzly encounters with one group/guide in camp even having to fire some warning shots on a charge. Curious who you hunted with and if you guys seen any grizzlies?


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bsnedeker

Senior Member
Joined
May 17, 2018
Messages
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Location
MN
Lol, I can relate to the "being overprepared" part of this! I hunted with a few local Montanan's this year and they ALL gave me grief about the amount of gear I was carrying! These guys are just used to grabbing a pack with some water and a basic kill kit and hitting the mountains after work so they just don't think anything else is necessary. That said, they were CONSTANTLY using my gear during the day! Need to start a fire...where's Brad? Hungry...where's Brad? Need some cordage...where's Brad?
 

mmw194287

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Jun 20, 2013
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Enjoyed the story, glad you had a great hunt.

Sounds like the guides were using cell phones or 2-way radios to put each other on animals that others had spotted?
 
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tntrker

tntrker

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Upstate SC
Enjoyed the story, glad you had a great hunt.

Sounds like the guides were using cell phones or 2-way radios to put each other on animals that others had spotted?
There was supposed to be 6 hunters that week but two cancelled. The other two hunters tagged out on day 1 with 4x4's. So we lucked out and had all the guides spotting for us the rest of the week. Although the amount set aside for tips increased, it sure was fun!
 
Joined
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With a 19 month old and a newborn, not sure when if ever I'll get to do a hunt like this, but I'm really enjoying reading about everybody else's adventures. Congrats.
 
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