Hunt WD4127

Length: 7 nights, 6 days

$3,100 a person, 2 hunters per guide

$4,700 a person, 1 hunter per guide

Log house accommodations included. Beds have flannel sheets.

Meals are not included. Hunters have kitchens in log houses.

Season: Last week of October, four weeks in November

Old-fashioned hunt based out of log houses

This hunt takes place in the northwestern corner of Montana, which produces good numbers of trophy-size whitetail deer and fair numbers of elk. The outfitter keeps his prices down by having hunters provide their own meals. Lodging is in three small, custom-built houses built from logs harvested from his property. Each is equipped with a kitchen.

Hunting takes place during the last week of October and all four weeks of November. The first hunt is more productive for elk hunters. November hunts yield higher success for whitetail hunters. Typically all hunters get shooting at bucks in the 130-150" category, and there are some bigger bucks every year in this part of the state. Elk wander in small bands and are hard to hunt in the timber. Usually about 15-20% of hunters take an elk, and most hunters shoot the first bull they see.

Guides pick up hunters an hour before daylight. Sometimes guides and hunters return to the cabins for lunch. Five miles down the road is the cafe that serves pizza and other food.

"There are some really nice whitetails up here," the outfitter said. "You'll earn your buck. It's a good old-fashioned hunt. We sneak through the timber, some stands, spot and stalk, lots of rattling. We hunt out of Yaak, where I have a special-use permit to guide on about 100 square miles of the Kootenai National Forest.

"It's completely uncrowded, old logging country. Once we park the truck, we hardly ever see other hunters. It's essentially wilderness with good access by old logging roads. This area was logged heavily through the 80s and early 90s. We'll pop up on ridges or get on a stand. Most of the deer are concentrated around logged areas and clearcuts.

"The deer herd has grown. We saw as many big deer the past two years as during the previous 15 years. The reason is the easy winters we've had lately.

"We aim for 150-class bucks. My hunters usually take the safety off on a 130-class buck. A guy from Pennsylvania might have never seen a 130-class buck.

"These are big, northern bucks with large bodies. A 4- or 5-year-old buck will hang at 160 and weigh 200 on the hoof.

"The kill rate on mature animals is usually at 50% or better, but we get a lot of misses.

"There is a chance of taking a mule deer, but the muleys have declined in number since I started guiding here 27 years ago because the logging areas have grown in and provide less quality habitat for mule deer, and the whitetails have taken over. If a guy wants a mule deer, we'll go after them and usually do OK, but we don't sell mule deer hunts.

"The elk hunting is decent elk, but you're going to earn a shot. You won't see 30 head a day. Any bull is a good bull. We sell combo hunts, and there are no trophy fees or extra charges. Out hunters get the elk/deer combo permit and can shoot either or both. It's a good value.

"I'm a smaller operator. I try to keep three guides a week busy.

"Our best elk hunting takes place in September during the archery season. The elk are calling then, and we usually have bugling action every day or least two out of three days. By October the bulls are moving away from cows. To find elk during rifle season, you must log a lot of miles. A little snow helps a lot. We often find them on top of ridges. We provide outstanding whitetail opportunities, and elk is secondary. "

"Last year I had three parties who wanted to focus on elk, and everybody got a shot. Hunters who are willing to hike will do well. The archery elk hunt is fun because you can talk to them and slip in on them in the timber. Honestly, any bull is a good bull. Most bowhunters I get are wanting a 330 class bull, and we might get a shot, but most guys will let the arrow fly on any legal bull.

"I run two archery elk hunts. The bands are usually composed of eight to 10 animals, so there won't be 20 sets of eyes.

"This is my 25th year in business, 27th year as a guide in Montana. I grew up in New Hampshire, where I learned to hunt and fish. Most of my year is spent guiding fishermen."