In southwestern Montana, I think outfitter Rob Arnaud (Arnaud Outfitting) is worth noting. A wildlife biologist as well as hunt outfitter, he is best known for his work at the Flying D Ranch, where he has employed state-of-the-art techniques to enhance habitat and maximize wildlife horn growth. Not one to rest on his laurels, Arnaud has recently taken on the outfitting responsibility for two other working ranches, both located in his home state of Montana. The first ranch is located in central Montana and offers archery hunters a great opportunity to harvest a trophy elk. Although the ranch is relatively small at 12,000 acres, the habitat is secluded and is perfect for holding big bulls. Arnaud has purposely limited the number of hunters to a maximum of six per year. In 1997, two of his hunters harvested bulls that grossed over the magic 370 mark. When I spoke with Arnaud in late September of this year, the first group of three hunters had just completed their hunts. All three clients were successful in taking bulls that grossed over 320 Pope and Young. The largest measured an impressive 362. The second group of hunters was still hunting as this was written. Most of the hunting here is done out of tree and ground blinds overlooking agricultural areas and water sources. Guides are careful not to be too aggressive in bugling these bulls as they don't want to push them off the ranch. The archery season begins September 6 and ends October 18. The base cost of this six-day hunt on a 1 x 1 basis is $4,200 with an additional $2,500 if a bull is tagged. Hunters stay in a beautiful five-bedroom lodge complete with Jacuzzi, satellite dish and gourmet cooking.
The second piece of property Arnaud has leased is exclusively a trophy mule deer ranch. Arnaud concedes that Montana is not known for large mule deer genetics, but he says there are pockets of good habitat in the state that, with good management, can offer first rate mule deer hunting. He says his second ranch is just such a pocket. Almost the entire 70,000 acres........(continued)