Montana 312/Bridger West Slope

TheNorthStar

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2017
Messages
204
Location
Minnesota
Hey fellas!

I'll be heading from Minnesota to Montana this Fall for my 2nd ever Western hunt and first ever shot at an Elk with my old man. We'd like to stick near the Bozeman area and I've been scouring the West slope of the Bridger range for a late Oct. hunt. Has anyone (or possibly everyone...) ever been up there in the early part of the season? What kind of conditions and herd behavior can one expect to find then?

I'm guessing that due to ease of access and close proximity to Bozeman, that that particular portion of the Gallatin Forest can get crowded. Would anyone suggest scoping out another area in the vicinity as a back up plan? I found out the hard way in central Idaho last year that it's a very good idea to hit the road with A, B and C plans intact. I'd only ask that you steer us away from Grizzly country if you have a suggestion. Our exposure to bears is nil and I wouldn't want an encounter with only a half assed idea about what to do with the situation.

Thanks in advance!

Phill
 

Lawnboy

New member
Joined
Nov 2, 2008
Messages
3,547
Location
Bozeman, Montana
I'd say that there are better places to elk hunt in western Montana. You are going to find that 95% of the elk on the west slope are on private despite the wonderful habitat they have on the mountain. They are now living/calving on these private pieces just off the mountain and have come accustomed to living there year round. Sure there are a handful up on the mountain and they will run up there for a day or two if they get shot at down lower but it's just not a good place to look for elk anymore. This is coming from someone who loves that mountain and has hunted it since 1988.
 

TheNorthStar

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2017
Messages
204
Location
Minnesota
Thanks for the replies, guys. I appreciate all the different looks. I'll scout out both sides of 86 as well on the googles, looking for benches with meadows.

Phill
 

timmy

Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2016
Messages
73
I went to college in Bozeman. Killed 2 elk in the Bridgers went there for 2 years. They are as good as any general Montana district or better.
 

TheNorthStar

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2017
Messages
204
Location
Minnesota
I went to college in Bozeman. Killed 2 elk in the Bridgers went there for 2 years. They are as good as any general Montana district or better.
I wish I had too because that was a long time ago and I'd be an old hand at elk hunting now instead of a new fish.
 

Greenhorn

Active member
Joined
Dec 19, 2000
Messages
6,808
I can't imagine planning an out of state type hunt, to hunt elk in the Bridgers.
 

TheNorthStar

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2017
Messages
204
Location
Minnesota
I can't imagine planning an out of state type hunt, to hunt elk in the Bridgers.
We drove through on the way to the Sawtooths last season. It was dark by the time we got to Livingston so I didn't get a peek at them. They look steep on the map though. Good times.
 

SnowyMountaineer

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 11, 2009
Messages
1,086
Location
WY
I'd guess he isn't referring to the steep, so much as the relatively low public land opportunity and high traffic. There are probably places with more ambitious and plentiful hunters than Bozeman, but I haven't seen it.
 

SnowyMountaineer

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 11, 2009
Messages
1,086
Location
WY
Depends on your perspective. Lawnboy said similar, just with more detail.
 
Last edited:

TheNorthStar

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2017
Messages
204
Location
Minnesota
And a lot less vague.

Like I mentioned, I appreciate all the different looks. Some have been optimistic, some not so much.
 

Greenhorn

Active member
Joined
Dec 19, 2000
Messages
6,808
The most helpful tip I ever got about hunting elk was from an experienced friend of mine almost 30 years ago, who preferred to hunt alone and keep his mouth shut. I told him, "I don't even know where to start looking." He pointed out the window of building in town at the forest and said right up in them mountains where there's no roads and plenty of trees.

I'll be just fine if I live my entire life in Bozeman, having never hunted a day for elk in the Bridgers.
 
Last edited:

Drake4

Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2009
Messages
692
Location
Churchill, MT
I've lived in the Bozeman area about 15 years, and have killed 2 bulls in the Bridgers. I probably haven't elk hunted there in 8-9 years now, and will probably not do so again. Drive a short distance in all 4 directions from the Bridgers and you will be in significantly better elk hunting. I definitely would not plan an out of state hunt there as I think you would be very disappointed.
 

TheNorthStar

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2017
Messages
204
Location
Minnesota
Well the Bangtails have been suggested earlier as a fine alternative and I have had pins stuck in my Google earth map over there as possibilities, so maybe plan A should start there instead.

As of this morning Montana FWP has my money and figuring out where to go is not an easy task when you get one shot a year to hunt a western state. I am grateful for the advice of this community, no matter how cryptic. Appreciate it, all of you.

Phill
 

Greenhorn

Active member
Joined
Dec 19, 2000
Messages
6,808
Oh for God's sake.

If you could possibly pick a crappier area than the Bridgers, it would be the bangtails.

Let me help.

Gallatin Range, one of many dozen places starting south of town, all of Storm Castle, formerly Squaw creek. Swan creek, moose creek, portal creek. Not need for a 310 permit anymore, so weather depending buffalo horn, porcupine are great. Cross 191 to the west and it's all good, from YNP to the north end of the forest near Ted Turner's ranch. Not a ton of elk, but light years better hunting experience than the bridgers or bangtails.

Also, you could drive down south of Livingston and every trailhead between there and Gardiner, stomps the hell out of those 2 incredibly roaded up and shitty little ranges north of Bozeman. The belts and crazy ranges have their places as well. The absaroka, boulder drainages south of big timber the mission drainages farther west, all not bad.

You could head north to the castles or the white sulphur area and do fine to. Maybe the Tobacco Roots. Even the over crowded gravellies and snowcrest would just stomp the piss out of the bridger and bangtails.

Holy crap, just painful to read somebody actually stewing on a map or google earth to hunt such rotten rotten destinations when there's so many far, far better places to consider around here.
 
Top