Saturday, December 27, 2008

December 26th, Bow Hunting Elk On Public Land in Western Montana

The morning after Christmas I headed out with my friend Ted, to do some late season bow hunting for elk. This particular district in Montana is open until Jan. 1st. We were going to be hunting on a FWP, block management area, and some adjacent US Fish Wildlife Service land.
I can't say enough good things about the FWP's block management program. The amount of access this allows hunters is phenominal and many areas only require that the hunter merely sign in before hunting the area. So if you are new to an area you can hit the ground running without having to orchestrate permission. That being said please check the regulations for each area that you plan to hunt before heading out.
The country that we hunted was a cool mix of sparse forest, glacial moraines, and wetlands intermixed with sage flats. The temps were in the teens and there was about 8-14 inches of snow on the ground. As we hiked through the country our noses were often filled with the pungent smell of crushed sage.
Let me say that before this hunt I was indifferent to mule deer hunting. But after spying many of the large mule deer out here, my opinion has changed. The open terrain here will make it difficult, but given the timber and moraines, spot and stalk could work out here.
We spent the morning glassing and hiking through the open terrain looking for elk. It took us a while but we finally spotted about four cows in some mixed timber. We put together a plan to move in on these elk. Unfortunately the wind was constantly switching. We finally caught up with two of these cows but they were bedded and we were only able to get within about 150 yards before they spooked. We were not sure their location having them bedded made it difficult to find. Subsequently these elk saw or heard us before we knew that they were there.
I think this can be a productive area, however we should have hunted it a bit earlier in the season.

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