Elk Hunting on Mountain Bikes

Hunting on Mountain Bikes

In elk country they say that you need to be at least three to five miles away from any road in order to start seeing elk. At least that’s what Outdoor Life says. I personally think that Outdoor Life is the sportsman’s version of WebMD, a want have I told you about WebMD? You don’t have Ebola!

Basically there are three choices on how to get into the back country. The first, and I think the best way is on horses. I grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana, so my family hunted elk on horses. Cowboys have a saying; ”riding is always better than walking”, and I happen to believe it. The drawback is horses are very expensive. You have to buy the horse, then you have to buy the saddle & tack, and then you have to buy a horse trailer in order to get your horse to the mountains. Not to mention that you have find a place to board your horse and feed it. Before you know it you’ve spent $10,000 on a horse to get you up the mountain.

The second is to use an ATV or a trail bike. ATV’s don’t eat anything when you are not using them. I have 98 Polaris sportsmen, and I love it. Again riding is always better than walking.   The drawbacks are that they are expensive, and also very noisy. A lot of the back country trails are closed to ATV’s, and a lot of ranchers don’t like you to use them on their land. Which brings up the cheapest way in walking. The drawbacks are that it requires that you to be in good physical shape, and you may have a hard time getting your elk back to the truck.

However there is an alternative, and that is to use a mountain bike. You can spend anywhere between $300 and $3000 on a mountain bike. Just like everything else the more money that you spend the nicer the bike. At the very least you need knobby tires and 18 speeds. Mountain Bikes are generally less expensive then ATV’s, and a hell of a lot more quiet. You can also cover a lot more ground on a mountain bike that you can walking. Some Mountain Bikes are even especially designed for hunting with big fat knobby tires, and gun / bow racks.

The key to success is to buy your mountain bike before elk season starts, and get use to riding it. Just about every city has some bike trails that you can ride. This will also increase your cardiovascular system, and get in you better shape for other sports i.e. skiing, soccer etc.   Not to mention increasing your sense of balance.

So go out and get a mountain bike today or dust off the old one in your garage, and take it for a ride.

Good Luck & Good Hunting!



Elk Hunting the Missouri River Breaks

Last weekend my partner in crime and I went up to the legendary Missouri River Breaks in Montana to try and fill my cow elk tag on my year long quest to bag the Montana Big 5 (Antelope, Deer, Elk, Bear / Wolf & Turkey). You are at a disadvantage when you’re bow hunting for a cow elk, because you can’t really call in a cow. Mainly I went to do some scouting before rifle season, because even though I grew up in Montana I had never hunted the Breaks before. It’s a good thing that I did, because they don’t believe in road signs or cattle guards up there. I must have opened and closed about a 100 gates. I hate to report that I didn’t even see an elk, but I did see a lot of rabbits in fact if you are a rabbit hunter this is the place to be. However I did meet a lot of interesting people. Some were very friendly, some not so much. The first stop we made was on Ranch A, we spoke to the rancher and were informed that there were no elk on his ranch, and that they were all over on the neighbors Ranch B. So we went over to Ranch B, and talked to the owner who informed us that there was no elk on their ranch, and that in fact they were all over on Ranch A. She also told us to try to go up Devil’s Creek onto the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. The C.M.R. allows elk hunting on the refuge but on August 29th they close all the roads except the main ones in order to discourage hunters from going into the back country. There is a perfect example of your tax dollars at work! So we went up Devil’s Creek, but still didn’t see any elk, so we came back down to look for a block management area. We got completely lost, since there are no road signs. We would probably still be lost if we hadn’t ran into a nice couple who were also elk hunting. They told us to go south and hunt a BMA (Block Management Area) that has plenty of elk on it, and that there were no elk up on Devil’s Creek. We walked all the ridges on this BMA and saw four mule deer does and one spike back in a stand of real thick timber about two miles from the road, only to find out later that usually there isn’t any elk on this BMA until rifle season, and that we should hunt Devil’s Creek in bow season. If you are sensing a trend here, so was I. The only consensus of all the people we talked to is that there are elk running all over the place. This may or may not be true, there just were no elk running all over the place wherever we were at. Although we did run into a gentlemen on Devil’s Creek who had shot a nice bull early earlier in the week it was starting to get late, so we opted to head back to town and console ourselves with pie and coffee before heading back home.

There is a reason they call elk the ghosts of the forest, after all they are pretty hard to find. In the fall issue of the RMEF’s (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) magazine Bugle they have an article on how to field judge a bull. I didn’t bother to read it, because if I see a legal bull this fall I won’t be wasting time trying to field judge it.

P.S. I need all my followers out there to write and / or email RMEF and tell them that they need to put me on team elk.

Good Luck & Good Hunting!