Normally, when you’re hunting big game and wake up to a foot of fresh snow on the opener in Montana, you get excited. But the excitement that I felt last Sunday was more of the anxiety type than anticipation.
The reason for this feeling was simple. This wasn’t the elk and deer opener. This was the opener for antelope hunting in Montana. And snow isn’t necessarily a good thing when you’re in the prairie gumbo country of Eastern Montana.
My 20- year- old son Harry and I had spent the night in at Marvin and Connie Loomis’s ranch, about 35 miles northwest of Jordan. Not only was there a foot of heavy, wet snow on the ground, but it was still falling in the form a blizzard.
As I made my way from our trailer to the main house for breakfast, I expected that antelope hunting would be put off for a day or maybe even longer until the weather improved and area dried out a bit.
We had arrived Friday and on Saturday, we hunted pheasants in 30 degree temperatures with a mixture of light rain and snow falling most of the day. The pheasant hunting was successful with six pheasants harvested.
The pheasant hunting would have been even more successful if our small hunting party of four had been in the right place at the right time. We had plenty of pheasants but not enough hunters to cover the ground we were hunting.
As I made my way to the breakfast table, I could see by the expression on Marvin’s face that he might have been as surprised as I was when he looked out the window. As we finished breakfast Marvin looked at us and said “Well we might as well get after it.”
He had been listening to the weather radio and the forecast called for more snow during the day and continuing into Sunday night. So we dusted the snow off Marvin’s suburban loaded our hunting gear and took off for the lands we were going to hunt.
The main road had not been plowed and we could see that one, maybe two, vehicles had driven it before us. Luckily, we were able to drive on the pasture roads in the Marvin’s field.
I have hunted antelope openers for over 20 years and I can safely say that I have never seen snow let alone this much snow on opening day. Yet the hunting day ended with all of us filling our tags by noon.
The forecast was for more snow about 6 inches through the night so Harry and I decided to head back to Missoula early and we left about 3 p.m. and headed west.
It turned out to be another antelope adventure with memories that can be recalled during antelope openers for years to come. It will be remembered as the year of the big snow on opening day.