An unknown elk hunting area brings huge success
It was our first time applying for an archery elk tag in the Missouri River Breaks of Montana, it was a nerve-racking experience, but still exciting as my dad, my cousin and myself all drew the tags. Preparation plans began by scouting out areas that looked promising on the computer, getting our gear together, and trying to get all of our vacation time in sync.
After the long drive we started off our hunt by setting up camp and getting our equipment together. It’s important to make sure everything is in order and ready to go for the following morning.
We began the day by hiking up to a tall glassing spot to see what we were up against and hoped to glass up a few good bulls.
Enjoying some snacks and water while glassing the timbered draws and coulees we saw a few bulls and cows, but did not have a chance to put on any stalks yet.
A bull running with some of his cows.
As we made our way to another glassing location we managed to spook yet another bull. There was one good thing, though—we were coming up on a lot of elk.
Enjoying a much needed break, waiting for my cousin and father to catch up.
The beauty of this area was unimaginable. After glassing and walking all day we started to get a feel for the layout of the land. We located a few good bulls in the evening and began to draw out a game plan for the next day.
I still remember this like it was yesterday, hearing the bulls bugle all night and walking within just yards of camp. I felt torn at this moment because I wanted to go to sleep, but I also wanted to stay up and listen to them.
Nothing beats waking up to a breathtaking sunrise. After a quick breakfast and washing it down with some coffee, we grabbed our gear and were off in search of bulls.
More glassing, and since Kirby also had a cow elk tag, we were looking for a good opportunity for him to make a stalk on a cow. We then got up into another canyon and spotted a few good bulls and some cows.
One of many cows we glassed up. Getting into a good position for a shot is always difficult on a cow.
This was the bull I had my heart set on. He had a large club droptine on the left side. For the few days we were out there, we saw him a couple times. Unfortunately, I was never able to get within bow range.
Kirby had some luck on his side. He was quickly able to harvest his cow elk. This cow was also his first elk with a bow. It was a very exciting day for all of us.
We had a long pack out to get Kirby’s cow back to camp. After a few hours of all of us packing we were back out glassing for bulls once again, so we headed back to the same area where we located bulls the day before.
Sheds were everywhere! It’s always nice to run into sheds while in pursuit of elk.
Sadly, we also found some bulls that did not make it through the year.
We found this bull hanging out in a dark canyon and we all thought this was a very unique looking bull. We watched him for awhile longer in the morning before we were off again to hunt another canyon.
As we neared our glassing location we spotted another gorgeous animal—a bighorn sheep. No matter what I am doing, I always seem to take the time to stop and take a bunch of photos of them. Someday, I hope to be lucky enough to draw one of these coveted tags.
We glassed this bull up and instantly knew he was one of the bulls we wanted. Quickly, we drew out a rough plan on how we were going to get closer to him. We chased him all day, but could never get within bow range.
Another view of the bull. This bull had a lot of cows around him. Since he had so many surrounding him, it meant that this bull would remain safe with all of the extra eyes.
Luck was on our side this morning. Kirby and I went up one side of the canyon where we last saw it and my dad went up the other. We soon spooked the bull in the direction of my father who quickly went to full draw and released an arrow.
My father was very excited as this was his first archery elk. When Kirby and I finally met up with my him he was grinning from ear to ear and told us how the bull came beside him, giving him a great shot.
After a short break, some hugs and some photos, the real work began. All of us got the meat packed up and loaded into our packs. The load was heavy as we made our way back to camp.
With our time coming to a close we packed up our camp and got everything loaded into the boad. We made our way to the boat ramp and started our long drive home. Even though I never got to fill my tag, it was one of the best times I have ever spent with family.