MONTANA RIFLE HUNTS
6-Day Deer & Elk Combo Rifle Hunt – Rates
We do a lot of glassing during the rifle season. Often we glass from the truck with a spotting scope, and constantly with binoculars along whatever “foot route” we choose to take. We often spot elk from several miles away, and spend several hours getting to them. While the preferred “spot & stalk” style of hunting is most productive for us, some situations (like weather) call for other methods. Sitting on stand in a ground blind, or a protected spot overlooking a likely travel route, or a water hole if it’s hot, can be very effective. If the game is not moving, we sometimes slip along the edge of, or just inside of the timber, and stop at likely spots to sit for a spell.
Most of the bulls we take are killed in the open, or near the edge of the timber. As a last resort, we may choose to “still-hunt” the timber. Though we do find a fair number of bulls in the timber, we don’t enter secure bedding grounds any more than we have to. Once we enter the timber, the odds tip greatly in the animals’ favor.
We don’t hang up our calls at the end of archery season as we have found calling to be fairly productive throughout the entire hunting season. Some of the bulls we kill in rifle season are also called in, having cow on their mind, and often will investigate cow “talk.” Because it is common for young heifers to require several “breedings” before it “takes” and they will continue to “cycle” till it does.
Shooting distances will vary from 10 yds to 350 yds or more. Though we prefer shots under 250 yds, anyone planning a Montana Elk hunt should practice shooting the gun to be used on the hunt till consistently hitting a 6 inch target at 400yds. You will be glad you did when the trophy of a lifetime is standing on a ridge 400 yds away with no chance to get any closer! While most well-scoped rifles .30 cal or larger are quite capable of taking down a bull at 500 or 600 yds, we strongly discourage shooting beyond 400.
Most of the bulls we kill are 2 ½ to 4 ½ years old. Due to good feed and a good gene pool, these younger 5 and 6 point bulls can sport impressive antlers. Most years we’ll kill 1 to 3 old bulls that score over 300 B&C points, to 340 or more.
Our actual kill rates hunting private land have ranged from as high as 100% to as low as 24%. The average over the last 15 years was 52% for Rifle Elk hunters. Success rates for deer average between 50 and 80%. Whitetail and Mule deer abound. You can expect to get a shot at a 120″-160″ Whitetail, or a Mule Deer with a 21″- 28″ spread. The biggest Whitetail buck I’ve seen come off the area was an 8×8 that scored 186 5/8″ gross.