Mild Winters in Montana make for trips to the Missouri in January, Lower Madison in February, and a even plans for floating the Yellowstone here in early March.
I mean why not, there's no snow in the valley to speak of and the girls can stay out all day as temps are in the 50's. However, thankfully up high in the mountains to the south we do have good snow-pack and many areas are at 90 to 100%; so this season should turnout well water wise.
Moe on the "MO" (with friends)
....... Lower Madison (aka "Slower Madison") on this particular day at least. Wind was 50 plus I'm betting; so we didn't stay out too long, but still nice to be on a river in February.
And last but not least a little Puppy Time..
One of my buddy's has a cute 8 month old GSP and we get her together with my own whenever we can ; so she's well acquainted with them in anticipation of next hunting season. "Intro to water 101", tutoring by my very own river rats...
And then "Intro to cow turds" too in the back pasture..
A little discipline when needed to keep the new kid in line (check out Suzie's snarl)LOL
All in all, fun times here in Montana and not as usual; since winters usually drive me insane. But not this one; in fact I have plans to hit a couple more rivers this week and next.
... All in all I cant complain. While it was a tough one for most everyone else I talked to; for me it was about the best one I can recall in at least ten.
I had a steady job at a fly shop I loved, which gave me just the right amount of time-off to use the new boat, and float down area rivers over 40 times.
I visited several new waters and stretches I'd not fished before, and met dozens of new fishing friends in the process.
..When hunting season came I got out about as often as I wanted and even though we didn't get an elk or big buck; me and the girls bagged plenty of birds and visited all corners of this great state while 'seeing and photographing' some neat things along the way.
On our very last trip of the year the weather was also about perfect, an odd and sunny 38 degrees on January one, but a little windier than I would have prefered...(gusts of 40 plus).
Oh it was a long way for only one rooster, but the girls pointed several hens and we had a pretty neat time together exploring some new ground.
I usually dont like to think' about such things, but its safe to say for every bird we bagged this season, we logged at least 50 miles-per... and I couldn't help but do so on the long ride back...
We certainly didn't get them all and left some for next year I think its safe to say; these late-season birds flushed a hundred yards out on at least three occasions.
Still, I found this past year to be about near perfect, and just what I imagined they'd all be like when I moved out here some 3.5 ago.
They haven't all been so swell, but I have even higher hopes for this next year; so we shall see...?
This' was likely the question both would've asked; if they could speak...
Though I made it clear I missed them too, and loved em up something good, Suzie especially seemded kinda pissed as to "why I left her in a kennel for the past two weeks...?!"
With a visible tan and the smell of sea salt and airplane food it was clear I'd gone somwhere they'd never been before; so without the benefit of actual two-way conversation to explain I'd been in Florida visiting my folks; I instead just loaded them both up' and headed toward where birds were as quick as I could..
Within two hours we had arrived at the preserve and had our first bird in the bag and 'both were over-joyed at being back amongst their best buddy' (me)...or at least I like to think so..
We took four nice roosters and each were actually challenging; given the occasional 30 mile-per-hour gusts, and if it weren't for a complete dimsantle and cleaning of the old pump-shotgun, I'd have never likely hit a one; as 'all four were taken on the second shot' each (meaning I shot 8 shells and still scratched down four birds).
"%$#@ I need a new gun"!?
Regardless of my limted finances, and now lack of steady employment, along with shorting myslef on groceries a bit to pay this month's rent; I wasn't gonna cheat my girls out of a day where we actually see and shoot some birds.
..Tomorrow and the next day (last two of the season) are another story, as its raining like a son of a gun out there right now, but I'm addicted to this shit and have a full tank of gas ....so we're headed toward the Southeast of Montana first thing in the morning
We got and early start this time too, leaving Bozeman at 6AM
Suzie gets a little scratch behind the ears from Alex..
Unfortunately she was mauled by a dip shit Golden Retriever that tore up her precious face, not ten %$# damned minutes after we arrived?!
I knew when Alex casually mentioned there'd be another dog present when we departed that morning something like this would probably happen, but I kept my cool (and lived to regret it). It never fails, other dogs just love to dominate the little gal whose about as innocent and nieve as they come, and its usually when she simply goes up to strange dogs to introduce herself like all doggys do and all hell breaks lose when that dog is agressive. It doesnt matter whether they be males or females they tear her face open and she looks up at me everytime with that look like "WTF"?
"...why did he do that?"
It also never helps to ask the dogs owner whether their dog is agressive as they always lie and say no; even though they know damned well it is. Then after the inevitable attack, they act all like:"..Gee thats weird he's never done that before..?"
Never again. I will never again have another dog near her. I owe it to her to protect her from these animals and the next dog that does it is dead.
So poor Suzie got the morning off and had to sit in the truck most of it, so her bleeding would stop, the EMT ointment would dry, and the three open punctures wouldn't get too dirty.
And Mocha was ready to go...
Unfortunately the river bottom on the ranch is nearly void of pheasants this year too, due to a poor wild hatch; so though she did point one single rooster it made an escape out the backdoor and we never even fired a shot.
She later pointed two hens which held tight for me to flush, then stared at me puzzled I didn't shoot at those either, and we went back to have lunch...no birds bagged thus far.
During the day we stumbled upon no less than 30 dead deer, usually around water, as EHD took a heavy toll on the ranch this year (refer to one of my earlier posts on the subject for more info).
Now it was Suzie's turn and she put on a good show considering her ordeal earlier in the morning (me constantly checking her wounds, making sure they were well cleaned).
We walked until our feet hurt and even switched dogs again, as tired as each got, but didn't find birds till the last light of day..
And boy did we find them. We entered what amounted to a field of dreams that held well over twenty sharptails easy, and scattered fifty yards apart, along with singles here and there; so a few actually held for Suzie and us to shoot at.
While most 'flushed wild' way out of range, given its late seaosn and they've been hunted before, more than a few should have come to bag; but we just couldn't connect. What was pure comedy at first; with both of us being caught with "safety on" when we pulled up but no shot came on chip shots, it soon was rather depressing as our combined shooting-skills sucked. Not to mention my old beater pump finally failed me and jammed repeatedly while trying to eject shells, but thats just another excuse for my misses on two more easy chip shots.
I tagged and bagged one single bird and then we headed home. Bad bite, bad shooting, but one cant complain when its 38 in December and we get to hunt the ranch; a priveldge I dont take lightly and thank Alex once again.
Got one more hunt planned this weekend, then off for Christmas holiday, then back for one last 'road trip' on the closer (Jan 1st).