Montana Elk Hunt

(11/3/01 - 11/9/01)

(Click on any picture to see an extremely detailed version. About 200k in size.)

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I went Elk hunting in Montana with my cousins Chip and Bruce.  Below are some pictures.  This was in the Bitterroot valley, near the East Fork of the Bitterroot river.  Chip and Bruce and Steve got 3 elk the week before I got there, and then we didn't get anything more.  That's Ok, it was a great time.  We're told that the average one week hunt has only a 1 in 10 chance of coming home with an elk.  


Leaving San Francisco airport, here is a 20 year old girl in the National Guard holding her M16 rifle and looking bored.  This is at the security checkpoint.  The line was about 1 hour long to get through the metal detector and baggage X-ray machine.  When I snapped this picture, suddenly several people yelled at me "No PICTURES, No PICTURES!!"  Welcome to the police state of the United States of America, where they search you for no reason, and object furiously to pictures being taken of their behavior. 


Fish lake, a 5 mile hike past where you can take a car.  I was perched above this meadow in this spot waiting for an Elk to wander past for a few hours having lunch.  


Another day, I walked up Sign Creek to this meadow at the top, and hung out here for a few hours.


In the meadow at the top of Sign Creek, facing down valley.  


Here I'm about to walk out the 3 miles to camp.  It's straight ahead and down through the lowest point in the valley straight ahead and around to the right.  I'll follow the creek at the bottom.  It looks like dense trees, and it is dense sometimes, but it's also one of my favorite hunting routes.  It meanders through some nice gladed areas near the stream.


Now a few pictures from around camp.  Here is our 16x16 foot surplus Army tent.  My Grandfather bought this is in 1954, and our family has been hunting in it ever since.  We put a big cook stove inside, and in this picture you can see the stove pipe sticking out on the left.


Same shot, different day, trying for better light:


The pickup trucks and ATV.


Inside our tent, that's my cousin Bruce on the left and my cousin Chip by the stove.  We're a little grimey in this picture, Chip and Bruce have been out in the woods for a week and a half at this point.


In the corner, our table of food inside the tent.


It's a bad picture, but this is pointing away from the stove to see our army cots in the corner.


A picture from Johnson's Rim, a 4 mile hike in from the last place you can take a car.  Rugged landscape, we climbed all over a lot of what you see below looking for Elk.


Chip in front, Bruce behind, taking a rest from the hike up Johnson's Rim.


I camped out in this meadow for a while.  Straight ahead you can see a pointy cinder cone and a saddle just to the right of it.  Bruce and Chip have circled around over there to chase potential Elk my way.


Last day, Chip takes a picture of me before walking out for the last time.  This is up on Johnson's Rim.


Chip in the same spot.  Notice his 45-70 Contender pistol under this left shoulder.  That pistol took an Elk a week earlier.  


Here is a close up of the pistol Chip and Bruce were using to hunt Elk.  The black thing at the top of the picture is the shoulder holster, and I put a couple of 45-70 shells and a quarter and a dime in the picture to show scale.  The "45-70" is named because it is a 0.45 inch diameter bullet, propelled by the equivalent of 70 grains of black powder.


Here is our famous "deer cart".  My grandfather had this custom made in the late 1950s to help carry out game from deep in the woods.  One man stands in front, one in back.


Ready to leave, here is Bruce's pickup loaded up to the gills with the tent, stove, all our gear, etc.  You can see the pelts from the Elk we got rolled up in the very back.


Flying out of Missoula Montana, these 3 unlucky people (and myself) were selected for "Full On Baggage Search", which includes your checked luggage.  On the table in front of these people, they dump out all your personal stuff in front of this audience and go through it in detail.  The rest of the people getting on the flight are behind this row of unlucky people, watching.   The part about searching through your checked luggage is really amusing... remember I've brought my elk rifle, which they carefully examined, determined to be a Really Big Powerful Gun, and let me check.  They also carefully examined my 6 inch blade hunting knife, determined it to be a Really Big Knife, and then let me check it.  What EXACTLY is the point of this search?  Yeah, yeah, I know, it is to have the appearance of security without any real security on planes.


Here are some pictures that were taken by my cousin Chip, before I arrived at camp. 

WARNING: the following pictures contain graphic, bloody pictures of dead elk, if this sort of thing offends you, please do not scroll down!!


Here is Chip over his recent kill.  


Steve over his recent kill:


Picture of the guys packing out their elk in the snow along the ridge.


Chip and Steve, with the two hind quarters of elk below them and the antlers in the background.  The "quartering" is necessary to pack the elk out.


A demonstration of the cart.  They got about a half an elk onto the cart.  Steve on the far left, Chip in the middle, and Bruce on the right.


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