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My Elk Hunt...The Good...The Bad...And The Ugly

 
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  #1  
Old 11-13-2004, 11:04 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 107
My Elk Hunt...The Good...The Bad...And The Ugly

Well I just got back from my elk hunting trip to Montana.

The good news is that I had an excellent guide this time. Unlike my ill-fated trip to the Wind Rivers range in Wyo two years ago, this time my guide actually KNEW HOW TO HUNT!

The bad knews is that I didn't get an elk.

The Ugly was the weather, it was well just sort of TROPICAL. In my six days of hunting only the first one or two days had any sort of decent elk-hunting weather. For the last four days the temp's were in the high's in the 60's and 70's. I remember thinking that it was kinda odd to be standing at 7500 feet in the mountains of Montana in the early winter, while looking at my Kestrel 4000 reading 75 degrees (in the shade). It was colder in frigging San Diego for those four days then it was in the moutains of Montana.

Which leads me to the conclusion that I don't think that I'll go elk hunting again out west. I just can't plan a trip for a year and a half, put all that money into it, drive for three days out there, and have everything get screwed up by the weather. Man, like who would think that the mountains of Montana in the early winter would have weather on a par with Miami??

(Just as an aside, for those of you who aren't elk hunters: warm weather screws up an elk hunting trip more then anything. In early winter elk are coated with a layer of thick fat and can easily overheat. In hot weather they just spend the entire day laying under some tree somewhere and not moving. They are virtually impossible to find. With little to no snow on the ground they can eat around the same tree where they are lying. Hot weather also makes for crunchy snow, so any attempt to stalk them in the trees is fruitless.)

I now understand how elk hunting is just a sport for locals. With a season five weeks long, the locals just hang-out during the season waiting for the weather to turn cold and snowy (perfect for elk hunting). They can then pick and choose their weekend for maximum success.

As an aside, I had some interesting interactions with my guide regarding long range hunting. My guide was used to guiding guys with meodocre, if best, rifles. Trying to get him to understand that I could take an elk at greater then 150 yards was a challenging thing to do. When I first arrived in the camp he told me that my rifle was quote: "the talk of the camp". He told me that in twenty years of guiding he had never seen a rifle like mine (AI/AWM in 338LM). I also get the feeling that he and the other guides (whom I also spoke with about shooting) didn't really understand how to shoot long range (as defined by any shot greater then 200 yrds). I knew something was up when my guide asked me "what do the three little knobs on your scope do?" My scope is a NSX 5.5-22. Although very smart and able to hunting very well, he just had never seen anybody like myself with a rifle like mine before. As he stated, "some guys will come back the next year and say that they hadn't shot their rifles since they last sighted them in at the camp the year before".

But finally as the week wore on, I educated my guide and finally he was taking me to open parks where I could set up and cover large pieces of territory. But unfortuately by then the weather had turned warm; and no elk was ever seen again.

Sorry for the long post.
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  #2  
Old 11-13-2004, 11:25 AM
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Southwestern Montana
Posts: 294
Re: My Elk Hunt...The Good...The Bad...And The Ugly

Sorry to here about the lack of success. I have guided in the past and know how disappointing it can be for a client to do all that planning and dreaming only to have it be t-shirt weather. The numbers are down this year and the next week looks to be more of the same weather. The elk are here I've seen them by the hundreds but are extremely difficult to get to. Like you said they are laying around real high probably on some north face so thick you wouldn't get a 15 yard shot. Some are lounging in pastures on private ranches in the shade (I saw about 200 head yesterday 1/2 mile from my house). No big bulls tho just 1 rag horn/ a couple of spikes and lots of fat cows. If it makes you feel any better I haven't had any luck either and I know this area pretty well. I wish I knew the owner of that ranch well enough to get permission. He doesn't let anyone hunt there at all and the elk know it. Hope you had a good time anyway, see you next year?

[ 11-13-2004: Message edited by: Cowboy ]
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  #3  
Old 11-13-2004, 11:46 AM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sask. Canada
Posts: 2,410
Re: My Elk Hunt...The Good...The Bad...And The Ugly

Roadrunner,
Some hunts are just great trips, I had one a while ago also. Best to bite the bullet and enjoy everything else that is worthwhile, not finding game is frustrating but being in the mountains with good guys is always a huge bonus. Just beats the hell out of being in an office.

Have been on hunts were we ran out of food, guide could not tie his boots without an instruction book, horses disappeared every morning, no water to land a floatplane on the moose hunting lake, spent more time searching for a place to hunt than hunting for game, guide gets the entire pack string hungup and lost - about ten times has to retie the panniers since they are constantly falling off, three hour ride turns into a 9 hour ride to hell, wrangler asks me to shoot a horse so he could retrieve the panniers (no thanks...), cook throws a chicken into a huge pot of dirty boiling water, doesn't even peel the potatoes etc. tosses vegies into the bubbling mass of floating chicken fat and grease, waits till the mess cools off and informs us that supper is ready, lots of freeze-dried ice-cream bars but no real food in the pannier, guide has a pee then starts to make a shore lunch without evening rinsing his hands in the lake, no water for three freaking days because the spring ran dry, mouse **** in the crackers, guide sweeps garbage down through the cracks in the floor of the cabin, guide stabs himself to the shinbone as he is fleshing a cape, rooky pilot cannot find a lake you are to camp on in the arctic, your rifle gets lost so you have to share with another hunter (has happened three times), miss three airline flights in one day due to weather, no outfitter or representative at airport, wrangler does not tie saddle properly on horse so you do a slow-motion 180 degree roll off the horse (horse looks back at you like you are really stupid - you are), horse snags your rifle on a four inch tree and lunges forward, breaks scabbard off saddle and moves your kneebone about three inches to one side, partner gets bound-up - chews a half a box of chocalote tasting laxitive - not pretty about twenty minutes later, glasses knocked off your face while trying to stay upright on a frigging horse, outfitter got us tags for wrong zone, elk bugling outside cabin as we tried to sleep but could not hunt them since tags were for another zone, (season had closed in the cabin area), seven hunters and one guide on a two on one hunt - this is only a tiny sample of how much fun hunts can be.

You are correct, some hunts are more weather sensitive than others. How about this one.... The pilot taking you in to camp says, "I don't know why you are at this camp, there ain't no critters for twenty miles from here... been too warm." - and things go downhill from there - you just got to make the best of it.

Hope you do get a good elk hunt some day. Thanks for a great story, not many guides believe rifles will kill as far as our do.
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  #4  
Old 11-13-2004, 04:50 PM
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Harlowton,Montana
Posts: 62
Re: My Elk Hunt...The Good...The Bad...And The Ugly

Roadrunner,
Sorry 'bout the hunt you had. Here we were telling you to bring lots of cold weather clothes and such, and the weather made idiots out of us! Same thing here. I have hunted ridge lines, draws and springs from Twin Bridges north to Boulder, and have not cut much sign! Cold in the morning, and then toasty by 10:00 am!!Crunchy ground, dusty, BAD!!! I am outta time as Thanksgiving is around the corner, and as a meatcutter in a grocery store in Bozeman, much to do now!!Of course we can all say"wait till next year" but this year has been very disapointing. I have two more days off till the end of season, and it dosn't look good with the weather forcast. Sorry to hear that you are giving up on Western Hunting. I can understand, but when it's good, it's real gooooooooooood!! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]
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  #5  
Old 11-13-2004, 09:01 PM
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 107
Re: My Elk Hunt...The Good...The Bad...And The Ugly

Meathead - Thanks for your concern, but you didn't make the weather tropical. And your warning about taking lots of warm clothes make it much better to be safe then sorry. It's way, way better to have a ton of warm stuff and not need it, then to have it the other way around. With only two more days off to hunt, I certainly hope that you get one. Maybe I won't completely give up on Western hunting, but I'll have to rethink it in a whole new light.
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  #6  
Old 11-14-2004, 12:49 AM
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 107
Re: My Elk Hunt...The Good...The Bad...And The Ugly

Cowboy - Sounds like you're a local, of ?Montana? or the equivalent State? I'm sorry to hear that you haven't got one yet. Season's not yet over for you yet.

Ian M - That's quite a list of mishaps. Laughed so hard I had to wait for a while before I could type straight. Glad to hear that others have also had less then perfect hunts. However on this hunt, the guide and the outfitter were excellent. The ONLY thing that screwed it up was Mother Nature.
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  #7  
Old 11-17-2004, 04:18 AM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Mont.
Posts: 12
Re: My Elk Hunt...The Good...The Bad...And The Ugly

Mother Nature has a weird sence of humor when it comes to hunters!!! I've been doing the snow dance twice a day for the last 10 days and still no snow [img]images/icons/confused.gif[/img]
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