Montana Mule Deer Hunt

Show Notes

On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian talks with hunting buddy Bryce Bowser about their 2021 Montana Mule Deer Hunt

Bryce and Brian went to the same high school a couple years apart and then later crossed paths again after college through mutual friends. Bryce started getting more and more into bowhunting and deer hunting at the same time. The guys decided to plan a South East Montana deer hunt for the fall of 2021 and talk about the hunt and all the adventures on this episode of the Western Rookie Podcast!

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] You're listening to the Western Rookie, a hunting podcast full of tips, tricks and strategies from season western hunters. There are plenty of opportunities out there. We just need to learn how to take on the challenges. Hunting is completely different up there. That person, 26, big game animals, you can fool their eyes, speak, can fold their nose, 300 yards back to the road, turned into three miles back the other way.

It's always cool seeing new hunters going harvest an animal. I don't know what to expect. If there's anybody I want in the woods with me, it'll be you.

Welcome back to another episode of the Western Rookie Podcast. I'm your host Brian Krebs. Today I've got my good buddy, Bryce Bowser on the line, and we're just gonna talk about a, a mule deer hunt that we did not this last year, but I believe it was the year before. And it was just a fun hunt. It was Bryce's first trip out west, so I just wanted to get him on here and have him [00:01:00] share his point of view of how that trip went down, coming from, you know, his extensive whitetail hunting history here in, in Minnesota, North Dakota.

And just kind of what it's like for that first time hunt out west, uh, Bryce, how's it going, man? Oh, it's going pretty good. Yeah. How about you? Going good. Getting cited for summer, uh, food plot projects like we were mentioning right before we just got under contract on a new farm, and so that's been exciting for us.

I know you're well. Basically your brother-in-law has been mm-hmm. Deep into farm projects for two years now. Um, probably don't see much of them in the summertime anymore unless you go to him. And so that's gonna be me here in a short bit. Yeah, no, that'll be fun. So, so Bryce and I, uh, for the listeners, we went to high school together, didn't really know each other a lot in high school.

Bryce was a couple years older, but ironically met back up through a bunch of mutual friends in Fargo and we became pretty friend, uh, pretty [00:02:00] friendly, hanging out, doing the all kinds of volleyball and different stuff. And then eventually, you know, we finally planned to trip out west, uh, what is it been two years now, right?

Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah. Two years. Yeah. Back in November, 2021, it was supposed to be Bryce, myself and the infamous Jeff, the brother-in-law that has more projects than time and, and like more projects than time Jeff got too busy and couldn't come with us.

Yeah, he is definitely got quite the, the food plots and just on top of what he is already doing with the, his actual job and work that's, I mean, to be able to afford the, uh, projects and, uh, the hobbies that we do, it's long hours and lots of time and really eats into kind of your, your fun times in the [00:03:00] or can eat into your fun times or in the fall, but yeah.

Yeah, we definitely. Unfortunately it couldn't come with last or two, two years ago, but I think we were, I think part of the problem as well was that we were planning that trip right as he was trying to get under contract on that farm and, you know mm-hmm. Making sure everything worked well with clothes and just wasn't a great time for him to be committing to doing some western hunting.

And so, which bummer probably a good thing for him cuz I feel like he would've got a little addicted. Yeah, no, it is definitely, definitely a trip that, uh, I mean, I definitely wanna get out there and do it again, but it's definitely, uh, an addicting type of, it's just different than any hunting that we've done.

Minnesota, North Dakota, just different style, obviously different species when we were going after the mules, but yeah, it was. Definitely a fun trip that I wanna get back out after in [00:04:00] the next year or so. But yeah. So I know a fair amount of your hunting history, but give the listeners just a quick rundown of kind of how you got into hunting and maybe how that changed a few years back once you met Jeff and Elena.

So I was big into, I really wasn't big into the whitetail until basically I met Jeff and Elena and obviously dated Elena. And we just kinda, I mean, really got into the hunting, the whitetails and I'd done a lot of bird hunting, pheasants, duck, goose, and as soon as I picked up the bow, it was basically, I haven't touched the the shotgun since.

So I've definitely, probably about four years now, man, I know that first year I really didn't know what I was doing, but I was out there like, Almost every day. And that really rolled into doing the, uh, the shed [00:05:00] hunting. And I'd say from doing that, that I learned more about actual whitetail hunting and like kind of your age class of deer, that sort of thing.

Um, yeah, I really, and I obviously hunt Minnesota, North Dakota, and occasionally Montana. But yeah, that's, I mean, my hunting in a nutshell, I guess. Yeah. So when we went on the trip, that was like your second or third like hard season of deer hunting, right? Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. It was probably my going into my third, I'd say.

And that year I'd actually, I actually tripled that year. I got my Minnesota tag filled. Nice little one 15 actually. Right up there, little eight pointer. Um, North Dakota you were actually with on that trip, which was kind of just a, well, you've met out one or two times [00:06:00] with, with us bow hunting in North Dakota and on one of the trips you just happened to be with, and I got my nice over on the wall over there.

Uh, little one 20, high twenties, eight pointer. And then we went out to Montana and we're lucky enough to both fill out those tags. So yeah, it, the, the North Dakota Whitetail Hunt was funny because it was, I don't think it was opener, but it was opening weekend and I was doing some stuff back home. Mm-hmm.

I came into town, I had Monday off. I texted Jeff and I was like, Hey, you wanna go bow hunting? You can pick me up on the way out because, and he's like, well, that's not really on the way, but I'll pick you up. And so me and him rodee out together. Then you and Elena went, or you went alone? I think Elena was with, with, with the kids.

And, uh, Jeff texted me and goes, sounds like Bryce shot a buck. And I'm like, no, come on. We're like, we're like first hunt in of the season on public land. Like there's no way it happened that fast, that easy. [00:07:00] And he is like, no, I'm pretty sure he shot a buck. And I'm like, well, did he? And then I'm like, well, did he recover it yet?

Like it's not really shot until it's got, you know? Mm-hmm. And he is like, well, it looks pretty good. And I'm like, awesome. Like let's go get this thing. Like that never happens. Bow hunting for me first night out, tag out on a great buck. That was, that was crazy. I actually pulled off a different deer that I was pretty dead set on.

I did like a month and a half of scouting this one deer and hunted him the first three days of the season and the day before the season started, I actually was up with Elaine and Jeff. And it obviously a different area that they kind of hunted. Um, And so I'd gone up there and did a little scouting and I saw this deer out and I was like, you know, I just feel like I should pull off and go after this one.

And they thought I was crazy cuz I mean the other, the first deer I was after was maybe one 30 s He just kind of had some cool characteristics, fuse bass, [00:08:00] G2 and stuff. And I mean, it would've been a really nice buck. But, uh, I just kind of pulled off and it was just a, it was really on a whim because you guys had been out there hunting since like five o'clock.

And I was actually working with Elena's youngest brother Sean, who's Jeff's brother. Um, but I was working with him and wasn't really like, thinking of hunting that night. And since you guys were up there, I was like, well, we could kind of go scouting quick and, well, I do have the bow in the truck. And we got up there, it was seven o'clock and I'm walking out in, into the field at seven o'clock.

And sunset's maybe 7 45. And I'm walking into the field. I got out to my spot pretty much just as he kind of was coming out, and I just was lucky to everything lined up then. But yeah, it was definitely, definitely a crazy [00:09:00] early season experience, that's for sure. Yeah. I was not expect, I was taking, I think I was taking pictures with my camera of like a little spiker as Jeff's texted me.

Mm-hmm. That you shot a buck. And I'm like, well man, I've really picked the wrong spot to go sit. And then, yeah. No, I, yeah, go ahead. Oh, I was gonna say, it wasn't much of a track job. I mean, from where you shot him to where he went down, I don't know, 40, 50 yards maybe. I was pretty much, I was at the point where I was kind of questioning, I.

Because I, I had watched him go into the, into the little marsh where he ended up expiring. And I, from there thought that he, cuz he looked back at me right then and I thought he was just gonna continue on. So I was like, kind of questioning where did I hit him? Was it a good shot? Was, you know, million things go through your mind after you shoot.

And lucky enough that we pressed down and another were five or 10 yards. Cause I was getting to that point where I was like, [00:10:00] well, maybe we should back out for the night and come back in the morning. But we stumbled on 'em like 10 feet later and yeah, we ended up getting them, yeah, it was a great buck. Uh, had the big camera there, so we took some good pictures.

Had the whole family there by the time we went after 'em. So that was fun. Mm-hmm. And then Jeff, uh, carried most of. Carried him out on his back for most of the what, half mile? Yeah, that was, I don't know if I'll be doing that anytime soon. But yeah, he threw 'em up on his shoulders and hiked him out for quite a ways.

Which is funny cuz that buck field dressed probably wasn't much lighter than Jeff on the hoof. No. Right. Yep. That's pretty good. And so when did you shoot your Minnesota buck that year? Was it with a bow or was that during the rifle season? I was close to that particular one, like three or four times with my bow and it was just kind of on the fence.

Cuz he is, he's nice, but he is not like, I mean, when we do our [00:11:00] scouting and shed hunting, we're trying to get those four and a half, five, six year olds that, you know, won in, won in a million type deer. But, uh, And obviously knew the Montana trip was coming up and I'd been close enough to this one handful of times and it was actually opening a rifle and he walked by about nine 30 in the morning cause I was able to take him then.

But we went on a trip about a week later, something like that. Yeah, it was a wild, it was a, it was a wild fall for me cuz that fall I had 10 tags across the west and I had a fiance that was living, uh, doing residency in Minnesota four hours away and worked every other weekend. So I was like, well, I'll come see you every weekend, you're off and then I'll find time for these 10 tags in the rest of the fall.

And uh, so it was busy. I remember getting home like six hours packed. Went to bed, woke up. No, we left in the afternoon. I think, I can't [00:12:00] remember what the details are, but I remember it was a short turnaround from our firearm deer camp to. Heading out to Montana. And I remember us talking all fall, like leading up to that trip, getting ready, kind of talking about, you know, what kind of bucks we were looking for.

And I remember you said, well I'm looking for a one 70. And I'm like, well I would love a 1 72, but I just want to be level with you. We're not gonna find a one 70. I don't think we're gonna find a one 70. And you are like, oh really? Like, that's kind of a bummer. And he is like, well, like, like that size buck.

And I had a deadhead in my office. And I'm like, mm-hmm. Well that's like a 1 25. So if you're looking for that, we'll find that. But it's so hard when you look at mul deer for the first time, cuz there's shapes so differently. You can't really just look at like, like you and I can look at a whitetail and we can be within five inches.

Right. You can't just assume that on a meal deer. You're like, oh, that's, you know. Right. Like those 1 30, 1 40 looks like a one 70 whitetail. [00:13:00] Mm-hmm. Yeah. That's crazy. Definitely different scoring and different, just the way they add up the points and stuff. It's just, I don't know, I still don't even understand it, honestly.

Yeah, it's, it gets pretty, it gets western, for lack of a better word. Um, right. And we went to southeast Montana. It's no secret, it's not a secret spot from what you and I discovered. We were both probably a little too optimistic for, um, what we were gonna find, uh, in. Like, we knew there was gonna be people, we knew there was gonna be some pressure, but we figured we could outwork 'em because we, I mean, we did hunt hard.

We didn't slack by any means. But What did you think of just like driving out there, finding camp and like that first, like, not even the hunt yet, but just getting there. Well, I think if anybody hasn't been to Southeast Montana, they should definitely take a trip because that was definitely, it was almost like a detriment to try to fill your tag at the same time as being in just the landscape.[00:14:00]

Just how pretty it is out there. And just crazy. I mean, honestly, you drive 10 miles any direction and landscape just completely changes too. So that part was pretty cool. Um, I mean that was just, I say it was not gonna say it was a detriment, but it was like almost one of those feelings where you're like, ah, I really wish I could just kinda go explore and do all this stuff.

And at the same time, you're trying to fill your tag and, and then you pull up to every parking spot of every public piece of land around there and there's 10 vehicles and, and guys all over the place. It's like, well, it's gonna be a little tougher than we had anticipated, that's for sure. Yeah. I remember morning one.

We decided we didn't wanna walk anywhere in the dark cause we've never been here before. Like let's just walk in like first light, that way we're not walking past anything. So we make breakfast and everything obviously in the dark. And we got out of our little spot, we were [00:15:00] camping and we were seeing so many deer on the main road that we kept stopping to check.

Like, is that a meal there? Is that a meal there? And then it was, I mean it was all private anyway, so we really just burned time and we decide we're gonna go to this. I don't know why we decided we're gonna go to this BMA piece. I don't know if it was because I could shoot a cow elk and there, I think it, yeah, potentially was some elk in that area.

Yeah. So we get to the, we get to the first BMA spot, we park the truck. And I'm, this whole time I feel, I felt like I needed to take on like the role of like, not really a guide, but just like the mentor of, of like, this is probably how it's gonna go down and just set expectations. Mm-hmm. And I'm like, Like Bryce, this is, uh, this is gonna be a challenge to hunt.

I think you were really optimistic, like really excited and eager and I was kind of cautioning restraint and like, this is gonna be tough. Like, don't, don't pass something on the first day that you [00:16:00] would shoot on the last day. You know, we're not at that. This isn't the hunt to do that. Sometimes you get a tag where it's like, no, I'm gonna really be picky and, and do the hunt justice.

This was not that tag. And so I kept telling him that and Bryce's like, no, I got it. I'm, I'm good. I, I know, I know. Yep. Well, I'm sure. And, and I'm like, all right, cool. And so we got to that first spot and I was thinking we were gonna have to work hard to find a buck. How long did it take us before we found that first deer?

Well, I just wanna say that I, I feel like you should have probably led on before we even got to that place saying that. You shouldn't pass any, any buck that you'd shoot on the last day. On the first day, I thought I told you that. Yeah. Five. Not even, not even five minutes outta the truck. Probably two, two minutes out of the truck we got, we could still see the truck for sure.

Guns loaded up. Yeah, for sure. We could still see. Got the gun loaded up. Look over this little bluff. 200 yards from the truck and well, there's a nice little four by four, little four by [00:17:00] four, probably two year old. But anyways, it was like, well, as soon as we had kind of, I mean, we had plenty of opportunities.

I at least had plenty of opportunities to, to take him and hanky gave us two or three decent angles to actually shoot 'em. And then we went to the, the gas station for lunch and ran into the DNR officer. He tells us that we're not gonna see any four by fours. We're gonna have a really tough time seeing any decent, decent, uh, mule deer bucks.

Like just in general. And boy, were we kicking ourselves then? Well, I never, it all worked out, but I saw that deer, I saw that first buck. I don't even know if I saw the buck or I saw the dough. I definitely did not see the antlers. Cuz you were walking first. Mm-hmm. I intentionally wanted you to walk first to try to get first shot.

Cuz I, at this point I already shot two mule deer. And so you saw it and you seemed excited and [00:18:00] I'm like, great. Like let's go after this deer. And we worked that deer for probably half an hour, I mean, right. By the time he went up and over. Then we went around and you got set up. Mm-hmm. And moved down.

Mm-hmm. And I was like that. By this point I'm staying way back cuz I don't wanna blow it for you. And at one point you're set up like safety off, looking through your scope. Oh, I was on him for minutes and I, I kept looking back at you cause I thought you were looking at him and I was like waiting to see like, is it a good one?

Like, is this, do I pull the trigger? Because I couldn't quite get a good read on him. He had just little baby forks at the top and I'm like, He's nice. But you know, we watched too many YouTube videos before he went there and saw these, uh, yeah. Not the, uh, average size meal deer. But yeah. So I definitely was, I mean, had I done the trip over again, I probably would've taken them just after we kind of got going.

And the, the pressure [00:19:00] was as crazy as it was that everywhere had, you know, people at every single parking area on every single entrance that you could go into these public pieces. Yeah. There was a lot of pressure. I mean, I really thought you were gonna shoot that deer based on like what I was I, what I thought I was telling you, like mm-hmm.

Don't, you know, shoot the first thing that makes you happy. Like, no pressure. You can shoot whatever you want on this hunt. I put my earbuds in. I was that confident you were gonna shoot the thing that I put my earbuds in and I was like 40 yards away. Um, And then we saw, you know, that we, you decided to let that one go.

You know, we'll find a better one. I'm like, all right. I, I didn't see it. I have no idea what it was. I couldn't tell how big it was. Trust ya. Um, found a little for key back in there. Mm-hmm. And then it's like, you know, at that point we're feeling pretty good. Like five minutes outta the truck. Found a four by four, found another little buck like rock solid, right?

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Then we went to that gas station and the DNR said, it's [00:20:00] been, it's the worst three years of hunting I've ever seen out here. I haven't even seen a four by four this year. You're not gonna find one. You'll be lucky to see a buck on public. And we're like, way to make us feel good. Like, why did we get crushed?

He was the downer Police. Yeah. Not putting him in charge of camp morale. Um, what did we do that evening? I mean, we went and checked out some spot. I mean, a lot of the trip we were, it was our first time to this spot for either one of us. So a lot of the trip was driving around, checking areas. Yep. And then, yeah, we, we scouted the rest that night I think, and just tried to kind of get a lay of the land and get things a little more set up at camp and stuff.

And I think that's when it, that evening is when it really started to dawn on us how much pressure there was gonna be on that. Mm-hmm. That main road where there was trucks everywhere and every time we tried to go somewhere to scout, there'd be trucks. Trucks, trucks. Giant whitetails mm-hmm. Off the side of the road and pi in private, [00:21:00] but trucks everywhere.

Yeah. The private, yeah, that, what was it like that 1 58 pointer? We almost hit with the truck. No. Yeah, there was some, there was actually some pretty nice whitetails down there. But yeah, they're all on private. So we get back to camp that night and we decide like we're going back to kill that buck this morning, like, we're not taking any chances.

Get up super early the next morning, go right back to the spot. Someone beats us there, there's a, there's a truck parked. We hope he went right. Turns out he went left and. I thought hopefully it's been long enough now that you're not super salty about it anymore. But I really thought you were gonna rip my head off when I told you we had to back out.

Cuz that guy was, was there Yeah, I know. It's just one of those things that stinks. But I mean, what do you do? Yeah, that did suck. That really did suck that, you know, cuz the day before we were there like hours later and no one was at that spot and then mm-hmm. First light [00:22:00] there was already someone rolled up.

Right. Yeah. That's how it goes. Public land, you never know what you're gonna get. Yeah. That was the moral of the story there. Um. Mm-hmm. I was, it was also super hot that first day and a half, two days, I mean. Mm-hmm. I was sweating at night and you said the heater was like acting up and I'm like, fine, so be it.

I don't want the heater hot like it is way too hot. Um, right. But then finally, We started really having to expand the horizons. I mean, we were burning spots left and right. Couldn't find any deer to save our mm-hmm. We, we couldn't buy a dough. Much less a buck we were interested in on public. Right. Um, yeah, definitely got to be pretty sparse as far as anything we were seeing.

Yeah. What were, so I think we, we started big, bigger, and bigger circles and at, at one point, like day two or day three, we were just like, you know what? Like, let's just move, let's just [00:23:00] go way off in a different direction. I don't remember. Mm-hmm. I think you were looking at the map pretty hard and like, okay, well this big X doesn't work, this big X doesn't work.

Like let's try over there. I'm like, there dude, there's a lot of public land over there. Like it's different country, that's for sure. It's not the same stuff. We've been hunting where we can't really, well wait, we gotta back up a little bit. I think it was day two we were sitting up on a windy ridge and you almost got trampled.

I think it was day three. That was, it was when we, when we went to that new area basically, and yeah, that was, that was like 60 or 70 mile an hour. Like No, that was day three. I'm talking day two. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's what you're, yeah. When I met up with those other hunters and was talking to them And you literally almost got like ran over from behind.

Yeah. Yep. I was sitting on top of this ridge and a buck and a dough came up and over and nothing crazy big, but I five feet away from 'em and they [00:24:00] just up and over the ridge as I'm coming right to 'em and they went on their merry way. I was like, well, I, I guess there's actually deer here, but Yeah. Not the, not the size we're looking for, for sure.

But was at that point in the hunt were, were you ready to just like open season on the first legal buck?

I was pretty close. I also get pretty bad attitudes when I start having, you know, the luck we were having and the, and the pressure that we were seeing. It's like, ah, you mean maybe I just need to pull that little itchy trigger finger and, and get this over with. You mean the lack of luck we were having? I mean we, yeah.

Other than that first deer, we, that was the end of our luck. Yeah. On public land at least. I mean, we were seeing 'em all over private, driving around seeing 'em everywhere, but, yep. Not on, not on public. Yeah. So we went, we went to the completely new area, day three. So it, it [00:25:00] was a four day hunt. Mm-hmm. We had four days to get this done, cuz I had to be back.

I can't remember what was going on. I think it, well this Thanksgiving was it? No, it was a week before Thanksgiving. I think You had a. Yeah, I don't know what you had, but something going on I had to get back to And you had to go down to the cities or something? I had to get, I was, that was one of the weekends and we had plans, I had to get to the cities for something on that Friday.

Yeah. So we were gonna do Monday through Thursday. And I, this whole time, I'm telling Bryce all summer long, like, you know, I think we should go Monday through Thursday, cuz the most pressure's gonna be on Saturday and Sunday. Well man, if that was how much pressure was Monday through Thursday? I don't even wanna see what that unit looks like on a weekend.

No. Nah. It was just insane. And so day three, we knew the weather was gonna suck. There was like a front moving in. It was windier than a hurricane. And so we're like, this is probably gonna be a big scouting day. Right. And so we go to this whole new area. We get there kind of early, right. We, we did most of the driving at night.

We wanted to get there at first light. I mean, [00:26:00] the way the nat, the natural way of the habitat. You did a lot. You almost got more use driving than walking for covering ground. Mm-hmm. And just seeing where deer are. And that was kind of our plan. We were gonna drive around until we start seeing some deer, and then we were gonna park and walk.

And so we see this for key running across. We, it was a pretty good sized fork. I mean, he was obviously a year and a half old, but at least he was bigger than the, I think he was bigger than the one that almost trampled you. Right. And this is, now we're at two and a half days of not seeing any deer. And you're like, I look at you and I'm like, you wanna shoot him?

And you're like, f it. Like you kind of had that Fett mentality at that point. Like, let's, I'm ready to punch a tag and, and turn this Yeah. This caravan back homeward and so I let you out. Yeah. And this, it was, it was funny because there was not an inch of grass anywhere in this area. Like it was that dry and grazed.

There was no cover. Mm-hmm. [00:27:00] And so I told you, I'm like, Hey Bryce. If you walk right over the top of that hill, he's gonna see you immediately. If I were you and you really wanna shoot this deer, I would crawl. And you're like, yep, logical. Makes sense. Got it. I'll crawl. And so you crawl up and over and then I stayed back.

So tell us about that. What the, that little 15 minutes of fame there. Oh yeah. That, uh, nice crawl through the cactuses. Yeah. I hadn't really seen many of those until I put my hand in, you know, a nice plump cactus and as I'm about to get on the deer to take a shot. And it probably was for a reason because as soon as I did that, he, uh, hightailed it outta there from some other guys that were alongside the road and.

Well at, at that point we at least knew cuz we had that deer, and I think we had seen another one as we had [00:28:00] gotten over that ridge. Um, I don't think it was anything of any crazy size, but it was just, at least, at least we were kind of getting into the deer at that point. So we kind of just from that point was like, well, all right, we kind of know this might be worth coming back too.

I mean, I remember obviously our standards were pretty low at that point, so I was thinking, I'm gonna let Bryce shoot first. I'm gonna let him shoot whatever he wants. I think he's probably gonna shoot faster than I will like, like your bar was probably at that like, Green, everything's green lit right now.

I was still kind of at like a yellow, like, eh, I don't know if I'm ready to shoot a, a year, a one year old buck. But I sure wouldn't wanna stand in front of me too long either. And uh, but I remember when you stood up after that stock and turned around and looked at me. I knew something happened. Cuz you look so disappointed in the advice you were given.

You had, you walked back to me and you had cactuses in your knees and you had cactuses in your [00:29:00] hands and your gloves were full of cactus needles. I bet you still haven't worn those gloves again. No, I really, I think I've done it one time and still found needles. So yeah, it's, they've been pretty well retired since then.

That was, that one was completely on me. I did not tell you about the cactuses. I figured that it's common sense to look down when you're crawling around out in the west cuz there's rattlesnakes and then you happen to also see the cactus when you do that. Um, but I, so I forgot to mention that part so that part's on me.

Yeah, that was, that was something, that's for sure. I definitely wasn't even, I don't know, I, cuz obviously we'd seen him out there, but only thing that was on my mind was crawling up to that deer and getting a little poke at 'em and no, that definitely was not gonna be as easy as crawling up there, that's for sure.

I re I wasn't that you kept crawling after you hit the cactus and didn't just say, you know what, this is stupid. Well, I did stop for a couple seconds, [00:30:00] maybe a minute or so when I ripped the glove off and. Pulled the needles outta my hand. So that was, I feel almost guilty cuz I was sitting, I was standing by the truck the way the hill went up and over.

I was just standing the, no, nobody could see me. I had my hands tucked behind my Bal harness warming them up. It's kind of windy. I'm just watching this whole thing go down and there's B Brett or Bryce up across the bridge getting blasted with wind, calling through cactuses. Mm-hmm. Hunters busts deer for him.

Just not a swell time. Not a, not a real fun. 15 minutes, but you're right. We were starting to see some deer. So the plan was find some deer, park the truck, let's get out and, and now at this point we're like, all right, we need to start splitting up. We need to cover ground. Mm-hmm. I think, I think the way it went is I said, all right, you might as well like hit this area cuz there's two bucks in here that sounds like you would shoot for sure.

I'll just let you have that. I'll find a different, I'll bump down a ways. See what's [00:31:00] over there. I didn't find any, I found a couple sheds in a fox, and that's about it. You know, I was out there, shed hunting. Mm-hmm. And, uh, and I come around a point and I just see, you know, the used car salesman balloon going wild up on top of a hill.

You know, this is, you know, the Bryce is there waving his arms. I'm like, all right, well, something happened. I better get over there. And so, so what happened after we split up that day? Well, after, uh, after we, uh, split up, I basically, I mean, I was, I go, I basically went over this ridge and kinda walk down this valley and the wind is just ripping rolling right up this whole valley.

And like it had to been 60 mile an hour gusts, maybe even more like to the point where you can't even open your eyelids and like blink is how bad it's coming up there. And anyways, I. Had like, I mean obviously had a uh, [00:32:00] a ridge on one side, ridge on the other. Cause I was walking down the valley and I decided to kind of go up and over the one ridge just to check what was on the other side, just cuz I mean we're in the deer and we'd seen 'em all morning and so went over this ridge and I got 10 feet from the top and I bumped a buck, a good buck.

And it was actually the buck that Brian had ended up taking the next day. Um, but I got down and this buck was basically walking away from me and I took I think three shots at him. I think I actually took two cuz one of my rounds, misfired or malfunction. Um, but I couldn't tell where my bullets were going.

All I knew was I wasn't even close to hitting them at 200 yards, which is pretty surprising for, I mean, my gun. Every other DF shot has been just basically fell over so well to be, I only think that the, uh, well to be [00:33:00] fair, definitely you jumped him at 10 feet. He ran down the hill, you had to get there.

Mm-hmm. By the time you got there, he was walking, but it's still 60 mile an hour winds. Yeah. And 200 yards shooting down at him. And obviously didn't get him, tried calling Brian and his phone was, I think it was on airplane mode. So I'm calling you trying to get either you over there cuz you're probably a mile plus away from me or get back to the truck to grab my other clip.

Cuz we weren't really planning on, obviously I didn't really plan too well that I had left my other clips in the truck and yeah. So I ended up meeting up with him and, and we tried to go after him. Once we got, once I met up with Brian, we went back over to where I had shot from and I'm like, he's literally walking away.

His back legs all messed up. And I mean, it was one of those things that rather, you know, [00:34:00] take that deer specifically because he is injured and, you know, and not only that, the fact that he's, you know, a good buck and, and we've literally seen like a handful of forks and that one nice four by four that we've actually been hunting.

So we didn't end up catching up with him later that night, but, well, yeah, because you, I finally got up to you and I'm like, did you shoot something? Or what's up? And you're like, and you're breathing heavy. You were running around. You were excited. Yeah. I'm like, dude, there's a big buck in here, like the biggest buck we've seen so far.

And so I'm starting to get interested and you're like, A shot, but I, I mean, it's so, you know, effing windy and, you know. Mm-hmm. I ran out bullets and I'm like, what do you mean? He ran outta bullets. He's like, I, I, one was a misfire two, I did shot twice. And I'm like, well, don't you have spares in your pack?

And he goes, no. And I'm like, well, like you gotta throw in a spare box of bullets in your backpack. Um, but I had some, and I'm like, well, we could [00:35:00] walk back to the truck, but y it the way it, this buck was behaving. Mm-hmm. You, we were both confident. Like he went into this draw, it's a washout draw. Like one of those flat ones with like a 10 foot drop into the bottom, bottom and Right.

He should be like in the first cut, like he should be right there. He was, he was hurting, he wasn't moving fast. Mm-hmm. And so I'm like, well, do you mi like, you mind if I just go in after him? Like, I got ammo. We're right here. We don't want to, don't have to wait. Mm-hmm. And so you were like, well, sure. I guess.

I mean, I kind of wanted to shoot him, but go for it. And so I start walking. I. You know, walk, crawl, get to the spot. I'm starting to walk around this thing and I felt like I had, well, I felt like I had the very wrong rifle for this whole operation because I have a 13 and a half pound chassis rifle with a 28 and a half inch barrel, plus a two inch break.

My scope is ma, huge, like it's a five to 25 power scope. And here I am trying to like clear [00:36:00] corners and work this draw and nothing is farther than like 20 feet. And so even at five power I can, like, I'm hold and my arm started getting tired cuz this gun is so heavy and it's, so, I have the, I have the bipod on it, so it's like way out front too, like front heavy.

And so I, I don't know, what was it, an hour, I worked this entire draw all the way down to the private, didn't even see a whisper of a deer. So I don't know where this, this Houdini buck went, but he just disappeared. Mm-hmm. So that was pretty depressing. Like we thought it was a slam dunk. Well cuz there was, cuz you'd work that down towards the private and then there was the other draw going north or it would've been south that we were like, well he's probably in there.

It was a bigger draw and we just, I think we were getting close to lunch or something like that. So we just decided to kind of pull out for now and try to come back in the [00:37:00] evening and either do that or try to find a new area. And I think, well that's when we found that group of, what was it, four brothers from like Louisiana or some way off place.

So there's four guys tenting it from middle. I mean, I don't think they were all from the same state, but none of 'em were even close to Montana. Right. And they had, I think it was like a Toyota Tundra or something. But this thing was packed to the gills with all their camping gear and their tents. But what we noticed was they had four skin out buck, like four euros in camp laying there.

Mm-hmm. And so like, we're like, we have to stop and talk to 'em. Like they're tagged out. They're clearly packing up. Like maybe they'll give us some intel. So we talked to 'em. They're super nice guys. They seem like they shot, I think there was a yearling, and then there's like maybe a couple two year olds and then maybe like one three year old.

So nothing crazy. But they were tagged out. And so we started talking to 'em and they said, yeah, we [00:38:00] went all the way around to this like crazy spot way back, right? Like they were way back in there and we shot three bucks last night. And we're like, are you serious? Like we've been hunting all week and we haven't even seen three bucks on private.

Mm-hmm. And you guys shot three bucks in one night. And they're like, yeah, but dude, like it's been tough for us too. Like we're probably not coming back for a few years. And so we, yeah, like you said, we decided to go out, grab some lunch and it's like, well, we might as well hit this spot that apparently is loaded with deer, right?

So yeah, that turned into a nice long hike. That's for sure. I remember that was such a long, well, just the drive, like anyone that's hunted the mountain knows that mountain roads suck. But for the, like, it wasn't like we were in the mountains, like we were in the hills, like Southeast Montana's. Mm-hmm. More the hills.

But it still took us like an hour and a half to get back to the spot. Probably two hours, at least back to camp. [00:39:00] Um, we park in the spot. It looks good, right? It looks remote. Looks like there's plenty of habitat. We walked up on all the bucks. They shot the gut piles. But it basically turned into four miles of us, like splitting up and just, I, I think you saw a, though, I actually had a, I had a spike, a real small spike.

Oh. Like a four inch spike at 15 feet. He was so close that I put my crosshair on him and I couldn't see anything but his front shoulder. Oh, geez. And I clicked my safety off and I'm just looking at him and I'm just really thinking like, do I wanna shoot this or not? And I'm, I'm playing the scenarios through my head.

I'm like, it would be me. It'd probably be the best meal to meet cuz he's a young buck. Right. I don't feel like I need to shoot a big buck, but I, so it's like, it's not like the ego is not going to let me shoot this cuz it's not big enough. But at the same time I was like, I also don't need to shoot a little buck.

And if I shoot this [00:40:00] tonight, then I'm signing Bryce up for a lot of work. We're gonna be here a while, we gotta quarter it, pack it all like it's gonna be a super late night. And then, you know, that's probably gonna spill into tomorrow morning. Probably won't get the earliest start. Um, and so I let him go.

I mean, I was, we, we met, we introduced each other to, I mean, I heard this deer's life story, like that's how long the spike stood in front of me that I was watching in my scope. And we did some miles in that spot. Right. Um, I don't know, I think I was at like five or six miles just in that one spot alone.

Yeah, I'm sure. I was probably pretty, pretty close to the same. And I think the worst part was towards the end of the, the hunt that day, seeing the vehicles, driving through the canyon roads and stuff and we're just sitting there like, well we really can't get away from anything. I mean, we're literally two and a half, maybe two hours from, [00:41:00] from camp and it's just still have people driving by.

I think there was a U T V that flew by at one point. It's like, And you're talking like, what do we have to do? People driving off road, like where we were told and like where the rules say you're not supposed to drive and there's still people driving around and Right. That's when we were really like, we're trying to play it by the book.

We didn't go offroad and, and here's people just driving everywhere they want to drive. Yeah. At that point it was pretty demoralizing. Just seeing all the, the pressure everywhere. Everywhere we went, it's just mounting up until we hit day four, that's for sure. Day four was our last prayer. We had a cold front.

We had at this point we had fixed the heater in this camper. It ran outta propane and day. The morning of day three was a chilly start. It was the opposite of day one. Mm-hmm. Day one, I woke up in a puddle of sweat. Day three, I was froze and I had a warm sleeping bag, so I was doing all [00:42:00] right. But I remember you had a lot of faith in the heater cuz you had like two really light blankets.

Mm-hmm. Yeah. The heater, the dang propane valve was leaking and it went empty on us. So that was something that was unexpected that, I mean, this is the camper that we had been camping in for the last two years. And I mean, we, we probably spent, you know, 45 nights using the heater. And so we never had that issue going into the, into the trip.

So it's one of those unexpected things that you just, especially that one, you don't really like to find out. Yeah. I will say it's, there's something weird. Like there's a weird feeling when you go on a western hunt and someone else is bringing like the trailer or the camper. Mm-hmm. Because you're like, yeah, I got the camper.

I'll bring the camper. And you, I mean, I've seen it before. I knew what you had it, you know, you bought, it is a little older. It was a great deal. It was a project camper. Mm-hmm. You guys have flipped it, turned [00:43:00] it into an amazing hunting rig. But it's still like, what, a 2001 camper. Yeah, it is a 98. 98. And so I'm like, I don't wanna like be overbearing, but I'm like, you know, when was the last time you looked at the bearings and you know, how are the tires look?

And I'm not trying to, I ask all these questions cuz it's like I have no idea. Didn't go through 'em. Yeah, luckily we did about everything else on that road out, but we didn't break the tires, which was phenomenal. Um, my dad just bought a brand new fifth wheel by the way, little tangent, brand new 2023 ex tire exploded.

Taking it to the resort. Like this thing has zero miles on it and the tire like catastrophic explosion, like the whole ri like the whole rubber just, yeah. That's crazy. So I guess my logic doesn't necessarily make sense cuz the new ones popped you two. But I, I, that was a little bit nerve wracking for me.

It's probably the opposite. Like, man, this guy thinks he knows everything. He's got the spot figured out. I have no idea [00:44:00] what we're getting myself into, but I got the camper. You know, so Got something. Yeah. Day four comes, we got a cold front. We have calm weather. Mm-hmm. We are both like, let's just see if we can get one on the ground today.

That's the mm-hmm. The goal of the day is to get one on the ground. Right. We get there super early, we break up, I, I go south. You go north? Or I think, I don't know. I guess I don't even know which directions the roads were, you know, you went one way. I went the other. Mm-hmm. I had seen some bucks, I glass some bucks or not bucks, deer.

Um, and I, it was kind of like these mounds, I don't know, there's mounds everywhere. So I'd see like in a, I'd see 'em go through a gap, but then I'd have to run down and run up and run down to see 'em again. Mm-hmm. Turns out they were all doze. That's a bummer. So I run around for a few hours chasing doze and don't have any luck.

So I'm gonna head back to the truck, see what Bryce has been up to. So I walk up, you beat me to the truck. [00:45:00] So I had a little bit of different morning that day. Um, just to give you a little background, we went back basically to that spot that we had bumped that injured deer on day three. Um, and I kind of set up on, well, it was the ridge that I bumped him off of and I just set up right there.

I'm like, you know, if, if he's still in the area from this point, I should be able to at least see him. If not, I mean, I can see, I could see out, you know, a mile, pretty much any direction except for I think back to the east. So I could see north, uh, west and and south pretty well. Um, and then I had that little draw area too that I was kind of able to see down into.

Um, and that area ended up being the ticket then, um, so. It, I mean, it was [00:46:00] kind of a slow morning right away and then all of a sudden I think sun came up and it was just, I mean, I, I was glassing like probably 15 deer down in this draw and I could see one was a pretty good buck and so I'm all excited. I got my gun, got get backpack loaded back up and I started walking out, heading over towards him cuz I think I was 12 or 1300 yards away.

So quite a ways. And so I actually get down, I work my way off the ridge and I'm walking kind on flat ground towards the, the little ravine area. And I'm walking over towards him and I actually get into a foot race with two other hunters that are probably about a thousand yards behind me. And they were coming, they saw this buck and they were coming the whole way with me and still way behind and.

Were those, the guys up until the point, like the road, they parked on the road. [00:47:00] Yep. They parked on the road. I think they were going off. They seen away the deer. I think they were going off a different book. Yeah. I think they were going after I had seen a book on your side of the road and I figured like, okay, I've been watching this book for a half hour now.

Mm-hmm. I thought you were gonna go shoot him, but I can't see you. And this buck's still standing there. It's been a half hour. So Bryce must not be going after him, so I'll go after him. So I run, I'm working my way as fast as I can. I get down in the bottom of the cut so I don't have to worry about getting seen.

I get to the road, I'm like a hundred yards from the road and that truck rolls up, stops right in front of me. They don't see me. They get out on their side and go after that buck. So it sounds like they might not have been going after the same one as you. Maybe they were. So I think what happened was that initially they were going after that other buck.

Okay. And then they got up to that ravine and they didn't really check it. But they could see the buck that, that was dogging the dough that I was going after. And so then they ended up just jumping ship and [00:48:00] actually trying to footrace me or, or something so they could clearly see you. Oh, a hundred percent I'm out there, blaze orange, everything walking on top of the ravine, walking right to the buck.

And, and they just kept walking. So I don't know if they were trying to spook him or trying to get the second shot if I, if I didn't drop him. Um, but anyways, I mean, I glassed them or I arranged them actually after I had shot, and they were 500 yards from me still working the direction that that Buck was in.

But I mean, I had already shot him and, and got him. I, how far of a shot was it? How far of a shot was your buck at? I think it was just under 200 yards. I had just, I had to cross the ravine. To get like to where they kind of were at cuz the ravine kind of got funky down in that area where it kind of branched into like a bunch of different channels.

Mm-hmm. And so I had crossed from the one side over, [00:49:00] came up kind of in this like middle ravine island and no sooner I saw the buck and the dough and they were actually coming towards me initially. And it was a good thing that that buck was dogging that dough because I no longer got the tripod set up and put the gun on and the dough kind of, and she silhouetted me cuz the sun was coming up behind me.

And so she turns off the one way and he's still following her, you know, 15 feet behind her. And I got on him and I think he stopped for a split second and I ended up taking, well be this buck right here. So nothing crazy. Nice little two year old. But I mean, I was more than happy to take after, after the hunting that we had and the pressure that we were seeing everywhere and the drought conditions.

I mean, it was, it was definitely nice to, to get on something finally and, and have 'em, have 'em go down. So, [00:50:00] so I got, so yeah. From that point, yeah. So I get back to the truck. Bryce is standing there and I can tell he is like trying to fight back a shit, eating grin. And so I'm thinking like something in my gut, just like, and you were doing a pretty good job.

I mean, you can keep a pretty straight face when you want to, right? And that's kind of your sense of humor and so. Mm-hmm. But something in my gut told me, just like the way you were standing and like walking around, told me like, did he shoot something? But it's dead calm, dead calm, and we are not that far apart.

I'm like, I didn't hear a single shot this morning. There's no way. And I'm like, did you shoot? And you go, no. And I'm like, oh, really? And then he threw a empty shell at me, and I'm like, you did shoot? And you're like, yeah, he's down. I'm like, no shit. So yeah, you're like, shelling me where he is. And I'm like, are you sure he is not on private?

And he's like, and you're like, no, he is not on private. And I'm like, all right. So we start walking and you're, mm-hmm. You're bringing me in there and I'm looking at my OnX and I'm like, we are [00:51:00] getting very, very close to private. Right. And, and sure enough, he had shot him, what, 20 yards into the public, and then he toppled down a hill and landed like, what, two feet on the private line?

Yeah. Like, just barely. And so you were getting ready to take pictures and stuff. I'm like, Bre, Bryce, we really need to pull this buck over here, like 10 feet. And you're like, really? You think so? And I'm like, I, I mean, yeah, let's just do it just to be safe. Mm-hmm. Right. So we pull the buck over, we take the pictures.

Um, I think as we were taking pictures, two guys walk up to us. And I'm like, oh, shit. Like we are so close to the private. I know what this con, they're walking up to us from the private and, and we're like, I know what this conversation's gonna be, and you're like, what do we wanna do? And I'm like, I'll, I'll handle it.

So they come up and I felt like they came a little hot and heavy on the, the questioning, right? Mm-hmm. Like, you guys [00:52:00] know you are on private. And I, and I had instantly said, no, you're on private, we're on public. And I said, the lion is right here. And he goes, yep. Huh. And I looked at my, I told, I pulled them up my phone and I'm like, see, this is us.

This is you. Here's the line. And they immediately changed their tune. They're like, right. Oh, well, just nice to know you guys are doing it the right way. We've had a lot of problems. And I mean, then they're like our best friends, but, well, and they, I mean, you could see the public signs too, on, on both sides of the ravine.

And, and the hill that I had shot 'em off of, it was pretty clear that it was right on public. And yeah. So it was nice to see that they, I mean, changed their demeanor and everything. They were all happy and, and they hadn't seen much for, for deer activity. I think they'd been there a couple days cuz this was their, their lease that they were hunting.

Yeah. And so it was, I mean, they came over, checked the deer route. They were, I mean, happy for [00:53:00] us. And so it was nice to see that. But yeah, it was definitely, An interesting experience, that's for sure. Yeah. So after that we did the, the quartering. We did the gutless method, which I think is the first time you had ever seen it.

I've been telling you and Jeff for like two years at this point, like, when you guys shoot these bucks way back in here, you guys should just do the gutless method and not have to carry 'em out on your back a half a mile. So what did you think of how that like the, the gutless method in the quartering and pack 'em out went compared to like Dragon Whitetails?

Because you guys have shot Whitetails farther away from the truck than that Buck died. Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean that was, I mean, we were back to the truck. We were a mile from the truck and after we had 'em quartered out and everything, we walked back to the truck in not even a half hour. So if you're gonna try to drag a deer with your gun, your pack, all that stuff, we might have left.

I think we did leave the guns in the truck, or maybe I did. Um, [00:54:00] but yeah, it's. It's definitely a lot easier than, than dragging them. I say that much and that would've been the perfect ground to don't even, don't know it's there, right? Yeah. Yeah. You don't even know the weights there. So that was, that was nice to, I mean, it was similar to how we'd basically skin 'em out once we did get 'em back to the garage and get 'em strung up.

But, uh, yeah, it was just a little different going to kind of the, the sockets and getting 'em off of the, each limb basically off of the, the socket that it's in and stuff. Yeah. But yeah, it, it, I mean, I shot a whitetail one time, 300 yards. He died 300 yards on the road. I mean, flat, just like that same stuff we were hunting in.

I could see my truck, it's right there. And I just like, you know what? I could drag this thing 300 yards and, but then I gotta loaded into my truck and that's not easy to load a buck into a truck by yourself. And then I gotta, and then if I bring it home, I gotta. [00:55:00] I've gotta gut it anyway, that's work. And then if I get it home, I'm gonna have to take care of all this stuff.

And you know, we lived in the, in the cities at that point, like the Fargo area, you know, it's not like I just got like a farm out back where I can dump stuff, you know, so that's gonna be a mess. I'm like, I'm just gonna quarter it. I'm just gonna quarter it. Mm-hmm. And carry it 300 yards instead of drag it.

And man, so much easier. And then that day, what I thought was super cool is we had your buck loaded up and it was like, what, nine 30, 10:00 AM Yeah, I think it was 10 o'clock. And we were like, well let's go to the, let's go into town. Grab a little bit, little bite to eat, nice little lunch, victory lunch, and come back out.

Since, I mean, when we headed back to town, we were seeing deer everywhere. And this was totally different. I mean, this was midday. I mean, typically during the midday when we drive around, we weren't seeing anything for deer, public or private. Yeah. Cuz I think when we loaded up the truck, We were kind of like, man, [00:56:00] we did it.

We shot a buck, successful trip. Like, you know, let's go get some lunch. And then, you know, I think we were kind of wondering like, should we just head back and pack up? Because it we're still two hours away from camp. Mm-hmm. And then we started seeing deer everywhere. Like this. There was something different about this day.

The, you know, like everyone says the rut was on, the cold front came, the weather was right. Mm-hmm. The deer were moving. And so we're like, well, you were, boy. Like, I don't care what you do, I, I'm tagged out. Like, I'm good either way. Right. Um, your, your girlfriend already had said, stay as long as you want just to fill your tag.

Mm-hmm. Which is, I've never had that instruction before. Um, I've never been given that. Uh, so you were like, I'm good man. Whatever you want to do, I'm good. And I'm like, dude, like I feel like it's a special day. Like, and we don't have to technically leave until morning. So what if we just went back out?

There's a couple spots I wanted to check. I think the group of four had given [00:57:00] us a couple spots that they were seeing some stuff in. And so the whole lunch, I'm looking at the map and I'm like, dude, I think we can drive this road. I think we can drive this. I think there's a little road here we can take and we can just glass like, we'll just run fast and the first buck we see will shoot.

Mm-hmm. And you're like, sounds good to me, man. I don't, you know. You know like the lo I could tell the pressure was off at that point for you. Right. And so it, the bar that we slept at or the bar, not the bar. We slept in the bar. We were eating. Luncheon had some real big meal deer on the wall, so that probably didn't help us either.

And so what was it? We get to that spot. It's right across the road from where you shot your buck. It's the same exact area we've been seeing. All these deer saw that big one. We get to the first little spot and I'm like, Hey, let's just pop over and see if there's anything here. And I feel like you were like, dude, we didn't even.

We, we didn't go anywhere. Like we're still by the main road. What are you doing? Five mile Road and we're 200 yards into it. Well, let's [00:58:00] go check it out, I suppose. And I may as well. I think I walked out there and I was a little ahead of you and I brought the binos up and just hit the deck. Right. Just lay down.

Mm-hmm. Instantly. And you're like, are you serious? And I'm like, dude, there's a buck over there. It's gotta be a buck, like the way it's laying. Mm-hmm. And then you had, you came out with the like monster, uh, spotting scope cuz you had your tripod and all set up and you're like mm-hmm. I think your words were, that's the biggest buck we've seen this entire trip.

Yeah. And I'm like, seriously? And you're like, dude, that thing's a towed. And so I look at it and I'm like, holy shit. Like that is a good buck. Mm-hmm. The problem was he was beded at the complete top of a hill, way out in this valley. With nothing around him in any direction. The only way to come at him without line a sight was to come at him directly up wind, and he would've got sented immediately.

Mm-hmm. [00:59:00] And so I'm like, well, I think I'm gonna go this way and crawl around and just see how close I can get. And you're like, sweet. I'll just stay here with the spotter and I will, uh, I'll just watch 'em, you know, I'll just, you know, hang out. And so I take off, uh, I met some hunters and I'm like, Hey, can you guys like not drive this road and blow this deer out for me?

That'd be sweet. And I think they listened for like 10 minutes and then took off anyway, so Yeah. Yeah. Maybe 10 minutes. And they, so they, uh, luckily the buck didn't jump. I worked my way down. I think you were what, 7 50, 800 yards from 'em while you were watching them? Yeah. Somewhere in there. Yep. And the closest I can get before I start running outta cover is like 600 yards.

I go up here, 600, I walk down a little bit, six, like I keep running out. There's no cover. It's just a burnt pasture. I mean, you, this was a putting green. Mm-hmm. And so I finally get to the best I can and I start crawling. And this buck is sleeping. I got my scope turned all the way up. His eyes are closed.[01:00:00]

Mm-hmm. He had moved. You had seen a move. And so now by this point, you know exactly which buck this is, but I still have no clue. Mm-hmm. And his eyes are closed and I thought as long as his eyes are closed, I'll crawl across this dance floor. But if he opens his eyes, I mean, I'm out in the wide open, this ain't gonna work.

Mm-hmm. So as soon as he opens his eyes, I'm gonna shoot him or try to shoot him. And sure enough, about 10 feet later, he opens his eyes and I only made it to 4 98. And I'm like, well, it's the last day. The wind is pretty good. I got a solid range on him. He's beded down. This is why I built this rifle. It's a long range chassis rifle.

This is why I did it. It's why I put the scope on there. I might as well try. And so I did my best. I dial for the elevation, I look and I try to guess the wind and I dial for the wind, try to control the breathing pw. [01:01:00] And the reason I built this rifle and it wanted it heavy and with that muzzle break is so that I could hopefully reduce the recoil enough to track my own shots or at least see the dust cloud, which worked great.

What didn't work great was my first shot. You know, I see the dust cloud about six inches above his butt and I'm like, Ooh, that's not good. And I'm like, well, that I don't really get the behind it. Like the up and down should have been perfect cuz this is low elevation. I, I mean, I've been shooting all summer long.

I don't get why the up and down was off, but I can adjust for the left and right pretty easy. So I measure it with my scope. I move over, I shoot again. Once again, find the dust cloud. Well, now it's perfect left and right, but it's still like, you know, now it's like two inches over his back and I'm like, that just doesn't make sense.

But I'm thinking he's not moving, he's still letting there, the the shots are, are tracking exactly how I've been measuring them. So I'm like, well, I might as well just [01:02:00] adjust the elevation for what I'm actually seeing. And so I do two more m moa dial it in. Last shot I shoot. And this time I'm trying to get back on him and I, I, he's gone like, I don't know what's happening.

Well, he stood up and I'm like, oh no, did I hit him or what's going on? And then he like, takes one wobble step and just dumps, oh no. He stood up and his back leg was broken. Mm-hmm. And I'm like, oh no, I shot him in the back leg. Like, this is terrible. I wounded him. Well, it turns out it's the same broken leg buck that Bryce jumped the day before and ran down the Sahara.

And so he stands up, takes one wobble step and just dumps in his bed. And then it was like a geyser of blood pumping out of his heart, like I, on the third shot, 10 ringed them. Mm-hmm. Man, was that a good feeling to like this whole kind of, it kind of a disaster. Train of a [01:03:00] hunt wraps up and we double up and it's still early, like it's what, 2 30, 3 o'clock in the afternoon?

Oh, we were definitely, I mean, we were on the road before sunset and we were an hour plus from, from going back to the camper. And getting everything loaded up and getting back on the road. So yeah, it was like two or three o'clock in the afternoon. Yeah, I mean, like you said, we, we ate lunch, we got back to our spot.

We only went 200 yards off the road and we found the first buck. And so you walk up to me and you're like, dude, I got it all on film. And I'm like, what? I'm like, I was recording the entire time and I'm like, dude, I was gone for 45 minutes. And you're like, yeah, I know. I got a lot of video on my phone. Got it though.

Bryce got the shot cameraman. Bryce got the shot. He also instantly told me, if you ever try to tell someone you tendering us on the first shot, I got the proof that you didn't.

So yeah, [01:04:00] we got that guy quartered up. He wasn't, you know, he was the biggest buck. We saw that whole trip, but he still wasn't like anything special. Mm-hmm. He was a probably what we said, two or three year old buck, but just a drought buck. Just didn't get his good forks and stuff. Um, yeah, I think he had one little baby fork and that was it.

Yeah, he's out in the garage right now. I still haven't eared him, but, but we got him quartered up pretty fast. It was only like 700 yard pack back to the truck. And we get back to the truck and we're like, we look at each other like, should we rock it all the way home tonight? Get home early. And we're like, let's just get back, get the, get the camp loaded up and just get on the road a little bit.

And if we get, if it gets late, we'll just find a Walmart and pull over and sleep. Mm-hmm. So we get loaded up, we kind of mess up the, we well, to get into our actual campsite, we had to go through like a ditch and so we had to get a little creative to get the camper out of that. And then, oh my gosh, that road on the way out is like the worst.

It's like the worst good looking road you've ever seen [01:05:00] where it's like a gravel road maintained houses on it. You think you could fly and it's just terrible. Wash port all over and yeah, so we'd stop at the highway and get underneath it and check the damage. I think one, Jack got a little bent. We opened up the door.

Mm-hmm. Things were rattled around all over the place. And, uh, we get on the road and I don't know. How did you feel when we were like headed out? Like what did, what did that feel like after doubling up on the last day, like right down to the wire on your first Western hunt? I mean, there's probably no feeling out there.

Like, it just, I mean, having as discouraging of a hunt that I've ever had, I mean, I've had some pretty rough ones and like I've hunted spots where, you know, the farmers are out there messing up your hunt. And I mean, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not on purpose either way. Still frustrating, but like this one was [01:06:00] just with the drought, the hunting pressure.

The fact that, I mean, everything and everything all accumulated up together. It was pretty just gratifying. I mean, we doubled on the same. It was nice too that we, we caught back up with that, that injured deer just to, you know, take care of him because, I mean, I guess you didn't get to see him too much for walking, but it was, him walking was literally almost on two legs is how slow he was.

Yeah. I mean, it was, it was a limp. Like he couldn't, he couldn't do much. So it was nice to, to have that be the one that we caught back up with and, and just the fact that we doubled on the same on the last day. It was one of those hunts you kind of dream of. I mean, it wasn't anything for, for trophy type mule deer, but I, I.

He's still on the wall, so I still call him a [01:07:00] trophy. It was, well, it was a trophy amount of effort, no matter how you slice it. Mm-hmm. Um, right. I feel like that hunt was the perfect, like, textbook definition of like a roller coaster of a western hunt with like all the excitement leading up to it, thinking we're gonna see lots of deer, hopefully we're gonna be able to pick through a couple bucks.

You know, that's what everyone would love to do is like, pick through a couple bucks. Right. Find a good one, go after 'em. Kill 'em. We get there, you know, peak excitement. First day we're seeing a buck, and then like, immediately crashes down for like two and a half days of just a disappointment. Mm-hmm.

After disappointment, thinking like, we're really thinking like we're not gonna shoot anything. Like, you know, at one point we're like, we're not gonna, this isn't gonna happen. And then that last day just skyrockets. Shoot one right outta the bat, load it up by 10:00 AM you know, can it get any better? 200 yards after lunch.

Another one, you know, loaded him up by 3:00 PM [01:08:00] and it was a roller coaster. And we're headed home early. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Rocked it all night long. Uh, what was it like 10 hours? Did we say 10, 12 hours? It sounds about right. I think we got back what, like three in the morning or so? Yeah, three, 4:00 AM Um, we got that one hour time change that hit us hard or, you know, hurt us on the way back.

Mm-hmm. Yeah. I think it would've been 3:00 AM but then that time change, right. Which like, no, we got back in time for you to get a little breather and, and head to the cities the next day. So. Well, I don't know if I really got a breather. I went to bed at 4:00 AM woke up at 7:00 AM That's unpacked the truck and left.

I mean, you made it. I made it. I certainly did. Yeah. So, but yeah, that was, uh, that was a crazy hunt. I can't, I don't know if I would be able to replicate that one if I tried. No. And that, and for that being my first western hunt, like I said, that wasn't the, the biggest meal deer that I've [01:09:00] ever seen. Or obviously YouTube, I'll, I'll ruin you if you take an hour and watch, you know, Montana meal, deer hunts.

But that in itself was, I mean, more gratifying than, than I could have imagined. I guess for my first time out there and first time even mul deer hunting, I was, I was more successful than a lot of my whitetail hunts. So, yeah, when you really think about it for four days of hunting to shoot two bucks, I mean, that doesn't happen very often, even if you have your own private land.

Right. So, I mean, you guys were, you were saying that you guys hadn't, like, wasn't your best success rate, like 50% or something when you had gone granted was with like, yeah. Three or four guys on archery elk. It was 50% was our best out in the West. Wow. Um, we've done, the year before that, I did a hunt where I sh we went six for six.

With rifles. We shot three antelope and three meal deer. Um, but yeah, it's tough. I mean, there's no way, two ways about it. It's tough. So. Right. I was just happy to like [01:10:00] get you on success because it, like, you never want to be the guy that's like, oh, come out west with me, it'll be a great time. And then it turns into a disaster.

Mm-hmm. Right. But no, that was definitely fun. A good trip all around. Yeah. I remember when you showed up to my house to leave, you were wearing muck boots and I'm like, you did bring different boots, right? And you're like, oh yeah, these, it's just cuz it's snowing. Like, I'm like, oh, thank God. Got the Dans.

Yeah. Yeah. So I'm pretty sure, I know already that you would go west again if I mm-hmm. Messaged you next year and said, Hey, want to go back to Southeast Montana? What would you say?

I mean, I wouldn't totally be opposed. It was definitely, it was definitely work and. Going for the second time. I would, I mean, I'm not opposed to any type of hunt, I guess. So it was challenging, it was rewarding. It was everything you look for in a hunt. [01:11:00] So I don't know how they've, if they've bounced back at all from their drought, but yeah, like I say, I'm not, not opposed to anything at this point.

It's, I like going out on those trips anyways, so yeah, that last day of success really has a way of changing the whole lens about, you know. Mm-hmm. So, yeah. We'll have to plan another one here soon, and hopefully this time Jeff's a little bit, uh, more available. Got some of those projects at the farm done.

Save up. We can hit him on the right year and get him to come with us. And if nothing else, just have a pack meal. Right. Come on, Jeff. So, but I do think he would love it out there. I think he would enjoy it. Well, he definitely would. I think anybody would if they don't, and they're crazy. There you go. You heard it here first.

If you don't love hunting the West, you're crazy. So, yeah. So, man, just like that, Bryce, we've, uh, we've went a little over an [01:12:00] hour already. Yeah, yeah. I guess how long do you usually go on these podcasts? I don't even know. Typically, yeah. Typically an hour. Not too about an hour. Yeah. But when you get into a good story that, you know, then it's all off the, off the rails.

But, but yeah. I do appreciate you hopping on and sharing that story and kind of given everyone that's listening to this, I mean, there'd probably be four or 5,000 people listening to this, just kind of a mm-hmm. Perspective of what it can be like on your first hunt. You know, kind of a little of everything.

Mm-hmm. That's probably what most people's first hunt's gonna be. Lots of excitement. Then you kind of get disappointed and you gotta kind of grind through that middle part of it. And then hopefully little luck you, you come out on top like yourself and like we did on that last day. So it's a pretty, yeah, I'd say definitely set your expectations, you know, middle of the pack and, and don't go in watching too much YouTube any days in advance.

But yeah, [01:13:00] no, it's definitely, if you're going for your first time, it's more for the experience than anything anyways. I mean, if you, if you never go, you'll never know. So There you go. I'm glad Sam really can't say it better than that. Um, can't say it better than that at all. So I think that's about as good a spot as any to wrap that episode up.

And we will, we'll have to do it again sometime. So we will, uh, find a way to get out there again and have another podcast to tell the story. Sounds good. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks for being here, Bryce. Uh, good to catch up with ya. Hopefully I can get up to Fargo again soon and hang out, see everybody and, and, uh, look forward to a another season if you're not too busy on your farm.

If I'm not too. Yeah, I'm gonna be the new Jeff, so. Yeah. Well, let me know if you need any help with any projects. Went to hand a couple times at the other farm, so, all right. I might take you up on that [01:14:00] offer. Uh, yeah. But yeah, thanks for being here and thank you for listening folks.