The drive to Ft. Peck was uneventful but we went through a couple Indian reservations and it was a little sad really. I don’t want to offend anybody but this is just how it was. The towns were basically dumps, the people looked like they had no desire to improve their own lives or their town, they just let buildings run down, none of the vehicles looked worth driving and the people just walked around with no direction, it was sad to me and I won’t get into how they got in that situation, we all know how, I do know that it could be better with some effort.
When we arrived after the 3 hour trip we made the camper ready for a few days living. Its 41 miles of dirt road off the pavement and with the snow the conditions weren’t perfect for driving so it was good to be there.
The snow was starting to stick and two inches was expected, this is what I imagined when I decided to hunt mule deer. We woke to a cold snowy morning and I was excited.
Bo’s friend had killed a cow elk a few days prior and said there were several more in that canyon so we made the mile walk in, crunching on snow all the way, I didn’t like walking on the snow its too loud, critters could hear you coming from miles away. We sat looking in the canyon for awhile with no movement except two other hunters on a far ridge that reminded me this was public land. I’m not a fan of public land Ive hunted it in Colorado and Michigan and I’m not used to seeing people when I’m hunting, if someone is gonna mess up one of my hunts I want it to be me but there was plenty room for the small amount of hunters that we seen. After reaching our ambush spot there was nothing there to ambush so we sat awhile and couldn’t find anything with the glass so we moved on. As we were driving Bo found a set of fresh mule deer tracks in the snow, it didn’t stop snowing until 4AM so we thought we may get lucky and be able to find this deer if we tracked it far enough. Much to my surprise not 200 yards over the next rise as I came over the top there was a doe and two yearling mule deer. I’m not sure who was more surprised me or them but as I stood in awe of the view, the snow, and the fact I actually tracked the deer I never stopped to glass the entire draw and this was a mistake. Bo said hey, right there and as I looked to my right a nice buck was getting out of dodge and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen him, there was nothing I could do now but watch. I told myself its early we would get on another, little did I know what was ahead.
We played this peek a boo game of driving and then walking to high spots to look into the bottoms over and over into miles of draws and cuts and canyons and found more mule deer doe than I expected but not another buck. There was one spot that we had to walk about 3/4 of a mile to get to and it was a rough draw with steep walls and over hanging rocks some of the edges looked a little sketchy but I couldn’t help myself but to get as close as I could to the edge I wanted to see every inch of this landscape. We cut an elk track that fallowed the ridge around the edge of the canyon and I swear the elk had to be stopping and enjoying the view too. Every place that you could see the bottom the elk would walk to the edge and stop, it was an amazing sight looking down. Just as I thought it couldn’t get better I peeked over a very steep edge that dropped down probably 100 feet or more and I caught movement. I picked up my binoculars and seen what I thought was elk so I belly crawled up to edge and there, not 150 yards away and 100 feet down was eight big horn sheep, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. At no time in any of the planning of this trip were big horns mentioned or even thought about, the last thing I dreamed I would see would be big horn sheep and we just laid there on our stomachs for a half hour watching these animals, it was likely the best experience Ive had while hunting. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be able to see these animals, I will never forget that sight.
An hour before dark I found a small heard of elk with a nice bull and several cows but after much cussing and discussing we decided that we couldn’t get into position for a shot before dark because of the long route that we needed to take due to the sun, the wind direction and the lake so we let them be.
That ended my first day at Ft Peck, 16 deer, 4 elk, and 8 big horn sheep sighted, not too bad I thought. We got to camp and had our usual hot dog and noodles and rested our legs for more miles the next day.