By Kevin Tate/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
Almost everyone who grew up hunting in the Deep South and reading magazines like “Field & Stream” or “Outdoor Life” harbors a few special dreams of making a Western hunt for big game at some point. When you get ready to put your plans into action, there are a few things you’ll want to have squared away in advance.
Ross Childers, owner of the 7-Bar-V Ranch at the edge of the Missouri River Breaks, near Brusett, Mont., has been guiding client hunters for 50 years and has seen just about everything the hunting tradition can offer, both good and bad. Each fall he and his staff lead hunters from around the country onto 120 square miles of private land in search of pronghorn, mule deer, elk and more.
To make sure your dream hunt isn’t a nightmare, here are a few subjects he suggests you consider:
“You really need to be in shape for walking and packing,” Childers says. “A lot of people come in and can’t walk like they need to be able to and can’t pack their end of the deal, and that makes it really, really tough to hunt where we are. Getting acclimated to the altitude is one thing that takes some time, but it’s not just how high you are, it’s how much up and down climbing you’re doing as well. Every hunt involves lots of hills.”
“You really want to make sure you can shoot,” he says. “I have lots of hunters who come from the South who’ve hunted all their lives and rarely shot anything further away than 50 or 100 yards. Shooting at 200 and 300 yards is very common (on Western hunts) and it takes practice.
“A lot of people who are heading out West to hunt will sight their rifle in three inches high at 200 yards, and that’s just foolish. I like for the hunters I’m with to be dead on at a hundred yards and, depending on the shot and distance, I’ll tell them where or how high to hold from there.
“Too many people sight their rifle in high, then misjudge the distance and hold even higher and overshoot the target. I bet 90 percent of the misses we see are overshot.”
“I don’t care what kind of hunter you are at home, or even where home may be, you need to listen to your guide,” Childers says. “He knows the country, he knows the animals and what they’re going to do. He knows what he’s talking about. That’s why he’s there. If you’ve selected a quality outfitter and paid good money to go to a quality place, you’re being accompanied by a quality guide. Listen to him and do what he says.”
As the saying goes, “Don’t guide the guide.”
“If you have any food allergies, be sure to tell the cook,” Childers says. “Of all things, whatever you do, you don’t want to get sick at camp.”
To learn more about the 7-Bar-V Ranch or to book a hunt, call 406-557-2845 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.