Today is the last day of the 2014 general hunting season in Montana. For those of you that know me, I live to hunt. It is what I dream about all year long. It is also a heritage that I am determined to pass on to my son. With the season coming to an end, I can sum it up by saying that “it was a successful season filled with unsuccessful hunts.”
Yeah, I didn’t bag any beast this year. And, it wasn’t for any lack of time spent in the field. I spent a good portion of every single weekend in search of critters. I also spent a lot of time exploring country that I have never hunted. Not to mention, 80% of my hunts this year involved packing a 2 year old along…It was just an age old tale of bad luck.
The first few weeks of archery season saw me scrambling to pull together all my gear. I cleaned out and re-packed my day pack. I fine tuned my bow shot and tightened my broad heads. I spent my first hunt of the year, with a close encounter of the elk kind. Missing a 35 yard shot on a gorgeous 6×7 bull elk. Even though I missed, experiencing the whole thing with my older brother made some memories that I will never forget.
Opening day of rifle season was nothing to brag about, except for the fact that I got my son out in the field for the first time all year. We trudged through the mud and grass in search of whatever we could find. But nothing worthy of filling the freezer ever stepped out.
The next few weekends were spent trolling the Bitterroot with the lil buddy in tow. We never got a shot, but saw a lot of deer and had a lot of laughs playing in the trees.
The next weekend I drove to the top of the world in search of mule deer. It was cold, but I had fun chasing those spring loaded and floppy eared critters. Unfortunately, I had to pass up a couple bucks in hopes of something bigger. That chance never came.
The next weekend saw the promise of finding elk. The only problem was getting to them. After an entire morning scouting and spotting, I finally found the herd. The only problem was…. They were FIVE MILES AWAY!!!! I weighed my options and decided to pursue them on foot. Halfway through the trip, I was “out run” by cowboys on horseback. They saved me the agony of continuing the long hike. One of the perks of hunting public land. The look of being wore out and frustrated
The next weekend I drove the whole “fam damily” halfway across the state, for a little birthday/thanksgiving celebration. Mother nature decided to intervine slightly, by spreading a nice layer of ice all over the mountain. That thin layer of ice soon led to a Broadway production of “Elk hunting ON ICE.” The only way I can describe the conditions is by saying “it was like driving on roller skates.” The icy roads soon led to a backwards vehicular slip-n-slide off of a mountain side. Thankfully no one was hurt and I lived to spend my birthday in one of my favorite places in the world. (with a special message from my nephew written in the snow.)
Now, here I sit, after the sunsets on the final day of hunting season. After risking my life for sausage and jerky one last time, I came up with nothing. I braved the treacherous roads of the latest artic storm, but still had no luck.
As I drove back home, empty handed, I could only think about how amazing my season was. Even without filling any tags. The time spent with my family and friends, and especially my lil hunting buddy, created far more memories than any trophy bull could ever do. I guess I will just have to ration what’s left in my freezer and start preparing for next year. Happy Hunting!