2023 Hunt Recap

The 2023 hunting season was filled with lots of highs and a few, I wouldn’t call them lows, but disappointments. I don’t need to kill an animal to call a hunt successful or enjoyable, but sometimes you’re just bummed with a lack of opportunity, especially with a tag that isn’t over the counter and you can’t get every year.

I started the year early with a late-season Iowa muzzleloader tag for whitetails. We had one good day of weather and then it changed, getting warm and I never had an opportunity at a buck. In fact, I only saw one buck that was mature and he stayed out at about 300 yards on the second to last evening. Our annual wall tent turkey camp was another great time. It was a smaller group than the last few years, by design, and was filled with great friendship and camaraderie. I was successful, hunting solo without a cameraman and the rest of the camp had success as well. It’s always been a special time of year and a great hunt with good friends.

The start of the fall season was a bit disappointing. I helped Chris Nowak in NM, who drew a unit 30 tag. I was only able to go down for the last 4 days of his hunt and the weather was too nice for the first two. When we finally had a change in the weather, it was good action. I called a couple bulls in for him and when he finally released an arrow, the bull moved as the arrow was in flight and he hit him poorly. No fault of his own, I was over his shoulder and saw the whole thing, but we didn’t recover the bull and he burned his tag. I hunted on the same place in NM as the previous 3 years. Since Chris hunted unit 30, I invited Jason Matzinger to take Chris’ spot and it was a challenging hunt with the elk not being vocal at all for 3 full days.  We were seeing elk, seeing fresh sign, but there was ZERO bugling, even distant bugles. I finally had an encounter on our last morning but the bull stayed just over a rise and I never had a shot.  That evening, our last and the last of the season, I called a bull in for Jason and he killed it.  The true bottom of the ninth success story.

I didn’t hunt any other species except for whitetail after the elk season and it was a pretty good one. I hunted on an outfitted hunt in Kansas, a lease in Ohio, my whitetail lease in my home state of Montana and wrapped up with an invitation in Oklahoma.

I was successful taking nice bucks in Ohio with archery gear and in Montana and Oklahoma with a rifle. I missed a true Kansas giant with my bow. The jury is still out on what happened but after talking to a lot of people about it, it was likely an improperly seated nock on my string. I shot right under him and I am still reliving that shot today. I was self filming that hunt and captured it all. I filmed each of the other hunts as well and all will be short films coming out on the website in the coming months, including Jason’s kill in NM.

I don’t know what the 2024 fall season has in store, but the spring is going to be fun. Jason and I are heading to Patagonia in March to hunt Red Stag together and I drew an Iowa turkey tag and will be hunting with Tom Petry in early April. I’m hoping the summer is filled with camping, fishing and golf before chasing elk in Montana for the month of September.