Montana Elk, Mule Deer and Whitetails #82

Montana Elk, Mule Deer and Whitetails #82

This outfitter came to us from one of our best Whitetail outfitters, who has hunted with them and who became good friends with them. His endorsement of them was absolutely glowing. He used words like honest, caring, hard-working, excellent and extremely competent. Our subsequent checking of them and their references confirmed those things and in fact our Whitetail outfitter friend took some of his very best clients hunting here in 2015- a real endorsement with skin in the game! A brief account of that trip is that one buddy went- both guys took bull elk; both passed on several brown phase black bears; both passed on whitetails and mule deer bucks, one missed a wolf and they caught a huge bunch of bull trout in spare time! In his words- “Tell your clients to bring a pocketful of tags!” They went in 25 miles to camp.

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Their hunting area covers a portion of the million acres of the famed Bob Marshall Wilderness. The most important thing to know here, is that if you are a rifle hunter, the rifle season in the “Bob” opens on September 15- right in the middle of the bugle season! We love hunting bulls when they are screaming- “Hey- I am over here!”. So that’s great for the rifle guys, and Bow starts 10 days earlier.

Now add to that the scenic splendor of the remote wilderness of the “Bob”, in Montana; along with its wild mountain ranges, big forests and mountain meadows and the lower valleys of the South Fork of the Flathead River, and just the horse ride into camp is a huge adventure in itself. And the area also supports a good population of trophy elk, mule deer, white tail deer, black bear, mountain lion, and wolf.

packtrip23-300x226  This is the hunt we all dreamed about as kids and young men. This is the hunt written about by Jack O’Conner, by Russell Annabel, and by all the early famous hunter/writers we loved to read about. This is deep wilderness horseback, wall tents, wood stoves and high adventure of the most real and magnificent kind. The Bob Marshall Wilderness has been called the“crown jewel” of America’s wilderness areas. It is comprised of over one million acres of remote mountain peaks and valleys serving as a safe haven for the purity and solitude that remain as wilderness. And it is a combo hunt for both elk and deer ( mulies or whitetails!).

Most of this outfits’ hunting camps are located deep into the remote wilderness, literally untouched by roads of any kind. One camp is 32 miles deep in the wilderness- accessed solely by horse back (or often mule back). The other camp is about 23 miles in. It is not unusual for a client to shoot his bull or buck on the ride in! Rides are typically 8 to 12 hours, but with regular breaks to stretch your legs and maybe walk the horses for a bit.  High country elevation- starting about 7,000 feet. You do not have to be a biathlon expert, but it is no place for “average” guys who cannot walk up and down in high elevations covering 2 to 5 miles every day. Call it a level 7 to level 8 out of 10. No place for guys with knee or hip replacements.

packtrip30-300x226  In fact, one year they figured about 40% or more of their clients were really not up to the task, and that cost them some success. They went 7 elk for about 26 clients, but also 5 misses, and some areas could not be climbed to due to client fitness levels, so opportunity was missed. They went 100% on deer, mix of whitetails and mulies. Deer are average in size generally, but some big ones do happen. There were 4 missed shots at wolves!! So a wolf is a real possibility. The wolves here are not real educated.

They have outfitted the Bob for 13 years and know it intimately. Backed by their years of experience, they endeavor to provide you with the best outfitting service available. Good solid livestock, such that even inexperienced riders will quickly feel comfortable. And they will happily customize each trip to meet your personal expectations, interests, desires, comfort needs, and levels of expertise.

packtrip21-300x226  After meeting you in Kalispell they will transport you to one of their two trailheads to begin your journey into the backcountry. If it is an early season hunt, they may set up camp at the trailhead for the night and proceed the following morning. About 4:30am, your morning will begin with a hearty breakfast. Once the tents and gear are gathered and your guides have saddled up and packed the stock, the pack train will depart from the trailhead as it begins its spectacular ten hour ride, venturing thirty miles into the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. This is not high mountain country, as elevations here typically run 4,000 to 6500 feet. Still- it is rugged country and the most successful hunters will always be the ones in the best physical shape.

If the hunt is later in the season, meaning around or after mid-October, heavy snowfall in the higher elevations often will have forced animals to migrate down from the backcountry. Therefore, your hunting destination will be geared toward winter range hunting ground in the lower elevations. You will again stay at the trailhead that night, and then proceed alongside the South Fork of the Flathead River the 15 miles to Camp.        

montanaspecialtyhunt5-300x226  From the very beginning, you will be awed by some of the most breathtaking scenery in Montana. You may well catch a glimpse of a mountain lion, a mountain goat, an elk, a deer or a wolf; and even an occasional grizzly bear sighting will impress you. More commonly spotted along this awe–inspiring journey are moose, whitetail deer, mule deer and the majestic elk.

montanaspecialtyhunt6-300x226  A notable advantage to hunting in the “Bob” during the early season is that Montana offers early season rifle hunting mid to late September. This is the prime rut period for elk, the most active time for an elk herd. The chances of a successful hunt during the rut improves significantly due to the combination of elk herds being very active constantly roaming the countryside while also being very vocal. Veteran hunters agree that pursuing bull elk during this time creates one of the most exciting and unpredictable hunting experiences.

At the end of the hunt it takes a full day to ride out, so you will need a hotel room that night, and you can depart the next morning from the hotel.

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One of the nice things in this hunt, is that you have a real chance to kill both an elk and a deer. Elk here typically run 280 to 330, and possibly larger. Most bulls will exceed 300. Mule deer run 150 to 165, with some 180’s and better possible. About a half dozen hunters have had cracks at wolves- but no luck yet. So you have a true wilderness combo hunt, with a number of tags in your pocket.
And there are some truly excellent whitetail here as well- and your tag is good for either a whitetail or a mule deer. Whitetails into the 150 class have been taken here.
montanabiggamehunting9-300x226  Typically no more then 4 to 6 clients in hunting camp at any one time. In terms of success, in 2014 they went 100% on elk on the late hunt. Typically expect 50 to 60% opportunity on big bulls, and about 90% on deer. Camps are wall tents with wood stoves, a separate cook tent and cots with foam pads for sleeping. They even have shower setups!
In terms of gear, they allow a generous 75 pounds per hunter, but best do that in two soft sided duffel bags as they pack on a horse easier. You may also want to pack your travel fish pole, as some truly awesome fishing can be had here for cutthroats and bull trout. In summer they had a father son team catch over 1600 fish on their fishing trip!

2020 PRICES: (subject to change without notice until deposit received)

Early Season Rifle Combo Hunt: $4,800 per person 2×1; $5,500 per person 1×1 – 9 days/8 nights, one-day ride in, 7 full hunting days, one day ride out; mid-September to mid-October.

Late Season Rifle Combo Hunt: $4,500 per person 2×1; $5,500 per person 1×1 – 7 days/6 nights, one-day ride in, 5 full hunting days, one day ride out; beginning the last week in October.

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Deposit is 50%; final payment must be in outfitter’s hands 30 days pre-hunt.
Hunts are fully outfitted and include all guiding, meals, and sleeping accommodations. Clients pay their own Travel expenses, lodging expenses and licensing fees.

If you buy a wolf tag ($50) and kill, there is a $500 fee as hides need to quickly get out of the wilderness to be saved. Same with a mountain lion. Kill fee then is $2,000. A current MT combo license for deer and elk is about $1,000 and are almost 100% draw (with a $50 preference point).

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 PHONE: 1-307-637-5495 email: info@hunt-nation.com