My 1st Montana Deer tag is filled.

Congratulations on the hunts and thanks for sharing. My wife and I are "heartless" also. She took a buck (5X5) and a doe over the Thanksgiving weekend. I also took a buck (4X4). All three were shot through the heart.☹️
Congratulations to both of you! I too enjoy old homesites and equipment, plus those landscapes were beautiful. I started hunting MT in the late 90's but for one reason or another I have missed a few years lately. I really enjoyed your photos and report, thanks for sharing.
My goal this year was a Whitetail buck, Spent the spring and summer investigating spots that hold WT deer and putting a plan together, knowing I had OCT 28- NOV 19th off I knew I had the time to fulfill this dream. thinking about where I wanted to start my WT quest , my friend Ryan txt me and said he saw a 6x5 WT with drops on one of my river bottom pieces . Ryan tagged out opening weekend.

Ryan’s buck
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sunrise on day 1 Oct 29th
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sat the river bottom till 10am where the WT buck was seen the evening prior, nothing not even a doe was seen on my 1st morning

1st morning sit
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evening BMA spot , park and hike across the creek. look back towards my truck to see someone at my truck, WTF …. I head back towards my truck , I see an orange vest in his car I assume he’s looking for the sign in box .

Relaxed, I get back to hunting. The wind is blowing west to east the same way this property sits on the river. So I hug the east edge. As I get in the ground is littered with deer tracks and trails.

my hike on the BMA
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I look to get elevation and glass the property to look for a place to set up for the evening, getting higher what do I see but the same hunters that were at my truck 3 of them . They signed in and came back parked at my point , walked in and cut the property in half and got in front of me. SOB !!!! I’m thinking, thanks for stinking up half the property. I watch them to see where there going. It’s an older guy followed by a guy and a girl with rifles together walking single file and settling up in the next canyon father up.

My viewpoint
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I go higher and loop ahead of them to get to the far west end of the property and have the top river bottom corner all to myself. As I hike along the 1st canyon , I catch movement , deer ! I start to drop , a bedded deer turn his head to look my way , frozen in a half crouch , thinking I’m busted , he looks right at me for 60 seconds then turns his the other way and chews his cud.

I range him 87 yds, what a slam dunk, it’s a younger 4 point , but not a WT , I watch him for awhile just enjoying getting to share a hillside that close to a buck. But it’s time to move on so I stand up fast as I can , he missed my movement, so I yell HEY ! I’m coming over you better clear out ! His head snaps around and he just looks at me in wonderment , laying there for 30 sec staring me down before he stood up a did the four hoof hop into the distance.

My 87 yd bedded encounter
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I get to the next canyon, peek in , I see the same buck standing there broadside 100 yds , your sure are just asking to come home with me aint ya , it’s your lucky day buddy, I don’t want a mule deer , I take another pic and we part ways.
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I get to the last canyon no deer , drop in to find a spot to watch the river bottom for the evening, I find my 1st Montana dead head as I look for my set up
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last canyon & my evening sit.
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Oct 30th go out for an evening hunt on a different BMA as a possible WT spot , only saw a mule deer doe , but I saw a great horned owl and explored and old abandoned farm house in the middle of the BMA. I can’t resist exploring old stuff like this
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Oct 31st I pick a different river bottom spot I saw WT deer on prior to season , hike in before sunrise, sat all morning 2 different spots never saw a single deer , could also see adjacent farm land saw no deer out feeding on private either . the deer here got ghosty before sunrise.

hunt spots
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Next I check out a state piece mid day never saw a deer , but wasn’t expecting to mid day , I hiked the piece to get a good feel for it , if I come back later in season , I did find parts of what was a porcupine , And went through his quills to get a few souvenirs.

Porky parts and quills
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Day hike
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I end Oct 31 driving over to the BMA I passed the mule deer on a few days earlier and sat the same river bottom, no deer

Nov 1, my wife’s day off she wants to hunt deer , after seeing no deer for 2 days , i head to a spot I’ve been looking at on ONX to see if I can get my wife on a buck, The second piece of BLM we did a small hike and kicked up 2 young mule bucks a spike and a forky , they spilt before i got wife set up.

my Tuesday hunt with the wife.
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that night thinking I’ve not seen a single WT deer on any spot of pubic in daylight in four days of hunting I need a change of scenery. I'd also come to the conclusion that a lot of the areas of public within a reasonable drive from Billings I’d seen WT on prior to season opening, after 2 weeks of hunting pressure has changed the deer behavior, so I decided to get a little farther from town and do an a overnight in my truck.

Nov 2nd I get to my location and do an evening hunt , Doesn’t take long and I kick up three whitetails and they takeoff when I get within 50 yards of them in this little patch of trees on this trail I’m hiking to get to my glassing spot I picked , I get excited , whitetails during daylight on public finally, The brush was thick enough that I couldn’t see their heads I just saw their three tails go up and they took off super silent but I was stoked. So I decide to go higher up on the hillside and get off the trail because I know there’s more patches of trees down by the creek bottom ahead of me like the whitetails that I just jumped were in.

Glassing down below me along the creek bottom I hit another patch the trees like the one below and I see another whitetail takeoff out of it when I get within 50 yards of it and I see it’s a doe as it crest's the hillside on the other side of the patch of trees , and I’m just all smiles and happy as can be. 4 whitetails now , I get to my glassing spot 1.63 miles in 2 more whitetails feed out below 174 yds both does, 6 whitetails now . It’s only a matter of time before I find a buck.

5 AM alarm goes off I hit snooze I wake up at 5:10 and decide to lay there till 530 , I look at the time , I’d fallen back asleep and its 6:13 I realize it’s snowing outside and that gets me a little excited, a truck comes down the road pulls in a guy with his pack and headlight on up the trail he goes.

I hike to the top of the first ridge and wait for sunrise , 30 min till 1st light will allow him to be an HR ahead and whatever he noise he made won’t matter when I drop into the canyon and start hunting behind him.

half mile in now , standing on the trail, I see movement out of the corner of my right eye at my 1 o’clock , buck my 1st thought , it’s on a trail next to the creek at 45 yds , lots of brush , I see bits and pieces of the body I’m sure I’ve seen antlers, make sure it’s a buck, I verify the antlers in my scope, the deer is walking at such a pace that in the seconds that I noticed it at my 1 o’clock it was already at my 4 o’clock at this point I’ve already got tunnel vision as you go into that zone in those moments before you pull the trigger. I see antlers in my scope knowing that this deer is going to be facing dead away from me in a matter of seconds with no vitals exposed it’s not a big one but I don’t care I got my WT , pow 💥, He drops over , I txt JCS got my first whitetail it’s a little one but I don’t care , I got one. JCS txt back he’s on his way to help with the pack out .

I get down into the brush and there he is I walk up to him , black tip tail , SOB !
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Seeing whitetails the day before it never even occurred to me to look for the species , I assumed it was a whitetail ,overcome with disappointment, I texted JCS , I shot a little mule deer buck ! I pulled the trigger i gotta own it, I struggle with the mixed emotions , now I got a wait a year before I can hunt for a Whitetail buck again, I cut n qtr and bag it up, JCS shows up with a frame pack as I am cutting the antlers off the skull. Seeing JCS the disappointment started to fade, it was a fun pack out , it’s my first Montana bucks so I’m never gonna forget it for the rest of my life but it did leave me with that feeling of unfinished business on the table but happy to be tagged out. In Six days of hunting I probably did 450 miles driving and 25 miles hiked

day 5 and 6

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JCS on scene
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Congratulations! Absolutely wonderful photos and text, all of them. Makes you wonder how long ago someone lived there for their last days there.
Leupold BX-4 Rangefinding Binoculars

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