Work Harder & Smarter

By Brian Solan
Montana, 2011, Public Land

Brian Solan - Work Harder & SmarterMarch/April 2012 EBJ (Issue 70) - I'm a strong believer in the statement "the harder I work, the luckier I get.” I’m a guy who simply wants to outwork all the other guys on the mountain. I will look for the most remote areas to hunt, the hardest mountains to get into and the nastiest country to find critters. I am always up for a challenge when it comes to hunting, and I believe that a great hunt needs to hurt a little. However, I had two quite different experiences this season when it comes to hard work versus smart work. I will start with the last one first, so I can end on a high note.

I really didn’t have any time to do any scouting prior to the Montana general season opener. I’d spent most of my fall looking for and hunting moose so I didn’t have time to do much elk hunting; I will get to that hunt later in the story. On a normal year in Montana, I either kill a bull with my bow or I put in some time on a mountain to locate a good bull before opening day. This year, I simply didn’t have any free time between work and a moose hunt so I didn’t have time to locate any elk before the season started. I had a hunting buddy who wanted to go into a new area that looked promising. I did some research through Google maps and my GPS land ownership map. The area looked great and bordered a "big bull” draw unit. It all appeared great on paper, until we got to the trail head three hours before shooting light and there were six trucks already in front of us on the trail.

As frustrated as I was, I couldn’t let a little competition ruin my day, so we started up the trail heading toward a great looking spot. It was roughly a three-mile hike on the trail before you started heading up the mountain. Having not been in the area before, we had a general idea of where to head vertical, but not a specific trail. We headed up the ridge blind. It was very rough country and we made a bunch of noise going in.

As we found out later, we had missed an established game trail by about 50 yards that would have brought us right up the mountain very quietly. But instead, we hacked our way up the ridge scaring everything within two miles. We worked pretty darn hard getting in to this area, but we weren’t smart about it. I should have spent some ground time in the area during daylight hours to figure it out. Going in completely blind to the area was not the best idea. After we finally worked our way to the top of the ridge we found four other hunting parties in the area.

Brian Solan - Work Harder & Smarter

For a full account of Brian's adventure, go to page 32 in the March/April 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.