Inconvenient Job Transfer in the middle of hunting season! Missoula to Bozeman! Seeking advice on what I've been doing, even a hunting buddy!

daltrix99

New member
Joined
Sep 16, 2018
Messages
8
Hey folks!

Long time big game hunter, archery and rifle, from Missoula. Transferred jobs from MSO to BZN mid september...not ideal! I had never hunted around Bozeman, and only know a few folks down here, so I didn't have anything to start with. I've made a couple trips back to my MSO spots (Philipsburg area and Blackfoot drainage); should have had a bull down, did manage to harvest a beautiful Black Bear. A lot of driving though!

I am not just here to solicit unearned info. I have been hiking my butt off with little to show for it as far as good spots go. Obviously, an area as plentiful as this takes years to really nail down, I get that. I was wondering if anyone would be so generous as to give their two cents on where I've been hunting, and what my plans for the rest of the season are (below). I will happily trade info on what I know, I can offer delicious bear sausage and jerky if you're local, and I'd be more than happy to be on standby for packout help!

Where I've been hunting
  • Best elk encounter was in the north Gallatins just outside of town. Called the same bull in twice to about 70yds. It is THICK in there, and it was a brutal hike, have done it a couple times. Other than the one day with him, slow. Lots of pressure too.
  • I have logged quite a few miles in the East Bridgers, usually working the edge of private. I've cut tracks a few times but have not heard or seen any elk.
  • Just earlier this week I did a seven mile loop in the deer creek drainage south of Big Timber. Really nice country, saw a decent Muley buck. Very dry for elk. I have good word that the further south one goes into the Absorakas here, the elk hunting gets good. I do have one spot in there from a biologist that's supposedly great, but it is a long FS road drive and supposedly a grizzly pit. I'd rather not hunt it solo; let me know if anyone is interested! I can't get my Missoula buddies to make that long of a drive for a new spot.
  • Finally, I have hiked a bit in the NF above private just south of Livingston. I have seen a ton of elk...all on private. I'm sure this area has a few honey holes on public, but I haven't found them yet.
Upcoming plans:
  • I got access to some private in the horseshoe hills north of Belgrade. Biologist told me it's boom or bust in there as the elk move around between properties. Anyone with experience here? Looks like tough archery country, being so open, but I am going to try it this weekend anyways. Probably great for rifle season.
  • CRAZIES. I have had two reputable fellas tell me to get into the Crazies. Obviously that's a lot to chew on, so I've been e-scouting hard. I am looking at driving as far as I can into the NW part of the mountains - Shields River area - and hunting the timber. Again, not asking for your spots, but if you could let me know how on or off base I might be with this, and feel free to PM, that would be awesome.
Sorry for the long post, but you can imagine I have been scrambling! Long time fan of Randy's work, happy to be a member and I plan on frequenting the site.

Thanks all!
Daltrix
 

daltrix99

New member
Joined
Sep 16, 2018
Messages
8
Haha you're not wrong! Just brutal not having a handful of go to spots where I know I will get into elk. Might just have to make the three hour drive again to fill the freezer this year, and get spots dialed in next summer.
 

Straight Arrow

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2009
Messages
3,133
Location
Gallatin Gateway, MT
Agree with JLS. You seem to be hunting some great areas, but jumping around precludes familiarity with one good spot. Consider what it required in time and boots on the trail to develop those "handful of go to spots" near Missoula. You should enjoy the process of "hunting" for those go-to spots nearer to Bozeman. Relax and enjoy the journey.

BTW, don't expect those of us around the Gallatin to direct you to the "go-to" spots it has taken us decades to find. 'Just sayin'.
 

Western Traveler1

Active member
Joined
Aug 18, 2017
Messages
295
Location
Rocky Mountain Front Montana
Haha you're not wrong! Just brutal not having a handful of go to spots where I know I will get into elk. Might just have to make the three hour drive again to fill the freezer this year, and get spots dialed in next summer.
That sounds like a good plan. Folks drive thousands of miles to hunt what we have for a week or two each year. Or keep hitting the areas that looked best to you so far and hope for the best...
 

daltrix99

New member
Joined
Sep 16, 2018
Messages
8
Not expecting that at all. Thanks for the reply. Just curious if anyone was going to come in and say I was way off base or not.
 

NeilD

New member
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
9
Hey folks!

Long time big game hunter, archery and rifle, from Missoula. Transferred jobs from MSO to BZN mid september...not ideal! I had never hunted around Bozeman, and only know a few folks down here, so I didn't have anything to start with. I've made a couple trips back to my MSO spots (Philipsburg area and Blackfoot drainage); should have had a bull down, did manage to harvest a beautiful Black Bear. A lot of driving though!

I am not just here to solicit unearned info. I have been hiking my butt off with little to show for it as far as good spots go. Obviously, an area as plentiful as this takes years to really nail down, I get that. I was wondering if anyone would be so generous as to give their two cents on where I've been hunting, and what my plans for the rest of the season are (below). I will happily trade info on what I know, I can offer delicious bear sausage and jerky if you're local, and I'd be more than happy to be on standby for packout help!

Where I've been hunting
  • Best elk encounter was in the north Gallatins just outside of town. Called the same bull in twice to about 70yds. It is THICK in there, and it was a brutal hike, have done it a couple times. Other than the one day with him, slow. Lots of pressure too.
  • I have logged quite a few miles in the East Bridgers, usually working the edge of private. I've cut tracks a few times but have not heard or seen any elk.
  • Just earlier this week I did a seven mile loop in the deer creek drainage south of Big Timber. Really nice country, saw a decent Muley buck. Very dry for elk. I have good word that the further south one goes into the Absorakas here, the elk hunting gets good. I do have one spot in there from a biologist that's supposedly great, but it is a long FS road drive and supposedly a grizzly pit. I'd rather not hunt it solo; let me know if anyone is interested! I can't get my Missoula buddies to make that long of a drive for a new spot.
  • Finally, I have hiked a bit in the NF above private just south of Livingston. I have seen a ton of elk...all on private. I'm sure this area has a few honey holes on public, but I haven't found them yet.
Upcoming plans:
  • I got access to some private in the horseshoe hills north of Belgrade. Biologist told me it's boom or bust in there as the elk move around between properties. Anyone with experience here? Looks like tough archery country, being so open, but I am going to try it this weekend anyways. Probably great for rifle season.
  • CRAZIES. I have had two reputable fellas tell me to get into the Crazies. Obviously that's a lot to chew on, so I've been e-scouting hard. I am looking at driving as far as I can into the NW part of the mountains - Shields River area - and hunting the timber. Again, not asking for your spots, but if you could let me know how on or off base I might be with this, and feel free to PM, that would be awesome.
Sorry for the long post, but you can imagine I have been scrambling! Long time fan of Randy's work, happy to be a member and I plan on frequenting the site.

Thanks all!
Daltrix
Shot you a PM with some leads.
 

brockel

Well-known member
Joined
May 13, 2016
Messages
903
Location
Baker,MT
I’d love only three hours to hunt elk. I’d stick with an area and get to learn it. Wouldn’t bank on killing an elk your first year in the area
 

MT Bound

Active member
Joined
Nov 20, 2014
Messages
147
Location
MT
what others have said above, a 2-3 hour drive from my house is routine for my elk spots, go with what you're familiar with....
 

BuckeyeRifleman

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2019
Messages
10
I'm going to be driving TWO DAYS, or something like 27 hrs to get to SW Montana to hunt this year. Be thankful you live in an area that has awesome elk hunting and tons of public land.
 

wllm1313

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
4,522
Location
Aurora, CO
I drive three hours one way to hunt birds, but I understand wanting to find someplace closer to home.
Shit it takes me 45 min just to get out of the metro area. I’ve driven 4+ hours every weekend since July, Op needs to harden up
 

Spedray

New member
Joined
Sep 26, 2018
Messages
20
Location
Bozeman, mt
I have lived around Bozeman for 20 plus years. I typically drive 1 to 2 hours to go hunting. I know of several great spots closer to town. The problem is, so does everyone else. I find it better to travel just a little further and the number of hunters goes way down. Bozeman people are super motivated and they are hard to get away from. You can be 10 miles in on a trail and still see trail runners! Put in your time and you will find some nice places. It often takes me a few trips to a new area before I can really find and know where the elk should be.
 

Kensley

Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2018
Messages
45
Location
Bozemen, Montana
Simple, go find a deep dark ugly hole. I shot one north of Livingston where everyone says there is no elk. you would be shocked what you could find with a little game planning.
 
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