Summit Treestands's Live Bowhunting Adventure

Day 7

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

day 1

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day 4

day 5

day 6

day 7

Discuss this hunt

Today was our last hunting day here at Mikes. We were to spend all day Saturday at Yellowstone Park again. So we made a decision that if we got into elk this morning we would hunt all day. If we didn’t then we’d leave at noon and get a jump on Yellowstone Park.

We went back to the property line where all the action has been. Far away from the ATVs. We did hear some bugles but they were once again on that private sanctuary. We hunted till 9:00 AM and headed back to the cabin. My hunt was over.

It was a disappointing hunt for everyone, especially Mike.  He knows how good his place is and this was the "perfect storm" of things that could, and did, go wrong. First, the drought had wiped out his alfalfa - and that is what usually draws the elk onto his pristine property. Secondly, the neighbors property had nobody hunting it (during archery) where there is usually at least a couple groups there. And third, the surrounding forest service properties, especially the high meadow where the ATV camp was located - had been messed up the last two weeks by OHV activity. I just had to laugh. It's no longer an elk curse, now it's a full-blown freaking nightmare.  The elk are around, but they did what elk do – find security areas where they were safe.

As we said goodbye to Mike on Friday morning he said “I guess you’ll never hunt here again” and my answer surprised him.   “I would like to hunt here again, maybe in two years.”  The land was obviously crawling with elk just two weeks ago and his network of meadows; alfalfa and water sources are the reason. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a fluke, especially judging by Mike’s reaction to the hunting.  So look for another go at it in the next couple of years. 

I'm sure you are thinking that this hunt has been a waste. I don't see it that way. The cabin, Mike's property, and just being in those hills was worth it. The trips to Yellowstone were spectacular and that's just a short drive from Mike's. And even having the opportunity to call back and forth to a herd bull was better than sitting in a traffic jam back home. But most importantly, I had the opportunity to see first hand the abuse that is occurring on our most treasured lands. Sure catching those abusers was certainly a positive first step, but the exposure this hunt will bring to this problem will open many eyes. You can be sure that you have not heard the last from us on this important issue.

Photos I took Saturday at Yellowstone National Park



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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

Thanks for following this exclusive Hunting Feature

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

Email: [email protected]

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