Fast forward to 2021. We could finally coordinate an elk hunt where all of us had tags. Our decision in 2018 was about to pay off. Reaping what we had sewn, so to speak. All of us would hunt the first week of November during the general rifles season. We decided, a few of us, to archery hunt and scout in late September. This proved to mostly be a scouting trip although it gave us an idea of the terrain and animal count. We found very few elk on public land but were confident we'd be able to kill deer if we wanted. A highlight photo of 4 studs as proof of this trip: While no fur hit the dirt on the archery hunt, anticipation was high for the rifle hunt in November. We set up camp and scouted and that evening glassed elk on both public and private land. So we figured we were in a good area Days 1 and 2 were spent learning the terrain and elk movements and staying out of the fierce MT wind and weather and setting expectations and passing doe deer. My brother Tate and I had a goal of bringing home meat first and foremost. The first two days taught us we *should* be able to hold out for any elk or a buck deer for a few more days. Here's a photo of some cows passed while Tate and Paulie waited for a bull to step out of the timber. He never did: Day 3 some of us (Andrew and Tate and I) were ready to put something down. As we hiked that morning we came upon a pass (that we saw elk cross over the evening before) and knew we had to post up here. Due to the geography and elk and deer movements we'd seen and the proximity to water, we knew animals would pass through here and we'd get a shot. We spend the morning in the frigid wind and waited, before finding a small nook out of the wind. We glassed up something unexpected, a bull moose! We watched him for about an hour and then it was naptime I was awakened by a hand on my knee... there were elk coming. We could shoot any elk except a spike. The herd coming was a couple cows and a calf and two spikes. Tate had spotted them so he had dibs. Here we are dialing dope at 300 yards, notice elk in the background: In the end we just let them keep coming and Tate crushed the lead cow at 130 yards as they passed below us. I set up to try and get the calf but missed her at 280 yards on a hurried shot. Anyway, we were on the board: Day 4 after our 75min hike straight uphill to begin the day, at first light I spied some elk in a valley below us. Tate and Alex and I pulled a sneak below while Paulie and Andrew went high to find more elk. At the end of our sneak the original elk were gone but there were doe deer around. While I contemplated shooting one Al spotted an elk in a thick stand of timber. It was a pretty nice bull but exited the small clearing he was in before we could get set up. We noted if he continued his course he may be visible in another even smaller clearing. We had a small disagreement as to whether this clearing was shootable. Al said it was, Tate and I were skeptical. Sure enough 10 minutes later the bull fed into the clearing. Once the elk was actually there, we all agreed it was a safe shot. Al was dialed to 475 yards and made a great shot. He waxed that bull with confidence, stellar shot, proud of him: 300 Win Mag, 200gr Nosler Partition, dead Montana bull. It took the five of us with heavy loads to get him out. Here we are with pain in our backs and joy in or hearts. Bull elk are awesome, and they are also heavy Day 5 produced no new meat. I was ready to shoot any doe or cow elk but wasn't able to capitalize on the several chances I had. Paulie could have killed cows but was still holding out for a bull. Al and Andrew weren't in the elk. The physical and rugged Montana terrain and the cold and wind were starting to wear on us. Day 6 was my last opportunity. Tate and I had to leave mid day. We got to our first mountain saddle at daybreak and I spotted some deer in the basin. We checked for elk but finding none, decided to make a play to get me on the board with a deer. We came of the rise after a sneak and the deer were at 535 yards. I'm comfortable to 500 with my rifle, and the deer had us pegged. My heart was heavy. Then Paulie said "use my rifle man." New hope! I dialed his dope and settled in for a shot. As the sun came up a bit the guys said hey the one on the lower left is a buck (could shoot either sex) so I settled in on him and let one fly. I saw him flop in the scope. Love that sight. 300 WSM, 200gr Accubond hits HARD at 535. Last effort meat: We left camp with full but heavy hearts. Loved the trip but wanted to see Paulie and Andrew kill their first elk. We were confident in the spot we'd found and knew they'd be successful. We were right: Day 7 Andrew made a great shot on a cow in heavy wind: And on Day 8 Paulie conceded his holdout for a bull with time running out and punched his elk tag. Also a great shot from what I'm told: All in all, what an amazing trip. I thought we'd kill more bulls but as you know how it goes, they became scarce. It's a rare thing to have a group of hunting buddies that all mesh together, have great hunting chemistry, that like to camp with each other. I love these guys. We all punched tags, we found good action by ourselves in a new state, we all got bloody together. I love the west. The terrain is physically taxing, and to get these elk we had to hump the mountains and then hump them back out. What's good for the body is good for the mind. The physical toil produces mental stimulation and satisfaction, sore joints and muscles, weary bodies, full hearts. Now, I know the Montana residents are laughing at us and thinking "you can shoot those elk from the roads, thanks for kicking elk out of the mountains for us." Which I know is true, I've had a few drinks in the bars in MT. But we don't live there. We don't know where the roads are. We found these elk where they were, and we killed them, and we're happy. And I think we made some really good progress towards future success. Happy hunting fellas.