For as long as I can remember, elk hunting in the Rockies has always been a necessity in the fall. It’s not something that my dad and I “might” put on the calendar but rather something that is permanently there, year after year from the 15th of September through the 25th: the peak of the elk rut.
This is a special time to spend in the woods, and if you haven’t experienced bull elk bugling in the wild, it is something that you should put at the top of your bucket list. For us, harvesting an animal is a priority, but it doesn’t make or break the trip. It’s about the overall experience that trumps over everything else.
Last fall my hunting partner and I decided to break away from the areas we usually elk hunt and get away from all forms of civilization. 9 miles from the truck, we were approximately 5 miles from any form of man made trail, and most importantly we were away from people. It was just us, the elk, deer and grizzly bears, in the middle of some of the most rugged country I had ever laid eyes on. Most nights were tough to sleep, with the whipping wind, a choir of elk bugling non stop and the overlying fear of a grizzly scrounging through our camp. Luckily we were only there for one night, as we were fortunate enough to get a mature bull on the ground after the first morning of the hunt. We were stoked beyond belief, but after the adrenaline settled down, we quickly realized that we had to pack an entire elk out with three guys, over nine miles. Not only is it the entire elk, but we had over 100 pounds of camping gear as well. After using a SPOT device, we were able to contact some friends back in Missoula that were willing to help us on the pack out. 6 hours later, the help crew had arrived at our arranged meeting spot and we were ready to start the trek back to the truck. Little did we know that the packout wouldn’t be over for another 72 hours and it would be the packout from hell. There was yelling, several tears, and many occurrences where we thought our feet were going to fall off. It was awful, but in hindsight, it was a memory that all of us will remember for the rest of our lives. It was some of the worst pain I have ever experienced, but I wouldn’t trade that experience with some of my best friends for anything.
Some of the most memorable memories I have, have been made in the elk woods. Perhaps that is the reason behind this blog, because I want to share with you all of the memories, stories and lessons that I have experienced through my 21 years of life, specifically in the outdoors. I want to make it so that you will have the curiosity and desire to go chase after some of these experiences as well. There are so many opportunities available throughout the state of Montana, regardless of where you live. Whether it be fishing, hunting, or just getting out to the mountains for a hike. I can guarantee that you won’t regret it.