Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sept 13th Out for elk again

Sunday morning found biking into my elk hunting location under a blanket of stars. Biking and hunting solo, I kept wondering if I wasn't cougar bait. Luckily I didn't seen any of these creatures. Not so luckily I didn't see or hear a peep out of any elk on Sunday morning. With the warm temps arriving early, and school work on my mind I hunted until 10:00 and started heading for home. Considering I got to the trail head at 5:25 it still felt like I had been out there a while.

It was nice to see a splash of color on the hills. The ninebark is especially nice right now.

This fawn didn't fair so well. I found this while hiking out. Not sure what took it down. My guess was of course a cat.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2009 Montana Elk Archery Opener Sept. 5,6,&7

Last weekends opener for elk in Montana proved to be a very nice Labor Day Weekend. We rode our bikes in to a camp about a mile and half behind a gate. After setting up camp we scouted a bit. We were pleased to find some tracks that looks somewhat recent.

With the full moon out and this meadow pictured above not to far from our camp, we were able to do some night time glassing. Around 11:30pm we heard a spike making some noise in this meadow. And was joined later in the night by a bugling bull and some cows. At one point we could see the bull trashing a tree in the meadow.

Saturday proved to be a warm day. We managed to jump the spike on a ridge top( spikes are not legal in this district). He winded us before we reached the ridge. By afternoon a thunderstorm rolled in a cool things down. This got the elk moving and we managed bump into four cows in three separate groups after the storm moved through. We never managed to get set up in time for a shot on these cows but it was encouraging nonetheless to be into elk.

Sunday proved slow with the exception of Sunday evening we bumped into the same spike with 20 minutes of shooting light left. After hearing us cow call he was eager to find us long after we stopped calling. It was all we could do to get to camp with out him busting us.

Finally on Monday with a nice cool morning, we managed to get a bull bugling. We did our best to figure out where he was. Several draws and ridges later we were on top of his location, but by then he was no longer responding to our bugles. It was a bit of a wild goose chase, but we ended up in some country we had not hunted in this area before.

The B.O.B trailers make for a pleasant pack out of camp. Even if our trailers weren't loaded down with meat.

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 15th Montana's Antelope Archery Opener

Montana's antelope archery season opened on Saturday, and I was fortunate enough to draw one of the 5600 either sex archery tags. This is my first year antelope hunting. A new species and terrain, the learning curve turned out to be very steep. I headed out on Friday the 14th to scout out a few area for the opener on Saturday.

I left my corner of western Montana and headed across the divide. I'm lucky enough to have the
Front Range a few hours drive away.
As you can see in the photos we have been experiencing an unusually wet August this year. Record breaking in fact. Which meant that sitting on water was not going to be an option. While I don't think that the terrain I was hunting is overrun with antelope, as say some of Montana's further east regions, the terrain here is an advantage for the spot and stalk hunter. I hunted all state lands during this hunt. This areas has numerous block management opportunities. But they are not available for hunting until Sept. 1st.

Once across the divide I drove and scouted a few areas before sunset. The first three antelope that I saw were some dandy bucks. Of course they were all on private land, but I was encouraged none the less.

I was hoping to fill my massive new cooler.

I glassed hard that evening from my camp.

As dawn broke I headed out.

I preceded to spend the next five hours getting busted from miles to hundreds of yards away by antelope. I think the closest that I got was about two hundred yards from 4 antelope.

I used this gully to sneak up on them as they were bedded. And then waited for them to rise and hopefully head my way. My plan worked for a while but was eventually busted by the wind. I did get to see a badger on my stalk. And I watched these 4 antelope chase of a coyote.

Harsh country.

In the afternoon I blew a potentially great stalk by not knowing which landmark I was going to. A lesson I will not be forgetting soon.

Haystack Butte a landmark that dominates the area.

While I was only able to hunt the opener on Saturday I had a blast. This hunt helped me get things dialed in before elk season starts. Hopefully I will make it out for at least a few more days this season.

Monday, July 20, 2009

FWP Drawing results, coming soon.

Sorry for slacking on the blog. But it is turning out to be a very busy summer. Trying to shoot as much as I can, and I need to pour it on in terms of fitness, here in the next couple of weeks.

I thought I would let folks know that some of the Montana special drawing results are available to view online. fwp.mt.gov

I managed to draw and extra either sex whitetail tag. Still waiting to hear back on archery antelope.

Good Luck


Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15th: Review of the 2008 G5 Outdoors Optix XR Sight

For the 2009-2010 season I decided to put a new sight on my bow. After putting a new Trophy Taker Rest, and Winners choice string on last year, and the G5 Optix XR sight this year I'm about out of upgrades, without purchasing a new bow.

First let me say that this is only the second sight that I have ever used, and while this sight is new, it is a 2008 model.
I went with the 2008 model because it was instock at my local shop and the 2009 model was coming at an undetermined time, I addition the 2008 model was a little less expensive and added bonus for me. I did a little bit of research before purchasing the the 2008 model and felt comfortable that the upgrades to the 2009 model would not be enough to make me regret the purchase of the 2008 model. Additionally I went with the .019 pin diameter.

Having the sight on my bow for the last month or so, I have to say that I like the sight. I had a few problems at first that were more attributed to user error than the actual product. Once I got the sight pretty dialed I noticed that I was shooting better.

I'm not saying anything new here, but the ability to have three fixed pins and a floating pin are really a great option. I have had a little time to mess with the floater and it works great. The reduced clutter in the sight housing of 4 pins and the ability to shoot at longer distances with only 4 pins makes this a very versatile sight. The 2009 XR with a single fixed pin, and floating pin will add even more options for hunters looking for flexibility in their sight.

I like the sight level on this bow, the blue color stands out well, and the bubble moves easy within its housing. I haven't had time to adjust it yet but the sight has third axis levelling as well.

The large sight housing with white ring. I find that the relatively large and hooded sight housing and the white ring embossed on the front of the sight make it easily to align and center with my peep when at full draw.

Micro adjustable gang adjustment for vertical and horizontal windage. These adjustments are very sensitive and allowed me to really dial in the sight.
I did not like the micro adjustability of the individual pins. First a hex screw is loosened a quarter of a turn and then the pin is moved up or down with a hex screw on the side of the sight housing. Once the pin is in the appropriate place the first hex screw that was loosened is re-tightened. I found this method to be a bit nebulous and I did not think that it provided the level of precision that the rest of the sight offers. I haven't had a chance to examine the 2009 models but I hope they will change the pin adjustment in the future.

There was a small piece of rubber with the sights name on it that as far as I can tell served no purpose. It immediately began to peel off of the sight and get grass caught in it. I have since peeled it off.

I think it is pretty hard to go wrong with this sight. The floating pins brings plenty of options to the table, while still keep within bounds of what many bowhunters are used to in a sight. When mounting the bow I had problems getting it high enough the L bracket that attaches the sight to the mounting arm can be flipped to accommodate high or low high needs. And when I called G5 about this they answered my questions in less than five minutes. I need to get the bow out at last light to see how the .019 pins look. I can not use a light on here in Montana, and the length of the fiber optic cables seem a bit short. I going to a great 3D shoot this weekend and that floating pin will come in handy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Managing Elk in The Great Yellowstone Ecosystem

Saw this article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Some interesting words here from USFWS Head, Tom Roffe.
Feed grounds will continue to be a contentious issue in the management of elk. And unfortunately I don't see a resolution to the problem in the near future.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 18th: Scouting for Montana's Elk Season

This is the time of year that I find my self pouring over maps and spending too much time with Google Earth. And now that I'm done with school for the semester I have managed to find some time to put into preparing for hunting season. I started the weekend shed hunting, attended a 3d shoot on Sunday, and Monday I selected as a day to get out and stretch the legs.

Right out of the car I encountered a hillside overflowing with Heartleaf Arnica.

I have a post about bowhunting for elk in this area that you can read here. I covered about seven miles with about five of them being off trail. Monday was our first real day of warm temps here in Montana. The morning started off rather muggy and temps climbed quickly. Finn and I were not used to the heat, and spent the morning sweating as we gained elevation. Aside from the warm temps the bush-whacking had us covered in ticks. I spent many moments through out the day pulling them off of us.

Here are a couple shots of Highwood peak. On the way to the summit of Mcleod Mountain, I found this hillside covered with Glacier Lilies.

The brown foliage in the bottom of this picture is last years Yarrow bloom. I can only imagine what it looks like in full bloom.

Here are some nice shooting stars. This ridge line is a good example of why I found elk here last year. These south facing slopes can be feed on at night and then it is and easy escape (for an elk) to the safety of steep north facing slopes.

And finally I had to put this in here. Driving around this morning doing some more scouting ( I was foiled by a road that the Subaru couldn't handle) I found these toms with a few hens, two days after the season and of course in a district where turkey hunting is not allowed.