2011 Montana elk... what can I say? The journey was as long as it
possibly could have been, the elk were as quiet as I've ever witnessed, but the
experience remained a great one. It’s been three weeks since my elk adventure
wrapped up and, looking back, it dawned on me.
This was my second trip to Montana in the past three years and,
comparing the trips, I couldn’t have had more opposite experiences. Back
in 2009, I was fortunate enough to draw a Missouri River Breaks tag. It
was a hunt on a private chunk of ground that was nice, rolling hills. The
openness of that country made the elk visible and huntable. I had a huge
hunting party following me around the woods; my wife, my friends Vaughn Esper
and Chad Johnson and a cameraman. We were staying in the basement of Dan
and Lori's house (BD Ranch) where we could shower daily, charge batteries and
sleep in beds and on top of all that, there were elk absolutely EVERYWHERE.
This season, we spent 90% of our time in general draw units in the
Montana backcountry. There were no beds, just one-person tents. It
was just either Kyle or William running camera, depending on the juncture of
the season, and I. There were no outlets to charge batteries; we relied
on our solar power solutions from Brunton to keep us going. Moving camp
meant 70+ pound packs to wherever our next home was going to be. We ate
far from camp to keep the bears away, water was provided from natural springs,
the terrain for the most part was brutally steep with blowdown and there were
not many elk talking at all. It was what most would call a rough backcountry
hunt, but for me, it was just what the doctor ordered.
The 2009 trip was the worst hunt I've ever had. Unfortunately, we had
one person in the hunting party that ruined the experience for all of us.
Sure we harvested a great bull, but the end result leaves me to cringe when
thinking of that trip. This season, we didn't harvest a bull. Heck, we
didn't even see a bull we truly wanted to pursue, but we covered a ton of
beautiful ground, had highs and lows and did it with a smile on our face.
Don't get caught up in judging your hunt by the number of animals seen and
certainly not by the harvest alone. Enjoy your time, build memories, take
pictures and put the work in to get deep in the woods and experience natural
environments that such a small percentage of as humans get to truly see.
Enjoy some pics from the trip and enjoy your season, no matter how it
Cheers - J. Simpson
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