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Knowing someone pays off. A family friend of ours told us of their brother who owns a ranch in Montana with a lot of mule deer. One phone call and our plans were under way. Daryl (our friend) introduced us to his brother David (the rancher) on a phone conference. We made a concept of ops complete with a schedule and logistics.
First I’ll start with the hunting license. In Montana there are areas you can get an out of state license online. Some areas you have to draw and others you can get with no issues. We were going to be hunting north of Havre, Montana. The area has ranches that don’t mind hunters as long as you have permission. The also have great public land, such as the area on the Canadian border where the famous milk river starts. Then we scheduled our hunt for early November. When we packed out, we new it would be cold and windy. We had to prepare to fly into Havre with weapons and our packs.
One of the biggest issues with flying into a hunt is weight and luggage with the airlines. People pay good money to hunt, then on top of that they pay big money to fly to their hunting area. We are very fortunate to have a clothing system from Beyond Clothing. The system we use is a layering clothing system. Always lay out the cloths you are going to wear with the worst weather conditions in mind. I like to put on the whole system, then pack them in my bag as I take them off. This way when you get to your location, you only have to get dressed and move out. In cold weather you want to have a layering system starting with light wicking material followed by good quality base layers, then you only have to use a quality outer shell for snow, wind and rain. On the civilian clothes side, I usually have my travel clothes with an additional outfit for events or travel back. This will lighten the load considerably. Another trick is to put your hunting coat in with your weapon. Remember to keep your ammo separate from you firearm and in an approved ammo case.
Once we arrived in Havre, David (Rancher) picked us up and took us out to the property. We did a vehicle recon and mapping of boundaries. It is very important to know what the property lines are. We were hunting on 6,000 acres but some of the property lines were tricky. The neighboring ranch didn’t want any hunters the first day. The second day we were allowed to hunt his property as well. Paying attention to property lines and the ranchers rules pay off in big ways. We listened to their requests and rules and have been able to hunt more property every year since.
Our goal was to kill a nice mule deer. That mission was accomplished by teamwork. It takes a lot to hunt these animals let a lone hunt with cameras and on foot. Everyone has to know what to do and when to do it for a successful hunt. We all had the elements to deal with. It was below freezing and the wind was terrible throughout the whole hunt. We had to move on very low ground and used the terrain to our advantage. There are very few trees or tall brush to hide your movement. The landscape might look flat but it is deceiving. First thing you want to do is spot the Mule deer then make a plan.
Make a plan when stocking on any animal. I like to make a full assessment of the following factors. Wind is by far a number one choice. The wind determines your first point of action. I look for the downwind side then work the terrain. As I look at the terrain, I might have to go away from the target to get close. Take your time when moving when in an exposed area. Sound won’t travel as far, but slow movement is needed at this time. When behind good terrain features you can move faster to make up ground. As you saw during the show, I was walking in between the wheat rows where the soil is softer and quieter. We did several stalks that ended with no deer. When you are out west, you have to keep trying over and over. You will eventually become successful.
As you saw in the show, we had some good old boys shoot over the hood and take an illegal shot. We made sure they saw us from a distance then we confronted them with caution. You never know how someone will react to you catching him or her doing something illegal. We did have an off camera chat with them and I can assure you they will never return. The big take away for you is to report it to the landowner. If you are the landowner, it is your decision to press charges. Some folks just need a stern warning and unfortunately others need to have a conversation with the authorities. People like that can ruin it for the rest of us. A lot of time all you have to do is ask the landowners. If they say “no,” then go to their neighbors and always come back and ask. Eventually they might say yes. If the guys who shot over their hood are reading this, contact us and let us know how you feel now.
After I killed my mule deer, we had a great time watching Reaper 02 (Doug) stock on some very nice deer. He can tell you himself how many shots the wind took away from his targets. Tell them Doug (please see PS at the bottom). We butchered all our deer in a barn with Dave (the rancher) and shared the majority of the meat with them. We even had a night where we cooked for him and his wife. They really appreciated it and even acted like they enjoyed our cooking. Hunting isn’t always about killing. The people we meet and become good friends with make it all worth it. Save your bucks and get out to Montana. The Montana big sky country is very amazing and the people are great. We can’t wait to get back.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Sign up and become part of Reaper Nation. If you have any questions, comments or just want to chat, you can contact me through reaperoutdoors.com.
Reaper-02 checking in here. Full disclosure I missed one Mule Deer the second day at 200 yards. I took a bad shot from an unstable shooting position at a monster Muley. Fortunately, it was a clean miss and he ran off unharmed. I did take 2 shots at the Muley I got on the show. The wind caught my first shot and it ended up right of the target. Having had a good teacher, “Reaper-01,” I fell back on my training and used a hold. I adjusted my aim and made a hold accounting for the wind this time. I had a nice even squeeze and dropped that Muley at about 200 yards. The shot placement was good and he fell right where he stood.