The alarm went off at 4:00am on Sunday, September 15th, and, typically, when that happens, snoozing is inevitable…but that all changes during hunting season. I have no desire to hit snooze regardless of how late I went to bed the night before–and this year is going to be a good one…I can feel it.
We decided to head to the mountains and check out a certain area that we had hiked two hours into before, and it proved to be a good thing. Not long after our trek to the ridge, Jason Maxwell, a Darby native and lifetime Montana hunter, bugled just once before we turned around to head back. I stopped in mid-turn as a bull, that couldn’t have been more than 200 yards from us just over the ridge, bugled back in response. I am pretty sure we both looked like pugs as our eyes bulged out of our heads in surprise. We waited a bit and then tried another bugle. Only, this time, we heard nothing. I still ended up taking a picture in the direction that we heard the bull respond, in hopes that the monster 8 x 7 (one can only assume, right?) would appear long enough for short paparazzi session. It was the closest thing to getting a shot at an elk that we would’ve gotten had we seen him, as we were not elk hunting that day. We were focusing our hunting on wolves and bears.
Moving on, we worked our way back and decided to run up a couple of old logging roads to see if we could find any types of animal tracks. We came up to a muddy rut and checked it for tracks, and sure enough, we saw wolf tracks. You could see the outline of the biggest wolf’s print with at least one other smaller print inside of its tracks. The print was fairly fresh and couldn’t have been more than 24 hours-old. Our search continued.
We, soon after the wolf tracks discovery, were greeted by a mule deer buck–just a little guy–staring at us no more than 30 yards away. We must have bored him a bit standing there motionless staring back at him, as he just ended up spinning around and heading down into the draw. Hey, at least we actually saw an animal and not just signs of one! I took a picture of the young muley, but he was a bit faster than I was grabbing my camera, apparently. If you can see him in the picture to the left, please let me know, because I couldn’t see him!
Moving on, we decided that an opening in the trees was the perfect place to bugle again. So, Jason popped a squat (pictured below) and let out a bugle that echoed across the draw. We waited. There was no response this time, but it was also warming up quite a bit, so we were wondering if movement was dying down to a minimum at this time. It was probably around noon now. After hearing the high for the day was 87 degrees, minimal movement sounded fantastic to me, too!
We decided to head out to grab some grub after approximately 5 or so hours in the mountains. There was another place closer to home that we wanted to check out in the evening, so we packed up and packed out. On the drive out, we passed some ponds that were dammed up by beavers. It was pretty interesting to see how busy the beavers had been, as a few of the dams they had built looked like architecture exceeding human capabilities. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but still. We weren’t trapping that day, though, so we just took a couple of pictures and took off. (You can see the dam on the left side in the photo below. This particular dam is actually rather large)
Even though my opening day experience (Part 1 anyway) looks like a post about how beautiful Montana scenery is, I can assure you a bull really did respond to us–once–and a young muley confronted us, too! I know, I know…we never SAW the bull, and I have no proof the muley was there, but they were both real.
I hope that Montana hunters out there were a bit more successful opening morning, and we, at the Montana Outdoor Radio Show, would love to hear your stories and see your pics! Post your pictures on Facebook at www.facebook.com/montanaoutdoor.
(Photos: Angela Montana)