The Captain’s Unforgettable Hunting and Fishing Week: Captain’s Column (9.16.15)
Last week was a hunting and fishing week I won’t soon forget. It was a dream week for sure. Very seldom do you use elk hunting and Chinook salmon fishing in the same sentence as was the case last week. My main objective was to try and bag an elk archery hunting as I headed east to hunting district 621southeast of Malta near Fort Peck Reservoir. That in itself is a tall order as getting an elk with my bow has not happened in the last three years. The elk tag I drew was for either sex and I was optimistic this year that I would fill my freezer with a cow if not a bull. I was prepared to take the first quality shot at any elk that came within 40 yards.
As it turned out that shot was at a 6 point bull elk and it didn’t take long to happen. On the Saturday of the opener it was overcast and windy as a cold front was moving in. It had rained lightly the night before with thunderstorms around midnight. The conditions were ideal. Gene Ripley from Outlook Montana and I were guided by Marty Low from Kalispell. Low has been guiding for Burke Ranch Outfitters for only three years but is a seasoned archery hunter. As we began our morning hunt the decision was made to walk up a ridge that would give us a great view to glass a wide area in the hopes of spotting some elk and then make a plan to stalk them. As I came to the edge of this boulder lined ridge that dropped straight down I caught a glimpse of an elk.
All I could see was the top of its horns. I quickly backed away and motioned to Low. I explained to him that there was an elk bedded down and that I had ranged him at 26 yards. The wind was in our favor blowing at 15 miles per hour. Low explained to me that he would throw a rock in front of the bull in an attempt to get him to stand up. As I stood with my bow drawn Low hurled a rock that landed about 10 feet in front of the elk. The bull stayed bedded down only turning his head from left to right. Low threw another rock still no movement. After a few more unsuccessful attempts with rocks Low decided to go 30 yards up the ridge and cow call. As Low got in position I moved within 20 yards of the bull and drew my bow. This time the plan worked.
The bedded bull elk slowly stood up giving me an ideal shot and I took advantage of it as my arrow hit both lungs. The bull ran 150 yards over the next ridge and it was game over. Two hours into the archery season and I had bagged a 6 point bull, my first with a bow. My dream week was not over. The next weekend Matt Mackinaw and I joined Bill Zahradka from Wolf Point, who we call the Fort Peck Salmon Slayer at the face of the dam for some king salmon fishing. It is the tail end of the salmon bite but since I was over in the area we decided to give it a try. Mackinaw put one in the boat the first day and after one and half days of fishing I was still looking for my first salmon. With less than 10 minutes left of fishing it was fish on. When Zahradka netted my 10 pound salmon I realized that for the last 10 days I had been living the dream and it was time to go home.
(Written by the Captain – aka Mark Ward)