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John's Journal... Entry 216, Day 1


Hunting Montana's Bitterroot Forest

Editor's Note: Thirty-eight-year-old Scott Boulanger, an outfitter from Darby, Montana, a guide and instructor at Circle KBL, has a very busy hunting schedule, including guiding for elk, deer, bear and mountain lion. Success on a Boulanger hunt depends on the weather, the physical condition of the hunter, the hunter's willingness to hunt and a little good luck. This week Boulanger shares with us anecdotes from his vast experience as an elk outfitter.

Question: Where do you guide people to hunt elk, and how many elk hunters do you take a year ?
Answer: We hunt in the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana. I will only take 40 to 45 hunters, and they must have licenses for elk only.

Question: Out of that 40 hunters, how many hunters will take elk?
Answer: Usually, five or six. For this answer to be accurate, you need to know how many of those people hunted the whole hunt, not slept all morning. A bull could stand up in the meadow above camp all morning, and nobody might be there to see it. If you factor the guided hunters who hunted to the whole maximum advantage, then the percentage of bulls taken goes up. Remember that the number of people who actually spend all day hunting is slim.

Question: Why is that?
Answer: You have to consider the person's willingness to hunt, and the physical and mental preparation each hunter has made for the hunt. The hunters tend to mentally beat themselves up. As far as going up a mountain and getting into elk habitat, you just have to keep going and going. And some hunters are not prepared to work hard enough. When you go elk hunting, you have to realize that there is no such thing as an easy elk.

Elk hunting on public land is probably the most-difficult hunting, has the lowest success rate and is the most physically challenging. I've had hunters ride into camp on Tuesday, hunt Wednesday, call on the radio phone Wednesday night and want us to send in the mules and pack them out. When I send a packer up and get them out, I ask them what went was wrong or if they have had a conflict with the guide, and they always reply, "Oh, no, it was great. Don't you all have any level ground to hunt on?" I have to tell them, "No, not really."

For more information on hunting elk, contact Scott Boulanger with Circle KBL Outfitters at P.O. Box 733, Darby, Montana, 59829; (406) 821-0017; email: elkhunter@circlekbl.com or visit the Web site at www.circlekbl.com.




Check back each day this week for more about SCOTT BOULANGER - CONFESSIONS OF AN ELK-HUNTING OUTFITTER ...

Day 1 - Hunting Montana's Bitterroot Forest
Day 2 - Guided Hunt or Weeklong Camping Trip
Day 3 - Getting the Hunters to Hunt
Day 4 - Prepare To Hunt Elk
Day 5 - What You Can Expect With Circle KBL Outfitters

John's Journal