Montana 2013 Hunting Season Review

2013 got off to a great start in the backcountry of the Scapegoat Wilderness! We were able to set up the Meadow Creek Camp during the second week of June and run our first summer packtrip on June 20th and then ran the annual field packtrip for the Arthur Carhart Center in late June. In-between 1st and 2nd cutting haying, we ran a total of 7 wilderness packtrips in 2013, with the Continental Divide and the Chinese Wall trips being the noteworthy ones, as we had some of the best fishing that I can remember in years. We have several folks that just can’t seem to get enough of the Bob Marshall Complex and the solitude within, as evidenced by Scott & Donna from NY., who joined the K Lazy 3 for the 9th time.  The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks contracted us on two separate trips to assist them in getting into the very remote places for their native fish survey. I look forward to getting the results and sharing them with you all.

The fall of 2013 found the crew of K Lazy 3 hitting on all cylinders. Over the past several years, we have had to deal with forest fires, bears, blizzards and even camp relocations to service our hunts, but this year we had a normal uninterrupted go at it. We had hunts in Meadow Cr., Camp Cr., Hahn Cr. & the Deer Creeks, so with a crew of 12 and 50 + head of horses and mules, we were ready!

Steve Wendell | And the A - Team is successful again!

Steve Wendell | And the A – Team is successful again!

I decided to try something new in the Deer Creeks this year. In years past, we have always hunted the Deer Creeks in mid to late November. The hunting is always good then for both elk and mule deer, but the evidence of the early season elk rut is amazing. An archery hunt starting the 7th of September was in order. Every day we were into bugling bulls! Steve and I found a herd late on day 1 and the hunt was on. We positioned ourselves between two bugling bulls and I proceeded to hit the cow talk. One of the bulls immediately responded and started coming our way. I would hit the cow talk and he would bugle in response. Steve positioned himself with a couple of shooting lanes and I retreated to a position of cover. I could not see the bull, but he seemed to be only 50 yards in front of me, and Steve was in-between. As I hit the cow talk one more time, I saw Steve draw his bow and let fly at 20 yards. I heard what sounded like the bull raking a tree, so I chirped again and Steve gave me the hand signal to keep him coming. To my surprise, as I was cow talking and throwing out a challenging bugle, Steve stood up while the bull was still raking the tree! Now Steve’s hand signals were with much excitement; he must need the bull to take another step for the shot. At that point, I was calling with tone and frequency that should have cleared every animal from the woods. Then Steve started talking to me with the same excitement as his hand signals. He had hit and dropped the bull in his tracks on his first shot and what I thought was a bull raking a tree was actually his 5 X 5 bull thrashing on the ground!

Craig and Frenchy were into position a couple of times during the week as well. Frenchy had a 6 point within 14 yards, but could not get a clear shooting lane. They passed up a rag horn and finally the moment of truth was at hand. Guy had a bull hooked up and coming in hard. Craig and Frenchy split up and got into position. A quick swing around with the range finders and they were ready. The bull was honed in on Guy’s cow talk and had a deliberate pace in his cadence. As Craig tells the story, he had the bull at 60 yards, 50 yards, 40 yards, just 10 more and it’s a broadside shot in the breadbasket. Frenchy had other ideas though, as he is confident in his shooting (I saw him have a three inch group at 70 in practice), he had a 60 yard shot on the bull and decided to take it. Craig saw the arrow fly over the bull’s back; then he whirled and was gone. I think Craig and Frenchy are still good hunting buddies, but Craig might be still kicking the dirt and cussing…

Opening week in the Scapegoat; I have a favorite spot to go opening day every year, but this year I was a little miffed. After a long ride and a short hike, it began to break daylight. Before I broke out the bugle to get the season started, I decided to glass the back end of the canyon and to my surprise 4 grizzlies filled my spotting scope. After viewing them at a comfortable distance of ½ mile, I decided to alter my hunt plans and head in another direction. Turning north and walking a mere 80 yards we ran smack into another grizz! Fortunately, the boar was as unnerved as we were and vacated the area. Hunting competition is a major concern of the hunters that we serve, but I think they are referring to the ones that wear the orange vests. Brandon and Eric got the party started though with Brandon’s magical cow talk being the bait once again. The 5 X 6 bull nearly ran them over before the sound of Eric’s rifle silenced the bellowing bull. On day two, Dan and I were hunting together above camp, when a bull answered my bugle in a draw below. The next ½ hour seemed to be fruitless, as my calls were not being answered and we could not hear or see the bull anywhere. Out of nowhere the 5 point bull was looking right at us a mere 30 yards away. I was looking eye ball to eye ball with the bull, but Dan was sitting 5 feet from me and couldn’t see him. The bull knew something was up, and he decided to leave in a hurry. We ran down the mountain in hot pursuit, and I saw the bull crossing the draw so we should have a second chance at him at about 150 yards. The bull thought he had created enough distance between us and himself since our initial meeting, so he came walking across the other side of the draw. A quick chirp on the cow talk froze him in his tracks. “Take him”, I whispered and Dan fired the shot. The dirt flew behind the bull, a clean miss! As the bull did not even flinch, I instructed Dan to try again. The second shot was true to the mark, and the bull was rolling down the mountain. Brandon and I also had other bulls called into 40 yards during the week and after the shots were fired, we had no elk to pack off the mountain. Guy and Tony C. were taking a lunch break in Camp Creek and Tony’s 5 point bull decided to check out the conversation; now he is the conversation back in camp. Sid had a similar experience with Bill and Tony D. in Hahn Creek. Now a 5 point and a 5 X 6 reside in New York State.

Dean Neiderbaumer | A massive September 6 X 6 bull!

Dean Neiderbaumer | A massive September 6 X 6 bull!

September 23rd – 29th saw a change in the weather. The 4 inches of snow that fell was a welcome site, it would help to keep the elk grazing for longer periods and the moisture would soften up the vegetation, so our spot and stalks would be quieter. Guy and Mitch were the first to score in Camp Creek, one shot at 80 yards and Mitch had a very even 6 X 6 bull. It seems like the herd bulls were getting more aggressive every day… Dean, Kurt and I headed out of Meadow Creek on day three, but the closer it got to daylight, the harder it began to snow. With limited visibility, we decided to build a fire and wait the flurries out. After a two hour B.S. session, the storm broke and we continued up the mountain. A short 20 minutes later we tied up and began to glass. We immediately spotted a 25+ bunch of elk and I proceeded to crank down on them with the spotting scope. There was a bull for sure and once I cranked down to 60 power, we could see the massive bull in its entirety. Even at over a mile away, we could tell this one was a keeper. Back on the horses, on up the trail for an hour, and were closing into position. The mountain was steep and slick with the fresh snow cover, but in a short time we were peeking over a rock outcrop for an initial locate on the herd. A lone cow was standing across the ravine at about 80 yards-a sentinel looking for the well-being of the herd. Scanning the timber behind the cow produced nothing, and a mule deer buck came walking by less than 20 yards in front of us. We were pinned down and had to wait until both the cow and the buck moved on, or we would be busted. Dean said, “I’ll take a shot on the bull, just like that cow standing there”. I smiled and said, “I bet you would”.  15 minutes later the buck had moved on and the cow was grazing into the ravine in front of us. We could move on now, but maybe we should stand up and get a good look into the ravine before we go. I slowly stood up and something caught my eye. The movement could have been the snow falling from a tree branch, but just then the whole tree moved! It was the big 6 X 6 grazing at 50 yards from us the whole time! I don’t know if I even got any words out of my mouth, but Dean could tell by the look in my eyes that it was game on. He laid his 338 on the top of the rock and punched him behind the shoulder. The mountain of a bull took two steps forward and Dean hit him again in the shoulder. Either of the two shots should have put the bull down, but he kept going up the bottom of the ravine. After traveling another 40 yards he stopped once more and Dean hammered the shoulder again. The bull knew he was hurt bad and tried to go straight up the side of the ravine. A few steps later he came crashing to the ground.  Dean has taken bulls with us in previous years, but nothing like he was standing over now; a 350 class 6 X 6 is his latest reward for his efforts. The following day we returned to the site with Jerry to help him load the elk and the mules for the trip to the trailhead. Once the loads were secure, we decided to poke around in the area, as it would be too late to ride into another drainage for a hunt. Less than an hour later, we had elk running all over in front of us! With no time to get a solid rest, Kurt used a root limb from an uprooted fir tree for the shot. The cows were over the ridge and the bull was moving in their same path. Kurt’s first shot missed in front of the bull, but he turned and headed paralleling us down the ridge. Kurt moved over to a stand tree for the rest and shot; #3 hit home. His 5 point bull came to rest just 600 yards from where Dean’s bull died the day before.  That makes 5 bulls and two mule bucks in 3 trips for Kurt and Dean. Trevor and Gary took advantage of the snow cover and spotted a big herd in the head end of Camp Creek. Gary said he had to use some of his logging background to help retrieve his 5 point bull…

Jason Campbell | October 6 X 7 bull with huge tine length!

Jason Campbell | October 6 X 7 bull with huge tine length!

October 2 – 8; The snow from last week is still having a positive effect on the hunting. The rut might be winding down a little, but our spotting scopes are picking up the slack. Larry and sons Brett & Jason have hunted elk their entire life and a lot of that hunting has been in Montana. They enjoy the backcountry and the challenges of a wilderness hunt. Larry got his chance early, and he was glad to take a 5 X 5 bull. He quickly turned into his sons’ best cheerleader. Jason had a very good opportunity on day two, having his pack down on a log and his rifle cradled on it, but he missed a 160 yard shot. He made up for it on the last day as Logan found a nice 6 X 7 still thinking about the rut. One bugle and the bull left his cows; this time Jason connected on a 140 yard shot. Richard tried to stretch his barrel in the avalanche slide on Bugle Mtn., but the herd seemed to not even know they were being shot at. Ryan put enough effort into the hunt to harvest every single day, but the bull Gods did not see it that way. Hopefully, he will dig in and get addicted to hunting elk for years to come.

15 year old Savannah & proud Papa Mitch with Savannah's big 6 X 7 bull

15 year old Savannah & proud Papa Mitch with Savannah’s big 6 X 7 bull

October 11 – 17; Toward evening on the day we rode into camp, I took the spotting scope for a walk above Emerald Pond. We can see into four major drainages and often times have a game plan for the first hunting day. This evening would be no different. Nearly two and half miles away, we have spotted three elk. Cranking down to 60 power, I can see a cow and calf and a big wide racked bull. Mitch and daughter Savannah get to look at the elk as well; I think it was a restless night’s sleep for them. Come morning we headed toward the area where we had last seen the elk. Tying the horses low on the mountain so we would not spook the elk, we headed up the mountain. Half an hour later, I spotted the cow and thought they might be in range. The range finder reading changed my mind though, as a 600 yard shot might be a little bit long for 15 year old Savannah. We worked our way closer, checking the yardage along the way. We made it to 350 and the cow was on to us. She did not move, so we proceeded to make up valuable yardage toward the bull. At 280 it was time to pick our spot, Savannah laid her rifle over a log and the bull appeared broadside. I can remember thinking; at least she got a shot at the bull, as I realized she had missed. Savannah quickly chambered another round and waited for her opportunity. That opportunity came as the 6 point stepped into the open again; this time she connected, and the bull was hit low in the brisket area. We could see that he did not want to go uphill toward the cow, but he forced himself farther away from us. The next clear shot Savannah had she made it count, and the bull lay dead on the side of the mountain. I thought it was quite a ways to the bull, so I put the range finder on it and it showed 375 yards! When we made it over to the 6 X 7 bull, both Savannah and proud papa Mitch told me that not only had Savannah never harvested an animal before, but this was the first time setting foot in the field in pursuit of game! The only thing she had ever pulled the trigger on was a target. Upon listening to the day’s events back at camp, veteran K Lazy 3 hunter Sean asked how is that possible? This was Sean’s 12th consecutive year hunting with us and yes he has harvested several bulls, but nothing like Savannah took in the first hour of the first day that she ever went hunting. As the old saying goes, “And that’s why it’s called hunting, not killing”. Of course a little luck along the way is helpful as well. Danny from TX. pulled 1 of the 2 Bull Moose licenses for hunting district 280. We had heard of a big bull in the valley and I took Danny in pursuit. We glassed the meadows by camp before we hiked up country toward the last known visual of the bull. Hunting all morning with no luck, we walking into a neighboring camp that had seen the bull two days prior, and they even had pictures. As we were visiting around their campfire, one of the guys went to the creek for two buckets of water. He quickly returned and reported that the bull moose was standing down by the creek. Danny and I ran to the creek only to see the back half of the bull go into the brush, never to be seen again. Upon returning to camp, our story of misfortune got worse. Shortly after we hiked away from camp that morning, the bull paraded around on the other side of the creek for all of 45 minutes and just 140 yards away! Five days later when Danny left for Texas empty handed he said, “It was more fun to hunt for the big bull and not get him than settle for a small one.”

October 20 – 26; On the first day Chet and I found ourselves looking at a small group of cows & calves. We snuck to within 170 yards just in case there was a bull that we were unaware of. We backed out and hunted higher up on the ridge and then circled back around to watch the same bunch of cows come out to feed before dark. Chet was thinking about a cow, but we opted for leaving them alone, as they did not know we were in the area. We covered a lot of country that week, even seeing 19 Mtn. Goats along the way, but the bulls were hard to find. On the last day, Logan, Bruce & Alex found a herd with 2 mature bulls in Camp Creek. The herd bedded in the dark timber for the day and did not expose themselves before dark. Chet and I only saw two Mtn. Goats on the last day as well; Mother Nature proved that we are just along for the ride…

Guy Gravert | November 7, 2013  |  9 inch Billy taken at 375 yards!

Guy Gravert | November 7, 2013 | 9 inch Billy taken at 375 yards!

November 4 – 7; Guy was lucky enough to draw area 323 for a Mtn. Goat, so Jerry & I went along for the adventure of it. The trail into the Meatrack Meadows was in pretty tough shape, as we had to cut several trees off the trail to get in. We set camp and had enough hay for the night and Jerry headed back to the trailhead on day 2 for the hay to last four more nights. Guy and I headed out hunting for the day. We had packed in snowshoes, as we were uncertain about the snow conditions at 10,000 feet. We had also picked out our tallest horses for the hunt and it proved to be a good choice. We rode for about two hours in the chest deep snow and finally the snow was too deep for our horses to travel in. The snowshoes worked good in the heaviest snow, but we had to constantly take them on and off to scale the near vertical rock outcroppings on the spine of the ridge. The wind was screaming across the ridge tops, so the goats weren’t going to wind us; we just had to worry about them seeing us. The first two goats spotted were a nanny and kid lying on the southern exposure of the ridge. They were at 150 yards, and because Guy had shot a nanny in the early 80’s, I thought it would be neat if Guy took the kid this time and he could be on his way to having a family of goats. He did not think that was too good of an idea, so we pressed on. Oh well, his loss I guess. The next goat up was a big mature Billy, whose frame and cadence commanded our attention! Problem was that he was walking away from us a mile up the ridge. We continued in that direction and found two more billies, but before we could get into range, four more goats were standing less than 100 yards directly above us. We judged those goats and decided to pass. Pressing on to the spine of the ridge, we bumped the two billies out of their beds. Now they were standing together and one of them stood shoulders above the smaller one. With a 40 + mile an hour cross wind, Guy placed 3 shots behind the shoulder at 375 yards. It was a very impressive piece of shooting. The goat looked to be anchored against the rocks, but he kicked free and it looked like it would be all of 1000 feet below before we could start to pick up the pieces. Once we made it to where the billy started his tumble from, we were very pleased to see him hung up in the deep snow just 30 yards below. Another 2 yards and the 1000 feet would have become a reality. The next day Jerry joined us in the retrieval of the 9 inch billy, the 70 mile an hour wind made for blizzard conditions, but we still called it fun!

November 11 – 14; It’s hard for any new hunters to get in and experience the Deer Creek hunts because the repeat guys keep a good hold of their spots. Bill brought his son Will this year and just had to show off a little. Logan spotted a nice 5 point mule buck and instead of getting closer, Bill took the buck at 580 yards. Logan thought the shot was low and had Bill shoot a second time. Upon closer inspection, the buck had two holes behind the shoulder and through the heart! Chuck had his pick of two bulls that I spotted, even though I guessed the range a little off because my range finder was in my pack hanging on my horse. I suppose there is a difference between 300 and 390, but a shot through the neck folded the nice 6 X 6 bull. Jamie patiently waited for his opportunity, and it came in the form of a good 4 X 5 mulie. We are still trying to figure out how one shot could produce two sources of blood though… Will did get his chance on the last day, harvesting only the second deer of his life, a 4 X 4.

Rob Arnaud | November, Heavy Horned - Roman Nose Muley!

Rob Arnaud | November, Heavy Horned – Roman Nose Muley!

November 17 – 20; Rob & son Kendell struck first, as we found not one but two good bucks working 20 some does. We got into position for the daily double and the first shot rang out. Let’s just say that there was some reloading going on and after the shooting stopped, I got up to go get the horses for the retrieval, but it was hard to keep my balance for all the brass that I was walking on. Kendell had a nice 25 inch 5 point and Rob’s 5 point was a heavy horned Roman nose buck. Don and grandson Nathan were back again; as you recall Don is setup for the super long shot (he killed his bull at 730 yards last year). This year would be no different as in a snow storm, and across the draw shot, he took his 5 X 5 mulie buck at 560 yards with one shot. Even though Nathan was setup for the long shot, his well-placed shot at 50 yards netted him a 5 point mulie as well. Logan and John found a nice 4 X 5 buck on that same snowy day, and they were headed back to Ohio.

November 23 – 26; On the first day we found 2 bulls bedded across a big draw from us. Frank and Carl were wondering if they should shoot because the bulls were only 2 points. I explained to Frank not to pass up an animal on the first day that you would be happy to shoot on the last day. He decided to shoot the bull and then 2 more bulls appeared out of the timber. Now Carl had his opportunity. We determined that his 30-06 was not quite reaching out there, so Frank offered his rifle to Carl. After several shots we determined that it was probably not the rifles and Carl should not waste anymore of Frank’s bullets… Ron came all the way from AK in search of a heavy horned mulie and find one we did. Ron also brought his good friend Mark to film the hunt as well. Mark was always taking in the beauty of the country for himself and never doing any filming, including when Ron shot his buck. During the moment of truth, we had just dismounted the horses to judge the buck, and Mark asked what do we do with the horses if Ron shoots. I told him to just hang on to them, and I put the range finder on the buck. The first shot missed, but the second hit home and the buck came rolling down the mountain. I heard the horse’s hooves behind me and when I turned around, I found Mark with binoculars up to his eyes just watching the show and the three horses sold out and were headed home! I finally caught up to the horses just before dark about 3 miles from the kill site. Mark still owes me for that stunt… Danny and Guy found two bulls on the last day of the hunt, but after a 3 hour stalk the wind changed ever so slightly and their “sure thing” got up and walked over the ridge.

November 27 – 30; Elmer was mixed up on his days, so when he finally got here a day late, he had some catching up to do. On his first day though, we found 5 bulls bedded at 860 yards away. We put a stalk on and ended up on a ridge that put us at 460. With no other way to approach the bulls, we were forced to wait them out. After lying in the snow a short time, I realized we were not going to be able to do that much longer, so I built a nice warming fire. After a couple of hours into it, I noticed some deer on the ridge behind us. Upon putting the glass to them, I found a huge mulie buck with them. So, now we have this huge buck in one direction at 250 yards, we have the 5 bulls in the other direction at 460 yards and we are in the middle with a fire burning. We decided that if we shot the mulie first the bulls would be gone, but if we shot a bull first, the mulies might hang around long enough for a shot. The bulls were getting up out of their beds, so now was the time. It took Elmer 5 shots over the course of several minutes to bag his 6 point bull, but by then the buck was gone. In hind-sight, we should have shot the buck first, because the bulls were very patient, I don’t even know if they knew they were being shot at. It was just a fun couple of hours to be in that predicament. On the same day, Logan and Adam, snuck up on a 6 point bull and shot him in his bed. Leon and Adam also bagged 4 point bucks during the week.

 

 

I hope you had an exciting and productive 2013 hunting season. We just finished up our Scapegoat Wilderness and Deer Creek hunts with this season being another successful year! We harvested 18 brow-tined bulls and 16 mule deer bucks, which gave us a 52% harvest and a 76% opportunity rate. The 2013 animals can be viewed at  http://klazy3.com/photo-gallery/ Be sure to call several references for any hunt you decide to go on. We list ALL of our previous years hunters at  http://klazy3.com/hunting-trips/montana-hunting-references/

Our 2014 Scapegoat Wilderness 2 on 1 hunt rates are $4200.00 per person, divided as follows. $600.00 down to book your hunt spot, $1200.00 due 5/1/13(once your license is in hand), and the balance of $2400.00 is due upon arrival for your hunt.

Our 2014 Deer Creek Hunts are sold out. Our 2015 Deer Creek 2 on 1 hunt rates are $3200.00 per person, divided as follows. $600.00 down to book your hunt spot, $1200.00 due 5/1/15(once your license is in hand), and the balance of $1400.00 is due upon arrival for your hunt.

Due to the passage of citizen’s initiative I-161 on November 2nd 2010, the guaranteed outfitter sponsored license is no longer available in Montana. All licenses issued in 2011, 2012 & 2013 were on a random draw. However, the non-resident combination license (elk/deer/fishing) has had a 100% success rate in the draw and there were around 2000 licenses still available through the fall hunting season. For the 2014 season, I anticipate a 100% success rate for the combination license as well, providing your application is submitted prior to the March 15th deadline.

Montana also has a new non-resident preference point system that allows 75% of the licenses to go to the applicants with the highest amount of preference points. Give me a call and I can help you through the application process. Even if you are unsure about your future hunt plans in Montana, it is a wise decision to start building preference points for use in the future.

2014 License Rates:  All licenses have a March 15th application

Combination (Elk & Deer)   (Deer only)                                  (Elk only)

$976.00                                 $580.00                                      $826.00

Thanks to all–from the hunters, to the crew, cooks, guides, packers, and their families, and to my family (especially Julie)!  20 some years from now, when I am nearing the end of my run in the mountains, it won’t be all of the animals we called in or stalked and harvested that I will recall; it will be the friendship and camaraderie of the back country experiences that I will cherish. See you on the mountain next year!

If you are thinking about hunting with us in 2014, the current available openings are listed at    http://klazy3.com/about-us/rates-deposit-schedule/ Don’t let another year slip by you, these remaining hunt spots are filling up!

SHOOT  STRAIGHT!  Brett

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