01 December 2008
It seems every year at this time I am filled with a plethora of thoughts. Reflections and ponderance of so many memories, smiles and adventures; which all culminate on this day when a cold quietness falls upon a place that just days ago had so much warm noise. A place’s memories are made by the people who will now join others and soak into the walls and blow through the sage. These are the ghosts that will forever make Dome Mountain Ranch a very special place.
While we all wish more hunters went home with elk for thier walls and meat for their freezers, we recognize that this is hunting, and without that important part, memories are only short and lack the good stories. I opened up the latest Cabela’s catalog the other day and found I can order my very own trophy mount. The irony of this discovery is that at one time I shared with prospective hunters if thier goal is to go home with a trophy elk, we could send them the mount and they shouldn’t bother to put the efforts forth required to have a successful hunt. While wallmounts can show up in the mail, you can bet that “hunts” cannot.
Montana Elk hunting is not easy to explain in words, there are countless books, tv shows, tips and techniques that do a fine job, so a few paragraphs from me certainly don’t propose offer much further enlightenment. It isn’t something anyone can understand regardless of how much hunting they have done for any other wild game animal. Elk are truly unique and hands down North Americas most challenging big game animals. As two leggers, we really have no chance from the get go. Thankfully, our brains developed the technology to even the playing field, but this still makes little difference in a fair-chase hunt, elk are elk. The terrain in which they can cover in mere minutes compared to our hours is only appreciated by those who who walked in their hoofprints. While physical preparation is always important, it could be argued that mental preparation may be even more valued and provides room for more discussion.
Mental preparation involves what I call a “blind faith". Most people won’t play a game if they know right from the get go they are going to fail 90% of the time. Not only fail, but get physically and mentally abused, all from a wild animal which science tells us isn’t nearly as smart as we are. Unfortunately, most hunting T.V. shows have gotten so far from the reality of an elk hunt, only God could provide what expectations these shows must create. Success can only be found at that very last moment during the fading light of a week long elk hunt within the hunters heart. If they were out there, doing their best and never gave up, only then can a true reflection of an elk hunter be admired in the mirror. It is without question, not for everyone. “The mountain has it’s own ways".
The life of a true guide is always a learning process. Our goal here is to do our very best to make each and every hunter happy, make certain that we are giving them the absolute best hunt possible. While this may sound easy, each first time elk hunter has in mind his own rendition of what the hunt will be like. As a team, we do our best to work cooperatively with both the hunters and guides. On some weeks it might take a day or two in familiarizing oneself with the clients. In addition, we hope that they always feel free to share their daily thoughts. A good guide shines only when they have the rare gift of communication and listening skils.
A three way transfer must occur. First, a hunter must feel comfortable enough with his guide who spends most of the day with him or her, to share their thoughts without fear of bias. Then, a guide must also transfer this information in a timely manner to the outfitter, who is often more the coach than an actual guide. True guides that are suited for this pursuit have the ability to adjust accordingly with or without my advice. Good guides are indeed hard to find. My appreciation for them is hearfelt and deep.
Elk hunting is never easy, nor is it in anyway predictable. This season will long be remembered for many reasons. What makes me feel good is seeing the next season already nearly full. Our clients are our most important factor in making this place a success. I cannot thank you enough for having that blind faith and giving us the opportunity to provide you with an adventure that will remain in your heart and be shared with many as you look back on your time with us.
Dome Mountain is often referred to as a “mystical place” always revealing serendipity. Our hunting style has changed over the last few years with the onset of predators and limited elk numbers. We are proud to say that after a full season, Dome Mountain still holds plenty of elk. Our hunting methods allowed them to stay here while public lands become void. We adapted to the elk, we changed our techniques, and this has paid great rewards. Most of all, we helped our clients better understand that blind faith.
“Tenacity", even if it seems all the odds are against you will allow you to leave here with no regrets, and truly no stone unturned. However, to steal and adjust a phrase, “elk run through it". Things will always be unpredictable and each day will indeed bring a new advenure. Congrats to all our clients. I will look forward to hearing more stories from you as the onset of the long Montana winter arrives. I am sure I will have more stories to share as well.
“The soul of the mountain is not in what you see, it is what you find".
JB Klyap, Outfitter #7843
Dome Mountain Ranch