"Our Hunting Trip to Montana"
Written by Bill Hays
We left California on November 1 and were in Montana after a 26-hour drive. That was a very long drive, but well worth it. We met a friend of Chris', Stan, that evening and made plans for the next day. Chris and I were going to hunt together and Mike would go with Stan, as he also had an antelope tag.
That first morning, we parked my truck at the beginning of a large cooley, or what I call a draw or ravine in California, and made a long drive across the Block Management Area we were hunting, seeing moose, coyotes, white tail and mule deer. The moose were great to see. They were at the start of our drive. First we spotted one, and then there were two. What a thrill to see two moose in the wild like that. After the long walk, we were picked up by Stan and Mike and dropped off for another long hike.
As Chris and I were working our way up this new cooley, Chris stopped and said that there was a big mule deer buck lying right there in front of us. We slowly kept moving around the corner of this cooley when all of a sudden, fifty yards in front of us, was one of the largest mule deer bucks I have ever seen. Being closer to the deer, I took the first shot at the big buck, missing it by a mile and then Chris shot. We watched as the big buck walked over the ridge out of the cooley and out of gun range. Buck fever must have kicked in! I was so close that my rifle barrel could have touched it! I think that level of excitement keeps me hunting year after year.
After another long hike through a cooley, seeing 2 more big bucks, we called it a day and went bird hunting. Even that was exciting as we picked up six grouse. A little later we did an evening hunt and called it quits for the first night.
Chris and I made our way through the same cooley that we missed that big buck in the day before. This time, it was empty. When we finally got through with that hunt, Stan and Mike picked us up, but this time my brother had gotten a very nice 4x4 muley and his antelope was in the back of the truck as well. Chris said to Mike, "At least someone can hit one of these big bucks"!
After that, we worked a few more drives and had a couple more big bucks make their escape without a shot fired. After the last drive, we made our way to the top of this large plateau. Earlier in the day, Mike and Stan had talked to a couple of hunters that came 200 miles just to hunt the plateau. Knowing that made me want to take a little time and look it over. I really wanted a white tail buck and they had mentioned seeing one there. Chris and I walked around the top for a bit and did not see anything. We were working our way back to the truck when I asked Chris if it was ok to make a little walk down the side of the plateau and meet him back at the truck. Oh, did I mention that the wind was blowing about 40 mph?
Chris kept working his way back to the truck and I made my way down the side of the hill and started scanning over the edge of this little cooley. It looked like the perfect place for a big old buck to hide from the cold wind that was blowing. It hadn't been 10 minutes when I walked over to the edge and looked down the cooley and spotted a cow trail at the very bottom. To my surprise, I could see this beautiful white tail rack just glowing in the sun, moving back and forth without any idea I was standing right behind him. I could not believe my eyes. I could only see the top of the rack, as there was some high grass between us that kept his body from view. Being only fifty yards from the buck, I placed the scope on his horns and lowered the cross hairs to the back of his head and shot. He did not move an inch. His head just dropped right in his bed.
I moved down the little cooley and could not believe my eyes. There laid the most beautiful 9-point white tail buck. I just sat there for a few minutes and said a little prayer of thanksgiving to God. I walked up the other side of the cooley to see if I could make eye contact with Chris. At this point, with the wind blowing so hard, he had not heard the shot and was standing by my truck. I must have looked like a crazy man in orange jumping up and down waving at him. It must have worked though, since he started driving the truck toward me.
After some high-fives, hand shakes, and photos we took off to show the rest of the party our trophy.
On the third day, we still had three more bucks to take. There were six of us that morning in two rigs. We stopped at the first cooley where Chris and I walked the first day and encountered the two moose. We left one rig there and Mike and I made a morning drive and worked our way to the pickup point. Only a couple of small bucks and a few does were seen. We then dropped the others off at another cooley and we made our way to the new pickup point, but this time we got the call that another big muley buck was down. We worked our way over to pick them up and found them with a 26 inch wide 4x4 muley with eye guards. What a beautiful buck! Todd had bagged this buck with Rob and Chris' assistance.
As it was getting late, Mike, Josh and I wanted to hunt some grouse. We bid farewell to Chris, Todd and Rob and went after some birds. Chris, Rob and Todd kept hunting, looking for those last two bucks. They decided to make a drive in a new area, which we had not hunted yet. As they were working their way through the cooley, Rob took the first and only buck he had seen during the trip, a really nice 2x2 mule deer buck. That left them with just one more buck tag to fill. They loaded the buck up and were heading out of the block management area with rain starting to come down heavy. On their way out, Chris spotted a group of deer in a creek bed, just before they got to the last gate. He got out and worked his way up the little creek bed and was able to bag a beautiful 22-inch wide 4x4 hanging out with his harem of does. With that, we were tagged out!
Over the next two days, we were able to fill our white tail doe tags and take a few more birds. What a great hunt. This will definitely be a hard trip to top, but we are going to apply again next year and maybe do better. I would like to thank Stan, Clarence and Jeromy for their great Montana hospitality. We're looking forward to hunting with them again in 2007!
Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos
Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos
Hunts & Tags | Hunt Draw Odds | About Mule Deer | About Elk
Store | Classified Ads | Photo Tours | About this Site | Advertising |