Bordering Yellowstone Park to the north, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is an immense expanse of mountainous country encompassing nearly 700,000 acres of high-elevation splendor.
The Absaroka-Beartooth (or A-B) supports a wealth of native wildlife. Elk, moose and mule deer, mountain goat and big horn sheep, grizzly bear and wolves all wander freely between the wilderness area and Yellowstone Park. Hunting is not allowed in the Park of course but there is an early rifle season scheduled for the wilderness area that opens September 15th and runs through October 23rd.
These dates are a wonderful time of year to be afield. Early fall weather is generally mild with warm days and crisp cool nights. The seasons first frosts turn the leaves of aspen and alder to brilliant shades of red and gold. Small mountain streams run low and crystal clear offering superb dry fly fishing and nymphing for native cutthroat and wild rainbow.
September is a great time to hunt mountain mule deer. The bucks can be found near timberline this time of year in small bachelor bands. To locate and stalk them in this rugged beautiful country is high adventure. The A-B offers a good chance at taking an exceptional timberline muley. Mature 4×4 bucks with heavy racks, good tine length and widths between 24” and 30” are obtainable here if you are willing to work for them.
The early season also allows you to hunt bugling bull elk with a rifle during the rut. The Northern Yellowstone elk herd numbers around 4,000 head, has a high bull to cow ratio, and has put more bulls in the book than any herd in North America. Many of these elk spend their summer and early fall in the high country of the Absaroka Range.
This is a good place to find a big bull but it is a high elevation, weather sensitive hunt. If we get early snow many of the elk will drop to lower elevations in the Park and elk hunting success will suffer as a result.
Early snows do not move the mule deer out of the wilderness. This trip should be viewed as a good mule deer hunt with the chance of taking an exceptional bull elk if we have a warm dry September.
Our September rifle hunt is an eight day expedition. There will be six guests in camp. We hunt from a pre-set base camp and use a spike camp when necessary. From trailhead to camp is fifteen miles and the ride in takes five hours. Base camp is located at 7500 feet and most of the hunting takes place at 8500 to 10,000 feet.
This is a physically demanding expedition that requires strenuous hiking at high elevations. We do not recommend this hunt to anyone that is not in excellent physical condition.