Press Lake Camp
Fishing and Hunting Camp

December 5th, 2023 – Montana Hunting Journal Pt. 2, Days 3&4.

Posted on December 5, 2023

Well on day 3 we decided to sleep in a while as we were pretty tired from packing deer so late the night before, and Jake would be driving through the night and arriving sometime mid morning. He was towing a camper across country with him and we got the text that he had arrived at our camping spot and was going to grab a little sleep before we got there. Linds and I packed up our motel room and headed up into the national forest to find Jake and swap the deer story from the night before. While chatting a CO from Montana FWP drove by and saw us in orange with the deer skull and stopped in to say hi. He checked to make sure we all had our licenses in order and then we all shot the shit for a few minutes and he told us there had been a herd of elk in where we were deer hunting. We had heard this information once already but he was able to show us the private land they had moved out onto in case we wanted to set up on the land we could hunt, and try to catch them coming back. We thanked him for the info and he was off!

It didn’t take too long and we were settled into Jake’s camper so we headed out to go verify his rifle. The day was waning but I figured if we hurried we would be able to get back into our deer spot with the last hour of daylight and thought that might be enough time to make something happen. Lindsay decided since she had filled her tag and she was still tired she was going to stay back at the camper for the night hunt, and Jake and I headed out to search for a buck.

After about a 20 minute drive and an hour or so hike we were arriving at the little cliffy edge of the coulee that we like to glass from. There is a great view of the canyon floor from there running up and down the coulee, as well as a great view of the opposing bank catching deer coming in and out of the canyon. It also sets us up to be in a position where deer will work the canyon bottom underneath the cliff edge and within rifle range without having to move. Well as we reached the cliff edge and were admiring the view of the open country Jake looked right below us and said “Hey, there’s a deer!”

We threw up the binoculars and directly below us, 200 yards away, was a buck feeding with a small group of does. I asked Jake if he wanted to shoot it and his reply was “Let me get a look at it in the scope, but I think so.” So we sat down quick and took off our packs. Jake built a rest to shoot off of and started checking out the buck. He was nice enough to ask me if I wanted to shoot it and I said “No, you take him. You spotted him anyway.” With that we hadn’t been to our spot more than 3 minutes and the first shot rang out. I confirmed to Jake it was a hit, but the buck just took a couple steps forward and was looking around as though nothing had happened. Another shot rang out and this time the buck kicked good and hard, but otherwise didn’t move. I confirmed that Jake smoked him that time for sure, but the deer was seemingly unphased. It turned around and started to head the direction it had been coming from and we could see blood pouring out of the exit wounds, but the deer started to take a few steps headed for some thick buckthorn. A third shot rang out and I watched the bullet impact with the group of exit wounds from the first two shots, and to our surprise the buck was still on his feet. Well, that wasn’t the case for long and he tipped over in his tracks, somehow absorbing 3 well placed shots from a .300 Win. Mag.

After getting the high fives and hugs out of the way (and some laughs about how quickly everything came together) we started off down the bank to go check out Jake’s first muley.

A couple of hours later and we had packs full of meat and were headed for the trucks. My second pack out in two days and it felt great! We got back to the trailer and celebrated with a great dinner of butter and herb basted tender loins, stovetop stuffing, and instant mashed potatoes (which frankly have come a LONG way)!

The next morning we headed back out to check out some different country in the same area. We killed two bucks in two days pretty close together so figuring that area was a little blown out we wanted to go a little farther to see if we could stumble into the elk we had heard about, and to try and find another good buck. We spent the day glassing and saw quite a few deer, but no bucks that caught my eye enough to initiate a stalk. We spent the day glassing some really big country and enjoying the visibility and all of the amazing views. Of course I’m not great at taking pictures that don’t have animals in them, but we did get a little excited when we saw this guy cruising solo:

Not the best picture as it is a screen grab from a video but we spotted a lone spike elk wandering near the bottom of the canyon abut a mile or so down from us. Unable to shoot a spike with our tag (branch antlered bulls, or cows only) we didn’t make a play but were hopeful he wasn’t alone. That was the excitement for the day as we spent the entire day glassing and didn’t chase anything. Excited to come back the next morning to try to locate the elk, and hopefully our third buck, we hiked out to get some sleep.