Elk hunting the Bob Marshall wilderness

mthuntr

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Sounds like a heck of a lot of don’t go there’s haha we’re pretty committed to going there the other option would be north of Yellowstone but I’ve heard worse about that area. We do have some experience elk hunting just never in that area. We’re going to hike in on foot though and planning to go roughly 10-15 miles in. Original plan was to hike from the meadow creek trailhead on the north end of the unit.
I know that country a little too. Done a few trips up to Black Bear Cabin from Meadow Creek. A lot of that country has some older burns and the Black Bear Cabin area burnt in 2019. That trail is quite popular. I don't know how hunt traffic will be but that trail is "moondust" by July. Main route for the Forest Service Packers to get to people and supplies but they'll be done around then but their could be traffic getting crew out of backcountry.

FYI the drive to Meadow Creek is a very long slow gravel road...search which side of Hungry Horse is the best for the timing. I've only gone down the east side.

I think you'll have a fun time if there are a handful of people and have the grit to pack out heavy. Watch for hungry bears. Adventure for the experience and if you find a legal bull send it!

August 2018...notice the dust
20180815_130140.jpg

My last trip into that area was late June 2019
20190625_110233.jpg 20190625_154050.jpg
 
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ATangsGearHunter

ATangsGearHunter

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Yup, I’m definitely bringing some fishing gear with so if the hunting is crap I’ll at least have something to do!
 

jjohnsonElknewbie

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Sounds like a heck of a lot of don’t go there’s haha we’re pretty committed to going there the other option would be north of Yellowstone but I’ve heard worse about that area. We do have some experience elk hunting just never in that area. We’re going to hike in on foot though and planning to go roughly 10-15 miles in. Original plan was to hike from the meadow creek trailhead on the north end of the unit.
If you're committed to going to the Bob, just go in with eyes wide open, head on a swivel, and reasonable expectations. There are 3 or 4 outfitters operating in different parts of the general area you're talking about, and they may be a good resource for questions. Obviously you are within your rights to go in there and hunt, and just know you won't be alone even though it is huge country.

As far as hiking in 10-15 miles, I can tell you it took us 8-9 hours on horses to go 18 miles and that was with a few breaks. Not sure what that translates to humans, but expect it to be long and brutal.

Depending on the route you take you may run into horrendous blow down areas from recent fires and they're damn near impenetrable. On one particularly bad day, 3 guides spent 3 hours opening up a trail that had been completely blown in a couple weeks after they scouted it. We're talking 3 men with cross cut saws hacking away for hours on 30-45 degree slope.

The creek bottoms are thick with willows and visibility is poor in a lot of areas. My brother and his guide startled a sow grizzly with a cub on foot at about 75 yards in one of these bottoms. They could see her standing up from the shoulders up and the cub was a few yards back on the ground. Fortunately she got their wind and booked it out of there. There is also a healthy population of black bears in that area.

We did see around a dozen mule deer including one nice buck on our trip, but don't expect to see a ton of game animals in general.
 
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ATangsGearHunter

ATangsGearHunter

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I know that country a little too. Done a few trips up to Black Bear Cabin from Meadow Creek. A lot of that country has some older burns and the Black Bear Cabin area burnt in 2019. That trail is quite popular. I don't know how hunt traffic will be but that trail is "moondust" by July. Main route for the Forest Service Packers to get to people and supplies but they'll be done around then but their could be traffic getting crew out of backcountry.

FYI the drive to Meadow Creek is a very long slow gravel road...search which side of Hungry Horse is the best for the timing. I've only gone down the east side.

I think you'll have a fun time if there are a handful of people and have the grit to pack out heavy. Watch for hungry bears. Adventure for the experience and if you find a legal bull send it!

August 2018...notice the dust
View attachment 435100

My last trip into that area was late June 2019
View attachment 435098 View attachment 435099
Pretty thick country. Are there good opportunities for glassing if you get up a little higher?
 

jjohnsonElknewbie

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I mess around in the Bob a bit outside of hunting season. Over the years I’ve seen exactly one legal raghorn in one of the early rifle units. I also have a few friends who’ve done seasonal pack & trail work in the Bob. None of them hunt the early season units, even with access to pack animals.

I’m sure you’ll have a fun adventure if you’re in it for the sake of adventure though.

Sorry to pile on the discouragement, as I certainly get the appeal. But there’s more than a few reasons why the harvest rates in those units are so low.

If you do go, I’d pack along a fly rod. Fishing is still pretty good in September.
I too don't mean to discourage you, but I wish I'd have known more about the place before we went. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to go back for the adventure and just to see if I can still hack it (turned 47 in March), but if I do I do not expect to get another shot at anything except maybe a grouse.
 
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ATangsGearHunter

ATangsGearHunter

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If you're committed to going to the Bob, just go in with eyes wide open, head on a swivel, and reasonable expectations. There are 3 or 4 outfitters operating in different parts of the general area you're talking about, and they may be a good resource for questions. Obviously you are within your rights to go in there and hunt, and just know you won't be alone even though it is huge country.

As far as hiking in 10-15 miles, I can tell you it took us 8-9 hours on horses to go 18 miles and that was with a few breaks. Not sure what that translates to humans, but expect it to be long and brutal.

Depending on the route you take you may run into horrendous blow down areas from recent fires and they're damn near impenetrable. On one particularly bad day, 3 guides spent 3 hours opening up a trail that had been completely blown in a couple weeks after they scouted it. We're talking 3 men with cross cut saws hacking away for hours on 30-45 degree slope.

The creek bottoms are thick with willows and visibility is poor in a lot of areas. My brother and his guide startled a sow grizzly with a cub on foot at about 75 yards in one of these bottoms. They could see her standing up from the shoulders up and the cub was a few yards back on the ground. Fortunately she got their wind and booked it out of there. There is also a healthy population of black bears in that area.

We did see around a dozen mule deer including one nice buck on our trip, but don't expect to see a ton of game animals in general.
Yeah my dad and I did a 15 mile hike just north of Yellowstone last summer and that took us about 8-10 hours. We weren’t really pushing it on that trip though it was mostly just a leisurely hike. Clearing blow down reminds me of a trip my dad and I took to the sawtooth sun Idaho and having to clear 30-40 trees off the forest service road to drive out to the highway. Didn’t get back to camp until about 3 or 4 in the morning that night haha
 

jjohnsonElknewbie

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Yeah my dad and I did a 15 mile hike just north of Yellowstone last summer and that took us about 8-10 hours. We weren’t really pushing it on that trip though it was mostly just a leisurely hike. Clearing blow down reminds me of a trip my dad and I took to the sawtooth sun Idaho and having to clear 30-40 trees off the forest service road to drive out to the highway. Didn’t get back to camp until about 3 or 4 in the morning that night haha
Roger that, but just remember, no chain saws are allowed in the Bob- electric or motorized. Guides all had 3' cross cuts and Estwings on their saddles.
 

Indian Summer

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Camp 10-15 miles in. Hunting further and higher from that. You better pack in a 120 quart cooler and dry ice. Leave it at the 7 mile marker so you can put quarters in it over night before crawling the rest of the way to the truck.

That’s being optimistic. Being realistic I’d say good luck fishing. Why are you so set on hunting an area with so much negative feedback when it would be really easy to pick somewhere with better hunting? Elk hunting is hard enough without going against the grain.
 

beignet

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Montaña
Why are you so set on hunting an area with so much negative feedback when it would be really easy to pick somewhere with better hunting? Elk hunting is hard enough without going against the grain.
I’m kinda curious too. Is it because that’s when the group can all make time? No one bow hunts? Plenty of other opportunity in MT on a general tag. That’s an expensive fishing trip if you’re hunting on NR tags.
 

jjohnsonElknewbie

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Why are you so set on hunting an area with so much negative feedback when it would be really easy to pick somewhere with better hunting? Elk hunting is hard enough without going against the grain.
Agree 100%. I know you don't know me, but I'm being 100% honest with you. I'm not trying to cover up a honey hole or primo spot with negative feedback. Bottom line is hunting in that part of the Bob is brutal and there are very few animals. If you are a glutton for punishment, by all means go for it, but if you're looking to fill the freezer the odds are you're just going to catch a cold.
 

timekiller13

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Sounds like a heck of a lot of don’t go there’s haha we’re pretty committed to going there the other option would be north of Yellowstone but I’ve heard worse about that area. We do have some experience elk hunting just never in that area. We’re going to hike in on foot though and planning to go roughly 10-15 miles in. Original plan was to hike from the meadow creek trailhead on the north end of the unit.
You plan on hiking 10-15 miles into a place that you have never been to and expect to find and kill elk?

First of all, I will bet my next paycheck you WILL NOT hike 10-15 miles into the Bob. Secondly, if you somehow do make it that far and get lucky enough to kill an elk, there is no way you will get it out of there. Unless you have a team of 8-10 guys.

Just being realistic.
 

timekiller13

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Maybe the guy shoulda just asked for honey holes instead, Christ almighty let him hunt the Bob! Hope he goes somewhere else and packs out a 400” bull right by your camp.
I hope he goes into the Bob and shoots a 400” bull.

But, I think people are just trying to be real with him. 15 miles into the Bob without a string of pack horses is a recipe for disaster.
 

Indian Summer

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Maybe the guy shoulda just asked for honey holes instead, Christ almighty let him hunt the Bob! Hope he goes somewhere else and packs out a 400” bull right by your camp.
Well he did ask. What elevation are the elk at? The answer was they are nearly extinct there. I’d be thankful for the feedback and reconsider my choice of area. Seriously
 

beignet

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Maybe the guy shoulda just asked for honey holes instead, Christ almighty let him hunt the Bob! Hope he goes somewhere else and packs out a 400” bull right by your camp.
I think it's been pretty well established that none of us will be camped back there.

But I also hope he finds one of the legal bulls out of the 198 total elk that FWP counted in that unit during their last aerial survey.
 

jjohnsonElknewbie

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Maybe the guy shoulda just asked for honey holes instead, Christ almighty let him hunt the Bob! Hope he goes somewhere else and packs out a 400” bull right by your camp.
I've hunted there, have you? With horse and guides it was the hardest I've ever hunted in my life. These guys knew the area and where the elk should be and we still only saw one elk. That is 8 hunters and 4 guides glassing 7-8 hours every day covering thousands of acres.

I'm not trying to hide anything. I'm being honest with the OP and trying to save him time, effort, and money, that could be better spent elsewhere. If he doesn't want to listen and go in anyway that's his choice. More spots and elk for you I guess.
 

ez_willie

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MN
I've hunted there, have you? With horse and guides it was the hardest I've ever hunted in my life. These guys knew the area and where the elk should be and we still only saw one elk. That is 8 hunters and 4 guides glassing 7-8 hours every day covering thousands of acres.

I'm not trying to hide anything. I'm being honest with the OP and trying to save him time, effort, and money, that could be better spent elsewhere. If he doesn't want to listen and go in anyway that's his choice. More spots and elk for you I gues
No, haven't hunted there. How on earth did you convince 7 iowegians to pay thousands of dollars to go on a guided elk hunt where there is no elk? No rokslide search function back then? Did you guys happen to book with Cody Carr for this fall too? Just giving ya crap, I'm just N of your states highest point :)
 

Flatgo

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I grew up hunting around the bob marshall mainly the south fork and middle fork of the flathead prior to entering the bob marshall. I would agree with pretty much all the comments big country and not many elk that are spread out. your chance of killing an elk on foot successfully is very low, and in addition if you do kill one i can almost gaurantee you will not get it out in time before a grizzly gets it unless you have stock.

I would like to give a little history of this area. The bob marshall used to be the best elk hunting in montana, and a lot of elk were transplanted from this areas to other areas of the state to bring back elk in those areas. they used to kill 1,200 elk out of the greater bob every year. now the objective elk population is like 300... The early rifle hunt was originally started to reduce elk numbers because they were over grazing the habit. I am not sure why it is still option because there are not to many elk in that country now. The areas i used to hunt are almost void of elk, and unless you saw the impact of wolves you cannot understand the population collapse. the area I used to hunt had small herds of about 10 elk per basins some more some less. In about 2 years after the wolf population exploded there were 10 elk in 10 basins. The population dropped so much its hard to hunt anymore because there are no game trails left to hike, which if you are not familiar with the area you need to be able to walk through the brush. its really sad to see this mass of public land that is now devoid of wildlife except grizzly bears.

if you look at grizzly estimates there are actually mores estimated grizzly bears then elk in the bob marshall. someday i dream i could hunt my old stomping grounds again with the same elk population as when i started, but i don't see that in the foreseeable future.
 
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