In the early hours of December just prior to heading out deep into the Bitterroot Valley two hunters purchased their tags and headed into the National Forest in pursuit of the most symmetrical and massive trophies they could find.
Hoppy searched for a tall trophy while Trigger looked for one that was thick and wide. The weather was perfect for such an endeavor; 30 degrees and overcast with a slight south west wind. After driving several roads with no sightings of the one they were looking for they decided to explore deeper into the Bitterroot National Forest.
As Trigger’s truck slowly rounded a corner a fresh set of lion tracks appeared amidst beautiful evergreens. Douglas Firs, Englum Spruce and lodge pole pines were seemingly behind every elk unveiling a hunter’s true dream location. It quickly became apparent that the decision to venture deeper into the forest was a good one as opportunities were literally all over the hillsides.
The hunt went from a frustrating search to that of looking over numerous trophies in just minutes. In these rare occasions when hunters are forced to decide quickly before the opportunities vanish, panic can quickly set in. Worries that you’ll harvest one only to find a better specimen shortly afterwards can wring nerves like a buckskin.
Finally, after scaling a dangerously steep hillside, Hoppy made a surgeon like incision through the vitals with a sharp weapon and quickly put his quarry down. He was ecstatic as he laid his hands on the perfect trophy.
Trigger decided he didn’t want to hoof it up into the hills and amazingly found the perfect trophy on the side of the road about ten feet from his truck.
After an intense hunting experience the two hunters realized all that they had accomplished in just one day. The opportunities to hunt on Montana’s public lands are simply amazing for those who work hard, put in the time and are selective about the trophies they harvest.
Immediately upon harvesting their trophies the two successful hunters attached tags to the base of their trophies before loading them in the truck. Good hunter’s ethics govern appropriate actions and it was a difficult decision whether or not to put their harvest on top of the truck where it would be visible by the general public or to keep them hidden from view.
After some discussion they decided that they were just too tired to unload all the traps, bait and guns from the bed of the truck and put them on top of the truck. Instead, they tied their harvested trophies on top and hoped that no non-consumptive users would harass them as they drove through town.
Back at home the two hunters carried their trophies into their houses and their families “oohhed and ahhhed” as their trophy trees were transformed into Christmas Trees and decorated for the enjoyment of all.
Montana’s hunting traditions are cherished by many, but perhaps the best traditions are those we can share with our whole family. Merry Christmas, may your harvests be shared with good friends and family and all your trophies be close to the road!