Montana Elk Question

Raghorn1985

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2016
Messages
5
I'm planning a hunting trip this fall for primarily elk, but also mule deer and least importantly bear. I've been looking up harvest reports for elk in Montana, I also ordered maps that show the public land. I was going to put in for a general combo licence. I was looking at units 312, 315, 390, 580, 314, and also 150. We were going to hunt the beginning of rifle season. I know 150 is a back country hunt where I think rifle season starts in September. I'm leaning towards 150 for a few reasons but it is such a huge area and we are backpacking in so I'll be honest I wouldn't even know where to begin. I'm not looking for specifics, just which unit would be best for trophy quality and hunting pressure. Also are spotting scopes useful in those areas or just binoculars. I've always hunted Wyoming this is my first trip to montana. I'm willing to trade info for where I hunt in Wyoming if it matters to anyone.
 

Gerald Martin

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Messages
5,590
Which unit is "best" is completely subjective to who is asking and who is answering. They all are and none is are both appropriate answers. You could go into popular unit and not see anyone or to a backcountry unit and see lots of hunters. It's completely dependent on where you put boots on the ground in a particular unit.

150 is a great choice if you want big country, but without horses you'll probably find yourself unable to deal with the logistics of getting a bull out from more than a few miles in. If you hunt the early season, you'll have a good chance at bear. Most bears are denned up after the first week of general rifle, so if you are coming later than Nov 1. I wouldn't personally spend the extra for a NR bear tag.
 

Raghorn1985

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2016
Messages
5
I agree and totally understand how difficult it is to give a complete answer to my question simply because how many people have given each of those specific units a fair shot, and where I've hunted in Wyoming one year there were 5 of us in camp and everyone shot a bull. Once we tagged out instead of going home we tried to learn the area a bit we must have run into at least 15 other hunters in probably 4 different camps and not one person had taken or even seen an elk. Yes there is a lot of luck involved. As far as the links you've posted those are where I began searching. The most recent issue of Eastman's hunting journal talks about Montana this month. As far as success rates trophy potential and pressure it seems like units 314, 317, 611, 630 would be solid bets. I guess I'm looking for insight as far as what to expect in these units. Now in Eastman's magazine it lists unit 630 as a general unit and from what I can tell in last year's regulation book it's not. I just want to make the most of my hunt.
 

belly-deep

Active member
Joined
Oct 31, 2009
Messages
3,465
I agree and totally understand how difficult it is to give a complete answer to my question simply because how many people have given each of those specific units a fair shot, and where I've hunted in Wyoming one year there were 5 of us in camp and everyone shot a bull. Once we tagged out instead of going home we tried to learn the area a bit we must have run into at least 15 other hunters in probably 4 different camps and not one person had taken or even seen an elk. Yes there is a lot of luck involved. As far as the links you've posted those are where I began searching. The most recent issue of Eastman's hunting journal talks about Montana this month. As far as success rates trophy potential and pressure it seems like units 314, 317, 611, 630 would be solid bets. I guess I'm looking for insight as far as what to expect in these units. Now in Eastman's magazine it lists unit 630 as a general unit and from what I can tell in last year's regulation book it's not. I just want to make the most of my hunt.

Eastmans info is notoriously full of errors. Just do your own research on the MT FWP site. It's pretty easy to figure out. That is all Eastmans does, and then they sell it to people.
 

Mountainguide

Active member
Joined
Jul 30, 2015
Messages
155
If your backpacking into 150 your looking at like minimum of 5 miles before you hit the wilderness boundary from most trailheads. It's big beautiful country, really steep. If you hunt from the east side there tends to be a little more open country but if you hunt the west side it's super thick timber with underbrush up to your waist. It has great hunting for bears and deer, but elk hunting can get tricky if they aren't bugling much. Do you have any idea where your access point might be yet? Which trailhead you'll be using?
 

Raghorn1985

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2016
Messages
5
That's what I'm looking into now. I ordered wilderness maps for the Bob Marshall and drew out the unit boundaries and yes it's a minimum of 4-5 miles usually more to get into the wilderness. What you said about being more open in the east and brush in west those are the sort of things I'm trying to find out. What time of year are the elk more cooperative with calling. Where I have hunted in southern WY they responded extremely well around the last week of September. I was thinking about trying to plan my hunt for roughly Sept 20 to Oct 4 if we hung the Bob Marshall. Any insight into the area would be great. If there is more timber and more brush are there more elk on the west half compared to the eastern half.
 

Mthuntinfool

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2014
Messages
579
Location
Noxon Mt
forget 150, elk are few and far between, and its extremely rugged country.
Check the regulations, I believe 630 that you mention is draw only for bulls.
314 and 313 elk populations got hit hard with the wolves over the last few years.
Not trying to discourage you, there are lots of general areas with high elk numbers throughout the state.
 

Raghorn1985

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2016
Messages
5
Yes I prefer to bowhunt but I don't think I can get time off of work for now season so we are going during the gun season. We are down to hunting the west half of the crazy mts or Bob Marshall wilderness. We are also looking into hunting the salmon region in Idaho. There is just too much info to look at when trying to scout areas on the internet.
 

zfountaine55

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2010
Messages
186
Location
SW Montana
The dates you listed above are during archery season here, so if those are the dates you are planning on, you will have a lot more opportunity with a bow in Montana. I have seen some awesome bulls in the Crazy's for sure but the last few years was pretty packed with hunters until you get several miles from a trailhead, especially in rifle season. I agree with the above that on foot the Bob is all but prohibitively difficult. Have you looked into possibly hiring a packer for a drop camp or at least for meat/horn pick up should you be successful? A buddy and I liked into a couple of packers several years ago and seemed like there were quite a few out there. And for what it's, but the best bulls are few and far between and go mostly to those that put in the most work starting with scouting. The potential for a trophy gets better in the special draw units, have you considered the Missouri Breaks?
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
12,516
Location
Where the Wild Things Are
I've hunted the Bob and I agree with the above comments that it'll be a darned tough row to hoe without horses.

It's a very popular hunt, both for private parties and outfitters. You certainly could kill elk on foot, but honestly for the amount of work you'd be doing I think you could find better places to hunt somewhere else.

I'd take the 20th through the 4th off and go bowhunting somewhere.
 

Raghorn1985

New member
Joined
Feb 12, 2016
Messages
5
We have definitely considered hiring someone to at the very least pack out if successful. The hard part for me not that it is anyone else's problem is my hunting partner has to get time off and can't decide where we should hunt. We will have no problem packing in 8 to 10 miles if we had to. It's getting the meat out for me that would be difficult. I thought the crazies seemed promising but I don't see that many areas where you could get away from other hunters. All I am going by is a delorme Atlas for montana, are there enough places in the crazies with a general tag to get away from other hunters? I agree the Bob seems very difficult maybe someday I'll hunt there but not this year. I really appreciate all the input.
 
Top