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Hunting Montana Coolies

April 2018
Story by Scott Mahoney
State: Montana
Species: Deer - Mule

Coolies? “What’s a coolie?” I asked my friend, Tim, who had invited me to hunt in northeastern Montana this year. All he said was, “You’ll see…”


The 26-hour drive from northern California to Jordan, Montana took place the second week in November. It was cold and snowing, and all I could see was flat land in all directions. “Where are the coolies,” I asked Tim? All he said was, “You’ll see….”


We woke up the next day at 5 a.m. and left camp shortly thereafter. After an hour's drive, we arrived in country that looked flat from a distance but was pocketed with canyon-like things that Tim said were the coolies.


I soon learned that our strategy would be to park and then walk the edges of the coolies, looking down into them for deer. Sure enough, we saw deer in almost every one of the coolies we slowly approached.


An hour into our walk on the first day, I walked toward a point to look down into the large coolie in front of us. Tim walked about 100 yards to my right to peer over the edge. I happened to glance over toward Tim before I reached my vantage point and saw him quickly kneel down while at the same time placing his 7mm mag on his shooting sticks. No sooner had he knelt, there was a “Boom!” from his rifle. I hustled over just in time to see a massive buck stagger and fall. The 5x4 buck had great mass and a lot of junk at the base of his antlers. It was an awesome sight. After high fiving and pictures, we continued on.


We drove to a new area with some massive coolies (I would call them small canyons). Tim dropped me off and said to slowly walk the edges. He drove to a place in the distance where we could eventually meet up. I crept up to the first edge in front of me and immediately saw a nice looking 4x4 slowly trotting away from me and up the other side. In my scope, ready to shoot, I could see that his antlers were quite a bit inside his ears and pretty spindly. I passed and continued on my walk.


I could soon see in front of me a very large part of the coolie that was about 500 yards from one side to the other. I had a sense that this could be good. I slowly and quietly approached. I peered into the coolie and immediately saw an unbelievable sight. An awesome looking buck was bedded down below me not more than 100 yards away. He was gazing off to his right and did not see me. I quickly backed up and dropped to my knees. I crept slowly forward with my Browning Mountain Ti 300 WSM on sticks and ready to go. I looked over and down with my scope at 10x. The buck still not see me or sense my presence. I could clearly see that this was a keeper – nice mass on his 4x4 rack. I had plenty of time to place a shot that simply collapsed him in his bed.


Tim heard the shot and quickly drove over to see what had happened. I waved him over as I continued to watch the buck to ensure he was truly down. Tim could see what a great buck he was, especially since my rangefinder placed him at only 86 yards.


He wasn’t my biggest buck, but his 25” rack and massive body caused me great happiness and thankfulness just before Thanksgiving. I knew what our Thanksgiving dinner was going to be.


The coolies in Montana turned out to be very cool indeed!