Elk Hunting is a Grand Adventure: Captain’s Column
By Kelsey

Posted: November 15, 2012

The adventures of an elk hunting trip are always something to look forward too! One of my elk hunting buddies Bob Culp, of Frenchtown, always says just before we head out for a day of elk hunting, “we are off on another grand adventure.”

In the world of hunting I think most hunters would agree that elk hunting is certainly a grand adventure, whether you are successful in your effort of getting an elk or not successful in getting an elk. Filling your elk tag every year is certainly a challenge, from the preparation to the actual hunt, it is helpful if every step is planned along the way.

Michael Gordon, of Missoula, and his hunting buddy Mark Liedtka, of Stevensville, have taken the term “Grand Adventure” to another level with their recent elk hunting trip. The preparation part of this trip started when they both received their pilot license.

They would need this license because the only way they could access the area that they were going to hunt was by air. Well, if you have a pilot’s license, then it might be a good idea to buy a plane. That is just what Liedtka did when he purchased a Super Cub airplane.

The area that the two local hunters wanted to access and hunt elk was permit only area. So Gordon applied for a bull elk permit and was lucky enough to be one of 200 hunters that were awarded a permit for hunting district 411-20. This hunting district is located over in Central Montana by Lewistown in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains.

In fact Liedtka put his plane in a hanger in the Lewistown airport so they would only have a 30 minute flight to this unique elk hunting area. “The area is approximately five by six miles in size and it is surrounded by a ranch which is private and doesn’t allow hunting on the ranch or access to the public BLM land that it borders the ranch,” said Gordon. That is where an airplane comes in handy. “The bull to cow ratio is high in this area,” added Gordon, “as you might imagine there are some big bulls because they don’t get a lot of hunting pressure and that is what I was looking for.” There are so many bull elk in this area that it is not uncommon for a big bull to have some of the tips of its horns broken off while fighting with other bulls.

They arrived by plane on Saturday November 3rd and set up camp. The next day Gordon while walking spotted a nice bull about 450 yards away. The big bull was hanging out with five other smaller bulls so Gordon decided to make a stalk to try and get a decent shot. “I got within 100 yards and then some of the other bull elk winded me and started to move, the big bull also started to run but I was able to get a decent shot and I dropped him,” he said.

That bull elk ended up being an 8×8 monster of an elk. “We green scored it at 372,” said Gordon. It was a grand adventure that Gordon and Liedtka won’t soon forget.