By Rob Everingham
Bow hunting in this area is more of an art than a science, and even though at times it can be a waiting game, it can also be a moving game sort of like making war with a strong and smart adversary.
Matt Hencz of Bing and Bobs knows all about that, as not only is he a bow hunter himself, but he is a bow hunter technician and advise- giver for neophyte hunters.
The bow season in Montana lasts from September 4 through October 17, and allows hunting of deer, elk and antelope. Bow hunters in Montana follow the same hunting areas as rifle hunters.
Like most area bow hunters, Hencz has been out a couple of times already.
I have been out a couple of times and seen a lot of deer but no monsters yet, Hencz said. I could have stuck a couple does but it was way too early in the season to burn tags.
In bow hunting, there are tree hunters and folks geared up for the chase. Hencz describes both.
Tree stand hunters find a good trail or sit in a tree over a water hole. They have more patience than me. They get there before daylight and sit there until noon and then go home or somewhere and go back around three or four hours before dark and stay there until after dark, Hencz confided. I like to spot and stalk. I see something and devise a way to sneak down without being seen. It is a lot harder than tree stand hunting and not as productive. Every so often it pays off but most of the time you run out of cover.
Spot and stalk is more like playing a game and much more of a challenge for him Hencz says. Often it is like the deer have tiny radar detectors on their heads.
For Hencz, an old but true bow is just fine.
I use a Browning bow about seventy pounds. It is an older bow but I know where it is going to shoot, Hencz added with a smile. It is not the fastest bow but I can usually hit what I am aiming at. I trade speed for accuracy any day. The deer doesnt care how fast the arrow went by him.
Bow hunting this year has not been the greatest to date.
This year has been slow yet. Maybe there have been a half dozen elk gotten, Hencz thinks.
Most of the elk hunters that Hencz has heard of having luck, have gotten their elk in the Missouri Breaks. So far as Hencz knows, the Bear Paw elk herd has been left alone to date.
Hencz has not seen any record deer taken yet but is sure that some deer have been taken so far.
As for bow hunting itself, numbers are not on the rise.
There are a lot of bow hunters on the Hi-Line but I dont think the sport is growing, Hencz said. About five years ago there was a major push into bow hunting and that has gradually declined since then.
So many bow hunters deck themselves out to look just like the trees they hunt in. Hencz thinks that is absolutely necessary for a successful hunt.
I do camouflage and believe that it really helps in hunting. It breaks up lines and I think of a person as a block. With camouflage on the deer may see the person move but not the person at all, Hencz said.
What about costs of bow hunting in this country?
Well, you need to take a bow hunters safety class if you have not already taken one and then buy an eight dollar bow stamp if you dont have one, Hencz said. You need a bow. That might cost you $250. Maybe twelve arrows, six to shoot with and six to practice with. That would be around $60 and a good camouflage set of pants and coat for maybe $75.
After that it is practice, practice, practice. Learn where your bow is shooting before you go out and try to stab something with it, Hencz added.
As for Matt Hencz, his bow season is probably going to end with only shooting a doe for the freezer but maybe not for the reason you might think.
I am probably not going elk hunting and if it is not a big buck I will not shoot it. I pass up a lot of shootable deer each year because you know there is always a bigger one over the next ridge, Hencz confided laughing. And on the last three days of hunting, if I have not found that buck, I will shoot a doe just to put meat in the freezer.
Such it is with many bow hunters. A season of dreams and moves as much as a season of success.