Monday, April 2, 2018

Member Profile: Tony Hoyt

Founding HHA Board Member Tony Hoyt

How long have you been a member of Hellgate Hunters & Anglers?  Founding Member of HHA

How did your passion for wildlife, wild places, and fair chase hunting and fishing blossom?  
My grandfather, Asa King was an encyclopedia of outdoor knowledge. He shared his great love of nature with me. We spent many summers together in the finger lakes of western New York. Unfortunately, he died before I could learn all he had to teach me but I was instilled with a love of nature and an eagerness to learn more.

I came to Missoula in 1962 to attend the University of Montana (them MSU). I wanted to hunt but I lacked knowledge.  Fortunately for me my roommate in Craig Hall was from Alberton. Since there wasn’t much to do in Alberton, hunting was a favorite pastime.  My roommate, Denny, wasted no time getting me into elk hunting. I will never forget the first time out we parked his four-wheel jeep at the bottom of a mountain and headed straight up. I thought I might die. I was in good shape being on the swim team but had never learned the skills of walking up hill. Using a borrowed rifle, I got a spike bull the third time out.

Hunting took a backseat after freshman year as I did my schooling and went into the Peace Corps in Liberia. There I ate wild meat for the next two years and got addicted to it. When I returned to the States I was ready for healthier wild meat.

Two serious Montana hunters and mentors, Carl Helding from the Jocko and Rod Hambley from Ovando taught me about hunting and all that goes with it. Now at 73 I have the great joy of hunting with my son, daughter, and grandkids. And after 50 years I can really walk up hill.

Favorite/most memorable hunting/fishing story?


It was a week before the big game opener in the mid-80s. My hunting buddy Rod, a boilermaker from Ovando, called to tell me that another boilermaker from DeBorgia had invited us to hunt with him and his dad on opening day up by the Montana - Idaho divide. That Sunday we parked the truck at the locked gate above Haugan well before shooting light and the four of us headed up the road on foot. At about shooting light we rounded a bend and entered an old clear-cut. There was a herd of elk with a nice bull. The elk saw us and started to move out. We only had a brief time before they bolted. Time slowed down and two of us took the only shot we had. An offhand headshot. I hate to shoot without a rest. The bull went right down. When we got to him we discovered two things, first that he had three main beams of equal length and second, we did not know who shot him. There was a bullet hole in the back of his head behind the ridge. I was shooting a 270 and the other man was shooting a 300 Weatherby Magnum. A quick bullet in the hole determined it matched my 270.
The rest of our hunting crew thought there was a raghorn in the herd so they took off. We were supposed to hunt west below the divide and down to DeBorgia. 

As soon as they left I realized that the elk was wedged against a log on a steep hill. It was one heck of a job getting a back leg open enough to start gutting. Pushing and twisting with my back at unnatural angles I managed to clean out the heart, liver, tongue and kidneys and finish gutting. These items in my pack I tried to stand up. WOW My back had seized and I was unable to straighten and stand. It took many tries to straighten. Alone, without my hunting buddies, I slowly hobbled back to the truck. I drove to the house below where one of the hunters lived. I thought someone would be at the house but no one was home. I couldn’t get out of the truck so I spent the rest of the day into the late afternoon stuck in the truck.

After my hunting buddies hiked down to the house and found me in the truck they had to pick me up and put me in my old Honda so I could drive myself home. I bribed and begged and the other hunters agreed to get my elk out. I ended up with the hindquarter, the cape, and the head.

When I got home, my family had to pick me up out of the car and carry me to bed. I was in bed for two weeks. I only left my bed to go to the bathroom and see a chiropractor every other day. 

The head hangs in my bedroom. 

Most important piece of equipment?  Binoculars

Favorite hunting snack?  Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Choose your weapon:  fly rod, rifle, or bow?  My 270 rifle

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