Website Address posted for sponsors only
I came into this hunt very excited after booking with Cody 10 months prior to the hunt. He was recommended by a good friend who had two very good early season archery hunts in the same area in previous years. Cody did a great job of convincing me how great the area is, and the trophy quality of game in the area. I was also timing my hunt with the mule deer rut. He said there were a large number of mule deer and it was perfect timing to see lots of bucks. This was a fully focused elk trip, with deer as an after thought. I have shot some nice muleys, so i was concentrating on any legal bull. I did not plan to be picky on a legal bull. Turns out I never saw a single bull elk the entire trip. The weather limited our visibility somewhat on the first couple of days. We only hunted public land , so we were constantly dealing with other hunters in our area. Typically the hunt would be riding around in the truck looking for a gated road or trailhead with no trucks parked that morning. We would hike to an overlook and glass , then go "walk that gated road for an hour and then come back" and go check another area. Cody told me when i booked the hunt the number one reason most hunters weren't successful was because they could not physically get to the areas with the game. I am in good shape and came to the hunt prepared. I consider myself an experienced elk hunter and have killed 4 bulls in prior years, mostly DIY. He said we would have the option to "spike camp" deep into the national forest in areas with more elk and fewer hunters. This was not even an option. He had our guide try to talk us into hiking 9 miles into a deer camp they had left from early season. Since we were there for elk, i declined the option. I did end up hiking 8 miles round trip up that mountain on the last day. Never cut an elk track in the fresh snow and only saw one muley doe. I did blow and great opportunity on a 180 class muley on day three. Hit high in the backstrap and dropped the deer. He jumped back up and ran off before i could get a follow up shot. Tracked for a mile in the snow and saw the buck once more. No shot opportunity but the deer seemed fine. This is an outfitter with beautiful lodging , knowledgeable guides and exceptional food. This was my first time on a rifle hunt for late season elk. This is definitely NOT the place to go for a hunt like this. A lot of money wasted on a low game populated area. Only two very small bulls were taken in our group of 8 hunters in camp. No deer were taken and I was actually the only person to see a decent muley buck all week. Only one small buck was taken the week before and no bulls. A huge let down on what i was assured was a great area. It was very cold and snowy most of the hunt. We did have visibility 4 days of the 6 i hunted. So, i do not feel that was a big factor on seeing game. Judging from the small amount of tracks ,and large number of hunters, i think early season archery is a much better time to hunt this area. Such a beautiful and scenic area, and i was very excited for this hunt to happen.
Was the outfitter notified of problems? - YES
Where do I start. Before the hunt started I offered Kenny’s money back to him as he was writing stuff negative on forums about the hunt before it ever started. I had numerous conversations with Kenny which turned into a bragging session about his hunting ability and his ability to shoot over 1200 yards. I told him we would not be shooting this far and would get as close as possible for the shot. His hunting partner warned we about his strong personality. Kenny called me before the hunt to inform me he did not care about his hunting partner as he did not know him well and did not want him to hold him back. When they arrived in camp I could quickly tell that Kenny’s hunting partner was in great shape and Kenny would be the one struggling. I place Kenny with a 33 year veteran guide named Darren who is one of the best guides Montana has ever seen. The first two days of the hunt was solid fog. On day three Kenny Shot at 150 yards a 180-200 inch mule deer buck. Instead of listening to his guide Kenny started celebrating and the buck laid there for a long time and eventually got up and took off. This was a shame as the guide said there was ample time for a followup shot. The entire camp watched the video and it was a shame Kenny did not finish the buck off. They tracked the buck the rest of the day and was not able to get back on him. Kenny insisted on hunting the same area the next two days even though the guide told him they had chased most the game out of the canyon. They tracked many bull elk through the snow and was unsuccessful in catching up to them throughout the week. Reading my guides diary he had spotted well over 100+ elk and 100+ deer during the week and even spotted a great big bull to go after the last day. Kenny was asked to go but did not want to do the hike and told Darren and his hunting partner to go without him. Kenny stayed and hunted one of our private leases. Darren and the hunter missed that big bull on the last night of the hunt. I reached out to his hunting partner and he was excited about the hunt and did not agree with Kenny! During the time of his hunt we had many different camps in the mountains and at anytime they could have went camping. What really happened Kenny had blown an opportunity on a world class mule deer buck and wanted to go back to the same spot day after day. I do believe Kenny should have tried to recover that buck, but when it did not work out for him now he was upset. Most hunters never get to shoot at that type of deer in a lifetime. I reached out to a longtime friend of Kennys and he told me that Kenny is not allowed to go back to another outfitters camp because of how he conducted himself and how poor of a tip he left the staff. In 33 years of guiding that was the least tip that my guide has received in all the years of guiding. I am now the second outfitter that will not allow Kenny Hollingsworth back in his camp. I am thankful that Kenny said we have exceptional food, knowledgeable guides and beautiful lodging. The lack of success Kenny experienced during this hunt was entirely his own fault. I have only met a few people in my life that possess the ego that Kenny brings to camp. Please realize as outfitters I cannot make every hunter happy given their differences in expectations. I wish Kenny the best!
I disagree with Kenny’s post! Cody Carr
Snowy and foggy first couple of days. 4 days of good visibility.