Complete Western Hunter

The Outback Outdoors team lives for the hunt and we are lucky to get to chase our dreams. One of the many reasons why I love to live out West is the wide variety of game I can hunt, the different styles and ways to hunt them and the changing seasons and weapons used. This past season I started guiding in August in the Brooks Range of Alaska and finished up at the end of November in Montana.

Alaska found me Guiding for Dall sheep and Mountain Grizzly bears. You have to be in prime physical shape and have all the right gear to walk many miles in a day. Glassing from long distances and making a game plan for a stalk are the name of the game. Everything that you harvest has to be packed out on your back and you are at the mercy of Mother Nature. The travel and scenery are memories that will live with you forever. It takes a certain person to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere and be comfortable and confident knowing that you will be OK. You get to see some of the most beautiful places on the entire planet in Alaska.

Each animal has to be hunted totally different too. The sheep make a living in the highest of mountain peaks using their eye sight to protect them from danger. You have to get high above them and close the gap from above. The bears are generally  looking for meals in the creek bottoms and side hills of the valley floors. They rely on their noses primarily to alert them of food or danger. You have to be very careful with the wind and if a bear smells a human intruder he might run for a mile or more and wont return to that area again.

Once back in Montana it was time to chase my favorite animal, the elk. Nothing beats the month of September out West. The weather is changing and the bulls are screaming. I hunt them in the semi open country of central Montana. You can see a lot of country and setting your hunters up for an up close and personal encounter with 700 pounds of  jealous bull and calling them in is what I live for. Now we have to get very close and interact with our quarry. A little different from the month before. Learning to call correctly and using the terrain to your advantage is a must. Nothing beats tricking a mature animal into your love sick set up for a clean harvest. Elk rely also on their noses but you can fool their ears and eyes.

These animals were made for archery hunting and I enjoy chasing them year after year and take pride in being a pretty good elk hunter. For years I hunted elk but over the last 8 years I have become an elk hunter. There is a big difference. They are huge animals so make sure you have a good plan and back to get them off the mountain. Watching an arrow bounce off your hunters rest or yours when a bull is screaming at less than 10 yards in fact is a priceless thing for sure.

Then you have to switch gears and go from more open country to the thick oak brush country of Colorado and now the rifle is the weapon of choice. Both elk and mule deer are on the menu. Here the big difference is the altitude. Going from 3500 feet to over 9000 feet can wear you down quickly. This is why you try and stay in shape year round so you can handle all types of hunting scenarios. The elk are mostly over the rut and are in large herds. You have to ambush them and try and single out the elk you want which can be a challenge when there is 200 to 300 animals in a group.

Most of the bigger herd bulls have left the cows and the second rut is carried on by the lesser but still good quality animals. The weather can also be a factor as you progress through the seasons so knowing what gear to have is important.

You will also have a combination hunt where you can chase mule deer around as well. Being able to switch gears from elk to deer happens often when they occupy the same country. Temperatures can range from 60 and sunny to a foot of snow and wind and minus zero type weather. Being versatile is a big key in having your hunters or yourself  when trying to punch a tag.

Managing your wild life is also very important for the Outback Outdoors team and we enjoy hunting for cow elk as well. I helped the Rocking Mountain Elk Foundation this past fall on a few cow elk hunts back in Montana. Now you have to switch back to spotting and stalking due to the fact that the elk are back in bunches and there are many eyes, ears, and noses to fool. Most people think that hunting cow elk or doe deer is a walk in the park. I beg to differ, these lead girls are very tough to outsmart. Fellow team member Adam Wells and I have been aggravated more times than I can remember trying to harvest cow elk or white tail doe.

Doing your part to help manage herd numbers is a good way to extend your season as well as fill your freezer with some good quality meat. I live year round on the venison I take and have not bought store bought beef in years. For me it can’t be beat.

Finally November hits and I have to switch gears to white tail deer hunting and also mule deer. Now I usually have my hunters sitting in tree stands so scouting, hanging stands, and putting up ground blinds become the work of the day. The weather is generally colder and the rut is on for deer in our part of the country. I really enjoy trying to out smart a big whitey along the river bottom country where I guide and hunt. Morning and evening hunts take place and most of the time you are stationary. But again out West you can take a great deer by using the spot and stalk method.

 

As you can see why I love the West and my job. I take pride in having to be a well rounded hunter and what better place to do it. I am proud to be a part of the Outback Outdoors team.

 

 

One Response to “Complete Western Hunter”

  1. Barbra Bendziewicz says:

    Well done Jim!

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