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White Sulphur Springs elk hunting

Cornbread

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2021
Messages
119
I hope to get a tag in 2022, and had some questions for all you experienced guys for the WSS area. I picked this area because I'm 67, in decent shape, but probably can't take the altitude. I plan on getting up there in mid to late Sept to get used to the latitude and also do scouting. I've hunted deer in Penna a lot but elk are more herd animals. I have a buddy in Great Falls that may hunt with me part of the time. I hope to scout for 2 weeks before the shoulder season. I'm more of a meat hunter so I think I'll try to get an Elk B-tag, shoot a cow first and then pray I have a chance at a bull. But if I get 2 cows, that's ok also. I appreciate that I am an outsider and know how local feel. Trust me, we have that down here in Florida, so I fully appreciate the disruptions that out of staters can create. I hope to get to know the local people in my 2.5 months there. I'm definitely a country boy and hate the cities. Where I live in FL is very rural.
Here ya go:
1. I was looking at HD 452, but 452, 446, 416, 445, & 454 are around WSS, Which one should I concentrate?
2. Ive heard to focus on several BMAs. Once the season opens, do all the elk run to private land, or are there still elk on Nat'l Forest land?
3. Should I get a hot tent and walk in 3-4 miles and hunt deeper in the woods? Is this applicable to the WSS area? In other words, camp 3-4 miles in, away from the road hunters and that way I can be closer to the elk at daylight and sundown? The BMAs will not let you camp. But once opening day occurs and all the elk run to private land, is this a dumb idea?
4. Should I get a bear tag?
5. Can you rent horses in the area? Can you get a packer to pick up your elk. I'm planning on getting one of those jet sleds in case I can't.
6. Are Pomoly hot tents any good? What other brands would you look at? Don't want to spend a fortune.
7. Will I need tire chains for my Sierra 2500HD? I just got new Toyo Open Country AT3s put on a month ago. I'm used to driving in snow. Don't want to go off-road with that vehicle.
8. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

geewhiz

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 11, 2020
Messages
167
1. No comments
2. Many elk move to private lands once season opens up, but as far as pressure goes, BMS's are no better than public. Not to say they won't hold animals though. WSS is knows to have some shootouts on BMA properties.
3. Completely up to you and your hunting style. Might have more luck if you can weed out a few hunters, but packing an elk 3-4 miles is a heck of a lot of work without stock or lots of friends.
4. Yes if you have any interest in shooting a bear. Plenty of bears in that area.
5.
6. No experience with pomoly but take a look at luxe. SJK also makes a very affordable floorless tipi that I have been fairly impressed with so far, although you would have to get a stove jack sewn in to be able to use a stove with it.
7. Always a good idea to have chains. For peace of mind if nothing else.
 

MTLabrador

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Joined
Apr 16, 2020
Messages
3,222
Location
Montana
3. Should I get a hot tent and walk in 3-4 miles and hunt deeper in the woods?
I would not backpack on your first elk hunt unless you already backpack in the mountains a lot. Packing an elk is probably harder work than you think it is, and 3-4 miles off trail in the mountains is further than it sounds.
4. Should I get a bear tag?
September and early October maybe. Be realistic, because you won’t have the opportunity to take two elk and a bear. From late October on I wouldn’t bother with a bear tag.
5. Can you rent horses in the area? Can you get a packer to pick up your elk. I'm planning on getting one of those jet sleds in case I can't.

You won’t find an outfitter that will pack out an elk for someone that isn’t their client, unless there’s someone offering that service that I don’t know about. I would not rent horses on your own and take them hunting without experience with horses.

I picked this area because I'm 67, in decent shape, but probably can't take the altitude.
Those mountains may not have Colorado type altitude, but where the elk hang out on public land it will still be very rough terrain. Just so you’re aware.
 

Cornbread

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2021
Messages
119
Appreciate all the great responses, especially the one comment that the BMAs are just as hunted as public land. I guess the hunting pressure can work for or against you. Hunters can push game to you if you just sit it out, say in saddles or benches. Penna has a lot of pressure on opening weekend then is vacant during the week. MT may be different, but curious to hear about that one. Regarding camping, the BMAs won't let ya camp. I'm going to get one of this Jet Sleds if I decide to camp somewhere. I do realize that 3-4 miles in rough terrain is quite a task, particularly at higher elevation than Florida. Even though I'm 67, I try to ride my bike and walk 5 miles 2-3 times a week. Waynesburg showed me that going up a hill was a bitch. Fortunately, I'm retired so I can take days off in between the hard days. I can use the Jet Sled for help in hauling an elk out. Also my buddy from Great Falls may be down for part of the time.

Question: Should I only hunt the BMAs once the season starts? With of the 5 HD's should I focus on? I was thinking 452? Any suggestions?
 

westbranch

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2017
Messages
834
Location
ID Panhandle
BMAs will mainly have deer until snow pushes the elk down. Then you'll see one of the shoot outs that is mentioned above. I would focus more on national forest vs. the bmas but be ready to hunt both. When we were in that general area we saw several dead bulls loaded up whole on flatbeds coming from private land.

Look at the mvum national forest maps, a lot of atv trails. You don't want to be hiking/biking down a trail and then have a atv blow past.

I would focus more on hiking into parts of public land 1+ miles from roads/trails that are backed up to private where elk are moving through. Going to need to be mobile and cover ground to find those spots.

I don't think anyone is going to suggest a which unit. I hunted around there once and hunted 3 of the units mentioned. I would be fine going back to any of them. But will probably go to a different part of MT first. No elk were harmed by us but I do lay a lot of blame for that on my flatlander brother that wasn't in shape. The way it goes. Just have to pick a spot and go, and then be ready to move if you're not finding fresh elk sign.
 
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Cornbread

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2021
Messages
119
BMAs will mainly have deer until snow pushes the elk down. Then you'll see one of the shoot outs that is mentioned above. I would focus more on national forest vs. the bmas but be ready to hunt both. When we were in that general area we saw several dead bulls loaded up whole on flatbeds coming from private land.

Look at the mvum national forest maps, a lot of atv trails. You don't want to be hiking/biking down a trail and then have a atv blow past.

I would focus more on hiking into parts of public land 1+ miles from roads/trails that are backed up to private where elk are moving through. Going to need to be mobile and cover ground to find those spots.

I don't think anyone is going to suggest a which unit. I hunted around there once and hunted 3 of the units mentioned. I would be fine going back to any of them. But will probably go to a different part of MT first. No elk were harmed by us but I do lay a lot of blame for that on my flatlander brother that wasn't in shape. The way it goes. Just have to pick a spot and go, and then be ready to move if you're not finding fresh elk sign.
Thanks Westbranch. Your advice was very helpful. what is MVUM national forest maps? I was going to buy the OnX Hunt chip for my Garmin Montana.
 

Dakotakid

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 13, 2014
Messages
503
my brothers and nephews drove out from west coast and we met early hours west of White Sulphur at a BMA.
People were standing around complaining of cold and trying to decipher which district they were going to deer hunt. Some had realign 4 tags and some had general deer tags and my brother had an elk tag.

While watching the deer, I asked if they were all signed in? No, no.

Because here comes a bull elk trotting through the deer. You know the kind, when you are hunting and you will an elk to appear. This time it worked.


Ran within a few hundred yards of us.

They have gotten better about being ready.
 

westbranch

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2017
Messages
834
Location
ID Panhandle
Thanks Westbranch. Your advice was very helpful. what is MVUM national forest maps? I was going to buy the OnX Hunt chip for my Garmin Montana.

Motor vehicle use maps, maps that show legal roads and which types of vehicles are allowed. They are on the national forest websites or available at their offices for paper copies. They are also shown on Onx, I prefer the phone app.
 

Cornbread

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2021
Messages
119
If I get an elk B-tag, I have to shoot one on a BMA, and not on Nat'l Forest land, correct? Is there such a thing in that WSS area as paying landowners a trespass fee? If so, how much is that typically?
 

URHO

Active member
Joined
Sep 10, 2017
Messages
99
At least 4 Outfitters in the WSS area that I know of.
 

MT Bound

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 20, 2014
Messages
494
Location
MT
Appreciate all the great responses, especially the one comment that the BMAs are just as hunted as public land. I guess the hunting pressure can work for or against you. Hunters can push game to you if you just sit it out, say in saddles or benches. Penna has a lot of pressure on opening weekend then is vacant during the week. MT may be different, but curious to hear about that one. Regarding camping, the BMAs won't let ya camp. I'm going to get one of this Jet Sleds if I decide to camp somewhere. I do realize that 3-4 miles in rough terrain is quite a task, particularly at higher elevation than Florida. Even though I'm 67, I try to ride my bike and walk 5 miles 2-3 times a week. Waynesburg showed me that going up a hill was a bitch. Fortunately, I'm retired so I can take days off in between the hard days. I can use the Jet Sled for help in hauling an elk out. Also my buddy from Great Falls may be down for part of the time.

Question: Should I only hunt the BMAs once the season starts? With of the 5 HD's should I focus on? I was thinking 452? Any suggestions?
You'd be better off camping at a trailhead or campground in one of those areas and hiking in when you start out. Most folks from out east are in for a huge wake up call thinking they're gonna hike in 3-4 miles and camp, especially if we get hit with an opening weekend snow storm like 2020 etc.

Pick one of the HD's you quoted, do some online mapping research and then put boots on the ground. If that area doesn't pan out then go to Plan B or C. Not many people here are going to tell you what HD to hunt or even a specific area in an HD to focus on, we've all got too much blood, sweat and tears already put into these areas, IMO.
 

BenInMT

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2021
Messages
308
Location
Western Montana
If you’re going to spend 2.5 months there you will figure it out. If you have the ability to go poking around every morning you will surely encounter elk. You might even end up in a legendary shootout under the power lines.
 
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