Breaks Rifle Tag - 622 Elk

Hammerhead

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Dec 28, 2012
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Finally drew a good tag: 622 either sex for the north side of the breaks. I’ve done a few deer trips and a cow hunt there over the years, but this is the first bull tag I’ve been a part of. I’m both excited and intimidated by the experience I have ahead of me this fall.

I am not looking for GPS coordinates or detailed info on anyone’s secret spots. I would however, like some assistance with the process of scouting before the rifle opener.

I have friends who archery hunt in HD 621, which lies to the west. It is also where I have spent my time hunting in the past. I have a chance to join my friends in their archery camp in mid-Sept for a few days. I can use it as a base, and then drive over to check out the country in my district, and determine where I want to camp, and look into some different areas as well, (knowing that conditions and elk will be quite different 6 weeks later in the fall than they are in Sept).

I have the contact info for the biologist and local warden, and I will be in touch with them. I also know of someone who had the tag twice in the past ten years or so, and I plan on talking with him as well.

A buddy has a cow tag for the district, so there will be two of us hunting. We have access to a 19 foot camper, a wall tent, and also my 16 foot boat if needed. My hunting partner and I are both in decent shape, and capable of long days of hiking. I have a lot of time available to hunt, and have blocked off three periods of about 5 days each, but could even do a bit more if needed. Finally, I’m not looking for a world record bull, just a decent representative elk and will not be especially picky.

I have a neighbor who rifle hunts from his boat on the reservoir, and he said I may be able to join him for a few days early in the season and hike from his boat while he looks for deer. Any thoughts on hunting from a boat vs hiking down from the roads on top?

I’d be greatful for any pointers on how to handle the scouting process, knowing I have only a few days to actually get my boots on the ground in that district before the season opens. Whats the best way to spend my time to do the most good?

Thanks for reading my long winded post!
 
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Hammerhead

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Kill a 340? But geez, aren't there 400+ inch bulls hiding behind almost every tree?? ;)

Actually, scores mean little to me, probably because I've never shot a decent bull of any type. So if I even see even an fair/average bull, I'll probably shoot first and then change my pants soon after.

Truthfully, I'd be happy if I have a lot of fun days hunting this fall, and end up with a tasty cow or calf at the end of the season.
 

belly-deep

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Scouting and talking to the bio/warden will put you on the right track. Not much else you can do in advance because conditions change. With the dry year, those elk might have a completely different schedule, so if advice from past hunters doesn't seem to be working, don't be afraid to mix it up a bit.
 

Gerald Martin

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My wife had that tag in 2009. It was a lot of fun.That year there were several hundred cow tags given out in addition to the either sex tags. I was amazed at the amount of hunters we saw. We did see a big herd out in the middle of the UL Bend wilderness and several other small herds. My wife killed a nice 310" six point on the first evening of the hunt and we were thankful for it. The fact that she was seven months pregnant and hiked six miles the first day might have factored in to that thankfulness a bit.
I'd start out around Mickey and Brandon Butte. Make sure you are glassing at first light and don't think the elk won't be away from trees. We saw more antelope than elk and the herd she killed her bull out of was bedded in a little coulee all day long more than a half mile away from the nearest trees. We got lucky and saw them stand up right before dark and were able to intercept them.
 

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treedagain

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I hope you have a safe and succesful hunt. Post some pics when your done
 

MTGomer

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My wife had that tag in 2009. It was a lot of fun.That year there were several hundred cow tags given out in addition to the either sex tags. I was amazed at the amount of hunters we saw. We did see a big herd out in the middle of the UL Bend wilderness and several other small herds. My wife killed a nice 310" six point on the first evening of the hunt and we were thankful for it. The fact that she was seven months pregnant and hiked six miles the first day might have factored in to that thankfulness a bit.
I'd start out around Mickey and Brandon Butte. Make sure you are glassing at first light and don't think the elk won't be away from trees. We saw more antelope than elk and the herd she killed her bull out of was bedded in a little coulee all day long more than a half mile away from the nearest trees. We got lucky and saw them stand up right before dark and were able to intercept them.

I think this is excellent advice. We just took a bull with archery in this unit last weekend. If you have the time, and motivation you say you do, you will find many bulls like the one in Gerald's photo.
Many people have the idea that there is a 360 around every corner, and that just isn't the case. In fact I've only seen two bulls that might be that big, and they were on Slippery Ann.
i'll echo what someone else said as well, if you see a bull in that 330-340 range, shoot.
 

Hammerhead

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I really appreciate the help I've gotten here, and the folks that have reached out to me with personal messages and advice, despite the fact that I am not a regular poster on this forum (although I am a frequent visitor)

Eight days until we head east for the breaks. One three day September scouting trip resulted in sightings of a number of bulls (no monsters however), and more good looking places to hunt than I could cover in a five week season. Some friends who archery hunt the unit have done well this year taking three decent bulls, and seeing many more, which has been encouraging.

We have our campsight picked out, the first three days "scripted" as to where we'll focus our efforts, and now we start cooking meals and loading up gear this weekend. Having a camper & microwave will make it pretty easy to eat well with a minimum of time and effort.

Getting excited and looking forward to opening morning!
 

PJ0311

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Billings, MT
Gerald's advice is solid. I followed his advice when I had the tag for 621 and first and last light were critical. I spent most of the season living out of a wall tent and only had 3 days where I didn't see Bulls. Probably 95% of the Bulls I saw were 270-300" 6 pts. I saw 1 true pig on the islands and passed on a couple of Bulls that were 330" tops. I ended up with a 300 ish 6pt 2nd to last day of the season. I don't know much about 622 but I would think the herd would be similar there. It was not hard to get away from the crowds- the place was full of road hunters. There are monsters out there but I don't think they are there in near the numbers of the past. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, I did and the last 2 weeks of the hunt were miserable for me. You will see bulls and you will have a few to choose from. Just don't expect to be looking over 350 Bulls in every drainage.
 

Hammerhead

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dry = no mosquitos. they seem to survive somehow in Oct/Nov

Good point on the skeeters.

They didn't seem bad at all back in mid-sept, but a few years ago I remember wishing I had a head net to wear while we were hunting sharp tails just before dark. Crazy to think there could be bugs like that out on the prairie.
 

Kneetopia

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Missoula, MT
We were there the last few days of September, before the last big douche of rain (3 inches I heard). No sign of bugs at all. As other's said, the rain will cause the roads to become impassable until they dry out. Good luck
 
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