2017 Hunting Deer and Elk at Dry Wolf Creek, Montana
(10/21/13 - 10/27/13)
This web page is about a 6 day deer and elk hunting trip to Dry Wolf Creek, Montana (near the town of Stanford, Montana). I went with Katherine Chung, and also my cousins Chip and Bruce, and a friend Steve Sanders and Steve's son Tony. Click on any picture for a much larger version. Here is the list of deer and elk hunting trips I have been on in the past:
Katherine and I flew into Billings, Montana, then drove 3 hours to camp at Dry Wolf Creek Campground. The nearest town to Dry Wolf Creek Campground is Stanford, Montana Here is a high level map from Billings to the campground. The "DwCamp" is "Dry Wolf Campground" where we stayed. The road from the red marking DwStanford to DwCamp is 18 miles of well maintained gravel roads. You can also CLICK HERE for a closer in map of the area between the town of Stanford, Montana and Dry Wolf Campground. Finally, CLICK HERE for a Google map of various points of interest in Billings, Montana and Dry Wolf Campground area.
I enjoy hunting for a week in Montana every few years, but most of the time I'm a software engineer in Silicon Valley, California. As such, I like to bring electronics along to make the trip safer and more fun. :-) TODO (not finished with this explanation yet) "DeLorme InReach SE two way Satellite Communicator" (no cell coverage where we hunt, and it's 50 miles to the nearest town). The Inreach can do two way satellite text messages, and it tracks my location every 20 minutes LIVE on a map for friends (and rescue teams) to watch.
Below Chou Chou is in his travel bag looking unsure on the San Francisco Airport AirTrain.
Most of our adventures start with this picture riding on the AirTrain at SFO San Francisco Airport, California.
Chou Chou and Katherine both crashed out in first class on Alaska.
Arriving in Billings, Montana! Katherine and Chou Chou pose for the camera.
Side Story: TSA and Alaska Airlines Lost My Gun for 6 days - My hunting rifle did not show up in Billings Montana when we landed. Nobody knew where it was. One theory was it was still in San Francisco where we left. Another theory was it was in Portland where our connecting flight had been through. After two days, Alaska Airlines were telling us stories that it was in Seattle, Washington (a place we have never been to?) After 6 days, the hunting rifle showed up JUST BARELY IN TIME for our return flight home. Alaska Airlines and TSA either do not know where it was all that time, or refuse to admit to me where the hunting rifle was all that time. It just mysteriously "showed up".
Katherine and I picked up our SUV and RV (see picture below) the night we arrived in Billings, then spent the night in the Best Western Clock Tower Inn Billings Montana. Then we got up early and went shopping for supplies.
Our RV parked at Cabela's in Billings, Montana.
Cabela's is a large camping/hunting supply store.
The picture below is of the inside of the Cabela's in Billings, Montana. It is gigantic.
Katherine is showing Chou Chou the fish in Cabela's.
After handing off the SUV to Tony Sanders at the airport, and having Alaska Airlines tell us my hunting rifle was still completely missing and nobody knows where it went, Katherine and I did a final bit of ice and food shopping at Albertsons in Billings, then we left Billings to drive to Dry Wolf Creek Campground! Below I take a selfie of the RV stuffed with supplies (all on the ground so they don't fall during the big drive ahead).
Katherine riding shotgun with Chou Chou getting ready for the big drive.
The picture below is what rush hour looks like in most of Montana. Zero cars as far as you can see. Also, perfectly maintained highways.
This next picture below is out of order, but shows our RV where it was parked for five days (and our SUV behind it we used to drive around).
A quick note about solar panels and recharging electronics. You can see it in the picture above, but below it shows where I put out my solar panel and sent a wire inside into the RV to charge electronics.
Below is a picture of my Chafon 346WH Portable Generator (actually just a Lithium Ion Battery). The wire from the solar panels on the roof (Chafon 40W Solar Panels) goes from the roof to the inside to recharge the big battery. I then can charge USB devices and ALSO charge or run 110 Volt devices from this battery pack.
The picture below is of our family's 70 year old World War II army surplus tent. This is setup twenty yards from the RV, and this tent is where everybody else slept except Katherine and Brian and Chou Chou.
The next morning Katherine and Brian took our SUV and went scouting around the area while the others hunted more seriously.
Below is a panorama of the type of country we are in.
Below is a picture of some of the terrain around Dry Wolf Creek Campground, Montana.
That night, Katherine and Brian prepared baked potatoes and chili for dinner. We cooked the baked potatoes by wrapping in tin foil and tossing in the fire pit seen below.
Home from hunting all day, that's Steve Sanders (walking away) and his son Tony Sanders (standing by the fire). Katherine is chopping onions on the table.
And after not seeing or shooting anything all day long, three deer walk into our campsite. Here is a picture with our RV and the deer in the same photo.
A zoomed in picture of the deer. One has antlers (male deer also called a "buck").
This is probably my favorite picture from the hunting trip. Chip and Bruce are returning to camp after seeing NOTHING all day long, and this picture shows their pickup truck and the deer wandering in camp in the same photo. :-) By the way, it is technically "too late" to shoot deer at this point (after sunset) and also it is "bad style" to shoot guns anywhere near the campground, so we just took pictures and waved at the deer.
A picture of our baked potatoes in the coals. This worked surprisingly well. Thirty minutes, kind of small potatoes.
Katherine smiling at the hungry hunters eating chili and baked potatoes.
From left to right: Tony Sanders, Steve Sanders, Bruce Wilson, and Chip (Ralph 3rd) Wilson. Notice they are all wearing baseball caps.
This is a low light picture of the morning "ritual" where the hunters wake up, have breakfast in the old army tent, get dressed, and leave before the sun rises.
Same photo but this one with a flash. Tony on the left, Chip on the right.
This morning I decided to go hunt "trail 402" seen in the sign below.
I left the trail for a while, and stumbled across this "deer blind" where a chair is nailed up in a tree with a ladder to get to it. It isn't our style of hunting.
Below is a close up of the chair nailed to a tree in a "hunting blind".
Below you can see the ladder up the tree. This is about a mile away from any trails or trail heads or roads.
Somebody has put out this water collection plastic bucket thingy. In the background you can see the deer blind. Not our type of hunting, but whatever.
A view of the sun rising over the mountains.
A little further on, this sign shows a fork in the road. I took "Silver Gul Tr No 402".
I took Silver Gulch Tr 402. Also notice motorcycles (dirt bikes) are allowed most of the year, but not during hunting season (the time I'm there). Snowmobiles are ALSO allowed (but not during hunting season), and that would be pretty fun out here.
A mile or two into the wilderness from the road, and here is a perfectly maintained bridge over a stream.
Below is a panorama of a slightly cleared out area. I don't really understand why this area has all the trees fallen down? Might be an old "burn" where a fire was, but it seems different than most burns with the "fuel" still here. Like maybe wind blew this area over years ago?
A pleasant lunch spot for me with a view. In the picture below it isn't the view I'm showing, but my "chair/seat" on the log.
Here is my view as I eat lunch. Notice the trail to the far left of the photo and the far right.
Side Story: Ok, what happened next was I crossed the rough dead fall making my way to the main road I scouted the day before. But I lost my GPS out of my pocket. Doh! So in order to not get lost and die out there, I back tracked the entire way home instead of doing my original plan.
Below is a screenshot of the Garmin website showing tracking on my device that I lost.
Topo of the hike:
Below is a zoomed in picture of where I lost the GPS. At the top of the screenshot you can see the trail. I left the trail and crossed over the "dead fall" and managed to lose my GPS at the very farthest across the deadfall. The cluster of dots around my name is where the GPS reported it's location home for the next 4 days until it ran out of battery.
Below is a picture of a little squirrel.
Back tracking back to my SUV.
ANNNNNNDDDDDD -> equipment failure #3 for the trip, my left boot comes apart at the sole! Now the airline lost my gun (#1), I lost my GPS (#2) and my left boot has no sole (#3).
About a mile later (and still one mile from the SUV and trail head) I have equipment failure #4 where my OTHER boot toe breaks off and the sole comes loose. To recap:
The airlines lost my hunting rifle
I lost my GPS (and this is also my global communicator and the only way to call for help)
My boots have broken apart
I'm still miles in country with all of my equipment failing me, and starting to get nervous.
I made it home to camp (thank goodness) and below are some of the last photos of my 10 year old hiking boots from REI.
Both soles delaminated, then I walked on the insulation for a couple miles, and they broke apart just about as I could see the trail head and my SUV.
A picture of our classic World War II surplus army tent.
The famous "One Wheeled Game Cart" my grandfather had created to help us carry deer and elk off the mountains.
We always setup a hand washing station outside the tent.
This night, as he came home, Bruce saw a deer and shot it. Below is Bruce and the deer on the back of his pickup truck. Bruce begins skinning it.
Chip and Bruce got the deer hung up in the trees so they could skin it. Night has fallen so this is a picture with a flash.
Click the image below for a movie of Bruce skinning his deer. VERY GRAPHIC.
Planning the next day's hunt.
Bruce (over by the stove) preparing dinner while the others look at what they plan to hunt the next day.
Out of order pictures, but after Katherine and I left camp, here are three pictures from Steve Sanders (not my pictures). Here is the camp under almost a foot of snow! Katherine and I missed this part (which I'm glad).
Steve saw this beautiful moose and got a picture of it.
Here is a VERY SHORT video of the moose walking (taken by Steve Sanders). Click here for highest quality original.
Below is a picture by Steve. It is Steve Sanders and son Tony Sanders at trail head 732 near Dry Wolf Creek, Montana.
Picture below by Steve. Steve shot this buck (male deer) a few days after Katherine and I left.
Katherine and I went on a round trip to the town of Stanford, Montana and back to take a shower, plus get some supplies. A lot of the country is "free range". See the cow below.
A free range cow wandering around in Montana.
A sign saying Stanford, Montana is 6 miles away.
Katherine and I took a shower at the Sundown Inn in Stanford Montana.
We loaded up on drinkable water and bought some garlic bread (Texas Toast) at "K's Supermarket" in Stanford, Montana.
Then we drove back to camp!
A sign saying our camp ground is 22 miles away.
Some mystery animals on the hillside. They have white sides so they didn't look like deer to me, but maybe deer? Maybe antelope? ANSWER from several people including Karen and Chip: Antelope! Those are antelope.
Notice their sides are white? What are these? Please contact me at if you know what these are! ANSWER from several people including Karen and Chip: Antelope! Those are antelope. Reader Stephen Wolfe writes: "The animals are Pronghorn. The genus and species are Antilocapra americana. They are frequently referred to as "Pronghorn antelope", although they are not a true antelope like old world antelope (both fill similar ecological niches). Pronghorn are common in plains habitats of the western states."
Even though I have no cell signal, there are Fiber Optic cables in the ground. The picture below is a composite of two photos just because it isn't that interesting.
In Montana, many of the road signs out here have bullet holes in them. Like this on.
A close up of the bullet holes in the sign.
These cattle seem to be walking home, but they are blocking our path.
Out twenty miles from where there is cell coverage, and there is this metal tube running through the forest.
Permit Required to Cut or Remove Firewood.
A few bullet holes in this sign below, and only 5 more miles to our campground.
I wanted to look up this "Dry Wolf Cabin" which is about 1 mile from our campground. Might be possible to rent this?
In Cabela's I noticed this "Zodi ZIP Hot Shower" and bought it. Here is a link on Amazon but I bought it in Cabela's for less. I set it up, and it worked "kind of Ok" for a shower.
The picture below is fuzzy, but the main idea is the battery pack with a red button pumps the water, the propane heater heats it, and the long tube with a red end is the shower head.
Every year I buy a new cooler at Cabela's and leave it with the hunting supplies. :-) I need it to fill with ice for camp, and don't have any way to get it home. The three on the left might all be ones I've contributed over the last 6 years. :-)
Chou Chou getting tired, hanging out with his raccoon we bought in Cabela's for him. The "cave" on the left is Chou Chou's own personal sleeping bag.
At night, Katherine made cheese tortellini in red sauce with ground beef added. Plus we fried up the Texas toast. The hunters liked it!
The hunters eating dinner.
Katherine reading (Kindle application on her iPad mini) while Chou Chou falls asleep with her.
A little snow fell overnight!
Katherine putting Chou Chou's snow boots on.
Katherine and I went for a hunt together! That's a borrowed rifle from my cousin Chip.
Katherine in hunter orange.
We saw these tracks, and cannot quite figure them out. They LOOK like they are tripods, but I think that is two small tracks in back that look like one track. Like the back feet of a rabbit or squirrel are close together?
This is the trail head where Katherine and I started. We went up to "Lyon Falls" to see the water fall.
Chou wants to go!
Chou Chou always leading us.
Kathering consulting with Chou Chou.
Lyon Falls is where we went.
The picture below is very unfortunate. I was using the "timer" to take a family portrait of myself, Chou Chou, and Katherine! But for some reason this picture was fuzzy. Dang it!
While taking timer shots, this was much more clear but the picture took too early. Oh well.
A picture of me with my cousin's 7mm Remington Mag.
Chou and Katherine.
Taking a break at Lyon Falls, here is Chou Chou and Katherine.
Chou Chou trying to lick Katherine's face.
Katherine kissing Chou Chou.
The picture below is the end of the trail: Lyon Falls!
End of the trail, Lyon Falls on the left and Katherine and Chou on the right.
Walking back down.
Katherine on the trail.
Chou Chou takes a poop in the snow:
Chou Chou taking a poop in the snow:
Chou Chou wearing hunter orange so he is not mistaken for a wild animal and shot.
Back to camp!
This final nght that Katherine and Brian are in camp, Katherine and Brian had dinner, talked, then drove back to Billings Montana! Below is the final meal of leftovers in the tent.
Same picture with flash. Both pictures have drawbacks (too little light or flash effects) but it's important to see the inside of the tent setup.
From left to right: Chip (Ralph 3rd) Wilson (Brian's cousin), Brian Wilson, and Katherine Chung. Notice all three of us are wearing "head band flash lights" of various styles. In camp these are incredibly useful so your hands are free but the flashlight is pointing at what you are doing. The picture below was taken by Tony with a flash so you don't see how dark the tent can be.
After a three hour drive back to Billings, Montana, and a quick overnight in "Clock Tower Best Western". Then Brian runs around cleaning the RV (in a self car wash, knock the mud off the wheel wells), empty the RV grey and black water holding tanks, and returned the RV. Below are a few pictures as I return it to show it "cleaned up" (and for the record).
Outside in the rental Cruise America parking lot all returned.
The other side (same spot) just showing it cleaned up nicely.
We flew through Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport. Below I noticed a restaurant with no waiters or waitresses, only iPads to order food and pay. This is the future and it is coming at us fast and nobody seems to realize the massive upcoming job loss of wait staff level people. Replaced by "robots" (in this case iPads and better procedures).
Awaiting his final flight leg back home, Chou Chou in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul Airport in his travel bag.
Chou sitting in first class under the seat in front of us, he wants out.
There is ANOTHER dog on our flight directly in front of our row! Hello!
A meal in first class on Delta Airlines. It is about what a "coach" meal looked like 20 years ago.
Katherine having dinner as the sun sets as we return to San Francisco Airport.
Landing at SFO, Chou Chou in Katherine's arms.
That's it! All home safe!
We mailed three large bags ahead filled with sleeping bags, propane heaters, electric blankets, battery packs to run the electric blankets, etc. Below is a picture while packing.
Below is a picture of the three bags as they are sent out by FedEx ground:
This section is not for you, but for me, so I can remember things the NEXT time I go hunting years later! :-)
NOTE: DIVIDE THE LIST BELOW into "stuff that goes into red waterproof stuff sack for day pack for away from pickup hunting", vs. "stuff that stays in camp".
Four hunters eat about 1.5 pounds of ground beef in each dinner.
Here was my shopping list from this trip that I showed up in camp with:
For lunch: 1/4 pound cold cuts per sandwich (ham, turkey), swiss cheese, squeeze mayo, sliced bread, individually wrapped safeway cookies (whatever they got), little candy bars, possibly apples although rarely seem to eat them
EARLY - buy paper mixing bowls, sugar cane fiber? (washing pancake mixing bowls gets old!)
Oct 25 (Thu) - FedEx a bag to "Clocktower Best Western" ($42 by the slowest FedEx)
.... 8 days ...
Nov 1st (Fri) - depart SFO 9:25am, fly to Billings, Montana -> arrive 4:36pm, shop Cabelas, stay Clock Tower Best Western
Nov 2nd (Sat) - wheels up at 7am, drive to Winnett by 9:30am, then to Crooked Creek arriving by 11am. Get an afternoon hunt in.
Nov 3rd (Sun) - hunt
Nov 4th (Mon) - hunt the morning (if something happens, fly out a day later)
11:30am - wheels up out of camp and drive to Winnett (2.5 hours)
2pm - drive to Billings (2 hours)
4pm - shower, send package home
6pm - arrive at airport
7:41pm - flight departs for home
11:55pm - home
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