Friday, December 4, 2009

Montana MO Style

After having Scott down to MO for the better part of two weeks to take part in our archery and firearms season, I was headed out to Montana for the first time in almost 14 years. I left MO early on November 18th and headed to Minneapolis to meet up with Josh and Jeff B. After getting the final details sorted out and all our gear loaded up we hit the road for Northeastern Montana and a week worth of deer and upland bird hunting.

We arrived at our houses around 3pm on the 19th and quickly unpacked and jumped back in the rig for a couple hours of scouting and hopefully shooting birds. Montana didn't disappoint! About 3 minutes out of town and we were on our first bunch of huns. They held tight and the group flushed perfectly for Josh and I...only I decided to wet myself, Josh did bring down 1 bird on a great going away shot. we scratched out 3 roosters that evening and saw several deer.

On the 20th our local friend and pre-scout Greg Sodt met us for breakfast and we headed out in search of the "spring buck" he'd been scouting for the past week. We glassed the draw he'd been using for about two hours and all we turned up was muley does and little bucks, so we decided to move on. Throughout the early morning and afternoon we spotted 50+ deer, but nothing I was going to put my tag on.

The bird hunting helped break up the glassing throughout the day, and my shooting quickly returned to it's old form. Around 2pm we stopped by Rick's house and he said we could hunt the south side of his ranch. In 27 years of hunting out there Jeff had never even been allowed on the ranch, so we were excited. The country was amazing and it didn't take long to start spotting mullies hiding in the deep draws. We spotted two decent 4x4s but I elected to pass on both of them, even though Greg thought I made a mistake.

We were pulling out of the ranch around 4:30pm and as I was opening the last gate when we spotted a muley doe on a ridge across the road. I turned to get the gate and the boys spotted a large bodied buck drop in right behind her along with two more does. Greg knew the area well so we headed west of them and dropped in on the back side of their location. The deer had dropped into an old sandy railroad track bed that was surrounded by 30' hills on both sides. We started our sneak towards the deer and after 200yrds we spotted the first doe coming out around a bend in the old track bed. She was quickly followed by the buck and other does. It took all of 2 seconds to realize this was a shooter and definitely the biggest muley buck we'd seen. All of them were facing me head on, so I took a deep breath, settled the scope right on the bucks brisket, and squeezed the shot off. The buck instantly rocked back onto his hind quarters and tipped over in a cloud of dust. The .06 absolutely crushed him in his tracks! We pulled the rig up within feet of him and proceeded to celebrate and take pictures.

The giant muley ended up being +4yrs old and weighed well over 250lbs field dressed. I couldn't have been happier...and we didn't see a bigger deer the rest of our trip.

We celebrated a bit more than I would recommend that evening, but the cold MT air and cackling roosters the following morning cured whatever hangover I had in short order. We focused on roosters and whitetail does for the remainder of our trip.

The bird hunting wasn't as good as it was in the past for Montana, but it still exceeded my expectations. I truly believe the area we hunt is one of the few untapped upland bird meccas left in the country. We easily shot our daily/possession limits for the rest of the week, with Sunny's creek being the hottest area of all. I think we shot 26 of the 46 roosters off that section. Our shooting was on point, the dogs worked great, and the birds held tight all week. It was awesome to get back into pheasants, it's the one thing I miss hunting the most in MO.

Josh shot his whitetail doe on the 21st and Justin filled his tag on the morning of the 23rd. It took me until the final morning of our hunt to finally fill my whitetail doe tag. We were actually headed to Lon's for birds when we spotted a nice buck and doe headed into one of his draws in a horse pasture. After shooting the breeze with Lon for a bit we headed out in that direction. Josh spotted the buck standing up in the bottom, so I bailed out of the rig expecting them bust out across the pasture. To my surprise the buck just stood there and watched me get closer with every step. After seeing the rutting activity at a fevered pitch all week, I knew the doe had to be bedded under him. Surprisingly a decent muley buck popped over the ridge and into the draw and this was to much for the whitetail buck to handle. He chased the muley out of the area immediately and I saw my window of opportunity open.

I slid up to the edge of the draw and spotted the bedded doe about the same time she saw me. She busted out of the draw like her tail was on fire, but since I was inside 25yrds she was in a world of trouble. My first shot was just over her back as she crested the top of the draw, but shot #2 anchored her in her tracks and my Montana deer tags were officially filled.

We hunted birds for the rest of the afternoon and hit the road early the next morning so everyone could get home for Thanksgiving....I arrived back in KC around 1:30am Thanksgiving morning after 18 hours of driving!

We headed to Shana's folks house for Turkey Dinner and I was scheduled for my managed hunt Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, unfortunately I was called back to KC because of an emergency at work. I took full advantage of the antlerless season though, and was able to harvest another nice MO doe off the BS 70 farm. I've killed 4 deer from my natural ground blind on the 70 in the past two seasons including my buck in Scott's earlier post about the MO firearms opener. It's to bad we are losing that property this week. I'm going to miss the Zoo!

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