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Outfitter Review - Musselshell Outfitters

Submit Date: Jan 26, 2005

Outfitter Information

Outfitter Name: Musselshell Outfitters

Outfitter / Contact: Randy Higgens

Location: Montana, USA

Hunt Information

Animals Hunted: Elk

Game Quality: poor on their land

Game Quantity: poor on their land

Accomodations: good

Camp Condition: good

Food Quality: average

Guide Experience: poor

Other Personal Experience: average

Review Information

Hunter: Toby Dellamano



Would Recommend: not even for free

Overall Impression: Mislead, lied to, disappointed

I hunted elk with Musselshell Outfitters the fall of September 04. I would like to start this report off first by telling you something about me. I am an avid bow hunter and have been very successful over the last 25 years. I have hunted and harvest animals all across the US, Canada, and Alaska. I have won several archery tournaments and bugling awards. Two years ago I became the youngest bow hunter to take the BIG 8 in Colorado. I take great pride in my sport, lifestyle, and fair chase! I don’t post this to brag or boast only to give myself credibility for what I am going to report. I have hunted and pursued elk all my life. However, the vast majority of the bulls we chase in Colorado are not that big. That is why I contacted Musselshell outfitters. Musselshell outfitters told me about 350 P&Y class bulls running around their land and being harvested every year with a 100% shooting opportunity. They even told me a 400+ class bull was shot just across the road. I told them I was an experienced archer and elk hunter and I was looking for a bull larger than 320 P&Y. They said their guides were experienced elk hunters, callers, and archers themselves. That was far from the truth. The guides calling ability was POOR at best, they were not archers and 2 of them didn’t even know the property boundaries very well or the lay of the land. At the beginning of the hunt, Musselshell started off with a group meeting stating that the best way to get an elk was to be patient and sit a water hole. Which I was totally willing to do to get a big bull. The first morning we started off trying to bugle a bull in, we following the heard about 1 mile as we walked along the fence just hoping we could get one to jump over. About 9am the guide took us over to the water hole and showed us the tree stand. We walked around the water hole and saw no track, I asked the guide, “did anybody sit this stand in the first group of archers?” He said, “Yea, pretty much everyday, but I think he only saw a doe and fawn.” We then went to look at other water holes, no track, no track, cattle tracks, lots of cattle at the tanks, lots of stock tanks on one property. When we asked the guide and Randy what made them think we should sit on one of the 6 stock tanks contained in less then 1 mile, they said “they got to drink somewhere!” Which is true, but they weren’t drinking on Musselshell’s property… the lack of tracks proves it! This was true on ALL of their properties; every stock tank we went to either had no tracks or 1 or 2 week old tracks. At which time I opted not to sit a water hole for endless hours. Four other archers in my camp sat water holes the entire time and every time they came back to camp they had their heads down, “no elk, no deer, just birds and lots of cattle.” “I’ve never been on a guide hunt with so little game around” While we were at the different water holes they showed the tree stands. They were not only in poor condition but dangerous! They used old dead branch for steps and access in and out of the stand was contorted and difficult. When I mentioned this to the other hunters in camp they would say “you should have seen mine, talk about dangerous!” They even had a Double Bull Bind, which was falling apart. The guide gave us the blind and said “this is the best one we’ve got” and 2 of the hubs were not working, the plastic nipples were broken off and we had to use our own rope to get it to work. Musselshell told us that they had aprox. 50,000 acres of leased property, what they didn’t tell us was less then half ever had an elk on it. A large majority of their property was burnt land with nothing growing on it, no trees, no grass, nothing. The rest of it was poorly grassed and over grazed by the cattle rancher. It seamed like every property they took us to we hunted the trees running right next to the fence. Another major problem is that other ranches in the area are planting elk feed and water tanks to keep the elk on their properties. We ran into a man from Texas in Roundup while we were eating lunch (lunch was at our cost, Musselshell provided ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo they never put in the frig) and he told us he was leasing up all the land he could (about 30K acres so far) and told us about all the great feed and water they had put on their land and they have elk all over. Musselshell’s guide showed us the Texan’s property and told us how it was getting to be a problem getting the elk to come off that property. The best pieces of property that Musselshell leased was PUBLIC, with other hunters on it! They said we didn’t have to hunt the public land, but when that’s the best of the worst what do you do? Yes we did see some big bulls, but they were across the fence on property we couldn't hunt. Musselshell even told us that if you shoot a bull and he goes across the fence we can’t get them…Don’t even try! We’ve lost bulls that way before, yet we hunted fences everyday just hoping a bull would cross. Nobody in my camp had a shot opportunity on any elk, bull or cow! Musselshell had another group of hunters the same week as us at a different location and they told us only 1 shot was taken, a young boy had hit a 5 point bull but they couldn’t find it. The week before us they shot one 5 point bull the last night. Musselshell’s web site still states: “Overall opportunity for bowhunters with us is about 95%. We very rarely have a bowhunter who does not have an opportunity. An opportunity is any time you are 40 yards or less from the desired game while in the field hunting… We use bugles and cow calls to bring them in close. We occasionally use stands and blinds. We also use natural wallows and food sources to our advantage. We are consistently producing 100% opportunity for our elk hunting guests. Many guests have had multiple shot opportunities at 300"+ bulls!” -- These claims are incorrect and yet he still promotes and publishes these as facts! I feel I was mislead and lied to by Musselshell Outfitters and I will gladly provide you names and numbers from the other 6 hunters in my camp that will fully substantiate my report. I know there are hunters from the group before us and the group after us, and some of those hunters were antelope hunters. (They sat antelope water holes for hours and days on end, yet never had antelope come in). There were hunters both antelope and elk hunters that did everything Musselshell asked them to do, they sat water holes for hours and days on end never seeing anything. The reason I am posting this is for my fellow archer. I have met some terrific people though bow hunting and some life long friends. I have purchased items from other Bowhunters off the Internet with the PROMISE of I’ll send you the check the same time you send me the item. If I only knew this information 1 year ago I could have made a wise choice. As I read through other past hunters reports on Musselshell Outfitters I have to ask myself, ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THE SAME OUTFITTER????? I’ll leave you with that thought, and a challenge, GIVE Musselshell your $4000+ dollars and he’ll prove to you that I am correct. Toby Dellamano

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