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Reflections on Montanaotherala

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  • fitch270
    replied
    Day 3

    Morning again has us up before the others, and on the road. We drive about a half hour before pulling off the main road. We're headed into a wilderness area and there are warning signs we're in grizzly habitat. I get this uneasy feeling as we continue on, which gets worse as we go. I get out of the truck at the trail head but before the kids out I'm having a hard time, and it must show. The guide asks if I'm ok and I tell him I've got a bad feeling about this. He gives me a puzzled look but again is still cool about it. We talk it over even though I can't explain it. He says its ok not to go in if I'm not comfortable with it. I'm sure he doesn't want a repeat of yesterday but I'm having conflicted emotions of being a candya$$ in front of my kid and trusting what my gut is trying to tell me. We bail out. He takes us back to glass the spot where we'd seen the 10 pt. on day one and we spend a little time there. I'm trying to make sense of everything and realize this isn't going to get it done, I'm wasting the trip. I tell him we had a hard day yesterday and that I think we should head back to the lodge for a quick rest while he takes care of some business he'd talked about, then we could eat lunch on the way back to the spot we'd just left. He says he'd love to do that so that's the plan and exactly what we do.
    On the way back he shows us the ridge we'll be climbing and I get a little uneasy feeling again, but this time I'm not giving in. We hit the trail head and as soon as I'm out of the truck I'm feeling good about the afternoon. We start the climb and about a forth of the way in he stops For a rest. He looks straight at me and says simply, " Let me ask you right now, if we hike in there are you going to be able to sit all afternoon and come out in the dark?" It's not condescending, he just wants to know. I look him straight in the eye and say simply "Yeah". He responds "Ok"
    Now we push and make good time. This is where we get to the previous post about the boy's deer. We're glassing the far side, see the does and then the grizzly. He double checks with me to make sure I'm good, I half joke as long as we're not going over there I'm fine. He asks again what do I want to do, and I tell him let's go kill something. We start up the trail and run into the Amish guy and his boys. The rest as they say is history.

    We found out back at the truck later that the grizz was a sow, after they got to watching her they spotted a blond cub down below.
    At this point I couldn't have cared less about the bear, we were flying high. As we got in the truck I told him that he could think what he wanted but we weren't meant to be on that mountain that morning. His response was "Well, maybe". I took no offence. Fantastic ride back to the lodge late.

    I've been mulling on this all week, and I'm convinced it was higher test. Some of you will understand where I'm coming from. I also know that last year's accident played a part in that it was the avenue to get my attention. Before the wreck at our last gas stop I had a feeling we were going to be in for a long night, but I dismissed it. That morning I couldn't. I suppose the worst thing that would have happened was that we wouldn't have been in the spot the boy ended up killing that buck, but that morning there was no way I was taking a chance on another call home. In the end it worked out for the best.

    I already posted that day 4 was a day off, but we're not done yet. But I am for tonight.

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  • fitch270
    replied
    Day 2

    So up at 3:30, grabbed a bite to eat from what breakfast had been made and hit the road at 4:00. Arrived at another trial head about 5:00 and started our climb. About 45 minutes in we left the Forest Service trail for a "hidden" trail of the guides. It wasn't long and we knew we weren't in Kansas anymore. Somehow we managed to grind it out up the toughest terrain I could have imagined and made it to a landing off an old burn just before 8:00 as the guide had hoped we would. We had a snack and some water and added a few layers waiting on light to show. It was still pretty dark when we started making our move, but we only went about 50 yards before finding a fresh bed and tracks leading into the burn. By the size and smell it was obviously a decent bull. We slowly started tracking and glassing, the three of us making way too noise in the single digit temps. We crisscrossed our way up the burn for well over an hour, at one point the boy was getting down telling me "this is stupid". I was just as beat, but asked him why, he replied it was way harder than he expected. It was the only complaint from him the entire week.

    I'm now at the point where I'm not really winded, and my legs feel ok, but I don't seem to have any power to push up. The boy's been stumbling often, as have I but we keep going. When we're just about to the top of the burn, and the peak, we take another break. After a bit we get going only to have the guide turn back to us signaling he's headed down to the timber on our left. He'd bedded again about 100 yards above us. We hit the timber and as we enter we can hear branches breaking in front of us. We pick up the pace and see where the bull started running, but in less than 200 yards he slows back to a walk and actually feeds on some bushes in a spot. We keep pushing and his tracks mix in with some cows, but it's pretty easy picking his out. We zig zag more back up through the timber and hear another branch break, this time finding it about 75 yards from where we'd been standing. From there the bull heads straight uphill, we follow for a ways but finally decide he wins, he'll just wear us out in here.
    We head down the ridge through the timber, crossing even more difficult deadfall and pitch, finally arriving at a look out spot over to the next ridge. By now I'm beat and I know the boy is as well even though he won't admit it. We're off from our path in and looking at an even harder climb down. It still hasn't occurred to me that this is the real deal, you make the effort to get in then wait it out. We've got 6 hours of day light in freezing temps left. I tell the guide im not looking forward to bushwacking my way out in the dark. He's not expecting anything to move before 4pm, but I'm not up for it. I can tell he's disappointed but he handles it well. Only later do I realize he's busting his butt to get us on an animal, and I'm quitting on him. We head down about 1:00, and it takes us 2 hours to get to the truck in the daylight. As bummed as I am in myself I can't help but feeling it was still the right thing for us to do.

    About here things really start to fall into place, except we have no way of knowing it.

    The boy and I had fallen hard a number of times and we still had daylight so the guide thinks we should check zero on the guns. Again mine's good to go, but the boy's just isn't right. Not horrible but no where near how it had shot over the summer before we had to switch ammo. We try a couple small adjustments to the scope but it's having no clear effect. I'd used the Leupold standard rings off my 700 when I mounted the scope on the 7-08. I'd read all summer on the internet about them being crap but figured it was just typical forum bs. The guide however noticed them and tells me they've cost him more trouble than any other ring and that we should take a 45 minute ride to a gun shop and get them swapped out. He makes a call and at 4:30 we're getiing new Talley lightweights installed. The guy also pulls down the bolt for a check, $45 and we're headed back to the range. The guy at the counter had twisted a number of clicks boresighting the scope, but the guide puts the gun in the bags and eyeballs it through the barrel and scope at 100 yards and throws more clicks in. First shot is 7 inches low and three right. I dial in 40 clicks up to get it three inches high, the kid fires one and it's 5" high and still right. Been lots of dialing bit things are moving in the right direction, drop back down 8 clicks, and go just 10 left. Next shot is exactly 3" high and 1/2" left. He fires another and it's still 3" high and cuts the center line of the target. Last two less than 1/2" center to center. We're back in business.
    Thing is I'm having him use the 140 Nosler E-tips as we had more of them. They now seem to shoot just fine so we go with them to hunt with. This may effect the outcome later.

    It's now dark so we head to the lodge for dinner and catch up with everyone else. End of day two, no tags filled in camp.

    Leave a comment:


  • fitch270
    replied
    Day 1:

    Up at 4:30, breakfast at 5:00. Our guide was there as well, took our time getting ready and were off about 6:00. Drove awhile, then headed up a mountain road to our first spot. Gave it some time as it didnt get light until 8:00ish, started hiking about 7:00. Turns out this was a test of our climbing abilities. It wasn't far or terribly difficult but we made it up and in quick enough to pass muster. We set up on a big clearing covering ridges to both sides. Didn't take long and we had company, first another pair of hunters to our right, then a cow moose in front on the same side. We stayed there until about 9:30 then headed back to the truck for a bite to eat before heading out to another area. Once we started back down in the light I could see just what we'd been driving up and what we'd be in for. The second spot bit us, this one was about as steep but hadn't been clear cut like the last so if you went over there were trees to catch you, at least in most spots. The season had opened Saturday and the couple inches of snow on the road had been packed down to ice. We didn't make it to the trailhead. I deal with these conditions at work so knew what the deal was, but I could tell the guide was more nervous than I so I offered for the boy and I to get out while he inched backward down the road. We followed him for about a half mile until he could get turned around in a wide spot, then went another quarter mile before we climbed back in the truck. ( The next day another guide got jammed up in a different area and needed to get winched out, losing the whole day)
    Had some time left so we hit another spot, first glassing up high, then around down low. Here we ran into a small 5x5 whitetail about 100 yards from the road. We have larger deer at home so he wasnt really in much dangrr but our guide had tge boy get out of the truck and off the road to get the gun on him. I'm pretty sure he was testing us out again. We left the buck alone then headed partway back uphill where he led us partway down a trail, then steered us to another trail that ran to the cut, which we then pushed through while he headed back low with the truck, picking us up at the road. Test number three.
    That was it for the day, other than showing us earlier what we'd be taking on the next morning.
    Back to the lodge for dinner, then called it a day. We had a 3:30 wake up, were hitting it early and hard.

    Leave a comment:


  • fitch270
    started a topic Reflections on Montanaotherala

    Reflections on Montanaotherala

    This will take some time, and the site will likely lock me out at some point for typing so slow so please bear with me. I had a lot to ponder from last week and I'm finally getting it settled out so here goes.

    The flight in was uneventful, thankfully. We arrived on time in Spokane at 12:30 Pacific time after getting up 4:30 eastern. When we went to check in our hotel for the night there was a guy at the desk ahead of us with a gun case, so I asked him who he was hunting with. Turned out he was headed with us, we had taken the same flights and live about 1 1/2 hours away from each other. We got settled in our respective rooms then talked in the lounge for a while before having dinner together. The boy and I called it a night at about 7:00 after checking in on the World Series. The next morning we were up first and had breakfast, then I had the kid get after some homework for a couple hours before our ride showed. Talked with our new friend in the meantime. Our outfitter showed up exactly on time, and a few others had made it to the lobby as well so after some quick loading we were off. We made it to the lodge early afternoon and my FIL was there waiting. After getting our room assignments the whole lot of us headed to the range to check zeros. My rifle was fine but the boy's 7-08 was still not acting right. More about that later. Back to the lodge for dinner and orientation about the lodge schedule and a talk about the area we'd be hunting, then meeting our guides. Kicked back a little then hit the sack, had a 4:30 alarm.

    Cont.

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