There was no “quit” in us and you’ll see why! We arrived in Montana on Saturday, the 17th of November without one of our gun cases. Thank you DELTA! It did arrive a couple of days later though. We were able to borrow a rifle from a client for a couple of days but there’s an element of distrust with somebody else’s rifle that any good hunter would attest too. If you hunt and can shoot straight you know of what I speak. Confidence is part of the battle. To me, a big part, nope, make that a huge part.
The prolonged drought across Montana had taken its toll and the fires in the Bull Mountains this summer were devasting to many ranchers and wildlife habitat.
He finally was able to connect but we were not able to recover the buck the next day. Video looked like the deer was dead on its feet. It got dark so fast and the deer was in a very steep coulee so we decided to move out and find the deer in the morning. We reviewed the film again and it looked like the deer was about to go down but the disappearing blood trail ran out after 250 yards for good. Jordan was a 16 year old walking disappointment. It happens. We did our best and again, with our GPS units and walkie-talkies were able to mount a high tech effort to find the beast. It wasn’t to be but not for our lack of trying. I am a fairly good tracker, no, make that a good tracker and it just wasn’t to be. I have always said that killing big mule deer usually boils down to a game of seconds and inches and this was no exception. I just wish Jordan had killed it on the first shot. He does too. He realized how immense the country is and short of finding magpie’s feeding on a carcass in the next few days within miles of where he took the shot, that finding the deer would be impossible. I think the deer will make it if predators don’t get him but it’s a cruel world in nature and like our world, on a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone is zero.
He used his experience from years afield to move up to a pine tree and luckily had a great rest on a stiff branch to help steady his aim while shooting into a stiff wind. I talk about this a lot to the team and we always try to increase our odds when shooting by getting down on the ground, leaning into something, getting to a fence post, anything to give us a better chance of holding steady into what is usually a stiff Montana wind. Hunter is only 20 but has had the unbelievable good fortune to have killed a pickup full of bucks in various states and I think every buck he has killed has been a 10-pointer! He is a cool customer when things get heated and someday will be a tremendous asset to America sitting in the captains seat of a taxpayer owned, United States Air Force aircraft. When the shooting starts I want that boy on my side. His deer this year? A nice muley for sure. I like the mass at the bases. It was a tough drag straight up as you can see but with the 4 of us taking turns we just manned-up and got it done.
With so few deer on the 25-section ranch and trespassers having driven over every inch of ground in the few days prior to our arrival and after a couple days of scouring every nook and cranny in the rough stuff and turning up nothing but a few guppy bucks and very few does I made the executive decision to head north into the “BREAKS” and hunt public ground. The weather turned cold, with wind chills at near zero but we had a blast up there and although we ran into plenty of deer we didn’t turn up a buck we wanted.
We were able to get plenty of great pictures and video’s of game and took this picture of a beautiful whitetail thinking he was hidden right off of Highway 12 in the timber. Jordan is exceptional at using his iPhone camera and holding it up to his binocs and taking pictures. I wish we would have had a crack at this bomber whitetail.
There were some magnificent trophies taken around Montana this fall and one of the greatest muley bucks I have ever seen was shot a couple miles south of Melstone, Montana the week before we arrived. This is a picture of about what that deer looked like except he had heavier mass.
I wish someday I get a crack at a buck that magnificent. Where they come from, where they grow that mass and width, how they get to that 6.5 or 7.5 age-class or more still is a mystery to me. That head gear in eastern Montana attracts a crowd for sure!.
We took some great video of a buck that nearly ran over us hunting a doe. As you know, I am a big believer in wearing blaze orange and this video is a testament to the inability of deer to distinguish three orange pumpkins sitting motionless just a few yards away. When still hunting in the timber it makes it so much safer to know where everyone is at and to find your party members easier. Although we carry walkie talkies we don’t use them while hunting as it is illegal in Montana. We do use hand signals to communicate across distances and we use the universal one-handed fist pump when some decent bone hits the ground!
In amazement we spotted a group of deer feeding out in some rimrock that we had watched the night before that were on off-limits private ground. They had crossed the county road overnight and we would have never thought that the same small herd would be up and moving around past 1 p.m the next day but the rut had something to do with it. We kept moving down the road and I drove into the ranch to check with the rancher to make sure we could make a move on the deer and got the green light. Jordan quickly got his things together and we headed back up into the hills.
The weather was very mild for late November as you can see. Jordan was able to use a fence post “rest” and dropped the buck at the very last minute of the trip!
Me, I never fired a shot! I am a lucky guy and thank my Creator every day!