Montana 900-20 -- most fun possible

A.Grift

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Apr 21, 2020
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I took a look at FWP today and was thrilled to find out that I drew the 900-20 antelope tag in Montana. I know that it is considered to be a pretty sure thing, but I struck out on everything else this year so I was still pleasantly surprised. I have a general Western archery elk tag in Washington, so I will be planning on spending the elk season looking for Rosies. After that, I will have deer and bear tags in Washington and antelope and bear tags in Montana. I don't have a ton of vacation days, but I do have a very flexible work schedule, so I will be mostly planning on hunting antelope either mornings/evenings or on a few extended weekends (I can usually sneak out on a Friday if I make up the rest of my hours during the week, and I can take a Monday or Thursday or two). I am considering renting an airbnb somewhere in Montana for the month of October, or more accurately the 25th of September-25th of October (if they are still doing the 30+ day discounts or if I can find something cheap).

This is my first antelope hunt, and I only have one other western hunt (elk in northern Idaho last year) under my belt. My question for all of you more experienced folks is: how can I have as much fun as possible? It will just be me and my dog (I know this will make the hunting more difficult, but he's my dude and he knows to stay behind me and not make any noise when we are out in the field), and I can realistically work anywhere with wifi (or a cell signal strong enough to run my hotspot). There won't be any pressure in terms of time for me to get home. A friend of mine may come out for a few days to run around with me, but I am not counting on it. My only real restriction is going to be what fits in my truck, keeping a reasonable budget, and not burning a bunch of days off.

What would you do in my situation? How can I maximize the fun I have while chasing antelope? Would you try to sneak in some fall bear, or some upland game if you filled your tag (or even if you didn't)? Maybe fly fishing? Are there any creature comforts you would bring along? Are there specific regions or units you'd like to check out? Cool towns worth spending a night or two in? Am I thinking about this all wrong? Should I just keep it simple and go chase animals around? Should I plan on spending less time? Should I be thinking about going before Washington elk season opens instead of after? Both?

Any thoughts are appreciated, don't hold back. Thanks!
 

hobbes

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My resident antelope is still showing pending. Hmmm. Did they draw 900 before the other tags?
 
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A.Grift

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What kind of dog? Bird dog?
Nope, he is a blue heeler. Not particularly helpful for hunting birds, but he is super well-behaved so I at least wouldn't have to worry about him doing something stupid. Last year a small doe fed right up to within 4 yards of us in Idaho before it decided something was off and took off running. He didn't move an inch or make a sound, although he did look at me like I was the biggest dumbass on Earth for letting it get away. If I were to hunt some birds I would probably try to convince some buddies from Wyoming to drive up and hunt with their dogs. I have never hunted birds before (I am pretty new to hunting above the water in general).
 

hobbes

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Nope, he is a blue heeler. Not particularly helpful for hunting birds, but he is super well-behaved so I at least wouldn't have to worry about him doing something stupid. Last year a small doe fed right up to within 4 yards of us in Idaho before it decided something was off and took off running. He didn't move an inch or make a sound, although he did look at me like I was the biggest dumbass on Earth for letting it get away. If I were to hunt some birds I would probably try to convince some buddies from Wyoming to drive up and hunt with their dogs. I have never hunted birds before (I am pretty new to hunting above the water in general).
Okay. September 1 is the start of grouse and Hungarian Partridge (Huns) so those are an option. Early season pheasants are easier to walk up but that won't start until mid- October. Assuming that you'll be hunting Eastern MT, fly-fishing on that side of the state may not be what you are thinking of. There are mostly warm water species over there.
 

Tradchef

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Bozeman, Montana
Good deal man. I drew my archery 900 so im stoked as well. If i was you id pack the fly rod as the fishing is always super fun. Depending on when you are coming out bird hunting is killer but the end of september opens up more opportunity for more bird species than early spetember does. predator hunting would be on the list or small game for rabbits. And depending on the area you are hunting the hiking is great and so are the historical landmarks and attractions. Regardless, just coming out here is fun.
 
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A.Grift

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Okay. September 1 is the start of grouse and Hungarian Partridge (Huns) so those are an option. Early season pheasants are easier to walk up but that won't start until mid- October. Assuming that you'll be hunting Eastern MT, fly-fishing on that side of the state may not be what you are thinking of. There are mostly warm water species over there.
Thanks for all the info, Hobbes. That brings up a good point, do you think setting up camp in the Southeast is a no-brainer? I am primarily interested in opportunity, and while it seems like there are bigger bucks in the Southeast, there seems to be more public land in the Southwest, and I would have mountains available for other pursuits (and could maybe get some scouting in for elk next year if I tag out). Would it make sense to consider setting up camp in the Southwest and maybe running a strike mission or two to the Southeast? It is only about 6 hours, which is doable (though not ideal). Driving through the Southeast a couple weeks ago makes me think that it would be tough to beat. Goats were everywhere.
 

hobbes

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Thanks for all the info, Hobbes. That brings up a good point, do you think setting up camp in the Southeast is a no-brainer? I am primarily interested in opportunity, and while it seems like there are bigger bucks in the Southeast, there seems to be more public land in the Southwest, and I would have mountains available for other pursuits (and could maybe get some scouting in for elk next year if I tag out). Would it make sense to consider setting up camp in the Southwest and maybe running a strike mission or two to the Southeast? It is only about 6 hours, which is doable (though not ideal). Driving through the Southeast a couple weeks ago makes me think that it would be tough to beat. Goats were everywhere.
I've not antelope hunted enough to really give good advice on where you should archery antelope hunt. I think Southeast probably has the most but I'd also be thinking about broken country if I was planning to stalk them.
 
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A.Grift

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Good deal man. I drew my archery 900 so im stoked as well. If i was you id pack the fly rod as the fishing is always super fun. Depending on when you are coming out bird hunting is killer but the end of september opens up more opportunity for more bird species than early spetember does. predator hunting would be on the list or small game for rabbits. And depending on the area you are hunting the hiking is great and so are the historical landmarks and attractions. Regardless, just coming out here is fun.
Thanks Tradchef, I am excited—best of luck to you! I spent the better part of two years in Montana when I was younger, it is one of my favorite places on the planet, but so far my explorations have been pretty limited to the NW of the state. No matter what I am excited to ramble around and explore, but I also want to pack in as much adventure as possible because I won't always have this freedom, and because planning hunting and fishing trips gives me a great mental escape when I need a 20 minute vacation.
 

Firestone

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Northwest Montana
I would say you need to look around dillon, ennis, Melrose, maybe twin bridges. You can hunt goats, fly fish and bear hunt from either of those locations. Have fun and good luck
 

WCB

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Where are you planning on hunting? Eastern MT is where I would go on my first goat hunt to MT. Of course there are places further West but IMO A LOT less opportunity. Bring a rifle and shoot some Prairie dogs. If you had a day to burn take a guided Fly Fishing trip on the Bighorn. Bring a shotgun as you will no doubt have opportunity at some Sharptails maybe some huns just by driving around.

Unless I'm fly fishing or Elk hunting these days I would rather spend my time East of Billings.

Of course if you are basically spending as much time as it seems you are there no reason you couldn't hit goats hard for a bit out East then head back west for a bit to do more Fishing.
 

Silveroddo

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What did you guys have for points? I had 2, buddy had zero, figured we’d average 1 and that was a 90+% draw last year according gohunt and we got skunked. It is what it is but I was really surprised not to pull that one.
 
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A.Grift

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What did you guys have for points? I had 2, buddy had zero, figured we’d average 1 and that was a 90+% draw last year according gohunt and we got skunked. It is what it is but I was really surprised not to pull that one.
I think I bought one if I remember correctly, so that's all I had
Where are you planning on hunting? Eastern MT is where I would go on my first goat hunt to MT. Of course there are places further West but IMO A LOT less opportunity. Bring a rifle and shoot some Prairie dogs. If you had a day to burn take a guided Fly Fishing trip on the Bighorn. Bring a shotgun as you will no doubt have opportunity at some Sharptails maybe some huns just by driving around.

Unless I'm fly fishing or Elk hunting these days I would rather spend my time East of Billings.

Of course if you are basically spending as much time as it seems you are there no reason you couldn't hit goats hard for a bit out East then head back west for a bit to do more Fishing.
This is something I am trying to figure out. If there is significantly less opportunity to the west I will probably hunt the Southeast.
I would say you need to look around dillon, ennis, Melrose, maybe twin bridges. You can hunt goats, fly fish and bear hunt from either of those locations. Have fun and good luck
Awesome feedback, thanks!
 

Turkeygetpwnd38

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Florida
What did you guys have for points? I had 2, buddy had zero, figured we’d average 1 and that was a 90+% draw last year according gohunt and we got skunked. It is what it is but I was really surprised not to pull that one.
I think apps must of been way up this year, I didn’t draw with one point. I know last year was the first year everyone that put in didn’t get it, before that I believe there was usually left overs. To not draw with points though is disappointing for sure.
Congrats OP. Look to South East/Eastern for opportunities. There are pockets in the western but need to know where they are. I’ve had terrible luck with those decoys, especially mid to end of Sept when they’ve been hunted and decoyed to death. Go as far as Miles City, head south/east or even north a ways and will have plenty of public and goats. One of my favorite tags to have.
 

Werty

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May 28, 2019
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Montana
If you want numbers of animals and lots of public land go SE Mt. I would plan on goat hunting as soon as possible. After you fill your tag move to another area for the next animal on your list.
 

trueat1stlight

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Sep 29, 2019
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MN
As a slight side-bar to this discussion, I called MT F&G yesterday to inquire on when antelope and antelope B were being drawn as I couldn’t find it anywhere on their website. It’s August 5th. Fingers-crossed I draw either.
 
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