Here is a wrap up of my 2018 Season. It gets a bit long, but I enjoyed doing this more than trying to type all of my hunts at once. I would also let you know that it might be easiest to treat this more as a podcast and listen to the audio if you don't feel like watching me.
In the description of the Youtube video there is a couple of links to a podcast that I did with Marcus Strange from Urban to Country. We covered many topics and I hope you enjoyed listening. And please follow Marcus as he speaks about his time in the field and his passion for the outdoors.
I have decided to start a new YouTube channel and it will also be titled Life As A Bowhunter. Watch below for my first video and a first look at what’s to come. I also put two links in the YouTube description. They are both from a Podcast I did with Marcus Strange from Urban to Country. Follow Marcus and Urban to Country. I will keep the typing short. Please leave a comment on YouTube or message me on here with a comment on this blog or by leaving a message in the contact section. Thanks for watching and I look forward to see what the future has in store!
In the following video I will cover what system I use when it comes to Sitka Gear. This has been hands down the best setup I have put together for archery elk. I also used the same gear with a few more layers during deer season when temps dipped down below 0. I am now looking at improvements for those freezing cold days, but for my days of August, September, and October I’m pretty well set.
I have no ties or connections with Sitka Gear it is just simply the gear I trust year after year and will continue to trust for the foreseeable future. Do you have to have Sitka Gear to be successful in the field? Absolutely not, but you definitely won’t find yourself any more comfortable and have more time in the field hands down in my opinion.
Enjoy the video and please contact me with any questions on Sitka Gear and I can try to get you lined out on the big game line from Sitka Gear.
I have been thinking a lot and remeniscing about my 2017 archery elk season. I spent close to 20 days chasing bulls. I spent part of September and October in the elk woods. I learned a lot of valuable information and will hope what I write can maybe help others in their success.
As I wrote in my 2017 blog I first hunted with Matt and Stephen. Now up to this point I had spent the last couple of years dabbling with bugling and callling elk, but mainly stuck to cow calling as I felt more confident in my cow calling than bugling. I would say that is fairly common with most beginning elk hunters. As much time I have spent chasing elk I am still learning the art of successfully calling elk.
This past fall I decided to take the many tips Inahve learned over the last few years from Rockie Jacobsen and others affiliated with Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls. I decided it was time to concentrate on bugling. Fall of 2016 I did very well bugling and my encounters went up.
I proved that that the things I had been learning will work if you just apply them. Stephen, Matt, and I set out and in just the first couple of sets I called two bulls with one immediately responding to my bugles. That bull proved to be a giant and showed his age and just how smart they can be. He came in, circled down wind, and eventually left untouched.
On the first bull I called in I also learned to always be on your toes and ready. He came from an area we just walked through and came in close unannounced and caught me off guard. I quickly missed a golden opportunity. It wasn’t a huge bull but was definitely a shooter. Both elk came into me bugling and cow calling together.
The second bull apparently had some cows close by and defended his territory. This is the exact reason the rut can be so fun. This was easily one of the biggest bulls I have ever laid eyes on. He, by mine as well as others estimation would have scored well over 360 and may have scored as high as 390”. This wouldn’t be my only encounter with this bull.
It was quick to show that bugling works when done right. after this encounter we spent the next couple of days working different strategies. I went back to sticking mainly to cow calling. The encounters weren’t happening as much. It was readily apparent we needed to switch back to bugling.
After switching back we got an immediate response and Matt’s bull was dead. This couldn’t have worked out better. We were set up and ready and this made a huge difference as it happened fast. After Matt’s bull was taken care of we hit an area with no luck.
Upon returning to the same area we worked Stephen’s bull much longer. On this set we made a crucial decision and went from waiting for the bull to come to us we worked to him. By staying mobile we were able to close the gap to the point he couldn’t take it anymore and came in for a fight.
Staying mobile and working to the bull rather than waiting proved to be the way we closed the deal on this bull. Had we waited for him there’s no telling what might have happened. This will play into a little later on and knowing when to move. After the bull was all packed up we all headed back to our homes. I couldn’t be more proud of the week we had and can’t thank Stephen and Matt for continually pushing through and getting it done on two great bulls.
Part 2 Knowing Where The Shooter Is.
After Hunting with Stephen and Matt I came back east and met with Rockie and Rex. I have been looking forward to get to hunt with Rockie for a very long time. He has a lifetime of experience chasing elk and it was a pleasure to share camp with him and Rex.
I quickly learned that in previous years I wasn’t being aggressive enough. The very first area we hit we covered ground constantly bugling. It finally happened and we heard our first bugle. We pushed forward to the point we walked into the elk.
This is was the first of many times that I learned to keep an eye on the shooter and learn to move with each other. Again this was the first time hunting with Rockie and Rex so it was a great time to learn everything possible they knew. They had hunted together quite a few times and know how each other work and hunt.
We first headed into an area I had ran into elk in the past couple of seasons and an area they liked to travel through. We bugled as we hiked and finally heard some bugling in return. We continued to hike until we got to where we felt the elk were close. We ended up walking right into a smaller bull and set up to call. I stayed back and called for Rockie while Rex videoed. I eventually lost sight of them and we continued to work the bulls in the area. In the end we didn’t get a shot.
The next couple of the strategy stayed the same with hiking and bugling. We went back to the same spot Stephen, Matt, and I found the big bull. We found him again. We continued to figure out where he was with bugles. It was decided I would stay across from the bull and try to keep track of the bull while Rockie and Rex snuck in. He would continue to let me know where he was by answering roughly every third bugle of mine. They were able to sneak into about 100 yards of the bull, but never got close enough for a shot.
We spent a couple of days chasing this bull as well as others near him. As we hunted the area we located another bull and worked to where we thought he was. We got a close immediate answer. I snuck further back and began to call. The downfall was losing sight of Rockie and Rex. The bull eventually worked back to his cows and left. Had I kept better eye on them it may have been easier to have things come together better.
The next day we located the big bull again. He retreated to his comfort area so we worked around him. We worked in close and he challenged us. I gave an immediate challenge and he came. Rockie had him close but no shot. As soon as I challenged him he tried to come through some brush but wouldn’t fit, turned, and went the opposite direction. The lesson I learned here was in calling. It may be been better to cow call and make more herd sounds. It may or may not have worked. There definitely is no perfect answer and as I continue to have more encounters I am learning more tricks when they get close.
One big thing I learned was learning to move with the shooter. This comes with experience with partners. It takes time and understanding each other. You almost become one hunter and understand each other. I think with more opportunity hunting with them it would come. It was a blast learning so much and an absolute privilege getting to learn from some of the best elk hunters I know.
To sum everything up I learned the following this year:
-Know where your shooter is
-Know when to move together
-Bugling was the most successful tactic
A lot of this was know prior, but putting it together and watching it work is pretty awesome to see. Each year I learn more and adding that knowledge has increased encounters and success. I can’t wait for this fall and what it has to bring. 2017 was tough in the fact the elk weren’t overly talkative, but with new strategies we were able to get them to talk when in the past it might not have happened. Hopefully these tips will help someone else in the future.
If you’re looking for that extra edge check into Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls and the new line coming out. I’m sold on the new Wapati Whacker in combination with the Reaper and Black Magic. I also used the new acrylic open reed VooDoo and stick with the trusty Raging Bull as well. They have completely changed my success. They can be found at buglingbull.com.
I began this year in a little different mindset from previous years. I usually decide on new gear each year and changes I want to make. This year seems to be different as I added a couple of companies to which I will be helping as well as working more with the ones from previous years.
So far I have done more with Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls by meeting up with the crew in Salt Lake City in late February. I had an absolute blast with everyone and met some familiar faces as well as new ones. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to help such an amazing company. This year should be a great one as they were just picked as a new corporate sponsor for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. I have been a member of RMEF for several years and continue to see the good they do for not only elk but all species of animals that I enjoy hunting and seeing.
While there I was introduced to Crispi Boots. RMHC's booth was set up with Camo Fire and Black Ovis. If you have gear in mind and want to see what options are out there Black Ovis is a one stop shop. Camo Fire is an amazing site if you are looking for discounted gear.
A couple of the guys at the booth were wearing Crispis so I figured I would give them a shot. They are an Italian made boot. I am still in love with my Kenetreks, but have been looking for a little lighter weight boot and Crispi fit the bill. I ended up going with the Idaho which is one of their more popular boots. I have been wearing them off and on breaking them in and so far it's a win. I also have a pair of the Monaco and am sold on them for an everyday wearable shoe. Time will tell to see if I get hot spots or blisters, but I am beyond impressed so far.
I continue to add to my Sitka collection and picked up the new Mountain Pants and gunner glove so far and plan to add more. I also picked up some element arrows, which will be one of my biggest changes as I am shooting a micro diameter arrow. As soon as I put them together I immediately became impressed.
The other areas I'm working on improving on is a new cooler. I have looked at a lot of options as with most products now days the market has blown up. Currently my eye is set on an Orion 65 or 85. The brand has been decided and I'm just deciding on the size. Also I'm in search of a new shelter and have decided on the Silvertip from Seek Outside. I like the overall weight and am excited to see what a colorless shelter is like. What sold me is the addition of adding a stove later on. These two specific items I am looking at for future purchases.
Another big change was switching from Hoyt to Mathews as well as accessorizing it with a new Tight Spot, Bee Stinger stabilizer, Spott Hogg sight, and RipCord arrow rest. The new set up treated me well and is shooting great. I never made it out for any spring hunting this year due to scheduling as well as staying busy with the family.
I was fortunate enough to pick up some new gear from Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls and ran the new Wapiti Whacker, Black Magic, Reaper, and Voodoo calls. The combination was deadly as we killed two fantastic bulls and had many more encounters than in past seasons. I will get more into that later.
I began the fall as I do most years with archery antelope in Montana. I didn't hunt around home much and headed east for a couple of days. I had been talking with my Brother Todd and he had some luck sitting water and scored on a really nice buck. I sat for two days and had some close encounters, but was unable to seal the deal on a buck. As each year in the past I also chased them as time permitted chasing elk out east.
After antelope I made my way back east and met up with my friends Matt and Stephen. Both of them were lucky enough to draw non-resident archery elk tags. I left Helena with my pick up and camper loaded late Friday afternoon and met them near camp at around 2 am. After about an hour of sleep we woke up and started to hunt.
All three of us were beat, but hey it was the first day we had to hunt elk so we were going to get after them. I switched up the way I hunted elk this year and this was done with my calling. I am bugling way more and moving and covering more country.
The first couple of set ups were unsuccessful, but it was the first morning so it was hard to say what to expect. We ended up continuing on and set up again. I was calling with Matt and Stephen out front waiting for a quiet approaching bull. There he was not 30 yards from me coming in. He snuck in from the direction we just came. I wasn't ready for him and he busted out after catching my movement. We continued on and we immediately got an answer. What developed next is what I dream of. The bull would answer and I threw everything I had at him. The first bugle got me going and to see the smile on Matt's face already made my season.
The bull came in, but never offered anyone a shot. He was an unbelievable 380-390 class 6x6. When I first got a glimpse of him I figured he was around 340-350. A much bigger bull than I plan to shoot, but after looking at him on video I was blown away at his true size. This wouldn't be my only encounter with this bull. What a start we called in two bulls within the first few hours of chasing elk.
The next couple of days got tougher although we were definitely in the elk. My brother Kirk came down to help out and hopefully get a shot as well. We changed tactics now and again and the thing that seemed to work best was bugling. We saw quite a few bulls and the hard part was that they were all big bulls over 300. Stephen had a family emergency to get back to so it was Matt, Kirk, and I left.
We went into a known area for us. We set up with Matt to my left and Kirk to my right. I began cow and calf talk. Shortly there after a spike rolled in. I called him to my location and had a front shoulder shot at 35 yards. I passed as I knew it was a shot I wasn't going to take. The spike was at 24 yards for Kirk, who passed as he was fortunate to draw the rifle permit for the area. The spike worked his way around to Matt who also passed. Matt passed on a 30 yard broadside shot, but keep in mind up to this point all we had seen were nice 300 bulls and no cows. To say we were spoiled is a giant understatement.
Finally we had been out hunting hard and Wednesday rolled around. It was time. Nothing happened in the morning so we went back out a little earlier in the afternoon. We messed around taking some photos and visiting. There was definitely some frustration as we were in elk and had some definite close opportunities, we just were able to get that kill yet.
After walking a little ways I began some soft cow calling and then let out a location bugle. I had Matt out in front of me to my left a little and Stephen to the right. As soon as I let my location bugle out I got an immediate close bugle back. Stephen looked at me confused and asked if it was me that called. I pointed towards Matt as an indication that it was an actual elk that answered back and to get ready. Stephen didn't even have time to get his video camera ready. I watched as the bull emerged through the timber and I was certain it was the 380-390 bull we called earlier in the week. He was huge and coming my way.
I watched as the bull came in and gave him a challenge bugle to which he quickly replied. I watched as Matt was at full draw and the bull was within 100 yards of myself. I knew this was going to happen. I heard Matt's bow release, heard the sound of the arrow hit, and watched as the bull turned quickly. I knew Matt made a great shot.
I've been in some chaotic situations, but what I watched unfold next will be something I will never forget. We all have those hunts or moments we remember forever and this was for sure towards the top. I heard as Matt began to yell as loud as he could that he just killed the bull. Matt was in tears and overwhelmed with adrenaline. He kept screaming even though I was trying to get him to be quiet as I figured the bull wouldn't go that far and was definitely in ear shot. I was afraid the bull would bust making it even tougher to find him.
After about 20 minutes Matt finally calmed down to where we could discuss what just happened. We waited and finally went and found Matt's arrow. Blood was there and it looked promising. Knowing how tough elk can be we took our time. We began following blood and pretty soon it ran out without a bull in sight. Stephen and I began doing a small grid while Matt still looked for blood. I was higher up on the hill while Stephen was further down. At around the same time both Stephen and I began to smell something stinky and almost like gut rot. I yelled at him to stay where he was and I would work his way and he acknowledged he could smell it too.
This is the point my heart sank. I was walking his way and I quickly turned my head to the left as I caught movement. It was the worst possible thing that could happen. The bull was only a few yards away and he lifted his head. I screamed at Stephen to back out and get Matt with his bow. I backed out as well and kept my eye on the bull. I couldn't believe he didn't bust. He was hurting bad.
Matt and Stephen quickly worked back up my way. Matt stuck the bull a couple of more times and he finally expired. At that point jubilation kicked in as we celebrated. The pack out wasn't too bad either being mostly down hill. There was some deliberation on the size of the bull, but in the end he ended up grossing 345". A larger bull than we ever could have expected on getting and a hard worked for bull.
After getting Matt's bull all taken care of Stephen and I went after his. Matt took a day to take his bull to a processor to get the meat taken care of. Stephen and I hit a couple of areas, but produced no results. When Matt got back to camp we headed back to where he killed his bull.
I began by trying to locate bugle. Eventually we pressed on and got an answer. The bull would answer me back, but didn't appear to want to leave where he was at. Finally we hit that point where he couldn't take it any longer. I called and called and called using techniques from location to challenge bugles. I also soft cow and calf called as if to imitate a small herd. Finally he came into Stephen's view and I watched as he kept telling me to call. The bull was bristled up and came in for fight. I watched as the bull continued to where I was calling from with Stephen at the ready with bow and Matt on video. The bull wasn't stopping and continued my direction. Finally the bull stopped at 30-35 yards. Stephen let it fly and made a great double lung shot.
We remained calm and waited. We could hear the bull breathing hard and knew it wouldn't be long. As we had been working towards the bull I left behind some of my gear. I picked it back up and Stephen and Matt looked for his bull. They found him on his side and excitement kicked in again. Two bulls in three days to end an amazing trip. It couldn't have been scripted better and will be a hunt the three of us will never forget.
After Stephen's bull was taken care of I headed back west for week of work and then returned east yet again for more elk hunting. Joining me on this trip was the owner of Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls and one of the best elk callers ever, Rockie Jacobsen. I have had the pleasure of helping Rockie from time to time with selling and demonstrating his calls, but was very excited this year as he and Rex Summerfield drew non-resident archery elk tags.
We met up in Bozeman, got some last minute things and drove east. On the way to camp in the morning we came across a huge herd of elk and they were bugling like crazy. This was a promising start to the trip. We saw several bulls in the herd with the largest again in that 380" range, but they were on private grounds we didn't have access to. It was very apparent the rut was on and we were exicted.
We got camp set up and headed into an area I was familiar with where the elk would pass through. We ended up bugling several bulls, but no opportunities. This was the first time I had archery hunted elk into October and was a new change for me. We had trouble turning up elk as the days passed so we went to where Stephen, Matt, and I had the encounter with the large bull.
We began trying to locate some elk and were getting answers. We eventually pushed on and ran into a nice 320-330 class bull with a couple of cows. He didn't want much to do with us and moved on. We continued on and located another bull in the same direction I had previously encountered the large bull. We again found him within 1/4 mill from where I left him. I stayed back as Rockie and Rex pushed towards the bull. He would answer me and I would answer him giving them the bull's location and hopefully an opportunity to sneak in close. They got right around 100 yards from the bull, but couldn't get any closer.
We went back in the next morning and immediately found him again. We did some tactics I was not used to, but it worked flawlessly. We pushed into the bulls bedroom and he couldn't take it any longer. He challenged me and was close. Rockie and Rex were in front of me. The bull was only 30 yards away, but wouldn't come any closer and didn't offer Rockie a shot. They came back and announced how big he was.
We spent the next few days really trying to narrow down where a good group of elk were hanging. The hunting got tougher and tougher, but we were finding elk. It was my second to last night to hunt and we went to an area that was unfamiliar to me. I separated from Rockie and Rex. I began doing what I had all season up to this point by using a location bugle. It was quiet with no answers. I stayed high and eventually looked down to see a nice bull in the bottom with some cows. They never did answer me back and I eventually hiked back out. It was my last day and I went back to where I found the elk the previous night.
I came from the bottom of the creek bottom and hiked in. I worked my way to a higher point and eventually got my eyes on a cow and calf. This was my last shot. I quietly snuck down to where I was behind cover. Now it was a waiting game. There was no sound in the air and little wind. I was within 70 yards of the calf and was waiting for an opportunity on either of them. In the end I moved my leg and they caught some noise. They stared my direction and eventually left the area.
I wasn't able to get out much after returning home. I spent a few days here and there chasing deer and elk closer to home. We ended up getting a bunch of snow and I headed out. I located a large herd of elk, but the area I was hunting I was only able to kill a spike. The herd I located had three spikes with them, but they were on the wrong side of the fence and I wasn't able to end up filling my tag. I again later ran into another herd of elk, but there were no spikes. There were approximately 60 cows and calves with two really big bulls with the biggest being in that 350" range.
While finishing out deer and elk hunting I went back to a passion I have had since growing up in South Dakota. I re-pursued my passion for pheasant hunting once again. There is just something about hunting with my dog chasing birds. Right now my mind is stuck on chasing them and at the beginning of 2018 I will be headed back the last week of their bird season to meet up with Stephen and several others in pursuit of birds. I ended up only killing a few, but I'm ready to continue and grow that passion as much as I have with bow hunting.
With 2017 coming to a close I look forward to what 2018 will bring. It will definitely start with a bang as I chase some birds in SD, but that will be just the beginning. Happy holidays to all and look forward to seeing what new products and hunts are in store for the future.
Now's your chance to see what you've been missing at a discounted rate! Currently if you use the code "labh" in all lower case and you will get 20% off of your purchase. This is for new customers only and for the app. on android or apple devices. If you have a current membership you can go into your account, stop the auto payment, and renew to get the discount.
There are 3 options available at the discounted rate. The first is a yearly one state premium purchase. Normally it would cost you $29.99 per year, but with the above code it now runs $23.99. Next is the Elite monthly membership, which is normally $14.99 with code is $11.99 per month. The last option and the best I feel is out there is the yearly Elite membership. This normally runs $99.99 for the year will only run you $79.99 for the year.
In my opinion your best bet is the Elite yearly. This is based on the fact that you will have access to all 50 states. OnXmaps has come up with an amazing product that allows you to scout and look at maps from anywhere. Also you can use it in the field without cell service. That is the single most asked question when it comes to the app. I have yet to start hunting much for other states.
A lot of what makes me hesitant on hunting other states is not knowing what the country looks like. With the ability to see where I go before ever leaving the house is an incredible advantage to everything else I've looked at.
In the near future I am hoping to put together a video on how I use onXmaps and the features that are available. For now go to https://www.huntinggpsmaps.com/store/hunt-mobile-apps/ and use the code "labh" at checkout to get your 20% off of your membership. Do remember this is for new memberships and the chip is not included.
Although I never wrote a blog in 2016 I'm hoping to revamp and start writing again. 2016 was full of lots of changes I still managed to get out quite a bit. I spent early spring chasing bears but only found sign. I hunted a new area and found some great sign, just no bears. I'm hoping to get back there this coming spring and see what it brings. I also headed east for a couple of days and chased some turkeys with my brother. We found some but they wanted nothing to do with us. Spring was pretty short this year as I transitioned into a new position at work, which has proved to be very busy.
I began my fall like many before with archery antelope season. I went to some familiar areas and got on some decent bucks but wasn't able to pull it together. From there I hit up a couple of shows for Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls and headed out for elk season.
I headed east yet again and spent my first 4 days by myself trying to locate some elk. My first afternoon was slow with hearing one distant bugle. This of course was a good sign as I knew I was probably back in where the elk would be.
The following day I continue to hunt the area and again turned up some talking elk. I knew I found a good spot and just needed to start using the tactics I have learned in the past few years and put a plan together and get more aggressive. The second day turned up elk just nothing quite worked out.
My third morning in I went back to a place I hunted the year before. I started with a location bugle and got an immediate answer. I knew from past practice I needed to go after them and not wait. I got behind them and knew they were headed to a bedding area. I got to a point and used a tactic I learned from Rockie Jacobsen. I would call and get the wind and horse shoe forward. I eventually got to the bottom and ran out of room. I stopped and waited. Nothing showed up and I watched 3 mule deer bucks begin to get into a stalkable position.
I was going to switch gears and chase after those bucks. About the time I was going to make a move in their direction I heard a squeal to my right. I wasn't sure what it was at first and it took all of a couple of seconds to realize a satellite bull worked his way my direction from my calling. He was at 60 years and closing fast. My last call came from above me and the bull was circling my last location to get my wind. Lucky for me the tactic I was taught about calling by yourself worked. I got down and ranged a tree where it looked like the bull was headed. 30 yards and he was just about to clear. I was comfortable and calm. I waited for him to clear into an opening. He was slightly quartered to me. I knew my range and he stopped. I was at full draw and let my arrow go.
I watch the arrow fly and knew my shot didn't meet it's mark. He was quartering more than I had originally thought and I shot too far forward striking him in the shoulder. I watched him spin to his right. His back leg came forward and kicked the arrow out. It didn't look like very good penetration and I immediately got worried. I couldn't get a second shot and the bull walked away on the direction my last calls came from.
I went to where I saw my arrow hit. I found my arrow and there was blood approximately 9 inches up the arrow. Most of the shaft was left and my broadhead and at most two inches of the shaft was in the bull. The blood looked pretty good, but I didn't find a single drop anywhere. I looked and looked. I went back to camp defeated but not finished.
I spent the following day looking for any sign that might lead to some glimmer of hope that my arrow was fatal. After continuing to find nothing I made the decision that my arrow was not fatal and the bull would be fine. Disappointing to say the least, but confident that the bull made it I went back to hunting.
I continued to get into the elk and then the rest of camp showed up. My brother Todd and a couple of others made the trip to camp. We split up and started trying to find more elk. I ended up hunting the rest of the trip with Courtney and we did all right. Todd took the others to a few spots we thought the elk would be. Finally we spotted some and they ran right across the road in front of us. Todd and the others set off after them and Tom one of the others in our group shot a nice 340 class bull.
That's where it turned into a few long days. There was good blood and the arrow passed through and looked great. Tom was shooting an expandable and it appeared it might not have opened up correctly. We searched as much as we could with no luck.
At at this point we had two bulls with no recovery on either. That's just how it goes sometimes and not really a good explanation for what happens other than archery is a game of inches and can make for tough days. The rest of the trip went with Courtney killing a coyote at a mere 6 yards with his bow and was the second coyote he had within range. The other slipped away without a shot.
Fun was had by all in camp and many many memories were made. It didn't end up as planned other than elk camp will always be a place for fun and memories.
Now that elk season was over it was time to chase after pheasants. I made a trip back to SD with a co-worker for a week and I also picked up an archery deer tag. I was set to hunt deer and birds and what a trip it was.
To say the birds are doing ok is beyond an understatement. We were seeing a crazy amount of birds and killing was pleantiful. My shooting wasn't as great as I had hoped and I was getting out shot by a long ways.
Stephen who I grew up with and the place I hunted got to see me shoot my biggest whitetail to date. Again I'll leave it at archery is a game of inches. I blew a chip shot and hit the buck too far forward. We watched the buck walk away and eventually backed out. We came back that night and it was Stephen, myself, and our good friend Matt. We tracked the buck from 7 pm to around 1 am before we found where he bedded, got up, and lost blood. I just recently spoke with Stephen and the buck didn't turn up on his trail cams making me think he ended up dying. It was at this point for the season I was done archery hunting.
I finished out my season with my rifle chasing deer with no luck. My in-laws came out from CA and Dan, Chris, and I made a trip to central MT after some pheasants. It was tough hunting but a blast of a trip and we even covered some of MT I hadn't had the luxury of exploring yet. I spent a few more days chasing birds and discovered some great new places to keep in mind.
2016 proved to be a tough year, but much was learned as always. I'm sure I'm missing a ton of stuff, but tired to hit a few highs and the many lows of last year. I'm already pumped for 2017 and have picked up some new gear and will be adding to the companies I get the privilege of helping out. Although we are already with close to a quarter of the year I look forward to keeping up better on here and writing more about my adventures.
2016 has come and gone and here's to a great 2017!
What a fall it's been. To say it has been a busy hunting season is an understatement. As far as hunting I didn't get out as much as I would have liked, but life in general is showing just how busy it can get. This last spring Leah and I found out we had a second child on the way. We tried to plan the best we could and didn't do too bad. She would be due December 4th. Now this isn't a bad date at all I just knew it would affect the later part of my hunting season as it would be tough to go too far from home.
As always my fall started out with archery antelope season. I once again elected to go a little tougher route and drew an archery only permit in MT. I headed to an area I hunted last year in hopes of connecting with any antelope at all.
I found a few in an open field and made my move. I had two bucks grazing and I placed myself between them and a water source. Due to the fact the area was wide open I elected to use my MT decoy to cover me as I moved. I got in position behind a small Juniper tree and waited. After a while one of the bucks began to come to the water. There was very little cover so the buck was going to have to come right by me for this to work.
I waited as the buck approached. Things were coming together as I was hoping. I kept ranging the buck from 200 down to 76 yards. This is as close as he would get. Definitely out of my range. As hard as it was it was also an easy call to make to not take the shot. I had him broadside and feeding, unaware I was there.
The buck continued to a point where he finally noticed me. He eventually took off. It was a great start to the season and had me excited for things to come. A few days later I set up my ground blind on the water hole. I knew it was going to be a long sit as the sun doesn't set until around 8 PM. Also with antelope hunting you just never know when they are going to water.
I started my sit around 2 in the afternoon. I watched quite a few groups of antelope in the area, but nothing wanted to come to water. While sitting I almost got the opportunity to kill a coyote. He was out mousing and was unaware of my presence. Eventually he just kept moving and never got in range. I got to watch him try and put the sneak, but his hunt too was unsuccessful.
Right before dark the antelope began to move more and more. Eventually I had a doe and couple of fawns start heading my direction. Light was fading fast, but they began to play into the script and took off running in my direction. Eventually they worked to within 40 yards. With the way I had my blind set up they didn't come exactly where I needed them. I knew I had a good shot so I went to full draw on the doe. She kept working to my right and eventually got me into an awkward position in the blind. I let my arrow go and it was a clean miss.
Defeated, but not upset as a miss is only good when it is clean. I was upset that I had missed, but glad as now I still had plenty of time to hunt more. I continued to hit the area when I could, but I just couldn't get it to come together. I never got another decent opportunity again. It is a tough area to hunt just due to the lack of cover and it is not a giant area to cover.
After getting the opportunity to chase antelope for a while it was now time to move to archery elk season. This is still hands down my favorite time of year and season to hunt. I came into this season with what I felt was a different mindset that previous years. I was headed back to an area I was familiar with and had continued to gain more experience than last season.
I felt confident that I was going to knock down my first bull with my bow. I upgraded earlier in the year to a new Hoyt Faktor 30 and was confident in my shooting. I think you should feel confident every time you go out, but it just felt different.
I went out on opening day for the first time ever with my friend Matt. We decided to hit an area close to home that was a cow and spike only unit. I had never hunted this specific area and had drawn a limited permit in another spot so I was going to concentrate on just calling.
We loaded up the camper and headed to find a spot to camp. On the way in we ran into multiple people and vehicles. It was a little disheartening to say the least. Oh well it was opening day and you can't get anything accomplished if you give in that easy. We quickly found a great spot to set up and got camp all set up.
We hiked in a little ways just to get a feel of what the area looked like. With no scouting and hitting a new unknown area it was hard to say how it would go. After only going a little ways plenty of sign was found. It was looking pretty promising.
We got back to camp and settled in for the night. Of course a hard lesson was learned as I found out I had a leak in the roof of the camper. Matt got soaked and the rain kept coming. We woke up for the morning hunt, had breakfast, and got ready to head in.
As we were getting ready another rig pulled up and two hunters got out and headed in as we were leaving as well. It can be hard for me at times with these situations, but it is public ground and not much can be done. They were polite enough and we went our separate ways.
The rain wouldn't let up and we just continued on. The rain continued to come down and we ended up having to take cover. We enjoyed a good meal and eventually headed back to camp. Of course as soon as we made it back to camp the sun decided to come back out.
After assessing the damages to the camper we decided to pack it in and head home. Although it was the exact start we were looking for there was lots of season left.
I had a decent amount of time toward the latter part of September set aside to hit the limited area I had drawn. In the mean time I continued to chase antelope when I got the chance. I went back to the same area as before, but again just couldn't quite close that last 20 yards I needed to feel comfortable with my shooting.
Finally it was time to pack up and head to the east to start chasing elk in the rut. I met with my Brother Todd and set camp up in the same area I had hunted the past couple of seasons.
Todd made it in the day before I could come. He was able to hear the elk already and things were looking up. We headed in the first morning and went further back than I had the previous year, but I had also located more sign further in and wanted to try and get back further. Finally about 9:30 a bull ripped a bugle. It sounded good and we weren't too far off.
We began to start working his way, bugling as we went. He would answer, but didn't appear he was that interested in what I had to say. Eventually he went his own way.
We hunted hard the next few days, but things just go worse. In the end a decision was made to move areas. It can be a hard decision at times, but the fact that the local rancher was weaning his calves on the main water source it was an easy decision to make.
I headed further east while Todd had to go back to work for a little while. I set up camp and headed in for an afternoon hunt in an area I hadn't hunted in a few years. It yielded nothing, but I knew if we stayed persistent we would find some elk. The next morning I went into an area my Brother Kirk informed me about.
The temps were warm and the forecast called for hot temperatures. I was finding sign as I went and eventually I looked up to my left and found a doe antelope bedded in the timber. As she now noticed me she got up. Immediately to her left was a buck. I couldn't tell how big he was, but I didn't care. I had her at 45 yards and she began to go the other direction. Soon the buck stood up and began to follow her. I was never presented a shot.
I followed the two to try and put a stalk on. I got to the top and went the direction they headed. I quickly spotted them again. The buck was oblivious to my presence and he was only concentrated on the doe. Due to the fact the buck was so keyed in on the doe she would try and get away from me, but he would just run her back at me.
I had multiple opportunities to take a shot on the doe, but I figured she would eventually get run right back at me. I continued to push at them. Finally I was in position and just needed to have him get within range. The doe would continually be within 50 yards, but the buck would sit between 70 and 90. Just a tad too far.
I eventually had the buck and doe run off and figured it was over. They were now in the wide open and I only had a couple of small pine trees to cover myself. To my surprise I lost track of the doe, but up popped the buck within range. I didn't have time to grab my rangefinder. As you will read not ranging cost me on a couple of shots this year and made me remember that the small things make all the difference.
There he stood slightly quartering to me. I was at full draw and estimated him at 30. I held my spot , released my arrow, and over his back it went. I was crushed. I quickly realized this buck was under 20 yards. I felt confident in the shot and it flew true, I had simply estimated my range wrong. Great two shots so far and nothing down. I continued to hike and hike and located more antelope. It was great to see as the antelope population in this area had been down, but was looking on the up and up. I was unable to close the distance on any more antelope. This wasn't all bad as temps were in the mid 90's and taking care of any animal would be tough.
I headed back towards camp and on the way was met by Kirk. We got back to camp and settled in for a bit. After relaxing we got ready and headed back for the afternoon. We headed back to the same general area, but didn't turn anything up.
We were later joined up with Todd again. The next morning we headed to another area. I set up my MT decoy and began to call. I wasn't hearing anything, but still held onto hope the elk were there. eventually a long ways away I thought I may have heard a bugle, but didn't think anything of it. I headed back to the pick up point. On the way in right at daylight we spotted some antelope by the area I was dropped off at. They soon spotted me and took off.
We all met back up and Todd had an encounter from rifle range so we finally found the elk. What surprised me is what I thought might have been a bugle actually turned out in fact to be just that.
We went back into the same area and continued to get into the elk. We finally got into them every time we were going in. Just what I was hoping for. Now that they were located it was time to get the job done and have it all come together.
We continued to pursue the same elk for a few days. We finally got eyes on a few spikes. Todd and Kirk began to call and they started to come. I was set up and waiting with the wind in my favor. After a very lengthy sit I began to see one of the spike's antlers appear. This time I had ranged in the area he was coming and it was a mere 20 yards. All he needed to do was step up and he was mine. He got to where I could just see the tops of his eyes and never came further. He eventually worked towards another spike, and never presented a shot.
Shortly thereafter a few turkeys began to work our way. Kirk wanted to punch a tag so we first tried to voice call them and they slowly started our way. I thought what the heck and tried calling them with my Mistress diaphragm. It worked and they began to get closer. They got within 30 yards and Kirk had a near miss low.
I was down to one day left and Todd had to head back home. Kirk and I went in hoping for the best. It was pushing towards evening and last light. We had bulls in a couple of directions. One specific bull was separate from the others, which was obviously one of the herds satellite bulls.
He began to come our direction, but with all of the bugling going on in the direction of the herd he never quite made it to us. I was kind of to the point where I wasn't sure if it was going to happen. Kirk kept me going and I was very thankful he was there. We pressed on and tried to get to a viewing point, where we might get a look at the herd bull finally. With his bugle it made him sound like a very mature bull. You never quite can tell until you get your eyes on them.
Finally they came out into the open. We never did see the herd bull, but did get a good look at all of the others with him. There was approximately 6 to 8 bulls in the area. While looking things over Kirk began to cow call. The bulls were now going full force with their bugling. Two raghorns were in the back of the pack and began to work our direction. As I was watching the raghorns I overheard my brother whisper my name. He pointed down below me and I couldn't see anything.
Kirk continued to cow call and a bull let out a bugle right below me. Very shortly a very nice 300 class 6x6 started to appear. We were positioned above the elk and had a good wind in our favor. I couldn't believe just the night before I was dreaming of getting my chance at any elk and was blessed enough to possibly kill a great archery bull. The bull was coming on a string and even had a great 320 class bull behind him now jogging our way.
It was now the moment of truth. The bull continued in the direction of the calls and was now working up hill and reading the script the way you see on TV. The bull was working perfect. In my haste I forgot to range around me. This was a huge mistake. The bull stopped for a second and I was already at full draw. I estimated him at around 40 yards. Well within my comfort zone. I put my pin where it needed to be and let it fly. Missed low. I later found out he was closer to 55 yards. Amazingly the bull only ran a little ways and appeared to go further out than my last shot. I wasn't sure about my first arrow other than I was low. This time I knew he had to be at 50. Nope just over his back. The bull was so much in the rut he offered one more shot. This time I knew he was further yet. There was a few branches between us, but I was comfortable with my lanes. Nope hit a branch. The bull stayed in the area, but would not come in.
To this day I still don't understand why I didn't range around me. Every time I set up for a calling situation the first thing I do is range different areas. Why I didn't this time I still don't know. Had I remembered that small step I know I would have killed my bull. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed I missed my bull three times and it would be just as easy to say I just missed once and the bull ran off. It's all apart of learning each season. I now have gained valuable information that will help me out next time. One thing I can tell you is that I was comfortable with everything as the adrenaline didn't kick in until the bull was well out of range and on his way. I will say I did get flustered after the first shot and had time to range for the second shot I just blew the opportunity.
This above scenario is what I live for and love about archery. With a rifle it would most likely have been a slam dunk, but archery there is a lot that gets taken into consideration. This all goes back to where I mentioned before about remember the small things. I have gotten to the point especially after this last season that I just simply have to range before I shoot. I was fortunate enough that I didn't wound anything, but that may have been a possibility. I'm confident in my shooting abilities I just need to take that extra time to make sure I have my range. Lesson learned.
The next morning Kirk and I went back to the same spot as I had to leave my arrows behind as it got too dark to see. Upon returning I found my arrows and all were clean misses. Back to square one. On the way out we could hear the herd, but I had to head back home as my time was up. We finally were able to lay eyes on the herd bull we had only previously heard. He had a very distinctive bugle and finally showed his face. He was an awesome 350 to 360 class 6x6. I can only hope he made it through rifle season.
On the way out the antelope herd that had been hanging in the area were bedded down in a pretty good stalk-able position. I was able to belly crawl right into the herd. There were two bucks in the herd with both appearing to be well into the P&Y book. I began to scan the herd and found one of the bucks. There was a tree just beyond him at 50 yards. I couldn't go any further as I was right in the mix of them all. I got to my knees, got to full draw, and they stood. I held my pin on the buck and just missed from taking hair off of his back. I'm not sure if he ducked my arrow or not but it all felt right. To say I had a good start to archery elk season is an understatement. I may not have arrowed what I wanted, but I gain invaluable experience and can't wait for next year.
With all that excitement I packed up and headed home. After getting home I was excited to start chasing deer again. Before the fall I picked up a new rifle, a .270 Tikka and added a Vortex Viper 4-16 x 44. I was excited once again to start rifle hunting. I knew of some good areas holding some great whitetails and decided to leave the bow at home this year.
I headed to a few areas I hit before and had one buck in mind from last year I was looking for. I was unable to turn him up, but did locate three other bucks that were very nice with one that looked to be in the mid 150's. The first time I came across these bucks two of them both well into the mid 130's and bigger I was unable to close the deal. I returned with just one day left to get it done. Our daughter was due in not too long so time was short towards the end of the year. Once I got to where I saw the deer last I was excited as no one else was in the area. This was soon ruined as I watched a pickup drive on a closed road to where I was headed.
My hunt was ruined by two hunters that decided to cheat a little. This isn't the first time this has happened to me and definitely won't be the last, but it gets old. I let the landowner know about my run in with them. I wasn't able to get a good look at the individuals or their vehicle and I left it at that. It was a disappointing end to a tough season, but I can't wait for next year. I'm already gearing up for a fantastic spring bear season and am making sure to put in for spring turkey. I was a little spoiled out east where the turkey tags were guaranteed and not a limited draw. After my elk hunt there wasn't much for highlights, but that's how it goes sometimes.
I just recently moved once again and now have 10 acres to shoot my bow on. I literally have no excuse as I can shoot everyday. I'm excited for the prospect of getting horses once again and setting up my own personal archery range. Although it wasn't a season of filling tags that's ok in my book. I got to spend valuable time with family and friends once again as well as learn from mistakes made. My season is not finished though as there is now an extended late season cow hunt left.
I'm not sure if I'll make it out, but things are looking up come January. Hopefully I will have an update on that in the near future and a full freezer. As always shoot straight and aim small. Here's a few photos to end on.
This blog has fell behind due to being very busy so I apologize in advance. But with a little free time I'll try and catch everyone up.
2015 has started pretty slow at this point. I have been gathering my gear and getting ready. This year I purchased a new bow and am going with a little different set up. I upgraded to last years Hoyt Faktor 30. I went patriotic and picked up the American Heritage red white and blue. I usually don't go crazy with accessories on my bows, but this year I decided to differ and added some extra color!
My family also purchased a camper. Although not new and not very big it will now not only work great for family outings, but my base hunting camp as well. It is a gigantic 1972 12' bumper pull. I have had a blast putting it all together and remodeling the inside. It has turned out great and should last us a very long time until we need something bigger. It will be put to the test this year during spring bear and all of the fall seasons.
As I come into a new season yet again I am filled with high expectations and excitement. there is nothing like starting off fresh and setting some goals. Most of my goals are set to where I feel I can accomplish them and not so high that I ever let myself never meet those goals. Ultimately I would say my unreachable goals for the year will be filling all of my tags with P&Y animals, but I always keep in the back of my mind. I will be happy with any outcome as long as I'm in the mountains doing what I love.
On April 20th my friend and co-worker Matt ventured into an area I hunted last year and located a bear. With work lately it has been extra tough to get out. As always the first hunt of the year is mainly locating random gear in random spots after last fall. I found most of everything I was looking minus a few smaller items. I figure as long as I have some food, water, a weapon, and tags I can at least get out there and hunt.
We went into an area I hunted last season and located a bear. I figured I might as well start where I left off at. We hiked in a few miles and glassed as we hiked. We eventually made it back to a glassing spot I located and sat for the day. After glassing for several hours no bear was located. The year has started out very dry. Still being a novice bear hunting I figure these next few years will be mainly learning the country with some aspiration at getting the chance to kill a bear. I will continue to be stubborn and only take my bow. Matt was smart and packed a rifle.
Well with no bears spotted we headed back to town. I had some scheduled time off coming up and was looking forward to trying out some new country as well as a new base camp.
I went out the previous morning and located some potential spots to camp and tried to do some scouting. It was some big country and fortunate for me I found my camp. I set out the following day and got everything set up. After getting camp set up I tried to find some good glassing areas. Those were plentiful and now it was just time to sit and wait.
Again no bears. The weather was hot and there was little snow left in the elevations. I continue to learn everyday that I'm out in the field. I basically spent three days finding glassing points, going through maps on google earth, comparing my GPS chip, and putting my boots on the ground. I know the bears are there, but it's such big country that finding one is very difficult. I must say it was nice to be able to set up my lap top in the camper and use the products provided by onXmaps. I was able to look at the area I was in and rule out some things without ever stepping foot on the ground.
I put some miles on my pickup the second day looking for additional areas to hunt. I found lots of great spots, but most were so thick with timber that trying to glass was near impossible. This led me to believe the bears were there, it was just going to be a tall task of locating one. The weather remained nice and made it pleasurable to be out and about. I must admit that this trip was mainly for exploring new ground, putting the new camper and base camp to use, as well as just general relaxation. I by no means went over the top and killed myself on the mountain.
It was great to be able to come back, cook some food, and make some camp coffee at the end of the day. I stayed very warm and comfortable. I always kept thinking back to last years elk camp and how nice it would have been to have this set up previously. Let's just say this year will be nice having the ability to stay out of the weather when I need and not having to worry about anything.
One thing that made me feel like I was in the right spot was the amount of cow elk I was seeing. I knew the calving season was upon us and there would be a decent chance the bears would be roaming in expectation of an easy meal. This also had me excited for the upcoming seasons in the fall. As much as I enjoy bear hunting in the spring it is hard to get elk in September off of the brain.
The spring seasons came and went faster than I expected. This is ok in a sense that I know fall will be upon us before we know it. I am partially through the summer and time is flying. I believe I will be ready for August and September when seasons begin to kick off, but as usual I'm sure I will be lacking in one area or another and I'm ok with that. I just know that I will make more memories this fall as in the past with as much or as little time that I have.
Although this spring bear season didn't reveal much assistance in finding or killing a bear I was able to get out and explore some new area previously unknown to me. I just recently purchased a new rifle and am bound and determined to kill a bear next spring. I will abandon my bow for a little bit if need be as I will never leave home without it, but at the same time I'm ready for a harvest.
I hope to see you on the road as I will be doing my usual sporting goods store events and possibly a couple of seminars. Stop by and say hi if you get the chance if not maybe I'll see you on the trail.
One of my most recent purchases that I used last year was the GoalZero Nomad 7 Solar Panel. I had been researching some of the mobile power sources to keep my equipment charged up while away for long periods of time. My main concern was having the capability to keep a phone charged at minimum to use in case of an emergency. I wanted to avoid running into an issue of being far away from anywhere and having no communication. I chose this route instead of going with a SPOT or other type of emergency locator.
I was very impressed with my first view of this product. It comes in a light weight and incredibly durable format. This thing will take just about any abuse you can throw at it. I elected to not get any accessories and run with just the panel. Here are a few of things I liked and didn't like about this unit.
- Very lightweight and makes it a very convenient piece of equipment I won't leave home without.
- Waterproof-This is a nice thing to have especially in the field when you never know what kind of weather you might just run into.
- Accessory loops all around unit. This feature allows me to simply hook the unit onto my pack while hiking by simply hooking the loop onto a small carabiner. The main thing of concern there is making sure you are hiking with the sun at your back.
- Amount of accessories you can charge. The unit comes with a place to put a USB cable, 12v attachment, multiple unit linking system, and GoalZero accessory output. This allows me to keep multiple items charged in the field from my car phone charger to my point and shoot camera. This is great and I can think of one particular day where I was in the pickup doing some scouting and was able to throw my unit on my dash to charge my camera as I forgot to charge it at home before hitting the field.
- An item that can be a life saver. There was a time where I enjoyed getting away from technology and still do. Come fall it is usually my time to relax and reflect on a lot of things. It is an opportunity to get back to nature and enjoy one of my favorite things. That is to hike and hunt all the while leaving most everything at home. I now have a good set of equipment that keeps me comfortable while in the field. The one thing I was missing was something to keep me safe in case something bad was to happen. The GoalZero Nomad 7 fills that gap. I know can feel safe knowing I have a way to keep things charged when they are needed most. I now don't worry about falling down and getting hurt and not having any options to help keep me safe. This item will forever stay with me on every hunt even the ones close to home where I only plan to hunt for a day.
- The thing I would advise is to buy some of the accessories. They allow you to store the energy from the panel as the panel will only charge what is connected. It would have been nice to be able to store power that is being charged with the panel.
- Charging time. Although it's nice to have the ability to keep things charges this unit takes a long time to do so. I knew before purchasing the panel this would be an issue, but at the same time I will take the long charge over not having the capability at all.
- Having to have direct sunlight. I was surprised that even a little bit of cloud cover effects the efficiency of the unit. You have to make sure the system is set up exactly right for it to correctly charge items.
Although this is a fairly short review I can say without a doubt GoalZero is coming out with the best products in the market for portable energy. It doesn't take long to realize these products will change just how safe and comfortable you can be while away from home for extended periods of time.
I will be purchasing more products in the future to go along with my Nomad 7 to keep me that much more comfortable. If you are having any hesitation about buying this product, make sure you don't. You are missing out on a great product to make life that much greater when you are away from comfort and safety.
For any questions feel free to ask here in the comments as well as checking out the GoalZero website.