Hunting Elk in November in Montana

Foss1lHunterFoss1lHunter New MemberPosts: 1 New Member
My family will be on a business trip the first week of November and I will
include pleasure in by hunting for elk. We will be near Bozeman as our
home base will be in Big Sky.

This is my first elk hunt and my first trip to Montana as well.
I prefer not to hunt by myself per strong warning from my wife.

I wanted some advice, feedback and maybe referrals as to someone
who knows the area to assist me in my first experience/kill with this
majestic creature.

I came back to hunting with much vigor with a long respite from college
after I experienced a home break-in, where thieves joyfully stole my
rifles, shotguns, and even dirty tennis shorts. I guess they wore
my size.

Also, I am purchasing a surplus elk tag and want to know areas where
I may be more productive. I did see a youtube video of a large herd
going across a road in Bozeman from last year.

Your responses will be greatly appreciated,

Thanks,

Foss1lHunter

Advice for Elk Hunting in Bozeman, MT in November 2 votes

Advice Elk Hunting in Montana Region 3
0%
Hunter Assist in Bozeman, Montana
0%
Gear, necessities for November Elk Hunt in Montana
0%
07-08 or 300 Win Mag for Montana Elk
100%
Jermanatortwa 2 votes

Replies

  • wildgenewildgene Senior Member Posts: 1,036 Senior Member
    ...if you're already in Big Sky, I wouldn't drive back down to Bozeman to hunt. You'll be surrounded by National Forest & on the major migration route out of YNP, the "Firing Line" is a few mile E. of Big Sky. A little scouting along the ridges & FS access rds. & some glassing should give you an opportunity to intercept some elk. You are going to be @ high elev. (7K-10K) & the weather can be a "stone cold killer". Even in Nov. temps can range from the mid-60's to -20's, wind chill can kill you, & a blizzard can come out of nowhere. "Be Prepared", windproof shell, layers, neck gaiter, gloves, boots, good maps, firestarter, etc.,etc., etc. One elk quarter can weigh as much as a field dressed whitetail, even in good conditions (snow), skidding out something that outweighs you by 2-3X requires a little determination. Even field dressing an elk is a project, packing a game saw, hatchet, & rope is a good idea. (So is stealing the kids' plastic sled to skid quarters.) You are also going to be in "Grizzly Country", & the bears know that rifle shots are a dinner bell, behooves you to get the job done & the game out as quickly as possible. "Rule #1", bears have the right-of-way, if a bear claims your kill, retreat, contact a game warden. I've killed a couple doz. elk w/ a 7mm RM, a doz. w/ a .300 WSM, 4 w/ a .325 WSM, & a couple each w/ a .30-06 & .41 mag, shoot what you're confident w/, but the .300 WM would be my first choice...

  • 5280 shooter II5280 shooter II Senior Member Posts: 3,923 Senior Member
    Elk hunting......pleasure....hohoheeheehawhaw! cough cough.........lemme get my breath.....ok. Gene covers most of the perils......aside from heart attack. He covered Hypothermia (Semper Paratus). I would say check out MT's Dept of Wildlife sites for migration and holding patterns. Then plan your hunt with detailed maps of the geography. A few forum members here did a "blind hunt" in CO with my brother as a guide, and they were successful and humbled by the geography........and this was in puny ole Colorado. Elk aren't hard to figure out.........it only takes a few years.......but they are just a deer, not mythical and bullet proof........read the land.
    God show's mercy on drunks and dumb animals.........two outa three ain't a bad score!
  • RazorbackerRazorbacker Senior Member Posts: 4,646 Senior Member
    I'll echo what these guys said. Elk aren't like deer whereby you pattern them. They're like gold, i. e. They're where you find them.
    If I was gonna make your hunt I would get maps and find a basin with a saddle at both ends and then sit on the moutain side and let the other Pilgrims run one over on me.
    But I would also cruse the local bars and find me some wrangler who would pack my kill out for me. Guys like him will be cruising for guys like you. You have to have a plan to get your meat out. Or in many cases a plan to get it dressed and quartered.
    Teach your children to love guns, they'll never be able to afford drugs
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 6,520 Senior Member
    One other thing. The hard part isn't killing one, it's getting it out after it's down. Be sure you know how to skin and quarter one in the field, and have gear with you to do that. Depending on how far back you get, you may even need to bone out the meat and pack it out.

    It's a LOT of work, but worth it.

    Good luck, and welcome.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 4,478 Senior Member
    Just to reiterate.....

    Primer ignition generally means the fun part of the hunt is over.

    Mike
    Decisions have consequences, not everything in life gets an automatic mulligan.
    KSU Firefighter
  • jbohiojbohio Senior Member Posts: 5,507 Senior Member
    Whew. Having successfully done a diy CO elk hunt, here's my advice. (aside from what the other guys said)

    I wouldn't do a solo, diy hunt unless you are an extremely experienced and confident hunter. Probably still wouldn't, if you haven't spent much time in the Rockies. Elk are massive critters, it took 4 of us 5 hours to get mine to the truck. It was only a half mile or so, and the truck was 500 feet below us.
    A pack frame is pretty much a must have item.
    I think 300 WM is a fine elk cartridge.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,942 Senior Member
    Welcome aboard
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 6,520 Senior Member
    Linefinder wrote: »
    Just to reiterate.....

    Primer ignition generally means the fun part of the hunt is over.

    Mike

    Trust me. He knows.-:)
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 6,520 Senior Member
    jbohio wrote: »
    Whew. Having successfully done a diy CO elk hunt, here's my advice. (aside from what the other guys said)

    I wouldn't do a solo, diy hunt unless you are an extremely experienced and confident hunter. Probably still wouldn't, if you haven't spent much time in the Rockies. Elk are massive critters, it took 4 of us 5 hours to get mine to the truck. It was only a half mile or so, and the truck was 500 feet below us.
    A pack frame is pretty much a must have item.
    I think 300 WM is a fine elk cartridge.

    The first elk I shot was a big cow, maybe 600 lbs., in central Utah. It was a DIY solo hunt. I remember standing over her dead body and wondering how I was going to get her to my vehicle. It was late in the day when I shot her, and I only managed to get her field dressed. I spent the entire next day quartering it and dragging it out in pieces.

    The one in my avatar took me and Linefinder from 6:20 a.m. until 5 p.m. to move it about a mile over relatively open ground with a little snow cover and a gentle downhill slope.

    I would also go with a 300 WM. If you load your own, go with a premium bullet. I like Speer Grand Slams, but they're hard to find.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 4,478 Senior Member
    JerryBobCo wrote: »

    The one in my avatar took me and Linefinder from 6:20 a.m. until 5 p.m. to move it about a mile over relatively open ground with a little snow cover and a gentle downhill slope.

    Had it been about a mile over relatively open ground with a little snow and a gentle uphill slope, we'd still be there.

    Mike
    Decisions have consequences, not everything in life gets an automatic mulligan.
    KSU Firefighter
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 10,839 Senior Member
    Linefinder wrote: »
    Had it been about a mile over relatively open ground with a little snow and a gentle uphill slope, we'd still be there.

    Mike

    Are you or Jerry going elk hunting this year? Mosseybuck?
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • wildgenewildgene Senior Member Posts: 1,036 Senior Member
    I'll echo what these guys said." Elk aren't like deer whereby you pattern them." They're like gold, i. e. They're where you find them.
    If I was gonna make your hunt I would get maps and find a basin with a saddle at both ends and then sit on the moutain side and let the other Pilgrims run one over on me.
    But I would also cruse the local bars and find me some wrangler who would pack my kill out for me. Guys like him will be cruising for guys like you. You have to have a plan to get your meat out. Or in many cases a plan to get it dressed and quartered.

    ...my experience has been a little different. It's not like you're patterning whitetail on 80ac., it's more like 40,000ac., but elk do tend to use the same travel routes, escape routes, water sources, bedding areas year after year. Timing & weather are a big factor, but individual herds always seem to have an area they move along a circuit thru. I've kilt a lot of elk in the same places over the years...
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 6,520 Senior Member
    CHIRO1989 wrote: »
    Are you or Jerry going elk hunting this year? Mosseybuck?

    Scott, I applied for a cow tag in my home area for the 2nd combined rifle season. I'm not sure what Paul is doing.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • 5280 shooter II5280 shooter II Senior Member Posts: 3,923 Senior Member
    like it was said......once the shot is fired...........woo hoo and rugh ro......the hard work begins.
    God show's mercy on drunks and dumb animals.........two outa three ain't a bad score!
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 10,839 Senior Member
    JerryBobCo wrote: »
    Scott, I applied for a cow tag in my home area for the 2nd combined rifle season. I'm not sure what Paul is doing.

    OK, I am waiting on the draw results fo the muzzle loading season up by MHS's and 5280's stomping grounds .
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,768 Senior Member
    I'm keeping an eye on the CDOW page, should be up pretty soon. I'm showing 1 point for Deer 2014, 1 point for Bear 2014, 0 points for Antelope 2010 (last year I applied) and 2 points Elk 2013. So deer and bear are already done, elk are not up just yet.
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    Once again, please refrain from cutting short any baseless totally emotional arguments with facts. It leads to boring, completely objective conversations well beyond the comprehension ability of many.
  • 5280 shooter II5280 shooter II Senior Member Posts: 3,923 Senior Member
    jbohio wrote: »
    Whew. Having successfully done a diy CO elk hunt, here's my advice. (aside from what the other guys said)

    I wouldn't do a solo, diy hunt unless you are an extremely experienced and confident hunter. Probably still wouldn't, if you haven't spent much time in the Rockies. Elk are massive critters, it took 4 of us 5 hours to get mine to the truck. It was only a half mile or so, and the truck was 500 feet below us.
    A pack frame is pretty much a must have item.
    I think 300 WM is a fine elk cartridge.

    Walk of shame here. I tagged a cow in the fog with MHS's Browning A-Bolt in .300 WSM, range around 400 yrds...........bad ranging, bullet hit her in the leg. Went to the impact site.......blood in the snow......start tracking and snow is falling with big fat flakes. First test.....do you follow knowing the track may disappear? Yes, no question about it......you track that animal, and your ancestors are watching, so you better do it.

    This (common slur for a female dog) lead me on a 3 mile stalk, stopping to rest (she did) every 200 to 100 to 50 yds, until the points I would come up on her resting in concealment.......like I'd come around a tree and see her looking right at me, then she bolted again........we played flush the rabbit for the last mile, every time she rested, she bled out a square yard of blood on the snow......and there was blood spray off to the side.......looking like I hit a lung. Darn animals are tanks sometimes.......Well it comes to the finishing shot in the bottom of a draw, 20 yrd head shot.........I was done chasing her, she's going down NOW. I recovered that bullet, a 180 gr Failsafe, and still have it.

    Now here's the fun part. I had to gut her (flat ground....YEAH!), then hike out through a mile of blow-down to reach the trailhead, then another mile to the jeep.....then back to the cabin to show "blood on blade". In our family, when you collect each other at the end of the day.........when you ask, "see anything?" and a man throws you his knife, covered in blood.........it's happy smiles and silent "oh hell!"

    This brings up one of Joe's point......party hunting is illegal.......so you have to shoot your own.......but everything stops to get anyone's animal out quick......maybe 1 or 2 in your group will continue hunting.......but help is welcome, it takes teamwork with multiple tags........A DIY may have more than the 1 in 5 success, but you're burdened with packing it out.

    Back to my hunt........We had to quarter that elk and shoulder carry through a mile of blow-down..........do an Obstacle Course with a 50 pound bleeding sandbag on you shoulder, in the snow..........Hamburger Helper never tasted so good.

    To the cartridge..........a 7'08 can do within 400 yrds, but sometimes the range stretches in the Rockies.........I like having the .300 WM's extra punch of energy cause elk are not just big, but tough. Not bullet proof........but they need to be stopped immediately, cause chasing them sucks. Break the shoulder at the least, heart shot is better........but elk apparently don't get the message that they are dead, and keep going.

    Like Wildgene said, elk don't pattern like deer, but they do have patterns........it's the timing where they're unpredictable.......food, water, bedding.........and bedding can be miles away. They tend to stay on the same elevation, so an altimeter/gps with a MRGS map (get it from a NG kiosk in a sporting goods store) is handy. Spook 'em, and they'll head to the other side of the mountain......but will stop at the same elevation they were before.

    I've grown up lucky knowing a permanent herd pattern, so I've been able to establish the herd's behavior over the years. However I still believe you have to pay your ten mile penance until you get to see one.
    God show's mercy on drunks and dumb animals.........two outa three ain't a bad score!
  • wildgenewildgene Senior Member Posts: 1,036 Senior Member
    ...guess I must have paid my penance, I packed over 20 elk out of the black timber of North Idaho, I appreciate the easy ones in WY. I've "soloed" on over 1/2 the 20+ elk I've shot in WY, & I'm old, fat, tired, & grumpy, so it's possible, but you really need to keep the logistics of handling a big critter in mind...

  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,002 Senior Member
    I've been present for the shooting, dismantling, and transporting of two elk in the Colorado Rockies. My observations:

    First, if you don't solidly drill the cardiovascular system, you are in for an exciting and/or long day. These are insanely tough animals that spend their lives jogging up mountains. My suggestion would be to forget any notions you may have of trying to break bones and go straight for the soft access to the pumphouse. The heart and lung area through the ribs is something a heavy 6.5 can easily do, but the shoulder blades are something that I've seen fragment and mostly deflect a .375.

    Conservatively, you're going to be dealing with at least 400 pounds of dead critter. You are VERY smart to ask for help. I consider one dead elk to be a four-man task at a minimum, and six would be better. How you deal with that critter is going to depend a lot on things like where it lands, how many buddies you've got, what the weather is doing, what time of day it is, and what might eat your kill before your can get back to it. To be prepared for all eventualities, I'd suggest having access to all of the following.

    1. Good boots with serious ankle support. You'll be tired and carrying heavy stuff. You DO NOT need a broken ankle at 10,000 feet, four miles from the quad, with snow coming in.

    2. A REALLY good backpack that has some provision to carry your rifle. I've been accumulating guns, scopes, and assorted gear for 30 years, yet I regard my Eberlestock J-107 Dragonfly pack as the single best piece of hunting gear I've ever purchased. It's saved me untold discomfort and quite possibly helped me save the life of the exhausted guy who's gear I lugged out the bulk of in addition to my own. You know you've got a good pack when you don't realize how heavily it's loaded until you take it off. For elk, I'd consider that a NEED, not a WANT. You'll get other recommendations for brands, I'm sure, but I'm done shopping elsewhere. Mike Eberle makes one HELL of a load bearing system for hunters.

    3. A heavy duty game cart. Who knows? You might get lucky and drop your elk where you can wheel it out whole, or at least where you can wheel the chunks out the last couple miles.

    4. A collection of matching, cheap plastic kiddie sleds. These can nest inside one another and not take up significant space in the truck, are not hard to strap to the outside of your pack if need be, and can be dragged behind you with a couple bits of parachute cord (you need a hundred feet in your pack, period) tied to a stout stick as your "ox harness". Depending on terrain and time available, this may allow one person to transport out two quarters at once ( in the pack).

    5. An all-weather rifle. If you haven't bought the gun yet, don't buy blued steel and walnut. You have enough to worry about without worrying about rust, warping, and scratches. Stainless/synthetic is your friend!

    6. Daily updates on weather and a healthy respect for it. You're going to be in the boonies, probably at altitude, probably with a whole lot of distance and terrain between you and a dry, heated building. Fatigue, blood-sugar issues, hypothermia, and dehydration are ALL very real possibilities, plus several hundred pounds of dead elk potentially complicating your decision-making processes. Make a list of all the stuff that might kill you out there and plan accordingly. NOTE: The weight of too much stuff in your pack can ALSO kill you. Plan out your layers carefully!

    7. Willingness to say "NO" to a shot. A bad hit only increases what I hope you realize is already going to be a lot of work and potential risk from the elements. I know a few guys who can run down a wounded elk at 10,000 feet. Unless you're a young firefighter or well on your way through SeAL training, I wouldn't recommend it.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • Dr. dbDr. db Senior Member Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    Look into "Train to Hunt". It includes training to pack out your kill. You can sign up for workout schedules. The cost is about $18 per month.It is primarily for bow hunters but being in shape can make the difference between a great experience and a miserable one. Tell me what you think.
  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,768 Senior Member
    Bigslug wrote: »

    7. Willingness to say "NO" to a shot. A bad hit only increases what I hope you realize is already going to be a lot of work and potential risk from the elements. I know a few guys who can run down a wounded elk at 10,000 feet. Unless you're a young firefighter or well on your way through SeAL training, I wouldn't recommend it.

    This one sucks. I had to say no to a good bull (would've been my first) last year because it was deeeep in some nasty ravine and blow down that I was bushwacking out of, late in the afternoon. But I only had about another 30-45 minutes of usable light left, would have been irresponsible to take the shot. Also would have been a real peach to get out, ATV's couldn't have got very close at all. Would have had to come out in many, many pieces
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    Once again, please refrain from cutting short any baseless totally emotional arguments with facts. It leads to boring, completely objective conversations well beyond the comprehension ability of many.
  • RazorbackerRazorbacker Senior Member Posts: 4,646 Senior Member
    So the consensus is:

    Get in the best physical shape for a back country hunt.
    Accurate topo maps are helpful.
    Only you are responsible for your personal safety in the wilderness.
    So be prepared.
    Do not shoot unless you've considered how to get the animal out.
    Bring help.
    Teach your children to love guns, they'll never be able to afford drugs
  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,768 Senior Member
    So the consensus is:

    Get in the best physical shape for a back country hunt.
    Accurate topo maps are helpful.
    Only you are responsible for your personal safety in the wilderness.
    So be prepared.
    Do not shoot unless you've considered how to get the animal out.
    Bring help.


    and have the hunt of a lifetime, everytime
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    Once again, please refrain from cutting short any baseless totally emotional arguments with facts. It leads to boring, completely objective conversations well beyond the comprehension ability of many.
  • 5280 shooter II5280 shooter II Senior Member Posts: 3,923 Senior Member
    Or the consensus is:

    Drink light beer from here to November, then pack whiskey for post hunting recuperation.......yer gonna be sore.
    Google all the gas stations in the area, practice charming and info plying conversation.
    Big a handgun big enough to stop a bear, and a dry set of socks.
    Shoot first, figure it out later......that's half the fun and the basis for manly stories of "oh this sucked!"
    Go to the nearest bar and buy drinks until the volunteer roster is filled.
    God show's mercy on drunks and dumb animals.........two outa three ain't a bad score!
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