Elk Hunt in Montana, 2019
Dave had spotted an elk bedded down over a half mile away in the other direction and radioed the other guys to go after it. So, those guys were on their way in our direction as well. While taking care of my deer, the Sime “dream team” shot and connected on a mule deer buck, as well! What a day!
Thank goodness for Sam’s Honda side-by-side. It brought three hunters and two muleys back to camp, with little effort.
I did shoot my muley in the neck and it was an instant kill. I let Dave know that the reason I looked at him with question before shooting, was that I could only see the neck up and remember him telling me to only shoot at what you know is there, not what you think is there. He told me that years ago, when I shot at what I thought was there, on a whitetail bedded down. I’m not quite as green as Kermit anymore – and that’s a good thing.
Thursday, Oct. 31 – HALLOWEEN!
The trick was the weather and the treat Dave’s elk. Even more snow in the forecast and because of cold, we were running low on propane to heat our little cabin. The plan was to hunt for a few hours in the a.m., and chain up the trucks to get Sam to town to get supplies, including a corkscrew for the next elk success story I anticipated would occur.
Steve and Chad headed hunting, and Dave and I headed up in the area where I shot the muley, he spotted a bull the day before. We were working our way up drifts that were impassable with an ATV and would stop every 20 yards to let the ole ticker catch up. Dave spotted a bull walking in a meadow the opposite side of drainage, than us.
He ranged it and came up with 400 yards. The bull wasn’t sky-lined at this point. He decided, after evaluating the hunting conditions and limited access, that he would go for this bull. He set up a rest while I glassed. The bull appeared to be heading up, probably to bed down for the day, just as he did the day before. We had seen where he was feeding in the creek bottom on our way up to hunt.
The wind was blowing the worst it had this trip. Dave took a few non-lethal shots and by this time, the elk had sky-lined himself. Dave re-ranged the bull and was now coming up with 500 yards. Obvious ranging error, initially. I’ve learned that this can happen when range finder picks up terrain in front of an animal.
He dialed in to 500...shot again and sealed the deal with his .338 Ultra & Barnes bullet. The hike up to him took a lot of effort. Dave took one step that landed him in waist deep snow. Once in the upper elevation where the elk was, the wind had blown the snow off and made it much easier to climb. Steve and Chad brought a plastic sled up to us, and helped get the elk down. This beautiful bull will be in the family forever.
Back to camp. The guys chained up trucks to get Sam out
Dave and Carol with her mule deer to town. I stayed at camp and the guys all headed down with Sam, to be sure he got out OK. Gone for hours, I figured all was OK and enjoyed the day with our labs, Olivia and Riley, planned a steak dinner for the guys that night. Around 4 p.m., I heard our truck backing into camp and went out to help unload supplies.
Dave and Sam met me with deer-in-the headlights looks on their faces. Dave said they couldn’t get out. The drifts were 3 feet plus deep in places. Steve and Chad were handshoveling creek crossings and they received word from a landowner evacuating their camp, that more snow was on its way within the next few hours.
Dave said, “Start packing, we have got to leave now and we have one shot at this.” He said to pack in preparation for staying in the trucks on the flats if we can’t get out, so I made sure the -20 sleeping bags, Mountain House meals and water were readily available in the cab. At 5:30 p.m., the convoy of trucks and ATVs headed out of camp, through the winding creek bottom crossings.
We picked up a hunter hiking out, who had helped someone bring horses in to rescue a 75-year-old man stranded back in the high country. There were areas where the trail was impassable, and took excellent driving skills by Dave and Steve to navigate the trucks off the trail, and into areas Big Sky Country
that were sketchy at best, praying we would miss rocks buried under the snow that would be sure to slice open the chained off road tires.
Snowing now, we got through the creek bottom and were now faced with crossing the grazing fields in the dark, with snow hindering visibility of the trail out. We made it to the main road at 8:10 p.m., closed the gate behind us on Camp Elkatraz! We took the chains off trucks, loaded the ATVs and slowly made our way to Great Falls, Mont., for the night.
What a day! What an adventure!
We escaped to Wisconsin the next morning. The weather cut week one short and took week two from us, as more snow was forecast for the following Monday.
This hunt proved to be both the most challenging, and successful, Montana hunt, to date. We all took the good with the bad and understood “that’s hunting.” We counted our blessings that at our age, we are still able to accomplish what we just did.
This hunting is unlike fishing. You can’t be successful and then release them. With that being said, each trophy will be honored and as they hang on the wall, they will be a cherished, memorable story and remain a chapter in the Hakes Heritage storybook, that will be told for generations to come.
Leaving camp before more snow hit