Category Archives: Hunting

The Things You See Out Hunting

Ron and I headed out to German Gulch last Sunday afternoon in search of our 2015 bull elk. We did not find him, but we did see a lot of interesting things.

We walked in to an area we’d never hunted before. The weather was mild and the landscape was easily navigable. There were some rocks and snow, but mostly grassy meadows and rolling hills.

Mule Deer Buck

A young mule deer buck, bedded down and chewing his cud.

As we topped the first knoll, off to our left below some power lines, we spotted a bunch of white butts. There were about a dozen mule deer does feeding at this lower elevation. As we veered north to avoid spooking the herd, we saw a young buck bedded down and chewing his cud without a care in the world.

We continued our easy hike, through red rock, pine and juniper to an open hillside overlooking a valley to the west. It was shrouded in winter’s grey but highlighted by large mountain meadows and bright -white snow-capped mountain peaks. Near the rocky edge of this view, we found the oddest thing – a bouquet of sorts – made with now-dry roses and pine boughs and held together with none other than duct tape!

While hiking German Gulch, we discovered a wilted bouquet of roses and pine boughs, held together with duct tape.

While hiking German Gulch, we discovered a wilted bouquet of roses and pine boughs, held together with duct tape.

Ron left the memorial where he’d found it, and we headed eastward and up. We side-hiked to a saddle in between peaks, then went up again towards the top to a jagged red-rock abutment overlooking the next valley. Across a wide gulch and on the next hillside, on private fenced-off property, we spotted a herd of elk. Not a bull in the bunch.

We glassed them for a while, mostly waiting for dusk. We’d seen a game trail of sorts below and behind us, and wanted to see if it would be used.

Glassing, Rocky Crag, German Gulch

Ron glassing a herd of elk in the distance.

About this time, world war three opened up beyond the ridge in front of us – it sounded like a group of people shooting at a whole herd of critters. But it kept up for so long we decided they were just using up their ammo or target shooting.

As sunset approached, we headed back down to the saddle then continued up the next hill in front of us to look over the game trail below. It was not being utilized on this day, so we trekked off in the direction of our vehicle.

Glass Eye, German Gulch

A glass eye found in German Gulch.

Up and down and over and through, we were back on flat land as it was getting dark. I was looking down and had my head lamp on, when I stopped to look at some green lichen. I really was looking at the plant, but there in the middle of it was a round, brown object. I picked it up and for the life of me it looked like an eyeball! Ron handled the glassy object and said, “Oh, it’s probably just some sort of porcelain electrical piece.” I said, “No, I think it’s an eye.” Once we got home and he saw it in the light, Ron agreed with me.

Now, what was that doing out in the middle of a walk-in hunting area? I’ve had friends who’ve found old shovels and buckets out hunting. But I think a bouquet and glass eye take the oddball prize!

Tracy Watt, German Gulch

German Gulch was shrouded in winter’s grey but highlighted by mountain meadows and bright -white snow-capped mountain peaks.

A Place to Hunt with the Tag of a Lifetime

Judith Breaks, Central Montana

The haunting beauty of the Judith Breaks in central Montana at sunrise.

Ron generally hunts public lands with traditional archery equipment. On rare occasions, he gets to hunt on private land. That was to be the case when he put in for the 426-20 Bull Elk Tag in the famed Missouri River Breaks. He used all of the Bonus Points he’d accumulated over the past decade or two and was finally successful in getting his “tag of a lifetime.”

Ron’s hunting buddy’s son-in law’s father ranches on thousands of acres in this gorgeous area in north central Montana. Before putting in for the tags, in mid-March, it was confirmed they could hunt on this man’s property the second week of September. So plans were made and vacations scheduled with work. In late August, Ron and his buddy made the six-plus hour drive to the ranch – not only to do some scouting, but to thank the land owner with some high-octane whiskey and ten hours of ranch-hand work.

Each evening they sat with the rancher on his porch, sipping whiskey and describing to him what they’d seen and where. They told lively stories of strong, mature bull elk carousing in the draws and big herds of cow elk languishing in early fall meadows. A couple of times, they saw a bi-plane fly overhead.

Judith Breaks, Central Montana

Forest-lined draws offer passage for wildlife in the Breaks of central Montana.

Sunday came, and the guys loaded up and went to bid the rancher ado. Ron’s hunting buddy said, “So we’ll see you on September 12th!” The rancher answered back casually, “Oh no, I’ve got a movie star gal coming in here with a film crew. I can’t have you guys messin’ that up. I’ve already got their check for $12,000.”

Ron is now scrambling to find a place he can access and hunt in HD426. He’s holding the tag of his lifetime.

Judith River, Central Montana

The lush Judith River landscape is home to some of the most prodigious bull elk in Montana.