Elk/Deer/Bear hunt Montana 2022 - Semi-live updates

jpcoll01

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Jan 14, 2021
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Didn't know what section to put this in so dropping in Elk as I will be hunting elk, along with Deer, bear and will have a wolf and lion tag in my pocket just in case. I went to the Libby area of MT for a spring bear hunt this year and didn't see any bears but had a blast, went back in the early fall to the Missoula area with my wife and missed a bruiser bear. I then went to NM later in the season and killed my first elk a nice 6 pt. bull...I passed on a smallish 3pt. muley which was the only deer I had a shot on, the result of all of that is that I am absolutely obsessed with western hunting and planning on putting in some serious time next year.
My plan currently is to apply for a combo deer/elk tag in Montana (I have 1 pt. from this year and will buy one at application so decent chance of drawing a tag I think) will also have a bear, wolf and lion tag in my pocket. I plan on going to the Missoula area of MT in mid-Sept and staying until Mid-Nov. My older two kids will both be in college and the wife and I are bringing the 4 yo (will be 5) and putting him in school for two months in Montana. I work from home on Eastern time so plan to start early each morning and wrap up work by 2-3:00 Mountain time allowing me to hunt most evenings and allow for long weekends to other areas of the state. My wife is super supportive and one of the best spotters I hunt with so she and the kid will be with me sometimes to help glass and just to get time in the mountains with my son (also that little dude is great at cow calling).
Plan is to show up mid-September and start archery hunting (will be a first for me). I have a bow and shoot it fairly often but live in KY and don't like hunting from a tree stand so haven't hunted with the bow yet. I believe I can also carry a rifle in the event I see a bear during archery deer/elk? Plan to follow up with FWP just to confirm. I put in a lot of miles in Eastern KY hills (3-4 miles usually 4 days a week) but nothing I can do about the elevation will just be in the best shape I can and be prepared to suffer a bit.
Looking for feedback on the hunting around Missoula, like I said I got on a huge bear this year but goofed it up because I was winded and jerked the trigger, how is the elk/deer hunting around there? I know there will be a fair amount of people just due to proximity to a population center. Would there be better places to consider? We like the idea of having the river in town, farmers markets, coffee shops, breweries, etc. for evenings so that's why we are leaning toward Missoula.

I want to use this thread to track my research, get feedback and generally document what I hope is an amazing experience. I'm starting to ramble a lot but have a ton more questions! Thanks in advance for anyone who took the time to read through this post, I appreciate it. I will try to repay you by keeping the thread updated and sharing how this whole adventure works out!!
 

jpcoll01

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Getting an elk on a short day trip excursion out of Missoula is one of the most challenging accomplishments in the world of hunting.
Awesome feedback, I found some places this year where I felt pretty isolated BUT I was bear hunting, didn't see a ton of Elk sign. Not really counting on the mid-week evenings being super productive but any time in the field is better than being at home. I do plan on taking several 4-5 day weekends during my time out there.
 

jpcoll01

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Jan 14, 2021
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So I drew my Big Game Combo. So far this year I have been to Montana twice bear hunting. I took my older son in May and he missed a darn nice bear pretty close to Missoula then went back in early June for a week with my wife and five year old and did some scouting and made one stalk but never fired a shot. Think I have a plan for a week off work during archery season and will play the remainder of season by ear and hunt as I am able. We have a long term AirBNB and will be putting our 5 year old in school for a couple months. I know Montana is being overrun and I am part of the problem at this point but I'm really looking forward to experiencing a fall in Montana and my wife, daughter and son are excited as well to hit the carousel and farmers markets on the regular. I plan to update here with pictures and progress. The attached Pic is from this spring. IMG_0790.jpg
 

RobertD

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I know Montana is being overrun and I am part of the problem at this point but I'm really looking forward to experiencing a fall in Montana and my wife, daughter and son
Ehh why apologize. They have bigger problems than one guy and his family on a temporary relocation. You're contributing to the economy anyways. Hope it's an enjoyable time
 

jpcoll01

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11 hrs today KY to Western Iowa. Another loooong day tomorrow then a chip shot Tuesday and I’ll be in Missoula. Have to work Wed/Thur then I’m heading south for a week or so to hopefully take in the prime rut. To say I’m excited is the understatement of the year!!
 

jpcoll01

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Went out tonight and called in my first set of hunters!! Called them to 14 yards, they were breaking stuff the whole way up that hill. The way I was standing I couldn’t really see them coming, LOL. They were good about it.
 

jpcoll01

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Well this has been a bit of a whirlwind. Got settled into the AirBNB got the kid in Kindergarten, worked W/TH/F and even managed to get out to hunt a couple days!
First things first, this site is awesome. I had a guy that saw this post send me a message and he has given me some great info and help on the area!

Yesterday evening my wife and I were out driving checking out some locations I had e-scouted. We turned a corner and there was a bear down off the road hunkered over, what I later found out to be, a spine. We kept driving and I got our checked the wind and made a short stalk around the corner. Had plenty of time to range (33 yds) and I took what felt like was a damn good shot. Hit him right behind the shoulder. When it hit he flopped back and started biting and clawing at the arrow then ran off. We watched him for 30 yards until he went in the thick stuff and it went quiet. I backed out for a little over an hour, no high fives no nothing just left the scene. Came back and went directly to where I had shot and found the broadhead and about 3 inches of arrow broken off and stuck in the ground. Not a lot of blood on it but it was in the dirt and it wasn’t a question if I hit it I watched the lighted nock roll around with him when he rolled around. No blood at the site, but, again confirmed hit with arrow and nock visually seen in him. We then walked to the last place we saw him and there was no blood along the way. We had marked the location with trees and a waypoint and nothing. Heading into the brush was a nerve wracking thing I tell you, even with a G20 sidearm. We searched for blood for a while then just started searching the path of least resistance. Searched for hours and backed out. We went on up the road to continue scouting since we hadnt had any luck tracking and saw another bear about 1/2 mile up the road very similar in size to the bear I shot. This bear walked across the road and up the hill out of sight. Didn’t look sick at all, not sure if it was the same bear. After some scouting we turned around and headed out. Stopped at the site and took out binos in the pitch dark to find the lighted nock. Looked for about 5 minutes and finally found it. Had to walk down there with just a headlamp in the pitch black not knowing if it was In a bear…it wasn’t. Nock, fletching and about 4 inches of arrow in a bush 5 yards from shot site downhill of where I know he ran. Bright red blood on the fletching. Started to get excited.
Sent this pic to my Dad

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First light I’m back out there and start grid searching. Did a half moon grid out to 140/150 yards from the shot site. No blood. No bear. Nothing. Put in several miles side hilling. At this point I really feel like I did my best for this animal. My hypothesis is this. Steep downhill shot tight to shoulder = enter, outside rib cage, brisket, exit into ground stopping the pass through. Bear snapped broadhead immediately then snapped the nock when started running (we saw running at least a few steps with the nock). I am bummed but it was an exciting encounter and I really do feel like I did my best to recover the bear.
Tomorrow I head south for some camping and hunting down near-ish ti Jackson. Have e-scouted a ton and have boots on the ground to a couple places this spring when I was out here. Wish me luck!
To be continued…
 
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jpcoll01

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Up and getting packed for the trip. Looks like 3.5 hrs down to the big hole. I’m super nervous about finding elk. Not really nervous about hunting elk, the hiking, playing the wind or any of that. Just hope I find some elk to hunt. Anyone in the vicinity know if they are talking? I assume they almost have to be. Also, I’m a little worried about the smoke from the fire near Salmon. Will see I guess. Here goes nothing.
 

jpcoll01

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Drive south yesterday got a short scout/hunt in last night then slept in the truck. Damn was it cold… not sure how many nights of that I have in me without some kind of small heater.
Out today, started the day by blowing out a hillside while riding to the trailhead on my bike, so that’s always fun. I am currently sitting a wallow killing some time and taking advantage of cell service. Jumped 2 spikes stopped them with cow call, could have shot both that was a neat encounter.
They are making No noise at all, not a single bugle last night or this morning.
 

jpcoll01

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Still absolute silence in the woods no idea what the deal is. Was out before daylight ripping locator bugles. Did manage to get another grouse so that was fun.
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Hate to leave elk to find elk but I’m not having any luck going at it blind. Moved to a new spot that I scouted in spring.
 
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jpcoll01

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Did you wound that bear in Belmont Creek? If so my friend may have found it.
If Belmont Creek is northeast (edited I originally said Northwest) of town then no that wouldn’t have been my bear.
 
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jpcoll01

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Today was a lot of e-scouting some real scouting/driving FS roads to see where I can get to and a lot of time with the family which was awesome. My little ripper loves the pump track a few blocks from the place we are staying.
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Looks like rain all day tomorrow. I’ve always hear the bears don’t get out much in the rain, how about elk? Worth hitting the rain gear and putting in some miles?
 

jpcoll01

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Chose yes on the wet hike this morning and got out before daylight. Put in about 4 miles and didn’t see or hear anything but was in some pretty country. Looks like rain the rest of the day.
 

jpcoll01

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Friday I hunted again around Missoula. Mainly trying to get the lay of the land and understand how animals would react to the kind of pressure they get around a city like this. I put in a lot of miles but wouldn't say I was super confident that I was even near any animals besides a moose that I know was close because I walked upon a steaming pile of fresh poop.
Saturday the family took in the UM Homecoming parade and the 5 yo really liked that. After that and a monster truck show at the fairgrounds I packed up to head back to the big hole for another go at it. Again, great sign, good looking terrain but no noise what-so-ever. Only elk I saw was on the way out and they were on private. To say I’m getting my butt kicked is likely an understatement but I sure am enjoying my time in the mountains. I’ll get it figured out eventually.
In other news, a Kifaru gun bearer makes one heck of a bugle tube holder. Out of the way but right in your right pack strap.
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jpcoll01

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Finally had one talking last night and again this morning. That was exciting another first for me archery hunting. I got another grouse on the way out. I tell you what I can quickly forget what I’m doing and get into some grouse with a bow that is so much fun. Leave tomorrow to meet my Dad in Wyoming for a week. We have antelope (buck and doe) and buck mule deer tags, all rifle tags but plan to hunt a day or two out of a blind and with a decoy on the antelope. Will be a week of flatland hunting and spending time with my Dad and that’s hard to beat.
 

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