Caribou Gear

Montana Big Game Rifle Season Week 3

Ben Lamb

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Joined
Aug 6, 2010
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14,013
Location
Cedar, MI
Wednesday morning, we headed up to the district to look for a buck or elk. We didn't find much but a locked gate on a BLM road that shouldn't have been locked. The group of hunters who were stationed strategically around the gate mentioned something about shooting the lock, but eventually opted to report the infraction to the BLM. This locked gate precluded hunters from traveling on an open road to a small BMA that often holds elk. We were, to a man, not amused.

After a few hours of glassing and hoping, we finally spotted some muleys - all does and no bucks. Based on what I've seen in this district, no forkie is safe. We abandoned the mountains to look in the foothills, but again, roads that should have been open, or were labeled as open on BLM maps were closed. Yet we did find a forkie on public land. He lives, hopefully, today. After a frustrating morning, we headed home since I had to be in Cody for a meeting that evening.

Saturday, we headed back to the district but eventually decided we'd head to a new spot. After hiking in a short way, we found no footprints other than game and the mass of road hunters fell silently into the distance. Sitting on a nice perch, behind a spruce to avoid the wind, we waited through the later part of the afternoon in the hopes of a whitetail or Elk showed in a lovely little drainage.

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We waited it out, and nothing showed. As we were hiking out, I turned to take one last look with the fading light when movement caught my eye on the next ridge over. Four bulls walked out, three of them legal. No time for a stalk but we resolved to be on that ridge early in the morning to watch the hillside from whence they came. Luck, we felt, was on our side.

The next morning, we headed up in the dark, getting to the parking area and walking in right at first light. The area we were hunting has fresh sign all over, and the chance of jumping elk and deer is strong. As we hiked in, we heard the unmistakable report of flock-shooting as 15 shots rang out over the period of 30 seconds. The area is thick with road hunters and apparently, the elk didn't get the memo that frantic hunters who smell of cigarettes and bad coffee make poor shots.

We got to the ridge where we saw the elk, and set up for glassing. 3 hours later, nada - zip. Nothing. We moved to the top of the ridge, where we saw the elk feed out the night before and set up again, patiently waiting and generally snoozing. Hidden in the spruce, we were comfortable, though we discussed why nobody brought a campstove for some coffee or tea. As the magic hour approached, we left the trees and set up out in the open with as much cover as possible to wait and ambush the bulls we knew would step out. They never showed. We hiked back to the truck in the dark, tired, sweaty from a large ascent 450 vertical feet in 300 yards.

The anti-chaffing regiment proved it's mettle. I am chaffing free, if somewhat tired in the legs. On to week 4, and a three day trip down to SW MT looking for an elk & whitetail. Hoping to pick up at least a doe for the freezer.

Oh, and god bless Brian Schweitzer. This land is our land, thanks to his vision.
 

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