Walk 23 Miles in My Shoes


After walking over 23 miles and 4,000 vertical feet in the crisp morning air with frost entangled in the tall grass, we finally spotted the group of bucks we had been dreaming of.

Hunting in Montana has been around for thousands of years and it seems like everybody has been through hunter safety at age 12. Montana is very unique in that it has what is called a youth hunt, where kids aged 12 to 15 can hunt the Thursday and Friday before the hunting season starts is lined up with MEA days that every student in Montana has off.

I drove over six and a half hours to get to eastern Montana in hopes of harvesting a big buck. My cousin Trevor was going home for opening weekend and we had planned all month. I had arrived at Trevor’s house Friday at six pm. We ate and prepared our rifles and gear for the long weekend ahead of us. As the alarm went off at 5:30 AM I grumbled and rolled over on my side, slowly sat up and went to the kitchen. I had a cup of coffee and a side pork sandwich. (breakfast of champions) We got on the four wheelers and peeled out as the sun started to peek out of the horizon.

We had pulled up with 30 minutes left until sunrise and started our trek up the mountain, we had come upon a big bull elk walking down to the creek. We took our time while the bull was walking down to scan the nearby area for a group of deer. We spotted a group of female deer and when there are females there are usually males nearby so we hiked down the mountain and walked a loop to come up the other side so we did not give up our location. This worked and we finally spotted the herd we had been scouting since the beginning of summer.

Trevor whispered to me “I think we have to crawl on our bellies so they don’t spot us.” I showed my approval with a thumbs up and we started our 200 yard belly crawl towards the most interesting buck I had ever seen on the property. I had crawled over at least four cactuses, a couple piles of cow poop and an ant pile to get to where I had a shot. There were spines in my belly my elbows and worst of all my hands. We got our guns ready with one 270. WIN in the chamber, safety clicked off and my bipod set. My hands were dripping with blood from the cactuses and my palms were sweaty because I was so nervous, but regardless I put my shoulder into my stock, put my eye up to the scope, took a breathe, and finally after 3 hours of hiking squeezed the trigger.

The deer dropped instantly with the whole herd scattering. I was shaking and let out a quick victory fist pump.

The Buck I shot is called a stag because at some point in it’s life it lost his testicles therefore the lack of testosterone keeps the “velvet” or the fur on the antlers on and they never shed it.

As the late elk shoulder season and waterfowl comes to a close on February 15 there is time to reflect and reminisce on the hunting season and hope next year is even better.