Big/Little Snowies Elk archery Montana

TN VOL

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Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
138
Hey guys...I'm dreaming about September elk..I have points to draw the 900-20 tag but that tag might be an unlimited tag after Montana makes changes. I've been researching onx for access on blm, state, and national forest around the lil and big snowies in Montana for a September archery elk hunt. I've read the elk can be on the forest land the first week or two of September then are quickly pushed to private, is that a pretty common every year?? I'd like to take my son on a good elk hunt with the elk being vocal and not come out when it's extremely warm since alot of the accessible land is under 5,000 ft in elevation unless you're in the Big Snowies. Can anyone speak to their experience hunting in this area..feel free to PM. My concern is we will go hunting and only see elk on private..
 

D4570

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Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
927
Location
In a box under a bridge
There is always elk on forest lands in either.
A bigger problem is access into it.
Where there is, there is no elk. Where there isn't you will have to walk, a lot. but should find elk. The snowies get a LOT of hunters all year.
They're getting a few Grizzles and wolves now too, as well as a lot of big cats.
 

Bozone

Well-known member
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
304
Location
Bozeman
Hey guys...I'm dreaming about September elk..I have points to draw the 900-20 tag but that tag might be an unlimited tag after Montana makes changes. I've been researching onx for access on blm, state, and national forest around the lil and big snowies in Montana for a September archery elk hunt. I've read the elk can be on the forest land the first week or two of September then are quickly pushed to private, is that a pretty common every year?? I'd like to take my son on a good elk hunt with the elk being vocal and not come out when it's extremely warm since alot of the accessible land is under 5,000 ft in elevation unless you're in the Big Snowies. Can anyone speak to their experience hunting in this area..feel free to PM. My concern is we will go hunting and only see elk on private..
Your idea is good on paper, but your concerns are valid, unfortunately.
I grew up in central MT and hunted the Snowies a lot for deer/elk/bear and have had some great hunts, but keep in mind, this is from about 1995 - 2000.
Had one amazing hunt about six years ago when a good buddy drew the tag, and we went in for a 4 day backpack bowhunt, and he luckily arrowed a 350" bull on the second day. We literally crossed paths with this huge bull walking the same ridgeline we were midday and he shot him at 40 yards. We heard two bugles in two days, found nearly no decent water source, and packed that bull up and over some steep country, all off trail on a very random spot on the map that a neighbor of mine tuned me into since he had moved out of state and had shot several great bulls in the area and was fine passing along the locations. In a nutshell, we had good info on where to focus our efforts and got really lucky. This was also the opening weekend of bow season.
Since then, the public hunting has become harder and harder, and there are a TON of elk on private. Lots of window shopping, but no shooting to be had. Coupled with a lack of water (depending on the area you are hunting) and overall pressure, get ready to grind it out and likely come out disappointed. The Snowies are a really cool area, but I wouldn't put too much time and effort into it, especially if you want to show your son a good experience. Some may say I am too pessimistic about that area, but it has not gotten better in my opinion.
 

MTHunter1321

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Joined
Nov 10, 2015
Messages
444
Location
Great Falls, MT
I’ve hunted the Snowy’s off and on for years and I agree with the above statements. It’s a cool area, but you are wasting your time and money coming from out of state to try and archery hunt it unless you’re buddies with the Wilks. I live 2 hours away and I’ll never put in for that archery permit again unless there are some drastic changes.
 

LukeDuke

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Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
570
Location
Minnesota
Hey guys...I'm dreaming about September elk..I have points to draw the 900-20 tag but that tag might be an unlimited tag after Montana makes changes. I've been researching onx for access on blm, state, and national forest around the lil and big snowies in Montana for a September archery elk hunt. I've read the elk can be on the forest land the first week or two of September then are quickly pushed to private, is that a pretty common every year?? I'd like to take my son on a good elk hunt with the elk being vocal and not come out when it's extremely warm since alot of the accessible land is under 5,000 ft in elevation unless you're in the Big Snowies. Can anyone speak to their experience hunting in this area..feel free to PM. My concern is we will go hunting and only see elk on private..
What did you think about Coach Heupel’s first yr?
 

beartoothhiker

Active member
Joined
Oct 28, 2019
Messages
39
Location
Billings (and Little Snowies)
I hunt up in the Little Snowies-area and echo what these guys have said. There are a lot of elk in the districts and they do cross public on a regular basis - you just have to pick the right spot on the right morning. And remember where there are no cows, there will be no bulls - my experience has been that it hasn't been necessarily the hunting pressure (although there were definitely more archery hunters this year than previous years), but the presence (or lack thereof) of cows. A couple years ago we were in bulls all the way into October on public land - but there were some cows hanging around - and 2 buddies shot bulls end of Sept and early Oct. This last season the last pic of a bull on a trail cam around a great wallow was 9/18...with only a handful of bugles even early in Sept and zero from mid-Sept on. I hunt up there primarily during the week and avoid the weekends. I really believe the lack of water last summer and fall resulted in the cows moving out earlier than previous years and the bulls followed. Feel free to PM with any additional questions.
 
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