Summit Treestands's Live Bowhunting Adventure

Day 3

Join Pat Lefemine and friend Jerry Leblanc in Central Montana on an unguided elk bowhut

day 1

day 2

day 3

day 4

day 5

day 6

day 7

Discuss this hunt


I called SkyWest at 5:30AM.  My gear bag is still MIA and no one knows where it is. This is ridiculous and terribly frustrating. I purchased only the bare essentials but am missing some pretty important stuff.  I have no backpack, I have no headlight, no knife, I'm using a freaking toilet plunger as a grunt tube, my broken in boots have been replaced with the cheapest boots on the planet, and I am forced to sleep naked so I can wash my only pair of underwear during the night. Poor Jerry locks his door in terror of bumping into me as I'm moving the skivs from the washer to the dryer.

“Thank you Northwest Airlines.”

But at least we get to go hunting and this morning we headed out of our beautiful cabin shortly after my depressing call to the airline. 

We worked our way through a large meadow flanked by Warm Springs creek. We then climbed up the steep hill toward an aspen grove. The grove held some impressive elk trails and some sign, but nothing fresh. As I climbed up the hill I could feel my feet already. The insides of those boots were pressing against both my ankle bones forcing me to remove my wool socks and go with only my sock liner. This was not good.

On the way through the trees we heard a bugle. The hunt was on. We moved quietly in that direction. We tried cow-calling a couple of times but had no response.  This went on all morning. Eventually we made our way up higher and it was here that we heard a loud, growley bugle usually indicative of a mature bull. We headed west until we came to the property border separating huntable National Forest Service land from private, unhuntable ground. I pulled out my blue toilet plunger and let out a wimpy-ass bugle followed by some cow calls. The bull fired up and stepped out of the trees.  We glassed him and got excited. He was about 300 inches but he had cows.  We stayed with him a while but there was no way he was going to leave that private land.  Crap!

Watch the video from this morning

We tried to find a way around.  If we could get in front of him we might be able to get him as he moved his cows deeper toward the opposite side of the section.  But after several minutes with our maps and GPS we knew there was no way of getting to him without trespassing - and that wasn’t an option.  We gave up and made our way back to the cabin.

During lunch I made several calls to Northwest. My feet will never survive the steep climbs and long treks in those (POS) boots.  After 10 calls to Northwest’s baggage service line, and 10 recordings that “all lines were busy – try again later” I gave up and headed out for the afternoon hunt.

We ran up Reynold’s creek, just NW of Mike Rhynard’s home.  There were fresh droppings and the making of a new wallow which was the best sign we'd seen yet. we then headed West to higher ground.

Pat tries Cow Calling from the wallow

We continued to the head of Reynold’s creek where I found a wallow. It had not been used in at least a week but I stored it away to check later in the trip.  We continued southwest until we hit a series of beautiful meadows. We called a couple times with the plunger but nothing responded. As the sun set, Jerry and I headed back home where he cooked up an incredible spaghetti and sausage dinner.

Sunset Photo taken from top of Rhynard Ranch looking East

I called SkyWest again. They are getting to know me by name now and have been simply terrific to deal with. But each time they apologetically tell me that nothing had arrived. But for the first time my claim ticket came up in their system. It told them that my bags had been delivered last week to a Mr. Cain in Alabama. Things have gone from bad to worse. Now my ticket number has been erroneously crossed with another ticket and according to Northwest Airlines, my bag has been safely delivered to Mr. Cain long before I ever boarded the flight from Hartford. I am at a loss for words. The ones I can muster are not appropriate for this website.


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Addendum, February 2012

I recently received an email from Mike Rhynard, updating me on his progress in addressing the ATV issues Jerry and I experienced on our Rhynard Ranch hunt in 2007.  He informed me that his hunting operation has been going very well and that, since 2007, he and his hunters have worked closely with US Forest Service Enforcement folks to help eliminate illegal ATV activity in the southern Castle Mountains.  Concurrently, the Forest Service greatly restricted the number of trails open to ATV's, which further mitigated the rampant abuse we saw in 2007.  As a result of these efforts, Mike's hunters reported no ATV violations during the 2011 season, and only one in 2010.  There is occasional LEGAL ATV use in the area by a neighboring rancher who has a grazing permit in the area, but it's not frequent.  Mike also reports that his hunters, who are all unguided, consistently exceed the Montana success rate for guided and unguided hunting combined.  We applaud Mike's, and the Forest Service's, efforts in creating an improved hunting environment for all hunters in the area, and we wish Mike and his hunters, many of whom are repeats, continued success.

We wanted you to know that Mike is a terrific guy with a great operation. The situation we experienced in 2007 was unfortuante, but it has been addressed thanks to Mike and the US Forrest Service.

Pat Lefemine

Next - Day 4

For this hunt we are hunting on Rhynard Ranch
Tel: 406-572-3612

Email: [email protected]

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