On Nov. 17 my father-in-law Dan and brother-in-law Chris came out from CA for a visit for thanksgiving. Prior in the year we had planned to head back to SD where I grew up and do some pheasant hunting. Dan was able to make it out 3 years ago with one of his good friends Mike, and we had a very successful trip. They flew into Billings on Nov. 15 and we stuck around Colstrip for a day to relax. We hit the road the morning of the 17th and figured we would get an afternoon hunt in.
We made back to Lemmon around 1:30 and headed out to my friend Stephen's for the afternoon. I hunted the area a couple of weeks before and there was plenty of birds to go around it was just up to the shooting as it normally goes. I also brought my French Brittany named Colt. I hadn't had him out for a while and was just looking forward to letting him get some good exercise and play around. I figured out playing to him meant it was time for business. I kick myself all the time for not investing more of my time into him, as he performed way above what I was expecting.
The first afternoon there was plenty of birds, but the majority were getting up a little far out for us to shoot. We were hitting birds, but it was becoming apparent that our loads were too light to knock them down. We hit a few spots, and the Hungarian Partridge numbers are way up, which is awesome to see as they are such a fun bird to hunt. We walked one of the big fields, and I had Colt out and we finished our walk. We all gathered at a corner of the field, and Colt went on point. It had been long enough since I used him last that I didn't recognize him on point, but I quickly remembered and went to where he was at. We had just walked through the area so I figured he was catching old scent. I was wrong we all headed in and he was pointing right on top of a rooster and hen. The rooster went down to the gun of Dan. We ended the day with shooting a couple of pheasants and a couple partridge. Was a good hunt for the three hours we were out.
The morning of the 18th we headed back out to the same areas. It was a tough day as the birds continued to fly far out. Colt once again did fantastic and continued to point live birds. The tough part is that he can't depict between a rooster and hen, so quite a few were tight holding hens. We hit a lot of birds, but we were still shooting too light of a load. The birds we were hunting had been hunted hard since the opener in October, so they were a little wild. We again ended up short on our limit and again shot a couple more partridge. We knocked a few down, but not hard enough and didn't recover all that had been shot. All and all it was a fun day. I almost ruined the trip on our last walk though as I dropped the keys to our rental car. I was devastated I was already planning my trip back to Colstrip to get the extra set of keys. I headed back to the highway to meet my mother so we could make a plan. Just as I got to the highway I got a great call from my mother-in-law, Dan and Chris found the keys. I thought I could hear them yelling, but wasn't sure and then I saw the headlights and I knew we were good to go. The day went from devastating to time to get out in the morning and hit it hard.
The morning of the 19th we headed to the local store to find some heavier ammo. The store had a great selection, and we switched from 5 and 6 shot to 4 shot. What a difference. The birds were now falling and being recovered. We hunted all day and Colt did awesome. We had found every bird we shot and we finally lost one. I let Colt head to Chris to help look for the bird. With the help of Colt the bird was located and he had a grip on it and wouldn't let go. We had two more birds to get and were headed to another field, and a couple of roosters and hens made it easy on us and sat by the road. Dan and Chris jumped out and got our last two birds for the day, we filled our limit and even headed home before the sun set.
The last morning of the 20th it was going to be a short hunt as we had to head back to MT for Thanksgiving. We hunted the same areas and after a couple of hours had three more birds and hit the road. It was a very fun successful trip, and we learned to make sure and pack some heavier lead later on in the season.
I won't be going back to SD to hunt birds again this year, but I can't remember the bird population doing so well. I often forget how lucky I was growing up there and going out hunting after school or on the weekends and shooting birds so often. I also found a new hunting partner I will be taking advantage of from now on. If you ever get the chance to work with a pointer take full advantage of it. He isn't the best at retrieving but he knows how to find them and won't let them go. I look forward to the rest of the bird season in MT.
On Nov. 6th I worked nights and had previously decided to head back home to do some pheasant hunting with Stephen. We had planned a trip together where he would hunt deer in the morning and afternoons and hunt pheasants when we weren't in the stands.
I finished my day shift, packed up, and hit the road to South Dakota. I arrived at Stephen's at around 1:45 am. Just in time to get a little shut eye before hitting the stand in the morning. The plan was for Stephen to get a nice buck with his bow, but he tagged out the day before. He ended up shooting a fantastic 140's whitetail that he had trail cam pics of. With a buck tagged we decided to sit in the stand anyway as he still had a couple of doe tags, and I really didn't feel like driving all the way out for two days and not spend any time looking for deer. It was a chilly morning and we never had any does come close enough for a shot. We climbed out of the stand and we had been watching a little spike buck working our direction. After making back to the ground and warming up a little the buck continued to work our way. Pretty soon the buck was coming right at us so Stephen and I hid behind a tree and took some video of the buck getting closer. When the buck got around 15 yds away Stephen jumped out for the behind the tree and scared the small buck, which made him turn inside out and flee the other way. Was definitely a good laugh.
We returned to the house and took a nap for a bit as both of us were wore out. After getting a little rest and some food in us we headed out after some birds. We hit some areas right around the house, and I was quickly reminded of how fortunate it was growing up there and the amount of birds that are around. I always took it for granted with the amount of birds. I would like to try and describe how good the bird hunting is, but I can do it no justice as it is unreal. Stephen grabbed the camera while I hunted. We hadn't walked very far and the field erupted with birds. I would like to guess what got up, and will take a guess at somewhere between 250 to 300 birds flew up, but I also know that is way to few for what we saw. I was testing out a new shotgun purchased by Leah's dad, and pretty sure he may not get to use it as I was shooting birds like crazy. I ended up with my limit and Stephen wanted to go scout for deer. We drove around and saw more birds, and an abundant amount of sharptail grouse as well, even bagging a couple along the way. We scouted until dark and then headed to our friend Matt's house for some dinner. We cooked up the couple of birds we shot. We deep fried them and they turned out awesome, much better than you could expect. We sat around the table and had a few beers and shared stories from hunting to "get togethers" from the past. Stephen and I headed back to the house and determined the following day was going to be a great day to sleep in.
The following day we kicked back and headed out mid morning. We did some driving around the country side, which is one thing I truly miss as when we were in high school we could spend everyday out just driving around, and you forget how good simple things were growing up. There was a group of hunters coming out from CO and TX that I had an opportunity to hunt with around 7 years ago and it was great getting out hunting with them again. Everyone shot exceptionally well. By the end of the day there was 5 of us hunting and we got our limit of 15 pheasants, 7 grouse, and one partridge. I would like to say that we walked and walked and walked to get that many birds, but in reality we were done in two hours. We stuck around the house and had a fantastic home cooked meal, and it was time for me to head back to MT as I had to work the next day. It was a very quick trip, but even with a short 2 day trip it's more than worth it to spend some quality time hunting with great friends. Life just doesn't get any better. Getting very excited for my return trip Nov. 17-20 with my father-in-law, and brother-in-law from CA. Looking forward to showing them some of the best upland bird hunting in the WORLD!!!
I let myself get a little behind on here so will catch you up with some hunts I have been on. I hunted a couple of last days of Oct. and still had no luck. I was seeing deer, but just nothing for size and nothing giving me a shot. The first part of Nov. the rut began to kick in as smaller bucks were chasing does, and I even got to see the non-typical buck I had saw previously in the season. This time I got a great look at him as he and a couple of other smaller bucks followed a large group of does. I stayed within sight at around 200 yds. The non-typical wasn't as big as I had originally thought, but he was still a very nice 150's or so. He was a big three on one side and 5 on the other with large point growing on the main beam between the two sets of main forks. I was now beginning to see more bucks coming out and much larger bucks day by day. I snuck up on a couple of smaller 4x4's but no luck. During one evening hunt I saw the buck you dream about. I watched him from a long ways off, but got to watch him for quite a while before the sun went down. After glassing him over and getting to watch him for an extended period of time I guessed him in the 180's. I later met up with another hunter from town who had watched the same buck and guessed the buck will score easily in the 190's. Either way he is huge. I continued to watch deer day after day, but could just not get a shot, and would repeatedly have deer in areas I couldn't hunt.
I took a break from MT and headed home to SD where I took in some pheasant hunting with my good friend Stephen. Our plan was to do some deer hunting and pheasant hunting when not deer hunting, but he killed an awesome 140's whitetail with his bow the day before I could make it out. The bird hunting, well that's a story all of it's own.
I made it back to MT and knew I only had a couple of days left to hunt. I would have the 12th and 13th off and decided it was now or never. I went out the morning of the 12th on a block management area west of Colstrip. I hiked the majority of the morning, but had no luck. On my way back to the pickup I spotted a heavy heavy 4x4 chasing a doe. The doe spotted me and left with the buck. If only I had a rifle. I took the rifle along, but the area was an archery, shotgun, or muzzle loader only area. I'm bound and determined to get my buck with my bow, but as the season is winding down the rifle is getting more tempting. I went back out in the afternoon, but again had no luck.
I decided to stay home the day of the 13th as Leah and I are cleaning the house in preparation for her family visiting for Thanksgiving. I figured I would kick myself later as I was running out of time fast. The deal was I would take the 13th off in order to hunt the morning of the 14th, even though I was on nights for work that night.
The morning of the 14th rolled around and I selected an archery only area around Colstrip once again. As stated before I'm bound and determined to stick to archery equipment. I headed out on the unit and headed east along the boundary. I found an area with lots of tracks and set up. I sat for around a half hour and got impatient. I always try to stress the importance of patience when bow hunting, but it went out the window as time was coming to an end for the hunting season for me. I took off towards the south end of the unit, and bingo a small 2x2 tending a doe. Pretty soon more deer. At this point I was going to be very happy with a doe, 2x2, or whatever else gave me an opportunity. I continued to watch the deer from a distance, and happened to glance to my left on a hill side to the east of the other deer. A larger buck tending a doe. I couldn't tell exactly how big he was I just knew he was much bigger than any of the other bucks in the area. I continued to watch the bigger buck as he pushed the doe further away from where I was.
I headed down off of my vantage point and figured I would try to cut some distance between myself and the smaller bucks. I figured the bigger buck would push the doe away from and I wouldn't have a shot. I continued to watch as I carefully walked across an opening towards a creek bottom, which would give me some cover if the deer were to move my direction. As I continued to head to the creek bottom, the bigger buck picked his head up and became alert. I figured there must be a doe or another buck I couldn't see below me. Before I knew the buck was headed in my direction. I hurriedly took off for the creek bottom. I continued to watch the buck the best I could and noticed he picked up speed. The buck was now running right at me. I was a little confused because I knew there were no other deer in the direction I was headed after getting a better view. I made it to the creek bottom and got some decent cover. As I crossed to the side closest to the buck I began to see his antlers form just over the top of the creek bottom. I couldn't believe it the buck was acting just like an antelope would during the rut. Not only did the buck run from a ways away, but he was over 500 yds away from where I first spotted him. I can't recall which direction the wind was blowing, but I know It was in my favor as the buck kept coming. I could tell the buck was looking for me, but I had just enough cover that he couldn't see me. I came to full draw as the buck was just out of sight at around 20 to 30 yds. I could tell the buck was nervous and he began to step to my left. I slowly stood at full draw and the buck took off further to my left at a slow jog. I grunted at him and he stopped. Everything had happened so fast I didn't have time to get my range finder. I confidently figured the distance to him to be at least 50 yds and standing broadside. Never take a shot unless you are very sure of your shot. I settled my pin right in the middle, behind the shoulder, and everything was feeling great. I released my arrow and I watched the buck jump the string. I heard the hit and quickly watched my arrow exit out of the opposite side. I knew my shot was right where it needed to be, but at over 50 yds there is room for error, as I have experienced in the past. I quickly grabbed my binoculars, and I knew it was a fatal shot as the buck was sprinting to the next creek bottom as fast as he could and began to cough up lots of blood. At the very minimum I knew I caught a good amount of lung.
I waited 20 minutes before I went and looked for my arrow. I watched where the buck ran to and did not see him come back out into the open. I knew it was a matter of time and my buck would be laying on the ground. I went and checked my arrow and noticed the majority of the arrow was there, but I was missing my fletchings and nock. There was a huge amount of blood on the arrow and as I quickly looked around I found a highway of blood. The buck immediately began to bleed and bleed good. There was spurting blood, which left quarter size drops every couple of inches. I returned to the creek bottom and made a few enthusiastic phone calls. I waited another 25 minutes just to be safe. I kept telling myself I know he's dead, but give him an hour just to be sure. The last thing you want to do in go after him too soon and bump him, and then never recover him. It was a very long 45 minute wait,but well worth it. I ranged the area where I shot the buck and he was 53 yds away.
I headed to where my arrow was at and began to follow the blood trail. The little bit of snow that was left on the ground helped in following the trail much easier. I kept following it and still, no buck. Pretty soon I got to the next creek bottom where I last saw him run to. I followed the trail around a bush and there he was on his side. He ran between 150 to 200 yds and fell over on the trail. I went up to him and could not believe the amount of blood. I for sure hit some lung, but mostly hit heart. The only thing I could figure out is that there was enough time for him to turn towards me as the arrow was getting to him and I snuck the arrow through the front crease of his front shoulder and it exited right behind the opposite shoulder, which would be a slight quartering to shot.
He was much better than I thought. He was definitely not the biggest buck I have hunted this year, and not the smallest, but I'm beyond thrilled with a last day buck of any kind. He turned out to be a 5x3. This is my second mule deer buck with a bow. It just doesn't get any better.
I cleaned up my buck and took some photos. I skinned and quartered him out. I took the first load back to the pickup, which was right around three quarters of a mile. After dropping my pack and bow off at the pickup I got a hold of my friend Jerry McPherson, and he helped me make the second trip in to pack him out. Can't thank good friends enough for the help. I ended up shooting him right before 8:30 am, and got everything done and back to the pickup by 1:00 pm. Oh how I sometimes miss the days of just driving the pickup out to the deer and loading them up, but at the same time love the reward of bringing the weight out on your back. It was once again quite the season this year, and already dreaming of next year. Now its time to head back to SD for more pheasants and hopefully get some coyote hunting in over the winter before Lane gets here.
I signed up for a different area, which is also an archery only area. I hiked for a ways and took my time following the creek bottom. Again I saw little game movement as the weather was again chilly. I went to another area I had permission on in the same BMA and watched 7 does and one little mule deer buck feed close to the pickup, close enough that if I wanted to I could have possibly filled my tag. I decided to hold out as the only buck in the group was just a year old 2x2.
I headed west and began to see more and more deer moving. I drove to a state section west of town and watched several does and 2 yearling bucks, both 2x2's, feed close to the road. Again the bucks were just too small to shoot at this time of the season as I would like to wait for the rut to kick in.
I headed back to the area where I had saw the other does and buck feeding and walked the area out. As soon as I left the pickup I spotted a 2x2 buck bedded. Again just a small yearling. I crept up and got within 35 yards, but elected to pass once again. I try not to be too picky, but figure I would like to see the buck grow up, and there is a lot of season left. I returned home and didn't make it out as I rested up for the night shift.
I finally made it back out after a little break. There was a break in the season between archery season and general season starting on the 15th and ending on the 20th. The general season opened up on the 20th, but I was in ND for a baby shower for the little one on the way. A big thanks to everyone.
After going back to work I finally got some time off. I headed out the morning of the 25th to some block management which is designated as archery only. I hiked around for a while on the coldest day of the year thus far. It was nice getting out in the 20 degree weather, but I realize I may have to get some more layers of Sitka gear, as I did get a little chilled. The system I am using is more for early season, but I won't have to add much to keep me just a bit warmer. The wind kicked up and it cooled off as the morning progressed. It was a very slow morning, and not much was moving. I did not see a single deer in the area I had permission on.
I hiked out back to the pickup and headed north and west of town to other areas and still did not see much moving. I headed back home to warm up. I didn't make it out in the afternoon, but Leah and I took a drive west of town to get out of the house for a bit and see some country. There wasn't much to see as it looked like the weather had everything tucked in and not moving.
I headed out the afternoon of the 11th. I had the 10th off as well, but decided to rest up and stay around the house. It had been quite a while since I have gotten to just relax and lay in bed. The day of the 11th I stayed home and did some cleaning, and took care of Leah as she was sick. I sat around the house, and the itch to get out was too great. I headed out the door and went out for an evening hunt.
I headed west of town to some public ground and sat in a spot I had sat before, and waited for the sun to go down. Although I didn't see anything it was great to just sit on a rock and watch the scenery as night came. I did however spot some really nice mule deer bucks in an area they hung out in last year. I spotted 5 really nice shooter bucks and am getting excited for the general season to open up. The 11th was my last day to hunt as all seasons for big game close for a week, and will re-open on the 20th. Hopefully my luck with deer and antelope will turn around.
Kirk and I headed out early in the morning to beat the deer movement. We headed east of town and started near the river. We hiked in and took our time moving slowly. Nothing was moving to start with and we eventually spotted some coyotes eating on some sort of kill. We continued to glass and I eventually spotted a nice whitetail buck feeding in our direction. We decided to set up the Dreamy Decoy and do some bleat calling. I used the simple to use Primos bleat can and as soon as I let a call out the coyotes began to howl. I continued to call and did not see anything moving. Before too long I caught some movement out of the corner of my right eye. It was one of the coyotes. He looked right at me, but didn't spook. The coyote was content in the area and continued to look a the decoy. The coyote slowly began to head towards Kirk and gave me an opportunity to draw my bow. I drew and the coyote appeared to see my movement and continued towards Kirk. I let my bow down, and knew before too long Kirk was going to get a shot. Sure enough the coyote presented him with a shot. I heard the bow go off and the coyote take off. I was pretty sure the arrow had struck something in flight, but was unsure of what it was. I got up and headed over to Kirk, and he let me know he had a perfect shot but his arrow hit a piece of sage brush throwing his arrow just off. I headed back to grab my gear, and all of a sudden a 2nd coyote came running. This time neither of us had a shot and we headed out.
We decided to hike around and see what else was moving. Pretty soon the buck that was feeding earlier got up and headed in the opposite direction. No luck on him and he was a very nice deer, but just no opportunity. We headed back to the pickup and glassed as we hiked. Pretty soon we spotted a couple of whitetail does moving, and a couple of mule deer. One of the mule deer was a nice 4x4, so we made a plan. We watched the buck bed down, and he bedded in a stalk-able spot. We made our way around and were able to get above the buck. We went to where we thought he would be and he was gone. We did spot some does and fawns, but the buck wasn't with them. It appears he is one of those smart ones, and left the area. A smaller 3x3 eventually went to where the does were at. Kirk went one way and I headed the other. I was getting close to getting back to the pickup when the does and fawns beat me to where I was headed. I watched the does and fawns come out, but no buck. I headed back towards Kirk's location, and figured he might have shot the buck. I crept my way along the top ledge, and before I spotted the 3x3 buck he took off giving me no shot. Our morning hunt was over.
We drove around looking for a deer or antelope to chase, but didn't have much luck. We continued to drive, and get to high points to glass, but came up empty handed. I knew deer numbers were down this year in the area, but they are much worse than I thought. We stopped in one spot and grabbed a cup of soup for lunch. Still no luck.
For the afternoon we headed to an area I had not previously been. We hiked into an area that showed great potential, but very hard hunting. We hiked, and hiked, some more, and eventually came back out by the pickup. We decided to head back to town, and hunt areas on the way, while the deer were up moving. We saw a few here and there, but not much for bucks, and not on areas that we could hunt. The drive back to town was great as the sunset was no doubt one of the best I have ever seen.
We also got to see a beautiful colored fox right off of the road. I was tempted to shoot him, and even might have had a shot, but it was his head only, and I was glad to see him run. He had very black legs, and lots of black throughout his coat. He would have been nice to skin out, but I'm glad he got away. The weekend was over and it was time for me to return home. I stayed and Kirk's for supper and spent some time with his family. Although the day may not have been successful in terms of filling tags, it's always a very successful day getting to spend the day with my brothers. These are times that mean more than going out and killing anything, these are the moments I cherish most.
I picked up an extra shift on Oct. 5th as my pants from Sitka were on their way, but wouldn't arrive soon enough for me to get out and hunt. The morning of the 6th I headed north of town once again to see if I could get a chance at one of the mule deer bucks I had previously seen or the antelope that were continually hanging around. I sat in one spot for a while until the sun came up and did not see anything. I got up and hiked around the hill hoping to get a chance to sneak on a bedded buck, but had no luck and only spotted a few mule deer does and fawns. After not seeing much I headed back to the pickup and went out west of town to see what was moving. The deer were moving, but in areas I didn't have permission to hunt on.
My nephew Ethan had a football game in Colstrip in the morning so Leah and I headed to the game to watch him play. Miles City played great and ended up winning. After Kirk and his family headed out of town I stayed around the house and eventually got my things together to go hunting with Kirk for the weekend.
That afternoon I headed to Miles City and met up with Kirk. Kirk, Ethan, and I headed east of town and looked around to see what was moving and make a plan for the following morning. There was a few animals moving, and even got to shoot at a coyote, but was pretty slow for the most part. We headed back to the house to rest up and get ready for the next day.
I headed to the BMA I signed up for the previous evening. I took off on foot and didn't have much luck. As soon as I got towards the east end of my area I looked up on the horizon and found the buck I had been looking for. I didn't get to see the buck very long, but I could tell he was a very nice non-typical mule deer buck. I could tell there was at least 7 to 10 points on his left side and just as many on his right, but did not see how wide he was. The buck was smart, and headed out of sight only giving me a quick look at him, but just long enough to see he was definitely worth chasing. I headed back home, and would hope to see him in the afternoon.
I headed back out just before dark, and when I reached the area I wanted to hunt, there was a bunch of cattle in the area now. The cows had been moved into the area while I was at home, and I knew the buck wouldn't come into the area with all of the cows in there too. I headed to another portion of the section, and slowly worked my way along the creek bottom, and didn't see a single deer until I go to the very edge of the permit boundary, and finally found one small 3x3 mule deer buck. It was a successful weekend even though i came home empty handed.
My season will be on break for a bit as my Sitka pants ripped at a seam. I called Sitka and was treated extremely well by their customer service department. They are exchanging my pants without question. Another reason I am very glad I went with their gear.
I headed back north of Colstrip to look for the antelope, but came up empty handed. I went west of town and signed up for a block management area. I headed off from the parking area at around 7:15 am. I headed to some timber to look for some deer. I hiked the area for around 3 hours, and saw 5 does and one buck. I went to the south of the BMA and watched a smaller buck bed near a tree. The buck put himself in the perfect spot as he was impossible to stalk. I also spotted a bigger buck bedded beneath another tree, but he too was impossible to stock due to the fact he was bedded off of the BMA. I headed home to rest up and return in the afternoon.
I headed back to the south end of the area I was hunting, and noticed the smaller buck had left the area, and I was able to find his bed right beneath the tree. I headed further south, and as I was walking I was spotted by a group of antelope. I hurriedly put up my decoy and tried to stalk the antelope, but they wanted nothing to do with me and took off in the opposite direction. I sat next to a fence post in the middle of the field and was able to glass the entire area around me. All I saw was a decent mule deer buck, but he was too far away and couldn't tell the exact size of him. The mule deer buck eventually got up and walked out of sight. I headed back to check out of the BMA, and signed up for another area for the next morning.
I finally got back after. After still coming off of my high of shooting my first elk with archery equipment, Leah and I had a doctors appointment to see what we are having. We found out we will be having a boy. It was very obviously a boy, and the doc said if in the end we have a girl, something is wrong. She said it is 100% a boy.
Well after the doctors app. and spending some time on our horses the previous set of days off, I worked a couple of more shifts and it was time to hit the field once again. Previously I titled this post archery antelope, but as of now I'm hunting just as many deer as antelope, so I will just compose as both from now on.
On Fri. the 21st I headed back north of Colstrip to see if I would have any luck on the goats or possibly get a glance at one of the nice mule deer bucks I had previously seen in the same general area. I drove to the north of the section and spotted a group of antelope watering where I had saw them water in the past. I parked the pickup to the south and headed out on foot to try and stalk on the antelope. The wind was perfect, and there was also a little hill that hid my presence from the antelope and I was able to stalk within 130 yds. I was able to observe the antelope close to the water, and finally got a good luck at the buck. There was also some cows watering that knew I was there. pretty soon the buck looked to become concerned with what the cattle were looking at. Before I knew it I looked to my right and here came the buck. It was now or never I knew this was my chance. Everything happened so fast that I did not get a range of where the buck would be coming to. I looked up and the buck was standing there looking in my direction. I crouched down and drew my bow. I knew he was closed and guessed the range to be 30 yds. I stood up and put my 30 yd pin on the buck. I relaxed and released my arrow. LOW it went just under his belly. The buck was actually closer to 40 yds. The only good outcome was that it was a clean miss. The buck headed back to his does, and they skirted around me and eventually ran out of sight. Everything happened so fast that I was back at the house by 7:30 am. The morning hunt lasted a whopping 1 hours. I would be done hunting for the day and spent the rest of the day at home with Leah as she too had the day off of work.
I headed right back to where I had saw the two bucks the previous morning to see if they returned over night, and tried to set up where the antelope may also come into water. As the sun came up I hadn't saw anything move, until I looked on the hill side and a lone coyote worked his way in my direction. He came within 100 yds, but saw something he didn't like and headed the other direction. I continued to sit and watch for movement and finally caught some on the hill side to the north of my location. It was a very nice mule deer buck I had previously saw in the area in the month of July. He is only around 22 in wide, but very very tall with great forks. He definitely didn't look quite as good as he did in velvet in July. None the less if he came close enough I was ready to take him. He fed away from me and in the same direction to private as the bucks from the previous morning.
I headed to the top of the ridge where the bucks were the previous morning and walked the tops to see if anything was in the creeks below. Not much was around, but I did find one small 2x2 mule deer, and thought it might be the same on from the previous day, but the bigger buck was not with him. I headed back to the pickup.
Once back at the pickup I saw a buck crossing the prairie dog town, and headed after him. I tried my decoy, but it didn't appear to appeal to the buck and he headed away from me.
I headed out west of town to the block management area I had signed up for. While driving back to the parking area I saw a huge framed mule deer bedded close to the road, but on the wrong side of where I was allowed to hunt. I looked the buck over and he looked really nice until he turned his head and he forked at the very top of his antlers and that was all. He was basically a really big 2x2. I headed out on foot to see what I could find. I located some antelope on the wrong side of the road and found some shade to watch and see if they would eventually come my direction. The antelope never came, but I had a hen turkey and 3 little guys get within 10 yds of where I was resting. They headed one direction and I headed back to the pickup for the day to head home and spend some time with Leah before I headed back to work, and eventually my week long elk hunt.
Well once again after finishing night shift I decided to immediately head out and see what I could find. I headed north of town once again, and again found some antelope. There wasn't a good way to make an approach that was close so I headed to the long way. Finally after crossing a very deep creek bottom I headed to where I thought the antelope would be. I hustled, but no luck I couldn't find the antelope anywhere. I continued to look over each hill top and never could figure out where they went to.
As I continued to look I looked up to the horizon and saw a small 2x2 mule deer buck bedded at the very top of the ridge. He had spotted me, but it didn't appear that my presence bothered him too much as he remained bedded. I looked to the right of the small 2x2 and, WOW what a buck. I could tell the buck was sleeping, and could tell he was a decent buck. I stopped in my tracks and looked him over the best I could. I figured he was around 26 to 28 in. wide and had decent mass. The buck finally awoke and lifted his head. The buck was a mature 4x4 with great forks, and good eye guards. I would guess him to be anywhere from 155 to 165. I sat and watched the bucks to see where they would go. There was no way to put a sneak on them, and they were also bedded on private land. The bucks eventually got up, fed further onto private, and walked out of sight. After the bucks left I headed back home to rest up for a bit.
I headed back at out in the afternoon. I headed back to where I had last saw the two bucks. While waiting I crept closer to the top of the creek bottom only to find the missing antelope I though had left the area. Once again I had been spotted before I could spot them. The buck and does left the area. I never did have any deer come out to feed. It looks like the warm temps have the deer coming out to feed after dark. I did have one antelope doe work her way towards the water on three separate occasions, but would never come close enough to offer me a shot. Although it was an unsuccessful day there is definitely a good outlook for deer.
I headed right back to the Sate Sect. from the previous day. I wasn't able to locate any goats as the sun came up so I headed out to see if any goats remained in the area. I walked to the north of the section, and there they were. Only bad part was the one thing I hoped wouldn't happen, happened. Two does spotted me before I spotted them. I was pretty sure I was had, and was going to be out of luck, but if I didn't try for them it would be a pointless trip there. I crouched down and threw up my decoy. I began to creep towards their location, but no luck they fled the area, and so did the bigger buck from the previous trips.
I got back to the pickup and headed west of town to some block management areas. I checked in to see if I could sign up, but the area didn't open up until Sept. 1 when the rest of the general archery season opened up. The BMA was more for management of mule deer rather than antelope. Before checking in I had driven west to see the damage the recent fires had caused, and found good numbers of antelope. Most of the antelope were on private ground, but I did locate a couple of bucks in a newly opened area. After finding out the area was closed it was time to head back east and look for other goats. The good thing was I now had another area close to home that was holding decent numbers of antelope I could later access.
I headed to some public ground I had yet tried to hunt. I put on quite a few miles, and hadn't seen many goats. Finally I found a two section area with a two bucks and three does bedded on it. Time for a stalk. I parked out of sight and headed after them. I again threw up the decoy and crawled towards them. One of the does picked me off and began to get curious to what I was. I stopped and set up. The bigger of the two bucks stood up and looked the north. I knew something else was out there and looked to the north. Pretty soon three mule deer bucks headed north across the prairie and out of sight. The antelope soon settled down, and re-bedded. I sat patiently, and the antelope finally had enough, left the area and headed to private ground. I searched a couple more areas, but to no prevail. Back to home I went and attempt another day.
I finally made it back out after working some extra shifts for work. I got home at 7 a.m. and decided it was time to get back after it. I got ready and headed out. I headed back north of town where I had an encounter with a nice buck. As I got close to the State Sect. I saw the buck from the previous encounter with a few does.
I left the pickup with my gear and headed after them. I got to the same area as before and the goats were no where to be found. I sat for a while and had no luck. All of a sudden two bucks appeared on the prairie dog town out of no where. The were smaller bucks, but if they came in I would be happy with either of them. I threw up my decoy and caught their attention, but had no luck and the bucks eventually went out of sight. Back to the pickup I went and headed home for the day around 11 a.m. I was beat as I had worked the previous night and was ready for some sleep and try to hit it the next day.
I finally had a couple of more days off, but took the 20th to spend with Leah. On the evening of the 20th Leah and I drove north of Colstrip to a State Sect. I have seen antelope on before, and surprise surprise there they were right where I was hoping.
On the 21st I headed north to try and kill the buck I had seen the previous evening. I left the house bright and early before the sun was up. I headed out on foot as I had located the antelope near the area where they were the day before. On my way to the antelope I looked down and seen some fresh coyote tracks. I didn't think much of it. All of a sudden I looked to my left and there standing was a coyote. I couldn't believe it. I grabbed my range finder, and he was at 50 yds standing broadside and didn't seem bothered by my presence at all. I drew and shot. I missed just over his back. I forgot to aim a little low as I was at an angle above the coyote. I never found any hair on my arrow, but just barely missed. Oh well back to the antelope.
I continued to keep an eye on the antelope and snuck within 100 yds of where they were feeding. I was able to get a good look at the buck and he was a dandy. I figured between 13 and 14 in. buck with good mass and good prongs. Definitely a shooter, compared to what I had seen this year. I sat and watched the buck and does for a while when the buck noticed me. He began to come closer as his curiosity was getting the best of him. All of a sudden he took off running. I could tell I hadn't scared him, and that's when I noticed another group of antelope to the west. There was a smaller buck he was chasing.
The bigger buck gathered up all of the does. I returned to my gear and again grabbed my decoys. I set them up and made sure the buck could see them. The decoys caught his attention. I could tell he didn't like having another buck in the area. Pretty soon he gathered up the does and pushed them to the south. All of a sudden the buck popped a hill within 120 yds. I knew he meant business so I readied myself and took some ranges. The buck came, but then stopped. He was just out of range and stood on a prairie dog hole at 72 yds. I'm comfortable at 60 yds, but at 72 yds I was not going to push my limits and risk losing the buck due to a bad shot. The buck stood there for around 5 min and would just not come any closer. Pretty soon the buck looked at his does and headed back to them. I figured I was done, but here he came again. Once again he stood just out of range and eventually figured something was up and off he went back to his does. The morning hunt was over so I headed back to the pickup.
My day wasn't over as I headed back east to where I had the encounters the previous days. As soon as I got to the section I was hunting there was a doe and fawn bedded right on the public and private boundary. Great I knew they were in there I just was unsure of the exact location. As soon as I headed towards the creek I saw a bucks head right at the top of the horizon. I threw off my pack and grabbed my buck decoy. I set it up and it caught the attention of the buck. He was a shooter for sure, not near as big as the one from the morning, but still a shooter. The buck headed downwind and would only get come as close as 120 yds. The buck left.
I headed in the direction of where I encountered the big herd previously. As I was headed there I looked back to where I had just came from and seen another buck on the horizon. I worked my way across a flat to the creek bottom. Along the way I kicked up a doe and fawn. I continued and eventually lost sight of the buck. I looked to the south and here came another buck. I watched the general direction the buck was headed in and went to cut him off. I set up where I figured he would come. He came right to where I figured he would, but he also spotted me before I spotted him. Once again at that 100 yd mark. Again this would be so much easier with a rifle, but not near as much fun.
I was once again sitting for hours, out of food, and slowly running out of water. The heat was getting to me so I found what little shade I could and laid down for a nap. After my nap I saw five more smaller bucks bedded on the private, and also managed to locate two other hunters hunting the same antelope I was. I was now out of water and it was time to head back to the pickup as once again wore out from the beating sun. I was done for the day and returned home, and back to work for a stretch of 7 nights before I can get back out. By the time I get more time off archery elk and deer will be open. I have a week long trip planned for the Snowy Mountains with my brothers, but will also still be trying to stick a goat in the mean time.
It was now the 16th and the second day of the season. I headed back to the area where I had located the buck the previous evening. As I got close to the section the goats were all over. I located approximately a doz. bucks and around 20 does just standing next to the road. I stopped, and noticed another pickup behind me. The pickup went behind me and parked. I figured I would give them first dibs and I would run and check my other areas.
After checking my areas I did not find any goats, so I headed back to the previous stop. Upon returning the other vehicle had left. I took off with my pack on foot around 8:30. I topped the hill and immediately found a buck. I headed to the creek bottom to see if I could put together a plan on the buck to hopefully harvest him. I worked my way to the far west of the buck. I made it to the creek and began to slowly look for other antelope meanwhile keeping my eye on the other buck. I did not find any and finally sat on the edge of the field in the creek. The buck had spotted me work my way across the open field and worked in the same direction I was headed. Finally the buck re-appeared and headed back to the north. The buck eventually bedded near the top of the hill from where I started the morning. I sat and watched the buck for around 2 hours. While watching him I figured it was time for lunch. I grabbed my mountain house meal and had lunch. The buck never did get off of his bed.
Finally the buck got up. I grabbed my gear and prepared to ambush the buck if given the opportunity. The buck began to feed and work his way to the west, but wasn't getting any closer. All of a sudden I noticed something had caught the bucks eye. I looked in the same direction and here came another much bigger buck. It was time to make a move. I grabbed my Montana Decoy antelope and got between the two bucks. The bigger buck noticed it but would not come in. Eventually the smaller and bigger buck left the area. I followed the bigger buck and found his herd. There was the majority of the bucks I had seen by the road in the morning and a lot more does.
It was now around noon and I was stranded. There were antelope all over, but they were on the private ground. All I could do was sit and watch and wait to see if they would come close enough for a shot. I returned to my pack and threw up my Montana Decoy antelope buck. It caught the eye of a couple of antelope, but they just continued to feed, and bed down, and feed, and bed down. I sat there for what seemed an eternity. I ate my last snack from my pack and slowly ran out of water. Now what do I go back to the pickup or wait more. It was getting really hot and the sun was beating down, and at this point all I was getting was a very nice sun burn. I finally returned to my pack and grabbed my Montana Decoy antelope doe and placed her by the buck. The biggest buck was continually running smaller bucks off and trying to get his territory built up. Finally the buck looked over, and now a few more does were watching in my direction. The buck got between the does and me and off all of them went. Even though I spent 8 hours with that herd and not getting a shot, it is always worth the wait, because you never know when things will come together and you will get that shot you have been waiting for. This is where I talk about patience being a virtue with archery hunting. If you don't have much patience archery hunting can get very frustrating.
I finally packed up and headed back to the pickup. The sun was setting and it was time to head back home. As I neared the pickup there ran 4 bucks right back to where I came from. I was too wore out to chase after them. I got back to the pickup and re-hydrated myself. Homeward bound and I would return later. But wait on the way home at the edge of the section stood a nice buck and a few does. Out the door I went, but was another unsuccessful stalk. That was the end of the first two days of season and now back to work for a couple of days.
Well this will be my 3rd year with the 900 antelope tag. The season opened on Aug. 15th. I made it out for opener and the following day the 16th. The 15th started out as a gorgeous day. This year has been abnormally hot, and wouldn't you know it the opener brought 60 degree weather and rain.
I headed east of Colstrip in search of a decent buck. Antelope numbers have came down drastically enough that rifle tags went from 13,000 down to 3,000 total tags. Numbers have plummeted, and it looks like not as many people are putting in for tags. I did something I have never done and forgot to put in at the June 1 deadline. I was feeling really down about it as antelope is one of my favorite animals to hunt. It's always the first thing in the fall so anytime I can get outside and chase something is great. Fortunate for me there were surplus tags. I knew when they would be going on sale, and I just happened to be working night shift when that happened. I purchased my tag and I would once again be chasing goats come Aug.
Well the opener came and I was as excited as always to make it out. I even had the opener and following day off of work. I hadn't scouted much as I received my tag only days before the opener. I knew some areas that I had watched antelope in the past. I headed that direction and goats were very hard to find. Finally near a State Section I was able to locate a buck and a few does. The took off towards the public ground so I headed the same way.
I knew there was a dam on the section they were headed to so I grabbed my blind and pack and headed out. The dam was very good size and there wasn't much of an area to pinch off where the antelope would come to water. I found an old stock tank with fresh grass around it so I knew there would be water there, and it was in the general direction the goats were headed. I popped my blind up and decided it was time to sit and be patient. The weather was windy and rainy, but I didn't mind as we needed the moisture and I was nice and dry in my blind. I sat for around 4 to 5 hours and nothing came in. I even managed to catch a nap. After a while I determined I would pack everything up and look at another area I knew where they like to hang out.
I headed that way and made it to the same section I killed my buck at the previous year. I headed across the field and popped the hill above a deep creek. Immediately I spotted a small buck feeding around 200 yds in front of me in the wide open. There wasn't much I could do and there would be no getting around him. I popped up my Montana Decoy doe antelope and made him aware of my presence. Immediately a few mule deer to my right took off. The buck became curious, but never came close, and eventually headed off in the opposite direction. I picked up my gear and headed back to the pickup, I now knew where I would be in the morning.