Monday, September 30, 2019

Winter Wonderland


Ok, so here's the deal. We were suppose to get one of the biggest September storms on record out here in Montana so everyone bailed on their trips. I certainly don't blame them but what it did, was give me an opportunity to get out and chase elk again. It's much better to be hiking in these kinds of conditions than rowing a boat and trying to tie flies on or untangling leaders. Saturday was brutal with gusty winds up to 50 mph and even worse. But Sunday, things calmed down; the woods were quiet and elk were on the move.

I didn't get a shot off but I was into elk almost from the start. I bumped a group of cows out of one drainage and then ran into another group on the other side of the ridge. I was about 50 yards from them before they noticed me. Walking through the timber is tough, though. Elk always seem to know how to get behind trees. 

About an hour before dark, a couple bulls started talking. They were close and I was able to cut one of their tracks. I actually walked up on this bull but again, even at 50 yards in the timber, this bull didn't present a shot. It was also tough to see if he was even legal. He did have short brow tines but whether or not they were long enough to be legal, I'm not totally sure. I know the other bull I was hearing, definitely sounded like a bigger bull. 

On the way out, I also witnessed another bull walking across a meadow. He was probably a quarter mile away, so no chance of getting in on him before dark. He was definitely legal and I'll probably go back after him tonight. 

It's a kind of weird time for elk hunting. I bumped two groups of cows that weren't being chased by a bull. The bulls I did find were by themselves or with another bull. I guess the rut is over for the most part. That doesn't mean it's not worth going out. Some cows haven't been bred yet and will continue to go into estrous for the next couple weeks. There's a chance a bull tries to find one of the lingering cows to get with.

The other thing is these elk don't want to hear a cow call. The first group was about 150 yards across a drainage. I gave a cow call to try to get the attention of a bull if he was there and they bugged out. The same thing with the bulls I was hearing and the one I got into. As soon as I hit the cow call, they either shut up or just walked away. They wanted nothing to do with me.  

I ran into these guys a week and a half ago as I was getting ready to head up a drainage. We talked about the lack of bulls talking and they suggested it was because of the wolves in the area. I'm sorry but I just don't buy that. I've written about this before and also talked about it on "The Montana Dream Cast." Elk and wolves have been living side-by-side for thousands of years. Why is it now that wolves would be making elk change their breeding habits? The other thing is if you go into Yellowstone this time of the year, bulls are screaming non-stop. There are wolves all around them and they still talk. It's not the wolves it's the amount of hunters using calls to locate them. It's made the elk more cautious and they won't respond to a shitty call. I guess I'll need to get better. 

Today is inspection day on the new house. We are set to close on the 17th of October. I'm guessing the inspection is not going to go well as far as pointing out red-flags. There is a ton of work that will need to get done and the house is being sold, "as is." There are no contingencies and the owner is not going to address any issues. It will be on me to decide how much work I want to put into the property. The thing is, not lot alone is worth what I'm paying for the place and I'm out of options. It's going to be a lot of work but I'm excited to get started. I'll keep you all in the loop. 

Keep 'em where they live...

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