Montana game pack out?

Deano2525

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I’m headed to the great state of Montana somewhere in region 3, I haven’t decided exactly where yet but a have at least 3 areas i will be deciding on. And this is based on a lot of internet facts I could dig into. Including the elk counts (I think are done in winter), harvest statistics, a mountain of hunting forums(sifting through bs), and google earth, (what looks good.)

It looks like I’m going directly into bear 🐻 central. I will be extremely cautious about that and use all bear precautions.

Do any solo hunters use a horse/pack service to help haul out your elk? And if so can I get a referral. I plan on doing day hiking only, and I’m concerned about returning to my hung meat the next day and meeting Mr grizzly at my kill site. Am I being a wuss about the grizzlies about returning the next day to retrieve the rest of the meat? And or is there a better option. Thanks Deano
 

Werty

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Depends on on the area, some are worse then others. Also depends on time of year, later in year not as much of a concern, do too winter. If your concerned about bears, move your meat away from kill site and put where you can see from a distance. Personally, I've had people offer to help me pack out meat.
 

Deano2525

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Thanks, as with most I’m very fired up on archery, but put a elk at 300 yards with a 30/06 is a dead animal almost every time. So I’m probably going to be back during rifle. Unless it’s my turn to get lucky 😉
 
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It looks like I’m going directly into bear 🐻 central. I will be extremely cautious about that and use all bear precautions.

Do any solo hunters use a horse/pack service to help haul out your elk? And if so can I get a referral. I plan on doing day hiking only, and I’m concerned about returning to my hung meat the next day and meeting Mr grizzly at my kill site. Am I being a wuss about the grizzlies about returning the next day to retrieve the rest of the meat? And or is there a better option.
I also will be hunting that region solo. First 10 days of rifle. My plan is a mix of base camp and bivy. If I am 4-5 miles in and put some elk to bed, there is no way I am hiking all the way out and back to the spot the following morning. May as well just sleep near the area and I am prepared to do that. If I should be so lucky to get something, I plan on hanging the meat a couple of hundred yards from the kill site. Figured it's worth the extra effort. Full disclaimer; I am the farthest thing from a pro when it comes to elk as this will be my first time. Been hunting all of my life, mostly in the east, with several hunts in MT for mule deer, but never elk, so this will be a learning experience for sure that I am very much looking forward to. That said, I spent several summers backpack fly fishing through Wyoming and Montana in my early 20s, sometimes solo, sometimes with friends, so I feel somewhat comfortable in grizzly country solo, albeit with the proper precautions and bear spray (...also my 10mm just for psychological comfort).
 
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brockel

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I also will be hunting that region solo. First 10 days of rifle. My plan is a mix of base camp and bivy. If I am 4-5 miles in and put some elk to bed, there is no way I am hiking all the way out and back to the spot the following morning. May as well just sleep near the area and I am prepared to do that. If I should be so lucky to get something, I plan on hanging the meat a couple of hundred yards from the kill site. Figured it's worth the extra effort. Full disclaimer; I am the farthest thing from a pro when it comes to elk as this will be my first time. Been hunting all of my life, mostly in the east, with several hunts in MT for mule deer, but never elk, so this will be a learning experience for sure that I am very much looking forward to. That said, I spent several summers backpack fly fishing through Wyoming and Montana in my early 20s, sometimes solo, sometimes with friends, so I feel somewhat comfortable in grizzly country solo, albeit with the proper precautions and bear spray (...also my 10mm just for psychological comfort).
Solo elk pack put 5+ Miles is an ass kicker
 

Deano2525

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yea, put some elevation in that and could be a will/endurance tester. With good game bags and cool temps if I get lucky , that’s what I’m planning on, hanging my meat in shade in the open as far away from the kill site as possible. Then take as many trips as it takes
 

wllm1313

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Move your meat away from kill site and put where you can see from a distance.
This is a good practice in general not just in grizz county.

You need to make a hunt plan that allows you to be self reliant if you are going to hunt solo.

Make sure you are comfortable with and/or have a plan to process the animal in the field and pack it out without any help. Regardless of bears if you shoot an elk 5 miles in, gut it, and walk out to call a packer your meat will spoil by the time you get back. You need to be able to remove all of the edible meat from the carcass solo.

Commercial packers should be your last resort, I have heard of people calling someone to pack them out, but I've never actually talked to someone who has done this, I personally tired it and the outfitter was not able to accommodate me within a reasonable amount of time.

Make a smart decision about where you pull the trigger, you are looking at at least 3 trips to get an elk out if you de-bone and leave the cape. 5 miles out is 25 miles total packout with north of 75lbs on your back for 15 of those miles.
 

Straight Arrow

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You need to make a hunt plan that allows you to be self reliant if you are going to hunt solo.

Make sure you are comfortable with and/or have a plan to process the animal in the field and pack it out without any help. Regardless of bears if you shoot an elk 5 miles in, gut it, and walk out to call a packer your meat will spoil by the time you get back. You need to be able to remove all of the edible meat from the carcass solo.
Good advice right there. Processing an elk in the field solo is exponentially more time consuming and challenging than dealing with a deer. Sometimes merely positioning or repositioning the elk to process is a very difficult and time consuming task. Then once field processed, cooling and storing the meat for pack-out takes time and ingenuity. Lots of rope and cord can be your best friend.
 

Deano2525

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Yes, copy that. Temperature and distance play a big role in a go/no-go. The care of the meat is the most important part in the puzzle.
 

Sytes

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If you're accessible to trail routes, a pack sled may be handy for solo hunts.
Inexpensive, packable, and light weight. Great on trail, not so for off trail unless you're not dealing with deadfall, etc.
I've worn through two. Works best with bagged meat. Much easier weight distribution. If a person simply stacks meat on the sled, I've found it to be a royal PITA... Sled drags off, turns sideways, etc. Proper placement makes it a cake walk.

Gutless method, de-bone, sled out. Can save you miles of hiking... If done right or, as mentioned, a PITA if rushed.

this says "Deer" though weight and distribution is the intent.

 

Straight Arrow

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If you're accessible to trail routes, a pack sled may be handy for solo hunts.
Inexpensive, packable, and light weight. Great on trail, not so for off trail unless you're not dealing with deadfall, etc.
I've worn through two. Works best with bagged meat. Much easier weight distribution. If a person simply stacks meat on the sled, I've found it to be a royal PITA... Sled drags off, turns sideways, etc. Proper placement makes it a cake walk.

Gutless method, de-bone, sled out. Can save you miles of hiking... If done right or, as mentioned, a PITA if rushed.

this says "Deer" though weight and distribution is the intent.

More good advice. Case in point: my bull moose required six trips in the plastic sled, on snow luckily. Holes drilled along the sled gunnels facilitate cord-lashing for tight meat packing.
 

Deano2525

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Yes I do have a custom made sked made from the raw material that is made from your rescue skeds. My hunting partner (fire cpt.) talked a rep into giving us 15’ or so. We installed grommets and presto it’s a dragging sled. Mine is pig sized though. Works great on most terrane. I do have a big haller pack with a shelf for my additional trips but I usually carry a smaller pack for day hunts . Those external frames are good for packing but to big for the sneak.
 

MTGomer

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I don’t know where you’re going but I would think hard about doing it solo if it’s truly g bear central like Tom Miner or the Southern Madison.
I don’t mind screwing around alone around bears but spending a few days packing a bloody carcass out by yourself is a risk. If you killed an elk in a place like Tom Miner 5 miles in, I’d put the chance of a grizzly getting on your elk before you can get it all packed out at pretty high.

I have a fair tolerance for risk but there’s not many bull elk in Southwest Montana that trip my trigger enough that I would want to be hunched over one solo boning it out in the dark in one of the places that really is bear central.

I’ve had a grizzly show up about 25 minutes after killing a caribou and then bluff charged. It happens real fast.

I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying it is a real risk in some places if you’re by yourself and to be cautious.
 

Deano2525

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That’s my biggest worry about bow hunting solo. The time at the carcass will be increased and you being alone will make it harder to be aware of my surroundings when I’m knee deep in a elk carcass. So by the response so far it not that common for pack company’s to do a pack out. I’ll be looking for a bow partner for archery. But if I come during rifle season the bears are hibernating by then? At least I’ll have a high power rifle with me. Question, do all bears hibernate there and are they asleep for the winter by November?
 

MTGomer

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They’ll still be out in early November. They can be out in late November too but they’ll be closer to their den sites and roaming less. Some will be denned.

One thing to keep in mind is Sept into October they are targeting white bark pine nuts. I don’t know the exact facts but I’d say you’ll find that approximately from 7-9k feet.

If you’re in a place with overall poor whitebark stands, like a burn, and you get into a good stand of whitebark you can be in bear mania.
That’s not to say there can’t be bears elsewhere of course.
 

BigHornRam

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White bark pine stands dont have cone crops every year. When they do, the amount of fresh bear sign will be obvious. Bears will come from miles in every direction to dine on the nuts. The trees grow mostly in the sub alpine zone which in region 3 is around 9000 feet. Right at the best elevation to bow hunt elk at (or unlimited sheep hunt) in September!

In bear country it is best to move your quarters away from the carcass when processing your game and placing them in an area you can observe for a while (up in a tree out of reach is best) before retreving them for the pack out. Good luck!
 

Deano2525

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Thanks for the information. I cant resist the temptation of doing a solo archery elk trip myself. With the odds of me finding elk then getting on them. then closing the deal on a bull and the probability of a multi-mile, multi-trip pack out. Is exactly the trip I'm looking for.

and if i cant do that trip I'll give someone 2000$ and have them kick me in the nuts about 4 times. (It's about the same experience) lol
 
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