Our second year applying for Montana and we didn’t get a tag for the Mule Deer Buck so we each got a tag for a whitetail doe. Our plan was to go no matter what even if we didn’t get drawn for a buck because they such an amazing youth program. So we loaded up the kids and headed to Montana. This would be Alyssa’s 4th year hunting and Reagans 1st ever big game hunt. The drive to Montana from California is beautiful, even the areas through Wyoming where it seems like there is nothing around has it’s own beauty that can keep you mesmerized for hours. We made it to Montana in two and half days, leaving Friday night staying in Utah and then staying in Cody, Wyoming Saturday night and then making it to Montana Sunday afternoon.
Monday we took the kids to the Fish Wildlife & Parks Department in Mile City to get their licenses and tags. The office has a lot of information on the wildlife in the area. The girls each got their license and tags then we headed to the fields. The weather from last year to this year was so different. Last year it was warm and dusty and this year it was cold and snowy. We got out our OnX maps and started to hit the public land property. I don’t know how anyone could hunt without this tool in Montana. The land is checkered with public and private land and we didn’t want to make any mistakes on land that we couldn’t hunt.
We drove around looking for signs of life and we were coming up empty. It seems as though the cold weather was keeping all the critters bed down. Even driving by the private lands where the deer had teased us last year showed no signs of life. We were getting close to the end of the day when we came to a hill that over looked a cut in a valley. There were about 6 deer with 3 bucks and 2 of them were fighting. They didn’t even notice us there. We tucked out of sight and started to head around the back side of the hill where the herd was. Reagan was up first since it was her first ever hunt. The deer had stopped fighting and they were just standing there. Reagan got up on her sticks and with the squeeze of the trigger she was able to drop her deer with one shot. Don and I couldn’t have been more proud. We hugged and then realized that the other buck that was fighting was still there. Alyssa was up. She got ready to shoot and he started to chase the does up the hill, he was on the move. Alyssa took her shot and hit him in the back leg as he was going up. That turned him around and slowed him down. Alyssa and Don took off after him and was able to get on him again fairly quickly. Alyssa got on him again and took a second shot that dropped him. In one day, on the same mountain, within minutes of each other, both the girls tagged out. After we gutted the deers and dragged them back to the truck we headed to Bag And Butcher Custom Meats to get our meat processed. The owners over there have to be the nicest people ever. After we dropped the meat off the day was over and we headed back to the house.
Tuesday morning Don and I headed out to see if we could get on some whitetail does. The kids stayed back and did some baking at our friends place. It was another cold morning and we headed to the property that we had seen whitetails the year prior. As we drove out to the property we hit a snow drift and high centered on the snow. The rest of the morning we dug out the truck making no progress until someone came by and pulled us out. We called it quits and headed back to town.
Wednesday morning we grabbed the kids to explore the small town of Ingomar. The town of Ingomar is a very small town that was started in 1908. It was a stopping station for the railroad. The town still has residents but most of the buildings have been abandoned and are decaying. The school house, Bookman’s store and Jersey Lily’s Saloon are named as historical buildings and are still standing. After checking out the saloon we headed back out to the plains to explore but the weather started coming and and we didn’t want to get stuck on the dirt roads in the rain storm.
Thursday morning before Thanksgiving we headed out to find some prairie dog towns. There were so many and we had a blast. That afternoon we spent Thanksgiving with our Montana friends that have become Family. They welcomed us into their home and their table for another amazing Thanksgiving in Montana.
Friday morning we started to head home stopping at the butcher to collect our meat then headed to Purcell’s Wildlife Artistry Taxidermy to pick up Don’s deer from last year and to drop off Reagan’s deer. He did an amazing job on last years deer. After that we headed home through Wyoming again stopping in Thermopolis to check out the Teepee Fountain and to have dinner at the One Eyed Buffalo Brewing Company. I had the Chicken Fried Steak and it was one of the best I have ever had. Alyssa and Reagan had the French Dip and Don had the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger. Let me just say that there was nothing left on our plates. After dinner we got back on the road to see how far we could get. We stopped at the “Parting of the Ways” Emigrant Cut Off Historic Site and Steve Cromer Headstone. Looking at the harsh land of the plains it is crazy to think how far the early settlers traveled for a better life. We pushed on and ended up making it to Springville, Utah stopping at the Holiday Inn.
Saturday we took our time heading home stopping at the Dinosaur tracks and Parowan Gap Petroglyphs. The dinosaur tracks were a little disappointing. We were hoping to see actual tracks with big fingers, something out of Jurassic Park but the signs of dinosaurs were something that you needed to use your imagination for. However the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs were amazing. There was so much to look at and it wasn’t crowded at all. After that we headed to Matt’s Off Road Recovery. We love their Youtube Channel and their recovery ropes so we wanted to see where everything took place and to get some merch. We pulled up and got to meet Ed, one of our favorite people to watch. After we bought our stuff we got the opportunity to head over to the garage and to see their Recovery Vehicles. We got to check out the Yellow Banana, the Morrvair and the Wrecker, we also got to see the Gold Nugget. As we were checking out the garage Matt came out for some photos. It was pretty cool to see in person what we always watch on Youtube. After Utah we took the long way through Nevada going through the Valley of Fire. I wish we had more time to explore this place. We only had a few hours to see the park before the sunset. Right before the sun set over the Valley of Fire we got to see a family of Desert Long Horn sheep wrapping up our Montana trip. Once again our trip was full of adventure and did not disappoint.