Lewis & Clark missed this one, but my guide, Jay, from Northern Rockies Outfitters, sure didn’t. This splendid buck is a direct descendent of the whitetails Lewis & Clark saw in this very spot — the Missouri River valley of Montana. And Jay gets to live there. You and I get to hunt there.
Jay grew up on a cattle ranch at the foot of Montana’s Big Belt Mountains. The Missouri River carves a tight gorge through those iconic mountains before spreading through a wide, fertile valley where the deer and antelope still play, just as they did in 1805 when the Voyage of Discovery passed through.
How rare and special is it that we “moderns” can still hunt where such history was made? What a testament to sportsmen and wildlife managers that native big game still thrives on this land. Rich Birdsell of Northern Rockies Outfitters (www.northernrockiesoutfit.com, 406-756-2544) knows a good thing when he sees it, so he leased the big ranch where Jay grew up, then hired Jay to show guests the antelope, mule deer, elk, black bears, cougars and whitetails he knows so well.
Hunting with such a tough, long-legged and knowledgeable guide as Jay was a real treat. Forget about boring sits in dark blinds. With Jay you hike and glass and HUNT the Big Sky country. And you see more deer in a morning than you might see in five days of sitting in the average Midwest stand. You also see landscapes and rainbows like this one.
Within fifteen minutes of spotting this band of polychromatic gold, we stalked and shot the buck above, dropping it in its tracks with a single, 150-grain Winchester Ballistic Silvertip fired from a Mossberg 4×4 in 7mm Rem. Mag. After I fired, the camera caught an amazing scene as more than a dozen does and bucks leaped across and up the vast Montana mountain landscape. Whitetails flashing. It seemed they’d never stop. I just lay there and watched the show, and you can too next year when Winchester World of Whitetail airs on the Sportsman Channel. I can’t wait to see the finished production. And I can’t wait to hunt again with Jay and Northern Rockies Outfitters. The last, best hunting in the last best place.
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