Hunts of the Past
I'm very excited about starting my own site, and looking forward to passing on some of my knowledge. For my first blog I figured I would put up some old pictures and give a look back at some details I remember of those hunts starting from old to new! This will be very long so be prepared, but should also be entertaining!
I will never forget this deer. It was the very first whitetail buck I ever shot. It was around 2003 my senior year of high school. I had already been hunting since 1996, but had never killed a buck up until this point. I had previously been out the past few years with my dad and took a doe every year during the youth season. I could no longer hunt just does, and was now looking for a buck. I was hunting with some friends I hunted with every year. There was Stephen, Riley, Preston, and myself. I can't recall all who filled tags, but I knew I was ready to fill mine. We drove around for quite a while, and finally found some deer in a corn field. We drove the edges, and finally there he was bedded just on the inside of the corn less that 50 yds away. I took aim and fired with my .308 Browning. A perfect shot the buck never moved and died right where he was bedded.
This was pheasant opener a few years back with Stephen and I. As I recall we both had our limit of pheasants and were done within the first 15 to 20 min. I sure do miss the great bird hunting I was able to do back in the day. If we weren't chasing pheasants or coyotes, that meant it was ice fishing time or deer season.
This deer was shot during the 2005 West River rifle season. It was again Riley, Stephen, and myself. We had been back on a place we normally hunted, and we spotted him in an area we called Buer Draw. We threw the spotter up and could tell he was young, but a nice wide buck. I decided I would punch my tag with him. Off we went. The deer held tight in the bottom of the draw and finally ran out. He ran straight away and with one shot that was it. This was the third buck I had killed.
This mule deer was taken my very first year as a resident in Montana. This is where I realized just how much of a flat lander I was. It was 2007 and I had just started working at the office the previous fall, but had to wait to gain residency in MT. I finally had some time off during the deer season after attending the law enforcement academy.
My brother Todd took me out to some public land in the eastern part of the state. We hiked away from the road for a couple of miles as the sun was coming up and began to glass for deer. There he was trailing two does. Todd said he was a really neat buck and a huge buck for being a 2x2. I told him good enough for me. The buck and does were walking around 250 yds from left to right. I steadied myself and took aim. BOOM I missed, for those that have hunted with me know full well I like to give the deer a warning shot before I mean business. Well I like to think of it that way. The deer took off, I fired again and missed. Finally I calmed myself as the deer was leaving our location and was going to go out of sight. Just as the buck started to peak a drainage around 350 yds away I fired. I could tell the shot wasn't that great, but I hit him right in the back leg. Off we went to find my buck. We took our time as we got closer. There he was lying in the bottom of the drainage doing his best to hide. I got within 50 yds and put another round into him. That was it, now the work began. I was so used to just driving the pickup up and throwing them in the back that this whole lets pack it out on our backs was news to me. After gutting, and quartering my buck we loaded our packs, and headed back to the pickup. The sight of the pickup was a blessing as I was wore out. To date this is still one of my favorite bucks. He was rough scored by my brother Kirk at a whopping 131 inches. Not bad for just a 2x2.
This would be the Spring of 2008. My brother Kirk and I went out to find a turkey or two. Up to this point I had never really chased turkeys around a whole lot.
We headed down to the Custer National Forest. It was a gorgeous morning and things were looking good. On our hike in we managed to catch a coyote by surprise and he ran right at us. Kirk pulled up with his shotgun and got him. A short time later we managed to find a really nice 6 pt. elk shed. This was the first elk shed I had ever found. Kirk found it first, but had many of his own so he let me keep, and it now sits on top of my TV stand. Not a huge bull, but a respectable 6x6.
Finally it was time to get into the birds. Kirk began to call and here they came, I could hear two birds gobbling away. They kept getting closer, but something held them up. We picked up and headed towards the birds. There they were a fence was blocking them, but I had a shot. I fired and hit the lead tom. Off he went I followed him and found him again. Kirk had gone bellow me and the bird came running my way. I fired as he was at around 10 yds with my 12 ga. It was done I had my first bird and it was time for some pictures.
2008 was a year of many firsts for me. First I killed my first turkey in the spring, and would soon be hunting elk, as I drew a very coveted either sex tag with rifle for the Custer National Forest (CNF). Before elk season though came antelope. I had never hunted antelope in SD as the winters of 96 and 97 had hurt populations and a couple of seasons were shut down.
Finally while living in MT I drew an antelope tag. Kirk and I again headed to CNF. We had looked around a few places, but never saw many goats with size. Finally we seen my goat, but he was on private. We went to a couple of other spots, but no luck. It was the next day, and the goat we were after finally made it to public ground. The stalk was on, as the buck was bedded out in the open, but in a stalk-able position. I crawled out and he was still bedded at around 130 yds. I fired, miss, right over his back. Again the warning shot! I chambered another round and fired. Perfect shot right behind the shoulder, the buck tipped over backwards and that was it.
With antelope over it was now time to concentrate on elk and deer. I had never been elk hunting so I was very excited to finally get the chance to possibly take such and amazing animal.
I had been scouting with Kirk the prior week to the opener. We had located some elk near some BLM, so we figured we would start there come opener.
Finally it was elk season, I still couldn't believe I was hunting elk, and it was the first year that I had applied for the tag to boot. On our way in to set up camp a few cows crossed the road, which meant things were looking good. I was joined by Kirk his son Ethan and my dad. My dad had drawn a general elk and deer tag. I was very excited to have family hunting with me. My dad was able to take a cow, but no bulls with his tag in the area we would be hunting. We finally got camp set up.
This would be a season I would never forget. It was the day before opener and tragedy had struck. We got a phone call and a very dear friend of the family had just passed away. Our family friend Brad McGee had been found dead while out elk hunting in the Black Hills of SD. It so very hard to take the news. Brad was a friend that went to college with Todd and Kirk in Bottineau, ND. Almost every fall Brad would stay at mom and dad's and hunt the West River Rifle deer season, so Brad spent a lot of time at the Anderson household, and over the years became part of the family. Todd headed over during the search to help look for Brad and he informed us of the bad news. I wasn't sure how to take the news, but knew Brad was now looking down on us. It was later determined Brad had a massive heart attack. The world will never be the same place without Brad, but he is in a better place and he will be forever missed.
After very little sleep the season had opened. Kirk and I headed one direction, while Ethan and dad went another to look for a cow. Amazingly dad and Ethan had a close encounter with a bull. There they sit by a tree in the open and a very nice 6x6 bull fed right by them within 30 yds. Kirk and I didn't have the same luck and eventually met back up with dad and Ethan, and boy were they excited to tell us the news.
Kirk and I immediately headed in the direction that dad and Ethan watched the bull go. There was only a couple of places the bull could go so we did our best to get a good vantage point. We walked the top of the draws and looked for the bull. We knew we were close as we could smell the elk, but we weren't sure of the exact location. After looking for the bull for a while we came up empty handed, so we headed back to camp. We sat in camp for a while and decided we better go to try and find the bull again. We went into the same general area above the draw. There he was I couldn't believe my eyes. All I could see was horn. I had never saw such an amazing animal. It was huge. He was at the bottom of the draw within 50 yds. Not only was this my first elk hunting trip this was my first ever day in the first few hours chasing bulls and now I had a great 6x6 bull within archery range, yet I'm holding a rifle. I told Kirk I could see him and Kirk hurriedly told me SHOOT. I got down and took aim. I hit him in the neck. I fired again, but missed, I was a little excited to say the least. The bull ran into the open and paused to look back. I fired once more and hit him again he was standing around 120 yds away. I knew the hit looked good I just wasn't sure how good. I couldn't believe it I had done it. Not only was I getting the chance to finally elk hunt, but I just shot a great bull. I have never had a feeling quite like this. I have had adrenalin rushes hunting before, but nothing compared to this. I asked Kirk how big he was and all he could say was BIG. I asked what he would score and Kirk figured anywhere from 330 to 350. Before season my goal was a bull over 300, although the area can produce much bigger bulls. I could hardly catch my breath, what did I just do it was a dream come true that was short lived.
After calming my nerves Kirk and I went to where the elk had been to look for blood. Blood was found, not a great amount, but blood, which meant a hit. We began to follow the blood trail. I told Kirk to stop I could hear something, but I wasn't sure what it was. Pretty soon I knew I heard the bull cough, which was an indication there may possibly be a lung that was hit. Kirk decided we better back off. About the time the decision was made, we went to leave the bull alone and uh-oh he took off, crashing through the trees making a ton of racquet. We followed the blood some more and found where he stopped. The blood looked good as it began to pool up on the ground where he would slow down. We got to the edge of an opening to try and locate the bull, but he was no where to be found. Great now what.
We returned to camp, and would later return to again try and locate the injured bull. I knew I had made a good shot, but I never realized how tough of an animal they are. My dad, Kirk, and Ethan headed off to look for a deer, or elk for dad. I continued to search for my bull. I had my gps so I followed the property boundary between public and private. Unbelievable I found more blood just as it was getting dark. I marked the spot and went to find the others to head back to camp for the night. The next couple of days would be the longest of my short hunting career. Never had I been through such a high to a low so fast. I knew I would find my bull, or at least I hoped I would. I just didn't know where or when that would happen. I was not going to give up until I did or exhausted every option. It was my responsibility to locate the bull I had just shot.
The following day I picked back up on the blood trail. I looked and looked, but came up empty. Wait what was that, no more that 50 yds away a bull ran out. Was it my bull? It's a bull, but he sure doesn't look that big and it doesn't appear he's been shot. I pulled up my rifle and took aim. I sure don't see any blood on him and he looks way too small. I let the bull go. I continued to look for blood. Later joined by my brother we found more blood. The bull jumped the fence onto the private. Just what I was hoping wouldn't happen.
I was able to find the landowner and explained my situation. To my surprise the landowner gave me permission to retrieve the animal. Great another hurdle jumped. He even went so far to grant me permission to drive right to it. I told him no I would be on foot and would leave my firearm at camp. While I was diligently following my bull my dad took the opportunity to shoot a fantastic mule deer. He was very happy and it turned out to be a very memorable hunt. I joined the others and we took some photos with dad's deer. Kirk, Ethan, and dad had to take off, but I was going to stick around and continue to look for my bull. I was later joined by my brother Todd who assisted in looking for my bull. We continued to find blood until dark.
The following day I was on my own. I picked up where Todd and I left off. I wasn't finding any blood, but all of a sudden heard some coyotes in the general direction of where the blood went. I took off running, I just knew it had to be my bull. I popped the hill within 100 yds of where Todd and I left off. Magpies took off flying, I couldn't believe my eyes. There he was, my bull had died. I ran as fast as my worn out body would allow. For the first time I go to put my hands on him. I pulled out my tag and tagged my bull. I immediately found some cell service and passed the word to Todd. There wasn't much of the bull left so the pack out job wouldn't be bad. It appeared the bull passed the same day I shot him. The coyotes tore him apart. Everything in the hind end was gone. There was the front shoulders, but I figured they had spoiled as well. Todd was unable to help out so I called Kirk. I returned to the bull and began to prep him for the pack out. I cut his head and neck off. I learned the hard way that there is a lot of neck meat on an elk.
Finally Kirk and a friend of his showed up to assist in the pack out. My body was wore out. It will probably be the easiest elk packing job I will ever do, as we only came out with the head. I had earned those horns, and I proudly put my tag on him. It was very hard to lose so much meat, and would have been very easy to have given up earlier and went to find another one. Not me I gave every effort possible to find that bull, and find that bull I did. Once Kirk and his friend arrived they showed me that I had around an extra 50 lbs of meat left on the neck, and once removed I was able to pack the head out. After a few pictures we hit the trail and got the bull out. This isn't my last elk hunt, but it is one I will never forget.
I had filled all of my tags except for my deer tag. Todd and I met up and headed east. He knew of an area with some decent bucks hanging around so we headed there.
I kept in the back of my mind how amazing it would be to fill all of my tags. I still couldn't believe I had fill my elk tag. Todd and I looked around and seen a few bucks here and there, but nothing really worth chasing. It was getting dark, and the deer began to move. Todd grabbed me and said here he comes he's a huge whitetail. I looked and couldn't believe my eyes. After closer inspection it was deemed that it was in fact a mule deer buck. I looked him over, and decided he is the one I wanted to shoot. We sat and waited for the buck to come closer. Finally the buck was within range. The buck stopped at right around 200 yds I fired, miss. There's that warning shot again. The buck just stood there. I fired again this time hitting my mark perfectly. The buck ran a few yds and tipped over. Finally all of my tags were filled. We quartered the buck and packed him out to the pickup. 2008 will be one tough hunting season to top, and will always be one of my most memorable.
2009 was very different that 2008. I wasn't quite as successful, but then again 2008 is going to be pretty tough to beat. I started out, but convincing my friend Stephen to put in for an elk tag as a non resident for elk and deer. Stephen ended up being successful in drawing an elk permit for the CNF.
Stephen came out and we set up camp with Todd and Kirk. It was a blast as elk camp always is. I came a little later due to work and time constraints. Before my arrival Todd, Kirk, and Stephen had some good luck getting into elk, but weren't able to close the deal. After a couple days of not being very successful Todd and Kirk had to head out, so it was just Stephen and I.
I hadn't had much experience calling elk, but watched my brothers do it. The left behind a hot lips elk call, which is a call made by Primos that you could make sound like two cow elk calling at once. Stephen and I tried on our own in a couple of spots, but didn't have much luck. We went to a new spot on the last day Stephen could be out. The weather had taken a turn and Stephen and I were wore out. We asked each other when we woke up if we should even go. The answer after a little bit was YES we better. We slowly got going and headed out to look one last time for some elk. About the time we were ready to give up, Stephen found some elk. I glassed where he was looking and sure enough 9 cows and calves were headed out into the open. Amazingly they began to somewhat head our direction. The only puzzling thing was that there wasn't a bull with. It was prime rut yet no bull. Oh well I told Stephen we better get going. Off we went running to the bottom below the elk. I had Stephen set up in front of me about 40 yds. I began to cow call, and cow call, and cow call. All of a sudden an answer, and she was close. I continued to call and there she was less than 20 yds from Stephen stood a cow and calf. The cow had my location pegged. I watched Stephen draw, I thought yes here we go she is done for. Stephen shot I heard her bark, and take off running. Stephen immediately acknowledged he had shot her. Stephen was unsure of his hit, but we immediately found blood, and lots of it. We gave the cow around 2 hours before going in after her.
After trailing blood for a while it began to taper off. We looked and looked, but no cow. I broke away and continued to look and again picked up on blood. Stephen continued on, but I remained near the last area of blood. I looked, and wait what's that, it was her tipped over in some thick stuff. I yelled for Stephen and he came running. After a couple of photos we had her skinned, quartered, and loaded onto the game cart.
I killed this buck in the fall of 2009. I spent quite a few days searching for a good buck. Finally towards the end of my looking I finally found a decent one on some public land. I stalked within 176 yds, and shot. I ended up hitting the buck on the first shot, and hit him twice more, and also missed twice. This was the first buck I killed on my own.
I also killed a nice antelope on my own on some public land north of Colstrip.
2010 was the year archery hunting would become my addiction to what it is today. I started the year off hunting antelope with my bow. I had drawn the 900 archery only antelope. I had made my mind up I was going to concentrate and finally kill something with my bow. It had been over 10 years since I started bow hunting and I had come up empty handed every year, although I had never really concentrated only on archery.
I was excited for the 900 tag because it would give me a couple of extra weeks to hunt. I spent the a lot of time in my ground blind, but wasn't having very much luck. I knew water would be key early on due to the high temps. I continually sat by water. On one specific morning I watched some antelope near a water hole so I set my blind up hoping they would come in at some point. No antelope showed up, but I did get a close visit from a black bear. I later set up at another water hole that I kicked three antelope off of, and they later returned the same evening. I left my blind up and returned in the morning. Almost immediately after the sun came he came in. I wasn't sure how big he was I just knew he was a buck and that was good enough. I drew back and knew he was around 45 yds away. I took aim and let my arrow fly. It hit it's mark, I couldn't believe it all of my preparation had paid off I had my first buck. I later got a shoulder mount done, and he officially scored 66 4/8 only 4/8 short of P&Y, but he had 0 deductions. I also got the hunt on video which is attached.
After antelope it was onto archery elk. Kirk, Todd, and I would be joined by Brad McGee's wife, and her friend Mick Jost. Both Danielle and Mick drew out of state elk and deer permits.
We headed down to CNF. I ran into a few elk, but never seen any nor had any close calls. Before I had my encounters I went to an area Kirk sent Mick and I to set up on a watering hole. As soon as Mick and I entered the area I heard a cow bark, and I knew we were busted. I had Mick sit anyway just in case. Before setting the blind up I cow called, and had a cow come right in. The closest she would get was 80 yds. After she left Mick, and I set the blind up and he got nice and cozy. I went to another area and got a few responses from a couple of bulls but no luck.
After dark came I met with Kirk and we went to pick up Danielle and Mick. Upon arriving at their location Mick was very excited, and stated he stuck a big on. Both Kirk and I figured he was just kidding as that tends to happen from time to time. Mick was dead set on the fact he had just killed a really big bull. Still not believing him he said he found blood, and all of a sudden it was very apparent Mick wasn't kidding. It was time to celebrate. We headed in, and found blood just as he stated. We looked and looked, and pretty soon Danielle found him. At first Mick stated he was sure the bull would score over 300. As soon as I seen the bull I knew not only had Mick killed a 300 bull, but I told him Mick that's a 360 bull not 300. Sure enough after he had it scored it scored right around 360. An amazing bull killed by an amazing man congrats again Mick that is one bull of a lifetime. We got the bull all ready to go and packed him out finally finishing at around 2 am. Brad truly looked down on us all with a big smile. No one else was lucky enough to punch a tag, but fun was had by all.
Next was deer season, and Danielle returned for a chance at a mule deer. The very first morning Kirk, Danielle, Danielle's friend Laura, and I headed out. We headed off the road on foot, and while glassing Kirk spotted a very nice buck. Off we went. We managed to sneak within 70 yds of the buck and his does. Danielle made a fantastic shot and killed the buck. He had a nice double white throat patch, and turned out to score in the 170's. What a trip for a couple of SD hunters. Hunts they will never forget with great friends.
After we got Danielle's buck taken care of we headed down the road. As we were driving Kirk stopped and said WIDE buck. We jumped out and off we went, Kirk and I. We crawled to a vantage point and I could see the buck bedded in the creek bottom. Wide was right one of the better bucks I had seen. I took aim, and the buck stood up. I fired the ol' warning shot and the buck took off. Shot again got him only in the rear. The buck fell to the bottom of the creek I snuck up and shot again got him in the spine. Finally I got really close and finished him off. I think it's time to hang the rifle up. In the end we had two great bucks shot within a couple miles of each other.
2010 also included a Mt. Goat hunt. Todd was fortunate enough to draw a coveted mountain goat tag for the Crazy Mtns. We decided on a 5 day trip. It will probably go down as one of the most grueling hunts of my life. We hiked back 8 miles in to some of the most rugged mountains you can find. It is also some of the most breathtaking country you can go into.
We set camp and did a little fishing. The first day I stayed at camp as the hike wore me out. Todd, Kirk, and Todd's friend Derrick headed out after goats. The following days I tagged along looking for goats. It was the last day, and we would have one more day to try and get Todd a goat. I was nice and snug in my tent when I hear Todd and Kirk waking me up telling me to get my butt out of bed as there was a black bear in camp. Apparently the bear woke Todd up as he was also fishing in the lake, but he would do belly flops into the water. Finally I crawled out of bed my contacts still hazy in my eyes. I threw on my boots some hunter orange and headed out in my underwear. I was given Todd's TC .300. I seen the bear he was a mere 45 yds away. I took aim, and missed. MISSED how do you miss, well I guess I can answer that...I still don't know, that one will haunt me forever. But I guess it must have happened for a reason. We broke camp and hiked out. As we made it back over to the main trail we continued to hike, and there he was right towards the top of the mountain one lone billy laying in the shade. Todd, Kirk, and Derrick decided to go for him while I stayed at the trail. I watched them take off after the goat and 3 hours later they were on top of the goat. They almost killed themselves getting to him, but Todd made a great shot and had his goat. It will be another long lasting memory and a hunt my body will never forget. It's one of those hunts that you never turn down if a friend or family member has a tag.
2011 started with me headed back to SD for spring turkey. I would be hunting with Stephen, and our friend Dusty.
There was definitely no lack of birds it was just up to us calling right and the birds willing to cooperate. I was the first to strike, and took a bird off of my buddy Matt's place. Next we headed along the Grand River. We found 4 jakes. Everything came together, and Dusty and Stephen doubled up on two jakes.
I again drew the 900 antelope tag, and was again successful. This bow hunting thing gets very addictive, when you start killing a few things. I did not have much luck early on with antelope. I took a break for a bit and headed out for elk.
The forest was full of hunters as well as full of elk. I hunted elk for 8 days, and got into elk 7 out of those 8. On the 14th of Sept. I heard around 150 bugles and called in 3 bulls. To date this was my best year of elk hunting even though I was unsuccessful. I called in a bull that would have scored in the 350 range to 140 yds, followed by a 340 bull that came with 80 yds, and an hour later a 300 bull with 4 cows within 20 yds, but could only see his neck and the very top of his back, no shot. I also found the herd bull in the area which would have grossed around 370 to 380. It was an unbelievable elk season and even though I did not kill it will be an everlasting memory.
I next concentrated on deer and elk. I had lots of encounters with deer, and missed a nice 110 in whitetail at 20 yds, I had guessed him at 30, talk about frustrating. The week before this encounter in the same area, I shot my antelope. I was planning on hunting deer, but watched a few antelope cross below me so I set up where they crossed as I had seen another group of antelope headed that way, and I figured I could cut them off. What do you know it worked. I had two does cross within 10 yds, and the buck was 15 behind them. I drew and sat up and the buck ran out to 40. I let my arrow go and hit him a tad back. I followed him and ambushed him again and placed a perfect arrow at 20 yds, to buck took two steps and that was it. At this point I now had 1 antelope buck, and one turkey under my belt. My success is beginning to turn around. I rough scored this antelope at just under 62
It was now time to concentrate on killing a deer with my bow. I was hunting some public ground west of Colstrip. While hunting the public ground I ran into a local landowner who gave me permission to hunt some of his ground. I jumped on the opportunity as I knew the quality of bucks the area would produce. I set my blind up and tried some spot and stalk in the area.
I wasn't having very much luck. I had a nice 150 to 160 in. buck come within 10 yds of my blind he was just on the wrong side of the fence. Earlier while driving in the area I saw a buck I guessed to be in the 180s close to where I could hunt. I didn't ever get a chance at the buck, but did manage to ambush this nice mule deer in an area I could hunt. I snuck up to an embankment and waited for this buck and a smaller one approach my location. The smaller buck seen me and fled the area. Lucky for me the bigger buck stuck around. I drew and sat up. The buck didn't even budge. I let my arrow fly as the buck was quartering to me. Once again a little far back. I followed the buck and again ambushed him, and as he walked to me he got within 20 yds quartering again, but this time I hit him perfect right through the heart. The buck ran a few yds and expired. I ended my 2011 season better that I thought I ever would.
That is pretty much all of my older hunts I have pictures for so from now on most all of my updates should be current hunts you can follow along with. Thanks again for taking your time to read about my hunting, and I hope you enjoy reading it, just about as much as I do telling the stories.