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Private ranch in western Montana offers fair-chase hunts for free-ranging elk

If you're looking for a high-success private-land elk hunt for which you can buy an over-the-counter license, this is one to consider.

The ranch where the hunt takes place is near Phillipsburg between Missoula and Butte. The outfitter, Bill, has taken no more than 10 rifle hunters a year. His first week was taken by the same group for 10 years until last year. Most bulls are 6x6s and 5x5s. The biggest bull taken on the ranch in the past few years scored about 360 Boone and Crockett points, and there have been a few in the 300 to 360 range. Some hunters have passed on as many as 25 bulls before scoring.

When Hunts.Net Customer Eric Bomberger bowhunted this ranch, he saw three bulls in the 300 class. Eric reported that Bill did a fine job on calling, but between wind and bulls hanging up at 60 yards, they just couldn't get it done, typical of bowhunting. He had "a great time with great people" and expects to return.

Bill recommends the last of September and early October for archery hunting, and he likes to hunt the first two weeks of rifle season, which typically starts in mid-October.

If you tag out early, try some trout fishing. Bill is an expert fly-fishing guide, and you will be on the headwaters of famous Rock Creek.

The lodging has been upgraded to an 8,000-square-foot $1 million ranch home with big rock fireplaces and mounted animals.

"These are first class hunts," the outfitter said. "We have a huge lodge, great food and relative for elk hunting, easy terrain and hunting. My first week rifle hunts almost always tag out. We were six for six last year -- two six-points, one nice 5 and the other two bulls were 2 1/2 year olds.

This week has always been sold out years in advance in the past, but we had a group of six back out this year. I have two, possibly three hunters, who seem interested in it right now.

This is the type of hunt that older guys and those who are not in the best of shape can be well taken care of and probably kill a bull that is not in a pen. The bowhunters will have shot opportunities." Details.

 Hunt EK4108

Hunter success Trophy size
1st hunt: Averaged 90% over past 10 years.

2nd hunt: Averaged 75% over past 10 years.

Mostly 5x5s and 6x6s. Bigger bulls typically score 300-330. Largest so far scored 360. Snow typically improves your chances on big bulls.
Hunt Price, guide ratio
5-day rifle
7-day archery
$5,500, 2x1
$4,000, 2x1
 Lodging Licenses
8,500-square-foot lodge with meals prepared by a cook. No drawing needed, but you must buy the license by March 15. Click here for updated prices.
 Airport pickup Dates
Included in hunt price, Missoula or Butte    Four 5-day rifle hunts, starting last Saturday in Oct. Bow hunts are late Sept., early Oct.
 Notes Methods
Conifers, meadows, hillsides, not very rugged. Mostly ground blinds at meadows

Hunts.Net Customer R.J. Houck of Georgia sent us a report on Hunt EK170 in Montana: "I did not take an animal but had a EXCELLENT hunt. Was into elk every day, sometimes three to four times in one day. The food, accommodations, guides were nothing but excellent. I plan on re-booking. Of the five hunters: one 300+ 6x6; one good 5x6; one hunter missed three different elk -- all 5x5s or better; one hunter 0, and I hit a nice 5x5. ... I was very pleased with the whole operation."