2015 Backcountry Muley Hunt Planning---I
3 of my buddies and I are planning a hunt for 2015 in either Montana or Wyoming. This will be our first hunt like this AND we are in FL so we have alot or research and planning ahead as well as all the specialized gear to collect. This is my first post of many I am sure. I've got a subsciption to Eastmans for christmas and a DIY public land muley hunting book.
First let me get this out of the way, one individual in our group thinks we need to pack all kinds of pistols and/or rifles like 45/70 guide gun for grizzly protection. I've convinced myself(right or wrong) that its nothing to worry about. I mean lets be aware but I dont see a need for all that extra firepower. What do you backcountry regulars say?
Now, is it just me or is Montanas fish and game website about like trying to decipher code? Would i be better to ask questions here or contant montana and wyomings fish and game departments ? Thanks!
What type of weapon? What type of terrain? Will you be equipped and able to pack in a few miles? Lots of questions.
MT takes a while to learn as far as regs go. Basically, you get a combo tag. Then you have to look at all the different units and see if it has a general season or limited quota season. Then look at the dates that the season is open.
As far as grizzlies go, if you hunt in northwest Wyoming or southwest Montana, there will be grizzlies. Bugle magazine just had an EXCELLENT article about defending against a grizzly. Basically, looking back at past grizzly encounters, it said that bear spray is the most effective thing to have. If you have a gun, you probably have to hit it on the brain to stop it if it was charging. That would be a helluva touch shot, even at close range.
Honestly man I dont think we could handle high country due to the steep terrain and the altitude. We just wouldnt have time to acclimate correctly. Our goal is to spend 9-10 days in the backcountry chasing muledeer. We are willing to put in the hard work to get past most the other hunters. Just trying to fulfill the eastern boys dream of chasing western game under your amazing beautiful skies and landscape. We want the whole experience, hiking miles into the woods with heavy packs, camping, freezedried food ( I know, silly but every single little detail just excites the crap out of me), getting miles from camp every morning before light and getting back in the dark, hours behind a spotting scope...We dont want to hunt over Ag, we have that here. I want to get up on a hill/mountainsidewhatever you guys call them and look at surrounding slopes/valleys/drains for bucks to make a move on.
Originally Posted by NDHunter
I've read over and over the end of Nov is the best time due to the rut but I have a huge concern and that is the amount of snowfall. I'd hate to plan 3 years and drive 2500miles just to find snow to deep to get into the woods or worse get back in there and get snowed in. How bad are the first 2 weeks of November generally? I know every year is different. Has the snow kept you guys out of your backcountry spots during this time period in the past 10 yrs? On top of all that, we will only have 2 points so where ever we finally decide on has to be a dang good chance of drawing on 2 points.
I would go to Montana, hunt first part of November so you get a little rutting action.
Sounds like some big plans for a great adventure!
Where is your elevation maximum? There are great backcountry areas on the West side of the state in general areas, but most of them are going to be 5000 feet plus over sea level. Some of the best Western areas are 8000 to 10000 feet. Grizzly bears are also mostly in high-elevation areas. Bear spray and a clean camp following USFS food storage guidelines are good bets in griz country.
There is some backcountry in the Missouri River Breaks and other areas of Eastern MT, and they seem like they may fit your wants pretty well.
Hunting the rut is great, but there are some areas that close early. There is always a chance of snow, and it can be a challenge, but also can really improve the hunting. In Eastern MT wet and snowy weather can make driving the gumbo roads impossible.
Your first trip may be a real learning experience, but if your trophy expectations are reasonable, there should be some success!
If you want a true backcountry type of hunt, I'd say go in September either in Montana on the general tag or in Wyoming and a region h or g tag. If you go in November, I think it would be too cold to pack in anywhere and you'd freeze your ass off. Not to say you couldn't, but it could very well be 0 degrees at night, and that is in the lower country. You could very well be dealing with a lot of snow in the higher country too. If you go in September though, you will probably have to hunt high and the elevation could be your issue. Well that and grizzlies too. Honestly though I think if you gave yourself a little time to acclimate and didn't push extremely hard right away, you would be OK.
As far as points go, if you go to Montana, I think you would be fine with just a general tag. They don't have a whole lot of limited quota units. Bitterroot would be a better source in that area though. For Wyoming, with 2 points you could draw region H.
Hope that helps!
Thats it! I wont say the deer dont matter, but I'm going for a great adventure. When I first started talking to one of my buddies about going after some mule deer he was thinking outfitter/motel room comfy cozy lol I had to straighten that out real quick. I said look man this isnt just going to be a hunting trip, its an adventure. 9-10 days in the backcountry, miles on our boots with loads on our backs. I said its not a vacation, dont expect it to be. When we get home you will be exhausted.
Originally Posted by Bitterroot Bulls
I'm not even sure what reasonable expectations are. All the magazines are full of 36" wide bucks which I'd love to see but dont expect. I'd like to think a 24" wide 4x4 is reasonable but maybe it isnt at all. I dont mind passing on small bucks as long as I know there are good ones there if I'm willing to work and wait.
A local guy who has hunted montana for muledeer suggested the block management areas but I'm not sure if any of those areas would allow us to hike in miles and camp 9 10 days without hunting the same small area over and over and over and like I said we arent looking to hunt over Ag. I'd rather shoot a smaller deer in the backcountry than a monster in an alfalfa field.
Originally Posted by NDHunter
There are some HUGE block management areas (Think over 10,000 acres) that ONLY allow walk-in traffic. There are also some great bucks taken in those areas.
Don't get hung up on spread. Look for a deer with good forks.
A deep backcountry hunt is a real challenge, mentally. It is easy to get tired, sore, and depressed. Many 10 day backpack hunts turn into 4 day hunts and an early, unsuccessful drive home. Hiking at even 4k or 5k is a real challenge for the sea-level crowd, even if they are in great shape. With medication, altitude sickness shouldn't be a big concern at 8k and down, but still won't let your legs work any better.
Just be sure of what you want, and have a back-up plan. Have fun and good luck!
If this is your first time doing this kind of hunt, you may want to be open to a smaller buck. There are soo many variables in this hunt like what season, temps, moisture, drought, your physical condition, experience, equipment, are you planning on packing out the animals or will you have horses, so on, so forth...not to mention being out in the woods for that many days on foot is TOUGH! Not trying to discourage you but be prepared, if you get into the right area with conditions in your favor, you could very well get a buck as you stated above, afterall, being out there is half the battle! I can't offer advice per area specifically as I'm in NM but good luck and keep us posted. There are many seasoned hunters on here that will point you in the right direction.