Hunting elk in Gallatin Canyon.
Wapiti: the ultimate prize for a Montana hunter, and fall’s most elusive quarry. For some, bagging a big bull elk is the culmination of all their hunting efforts. Others never have the pleasure, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. One place to test your luck is Gallatin Canyon. High elk populations, lots of access, and loose regs stack the odds in your favor. Bagging an elk is on our annual checklist, and this fall, hunting for one in Gallatin Canyon is on our seasonal Hit List.
Who: Any Montana hunter who enjoys a wild setting close to home. In Bozeman, we’re blessed with options, and never is this more apparent than during elk season. While there are lots of hunters—more than ever—there are still lots of places to hunt, and most of them feel pretty wild once you’re out in ’em. Gallatin Canyon is no different. From Spanish Creek to the Taylor Fork, there’s lots of country and most of it is empty.
What: Prime elk habitat within an hour of your house. Whether you’re stalking the high-alpine meadows south of Big Sky or working the timber above Squaw Creek, it’s all prime. Region 3 has the highest success rates for elk of any in the country, so if you’re playing the odds, it’s as good a bet as any.
When: Now. Opening weekend has come and gone, and winter is only getting closer. If you can take the time, take it—and take as much of it as you can. Even if you get your elk on day one, spending time outdoors in this country is a privilege you should take advantage of.
Where: From Spanish Creek to Teepee Creek. With trails and roads every few miles, and public land in all directions, you can’t go wrong. Break out a map and make a plan. If it doesn’t work out, have a plan B—and C and D, as the case may be.
Why: Do you even have to ask? Hunting for elk in the mountains of Montana while snow sits in the high country is as good as it gets.
And also because if you snap a photo from your hunt and tag us on Facebook or Instagram (#OBHitList), you could win a prize from our Fall Hit List contest. This week, we’re giving away a Coulee 40 pack from Mystery Ranch. It's a great all-around pack, good for day hikes, short scouting trips, or backcountry ski tours. And all ya gotta do to get a crack at it is upload a photo – can it get any easier?