Where Hunting: Northwest Montana near the Milk River.
Hunting Method: Bowhunting
Phase of Season: Deer were not rutting at all, but the good thing about hunting them at this time was that the deer were very patternable. They were really hitting the food sources really hard. All the frost and the cooler weather made the alfalfa the main food source. This is one of our favorite times of year to hunt there. The deer are very active feeding, laying scrapes, bristling their hair at subordinate bucks, etc.
Dates Hunted: October 11th through the 17th
Wind Direction & Weather Conditions: The weather was perfect. On our 4-hour drive from the Billings Airport, it snowed most of the time. Temps were in the low 30’s. It was mainly overcast at camp. Each morning we had a hard frost on the ground. Temps would dip to the high 30’s in the evenings.
Stand Locations: We hunted mainly in the evenings around the alfalfa fields from treestands. There was a very limited amount of spots we could hunt in the morning for fear of busting deer out of our good evening stand locations. We simply didn’t want to risk messing up the deer patterns that were previously scouted and determined.
Game Seen & Observations
Waddell’s Kill: Steve and I killed a good buck on the 3rd day of the hunt. It was a good 10-point that will score in the 130 to 135 range. The stand I hunted in was the same stand I’d killed a good buck in for a Monster Bucks video a couple of years ago. We call it the kill tree or the Waddell tree. Problem with that hunt is the cameraman forgot to hit record. That 8-pointer scored in the 150’s.
We’d seen these bucks while scouting earlier in the day. The kill stand was going to be perfect for the evening hunt. We checked the weather and it called for winds out of the north-northwest, but it wound up having more west in it. This made the stand kind of iffy to hunt, but we hunted it anyway. Obviously we scored, but the tricky part was, as deer would file by our tree they were going to smell us right when they got right past us. We noticed this being a real problem when the first bunch of deer came by. Then a little later another group of deer was coming into the same area but that had a big buck pulling up the rear. Just like the first set of deer, they got just past the point of winding us and spooked! When they spooked, the buck that was only 15 yards from getting into range bolted as well. Only thing, he ran then stopped abruptly at 50 yards. He gave me time to range him. We pulled up on him and let him have it. He didn’t go far.
Greg Miller’s Hunt: Greg and his cameraman had a lot of close calls, but didn’t score on this hunt.
Matt Morett’s Hunt: They ended up on the last evening of the hunt after a lot of hard hunting, and a lot of close calls finally arrowing a good buck. Matt shot a 125-class 8-pointer.
Bill Jordan’s Hunt: Bill actually had a monster 10-point come right by him. It was about a 150 to 155-inch deer. He let the deer walk, because he was looking at another deer behind this deer that was a nice 6 X 6. It ended up that this 6 X 6 wasn’t as big as the 10-point. Bill wound up missing the 6 X 6 at 40 yards. Now Bill has continued to hunt that same buck trying to catch up with it.
General Notes Taken
The basic feel of the camp was that we all had a great hunt. Everybody was on deer the whole time. We all saw plenty of big bucks. It was just a ton of fun. We stayed at Donna and Terry Kormans’ home. They couldn’t have been any more hospitable. They fed us enough so that each of us went home some 15 pounds heavier!
The majority of the bucks we saw were in the 120- to 140-inch range, which was excellent, but we were surprised. This area was hit last year with the Blue Tongue (EHD) disease, which we figured would have really hurt the game along the river. Blue Tongue is a disease that is transmitted by flies and it basically caused the deer to hemorrhage inside and die. Last year while hunting this area we did find several dead deer down by the water. We thought it would knock down a lot of the big-buck sightings this year but we were pleasantly surprised.
Today we are getting set to go on our last Montana hunt of the year. Soon we will be back near the Milk River rifle-hunting those same big bucks we saw on this recent bow hunt.
Editor's Note: From this hunt, Waddell and Finch hit the Realtree Road Trip circuit on a waterfowl hunt in Manitoba, Canada. Look for the journal entry on Realtree.com in the coming days!
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