Mathews Inc.'s Live Bowhunting Adventure

Day 4

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

My morning ritual again was to get up at five and call SkyWest. They knew me well by now and as soon as I called Brady said "I have good news for you!" My bag had just arrived in Helena. The only downside was it wouldn't be here till the afternoon. Despite the lost hunting time and expense of replacing some of my things, just knowing my gear was found put me in a good mood.

Since I had to endure the Wal-Mart boots for one more day, I opted for a hunt which did not require a long hike. Mike has two properties which make up Rhynard Ranch. The first was a smaller property south of the main ranch where the cabin was located. It doesn't get hunted much and is closer to the state road, but it occasionally holds elk so we gave that a try.  We drove there at dawn and parked on a hill overlooking the mountains. I spotted elk immediately. A herd of at least 40 head was running around. From nearly a mile away we could clearly see a super herd bull keeping his cows in line. Several other “shooter” bulls were hanging around the outskirts trying to sneak a piece of action while the herd bull did everything he could to keep that from happening. It was a gem of a find and what we had waited for - all week.

Jerry and I grabbed our gear and raced to get closer to the elk. As we continued North, I grew concerned. My GPS showed us getting far closer to the North border than the elk appeared to be.  My fear was founded, we hit the border.  The elk were on the same private section as yesterday. Only yesterday, we found where they bedded - this morning we found where they were feeding.  We were bummed out. So close, yet so far.

We spent the rest of the morning on that South property. Between walking and glassing it was apparent the elk were not using this piece.  We headed back to the cabin for lunch.

During lunch the call came from the taxi. My bag was here.

"Reunited - and it feels so good"

With my worn-in boots on my thankful feet, Jerry and I hiked up to the property edge where we saw the herd on Monday. Our plan was to sit there quietly and see if anything moved down to the water.  Since that was on forest service, it was huntable. As darkness fell, all we had seen was one spike elk and a couple of mule deer does. No bugles.

Mapping out tomorrow's' major push

Tomorrow we are making a huge push. We spent the night drawing the property borders between unhuntable private land and huntable forest service property. We also studied the topos closely for water sources surrounded by meadows. We are focused on the Forest Service section just west of the private land those elk are camped on. It will be a hellacious hike. We need to get up several hours before dawn and hike at least 4 miles one-way to get around the private land borders before we can reach that area. But I am extremely confident we can make it there and get at those elk. I've done this before and it's a great strategy. Especially since this area is far away from any forest service roads and pressure from public land hunters. The typical bowhunter will not hike 3 miles off the road and that gives us an advantage. We also found (by studying forest service and topo maps) that the elk may actually be bedding on the forest service property, not the private land. There is a bowl that forms a high, back country meadow and a spring slap-dab in the middle of it. This is where the elk were heading on Monday. Jerry and I are both in very good shape and the hike doesn't scare us. Besides, hard hunting gets me cranked up. And knowing that there is a major herd in that area that we've been patterning gives us a big advantage. Both Jerry and I are pumped for tomorrow. Things are looking up.

Wish us luck.


Untitled Document

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 5

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

Email: [email protected]

  • Sitka Gear