Famous four go to Montana

big ears

Well-Known Member
#1
So a dream came true, a year in the planning and as I sit here now getting over my jet lag and fatigue I am full of great memories.

To say it started a year ago is a bit wrong, ever since seeing “a river runs through it” I longed to go to Montana to fish and hunt. I met Richard (Devon deer on here) 6 years ago and the dream started to gain reality. He had been a couple of time and was always talking of another trip. Along we two other friends Aleks and Stephen we made a plan to go in October if 2018. The closing date for the tag application was March and as it has been oversubscribed the year before kept our fingers crossed. April 2018 our tags arrived- game on.

Over the the next few months visa, importation for firearms and ammo and plane tickets were bought. Thanks to Mrs May the cost shot up as the exchange rate plummeted. On top of this getting fit became a real priority. If you think you do not need to train for this kind of trip then you kidding yourself. hunting public land requires walking 12 miles a day carrying a 25-30lb pack climbing 2-3000’ in elevation at altitudes of 6-9k’. This is not for the faint hearted but the rewards are there. Regular gym sessions, runs and long walks with a weighted pack became the norm and my waist went in as my fitness increased.

the day of the flight arrived and we arrived 4 hrs early for the flight. If you have never travelled with firearms then I recommend you watch the Fieldsports channel blog and take note if all they say. It was disorganised to say the least and no one knew what was happening, we got in the plane with a few minutes to spare and set off for Bozeman in Montana. After 14 hours we landed, booked into our motel and off to sleep as the next day was busy.

We met met for breakfast at 07.30 Mike one of Richards friends who was a true legend. He was so helpful and talked us through some areas to fish and hunt and what to look out for (bears!!). Next we picked up some kit including coolers, bear spray, good water and hunt beer
0092C29B-9440-4E7F-A9ED-73A1637D5AB0.jpg 2D67CCA0-A6CD-4202-A99D-92D6F53C504C.jpg

Then a four hour trip to the Idaho border. The plan was to scout for a day and then be in position for the start of the rifle season and hope that elk would be pushed our way on their run to the sanctuary if Idaho. This was a beautiful place with spectacular sunsets and sunrises.

9CA946D5-F438-47B9-98B0-688355D973F8.jpg

This was home with the mountains in the background. This is 7500’. Unfortunately the elk didn’t read our script and we got blown out. Not disheartened we travelled to near Dillon. At this point I should talk about a chap called Randy Newberg who has gone so much for Public land hunting in Montana and gives a wealth of knowledge on his YouTube videos. Elk at this time of year are post rut, big elk have two things in their mind, food and sanctuary. Randy tells us to look in the worst, remotest north facing slopes you can find. So looking and climbing up the next day 3.5 miles off the road I found a big bull at nearly 8000’. He was 800yards away across a ravine. I had to go for it, loosing nearly 1000’ and then climbing back up took time, he had bedded. I knew prietty much where he was and set up a stalk. I could go above him as the thermal was off the mountain and he would have been winded. Straight in would have exposed myself and he would have run. Slowly I crept from below glassing as I go. About 200yards from him I tread in some snow which was a bit frozen, it crunches and my elk took flight crashing through the trees. 2500’ of climbing, 4 miles of walking and I had screwed it up!

Talking to some locals they gave heart that if I hadn’t been seen he would still be close so Richard and myself hatched a plan. I would go up the drainage in the right towards his bed and get above him, he would go a mile along the range and head up another drainage. When I got to the top I could not see him but decided to walk along the ridge towards Richard. At which point there was a loud bang followed by a couple more and Richard was on the radio- “elk down”

FC912B7F-7FB9-4C69-BDDE-394A7C7382E6.jpeg

450 yard shot across a valley chest shot, one dead elk. A 5 point elk, what they call a rag horn but an elk is an elk. The rules are you have to extract all the meat and this is why you get fit. The elk was shot at 11.15 and we finished packing it out at 19.30. Each round trip was 7 miles and 1600’ of climbing. Fortunately he had damage from the rut to his hind quarter which meant less meat to carry out otherwise we would have been at it all night.

A2257FB0-07D6-490C-A077-2222B994F2E1.jpeg 26AD76BA-2AC1-4D89-8320-0C60D509321C.jpeg

There us is a trend to use Llamas to pack out but not sure that Aleks would have been any good

32A4A455-E45F-4A89-A4D7-24F0989E0DFE.jpeg

The next few few days we hunted and fished in the Pioneers although no elk we did see bears (black), Aleks and Stephen saw moose and Richard and myself came across a high mountain lake full of cutthroat trout and arctic grayling. It was here we met a couple of locals who kindly spent a few hours letting us use their kit to fly fish for these, a great memory and a lovely meal at the end.
D31F23CF-798A-4497-887C-DDDED9174993.jpg

Struggling to find elk elk we had another days fishing in the big hole river, the original river runs through it! Wild rainbows and brook trout along with brownies. Another memory to lodge away

4DDE25ED-5605-4ADA-9BC5-2BD3F550AAB8.jpg 236FCF6A-791A-40BE-B3C2-70B441582BBD.jpg

Enough of fishing we had tags tags to punch. We decided to head out east after deer. This was real injun country and a complete difference from the mountains. It was hard work, Aleks and Stephen got lucky and found deer, punched their tags and headed back to the Pioneers after elk leaving Richard and myself scratching around until we met a couple of Canadians from Manitoba who were down with nine doe tags getting meat. Like all local hunters they were very helpful telling us where and when they had seen deer and what to look out for. We headed off that evening feeling slightly more hopeful but the area was vast and looked deserted.

8AFE2844-DDE9-4C49-B580-670B2701DF6E.jpg

Getting high and glassing i noticed the backside of a deer lying on its side, and then another and another sheltering from the wind. Find the does the Canadians had said and the bucks will be there. Suddenly they got up and all looked right, another doe arrived from a drainage ditch and then a buck, a large buck, a tag punching buck. A buck 320yards away and broadside. I crawled to the ridge put my forearm on a prickly pear, that bit is not compulsory, took aim and fired. The wind was stronger down with him and the first shot went back a quick readjustment and he fell on the second shot- straight into a ditch about 6 feet deep! Now the pain in my arm started but I was so happy my first Montanan deer

131E2F2B-90F7-4472-9960-B2A7BD806051.jpg

And an arm full of spines

D95CA92B-B60F-4C52-B300-C9A537750DF3.jpeg

Next day off to the taxidermist and the shoulder mount should be here in the summer. Back then towards Bozeman and the decision to try and get Richard a deer and the outside chance of my elk. We hunted for me in one of the most beautiful valleys, 3 miles up there was a grass meadow and two fighting whitetail bucks. Richard could tag out. Stalk on, he closed to 300yards but they were moving all the time as they fought, suddenly they stopped and he fired but missed. I was above watching the action but when I got down I understand how he missed, the window for shooting was tiny and his position was perched on fallen timber. That was the last we saw if those bucks but the memory of the valley is still there.

5CFCF870-1C5A-4EF2-8134-244A57F632C2.jpg

Two days later we were back in the UK. So that’s it we all got something, 3 mule deer and one elk. But we all go so much more. Montana is unbelievable, all of the locals are so friendly and helpful and you feel so much part of it. You can walk around in cammo and people will ask about your hunt in an interested way. It is huge 3 times the UK with only 1 million people and it has tonnes of public land which are full of deer and elk. It is not for the faint hearted and you do have to be fit but what you don’t need is to hire an outfitter. A bit of homework and Randys YouTube videos and you can do an ‘on your own’ public land hunt and have the time if your life.

BE

ps sorry some of the photos are upside down!
 

jason shave

Well-Known Member
#2
sounds the nuts.

I've been to Montana , Idaho & Wyoming before would love to go back if your doing another trip next year !!!!!!!!!!!!.
Yellowstone is worth a couple of days to .

regards Jason
 

big ears

Well-Known Member
#4
Hi not going back next year but want to sometime, Wyoming on the radar for antelope. The meat we gave to the locals but ate a bit ourselves, my mule deer went to the Canadians as they had been so helpful.
 

big ears

Well-Known Member
#6
Yes most shots were 250-350yards and maybe longer in elk. Remember that these are big animals the deer are big red deer and the elk has a two foot kill zone. All of us practiced shooting long range before we went just to feel comfortable.
 

foxinmad

Well-Known Member
#7
Great read that big ears, it looks an amazing place to be out hunting and fishing. The photographs of the scenery are braw.
What caliber of rifles did you and your friend take with you?
 

dodgyknees

Well-Known Member
#10
What a trip! Fantastic that you packed so much into 2 weeks. Also a big thumbs up for emphasising the fitness requirements, something we encounter a lot here is visitors not up to the task, and the disappointment, embarrassment and awkwardness that goes with it.
 

woodmaster

Well-Known Member
#16
Great write up and some lovely pictures. A good hunting mate has been taking about doing a trip to north America. This makes it look and sound well worth the effort. How did you find sourcing the kit,vehicles etc. Did you run with a basic camp and move each day. Could 2/3 guys extract the meat or do you need help?
 

Cootmeurer

Well-Known Member
#17
Well told story. Thanks for sharing. Glad you liked our country, hope you are making plans to come back. You must have antelope on your wish list now?
 
#19
Great write up and some lovely pictures. A good hunting mate has been taking about doing a trip to north America. This makes it look and sound well worth the effort. How did you find sourcing the kit,vehicles etc. Did you run with a basic camp and move each day. Could 2/3 guys extract the meat or do you need help?
took our own rifles and ammo plus all hunt gear (knives, Bino’s, rangefinder, clothes etc), rented a car from airport. We were lucky will coolers as we were lent them but you can hire them. We camped initially for a few days then used cabins or motels. These were used as a base and we hunted out from them. As to packing out it is hard work, deer usually packed out by 2 people in one trip, whilst elk in 3-4 trips, three could do it in 2 trips.
 

Top