USA: Rifle Elk Hunt With Rising Son Outfitters In Montana October 2020

375 Ruger Fan

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USA: Rifle Elk Hunt With Rising Son Outfitters In Montana October 2020

Another Montana elk hunt with Rising Son Outfitters is about to start for me. In 2017, I took son-in-law #1 on this same hunt (https://www.africahunting.com/threa...on-outfitters-in-montana-november-2017.40896/ ) and this year it’s son-in-law #2’s turn. I was actually hoping to do this hunt in 2019, but when I contacted Randy and Dena Petrich at Rising Son (http://www.huntinginmontana.com/ ) in early 2018, they were already booked solid for both 2018 and 2019. They graciously offered to open their 2020 calendar for me, so I booked the opening week of rifle season, Oct 24-30. I think this will be my 9th hunt with Rising Son, with my first hunt being back in 2001. You could say I like hunting with them!

As with any hunt, planning and preparation plays a big part. My son-in-law, Iggy, has done some deer hunting in Louisiana and Mississippi, but this will be his first venture out west. Iggy’s deer gun is a left-handed Browning A-Bolt Medallion in 270. My other son-in-law also shoots left-handed. I am left-handed, but shoot right-handed. We started a load development using 150 gr Swift A-Frames and H4350. Then a funny thing happened: I stumbled across an identical left-handed Browning A-Bolt Medallion in 300 WM that was a screaming good deal, so I latched onto it. Our load development switched gears to 180 gr Swift A-Frames for the 300 WM. While the 270 would have worked, the added punch of the 300 WM will be reassuring if a longer range shot is required. I will be carrying my 338 WM, with 225 gr SAF.

Fast forward to 2020 and the world is dealing with the COVID pandemic. Additionally, the US is dealing with hurricanes, wild fires, civil unrest, etc, etc. I just want to go hunt!

Coinciding with the start of this hunt is the end of my 39 year career as a petroleum engineer. What better way to start retirement than with a really nice hunt? I couldn’t have scripted it any better and I thank the Lord for blessing me, both with a great career and many, many great hunts. Hopefully many more great hunts to come, as I transition into my retirement!

In August, I booked our flights to Bozeman via DFW on American Airlines. I no sooner booked the flights and American sent me a flight change. Instead of a leisurely departure time of 8:30 am, they cancelled that flight and I now have a 6:30 am departure. Not a big deal, given all the havoc the airline industry is going through. The plan is to fly to Bozeman on Thursday, Oct 22, and overnight in Bozeman. I have found going up a day early really helps to get acclimated to the altitude. Plus, Bozeman is just a cool town to visit. We’ll get picked up Friday, Oct 23 and it’s about a 45 minute drive to the ranch. Saturday, Oct 24, is opening day. The weather forecast is looking pretty good, so another fun Montana adventure is about to happen.
 

BnC 04

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Good luck and safe travels!
 

gillettehunter

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Good luck. I'm sure you'll have a great time. Looking forward to your report.
Bruce
 

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Congrats on your retirement and good luck on your hunt!
 

cpr0312

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Sounds like a blast! Look forward to the report!
 

Uncle Sauce

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Best of luck on your hunt and congrats on retirement!
 

Bullthrower338

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Good luck in God’s Country, call me if you need anything while there.
 

sierraone

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Congratulations on retirement and your upcoming hunt with family. Should be a fantastic time!
 

375 Ruger Fan

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Good luck in God’s Country, call me if you need anything while there.

Thanks Cody! Can you have a nice 6x6, say 350 or larger, tied up in the middle of the hay field?
 

Bullthrower338

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Thanks Cody! Can you have a nice 6x6, say 350 or larger, tied up in the middle of the hay field?
Could probably arrange that down here in Texas!
 

375 Ruger Fan

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I leave in one week! The weather forecast for Pray, MT is looking good too, with some snow possible this weekend and cold temps. Snow in the higher elevations usually pushes the elk herds down to the lower elevations. Maybe an opening day bull is in the cards!

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375 Ruger Fan

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Just did my online check for my American Airlines flights for tomorrow morning. All flights look pretty full.

Weather forecast has changed significantly and opening weekend in the Paradise Valley is going to be bitter cold and more snow. Saturday night, -11F and Sunday night, -18F. The elk should be moving! We'll be hunting from the toasty warm cabin and not the back country tent camps.

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Shootist43

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With all of the prep work and waiting over, all you have to do is take time to smell the roses. Enjoy your hunt and be sure to keep us posted. BTW welcome to retirement. Hopefully you and your reloading bench will be spending lots of quality time together;);).
 

375 Ruger Fan

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Thanks Art! I got the reloading bench moved from Texas to my soon to be retirement home in Louisiana. My wife isn't too happy that I put it in my home office, I guess it's the early American 2x6 table leg motif she doesn't care for. The reloading bench does have a very nice butcher block table top, but the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme press does stick out like a sore thumb. Maybe it will grow on her.

I built a computer table with the same sort of butcher block counter top and it will look good in the office and provide some space for powder measuring.


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375 Ruger Fan

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Thursday, Oct 22

I had an early departure out of Shreveport, LA to DFW on American Airlines. Iggy, my son-in-law, left out of Baton Rouge and we met in DFW. I had about 3 hour connection and Iggy had right at one hour. We boarded the flight to Bozeman and kept watching the American ap to see if our bags got on the flight. I was carrying both rifles in my two gun rifle case and had the ammo in my checked bag. Iggy's bag did not make it. We landed in Bozeman about 1 pm local and the American Airlines local people weren't helpful and calling AA was just as bad. We went with the assumption that the bag would be on the same flight on Friday. Thankfully, we built an extra day into the schedule. I've found an extra day really helps to get acclimated to the altitude. It was a brisk 23F in Bozeman, which prepared us for even colder weather to come. We overnighted at the Element Hotel in the heart of Bozeman. They offered a free airport shuttle and breakfast. We wondered around Main Street and had dinner at an excellent restaurant.


Friday, Oct 23

We called American Airlines and confirmed the bag would be on the flight from Dallas. Thunderstorms were rolling through Dallas, so the flight was delayed an hour and arrived Bozeman at 2pm. We texted the outfitter and let them know to pick us up a little after 2pm at the airport. Our guide, Zane Petrich, picked us up and we were just a few hours ahead of a snow storm. We headed east on I-90 for about 25 miles. At Livingston, we turned south and drove 20 miles through the Paradise Valley, crisscrossing the Yellowstone River. The Petrich ranch is on the east side of the valley, near Pray, MT.

Upon our arrival, we shot our rifles and then headed up to the cabins on the upper end of the ranch, about 3 miles away. By late afternoon, it started to snow. Iggy and I got our gear squared away in the toasty warm bunkhouse cabin and went over to the main cabin for dinner. Zane, our guide, and his mom, Dena, hosted us. Dena's husband, Randy, had two other hunters and they were hunting from a wilderness tent camp.

Tomorrow is opening day of rifle season and it's cold and snowing. Legal shooting is 7:12 am, 30 minutes before official sun up.


Saturday, Oct 24

We woke up around 5am and got dressed and went next door to the main cabin for breakfast. Dena had coffee ready and was busy making breakfast. Zane was out saddling three horses and then came in and joined us for breakfast and to discuss the plan for the morning hunt. It had snowed all night and there was 10-12 inches of new snow and a total of 18 inches on the ground. Oh, it was really cold too. Like -10F cold. Luckily, the wind was pretty calm.



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After breakfast, we finished dressing by putting on another couple layers of clothes and met Zane over at the barn to get our horses. We rode out of camp about 6:50 am and headed northeast from the cabins. It was light enough that we didn't use our head lamps, but with the cloud cover and snow, it was still pretty dark. We rode up slope for about 20 minutes, Zane in the lead, Iggy right behind him and me bringing up the rear. I glanced further up slope and thought I saw a bull elk about 150 yards away. Zane and Iggy had their view blocked by a tree, but as soon as Zane passed the tree he came to a halt. In the dim light, he glassed up slope with his binoculars and dismounted with the shooting sticks in hand. He motioned for Iggy to dismount his horse and grab his rifle. Iggy pulled his 300 WM and chambered a round and put the safety on. I moved up to behind the tree and got off my horse. I pulled my 338 WM from the scabbard and chambered a round for back up purposes. The lone bull didn't have a clue we were near and continued feed about 200 yards away and maybe 100 feet higher elevation. The bull went partially out of sight, but we could still see the top of the antlers. A minute or two went by and the elk reappeared and presented a good broadside target. Iggy was on the sticks and on one knee. He squeezed off a shot. I was watching through my scope and it was a good hit. The bull went down, but got back up. Iggy fired a second shot and hit it again and the bull went slowly out of sight. We waited about 15 minutes and then got on the horses and slowly rode to where we last saw the elk. We spotted the bull tangled up in a barbed wire fence. I thought the bull was dead, but it came back to life and got up and walked off. I didn't think it would go far. Zane and Iggy pursued on foot and I stood by with the horses. After about 20 minutes, I heard a shot and then got a phone call from Zane. He asked me to lead the horses downhill and told me the elk was down. Iggy had his first ever elk and we were only an hour into our 6 day hunt. A great start! It took a while to dragged the elk out to a spot where we could get it with a truck. The 6x6 bull was estimated to be in the 270-280 range. Not the magical 300, but still a very impressive bull and something any hunter can be proud of.


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375 Ruger Fan

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Saturday, Oct 24 continued

Most of the late morning was spent field dressing and caping out Iggy's elk. Zane made quick work out of it with the @Von Gruff knife I gave him at the end of my 2017 hunt. Zane really raves about the knife, about how it holds an edge and only needs a light touch up with a steel. Zane also commented that the stout build of the knife point is excellent for removing the elk ivory, a task that breaks the tips off lesser knives. With a large saw, we sawed the skull cap and removed the antlers.

Lunch in the main cabin and a nap were in order. It was really nice to warm up and recount what had transpired in the morning. Great memories!

About 3pm we got dressed and rode horses out of camp, this time heading south. We were going to a great glassing spot, where some folding chairs were stashed and we could glass a huge area up slope and also look down slope at the hay fields in the valley. After about a 20 minute horse ride, we arrived at the spot and tied our horses up in the woods and started to walk the short distance to the open area. Upon reaching the tree line, we immediately recognized a problem: Elk were everywhere on the slope. Literally hundreds of elk! The cold weather and snow was pushing the elk out of the high country and down to the lower elevations. We ended up glassing all afternoon. Zane recorded several videos with his iPhone looking through his spotting scope. I will attempt to upload some videos to Youtube (never done that before) and place them into this report. We looked at lots of bulls. Zane mentioned that about 10-12 years ago, Montana eliminated the taking of spikes. This allowed the bull population to grow and the entire elk population has benefitted. Each year they are seeing more and more elk.


Sunday, Oct 25

Another bitter cold morning with temps again at -10F, but very light winds thankfully. We headed northeast out of camp, in the same general direction as the prior morning. We rode for about 25 minutes and was just a little past where Iggy had shot his bull the prior morning. Zane spotted some elk and we dismounted the horses and started to glass. I could see a nice bull, out in the open about 600 yards away, grazing. We slowly worked our way up slope, using a tree line for concealment. Every so often, we'd lean a little beyond the tree line and glass the elk. We moved to about 300 yards from the bull out in the open and I thought that was the shooter. Zane then told me there were two other bulls underneath some trees and he thought they were better than the one out in the open. We cleared some snow and put a backpack on the ground for a rifle rest. After waiting a few minutes, another bull moved into the open and Zane told me this was the one and was at 297 yards. After a few more minutes, the bull turned broadside and from my rock steady, prone position, I fired my 338 WM. The 225 gr Swift A-Frame did the job and the bull flopped over and slid down slope and out of sight. Zane thought the bull had slid down to a logging road. Sure enough, we rode up and the dead bull was laying in the logging road. After several photos, Zane put a rope on the bull and with all the snow, was able to easily drag the elk down the road. They don't like to field dress the elk in the middle of prime elk habitat, as the gut pile attracted predators. We got to a spot where we could bring in a truck (4x4 with snow chains) and winch the beast onto the flatbed. Two days into our hunt and we had both punched our elk tags. My bull was another 6x6 and like Iggy's, was just a bit under 300 inches.

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This last photo is taken from the logging road, where my bull came to rest. I shot from the tree line, down below and the bull was about 40 yards above the logging road.
 

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Very nice bull, congrats!
 

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