SE MT Mule Deer Live Hunt 2019

406LIFE

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Joined
Aug 18, 2016
Messages
2,459
Location
Bitterroot Valley, MT
We'll be making the annual pilgrimage out to the corner of MT that is now infamous. This will be my dad and uncles second time, you can read about the adventure last year here. This year they will be on their own, so that in itself should be entertaining. The weather should be cold, and below freezing for the most part, so I'm hopeful the mud will stay dormant. Numbers from all accounts are good and the age class has improved. Two reports on the area we hunt during antelope saw a couple of bucks that were non-typical with a lot of trash. Those would be very cool to find. Trucks are loaded up and we leave at daybreak. This is my favorite hunt for me each year; partly because of the family reconnect; somewhat because I know the area and there is some nostalgia; and maybe because the bucks are running in the rut and the pressure on myself is low. The shots tend to be longer than average which means you have time to watch and observe the bucks as they harass does. We'll be on BLM, but we rarely see anyone else here. It has become something of an oasis to us, and special to anyone else who discovers it.

I know many residents might prefer this to be kept quiet, but there are many others who hang on these types of narratives until they can make their own journey out there. Hopefully we all can admire what we are blessed with in Montana.
 

8andcounting

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Joined
Dec 16, 2013
Messages
1,542
Good luck . I leave a week from today for 10 days in Montana . Hoping it stays cool and the bucks are ruttin
 

MT.PERCHMAN

Active member
Joined
Jan 3, 2015
Messages
576
Location
Kalispell , Montana
Best of Luck to you and the Family ! !!!!

My Special Deer tag starts the 18th. !
I'm more than excited !
Keep us posted !
And have a great time !

MT.PERCHMAN
 

EsotericPA

New member
Joined
Oct 30, 2019
Messages
11
Have fun! I've never been that way, but will live vicariously through your adventures :)
 

fishing4sanity

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Joined
Mar 9, 2011
Messages
4,185
Location
eastern Washington
Good luck and I'll be watching for some updates. I started hunting out that way back in the 90's, but haven't made it in a few years due to work or health issues, hoping next year is the year to make it back.
 

406LIFE

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Joined
Aug 18, 2016
Messages
2,459
Location
Bitterroot Valley, MT
Getting here last night was typical. What takes me 8 hours in the summer too us nearly 12 last night. The winter storm blew lots of powder and ice was significant. We only got up to 80 a couple of times and even then wasn't for long. A semi passing would whiteout the road for long enough you wondered where you were. The past couple of years it's been like this coming over and clear going home.

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Somewhere I heard a chorus of tree frogs. Didn't know they were still out up here...

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Weather today is cold with the high around 15. The week should see a warm up to maybe 45. I hope it stays frozen, if it thaws then the mud will be worse.

Up at 430, shooting time at 630. I'm excited to see this country again and for the light to break over the buttes. Today we will be out looking, maybe fill a doe tag, and generally seeing what we can.
 

406LIFE

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 18, 2016
Messages
2,459
Location
Bitterroot Valley, MT
Day 1:
Started out with a whimper. My usually spot had a road washed out, making it impossible to get to. That immediately put us on Plan D and after asking some permission, got access through a private road back into BLM.
20191111_073117.jpg

Deer were right where they were supposed to be. The numbers are good. Buck class is higher as we are seeing many more 3x3 and 4x4 than usual, and less forks. The rut is definitely on and bucks were nosing does all day.

The first action was a small group with a rather large buck that popped over the hill when we did. First guy up pursued them and missed.

Around the next point we glassed up a large buck, skylined. We moved out of his line of site behind the only two mounds around and put a 800 yard stalk on. As we were just about to creat the second hill, he appeared to the left, 300 yards. Then a smaller buck appeared and six does. How we missed them moving in attests to their ability to melt into the sage. My dad and uncle could not make the stalk, so my buddy attempts to redeem himslef. Dropping prone, I watch through my binoculars as he pulls the trigger and the buck mule kicks something fierce, runs 80 yards and nose dives.

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Much of the rest of the day we saw smaller bucks, and watched them run does back and forth. If you got closer than 300 yards, the does will stott out of site, taking the bucks with them but they wouldnt blow out of the area.

We managed to fill a couple of does tags, one being my uncle of 78. His determination overrode his unwilling legs and the cold of 8°. They have a significant amount of fat on them this year and are very healthy.

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The country is different and has its own draw. Tough to imagine that when Lewis and Clark first arrived, they met grizzlies out here. Some day I'd like to find a bison skull, and this would be just the area to do it.

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Boomerusaf

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 14, 2018
Messages
1,166
Location
The Driftless Region
Day 1:
Started out with a whimper. My usually spot had a road washed out, making it impossible to get to. That immediately put us on Plan D and after asking some permission, got access through a private road back into BLM.
View attachment 119607

Deer were right where they were supposed to be. The numbers are good. Buck class is higher as we are seeing many more 3x3 and 4x4 than usual, and less forks. The rut is definitely on and bucks were nosing does all day.

The first action was a small group with a rather large buck that popped over the hill when we did. First guy up pursued them and missed.

Around the next point we glassed up a large buck, skylined. We moved out of his line of site behind the only two mounds around and put a 800 yard stalk on. As we were just about to creat the second hill, he appeared to the left, 300 yards. Then a smaller buck appeared and six does. How we missed them moving in attests to their ability to melt into the sage. My dad and uncle could not make the stalk, so my buddy attempts to redeem himslef. Dropping prone, I watch through my binoculars as he pulls the trigger and the buck mule kicks something fierce, runs 80 yards and nose dives.

View attachment 119616

Much of the rest of the day we saw smaller bucks, and watched them run does back and forth. If you got closer than 300 yards, the does will stott out of site, taking the bucks with them but they wouldnt blow out of the area.

We managed to fill a couple of does tags, one being my uncle of 78. His determination overrode his unwilling legs and the cold of 8°. They have a significant amount of fat on them this year and are very healthy.

View attachment 119620

The country is different and has its own draw. Tough to imagine that when Lewis and Clark first arrived, they met grizzlies out here. Some day I'd like to find a bison skull, and this would be just the area to do it.

View attachment 119621
Pretty good first day. Thanks for sharing.
 

BucksnDucks

Active member
Joined
Aug 27, 2015
Messages
228
Location
Northern CA
I applaud your bravery to mention the strictly VERBODEN destination of SE.... dare I say Montana. Enjoy yourself out there. I hear it was wicked cold for a couple days and lots of roads are gumbo due to a lot of freeze/thaw earlier this year. My group of kids and old men are heading out there Friday.
 

406LIFE

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 18, 2016
Messages
2,459
Location
Bitterroot Valley, MT
Day 2:
Well, crap.

So, the day started right by glassing up two bucks from about 900 yards. An hour later, a drop into a creek bottom, and some super stealthy low crawling had me within 200 yards, but the does jumped a fence onto private land and the bucks followed. It became apparent they weren't coming back my way anytime soon, so I inched out and tried to make my way back without spooning them.

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As I did that, I had an opportunity to fill a doe tag at about 250 yards, or what I thought was the distance. My shot was good and the doe kicked fiercely. I marked the spot and a landmark near her, and went to tag out. An hour later we had no blood, on fresh snow, and nothing to go off of. We spooked a few more out of some small coulees in our search but couldn't find any evidence of a hit. Running it through my mind I was sure I connected, and we kept looking but nothing was to be found.

My uncle ended up getting a doe. He needed to lean back on me to stay steady and the does at 150 yards obliged him a shot. She ran downhill another hundred, so my uncle obliged my and my buddy to go down and drag her up. While dressing her out, I sliced my finger something deep, probably needing a stitch, but having only duct tape to create enough pressure. It bleed bright and long, but stopped and just throbbed.

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Then on the drag out, a sneaky little pothole, iced over but conveniently covered with grass grabbed my left leg. I shredded the front of my shin something bad and still have a large knot.

As the day wore on it warmed up just enough to melt the dusting of snow out there. For those who think this mud out here we call gumbo is over exaggerated, a couple of pics show (dry, then wet) how little it takes to create mud slicks on your off-road tires and make you wonder how you'll get out.

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Finally, on our way out, tranny problems. The truck rattled the whole way home. That's ending the trip early. The truck is new, but got beat up on the eastern Montana prairie, so who knows. I'll have to find a place locally to fill my tag.

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So, crap. But, the two days out were a welcomed revisit to country I am find of. The B1Bs were flying sorties and ringing booms across the sage. The buttes have their own peculiar draw, eacpeailly with he sun rising or falling. I'll look forward to another trip next year, Lord willing, with a buck with another year on him.
 
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