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ELK – DEER COMBO RIFLE HUNTS
We do a lot of glassing during the rifle season. Often we glass from the truck with a spotting scope, and constantly with binoculars along whatever “foot route” we choose to take. We often spot elk from several miles away, and spend several hours getting to them. While the preferred “spot & stalk” style of hunting is most productive for us, some situations (like weather) call for other methods. Sitting on stand in a ground blind, or a protected spot overlooking a likely travel route, or a water hole if it’s hot, can be very effective. If the game isn’t moving, we sometimes slip along the edge of, or just inside of the timber, and stop at likely spots to sit for a spell.
Most of the bulls we take are killed in the open, or near the edge of the timber. As a last resort, we may choose to “still-hunt” the timber. Though we do find a fair number of bulls in the timber, we don’t enter secure bedding grounds any more than we have to. Once we enter the timber, the odds tip greatly in the animals’ favor.
We don’t hang up our calls at the end of archery season as we have found calling to be fairly productive throughout the entire hunting season. Some of the bulls we kill in rifle season are also called in, having cow on their mind, and often will investigate cow “talk.” Because it is common for young heifers to require several “breedings” before it “takes” and they will continue to “cycle” till it does.
Shooting distances will vary from 10 yds to 350 yds or more. Though we prefer shots under 250 yds, anyone planning a Montana Elk hunt should practice shooting the gun to be used on the hunt till consistently hitting a 6 inch target at 400yds. You will be glad you did when the trophy of a lifetime is standing on a ridge 400 yds away with no chance to get any closer! While most well-scoped rifles .30 cal or larger are quite capable of taking down a bull at 500 or 600 yds, we strongly discourage shooting beyond 400.
ELK – DEER COMBO ARCHERY HUNTS
This is an exciting hunt, as most bulls we kill are called in with cow call or bugle. The bulls respond well, and are usually very vocal. The weather is pleasant in September and except for extremely windy days, you will get in to Elk every day.
We locate as many Elk as we can before they bed down in the morning, so we know what our options are for the day. If we see a bull we want, we go after him. We find the older bulls generally harder to call in the mornings so we don’t usually spend too much time on a bull in the morning. If he doesn’t come in soon, we leave and go look for another bull. Locating several bulls in the morning can provide us with several options later in the day after they’ve rested up and are more willing to come to the call. On the afternoon hunt, I might work on a bull for two hours or more before he decides to come in.
Most bulls killed come to a cow call, but some will only commit themselves to the bugle. We rely on our experience to know what sounds to make and when, depending on the situation and the individual bull.
On your 6-day hunt, we should have at least one excellent shot opportunity at 30-yards or less, at a 5×5 or better bull, and nearly every hunter has several opportunities. Lots of bulls are killed at less than 20 yards.
During the day, while we are giving the Elk a rest, you can relax or nap on the hillside or in camp, go fishing, or stalk Mule Deer bucks in the open country. Most of the big mature bucks are still up in the high country at that time, but there are usually a few nice bucks around. Whitetail are plentiful, with a high buck ratio, and lots of big mature bucks. These are best hunted from a stand or ground blind after you are tagged out on Elk.