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#3485467 - 12/05/13 10:44 AM Montana 2013 Elk Deer
10 Point

Registered: 08/25/01
Posts: 3045
Loc: Pamelot, my farm near Catoosa


I bet you are like me. I would bet big money you like to eat your soup hot. Nothing wrong with cold soup, I just know I prefer eating soup hot and cereal cold. To me, being a fairly simple guy, my take is that's how God made them to be eaten.

Our family excursion this year to Montana over Thanksgiving was once again, for lack of a better descriptive term, priceless. I didn't fire a shot but that didn't stop my wife and I from just having a memorable time with our sons.

Jordan was coming off a great football season and was in excellent shape to hit the hills hard. Leading the team in interceptions this year at safety in a great AAAAAA conference as a junior he is looking forward to his senior year with 18 other returning starters and hopefully win some play-off games. He won't swim or run track in the spring or even have a summer job because he spends his spare time in the weight room every day before school, plays 7 on 7 all summer and runs around throwing bass lures come spring. In between that he finds time to do very well in the classroom. He did find time to arrow his first archery buck a couple of weeks ago after the football season ended. Truth be told he was only up in his stand less than two minutes, maybe only one minute when this guy came roaring down a good trail thrashing brush and hunting does.

I know this sounds rather weird but I have been somewhat of a vocal proponent to get the State of Montana to stop rut hunting of mulies. Every other state has done it, why does Montana get so many rut-crazed big boys killed the last two weeks of the season? Sure, we, I have been beneficiaries of the law for sure. I admit that but there would a whale of a lot more bigger bucks around if Montana shut down their muley season on November 15th. It will never happen. Deer seasons in Montana are set by the politicians in the state capital not deer biologists. Hunters vote, outfitters vote and there are alot of hunters in Montana. Muley populations will never get back to where they were 20 or 40 years ago. That's fact. My son put a great shot on a nice muley that was running a doe as hard as he could. He missed the first shot, hung in there and connected on the second shot. He wants to get the buck mounted and on the wall. I think it would be a nice Christmas present for him.

Here is a picture of the whole family, maybe I will turn this into a Christmas card.

The first thing we do when we get to Montana is to head to a flimsy rifle range to sight in our rifles. It is usually late in the day and is somewhat of a ritual for us. The boys are growing up and recognize the importance of making sure these rifles shoot where they are supposed to. No sense in making such a massive investment in time and money to use a rifle that has been knocked out of kilter in the arduous process of traveling across the country via commercial aircraft baggage handlers. I use a large hard-case golf travel bag for our 3 rifles, all Browning BAR .243's. I pack it with hunting jackets to protect the rifles that are in sheepskin cases. Havent had a problem yet but I don't take chances with having a rifle that has been knocked off. Here we are at the shooting range on our first day in Montana. This is my oldest son, Hunter, who does NOT hold the forearm of a rifle like that. He was only getting ready to shoot in this picture. He holds a rifle firm for sure and is an excellent marksman.

We had some snow on the ground and were hunting on general non-resident combination tags where as non-residents we could hunt cow or bull elk and also shoot either a whitetail or muley buck. We were in an area that was a general tag area for elk and not in any designated elk unit. After consultation with 4 game wardens, all telling me the same thing, I felt certain we were in a unique situation and to make the most of it.

When I was younger, my late Mother always told me that an army marches on its stomach and to nourish your body to make your day strong. I love breakfast food. I love my eggs hot, my cereal cold and my coffee like I loved my girls way back when I was single. I like my coffee hot, rich, quiet and available! I try to do plenty of business with Montana locals and we get to the breakfast stop usually around 5:45 a.m. Here is the proprietor of the finest little town cafe in America with a buck he shot this year. I think it is a hybrid between a muley and a whitetail. It was a muley colored thing running with another muley. This great guy killed another hybrid a few years ago that he called a whitetail that was 28 inches wide. Even the game wardens came to take pictures of that wide beast. I wish I could show you a picture of that buck. One more thing, when this big boy went down, his pal, a big heavy 5 x 5 muley literally thrashed this buck so hard that he put more than 20 puncture wounds in his hide and literally horned him up off the ground and moved him over 100 yards from where he hit the ground. My pal said if he would have had a video camera it would have been the coolest video ever. The strength and hate in a big muley during the rut is amazing. Procreation is what it is all about.

Here we are on the morning of our first day. It was cold. I can tell it was cold because I look cold. We were a tad bit late getting into where I wanted to be but the first day is always a day of getting your stuff lined out to where you need it to be by the time you go home. I bet you know that drill too.

Alot of people ask me how we hunt in Montana. My flippant reply is that we park the truck and start walking and usually will run into something to shoot at. We simply put on the miles. I don't do the Ford Sneak or the GM Whack with my guys. We team up and cover some ground and work out the country. Some days snow conditions were extremely loud and noisy, other days they were perfect. Some days the sun worked to our advantage other days not so much. Some days the wind cooperated other days the wind was our enemy. Every day was a day for me to make my sons better hunters. With snow it is so much better. You get to see where those big bulls will walk up and put their front feet about an inch, yes an inch, close to a sheer rock face and look out into big canyons with their head, neck and front shoulders hanging out in space. You get to see bobcat tracks, coyote tracks, big muley tracks, little muley tracks, lion tracks, turkey tracks, it just goes on and on. I was a tracker at an early age. I loved trying to decipher animal behaviour by looking at tracks. I would encourage you this winter to send your teens out to track some deer a mile or three and quiz them on what they learn. It can't hurt and sure beats sitting in front of a football game or video game for them. And some time away from their cell phones would be good too. Here is a track that was a one-in-a-lifetime. Check it out.

What this track shows is a big muley buck feeding that had his right back forks busted off. His right side was carrying a very large amount of woven wire which was about a foot wide and 3 feet long. I was certain with that much wire on his head and the brute on a big doe group that he would probably die from fighting another buck and getting antlers tangled and both bucks eventually dying to cats or coyotes. Besides Hunter wanted to have the buck on his wall with the wire hanging off it! He sure would have made a cool looking mount. We saw him 4 times and the closest Hunter could ever get was about 420 yards with the buck moving away from him running a doe. To some boys, a 420 yard shot is a Montana country chip shot. To me, it makes no sense. Why chance losing an animal to poor shot placement? We don't hunt big muleys from bench rests. We hunt them in windy conditions, out of breath, in cold and snow, on sidehills, off rims, breathing hard and usally with about a nanosecond to shoot a monster. Maybe you know that drill too. For some reason our style of hunting isn't like the TV shows. Imagine that! I am probably what you would call a trophy mule deer hunter. So are my sons. We don't shoot dinkers, guppy bucks or girls(does). Nothing wrong with that, we just try to find the bigger, mature bucks. That takes far more work in Montana. Maybe even some luck. Maybe even alot of luck. Maybe a dose of skill. Call it experience. Call it almost 48 years of Dean Parisian hunting mule deer. And I am still learning.

The day or two days prior to our arrival the ranch we had permission to hunt was "rounded-up" and all the cows moved off the ranch to another location for winter feed. That was alot of disturbance, commotion and 4-wheelers and vehicles plus alot of livestock on the move. Alot of cowboying in Montana is now done via 4-wheeler instead of horses. Big bucks and big bulls don't like alot of commotion. Generally speaking, I bet that is true where you live too. With snow, the 4 elk that were on this ranch blew out the night prior to our arrival and for the next few days we walked every nook and cranny and hole and rim to cut a fresh bull track. We weren't in luck. That is, we weren't in luck until our luck changed. On the day before Thanksgiving our spirits weren't soaring. We had one good buck down and hadn't seen any other bomber bucks and nary a hair on an elk. Our effort had not wavered. We hit it hard. We covered the miles. We got into some nasty spots. We glassed hard, we worked the wind. We just hadn't gotten it done. Our luck changed by finding four elk tracks that were back on the ranch. Elk are nomadic and don't have a problem moving anywhere they want overnight. They can put on some miles and then some. We got on those elk tracks about all day and at near dark thirty they were still on the move and had gone to a canyon much further than I thought they would go. We were beat after so many hard miles and after getting to the truck the ride to our lodging was somber. We figured we would find them the next day which was Thanksgiving but Hunter still wanted to put the Wire Buck on the wall and I was getting rather optimistic about finding a big muley. With all that work I figured we were due to turn something up. Here's an elk headed our way.

Thanksgiving Day dawned with the cafe closed and the wind in the wrong direction. We were pumped and hustled to the canyon rim to find the Wire Bucks doe group, we knew them because one of the does had a loppy ear, and no Wire Buck in sight.

We thought the elk might be a mile or two down the canyon but Hunter was a bit bummed because he really wanted to hammer that Wire Buck. We hit alot of rims. Most of the time we come up empty. Once in a while we come up with some good shooting. Here we are, Team Parisian, quiet, spread out and ready to get it done.

When we are moving in rough ground keeping your balance can be an issue. We ALWAYS unload our rifles when necessary. No sense in keeping a cartridge in the chamber if you might get yourself in trouble with your footing. Here I am headed down, unloaded in some rather steep terrain. We aren't shy about using our butts.

The older I get the more I realize how much my wife appreciates being with her guys in Montana. She is always looking for sheds and does a great job of keeping up with us. She doesn't whine either. How great is that? How lucky are we?

My oldest son, Hunter, is a senior at Georgia Tech. For sure, a darn good school to be getting a degree in Mechanical Engineering next May. After graduation, he will be getting a job with the United States Air Force as a Missile Officer. Hopefully he will be stationed in either Montana or Wyoming. He is a bright young man, a good hunter, a good marksman and will serve our nation with honor. We are so proud of him. It is easy to tell he gets his good looks from his Mom. His brains too!

Hunter grew up doing a fair amount of shooting. When he took his flight physical to fly bombers for the Air Force they found a very slight high-frequency hearing deficiency in his right ear. Perhaps caused by too much gun fire without proper hearing protection? Only God knows the answer but Mom and Dad hurt when children hurt and Hunter always had a desire to be a pilot. With his slight hearing loss he will never be a pilot for the Air Force. Flying ICBM's is a rather unique desk job and one he will be well suited for. Life threw him a big wide curve ball and he has handled it well. I bet he will hit it out of the park when all is said and done. He is not a stranger to hard work being on the Deans List at Georgia Tech for 4 years either.

So, back to Thanksgiving morning. No Wire Buck. We kept moving. We spotted a great muley buck with a single doe and we made a move to get downwind of them. As we were humping it across a big open field we all spotted him at the same time. A lone bull was about 500 yards away walking away from us headed to another canyon. I quickly told the boys to bust it back around and try to get up to a couple of lone pines and bust him. They got busy and got around but the bull hadn't slowed and was well out of range. As he cleared the ridge we made our move and headed out. Hustle is key sometimes. In life and when hunting. We came over the ridge expecting to find him but he was already in the canyon in front of us. So, what did we do? We did what we always do and moved up slowly, guns at the ready and looking, looking, looking. I hear something and see just the glint of an elk horn in the morning sun. Hunter, being so unselfish, tells Jordan to shoot the big bull on the right. Jordan was to the right of Hunter so we shoot the one on the left if you are on the left, the guy on the right shoots the animal on the right when we come over these rims. Well, Jordan can't see the big bull and Hunter hammers his bull. I never saw a hair of a bull. Jordan screams around me running full tilt to get to the head of the canyon and had a fleeting shot at a big bull running wide open. He didn't connect but Hunter had a young bull down and the work began. Hunter has shot some cows but this was Hunters first bull and will be mighty good eating.

We got the bull loaded finally and headed to the processing facility many miles away. Elk extraction, as many of you know, can be either easy or difficult. This bull was easy.

The week flew by. We got in some fun too.

In a couple of weeks I am celebrating a milestone. To me a rather big one!

It's been a great run. I am a lucky man. To have good health, a lot of love, a healthy family, the best of friends and a company I built from scratch. I am blessed and believe that the best is yet to come. I hope you do too. This year I never fired a shot. Tag soup it was once again and I love my soup hot as you can see.

Never forget that 2 billion people in China and India prepare meals with one burner and a wok every day of the year. If I didn't have an oven I can still prepare a meal. So can several other billion people. I don't make excuses for not filling my tags. I worked my butt off. America's EXCUSE BOOK runs into the thousands of pages. My sons are quick to point out that Dad loves tag soup. There's nothing I can say. I haven't killed an animal in Montana for a couple of years. It might stay that way for years too. I wouldn't change a thing. Tag soup doesn't have a bad taste. Some day I will be the killing machine I once was. For now it's about sons filling their tags. My time will come again. I can only hope. And pray! Thanks for coming along I hope you have enjoyed the trip!

#3485530 - 12/05/13 11:49 AM Re: Montana 2013 Elk Deer [Re: ChippewaPartners]
6 Point

Registered: 12/05/01
Posts: 866
Loc: Northern Texas

Great read! Thank you and congrats to the fine young men you have raised!
keep on keepin' on

#3486042 - 12/05/13 05:38 PM Re: Montana 2013 Elk Deer [Re: wildb1]
6 Point

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 665
Loc: centerville

congrats,great way to spend the holdays with the family
#3486234 - 12/05/13 07:34 PM Re: Montana 2013 Elk Deer [Re: turk870]
16 Point

Registered: 09/29/04
Posts: 10828
Loc: Middle Tennessee

Nice story.
There is only 1 Absolute.

#3486643 - 12/06/13 05:06 AM Re: Montana 2013 Elk Deer [Re: trealtree]

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 30563
Loc: Chester County

Awesome, congrats
Work to live, Live to hunt

#3487545 - 12/06/13 03:50 PM Re: Montana 2013 Elk Deer [Re: easy45]
Mud Dauber
16 Point

Registered: 07/28/10
Posts: 13547
Loc: Tennessee

It doesn't have to be fun to be fun.

Wild & crazy, can't be stopped. Only the strong will survive.

Keep your knife sharp and your skillet greasy.

#3489676 - 12/07/13 08:52 PM Re: Montana 2013 Elk Deer [Re: Poser]
14 Point

Registered: 06/20/11
Posts: 8269
Loc: Grundy county

Thanks for sharing!
Team Run 'N Gunners

#3491323 - 12/08/13 07:50 PM Re: Montana 2013 Elk Deer [Re: timberjack86]
16 Point

Registered: 07/20/05
Posts: 19786
Loc: Rutherford / Wilson County Lin...

Always enjoy reading your stories and seeing your pics.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

#3491387 - 12/08/13 08:25 PM Re: Montana 2013 Elk Deer [Re: Gravey]
16 Point

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 10449
Loc: Brentwood, TN US

Thank you for the story and pictures. They are always great!
Life is too short to fish with a dead cricket.

#3491503 - 12/08/13 09:16 PM Re: Montana 2013 Elk Deer [Re: scn]
4 Point

Registered: 09/06/01
Posts: 404
Loc: unicoi county tn us

Another great adventure and story! Congrats
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