Weather and Climate
Climate can vary from year to year during the months of September through November. Average daily high temperatures can range from the upper seventies in September and early October to the teens in late November. Lows are usually around the upper twenties to the minus twenties near season end.
Wind in Montana is always a factor, normally you can count on at minimum ten miles per hour, but it can blow a steady forty-five with gusts in the sixties. September and early October can yield some pleasant weather however we can usually see some rain or light snow activity. The opening of rifle season near the end of October can often be dry but some years can bring an early snow. Some years November can be mild but beware of sudden changes that can happen overnight. This past season brought early snows making it hard to get around but was great for the elk hunters. Our Polaris side by side is now equipped with tracks and can just about go anywhere. The enclosed cab with heat make for a comfortable ride to the blinds.
Arrivals / Departures
To simplify arrivals and departures we are scheduling client changeovers days. Guests will check-in and check-out on changeover days. We will not be hunting on changer over days. All trips will be at minimum six full days of hunting with a seven-night stay in the lodge. Hunters should plan to arrive at the lodge around noon on their arrival day. This will give you time to unpack, sight in your rifle and get the lay of the land before dinner. At the completion of your stay, you should plan on leaving the lodge not later than 9:00am on your departure date. This ensures we can prepare the lodge for our next guest. Please don’t plan on arriving earlier or departing later than these scheduled times.
For clients driving here for the first time, we recommend using Interstate 90 and taking exit 340 heading north on highway 89. You will turn left onto Miller Road between mile marker 18 and 19 about two miles from Clyde Park. The lodge is located at the end of Miller Road about a mile from the cattle guard.
For clients flying in for their hunt we recommend using the Bozeman Airport. Guest traveling by air should arrive at the Bozeman Airport in the morning. We would like to coordinate our shuttle for arrivals and departures to take place between 9am and 10am when possible. If you are arriving by air in a large group, we recommend renting a truck or SUV to accommodate luggage and passengers.
Care of Your Game
Montana laws prohibit wasting of game meat. If you shoot an animal, it is your responsibility to properly care for your harvest. We will assist in field dressing your game and load and transport to a local taxidermist and butcher. You are responsible for taxidermy and meat processing charges.
Most butchers remove the meat from the bone and an average elk will yield about three to four 50-pound boxes of meat plus some specialty products. This is something to consider when traveling by air. Most butchers will assist you in making a donation to a food bank for unwanted processed game meat.
The 2018 price for standard cut and skin on an elk was about $300 cut and wrapped. If it is a rush order an additional fee up to $100 may be applied. Specialty products and smoking are running around $5.00 per pound in a 25-pound batch. Vacuum packing can be an addition charge.
For those flying and wanting to ship meat 2- day air, an extra handling and shipping container charges may apply. Please understand you will be responsible for shipping arrangements and charges with your preferred carrier.
We work with a local taxidermist and he does amazing work. You can expect to spend up to $350 for a professional to cape your animal for a mount by another taxidermist. A shoulder -mounted deer will run around $750 and an elk shoulder mount about $1500.
When planning a hunting trip in Montana it is best to pack for layering your clothing. Start with a base layer of wicking material (short sleeve), wool socks, jeans or camo pants, another base layer (long sleeve) shirt, followed by a light wool shirt and wool jacket with a hood or accompanied by a wool hat.
Gloves are a must at times with insulated layers for different temperatures. Insulated pants or waterproof/windproof bibs come in handy for late season.
Boots are critical and should be “broke in” - comfortable, provide good support, traction in mud and snow, insulated to some degree, and most of all waterproof. Light weight leather uppers with a waterproof membrane and between 400 to 1200 grams of insulation are an excellent choice. Later in the season may require more insulation, but if you buy a boot that you can wear with a thicker sock, you can save the price of having two pairs of boots.
I also have purchased and highly recommend for late season hunting, a fur lined “Mad Bomber” hat from Cabela’s. These can be worn over a regular ball cap, snap under the chin, and keep the wind out and your body heat in.
Montana requires rifle hunters to wear 400 square inches of hunter orange. It is best to buy it one or two sizes larger to accommodate the extra clothing in late season. We prefer the breakup pattern over the solid color.
Light weight – scent-controlled camo is recommended for archery hunting. Most archery hunters are well equipped and experienced on the needs for their hunt. If you have any questions, call Don on the lodge phone.
What is the best rifle caliber to bring for a Montana elk/deer combination hunt? I would recommend a .270 diameter bullet or larger. With that said I would recommend “a rifle you can accurately shoot out to 400 yards with enough bullet weight and kinetic energy to dispatch the intended species.”
.270 Diameter Cartridges - 140-150 grain bullet Minimum
.284 Diameter Cartridges - 140-175 grain bullet
.308 Diameter Cartridges - 150-200 grain bullet
I would recommend a comfortable sling and shooting sticks over an attached bi-pod to save on weight. Our hunting blinds are equipped with Caldwell shooting chairs and give a steady rest for shooting longer ranges. We recommend sighting your rifle in at 200 yards.
You will have an opportunity to check your zero with us on your arrival day to ensure accuracy after traveling.
In some cases a quality rifle scopes can cost more than the rifle. Again, the most important thing is being able to accurately shoot out to 400 yards.
Select one of the leading brands that are waterproof and fog proof. Variable 3-12 power should prove sufficient. I have found that the Nikon BDC Monarch is a great choice-at a reasonable cost. Nikon has a ballistic website called “spot on” that is very reliable for shooting various ranges. Quality mounts and ring torqued to specs will make for a better shooting rifle.
A good set of binoculars is a must for glassing all day. Select one of the leading brands in a 10x42 that are waterproof and fog proof. Range finders fall into the same class. Purchase one that gives you reliable readings in all lighting conditions. Most brands will accommodate this out to 600 yards.