By Mike Colpo
As a new year is upon us, I thought I would reflect on the one that is almost over. It has been a busy year for us at Lazy J Bar O Outfitters, getting through the winter, feeding our horses and mules and plowing snow. The New Year always brings us into booking season and preparing for the year ahead. As we all know, time seems to get shorter and we get busier.
We’ve made some great changes. I made the decision to not go to shows and rather to stay at home and work on the upcoming year, including the purchase and transition of Rollin’ Boulder Outfitters from my friend Mike Lovely. We also made a great transition to Peak Outfitter Marketing who is handling our social media, web site and marketing! The purchase of Rollin’ Boulder is something I have wanted to acquire for quite some time. The pieces fell together and it has been a great addition to our business.
Springtime brought us new arrivals in the way of three new colts to add to our herd. We hope to have six more this spring. We must be out of minds to start raising horses, but the draft crosses are getting hard to find. Besides, it gives JoJo another job in addition to her driving horses, which is coming along. She is on the U.S developing driving team, which is pretty exciting!
Getting ready for summer and fall always takes a great deal of planning and work, rounding up help and guides. This year we started with some new good new crewmembers. The Bob Marshall trips went well with our drop floats on the South fork of the flathead as well as our fishing. One of our drop floats included 8 guests and five crewmembers besides myself. That made 29 head of horses and mules going down the trail at one time. It was quite a sight! The fishing was outstanding as usual, with a lot of very nice cutthroat being caught as well as some hard charging Bull trout in the South Fork of the Flathead. As always, it was great riding around in the unique country that the Bob Marshall Wilderness has to offer.
Last summer’s Long Range Shooting and Hunting School was fun and is always a great time. We had full classes and our shooters all did very well. We’re already looking forward to the next round of classes in June.
August found us in Alaska once more and big rainfall made the Yanert River a challenge from the get go, but as usual we persevered. I was pleasantly surprised at the dall sheep numbers, including both rams and lambs alike. We did well and were seven out of ten on our rams. We saw quite a few good rams and some we just couldn’t get. Moose season started slow with temperatures in the 80’s and one day around 90. It was way to warm for big bull moose. We struggled, needless to say, as they kept to the thick, cool bush making hunting somewhat difficult. But we picked up the pace and finished the season well. As tough as it was, everything went very well thanks to our great crew, good hunters and everyone involved!
While we were still in Alaska, our Montana operation still rolled on with archery elk season in full swing. Joey and the crew were deep in the elk. They had good conditions and their hunters were into lots of bull elk. But as luck goes, there were lots of misses and none dead or wounded. Everyone had a good hunt, but that’s how hunting goes sometimes! Rifle season brought us the warmest November I have ever seen in my life in Montana. The elk went high and we had to work harder than ever. We took twenty hunters and we killed eight bulls and missed six. Everyone had a great time. It was disappointing on our end, as we look forward to that that special time of year and the weather threw us a curve ball! But we are still out there doing what we love to do!
On another note, yours truly got injured in mid-November by a tree in the trail. It took out my bad knee for good, and severely sprained my ankle, which hasn’t fully healed fully in over a month. But the good thing for my future and future hunters is that I get a new knee the 28th of December. I will be even better next year and beyond, like a whole new man climbing the mountains again!
To close out this letter, I’ll share some exciting news about next season. We found some great new elk hunting in the Bob Marshall Wilderness that should be very successful, and we are going to run some early hunts there next year. It’s a very remote area that hasn’t been getting pressure. We have also teamed up with Montana Angler to promote and guide our summer fishing trips in the Bob Marshall. And to all the big bulls that were missed this year, look out next season…we will be ready for you!
We look forward to hearing from you!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Our Outfit to Yours!
Mike & JoJo