Date: September 15th, 2023
The 2023 Montana elk and deer season is underway. It's been 2 weeks so far and I finally got a chance to sit down and enter a journal post. To say it's green here in our valley wouldn't completely descrive how much "green" is actually out there. Trying to elk hunt a valley this week I had to walk with my arms above my chest to keep my calls from getting covered in seed heads out of the grass. The thickness of the grass and how deep all the hillsides and valley is with food is making this year a true struggle. The good news is we are seeing animals, they're just so spread out and there's herds of whitetails you can glass miles off the riverbottom coming out of ditches and field edges becuase they don't have to go anywhewre to find food and cover right now. The elk are simular as we're seeing some elk but small groups that are few and far between unlike the large herds that we are used to seeing under dryer conditions.
Antler growth should be at a premium this year. We saw a few bigger deer but way of the river as the river seems to be holding a lot of the does and fawns with lots of younger bucks. I've seen this pattern before even in years there isn't a lot of green but enough to hold the larger doe groups and young bucks until harsher weather and colder temps force the older bucks into areas with more ample food in the riverbottom during this "early" season.
We did have some success as hunters harvested some whitetails and 1 of the elk hunters got his bull this week from a treestand. The other elk hunter had some really close calls and the bugling has been pretty good so far. We had 2 first time bowhunters harvest their very first archery whitetails! We have been seeing a lot of black bears too. Overall I can see we're in for a very challenging early season here in 2023 until we get some cold frosty mornings to start killing this knee to waste high food source smothering the landscape. We have 4 elk hunters and 1 deer hunter next week and the elk rut should really start picking up. I'll post more updates when I get a chance.