Montana Spring Bear Hunting

Show Notes

On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian talks with buddy Reece Anderson about Spring Bear Hunting in the West.

Reece and Brian met a few months ago when Reece came on Brian’s other podcast, the Two Bucks Podcast to talk about outdoor entrepreneurship. Reece is the founder of Northwind Taxidermy in Western North Dakota and is currently mounting one of Brian’s elk. Reece and his group just got back from a spring bear hunt in Montana, and he shares the story of how the hunt went down on today’s episode!

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Show Transcript

Brian Krebs: Welcome back to another episode of the Western Rookie Podcast. I'm your host Brian Krebs. Today I've got my good buddy, Reese Anderson from North Wind Taxidermy. Reese just got back from a spring bear hunt, so I wanted to get him on the podcast and have him share the story and the hunt with us. And we might talk a little taxidermy too, cuz I have a bull elk at [00:01:00] Reese's shop.

I believe the, we were waiting on the tannery. Is that right, Reese? Waiting on your form now. Oh, we're waiting on a form. So I gotta pick a form.

Reece Anderson: Yep. We'll have to pick a form once we're done

Brian Krebs: with this. Perfect. We can get that rolling and then we can get that fired off. I just bought a farm to put it at You just bought a farm?

I bought a farm, yeah. Yes. Not too far. It's, relative right? You're from Dickinson, so it'd be north of that Cabela as we met at 20, 30 minutes. It's 40 acres. Okay. Big house, heated shop, plenty of hunting. Sounds like the seller has shot a couple turkeys and a couple doughs off his deck with the bow.

So pretty jacked about that. So I have plenty of space to put that elk and my other one when we get moved in. Heck yeah. Heck yeah. But the real reason we got you here today is to talk Spring bear. You just got back what, late last night? Yeah, we

Reece Anderson: pulled in [00:02:00] about 8 30, 9 o'clock last night. Okay. I was about 11, 12

Brian Krebs: hour drive.

Okay. So you must have been in Montana then? Yeah,

Reece Anderson: we were Western Montana about 15 miles from the Idaho border.

Brian Krebs: Oh, wow. That's a long ways up there. We were. Elk cunning? It depends on which part of the, Idaho border, but we've elk hunted in two different spots, pretty darn close to the Idaho border, and we saw black bears in both places.

Reece Anderson: Oh yeah. There's definitely a high population of black bears. Like I said earlier, we were in sign every day. We were out, we were finding tracks

Brian Krebs: and scat. Yeah. How were, was this a rifle hunt? You were doing rifles, right?

Reece Anderson: Yeah, we were all

Brian Krebs: going after 'em with rifles. How many guys, how many tags did you have in the group?

So what it

Reece Anderson: was, is it was basically just four buddies. We, decided, we probably decided about a year ago that let's just start doing these out-of-state hunts. Go for about a week, learn some [00:03:00] new country, explore a bit. Don't get me wrong, we all love hunting the badlands, but let's just get out.

Two of 'em. Last fall went down to South Dakota antelope hunting. I was unable to go. And then about January they hit me up. I was actually mounting birds here and three of 'em walk in and they go, let's go spring bear hunting in Montana. And I turned around and I was like, okay, I'm down.

Really how it went? And we just started playing to hunt. We planned for Oh, good. Three months. We just planned e scouted trained. There's, we were the guys at the gym with our packs and 45 pound plates walking on the treadmill. Yeah,

Brian Krebs: I haven't

Reece Anderson: done that. Tell you what, that helped.

Brian Krebs: Yeah.

Especially if your gym has a stair climber and you can get, it's obviously you can't quite as heavy on the pack, on the stair climber. You just kill yourself. But I was doing, and I think I did. At most, I did two [00:04:00] plates on a pack frame on the stair climber when I had that North Dakota tag. And it made a huge difference.

I was, I went to Montana right after that and I was running around on the hills.

Reece Anderson: Oh yeah. We, I mean we definitely had people staring ass like, what are these kids doing? But once we got up in those mountains, it was just like, we each hike up the mountain every morning was like two and a half, three miles up the mountain.

Brian Krebs: Oh, great. Yeah. So the bears, are they above the tree line this time of year or is that what the plan was, is to get up like way up high?

Reece Anderson: We were basically trying to get up to a clearing where we could see south facing slopes, try to catch them feeding or just coming out of the tree line.

We stayed anywhere from. 3000. I think the highest elevation we got was about 5,800. Okay.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. But that's all relative.

Reece Anderson: After [00:05:00] that, we actually ran into snow.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. That's all relative based on like how tall the valley floor is and like how tall the mountain is, right? You're still talking like 3000 feet of elevation climb, which is a lot.

Yeah. So did you, is the spring bear tag, is that a draw tag? Does someone have to build points or can you basically just pick it up as an over the counter? It's a straight over the counter tag. Okay. So anyone can go any spring and do the spring bear hunt? Correct. That's not common anymore in the west?

No. To just pick up a tag and go hunting. You have Colorado elk, if you get early enough you can do Idaho elk. I'm not aware of too many other tags that are straight over the counter. Especially for a non-resident. Yeah.

Reece Anderson: Yeah. You just. Basically go on like the Montana Game Fish website and buy it and you can either print it off at home or they'll send it to you.


Brian Krebs: perfect. Perfect. What's the season where you, so you, it's, we're recording this third week of May. [00:06:00] You just got back, so you were hunting the second week of May. What's the season timeframe look like for a sprint bear hunt? It

Reece Anderson: opens, it opened April 15th and it closes May 31st, so it actually closes this weekend.

Brian Krebs: Oh, okay. So man, April 15th. That seems early. That seems like you better bring a snowmobile. Yeah, they

Reece Anderson: definitely, you'd be definitely running into a bunch of snow.

Brian Krebs: Yikes. Did you guys see any, elk or deer or anything else to pass the time you were out there? I,

Reece Anderson: it's actually, we were on the way home and we took two pickups down.

One was pulling a trailer with an atv and me and the guy that was driving his pickup, we made the comment on the way back, Man, we saw everything but a black bear within shooting range. You name it, we saw mountain goats, moose, elk, deer. We saw a wolf. I mean everything but a black bear in shooting range.

Brian Krebs: That's crazy. Walk us through like the, walk us through the whole story, like leaving are y'all from [00:07:00] Dickinson? Loading up, getting out there, what you thought, finding camp, through the hunt and just give us the rundown of how things went.

Reece Anderson: Yeah. So yeah, we're all from Dickinson.

Most three of 'em, the other three were firefighters for Dickinson. And we just all met at my shop would've been Sunday would've been a week. So Sunday morning we all met at my shop and loaded up the trailer, loaded up the pickups. All my hunting gear still at the shop. Cause I just dropped it off last night and said I'll deal with it today.

And we headed that way, got to our cabin about eight, nine o'clock Sunday night. Had a game plan for Monday and we went out south of our cabin. Drove a little ways, got on the ATVs, started driving these logging roads and we started [00:08:00] then got into a hiking spot and man, that timber down there thick, hike, we thought, oh, we could get up on this high ridge and be able to see we underestimated how tall those trees were.

It was ba it was basically just walking in the forest day

Brian Krebs: one. So black, like black timber, like full on black timber blow down. Yeah. Nothing. Yeah.

Reece Anderson: And. So that was day one, learned that we have to, stay away from the, you gotta stay close to the timber but stay away from it as well.

Yeah. Gotta find some clearings cuz we won't be able to see. So then day two we went down on, it's it's called Swamp Creek. It was north, north of our cabin. We got into some more open stuff and one guy ran into a mountain goat and, I mean there was bear [00:09:00] sign there, like we were walking in, there was tracks and scap right on the trail.

And so we were like, okay, like we should be able to see a bear today. And we got up, me and a buddy climbed a like rock shale cliff. To get up. Yikes. Yeah. We didn't realize how steep that was either. I have a video on my phone of him throwing the rock down and you can see the rock tumble and tumble down.

Didn't end up seeing a bear that day either, but we're like, okay, like we're in the open stuff. We're seeing more sign of bears, like we're starting to get 'em more figured out. Maybe day three and day three comes, and me and the guy I was hunting with on OnX, we found this one mountain range.

We're like, man, this is open. There's some burn timber. Like it's screams, bears. Yeah. From everything we've read and listened to. It's screams, [00:10:00] bears, and he's okay, let's do it in the morning. So all four of us get up and we drive to the bottom of this mountain, get the ATVs about halfway up.

Before we have to start walking the actual trail. And we look up, and this was by far the hardest climb. It was 2,600 straight up. Yikes. And so we zig-zagged up this mountain and it was foggy that morning too. So we're like, okay, we have the fog for cover. They're not seeing us coming. We're gonna get up on this ridge, we'll spread out along this ridge and someone's gotta see a bear.

So I took the far ridge because I'm just an overachiever like that. And sat down in this burnt timber and I'm glass and glassing and I see literally these smallest brown black spec, [00:11:00] 16, 1700 yards out. And so I'm fumbling with my spotting scope and right as I get my spotting scope, right where he is at, he's cresting over the hill to the other camp.

I was like got a good enough look at him that I knew it was Blackberry. Yeah. And so I text, we had service on that mountain, so I text texted group like, Hey, I got a black bear over here. And so I was like, I'm gonna sit out til dark. And then thinking maybe he'd come back on top and maybe work his way across the ridge and never got another look at him.

So we were like, okay, we know what we're looking for now. And that's when two guys started walking down the mountain. And I just heard the story, but we laughed about it all week. They're walking and the one guy goes Hey, there's gotta be a bear on this trail. There a scat when we walked in, like fresh scat, we got a bump, we have to bump a bear on our [00:12:00] way out.

And he said maybe 20 yards later they were walking and one of the guys goes bear, and it was like 70 yards. And they're fumbling for their rifles and they finally get their rifles pulled. And the one said he had his crosshair is literally right on her and just about to pull off. And the other guy goes, don't shoot.

There's cubs. Yeah. Oh, and sure enough, two cubs run out. So they just k and then she runs off with her cubs. And so okay, we saw Bears day three, we know what we're looking for. Like day four. It has to happen. Day four passes. We went to a different area. That kind of looked the same little more open logging roads.

Didn't, we didn't see sign that day, no bears. You could, we could tell that [00:13:00] the other two in our group were checked out for the hunt cuz bear hunting, it's a physical hunt, don't get me wrong. Like hiking, 2,600 feet up that mountain. But we didn't realize how mentally tough it

Brian Krebs: is.

You mean just like staring at a mountain all day long in the glass and waiting to see a bear? Yeah.

Reece Anderson: And if you talk to most guys that go bear hunting and are successful, they don't see many bears. It's not like deer hunting where, 50, 60 deer come out to the field every night and you're constantly watching those deer all night, but you're still waiting for that one shooter to come.

Bear hunting. Most guys on their trip see 10

Brian Krebs: bears. Wow. Yeah. That really puts it in perspective to see like only 10 in a group of guys on a full week. If you saw that many elk [00:14:00] on an elk hunt, you'd be like, man, I just don't think this is the right unit. There's just not a lot of elk here.

Reece Anderson: And like what we all read and listened to was like, if you find sign, you're in the bears, like they're in the area. Just stay by the sign. Yeah. And that's what we did. We, every spot we had, we found sign. I mean my OnX right now is so blown up with way points, but we hunted hard for seven days and yeah, we didn't come home with a bear.

We'd like to, but just being in that country was like the hunt of itself.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. And it sounds like you guys saw all kinds of other game too, so at least you're seeing some stuff to keep you entertained. But it's funny because the years that we've gone elk cunning in bear country with nobody that had a bear tag, we usually have like very close black bear encounters.

Then every now and then we'll be like, dude, if you don't want an elk hunt, just [00:15:00] bring a rifle, buy a bear tag in the fall and come shoot one of these black bears we see. So when someone does that, we don't see any black bears. It's wild. We've had encounters under 20 yards of black bears when we're elk hunting in the fall, like we're doing a calling setup and one just starts walking by the woods, like walking down a game trail right at us or we'll be walking through the black timber and we see like a tree starting to shake and something's going up that tree cuz we jumped a bear.

It's crazy how close we've gotten to 'em when we're not trying. And then as soon as you go out and you try to get a black bear, there's nowhere to be found. Oh yeah,

Reece Anderson: it, I mean it was definitely a hard hunt. Definitely gonna do it again. We're looking into fall black bear right now cause one of the guys heard or read somewhere that our tag might be good for fall.

Okay. It might not just be a spring bear tag, it's just like a bear tag, but you can use it spring or fall.

Brian Krebs: Oh. So that'd be sweet. [00:16:00]

Reece Anderson: Yeah. We're looking into that to make sure that's true. If so, I know we're going

Brian Krebs: back. Yeah. Is it one of those things where you did it and you got close enough that now you just feel like you need to see it through and punch the tag?

Oh, yeah.

Reece Anderson: Yeah. The only bear I really saw was maybe 30 seconds at, 1700 yards. But like just being that, even that close to getting one. Was like, okay. Like I like it's addicting. Yeah, it is. Me and the guy I was driving with, we on our way back,

Brian Krebs: were like, dude, bear

Reece Anderson: hunting's addicting. It's something different and highly recommended to like

Brian Krebs: everyone.

And the nice thing about Spring Bear especially is there's like nothing going on this time of year. If you're a shed hunter, yeah. You can be doing some shed hunting, but that's not really going anywhere. If you take a week off to do a bear hunt, it's not like the sheds are gonna walk away.

Exactly. So you can always come back to do [00:17:00] that or do it ahead of time. But other than that, I guess turkeys, but most people that are serious Turkey hunters, they go go out, shoot their Turkey and then they're done with that too. Like you're not like Yeah. Hunting turkeys all spring.

Reece Anderson: No, like I was done

Brian Krebs: with my Turkey I think the second week.

Yeah. And that's probably like when you first had time to go out and actually do it.

Reece Anderson: I went out opening weekend and saw turkeys and. But there's too much snow on the ground still. Oh, open the weekend. And then that also like on a bear hunt, when we talked to the rangers and like some of the locals they said the same thing like bear hunting.

This spring is definitely different than most springs that they've had cuz they really didn't have a spring. Just like us in North Dakota, we went straight from 30 inches of snow to nothing and 80 degrees. Okay. And same over there. We hunted every day, but our last day I [00:18:00] think was upper seventies, eighties.

Brian Krebs: Wow. That's incredible. That's hot.

Reece Anderson: I didn't know I'd get sunburnt on a hunting trip, but I mean hunting and short sleeves. And now I'm sunburnt.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, especially when you're outside of the tree line. I've gotten elk cunning every year for the last seven, eight years and I've never gotten sunburnt, but that's cuz we're always walking through the black timber, like we're in the shade pretty much all day long.

But you're doing something like that and yeah, you're gonna be sitting, just sitting in the sun for 10 hours a day.

Reece Anderson: Yeah, that's bear hunting definitely is definitely the longest hunting days I've ever been on. Especially cause over in western, Western Montana doesn't get dark until 10 o'clock at night.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, especially when you're up on the mountain. It even adds to it a little bit. I bet. And after climbing that 2,600, you're not gonna go back to camp for lunch? No.

Reece Anderson: Nope. You pack in everything. When you

Brian Krebs: said [00:19:00] that you guys were staying in a cabin, was that like a forest service cabin or like an Airbnb cabin?


Reece Anderson: rented an Airbnb cabin. We made the joke that we were roughing it because we didn't have a hot tub. But we all just wanted, we wanted to, camp it out, tent it, and do a backwards thing. But we also wanted a shower for seven days. Yeah. So we're like, let's just, let's just get a cabin, we'll have a shower.

So we just rented the cabin just for the shower honestly.

Brian Krebs: We found a cabin in Wyoming that are where we elk hunt and the forest service, it's a forest service cabin, so you can rent it out on like the US Forest Service website, but it has a shower, full bathroom, full kitchen, electric heat.

It's got seven beds in it. A chest freezer. And it was dirt cheap, especially for seven guys. One person slept outside on a tent just [00:20:00] because we, it was a little cramp to actually put that many people in it. But it was phenomenal. And it was like 50 bucks a night. We drove past

Reece Anderson: one of those in Montana.

Yeah, I think.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. They've been, A lot of 'em are just like wood stove bunks, no water. Yeah. Usually there's a well outside. But obviously no shower and usually like an outhouse, which is still better than a tent. You're gonna be a lot more comfortable there than in a tent, but it's not quite the same as what you guys had.

We did

Reece Anderson: tent one night

Brian Krebs: just to say we did it in the front yard of the Airbnb or did you tent up on the mountain? No we tented on the mountain. Okay. We actually had a steak dinner over the

Reece Anderson: fire. We brought some steaks and. Made 'em over the fire.

Brian Krebs: You see that's why that vertical climb was so rough is cuz you're carrying up steaks and tents.

Maybe, probably would is worth it though.

Reece Anderson: Oh yeah. It definitely was. I was, that was probably the best steak I've had.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, for sure. We did. We've done elk steaks. When we do get an elk like the [00:21:00] tenderloins man. Are those good over the fire after you've just put in a long day?

Reece Anderson: Yeah. Especially if they're fresh.

Yeah. We've done that in North Dakota. Last fall buddy shot a velvet meal. Deer. Oh nice. And yeah, the them back check Scott put on the grill as soon as we

Brian Krebs: got back to camp. I did it when I did the North Dakota Bowl. I left for Montana with the big group like four days later. And so I took one of those backstraps.

Man, I had the biggest stakes outta that bowl. It was like inch and a half cut they're probably each a pound. And I brought 10 of them and I didn't even use up one Backstrap, like it was only half of one Backstrap. Oh no. Yeah. You don't

Reece Anderson: realize how big the backstraps are on elk.


Brian Krebs: like big elk, big grain, fed elk. The elk. So how did you guys, how did you guys go from, deciding you're gonna go do this bear hunt to actually knowing where to go. We're gonna go, because Montana is a huge state and black bears are [00:22:00] across almost the entire western half.

Did you just throw a pin at the map? Did you have a, like a hint or like a, somebody that gave you a tip or like how does somebody go about picking a bear hunting spot?

Reece Anderson: We just, we did a research, on like hunt, insider, OnX. All them great apps there. And we just, like you said, we just threw a pin at it after we did our research.

We could have, looking back, we could have threw a little more research in on where more of the population's at than cuz I mean it's obviously spread out throughout that state. And we did it on access too, where we were hunting. There was a lot of trails to hike. Logging. Lot of old logging roads.

So we did it on that aspect we're gonna have great access here. Okay. Other than this other spot. Cause we had a spot in like Southwestern Montana picked [00:23:00] before we went Western Montana. Okay. And we were looking at it and we're like, man, there's not many like old logging roads. There's not trails to really waf.

We're gonna have to hike through the timber. Yeah, it's gonna make it 10 times harder.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, that would be

Reece Anderson: rough. So we moved away from that and then went to this other one with like

Brian Krebs: better access. Do you think you'd go back to the unit again the next time you go bear hunting, or would you try a different spot?

Reece Anderson: We would go back. We were, I think we were actually a little late with it being so warm. Like you said. We went middle of May. Yeah. I think if we would've went beginning of May, it would've made a huge difference on weather-wise. The south slopes of how everything when we went was green.

We talked to the locals or, the articles we'd read. You did say find green patches on South Slopes. It's hard to do when the entire South

Brian Krebs: slope is green. [00:24:00] Yeah. And half the North slope by now is green as well. Yeah. Yeah. So those

Reece Anderson: bears at that point could have been in they could have been on the North Slope.

But you can't really glass the north slope cause it's all timber. Yep. So yeah, we would definitely go back, try maybe, beginning of May, maybe a little end of April, see if that makes a difference. I know we've looked into going a little further north towards the Canadian border next time already.

Brian Krebs: Okay. Yeah, that's the hard part about anything in the west is when you go and you pick your unit, especially if it's your first time in the unit, unless it's like a slam dunk, no brainer. We tagged out, four of us. We shot bears days, 2, 3, 4, and five. We went home a day early. That's obvious you're gonna go back to that spot.

But when you have the hunt like you had where it's it's such a hard decision. Like the bear, it wasn't as good as we thought, but it was our first time there.[00:25:00] We think we could do things a little different, go a little earlier, have a little bit more success, but at least here, we know what we've got.

We start to know the mountain, we know the roads, we know like we have our trails in and out. We got like intel versus so it's do I give up what I know I have with this unit to try to find something better? And you could stumble across a gold mine or you could stumble across a desert and you have no idea.

So it's do we go to a new spot or do we just stick this spot out since we've been here once and we know it. Exactly.

Reece Anderson: Like I said, and my phone's loaded up with way points of bears, tracks all my trails. We

Brian Krebs: spent,

Reece Anderson: that first day when we were hiking through the timber, like that was, our learning of Okay.

Yeah. We wasted day one. Yeah. But I, we'd rather do it on day one than day

Brian Krebs: six. And day one in a new unit, like. It. That's what it's gonna be every time. Yeah. Every time, every hunt. Like your first day in a new unit, you're not likely going to shoot anything unless you get extremely [00:26:00] lucky and esp.

Like maybe if you're like road hunting, like in southeast Montana where you can see all kinds of game, no matter where you go, that'd be a little different. But when you're having to hike in and glass and find an animal, day one is all about learning. Where are the roads? Where's your access points?

Reece Anderson: Yeah. So yeah, if we went to another unit, it'd I don't know if it'd be like the same. Yeah. We'd kinda have to learn the area a little bit more. We did learn that we have to like, utilize OnX, like the 3d.

Brian Krebs: Oh. Cause like

Reece Anderson: when you look at it on two 2d, it looks open and you flip that 3D and you're like, okay, there's a lot of timber still there.

Okay. It's short.

Brian Krebs: So it looks open. Oh yeah, that's a good point. Yeah, those 3D maps would be big. And just to be able to see, like if I get here, what will I actually be able to see? And you think you can see that grass opening, but there's a ridge in between it. And when you get to the 3d, that ridge just blocks the entire view and you can't see that anymore.[00:27:00]

Yep. Yeah, that would be a big one. So yeah, if we move

Reece Anderson: units we'll definitely spend a lot of time on OnX and who knows, we might just spend, we might drive up one weekend and just literally just drive around. Yeah. Just a little

Brian Krebs: scouting. Yeah. Yeah. That would be a good way to do it. Just get there a little early.

And if you have this type of lifestyle or job that allows you to be flexible with your trip dates, then you could really start to dial it in okay, the snow is starting to melt, the south faces are starting to burn through and open up like, let's go tomorrow. But for most of us, like me included, I don't quite have that level of flexibility.

And a lot of people don't, like a lot of people have to put in their vacation requests. Its like months in advance or they have to plan it with the family, a whole year in advance. And then you're kinda locked in. You better hope the weather's right and out west, man, the weather's no weather.

Reece Anderson: Yeah, the weather cha We learned also that the weather changes at a split second. Last day, me and my buddy were sitting [00:28:00] up on the mountain. He texts me, he goes we have a severe thunderstorm warning in 30 minutes. I go, huh, it takes us two hours to get down the mountain. I goes, we're sitting out, and I go, yeah, we'll sit it out.

So we, throw our rain jackets on and I get under a tree, throw my rifle and pack under the tree so they don't get wet and we can see it coming in and it just comes in and not, not even a drop orang. Really, but we still have, and then it starts, gets sunny again and we're like, okay, this kind of front came through and maybe these bears are gonna come out now.

Yeah. You can definitely tell that the temperature dropped from it. And we're being a little hopeful. It's our last day and it gets dark. I didn't see a bear. And he comes, meets up with me and we literally take five steps down the mountain [00:29:00] and it starts down pouring. Ouch. And we're like, great.

And so we, slowly start going down this mountain and it's, a rock. There's shale rock loose. Shale rock. And so it's getting slick. I stumble once, slide down, he catches me. I get back up, he stumbles once, goes about another 20 yard stumbles again. And before the hunt he was playing softball and sprained his knee.

Yeah. So he falls and he goes I just heard my knee pop. Ooh. And I go, I'm like, you good? Or do I need to carry you up the mountain? And he's no, I'll be good. He grabs his his sticks and we slowly start going down the mountain and we're about two three switchbacks down this mountain now.

And it starts hailing. Oh gosh. [00:30:00] And we're like, yeah, this, we were yelling down the mountain, either it's so slippery or this is so much fun. Yeah. Because we were hiking down the mountain pitch dark. In a thunderstorm.

Brian Krebs: That's wild. And was that, this whole thing happens at night as well?

Reece Anderson: We got the severe thunderstorm warning probably about four o'clock in the afternoon.

Yeah. But we could see it coming and then it passes and it got sunny and we didn't see the other one coming and it came in at dark.

Brian Krebs: Oh geez.

Reece Anderson: That just shows how quick that weather out there just flipped the switch changes.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. For Christmas last year, my brother got me the sick like rain fly. I dunno if you've seen it.

It's like the roof of a tent. And you can either okay, tie it to trees or it's just a, it's a sick a [00:31:00] tarp. Really what it is. It's just a tart. Oh yeah. Two

Reece Anderson: of the guys we were with had the stone

Brian Krebs: glacier ones. Yeah. And I'm like, man, I've been caught in some pretty gnarly stuff. And like you said, it usually doesn't last long.

But no, they don't. It can be it can be so bad that everything is soaked instantly. It's like as light as that tarp is, I feel like I'm just gonna throw it in my pack anytime I'm in the west. I highly

Reece Anderson: recommend it. Yeah. Because, yeah, all of our stuff was soaked. I had my tarp with, I just had a, cheap $10 tarp that you could get at a hardware store packed with.

Yeah. Just, get outta the rain, but we're going down the mountain in the dark. It's we're really not gonna Yeah. Set this tarp up. We're already soaked. We're just going down.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. Once you're already wet, you might as well just get back to the cabin and take a shower and put your clothes on the dryer.

But if you can, where I think it would make a huge difference is on a, like a rifle hunt or a glassing hunt where you're, it's just a rainy day. Like it's gonna rain. Yeah. All [00:32:00] day long. We don't wanna waste a day of hunting, so at least we can get out. Set it up, get underneath it and just glass and be hunting.

If it's just one of those wet days. If it's just absolutely down pouring all day and we're bow hunting elk, we usually like, all right, we're not gonna waste our time and just get exhausted and wet and tired and not probably do much anyway, because usually on a nine day hunt you need a day to recover anyway.

Yeah. I mean we did seven

Reece Anderson: days and we hunted hard seven days, but we could tell, like those other two were done. Yeah. Like they were done day four. Yeah, they needed a day.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. So take that day. If the weather's we love to take the day. If the weather is crappy and we're already like four days in, just take a day, recover, hang out at camp, go maybe go to town, take a shower, get a burger, and then hit it hard for the next three, four days once you start to get that plan underway.

Otherwise, like you said, you just like miserable cuz you're sitting there in the rain all day, probably not shooting [00:33:00] much anyway. Yeah. Nothing

Reece Anderson: going on with,

Brian Krebs: yeah. Did you do anything special for the rifle and like bullets and caliber, or did you just use whatever rifle you used for deer and elk?

Reece Anderson: I used my deer rifle.

Okay. I just passed my seven and M oh eight. Okay. I was, I don't know, looking back, I thought I'd be able to get a closer shot Oh. If I would've had a shot. So next time I might, do something a little different. Honestly, my practice a little long range. Okay. I was thinking, three, 400 yards, but most of these like canyons and whatnot, we were glassing.

You're taking 600 plus

Brian Krebs: Really. So then you'd probably get to are you thinking like you'd go to a 30 caliber?

Reece Anderson: Probably, yeah. And then, Do something like custom

Brian Krebs: wise. Okay. Okay. Yeah, I got that rough rider gun company right up by you. Must be like, [00:34:00] I don't know if it's, yeah, they're like 20

Reece Anderson: miles left.


Brian Krebs: that'd be a cool custom rifle, custom long-range bear rifle to get. Yeah, that's why I was just curious cuz I've never even tried to shoot a bear. So I would, I'd be pretty confident that my 300 wind mag with my elk bullet would do the trick, but I didn't know if there's like special considerations or, do you want to go heavier, lighter, all kinds of different things.

Reece Anderson: I know everything we read we were reading bears. You their vitals are further back than a deer. They're not like up you know where on a deer you're aiming, front shoulder. Yeah. Or a little behind the front shoulder so you don't take the shoulder out, bear you it's more like center of the body really type deal.

Yeah, it was weird. So that would've been definitely different aiming at, the center of the body. Okay. But with my rifle, if I had to take a 600 it would've been a little bit of a poke, but yeah, I think it [00:35:00] could have. Yeah. I'm pretty sure it could have got the job done.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. 600. It just seems like a long ways, especially when you're looking at shooting it and you're like, man, I shot a 4 98 on a bedded mul deer two falls ago. And man, it's it's just something about it. You're like, this is a long shot. I hope this

Reece Anderson: worked out. So I took a four 30 on a whitetail four or five years ago.

Yeah. And hit him and he went like 20 yards, but like over here, four 30, that looks like a ways out right. And then you get to Western Montana where you have the canyons and that other can like the slope. You're like, oh, that's only like 300. You range it and it's 6 50,

Brian Krebs: 700.


Reece Anderson: It's I don't know, it, something about it just makes it seem like it's closer, but it's out there.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, exactly. It's and I, when I took like a long sh every long shot I've [00:36:00] taken, I've been on Bipods twice. I was prone once I was like seated, but on a face like super comfortable.

I've always trying to make sure I have the best rest possible. But man, does it feel good when you've got that 300 win meg and your shot's 150 yards and you're like, you're dead. 100%. Yep.

Reece Anderson: Yep. That's, I love those, I'm 200. Or 200 yards and less shot. It's yep, you're done.

Brian Krebs: Exactly. I did one on an antelope with my 301 meg out in not too just west of you south interstate, west River. At a do antelope tag. Cross you over by, it's kinda like the KG road. Yeah. And exactly. And I had a antelope, a dough antelope at 110 yards with my 300 win make. And I was actually really impressed.

I think I'm gonna keep shooting antelope with that 300 win make. Cause it didn't, I don't think the bullet even expanded. Oh. Just straight through double long. I cut out maybe two tacos worth of meat from bullet damage. [00:37:00] And that was it. That's not bad at all. No, not bad at all.

I didn't hit any major bones. If I would've hit a major bone, I would've had to, cut off half an antelope. But I, yeah. And the

Reece Anderson: antelope aren't big to begin with. No,

Brian Krebs: I would say that dough was like a young whitetail dough. In size. Okay. Like a year and a half old whitetail dough. Which those aren't that big either, but it was, there was a fair amount of meat. I think I got 30, 35 pounds of meat off of that antelope. That's about

Reece Anderson: what my brother got off his, yeah. My brother had a dough antelope last year. Yeah. Shot with his

Brian Krebs: dough. If you're gonna buy 30 pounds of hamburger, 150 bucks, the tag was $30.

So it was a fun weekend. And it was the first thing I shot with that rifle

Reece Anderson: and it's a lot more fun than going to the grocery store.

Brian Krebs: Oh, heck yeah. Heck yeah. If we're talking just like getting meat in the freezer, it would be, to me, this is probably controversial to me. It'd be more fun to do like a, to go out and find the steer that you want to shoot and shoot it and take [00:38:00] care of it yourself and bring it home just to get your own beef than to go buy it at the store.

Yeah. Obviously that's not really how it works, but I would rather do that than buy it from the store. But so I was gonna ask you before we switched gears to antelope rifles I've heard your story a lot with the black bear hunting and that's why I wanted to get more people on for black bears cuz it's not a slam dunk by any means.

No. Those things are like, it's not, they have great noses. If they smell you from 800 yards away, I've heard that they will bust you and Yeah. You won't see 'em. And maybe

Reece Anderson: that's also what, that's a good point. Maybe that's also what went wrong on our hunt. It was 80 degrees every day.

So hiking up that

Brian Krebs: mountain, we broke a sweat. Oh yeah. Yeah. There's no way to control your scent out there. It like, don't even try. We'd throw

Reece Anderson: our packs in the pickup. Yeah. And we'd drive back and we'd go, what's that smell? We're like, it's our packs. Yeah. Just, and I'm gonna wash my pack. This week, all sweat.

Oh, it just reeks. Yeah. From sweat [00:39:00] and Yeah, there's no way, like I said, there's no way to control it. Like we sprayed down every morning. I sprayed down up on the mountain afterwards. Yeah. But still there's a couple days I'd like, turn my head and get away from, I'm like, yikes. Get off from close.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. Yeah. That does factor in. And there's there's a lot of bears in Montana, but there's not a ton of bears in Montana. No,

Reece Anderson: I just, I looked it up a couple days ago at the cabin. Rough population was about

Brian Krebs: 15,000. And it's big state. It's a very big state. Giant state. So it's not, like you said, you're not gonna go see a herd of black bears in one shot and get to pick which one you wanna shoot.

Reece Anderson: Me and the guy I was driving back with on our way back, we said, there's still a success. It was all our first black bear hunt. Yeah. And we saw four. That's not bad for seven days. We're like, hey we'll call it a

Brian Krebs: success. Yeah. Because the what the difference is if you [00:40:00] would've everyone would say I'd love to see more than four, but if you would've shot two of those bears, you would've been ecstatic.

Like first year out we went 50 50 shot two bears. That would've, I think, if one of us would've shot a bear. Yeah. If that one bear at 70 yards was a male or a saw without cubs, you would've been happy to shoot one bear in scene two. Because it's like that's what it's about. Like you're not gonna go out and see a hundred bears, like you could see a hundred elk or a hundred deer on a hunt.

And that's where I was gonna go with it, is I think there are places where you can go out and be picky about which bear you shoot. If you go to Canada and you go with an outfit that's doing bait you could do that. Or if you go to southeast Alaska and you're doing a shoreline bear hunt, then I think you can probably, you'll see bears and you get to maybe pick which bear you wanna shoot to some degree.

Would either of those options interest you or do you want to stick with the mountain bear hunting? I don't know.

Reece Anderson: I've had a, I have a buddy. He shot, this was while he was waved. I think [00:41:00] he was even, might have been junior high. Him and his dad went up to Canada and they did black bear hunt over dogs.

Brian Krebs: Oh, treat 'em.

Reece Anderson: Yep. They shot two giant black bears. I mean his went six nine. Wow. And his dad's went over six. I've thought about, looking into that. I have a client, actually right now, he's up in Canada. I think he's doing the bait and tree stand type deal that's saw he posted on Facebook that he just made at the Bear camp when we were driving back from our bear hunt.

I don't know, there's something about, I'm just stuck on spot in stock. Yeah. But those options definitely, would be different. And I think they'd be fun. But I think I want to get a spot in stock block right

Brian Krebs: first. Yeah, that's what I was just gonna say. I feel like it's like you started the spot in stock, so you probably wanna see that through.

And then once you do that, you might [00:42:00] be like, all right, next I wanna shoot one. From a boat trip, like I wanna drive a boat around in southeast Alaska and find a bear and shoot it and then, or do the bait pile with archery. Yeah. Or like the dogs. No. Yeah, try it each way. But

Reece Anderson: yeah, now that I have the spa stock started, I feel like if I switch to bait or dogs, it's like be like cheating myself out to get a bear.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. You don't wanna do that, like No, not that anyone would care, but you would know I would.

Reece Anderson: I would look up, it'd obviously be hanging in the shop and I'd be like, yep. I'd cheat myself out. Yeah.

Brian Krebs: So speaking of the shop and taxidermy, do you mount a lot of bears because you're not really in a bear heavy area of the United States?

No, I get, I probably get four a year. That's a lot. That's more than I would've guessed. I suppose it's locals that are going to like Montana Shoe Bear. Yeah. Most. I haven't

Reece Anderson: done a life size bear yet. I was [00:43:00] hoping to with mine. Yeah. I've done a couple rugs and I don't know, I didn't think it would be popular with bears, but you know how guys will like, get like pelts made for like coyotes and fox.

Yeah. I've had guys do that with their black bears. Really? Just tan 'em and then hang on their wall like no rug.

Brian Krebs: I suppose a fall bear maybe cuz they got, they're putting all the fur or it a SPT in the spring. I don't know how that would work. I don't

Reece Anderson: Yeah, and I've had a few guys, I've had a buddy do it.

Him and his brother did it last year. Yeah. With their Montana

Brian Krebs: bears. Yeah, that would be an interesting, do a bear pelt. If you shot, you'd probably need a few of 'em, but you could do like a bear pelt blanket for your cabin or something. We could, yeah. That'd be fun. So speaking of the tax deride and we got an elk, that we gotta figure out what what form to get for it.

And so we'll talk about the options after the podcast, but what's your [00:44:00] favorite animal? What's your favorite mount to do?

Reece Anderson: I don't know, man. They all, right now I'm stuck on birds right now because I work in I don't like going from like mounting birds and then going to do like a deer shoulder mount and then back to birds and deer.

So I like do all my birds at once. Okay. Where my mind is, the same process every time. Get all my birds done and then I'll go into deer or I'll do, or I'll actually do like 10 birds. I. And then three deer. Sure. And then back to burns when, but

Brian Krebs: so I know on the big game, or like animals, it's pretty common to you send the tides off to the tannery cuz it's so much easier and all the chemicals involved in it.


Reece Anderson: I know a few texts almost at in-house tan [00:45:00] and there's nothing wrong with it, but it's also okay, I'm a solo shop. I don't have the time to

Brian Krebs: do that. It's a lot of work and you're probably not actually gonna save any money. And it's not like you can charge twice as much for a whitetail just cuz you do the own, your own tanning cuz they'll just go somewhere else.

Yeah. And

Reece Anderson: I mean my tanning bill's not crazy expensive. Yeah. You know what I mean? Yeah. It's like I'll just send them off and when my hives are there, I have no deer antelope to work on here. So it's straight

Brian Krebs: burns. That's what I was gonna ask. When you send the hides off to the tannery what's it look like to preserve the feathers and the skin of the bird?

That part just doesn't make any sense to me.

Reece Anderson: So I've learned two different ways now. I don't think I was on your other podcast after I went to that other class. Okay. But, so I learned in, I went to school in Billings when I first started learned birds and, we used, skin the [00:46:00] bird and get, the fat and meat off the skin as much as you can.

You wash it, don dish soap, get the grease out of 'em, dirt, whatnot. And then we would put 'em in like a tanning bath. They make a chemical that's four birds, okay. To tan the skin of the birds. And, my birds were turning out, but they weren't. I could tell. I wasn't happy with the, how my birds were really turning out.

Okay. So then another tax dermis, that job shadowed me. He was saying there was a, some like master's week long class up in Minot for birds. And I was like, yeah, I'm gonna go, okay. Like 800 bucks, I'm going. And so I went up there and it was, the process that I learned in Billings and that one totally different[00:47:00] I was like, yikes.

And in Minot we didn't put 'em in a chemical bath. We just washed them. And tumble them in our, like Tumblr, that's basically corn cob, grit and borax. Yeah. We just put a little more borax in that Tumblr and then rub the skin with borax and that was it. And that they just, that just preserved them. Do

Brian Krebs: you have to be like really delicate and careful with the feathers so they don't fall out?

Or are they pretty, pretty secure?

Reece Anderson: Depends on the time of year for the birds and how old the bird is, obviously. Say you bring me a bird I'll look over the bird before I even accept it. Yeah, because birds have, are called pin feathers. Pin feathers are any feather that's not secured into the [00:48:00] skin to

Brian Krebs: say.

Got you. Yeah, I've always heard that. Like with pheasants, you can't mount an opening weekend rooster. It's just not gonna work. No.

Reece Anderson: You can't open, you can't mount a third weekend rooster? Probably. Yeah. Unless it's an

Brian Krebs: old bird. Yeah. So what happens when you get to the head, the wings? The feet?

Like to me, I don't even like caping out a deer head anymore. Like it's hard, like it takes me like two hours to do it. It probably takes you 20 minutes or five minutes cuz you're good at it. But to, for me to do like a full, to think do you do a full face off cape on a bird?

Like down at the beak and everything? Yeah. So you just use like an exacto knife to make sure you get like the perfect line around the beak and all that stuff? Yeah.

Reece Anderson: My birds, laying on the table, take the exacto knife and right where that like feather line meets the beak line. Yeah. You just basically trace the beak out and you just start, you can start peeling that away with your fingernail.

Brian Krebs: Really? [00:49:00] What about the wing? Do you like get the bone out of the wing and everything?

Reece Anderson: Nope. Bone stays in, you just get the meat out. Oh, okay. Yep. Okay. Interesting. Once you get to the shoulder, you can like peel it past to the elbow and you can get all that meat out and then you got the alna and radius that have a little bit of meat in yet, and you can peel in about halfway three quarter ways and you can dig in there a little bit and just scrape it out the best

Brian Krebs: you can.

Okay. So everything with a bird is in-house, like you don't ship anything out to get done with the birds. Correct. The

Reece Anderson: birds are, I'll take some birds out today. They're just in my freezer and by this weekend they'll be put together.

Brian Krebs: So if someone wants to get, so we talked about this on the other podcast, right?

If someone wants to get like an elk done, You're gonna have to reach out and be like, Hey, I live in Wyoming, you're in Dickinson. Are you coming this way at all? I'm gonna come through in two months. Can I drop something off? That's really the only way it's gonna work out. That's what we [00:50:00] did. You were doing a trip to get some mounts.

We met up at a Cabela's. Gave you my elk with a bird, though. I suppose someone could do it, right? Reach out and say, Hey, I got this pheasant. I liked your podcast. I want to get this mounted with you. And you're gonna be like I can't look at it. So when did you shoot it? And you're like I shot it December 21st.

It, I didn't break any wings. I didn't break any legs. It's perfect. And then you'd be like, okay. Put it in a sleeve or I know people use like stockings or big socks to get the feathers away. Freeze it. Put it in like an insulated cardboard box. Put some dry ice on it and ship it to me.

Does that work for the birds? A little bit easier. That would work for the birds? Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. I would still look over it when I get

Reece Anderson: here. Yeah. Just to make sure. Every bird's gonna have pin feathers no matter what. Yeah. I've never mounted a perfect bird

Brian Krebs: with zero pin feathers. Are you doing like full strut turkeys too then?

Or is this more pheasant and ducks? I have

Reece Anderson: my spring Turkey that'll go full strut, more than likely. [00:51:00] Okay. And then I have a flying Turkey that I have to start here shortly.

Brian Krebs: How do you get the feathers to sit up on a full, like a full stretch? Turkey is do you just have to pull upside down? You hang 'em upside down and let 'em set that way?

Oh yeah. Let gravity to do the trick and then it, like you put like a binder on it or a glue or something. And once that hardens, they stay that way. No,

Reece Anderson: once the skin hardens, that's how the feather stays.

Brian Krebs: Dude, this is so interesting. I should have gone to school for taxidermy cuz it would've saved me a lot of money across my lifetime.

But I would never be good at it either and that's why I never I've thought of it and I'd say like I could still learn how to become a taxidermist amount, like me and my wife and some of my family's stuff, but I'm never gonna get good enough at it to be happy cuz I'm only gonna do one or two a year.

So I just always bring it in. But that was, I was just curious at that. But you're right, it makes perfect sense if everything can happen in-house and you send your hides out to get tanned anyway. You got a [00:52:00] few months of nothing to do, so you might as well take on birds. I'd rather do birds than fish.


Reece Anderson: definitely. I have a fish coming in. He called me right before this podcast actually. Yeah, I still cry this afternoon. But fish are just such a pan, dude.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. What is it? Like a big walleye? Like a big spawn walleye. Couldn't tell you.

Reece Anderson: Oh, no one, some people tell me what they're bringing in. Some people, like today, it was just like, yeah, we just caught a big fish.

Brian Krebs: Okay. Really? I would, man, I would tell Hey man, I caught a 31 inch walleye. Can you mount it? And no, he

Reece Anderson: just, I don't even know how long it is. He just asked me for my fish price and

Brian Krebs: that's it. And I suppose it's just like dollars per inch or something.

Reece Anderson: Yeah. Cause you get anything from, your 13, 14 inch perch to your 42 inch Northern.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. Yeah. And then the [00:53:00] guy you, are you still working with, like outsourcing the fish with the guy that does fish? Or are you starting to do a in-house? Nope, I still outhouse him. Yeah. Is it mounts or replicas?

Reece Anderson: Mounts. I. I if someone's getting the fish done, like replicas are cool and all. Yeah. You

Brian Krebs: get to release,

Reece Anderson: you get to release the fish and everything if you do the measurements right, like you have to know how to do the measurements.

But dude, you put a replica next to a skin mount hand, hands down, skin mounts.

Brian Krebs: Are they starting to last longer though? Because I've seen some older skin mounts and they start to fade and look a little funny after 15 years.

Reece Anderson: Yeah. So I have, I have my brother's eight pound walleye in the shop right now that he caught when he was like five at the lake right here by Dickinson.

And then while I picked up from my guy in [00:54:00] December. And you can tell the difference of him. And color-wise, yeah. I, we, I don't know if that's just how that tax that mounted, my brothers painted it. Yeah. Obviously this one's old. My brother's 20 now. So I don't know if it's that it has a thing to do

Brian Krebs: with like where you put it too.

Yeah. How much sun it gets. How much sun, if it's by a heater. Ooh. Or like a Yeah. Vent. Cause your AC

Reece Anderson: and your heat will kick on. Yeah. They'll actually just crack the skin. Yeah. That's interesting. So yeah, that has a big thing to do with it. I've never heard of really any problems as long as you take care of 'em really?

Yeah. Like dust 'em and

Brian Krebs: all that. Yeah. That's an interesting, we, our family does all replicas and it's mostly because a lot of the fish we mount, we release. Yeah. I have a 43 and a half inch pike. My brother's got a 50 [00:55:00] inch Musky. I think he's got like a six, seven pound bass, and we got a couple crappies.

We did eat the crappies, but that's also why we got replicas is cuz we ate the crappies. Oh. And so we've never had the fish that we could just give and say here mount this. So that's why we always do the replicas. Yeah, that's what's nice about the

Reece Anderson: replicas is you get to either, eat the fish like you said, or release


Brian Krebs: Yeah. And they last forever. The the paint on the, they're plastic so the paint lasts for, there is no issues whatsoever. And they look good. I think they look okay. I think, like you said, right outta the shop. They both look phenomenal. Yep. I just feel a little bit more confident with that plastic never degrading, which is like the good and bad thing about plastic.

Like it'll always last forever. It's not really a green material, but I don't plan on throwing my fish away either, so I don't really worry about the landfill thing, awesome. I'm glad to have you on here. I I'm glad that you went bear hunting for me so then I could share bear hunting content on the podcast and one of these years I'll definitely do a spring bear hunt cuz it's, it interests me and it's that perfect time of the year where [00:56:00] there's not much else going on.


Reece Anderson: I, like I said, I highly recommend everyone,

Brian Krebs: going on in bear. Yeah, for sure. For sure. Just like that man. We ate up an hour, so why don't you give folks a chance to follow you, give them the social medias for the tax derby business, north Wind Tax Derby, and then we will end this podcast and pick out an elk form.


Reece Anderson: Yeah, you can follow me on Instagram or Facebook at Northland Taxer.

Brian Krebs: Perfect. Western North Dakota for anyone that's in the area and they're looking for a new tax. Der my old tax dermis said he doesn't wanna do elk anymore cuz they're too big and heavy and he is got back problems. So I was like, Hey Reece, you wanna do my elk?

And he said, always down to do an elk. Heck yeah. Awesome. Thanks for listening folks, and thanks for being here, Reese. We will get you back on. Thanks for having me after the next bear hunt when you tag out. Sounds good. Awesome. Talk to you later folks.[00:57:00]