MT Archery General License - First Timer

Glaze

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Apr 3, 2022
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Hey y'all name is Drew, and I am a life-long whitetail hunter from GA. I posted a previous post about a guide service that does not exist, so I am DIY this year. I grew up hiking around Appalachia and trout fishing with the family. September-January was always filled with whitetails and wood ducks - mallards if we could bring them in. Summer was for striped bass and spots on the lake. I want a change of scenery, so I am going to start spending my early falls going out west from now on. I am finally taking the plunge this year, and since I have some banked points in a few states I figured I would cash in MT first.

I am looking for some info on local predators, archery season hunting pressure, and maybe places to avoid and not waste my time. I do not need honey holes - I enjoy hiking, so I am ready for the challenge and working on my calling daily. If anyone has any experience in units 319 or 448 I would love to pick your brains. Mine is open for any whitetail or fishing spots in North GA although I have had the pleasure of mostly private land whitetail hunts due to family and friends. Fell free to PM me even if it is just to shoot the breeze.

Also, there seem to be a lot of road access in some of the general units. Maybe someone can point me in the direction of a unit where I can get away and hike in that might be worthwhile for an archery hunt. This is more of an afterthought though as I like the two units above for different reasons and feel like I can get far enough in to get away from other folks.

Thanks for any help, and seriously, if anyone will be near the metro-Atlanta area anytime before this season or during whitetail season let me know. There can be some fun trout and bass fishing.
 

Glaze

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Apr 3, 2022
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P.S. I make one hell of a sourdough loaf and can carry lots of weight on my shoulders. Will pack-out/cook for helpful tips 🤣
 

Glaze

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What made you focus in on those two units?
I have gone over so many data points that my head is spinning, but I wanted a unit with either sex (or browtine/cow), overpopulation of elk according to FWP, plenty of public land to access, and preferably not in heart of grizzly country although I think 319 borders on this preference. I also wanted some forest spotted with open areas/grasslands - not pure dense woods. Those are probably the basics as I can think off the top of my head.
 

Talk2elk

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Aug 21, 2018
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Anaconda, MT
319 can be good at times but hunting pressure is generally high and predator populations have Elk numbers stable but not increasing. I would look at 448 or any other central MT area. Pressure there is also high, but Elk numbers are better.
 

wtrfwlhunter

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Mar 11, 2013
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I think you’re on the right track. You should be able to turn up elk in both those units, especially during archery.

I wouldn’t be overly concerned about predators in either of those units. Fact is the chance of encountering a G bear exists a lot places now. Just stay prepared and take precautions no matter where you are.

Don’t underestimate how hard elk hunting is. Give yourself a few days before you expect to find them. That’s my rule of thumb anyway.
 

Wind Gypsy

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Mar 12, 2017
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overpopulation of elk according to FWP
Do some reading on how they come up with elk population objectives. It's largely based on landowner acceptance rather than habitat carrying capacity.

I don't think these two are bad units (I've not hunted either), just saying that being "over objective" doesn't tell the whole story.
 

iawhitetail3

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Jan 6, 2022
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You sound like me from a few years ago. I wanted to stay out of grizzly country, but still be into a decent amount of elk. I settled on the Little Belts after getting advice on here. Was thinking about some of those 300 units as well at the time. I had a good hunt in 420/448. I passed on multiple smaller bulls (200-240") so I could go after the herd bull. The 230-240" bull was on the second day at 15 yards. Looking back I probably should've shot that smaller bull but I gained a lot of valuable experience. I chased that damn herd bull up and down the mountain for several days. I did end up getting 50 yards from him at one point but he just wouldn't step out into an opening. It was a solo hunt for me and if I had a caller I likely would've killed him. I stuck it out for one more day after the 50 yard encounter but by then I was so mentally and physically exhausted I packed it up and went home. I think I was out there for 9-10 days. The guys who moved into my spot the day I left shot a big one. He scored 330". Not sure if it was the same bull or not, but I would guess it was. I still regret packing up and going home. The biggest tip I can give you is the mental game is just as important as the physical. Sometimes taking a day to rest is very important, both physically and mentally. Once you get wore down physically you start making stupid decisions.
 

iawhitetail3

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So another quick couple pieces of advice for a novice elk hunter....

You don't have to necessarily get far off the roads to get into elk. You need to find where the pressure is and hunt accordingly. Just think about it, every internet forum says 'get 2-3 miles off the road and you will be fine'. Well, guess where everyone is going to be? In Idaho I called in more guys 2-3 miles in than anywhere else. You know where I found the elk? Right next to a camp ground. Sure it was steep climb up, but I wasn't hiking 10 miles a day either. Also, in alot of states I've been in, it is hard to get 2-3 miles off of the road because by the time you hike in that far you are close to another road. There are plenty of elk in the units you mentioned, it is just a matter of finding them. I keep moving until I find fresh sign. I also do a fair amount of calling, but not over-doing it. Sometimes just a soft bugle and waiting for an hour does the trick. I called in several smaller bulls in the Little Belts by doing that. They came in quiet. Every state and every year is different. Being adaptable and keeping a good attitude is very important.
 

BuckRut

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Jan 8, 2019
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236
Location
Montana
You sound like me from a few years ago. I wanted to stay out of grizzly country, but still be into a decent amount of elk. I settled on the Little Belts after getting advice on here. Was thinking about some of those 300 units as well at the time. I had a good hunt in 420/448. I passed on multiple smaller bulls (200-240") so I could go after the herd bull. The 230-240" bull was on the second day at 15 yards. Looking back I probably should've shot that smaller bull but I gained a lot of valuable experience. I chased that damn herd bull up and down the mountain for several days. I did end up getting 50 yards from him at one point but he just wouldn't step out into an opening. It was a solo hunt for me and if I had a caller I likely would've killed him. I stuck it out for one more day after the 50 yard encounter but by then I was so mentally and physically exhausted I packed it up and went home. I think I was out there for 9-10 days. The guys who moved into my spot the day I left shot a big one. He scored 330". Not sure if it was the same bull or not, but I would guess it was. I still regret packing up and going home. The biggest tip I can give you is the mental game is just as important as the physical. Sometimes taking a day to rest is very important, both physically and mentally. Once you get wore down physically you start making stupid decisions.
And now every time someone is cruising the google for tips this is going to come up so there's that added pressure on those 2 units now.
 

iawhitetail3

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Jan 6, 2022
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31
And now every time someone is cruising the google for tips this is going to come up so there's that added pressure on those 2 units now.
I am just helping a new elk hunter out. Why? Because I was that guy at one time and a few nice people helped me out. What, it is a secrete that the little belts hold some lower end satellite bulls and an occasional big bull? I hate to break it to you, there are no more secrete spots or units in today's age. I guess I forgot to mention I called in several other guys on my trip as well. So the pressure is already there.
 
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8andcounting

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Dec 16, 2013
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If that guy saw all the information on go hunt between the articles and specific info on some of those units, he would have a stroke. LOL. Some of the info on those units is very accurate, some not so much.
There’s elk and tons of people in all of them some just more elk or more people than others
 
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