Summer has tightened her grip on Montana. The smoke has begun to settle into the valleys a little bit more each day. Most of the foliage has turned brown and even what is green has an element of crunch to it. The mornings still have a coolness to them but the sun quickly overtakes it and the heat becomes intense during midday and even later into the evenings. The busyness of summer has fully overtaken each day as we try to cram in every last activity we can before the routine of school and the lack of warmth once again plunge us back into the humdrum of the rest of the seasons. Summer has a way of resetting the mind and body and simultaneously rejuvenating and exhausting us. We gorge ourselves on delicate fresh fruits and vegetables and the body gets a huge dose of essential vitamin D. As glorious as summer is I have a curse when it comes to being able to fully immerse myself in the wonder of it as it only seems to fuel my anticipation for fall and the start of hunting season.
This year I will find myself starting my season in Idaho. My dad’s annual archery elk camp will be up and running in the middle of September and I will be headed over there for a long weekend to film for him and his buddies. We enjoy having the videos to look back on from years past and remind us of our escapades and successes. We cherish the memories they hold that time and the mind have a tendency to erase. While I am there I will have the ability to take a bear, wolf or cougar if I should see one. I am greatly anticipating the cool mornings and warm afternoons tromping through the thick, Idaho, northwoods listening to the sounds of the elk as we play cat and mouse with them among the ferns. After the September hunt is over, my husband and I will head to 7000 feet of elevation back in Montana to hunt the opening day of Antelope season. We both drew doe tags and I can’t wait to watch the herds flow over the hills in unison and smell the fresh crushed sage as we lay out quarters to cool in the breeze. The long drive home is always insanely satisfying knowing we are adding the priceless small bit of tender delicious antelope steaks to the freezer.
Shortly after antelope camp is over we will head up the mountain to the cabin for opening morning of elk season with the Mountain Man and Bill. These are treasured times and probably one of our most anticipated weekends of the entire year. Hiking will happen, gutting will happen and stories will be told amid smiles formed from memories passed and memories certain to be made. Elk season lasts for a long time and more than one trip will often be made to the mountain on the adventures with friends chasing the wary and delicious elk. These are good times. Hopefully the end of elk season will gift us with two antelope and two elk in the freezer. If we are blessed to be able to fill all those tags we will be extremely grateful. During this time I like to sneak away nearby and do some spot and stalk whitetail hunting. I am always looking for new spots to try and we are now taking my daughter along to try and fill her tag which proved to be a piece of cake for her last year. I am hoping this season gives her another great experience and chance to grow her understanding and confidence in the field.
At the end of November I am blessed to be able to head to Illinois for the first time and try my hand at this flatland whitetail hunting thing. I will be completely out of my element here where tree stands, corn fields and deer blinds are the way to go. I have not hunted deer in this kind of environment and am excited to get a small taste of what it is like for a huge majority of other hunters across America. I am also grateful for the opportunity to meet some amazing people along the way and plan to have open ears and eyes to learn as much as possible in my short time out of state. When I get home winter will be standing at the door shoulder forward and ready to barrel in and take over the following months. These are my days of predator hunting where I hike through snow drifts and learn important lessons each and every time I hit the woods. I will continue to chase cougars and wolves and hope to at least add to my arsenal of understanding and experience in this arena. I look forward to these hunts just as much as any other.
If all goes as planned this season is gearing up to be completely stuffed full of adventures, lessons learned and memories made. As the summer heat beats down on me and tries to pull my focus back to the here and now I know it will fail miserably as I will be busy reworking the gear in my pack, studying maps and working out in preparation for the incredible season that I know is truly just around the corner.