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BIG SKY

OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

FEBRUARY 2010

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BAGGING AN ELK. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?


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FEBRUARY 2010

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FEBRUARY 2010

Of Elk (And Wolves) And Beating The Odds I

t’s late in November and the 2009 season is almost done. I head up the trail moving past the hunting camp at the trailhead, following the mountain creek as it winds upward in the tight canyon. After a couple of miles the hunters’ tracks that I see are turning to retrace their steps back down the trail. Another mile and I follow a day old horse track covered by a couple of inches of fresh snow. These hunters are camped off the trail somewhere up in the timber to my right. I leave the main trail, turning left, and climb higher. I follow a small stream flowing from the mountains above that feeds into the bigger creek I left below. In another mile I see where a rider has turned his horse back down this trail. The snow is not deep here, but the slope is steep, too steep for the horse. My Hodgman spiked boots keep me on my feet. I’ve been hunting hard since September. While I would never bet anything that I would not want to lose on getting a bull elk in these mountains, now so late in the season the odds are getting ever higher against my filling the tag. Tired, but pushing on, I tell myself to go just a little further, if there are elk they will be here. Just one more mile. My pace is slow and the thought of how good it will feel to find some level

ground crosses my mind. Like climbing a ladder onto a flat-topped shed abruptly I peer into the flat bench above. A golden body and horns moving through the timber. Less than 75 yards away a young 5x5 bull elk feeds in the late afternoon light unaware of my presence. Dropping to my knee in the snow I peer through the thick lodgepole looking for an opening, waiting for the shot. The bull moves to my left and I mark the spot where he will give me the broadside opening. My attention is 100% on this elk. I know there is at least one more with him from my peripheral vision, having given it a quick cursory glance, it’s further away in the thick timber. The rifle is at my shoulder, scope on the opening, safety flipped off. As the bull steps into the small opening my Winchester Model 70 270 roars, the sound quickly swallowed by snow and timber, sending the 130grain CoreLokt into his rib cage just behind the shoulder. He jumps and turns to run directly at me. Bolting in another cartridge I aim the crosshairs at the patch of black on his throat. Again the 270 bucks and the bull drops.

If it happens, it can happen just that quickly. That is if you don’t count the many days and hours spent from September to November trying to make it happen. I’ve seen this number quoted before – one in seven (1 in 7) elk hunters kills an elk. (a) That number is put forth as an overall average I think. The odds are better in some areas I’m sure, worse in others. Even in areas where both bull and cow were harvested this past season, the harvest was down, making the odds higher against the hunter filling his/her tag. In my neck of the woods I heard from more than one hunter that elk were just not anywhere to be found. This was heard from folks that got into the woods and looked hard. And some then traveled to southwest Montana, to places like Lima, Dillon, where they could shoot a cow (any) elk. (d) How do you beat the odds? (4) out of the past (5) years I have taken a bull elk in my hunting area. It would have been (5) for (5) If I had not convinced myself that I would not take a bull during a tough season. When the bull was found, I was not mentally in the game and blew a shot that I never expected to get.

BY GLENN FERREN

A positive mental attitude counts; being focused, getting in “predator mode”- hunting to kill and to eat, gives that extra edge. Beating the odds means how much time can (you) spend in the woods. I spend at least (3) days a week in the timber from September through November. Using information about (continued on page 22)


FEBRUARY 2010

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Contents 4. Of Elk (And Wolves) And Beating The Odds 6. The Young & The Old 8. New For 2010 9. Leupold, Elk Foundation Partner 10. Westslope Cutthroat Trout Genetic Conservation 11. Fly Tying Corner 12. Fishing With Captain Mark Ward 14. Montana Fishing Report 16. $100,000 Available In Spring Mack Days 18. Howling For Coyotes 19. Gear Review 20. Photo Page 23. Decoy Your Next Predator 24. Hunting & Conservation News 26. Snowmobile West Yellowstone 27. Fishery Managers Predict 470,000 Columbia River Spring Chinook 28. News From Rocky Mountain States 30. Half Million Acres Of Habitat Work In ‘09 31. Ice Fishing Derbies 32. Calendar Of Events 34. Cash In On Idaho Metalheads 37. Five Hunters Convicted In Illegal Outfitting Case 38. Winter Survival Cover photo: Courtesy Guerilla Guide Service Father & Son, Bryan & Jim O’Connor Thanks to sharp-eyed reader, Donna Harding of Kalispell that caught our error in the January issue. 3rd Place Winner was Sheridan with her Whitetail Buck.

Please support the advertisers you see in this newspaper and let them know you saw their advertisement in Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure. Thank you!

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www.bigskyoutdoornews.net The entire contents is © 2010, all rights reserved. May not be reproduced without prior consent. The material and information printed is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure. Nor does the printed material necessarily express the views of Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure. VOLUME 6 Issue 12

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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6 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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FEBRUARY 2010

The Young & The Old

BY JACK BALLARD

You’re Invited To Attend The Missoula Friend’s Of The NRA Annual Banquet Friday, March 5th

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Phone Bill at (406) 542-7678 Rick at (406) 370-1368 or Todd at (406) 214-1343

We have planned a Live Auction, Silent Auction, Bucket Raffle and other fun games for your enjoyment. Some of the items available include a Weatherby 12GA, Leupold Optics, Kimber, Smith & Wesson 40, Savage 17 HMR, Remington 700 SPS-300 MAG, Taurus .357 MAG, Rossi Youth Trifecta as well as other fine donated merchandise available in the auctions and raffles.

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eneralizations regarding age are often misguided. Not all young people spend more time text messaging than studying. Nor do the elderly consistently drive at one-half the speed limit. And it’s certainly not fair to assume that all men in their forties are in the grip of a mid-life crisis, frantically seeking a bargain on a noisy motorcycle and a twenty year-old babe to ride on its back. However, some generalizations about age are actually rooted in reality, in both human society and the world of wildlife. When it comes to elk hunting, knowledge of the behavior of various aged bulls can be a valuable asset to securing your tag on an antlered animal. About the time they hit their first birthday, yearling bull elk begin to sprout velvety antlers which normally grow into “spikes” that are around eighteen inches to two feet in length. The antlers of some yearling elk branch into forks, while a small percentage of yearling elk sport headgear with multiple tines on each antler. Compared to mature bulls, yearlings spend less time polishing their antlers and bugling in autumn. Some elk don’t rub the velvet from their first set of antlers at all or don’t completely finish the job. As older bulls claim harems at the beginning of the mating season, spikes are forcibly expelled from the cow herds. These junior bulls normally spend the rut apart or on the fringes of larger herds. Prized for their tender meat, lone spikes are often relatively easy targets for archery hunters during the rut in areas where they’re not protected by antler-point restrictions. After the rut, many spikes rejoin the cow herds. Hunting in late October and early November, I’ve seen as many as a dozen spike bulls in a herd of fifty cows. On other occasions, I’ve encountered

smaller groups of females of a dozen or less animals that may contain three or four bulls sporting their first set of antlers. Targeting the cows during these weeks of autumn is often the easiest way to find a spike. Bull elk mature substantially between their first and second set of antlers. Two and a half year-old bulls weigh much more than spikes, typically sprout antlers with four or five tines on each side, are much more aggressive rubbing the velvet from their antlers and bugle more frequently. In most hunting districts in Montana, these animals account for most of the bull harvest. They also sire most of the calves. Less capable of holding together a harem than older, fully mature bulls, competition between these animals during the rut is sometimes fierce. Those that fail to control a group of cows are usually on the prowl for unattached females. During the rut, it’s often possible to locate these bulls or lure them within arrow range with a bugle or cow call, the latter often being the most effective. After the rut, some of these “young adult” bulls stay with the cow herds, but many of them retreat to form bachelor bands. These groups commonly range in size from a pair of bulls to a band of ten animals or more. Most of the bachelor groups I’ve found while hunting are comprised of two to four animals. Once in late October, however, I happened upon the fresh tracks of several elk moving together. After sneaking along the line of prints in the snow for some twenty minutes, I discovered where one of the elk had rubbed its antlers on a pine. My pace slowed to a stealthy shuffle. Stopping frequently to scan the scattered timber, I noticed movement at (continued on page 35)


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FEBRUARY 2010

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emington has created a new predator rifle with an unrivaled combination of precision accuracy, blazing-fast follow-ups and hunt-specific features. The new R-15 VTR™ modular repeating rifle was born of the most advanced design aspects of AR-15-style rifles available today with a strong emphasis on optimizing form and functionality for the modern predator aficionado. The results are astounding – with very serious implications for every coyote, fox or bobcat that crosses its path. For peak accuracy, the R-15’s 0.680” OD barrel is precision-crafted from ChroMoly steel. It’s free-floated within the machined-aluminum fore-end tube and given a recessed hunting crown to ensure gasses escape evenly around the bullet for the ultimate in shot-to-shot consistency. Six longitudinal flutes forward of the gas block promote rapid barrel cooling and increase rigidity while reducing weight, further contributing to this rifle’s ability to print tiny clusters at an incredible pace. Remington’s new hunting single-stage trigger design is as

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lpine Archery has joined with Jim Shockey and is proud to introduce the Jim Shockey Signature Series “Yukon”. This bow is meticulously built to match the ruggedness of its namesake. Jim is known to never settle for anything less than perfection and the craftsmanship, durability and shootability of the new Yukon not only meets, but exceeds Jim’s expectations. The Yukon riser is coated with a black wrinkle powder coat finish. Accented by an elegant, laser engraved and

cleanbreaking as they come. Whether you choose the 223 Remington or 204 Ruger version, the semi-automatic gas action all but eliminates muzzle jump and recoil so your target remains in the crosshairs. And when it’s time to add optics, the receiver-length Picatinny rail makes it a rock-solid cinch. Control comes naturally with the ergonomic pistol grip and lightweight overall design of the R-15. Its uppers and lowers are machined from aluminum forgings for featherweight durability, and the fore-end tube is drilled and tapped for accessory rails. This new family of firearms consists of three models. Each was designed with input from leading predator authorities and decked in the ultra-effective Advantage® MAX-1 HD™ camouflage to blend with sage, open country and a multitude of hunting terrains. All come with five-round magazines and are compatible with all aftermarket AR-15 magazines and other accessories. The R-15 VTR Predator Rifle has a 22” barrel with a fixed stock and pistol grip. At 7 3/4 lbs, it’s extremely stable – the best choice for long shots. checkered grip featuring Jim’s initials. The riser is finished off with an antiqued medallion and fiberlok shelf pad. The power train of the Yukon is Alpine Archery’s tried and true Velocitec cam coupled with a matched set of Gordon Composites Power Tuff limbs finished in Realtree Hardwoods HD. The precision matched limbs are affixed to the Yukon Riser with Alpine’s VX inter-loc pocket system, known as the most positive and rugged limb mounting system in the archery industry. The long list of features on the Yukon includes a custom string dampener that employs the Simms Decelerator module, Simms string leeches and Alpine’s own limb and cable guard dampeners and sports a twisted red and black, pre-stretched Stone Mountain “Dakota” bowstring. The Jim Shockey “Yukon” is available in 60 and 70 pound peak weights that are adjustable by 10 to 15 pounds. The bow is built in two different cam configurations, the small Velocitec cam for shorter draw lengths (26-29 inches) adjustable in half inch increments by a simple module change, and the large Velocitec cam for longer draw archers (28-31 inches) also adjustable in half inch increments by a simple module change.


FEBRUARY 2010

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Leupold, Elk Foundation To Partner For Elk Country RMEF

Throughout 2010, hunters can purchase four new Leupold products—a spotting scope kit, binoculars, rangefinder and riflescope—earmarked to support the habitat conservation work of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The RMEF licensed and logoed products will be available at retailers nationwide. “This is two great brands coming together for the future of elk and elk hunting,” said Steve Decker, vice president of marketing for RMEF. “Leupold has been a great partner and sponsor of RMEF for years and we’re very pleased to announce this expansion into officially licensed products.” “Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is privileged to have been associated with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for the past 24 years,” said Mike Slack of Leupold. “Since those early years, RMEF has compiled an extraordinary list of accomplishments that we all can be very proud of. We are honored to participate in this new partnership.” include:

The designated products LEUPOLD GR 15-30X50 SPOTTING SCOPE KIT—A compact spotting scope (21.5 oz. and 11 inches long) that comes with everything needed to maximize performance including a sturdy tabletop tripod with adjustable legs and swivel/tilt head, padded belt carrying case, mounting adapter, lens covers, quick-detaching shoulder strap and hard-side case.

LEUPOLD MOJAVE 10X42 BINOCULARS IN BLACK—Lightweight, armor coated, rugged and waterproof, these binoculars feature an open bridge, roof prism design, smooth focusing system, wide field of view, twist-up eyecups and generous eye relief for peak brightness and resolution, true to life color fidelity, and exceptional contrast in all light conditions. LEUPOLD RX-1000TBR RANGEFINDER IN CAMO—Smaller and brighter than previous models, this rugged, weatherproof rangefinder is less than 4 inches long. It features 6x magnification, colorful optics, adjustable intensity settings and built-in inclinometer. Exceptionally intuitive. Accurate to 1,000 yards. Comes in Mossy Oak Breakup. LEUPOLD VX-3 4.5-14X40 CDS RIFLESCOPE—Loaded with the latest optical technology, this scope features the Xtended Twilight Lens System, DiamondCoat 2 lens coating, blackened lens edges, waterproofing, twin bias spring erector system, and cryogenically treated adjustments. As a final touch, includes a 24k goldplated ring and medallion. Decker added that Leupold products have been a part of RMEF fundraising events for many years. The partnership has generated thousands of dollars for habitat conservation in elk country. In 2009, RMEF passed the 5.7 million acre mark of habitat conserved or enhanced for elk and other wildlife.

Six Men Sentenced Following October ‘09 Illegal Elk Killings In Oregon OREGON STATE POLICE FISH & WILDLIFE DIVISION Six people involved in the

unlawful taking of four bull elk near Cottage Grove in October 2009 pled guilty to numerous wildlife violations in Lane County Circuit Court. The sentence for the person responsible for shooting the elk includes jail time and a lifetime suspension of his hunting privileges. Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division troopers began an investigation into the unlawful shooting of four bull elk on October 20, 2009 in the Melrose wildlife management unit south of Cottage Grove. During the late morning hours the four bull elk described as a 3 point, 5 point, 6 point, and a 6x7 point, were shot on private property south of London Road. Immediately following the incident, OSP Senior Troopers Martin Maher and Marshall Maher had contact with area landowners who reported hunters trespassed on private lands to retrieve the poached bull elks which were part of a year-round herd. The investigation identified John K. Atwater, age 50, from Cottage Grove, as the person responsible for shooting the four bull elk. The elk

season was not open for the unit in which the elk were killed. After shooting the elk, Atwater was assisted by his son and four others in retrieving the elk by trespassing onto several different pieces of private property. Some of the elk were removed after they drove their vehicles onto the property where the elk were killed. John Atwater was sentenced to: Forty (40) days in the Lane County Jail, 24 months probation ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution to ODFW, pay a $6,674 fine and ordered to forfeit his rifle as well as receiving a lifetime suspension of his hunting privileges. -Dustin Atwater was sentenced to: Fifteen (15) days in the Lane County Jail, 18 months probation, ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to ODFW, pay a $892 fine, and 48 month hunting license suspension. -David Pruitt, was sentenced to: 24 months probation, ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to ODFW, pay a $2,304 fine, complete 100 hours of community service, and 36 month hunting license suspension. -Homer Rhodes, was sentenced to: 24 months probation, ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to ODFW and complete 60 hours of community service -Christopher Stevens, was sentenced to: 24 months probation, ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to ODFW, pay a $1,202 fine, complete 160 hours of community service, and 36 month hunting license suspension -bryan Shepard, was sentenced to: 24 months probation, complete 100 hours of community service, and 24 month hunting license suspension


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FWP Pays Montana Counties $560,000 In Property Taxes MFWP Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will pay 42 Montana counties a total of more than $560,000 in property taxes for 2009. By law, FWP makes property tax payments to Montana counties for lands it owns that exceed 100 acres. Payments are equal to what would be paid by a private landowner. FWP will pay a total of $563,442 for tax year 2009. “FWP has made these payments to Montana counties for nearly 60 years,” said FWP Director Joe Maurier in Helena. “The payments are a vital source of income for many Montana communities.” Payments for 2009 are based on more than 330,000 acres of FWP-owned lands—including state parks, fishing access sites and wildlife management areas. FWP’s top five payments for 2009 include Lake County at $73,896; Yellowstone County at $56,084; Anaconda-Deer Lodge County at $55,505; Lewis & Clark County at $52,721; and Gallatin County at $42,332.

North Central Montana Has Most Visited State Park MFWP A

ccording to figures gathered by the parks division of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Giant Springs had a total of 301,575 visits in 2009. That’s more than double the visitation of the next most visited park, Cooney near Billings, which had 143,012 visits. Flathead Lake had 233,224 visits for seven parks combined. Total visitation in 2009 at FWP Region 4’s seven state parks was 373,473, of which 97 percent were Montana residents. The seven sites are: Ackley Lake, First Peoples Buffalo Jump, Giant Springs, Sluice Boxes, Smith River, Tower Rock and Marias River. Data collection comes mostly from on-site vehicle counts. Of the seven sites, visitation at Ackley Lake and Sluice Boxes rose about 30 percent from 2008, and 21 percent at First Peoples Buffalo Jump. Giant Springs, Smith River and Tower Rock had about the same visitation for the last two years, and Marias River is new and didn’t open to the public until last fall.

FEBRUARY 2010

Westslope Cutthroat Trout Genetic Conservation And Broodstock Augmentation MFWP

PACKSTOCK TRANSPORTING LIVE WESTSLOPE CUTTHROAT TROUT FROM DANAHER CREEK. PHOTO COURTESY MFWP

F

isheries biologists utilize a variety of tools to manage and conserve aquatic resources. In addition to restoring and protecting habitat, fish stocking is an important management tool not only for enhancing recreational fishing opportunities, but also for the conservation of native fish populations. Achieving this latter objective requires maintaining one or more genetically diverse and disease-free broodstocks capable of producing fish that will survive, reproduce, and adapt to changing conditions in the wild. Initially founded from twelve South Fork Flathead and two Clark Fork tributary populations, Montana Fish,

Wildlife, and Parks’ (MFWP) westslope cutthroat trout broodstock plays a key role in the conservation and restoration of this native species. Annual genetic and disease testing allows hatchery managers to monitor the health of this captive brood and assess the need for periodic infusion of genes from wild populations. In summer 2009 fisheries crews sampled streams in the South Fork Flathead drainage and collected close to 800 westslope cutthroat trout from five pathogen-free, genetically pure populations. These wild fish are being held at Sekokini Springs Natural Rearing and Conservation Facility until they can be spawned with westslope cutthroat from the broodstock next spring. In addition to collecting wild westslope cutthroat trout for genetic infusion into the existing broodstock, fisheries crews also initiated development of an alternative westslope cutthroat brood source to aid in restoration efforts in the South Fork Flathead. Over 250 westslope cutthroat from Danaher Creek were collected and transported alive out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness by packstock. Genetically distinct from the existing broodstock and other westslope cutthroat populations, the Danaher brood will be an important tool for conserving genetic diversity. Fish from this brood will be used to establish populations in certain high mountain lakes in the South Fork drainage once nonnative trout have been removed.

Deep Creek Boat Camp EA Decision Notice Issued MFWP Montana Fish, Wildlife and the FWP web site. Parks will establish a new boat camp near the mouth of Deep Creek in the Smith River State Park corridor. Woody Baxter, FWP Region 4 acting parks supervisor, issued a decision notice Jan. 7 to proceed with the new boat camp. “The addition of another boat camp on the Smith” Baxter said, “will give floaters a new camping location, help to disperse floater groups and improve boat camp satisfaction.” The entire decision notice is available at the public notices link on

The site will be at mile 39 of the 59-mile Smith River float. The location is part of a larger parcel known as the Deep Creek conservation easement that was approved in 2007. Baxter’s decision is subject to appeal, which must be submitted to the FWP director in writing and postmarked within 30 days of Jan. 7. The appeal should be mailed to: Director, MFWP, P.O. Box 200701, 1420 East 6 th Ave., Helena MT 59620-0701.


FEBRUARY 2010

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 11

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OUTDOOR NEWS Fly Tying Corner: Ep Streamer

BY BOB BATES fedflyfishers.org

H

ere is a fly that really attracted my attention at the 2006 FFF International Fly Fishing Show and Conclave in Bozeman. Norm Domagala, Alpine, OR (near Monroe) had a fly box almost filled with them at his tying table. He uses them in the Oregon high Cascade lakes. He either casts from shore or mooches the fly from a floating device. The pattern uses a material called EP Brush that is manufactured by Enrico Puglisi, www.epflies.com. MATERIALS & EQUIPMENT: Hook: Daiichi 2220, 4XL Sizes 6 & 8 Thread: Ultra Thread U70 (6/0) Olive Body: EP Streamer Brush 06 Reddish Olive Cone Head: Gold, small Hackle-1: Whiting Brown Spey Hackle Hackle-2: Whiting Orange Spey Hackle Hackle-3: Whiting Brown Spey Hackle Tail: Pine Squirrel Zonker FL. Chartreuse, 3/32-inch wide Last Layer/ Collar: EP Anadromous Brush 01 Sky Blue Step 1: Put hook upside down and slide on cone head. Then return it a normal position. Put thread on back 3/8ths of hook. (Sometimes Norm replaces the cone head with a thread head, attaches 3D eyes and coats the head with 5-minute epoxy. He flattens the area where the eyes will be attached with pliers, and sometimes uses a glue stick (Elmer’s) to help stick the eyes. Rotate the vise after applying a coat of 5-minute epoxy to even it out. A true rotary vise is needed here.) Step 2: Put a drop of super glue on back of hook, and tie down squirrel tail at the bend of the hook. Trim it to a length equal to the hook shank. Step 3: Tie on red olive EP Streamer Brush. Step 4: Wrap it forward in a not too tight spiral. Stroke the fibers back as you wrap. Wind it forward until it is 1/4-inch from the cone. Use a bodkin to pull out any fibers that were tied down. Step 5: Flatten stem of brown hackle to make it wrap better. Don’t trim or pull off webby part of hackle. Tie it in so the webby part of the hackle will be wrapped first. Step 6: Grab feather by the tip and wrap the webby part twice while stroking the fibers back. Step 7: Secure hackle, and trim excess tip. Moisten fingers and stroke fibers back. Wind thread rearward to make the fibers point rearward if necessary. Comb the hackle back to marry it with the EP Streamer Brush. Step 8: : Flatten stem of orange hackle, tie it on hook. Step 9: Wrap orange hackle two or three times around hook. Pull fibers back as the feather is wrapped. Moisten fingers and stroke the fibers back Wind thread rearward if necessary to make the fibers stay pointing back. Comb fibers back into the other hackle and EP Streamer Brush. Step 10: Attach another brown hackle, wrap it, stroke fibers rearward as feather is wrapped and marry all of the fibers using a bodkin. Step 11: Trim excess brown feather and attach the EP Anadromous Brush. Step 12: Stroke fibers back while wrapping EP Anadromous Brush forward two or three turns, secure and trim excess EP Anadromous Brush. Put a little head cement on 1.5 inches of thread and whip finish twice. Use a comb to marry all of the fibers and give the fly a nice taper. Stroking with moistened fingers will help shape the fly. Step 13: Push cone head back into the fibers, bring thread to front of cone head, build a small thread block, put a little head cement on thread and whip finish.

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Stocking Your Tackle Box Responsibly BY TRAVIS DEBOER OF GUERILLA GUIDE SERVICE

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his month I am going to make my favorite aunt and uncle proud and let my inner hippy shine. I want to talk about more responsible ways to stock ones tackle box, and a few companies that make products that not only have less negative impact on our natural resources but are also making cutting edge fish catching tools in the process. At this point some of you may be feeling a strong urge to move on to another article, fearful that this piece will be another preachy rant from another wacko environmentalist. I strongly urge those who fall into this category to continue reading. Because even though I admit to hugging a tree on occasion, I assure you that 75% percent of those hugs were dished out from a tree stand while bow hunting, (as for the other %25 well what can I say, I’m fond of trees!) I also feel that “wacky” rather than “wacko” is a more fitting descriptive, and I am willing to provide references that can attest to this. As far as the environment is concerned, well I do have to admit that I am indeed a huge fan. Politics aside, the truth is that besides going a little easier on the environment, including the very fish we love, there are other advantages to using some of these products. If things like catching more fish, saving money, or even being a little easier on your own body and health appeal to you, then I assure you that you are reading the right “wacko rant.” In this day and age many companies are making greener products, from less toxic lead free weights, sinkers and jigs to felt free boots (to combat invasive species.) And with bigger companies like Okuma even “going green”, one can’t help but wonder why? Is it profit or a genuine concern for our environment? My guess, which is based on my own small company’s reasons for going this direction, is that it’s probably both. Lead free products have been around for a while now and are to me a perfect example of a group of products that fit multiple criteria for what I consider progress. First they are less toxic to birds, mammals, fish and you, if you are a weight biter like me, or if you enjoy drinking

water. Second there are economic benefits, which entail everything from reusability to being less expensive and higher quality than many of the lead products on the market. Take the many tungsten products you find in almost any fly shop for example. It is heavier than lead which allows you to have less bulky presentations while achieving the same desired depth making for more strikes. Factor the reusability of the tungsten putties which are better than any shot made and you have what I like to call the triple threat! I stumbled across an even better example of this in my quest to find premium jigs in (hard to find) smaller sizes that would hold up to steelhead fishing. After using, abusing and finding smaller sized steelhead jigs to fall very short in the durability or quality department, I had just about given up my search. This broke my heart a little because one area these smaller presentations didn’t disappoint was in the unbelievable amount of strikes they induced when nothing else worked. That’s when I came across leadfreejigheads.com which at first impressed me because of the quality and selection of their jigs, second because their prices were cheaper than my current supplier and regretfully third was the fact that they claimed to be less toxic. (The order of these priorities is today very different.) There are also products out there like the water based lure paints from CS coatings that, aside from being greener, are safer and easier on the poor guy who is charged with making the tackle. The problem here is that they are in my experience not readily available in many stores - something that perhaps a few well placed gripes from concerned outdoorsman could quickly remedy. These examples are just a few of the many choices we as outdoorsman are faced with regard to quality gear as well as ethics and just plain good economics. Many of which are right in front of our faces in fly shops and sporting goods stores, some of which we must dig a (continued on page 16)

FEBRUARY 2010

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oo bad the big catch was a bit early for Seeley Lake’s annual Pike On Ice Tournament held last month on Seeley and Salmon Lakes, but that doesn’t matter to Jaylund Rammell and his daughter Kaylee. Last month, the Rammell’s were spending time ice fishing on Seeley like they always do this at time of year. They were using tip-ups, baited with smelt. Jaylund told me his daughter likes to see the fish trip the orange flag on the tip-up, run over to them and then hand-line them in. This time, however, Jaylund decided that the fish on the other end of the line might be a little big for young Kaylee to handle. “So I started to pull the line in and it took a while as the northern pike had taken out quite a bit of line before it stopped,” said Rammell. “In fact there was a couple of times that I thought I lost the fish as it was swimming towards me.” But Rammell could feel it was a heavy fish. “So when I got the pike up to the ice hole there was a nearby fisherman

who said he would gaff the fish to help me get it out of the water.” It was a good plan to put a big fish on the ice. “But I guess when he saw the size of the head of the northern pike come up, it must of surprised him because he didn’t move,” Jaylund said. “Then his buddy decided to grab the fishing line in all the excitement and the line ended up breaking,” he added. “But we had it out about half way out of the ice hole when the line broke so I grabbed it and got the whole fish on the ice.” And what a fish it was. The northern pike measured 44 inches and weighed 30.7 pounds. It was certainly worth the excitement and was the biggest northern pike that Rammell had ever caught. He wants to thank the other two guys who came over and lent him a hand. I asked Rammell what he was going to do with it and he told me that it already was at the taxidermist for mounting. The pike, is about the same length as Kaylee is tall. Mark Ward is known as the Captain of the Montana Outdoor Radio Show heard statewide every Saturday from 6am - 8am. Log onto www.montanaoutdoor.com to find a radio station in your area. You can also read his weekly column in the Thursday Missoulian Outdoor section.

JAYLUND RAMMELL WITH MONSTER PIKE TAKEN IN SEELEY LAKE


FEBRUARY 2010

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Montana Fishing Report

FEBRUARY 2010

Sponsored By Boston Beer Co. And Summit Beverage February will see some excellent steelhead action on the Clearwater River all month long, and on the Salmon whenever the ice breaks up. Anglers do very well on bobber and jig set-ups, as well as with corky and yarn drift rigs baited with shrimp or eggs. If you’re lucky enough to have access to boat, back-trolling plugs or side drifting bait is an excellent means of putting some fish in your cooler. Fly fisherman will want to swing leeches or wet flies on sink-tips or dead drift small nymphs and egg patterns. If the Clearwater is your destination, try fishing in the Orofino area or on the North Fork, where a lot of the river’s hatchery steelhead are headed. Fly fishers have an easier time on the South Fork because of the smaller water but the main river can still be fished with a fly. The Salmon offers many miles of road-accessible runs, but the stretch from Shoup upstream to Salmon is the most popular. Just drive along until you see a piece of water that is to your liking, there is enough variety on this beautiful river to cater to any anglers whims.

CHRIS MADSEN “MAD DOG”

Western Montana Fishing Report

Brought To You By Missoula

BY CHRIS MADSEN, (406) 523-9000 e-mail: fishing-115@live.com

February is usually the month I am most likely to get a case of some serious cabin fever. You know the feeling: too many consecutive days of cold, dark and snow keeping you pinned inside, with only the occasional ice fishing or steelheading trip to break the routine. By now I am usually in serious need of a few days spent outside, fishing open water with a fly rod, in weather warm enough to fish for more than an hour without feeling your toes go from extremely painful to uncomfortably numb. This is the kind of madness that makes you willing to consider crazier-than-normal thoughts, like intentionally fishing for whitefish, or moving to California. Like I said, crazy thoughts. But even if we don’t get an out of the ordinary warm up there are many fishing prospects in western Montana to get excited about. Let’s take a look. Georgetown continues to be our most productive and popular hard-water fishery. The surface of the ice has thawed a little bit and refrozen which doesn’t give us the best ice but it is better than standing in the slush that was there. Early morning seems to be about the best time to catch the trout bite and the best time for the salmon has been from about midnight to sun rise.

Plenty of nice trout and smaller numbers of salmon continue to be taken on the standard Georgetown fare, rocker jigs, Swedish Pimples, glo hooks, Rat Finkees and the like. Tipping your hook with a maggot, corn or a piece of night crawler shouldn’t be forgotten. The best fishing is usually along points and the outer edges of the bays, in slightly deeper water than earlier in the season. Seeley, Salmon and the other lakes of the Clearwater drainage should continue to provide a variety of ice fishing opportunities, and lots of good fishing prospects. Northern Pike are the primary targets in Salmon and Seeley, and are most readily taken on tip-ups with herring or smelt. Spearing is an option for those with a lot of Viking in their blood, although cutting a big enough hole to spear through in two feet of ice may be challenging enough on its own. Placid has been fishing well for the perch using small Forage Minnows and Buck Shot spoons. Harper’s, Rainy, Alva and many of the higher lakes in the area are fine choices for trout, perch and sometimes salmon. Many can be reached easily from the highway, and some of the snowmobile accessed lakes will offer you great scenery, fishing, and solitude in abundance.

If, like me, you long to get out and fly fish some moving water, February usually offers some good chances, particularly later in the month. After a few days of above-freezing temperatures, most of our trout streams will offer good nymphing prospects, and some of our early spring hatches will have begun by the end of the month, especially if the El Nino weather pattern holds. If you hit the Bitterroot or Clark Fork, Zebra midges, WD-40s, lightning bugs, San Juan worms and glo bugs suspended under an indicator can put the bend back in your fly rod it’s been missing since December. If you’re fishing Rock Creek take some #10 stonefly nymphs. This river has a healthy population of stoneflies and they are a year round food source that trout have a tough time resisting. February can still be a bit of a crapshoot weather-wise, but don’t be surprised to see some spring-like dry fly fishing if you are out on the right day. Make sure you have some miniscule midge adult patterns in the #20 and #22 range to drift over these picky risers. Long leaders with fine tippets will help increase your chances. By March, BWO’s, Skwala stones and small black winter stoneflies are all active in Montana’s rivers, especially the tail waters and freestones on the Western slope.

RYAN ONGLEY

Southwest Montana Fishing Report Brought To You By Bozeman

BY RYAN ONGLEY (406) 586-0100 Spring is around the corner Winter is flying by this year. It’s amazing to think in a few weeks ice off will begin and our area lakes will awaken to spring and some excellent early season fishing. But until then it’s time to enjoy the last few weeks of ice fishing. It’s been another solid winter season here in Southwestern Montana.


FEBRUARY 2010

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Hyalite : Late in the season Hyalite seems to always transition into more consistent action after dark. This body does get a ton of pressure all year long so it’s not surprising. Swedish Pimples or other flash lures will continue to produce lots of cutthroats and brookies. If the fish do seem to be a little less active going smaller with a variety of tiny ice jigs might be the way to go. Pink, chartreuse and any glow lures are standbys. Maggots, mealworms, or a piece of nightcrawler will usually do the trick for tipping your lures. CANYON FERRY: The ice season on this body of water has been typical this year. The trout fishing has been the most consistent. Good success has been had for Perch as well once you find them. And as usual you need to work for those Walleyes. The Silos area has been a good bet for trout. And near Hole in the Wall for Perch and Walleye seems to be the most common area for Perch and Walleye success. Pimples, Jigging Raps, and small ice jigs are all common lures up here. Glo jigs have been very productive for Perch. And jigging with a minnow head seems to be a good bet for the Walleyes. I’m hearing most success with perch and walleye has been in the 40’-55’ depth range.

Trout are being caught at various depths but definitely shallower is usually better. ENNIS LAKE: This lake has provided some fine trout fishing through the ice this season. It’s usually not real crowded and it’s a fairly short drive well worth the effort. Swedish Pimples and spawn sacks have been producing well. UPPER MADISON RIVER: Has continued to fish well weather permitting . Good midge emergences continue on calm warm afternoons. My favorite pattern for these sipping trout is a Zelon Midge in a size #20 - #22. I carry them in tan, black, and a dark olive. When there aren’t noses poking up nymphing is still good with Shop Vac’s, $3 bridge Serendipities, and many other small midge pupae imitations. Sizes #16 - #18 will do the job fine sub surface. Swinging streamers or drifting them is also producing well. Keep in mind the stretch of river from Quake Lake outlet down to Lyon’s bridge will close at the end of February. So take advantage of this area where you will have most of the river to yourself most days. Have a great month of February.

submerged for perch habitat. If you know a buddy that has a few of these saved on his g.p.s. then bribe him because these are great places to start. The rainbow fishing has been slow; however fish and game historical evidence shows that the trout fishing tends to pick up in February. Use pink jigs, wooly buggers, and marabou jigs all tipped with maggots and or crawler. 12”-16” of ice! JESSE FLYNN

North Central Montana Fishing Report Brought To You By Helena

BY JESSE FLYNN (406) 457-7200 e-mail: fishing167helena@yahoo.com CANYON FERRY: I hope everyone had a whale of a time fishing the annual Canyon Ferry Perch Derby. Perch fishing seems to be best between Duck creek and Hole in the Wall. Large numbers of fish are not being taken rather smaller numbers of perch but bigger in size. Anglers can expect to pick up a few walleye while perch fishing as well. Also don’t forget about all of the Christmas trees at the south end of the lake that fish and game have

HAUSER LAKE: Trout and walleye fishing have been hit or miss as of late. Anglers are picking up a few here and there but that is about it. Try using pink jigs for the trout tipped with a worm or maggot and chartreuse for the walleye. Another thing to try for walleye is to jig a swimming jig. Expect to catch some nice Ling near Black Sandy and White Earth. February should bring post spawn Ling into a feeding frenzy which should increase anglers’ odds this time of year. Causeway 6”-12”, Black Sandy 12”-14” of ice. Be cautious of Causeway ice if temperatures begin to heat up. HOLTER LAKE: Lately Holter has been the hot spot for good size walleye. I would recommend getting up and around log gulch this time of year. Ten to twenty feet of water should be your target range. Don’t be afraid to move and move often. You shouldn’t be fishing very far off the bottom. I’m talking six inches to a foot will seemingly produce walleye. Walleye fishing through the ice seems to be more productive when you keep your bait moving. Rainbow fishing has been descent at best. Try Black beach and Departure point using browns and chartreuse. 10”-14” of ice

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 15


16 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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FEBRUARY 2010

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$100,000 will be available to lake trout anglers in the 2010 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. 2010 Spring Mack Days will begin March 12th and end May 23rd. Eleven fantastic fishing weekends-Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays-33 days of lake trout fishing on Flathead Lake. Barry Hansen-CSKT Fisheries Biologist-states that Mack Days Events support the fisheries management objective in the Flathead Lake Co-Management Plan to slowly reduce the number of non-native lake trout and thereby increase the numbers of native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout in the lake. Anglers provide a significant part of making a difference in the attempts to restore a balance in Flathead Lake. Fish one day or fish every day to increase your chances-your best 15 days will count in the lottery drawing but every day will count for your bonus amount. Expansion in the event this year includes over 2,000 tagged fish and added bonus amounts-from $1.50 to $3 per lake trout, and an increase to eleven weekends Bonuses will be paid out in the following amounts: 0-19 lake trout=$0

20-30=$35, 31-60=$65, 61-100=$110, 101-150=$185, 151200=$260, 201-250=$360, 251-300=$440, 301-350=$535, 351-400=$615, 401450=$740, 451-500=$830, 501-550=$915, 551-600=$1,030, 601-650=1,125, 651-700=$1,215, 701-750=$1,340, 751-800=$1,430, 801-850=$1,600, 851-900-$1,700, 901-950=$1850, 951-1000=$2,200, 1001-1100=$2,200, 1101-1200=$2,875, 1201-1300=$3,450, 1301-1400=$4,050, 1401+=$3 ea. There will be two $5,000 tagged lake trout with all other internally tagged lake trout having values of $100-$500. Tagged lake trout have been adipose fin clipped-do not remove any tag before entering your lake trout and remember some fish have been clipped by anglers using that as a way to identify if they recapture fish as they are out there fishing. There were 34 tags turned in during 2009 Fall Mack Days that paid out $4,600. There will be eleven weekend winner prizes of $200 each. Ladies who enter 20 or more lake trout compete for added prizes of $300, $200, and $100. The youth categories (17 & under) have $750 in prizes with youth also qualifying for up to $600 in the lottery drawing. The competitive and aggressive top ten anglers with the best 15 day average will qualify for prizes

from $700 to $200. The lottery drawing will feature cash awards in a drawing for thirty cash prizes-your 15 best days count$1,000-$250. Limit of 2 cash prizes/ angler in the lottery drawing. Last day is a separate day with separate prizes-$500 to $100-but will count for bonuses and tagged fish. Cash prizes also include the coveted largest lake trout prize that will pay $500 for the heaviest lake trout over 36” and 24 lbs. Two prizes of $250 each will go to the highly sought after smallest lake trout category winners turned in during the event. Enter before March 10th to qualify for the $200 Early Bird prize. Entries continue will be accepted up until the last day of the event. Fish all of Flathead Lake. Blue Bay will be the headquarters during the event-turn in your lake trout entries there all day until dark. There will also be pick up times at Big Arm, Polson, and Somers in the evenings. Check out the website at www.mackdays.com for information about the event, the management plans, rules, etc. If you have suggestions or comments call us at 406-883-2888 ex. 7294-Cindy or 7282-Barry.

Stocking Your Tackle Box Responsibly (continued from page 12) little deeper to find, all are worth careful logical consideration. Very few of these options are perfect and that’s why we as outdoorsman must strive for and demand better. Try to think of it as “progress” and not something as scary as “change”. We are after all more than anyone else responsible for conserving the wild places we choose to spend our time just as we are responsible for most of the good that has been done up to this point. The goal now more than ever is not to stagnate or get set in our ways but to continue to progress as stewards of our natural world, maybe at just a slightly faster rate. Just few Links to better products and ideas: www.pca.state.mn.us/oea/reduce/sinkers.cfm - For more Ideas and links about lead free fishing and products www.leadfreejigheads.com - For those who want to tie there own lead free jigs out of the very best with regard to hook size, selection and quality www.guerillaguideservice.com – Gear page - For those who want somebody else to tie their lead free jigs – (shameless plug I know, but we do twist a nice lead free jig!)


FEBRUARY 2010

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 17

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FEBRUARY 2010

Howling For Coyotes BY ANDREW MCKEAN

Turn to howls for rut-season coyotes

C

onsistently bagging coyotes requires covering plenty of ground, hunting a variety of terrain and weather conditions, and doing a lot of little things right. If you’re calling, you need to sound as realistically as possible like a prey species a Montana coyote might encounter. If you’re spotting and stalking, you need to get off well-traveled roads and concentrate on areas where big-game populations winter. And any time you’re on stand for a coyote, you need to watch your downwind flank for incoming dogs. The factor that can tip the odds in your favor during February is the breeding season. Just as the rut makes deer and elk more mobile and visible, and can cause them to drop some of their prodigious inhibitions, the canine rut can cause breeding coyotes to roam widely and respond to a wider variety of calls than they do the rest of the season. Specifically, this is the month to break out your howler calls and talk to coyotes in their own language, with a mix of challenge howls, locator barks and submissive whimpers. Here are a few breeding-season tips for taking multiple coyotes during this witching month:

10 YR. OLD NICHOLAS WITH DAD VINCE LINDGREN 2009 ELK, MISSOULA, MT

·Invest in an electronic caller – The beauty of e-callers is that they have a dizzying selection of coyote vocalizations, or howls and barks. And the differences between, say, the challenge howls of territorial males and the come-and-get me howls of a female in heat are pretty similar. Plus, electronic calls have the pitch and volume to really reach out and pull in coyotes from long distances. ·Cover ground – Even though mating coyotes will travel widely, they’re not all

going to come to you. You need to get out and find them, which means hunting likely country. Hit foothills brush and larger tributaries off big rivers like the Yellowstone, Bitterroot and Milk. Hunt close to the calving operations of big ranches. And hunt the remote drainages in big chunks of public land, especially lower-elevation BLM ground. ·Hunt with a buddy – This is a tip that doesn’t have a season. When it comes to coyote calling, it’s a good idea to have a designated caller and a designated shooter. Coyotes slide in undetected any time, but keep your keenest eye on the downwind side of your stand. ·Appeal to coyotes’ appetite – While reproduction may be the distraction of the season, coyotes will respond to hunger pangs any time. Don’t leave your prey-in-distress calls at home. This time of year, wounded fawns can work well, but the bread-and-butter call for a Montana winter remains wounded jackrabbit or cottontail scream. And in heavily hunted, high-pressure areas, you might try change-up calls like woodpecker screams and even wounded pup whimpers and howls. ·Forget the hide – Well, don’t forget it entirely, but by February most coyotes in Montana will be wearing pretty ratty hides. Guard hair is getting broken and the prime fur of November is rubbed out. Besides, the market for coyotes is pretty weak this winter. That shouldn’t stop you from hunting, or from harvesting the fur, but just don’t expect to get rich from all those February coyotes you’re about to bag.


FEBRUARY 2010

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 19

gear review

Reviews provided by Montana Test.Com The Country’s Leading Outdoor Product Testing Site. Reviews are independent of advertisers and all products tested in real time hunting and fishing conditions. Montana Test .Com does not guarantee positive reviews to any manufacturer. www.mtBowHuntingreviews.com and www.bowhuntingreviews.net are part of Montana Test.com. Visit www.montanatest.com

Petzl TACTIKKA XP Headlamp

Recommend: Buy Highlights: Petzl’s TACTIKKA XP headlamp is a serious light with never ending features. The one we found the most intriguing is the boost up to fifty meters. That is just less than 165 feet. The boost lasts just a mere 20 seconds but gives you a quick burst of light to look over your terrain and in our case, our decoy spread. The spot beam reaches 35 meters or 114 feet. If you hunt big game, the TACTIKKA XP is necessary. It is compact and lightweight and has four wide-angle lenses, red, green, blue, and transparent. It has three light levels; maximum, optimum, and economic with continuous and flashing. The TACTIKKA XP offers a battery charge indicator light to track power levels. Always bring along extra batteries. All our testers appreciated the quality of the TACTIKKA XL and with most of the testing in snow and bitterly cold weather, it performed. Drawback...None Rating...8 Point...Great Tester: All Suggested Retail: $57.95

Thingamabobber Strike Indicator

Recommend: Buy Highlights: If you fly fish you know about and probably use the Thingamabobber strike indicator. It has taken the industry like a hurricane. The last time on the water, I made a point of observing strike indicators and every angler was using a Thingamabobber. This is a reusable balloon indicator that you do not have to blow up, just tie on, and remove at the end of the day. You have three sizes to choose from, 1⁄2”, 3⁄4”, and 1-inch diameter, and you can pick from a bundle of different colors. I have used all season and can tell you they cast great, are easy to see, and very durable. Another good feature is that they do not sink; the only way to ruin them would be to punch a big hole in one. If you fly fish and have not used a Thingamabobber the next time you head for trout waters, pick yourself up two or three. I can promise you the Thingamabobber will be your indicator replacing all others. Drawback...None Rating...High Water Mark...Great Tester: All Suggested Retail: $1.00 to $5.00 per pack and size. Check local pricing

BOGS’® Blaze MT Rubber Boot

Recommend: Buy Highlights: We tested two pair of BOGS’® Blaze MT rubber boots in MossyOak breakup and with the winter we are having they have come in very handy. These are waterproof and breathable rated to minus 40 degrees. MT technology comprises a four way stretch layer system for stability and shock absorbency, moisture wicking neoprene foam pad. The liner is an internal Ortholite sock liner with Aegis anti-microbial protection. The shell of the boot has comfort molded EVA midwedge for extra support, shock absorbency and a non-slip natural rubber outsole. Boot height is 17 inches with a self-cleaning outsole. The Blaze MT is the first of its kind that we have tested that is waterproof, breathable, and most importantly incredibly comfortable. We are impressed with the quality and comfort from a rubber boot that does not appear at first glance to look different from all the others. The BOGS’ Blaze MT offers innovative technology for a rubber boot. Drawback...None Rating...8 Point...Great Tester: Chris and Pat Stinson Suggested Retail: $132.00


20 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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FEBRUARY 2010

Shop our online store for the latest in records books and scoring materials Boone and Crockett Club Books, DVDs, Clothing, Hunting Gear, Art Prints and much more.

Blake Hames Of Mission Mountain Tanning in Missoula “Last hour, last day 150” Buck.”

Thor Sichveland-Broker Owner Clearwater Montana Properties, Inc. in Philipsburg “8x7 Eastern Montana Bull-Trophy Tag Draw.”

Josh Fields & Fiance’ Carla Appleton Of Missoula “Josh’s 2009 Buck.”

Blake Hames Of Missoula With Grandpa Jim “Grandpa’s First Montana Muley.”

Lonnie Murphy (Left) of Deer Lodge with Nan Quinlan of Forsyth “A pair of nice Bucks.” Find the greatest selection of official Boone and Crockett Club merchandise with simple and secure ordering.

Jackie Klotz “Mule Deer Buck Shot at 150 yards. Rough Gross 178-B/C.”

The Boone and Crockett Club Online Store is sure to have the perfect gift for the outdoorsperson in your life.

SUBMIT YOUR OUTDOOR PHOTOS TO BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE e-mail: bigskyoutdoornews@yahoo.com or mail to: 8591 Capri Drive, Helena, MT. 59602

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 21

Improve your odds with TROPHY SEARCH® Trophy Search® is available as a yearly subscription. For just $50 a year (or $40 a year for current B&C Associates) you can have unlimited access to the Club’s trophy database... The possibilities are endless. www.booneandcrockettclub.com or 406.542.1888

Chance, Age 12 of Absarokee “First Deer and first harvest. A special thanks to my Grandpa for taking me hunting!”

David Repke “First Whitetail Buck.”

Morgan of Helena “First Antelope taken Opening Day 2009.”

Joel, Age 12 “First year hunting, first Buck. Scored 170” approximately.”

Jill, Age 13 of Roberts “First Elk.”

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Alexa, Age 14 of Belgrade “4x4 Mule Deer Buck taken the last weekend of her 3rd season.”

Thank You To All Who Entered Our Photo Contest.

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Keep checking back for your photo. All will be published.

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Treasure State Chapter Of The Mule Deer Foundation Announces Winners Of Their Gun Raffle & Upcoming Banquet The Treasure State

Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation would like to congratulate the winners of their gun raffle... Bill Willman - 270 Winchester Adam Senschal - 30-06 Howa Please join them on May 1, 2010 at the Star Lanes Convention Center in Butte, for their 2nd annual Mule Deer Foundation Dinner . For reservation and ticket information call Holly at 498-3224.

FEBRUARY 2010

Of Elk (And Wolves) And Beating The Odds (continued from page 4) individual bulls learned from bow season helps me in gun season. Every trail I follow, every deep hole or backbone ridge I explore adds information that helps me to know where the “odds” of finding a bull are better. So, mental attitude, amount of time spent in the woods, and luck all help beat the odds. Yes luck. Luck is simply a definition of being in the right place at the right time. Lightning has a lot of places to strike in thousands of acres of forest. Believe me, I have been in a lot of right places at the wrong time during an average hunting season. Your bull elk has to have a bad day, has to make a mistake that puts him at risk, and has to be there when you are there. I have been less than 100 yards from a bull during bow season and would never have known it if he had not answered a call. Bad luck for the bull equals good luck for you. The odds of harvesting an elk are likely to get higher in the years ahead. Wolf presence changes elk behavior. During this past season I saw elk stay in deep, dark, deadfall thick timber until well after dark before moving cautiously out into a feeding area. An apex predator, the gray wolf, is on the hunt 24x7, 365 days a year, looking for a meal. A recent article using FW&P’s own numbers says each wolf eats from (11) to (35) elk a year. (b)(c) Using their highly suspect number of a population of (500) wolves that would give a total of (5000) elk a year eaten by wolves, on the low end calculation. Montana is said to have a population of (80000) elk. How long will it take the wolf to decimate Montana’s elk population? It would appear that a wolf harvest of (75) and additional fatalities will push the total number to between (150 – 200) wolves taken out of the population each year. This population decline number is calculated to match the quoted estimated (20%) increase in total wolf numbers each year from new pups. (Authors note - But looking harder at this number (200) of a (500) total would equal a (40%) yearly increase and not a (20%) yearly increase in wolf numbers as has been stated. Does this mean that (200) fatalities are acceptable because there really are (1000) wolves? (20%) of (1000) = (200))(e)(f) Perhaps in (10) years, any (bull) elk will be a rare trophy in western Montana. One hunter trying to add humor to the grim picture was heard to say… ”Then, I guess we’ll have to learn to eat wolf”. Start looking for recipes.

(a) Still better than the odds of harvesting a black bear. That number is often quoted as (1) in (20) hunters harvest a black bear or (5%), (5) out of (100) hunters). (b) Montana Outdoors – September/ October 2009 – Another Mouth to Feed; excerpts, ” the latest minimum count December 2008 (497) wolves in 84 verified packs; wolf predation is attributed to the decline of the large elk herd in Yellowstone National Park from 19,000 in the mid-1990’s to 7,000 today. (Isolated elk populations such as those in Mineral and Ravalli may not recover.”) (c) Montana Outdoors – November/ December 2009 – Hunt Represents Successful Wolf Conservation; “USFWS released (66) wolves in the mid 1990’s…to roughly (500) today.” (d) The Clark Fork Chronicle- November 30, 2009 (online) - Deer, elk harvest down this year; excerpts, “At the region’s three check stations for the season, 20,395 hunters checked 586 elk, 254 mule deer, 496 white-tailed deer, seven black bears, three moose, 22 bighorn sheep, four mountain goats and sixteen wolves for 6.8 percent of hunters with game. This is lower than the 8 percent of hunters with game last year. Elk harvest finished just five percent below last year but nearly 45 percent behind the five-year average. Elk harvest was the lowest since 2002 when 445 elk were tallied at the Region 2 check stations.” (authors note – if 20,000 hunters killed 600 elk that ratio would be 3% or (3) out of (100) hunters taking an elk, that is if they were all hunting elk) (e) Missoulian – December 23, 2009 - Federal agents to kill wolves in 6 western Montana packs for livestock attacks; “To date, 91 wolves have been killed in 2009 by wildlife agents or ranchers defending their livestock. Another 112 have died from hunting, natural causes and other reasons, bringing the total known deaths this year in Montana to 203.” (f) Missoulian – November 1, 2009 - Poaching throws wrinkles in Montana’s first wolf-hunting season; “Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, …At one end of the modeling spectrum was a quota of about 200, and at the other was no hunt at all. They landed, finally, somewhere in the middle - a statewide hunting quota of 75. That’s about 15 percent of the state’s estimated 550 wolves. …And so the states, he said, went with very conservative numbers. At these quota numbers, they can’t possibly impact the overall wolf population.”


FEBRUARY 2010

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 23

Decoy Your Next Predator BY BRODIE SWISHER

W each year, continue to go season after a encounter with a fox, coyote, or cat. Despite their best efforts, many would-be predator hunters closing the adversary. ROY ON THE LEFT, AUTHOR BRODIE SWISHER ON THE RIGHT PHOTO COURTESY BRODIE SWISHER While there are many variables that can ultimately lead to one’s defeat, the inability to “finish” an on approaching predator plagues hunters across the country. It was a little over ten years ago that I discovered that decoys can change everything when hunting for predators. When a decoy was added to the bag of tricks, my success rate on coyotes changed dramatically. I often hear guys complain about their lack of success when calling coyotes or other predators. They’ll often say, “We’ve called…and called…and called some more…but we never have coyotes respond to our calling efforts. In reality, it’s very likely that in many of these scenarios, the hunter has indeed called up a coyote, however one of a couple things have led to the coyote’s quick departure. One in particular is that a coyote will often see or smell a hunter long before the hunter realizes the predator has responded to the call…and in many cases, the hunter is not aware of the fact that he or she were successful in drawing a coyote to the call at all. It is imperative that a coyote, or other approaching predator, can see an object (decoy) that will help confirm the sounds they heard. The coyote’s senses are as sharp as any critter in the wild. When an approaching coyote can’t get a fix on the sounds heard, he will often go on alert. It is an unnatural presentation, and in many cases, the jig will be up. For this reason, a decoy place at your calling setup will greatly increase your chances to seal the deal when a coyote responds to your calling efforts. PAINTING A PICTURE Few hunting experiences compare to that of a coyote charging hard to the decoy. With proper decoy placement, shots within easy shotgun

range – even archery range – are not uncommon. One of my closest encounters with a coyote came as I video taped a buddy killing a coyote charging the decoy at just 8 yards! The key to such success is greatly attributed to a motion-style prey decoy. One of my favorites is the Predator Supreme Decoy from Advanced Decoy Research (DecoyHeart.com). The Predator Supreme is the missing link that appeals to the basic instinct of predators. I’ve found that few predators can resist a motion decoy once they lay eyes on it. A motion decoy will not only get the predators attention, but hold it’s attention making shot preparation much easier. The motion decoy also allows the hunter to direct the coyote’s path of entry to a pre-determined area for the kill. They never take their eyes off of it! Another new and deadly decoy from Delta Decoys is the Fred Eichler’s Smokin’ Predators decoy series (deltatargets.net). Their IMPOSTOR decoy is sure to be the death of many fox, coyotes, and cats this year. With quiet motor operation and a durable, weatherproof, low-profile plastic housing, this high-quality model comes standard with 80703 Universal Rabbit Critter Tail, and accepts other interchangeable critter tail patterns (sold separately) for additional hunting scenarios. The Imposter is easy to set up and take down in the field, and its rechargeable, long-life battery has a 110-volt wall plug (included) and a 12-volt auto charger (included), for charging anywhere, anytime. The Imposter features a remote control (included) with on/off switch for hands-free operation from a hideout location. Sporadic decoy motion mimics the real-life struggle of a wounded prey animal moving, resting when tired out, and then continuing the struggle. The

telescoping decoy rod (included) provides flexibility for use in short grass and taller bush-and is removable for ease in carrying in and out of the field. When the ground is too hard or frozen to use the ground stake (included), the tripod attachment (included) provides quick setup and takedown. All components fit into a convenient, solid storage case (included) for storage and transport. One of the latest trends in predator decoys is the use of life-size coyote imitations. Whether it’s a full-body style or a photo-realistic silhouette, these imposters are proving that decoys that play on a predator’s territorial instincts can be a deadly tool of the trade. From the folks that bring us the world’s most portable life-sized decoys, the new Montana Decoy Kojo coyote and Fawnzy fawn decoys (montanadecoy. com) have looks that are sure to kill and user-friendly features that are second to none. This new decoy combination paints a picture to approaching predators like no other. Much like domestic dogs, coyotes are very territorial. When they encounter another coyote in their country, with an easy meal (fawn) no-less, it will be more than they can handle. These lightweight decoys are particularly handy when you’re putting some miles on your boots and packing all your gear as you go. (For the sake of safety, hunters should use extreme caution in how and where they set up when hunting with life-like coyote decoys.)

Quick Tips for Hunting Predators with a Decoy 1) Place the decoy where it is visible from multiple directions (elevated ground, fence post, etc.) 2) Place the decoy exactly where you you’d like for the predator to be standing for the shot. Unless you booger things up, a coyote will quickly close the distance to the decoy in an effort to get to the decoy. 3) Leave ample shooting opportunities downwind of your decoy…coyote’s will likely approach from the downwind side. 4) Add color to your decoy to make it stick out from the surrounding landscape. Add a white rag to a brown or grey decoy when hunting in a dead (brown & grey) landscape. 5) Whenever possible, add motion to the decoy. A still decoy will often go unnoticed…and don’t forget extra batteries! 6) Glass the surrounding country around you before walking out into the open to place your decoy. Coyotes will often be sitting at the edge of the timber waiting for an easy meal…if they see you approach, the game will be over. Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, and seminar speaker. Check out his web site at www.BroOutdoors.com.


24 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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FEBRUARY 2010

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New Upland Game Bird Biologists Pneumonia Confirmed In Bighorn Sheep Near Bonner MFWP Hired In FWP Regions 6 & 7 MFWP Montana Fish, Wildlife and

Parks welcomes two new biologists in Region 6 & 7 whose work will primarily involve enhancing upland bird habitats and populations in their respective areas. Ashley Beyer, 26, will serve as the Miles City-based upland game bird biologist in Region 7, and Drew Henry, also 26, will serve in a similar Region 6 position based in the Plentywood area. Each of the employees started their new jobs on Jan. 4. Beyer, originally from Ulm, Mont., earned a master’s degree in animal and range science from Montana State University-Bozeman in 2008. Beyer’s area of responsibility primarily includes Dawson, Prairie, Custer and Rosebud counties and parts of Richland County. Henry, who grew up in Glasgow, Mont., earned a master’s degree in animal ecology from Iowa State University’s Department of Natural Resources, Ecology and Management in 2009. His main area of responsibility includes Daniels, Sheridan and Roosevelt counties, Valley County east of Opheim, and portions of Richland County. The two new positions – plus another similar position that will be based in Conrad -- were created by the 2009 Legislature as part of a broader effort to improve and expand services and accountability in MTFWP’s Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program. Henry and Beyer’s duties will include working with landowners, the Natural Resources Conservation Service

(NRCS), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and MTFWP field personnel in promoting, locating, designing, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating upland and wetland habitat enhancement and conservation projects -- primarily on private land. Habitat conservation projects will be funded primarily with Upland Game Bird Enhancement and Migratory Bird programs individually or in partnership with existing NRCS programs and the USFWS’ Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program. The biologists will also work cooperatively with Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, among others. Both Beyer and Henry say they plan to establish and expand working relationships with landowners in their areas, as well as maintain regular communication with legislators, county commissioners, the user-public, environmental and sportsperson organizations, and other private groups and public land-managing agencies. Beyer can be reached at (406) 234-0900 or at abeyer@mt.gov by e-mail; Henry can be contacted at (406) 385-7033 or at dhenry@mt.gov by e-mail. For more information about the Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program, visit the FWP Web site at fwp.mt.gov.

S

tate wildlife officials said tests have confirmed pneumonia in two bighorn sheep from the Bonner herd just east of Missoula. The nearly always-fatal respiratory disease was first suspected when a resident in West Riverside, between East Missoula and Bonner, reported three coughing sheep in the neighborhood on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) biologists investigated that afternoon and shot and removed two sheep from a small group that appeared sick. Those sheep tested positive for pneumonia at FWP’s wildlife laboratory in Bozeman. “We know these sheep had pneumonia, but at this point we’re not sure how widespread the disease is within the herd,” said Vickie Edwards, FWP wildlife biologist in Missoula. “Our next step is to survey the area to find out if the sick sheep are isolated from other sheep and what the chances are that we can remove infected sheep before they interact with other members of the herd.” Jennifer Ramsey, FWP’s wildlife veterinarian in Bozeman said that additional laboratory tests will determine the specific strain of the bacteria, and removing sick animals could help slow the spread of the disease. “The two animals tested showed significant damage to the lungs, but the disease was not at its most advanced stage, and we’ll continue monitoring and removing infected animals with the hopes that we might have caught this early.” Once bighorns contract pneumonia, however, they die within a few days. There are no known vaccines to prevent pneumonia in wild sheep, or

medications that can be practically applied to prevent the death of sick individuals. The Bonner bighorn sheep herd was established in 1987 when 14 sheep were transplanted there. The herd includes four separate groups of sheep, and the two cases of confirmed pneumonia were found in sheep that are a part of the group most habituated to humans, often spotted in neighborhoods in West Riverside. The herd’s other groups inhabit more remote and undeveloped areas to the east, between Bonner and Rainbow Bend Drive, just off Highway 200, and in the Rattlesnake Wilderness. The Bonner herd is estimated to have 160-180 sheep, and an aerial survey conducted last spring showed no indication for disease concern. Approximately 45-50 sheep commonly inhabit the West Riverside area where the disease was detected, although more sheep have been reported in the area at certain times. There have been no known cases of humans or pets contracting pneumonia from wild sheep, but FWP cautions anyone who finds dead or sick bighorn sheep to leave the animal alone and call FWP in Missoula at 406-542-5500. In extreme cases, pneumoniarelated outbreaks among bighorn sheep can result in herd “die-offs.” A pneumonia outbreak in the East Fork Bitterroot herd, south of Darby, last November resulted in the death of 77 of the estimated 225 sheep in this herd. Because the disease was detected early in the East Fork herd, efforts to remove sick and dying sheep have helped to control the spread of the disease, but disease monitoring efforts continue.


FEBRUARY 2010

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 25

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Mark Sullivan Mount Haggin Named as WMA Gates Region 6 Wildlife Vandalized MFWP Manager MFWP In two separate incidents between Dec. 24 and 28 vandals destroyed M

ark Sullivan, a 22-year veteran of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, has been appointed to lead the Region 6 wildlife program. Sullivan spent the past 17 years serving as FWP’s Malta-based wildlife field biologist. Along with managing an array of animal species and landscapes in the central section of the Region, Sullivan’s duties there included working cooperatively with many private landowners and other agencies and organizations. Part of Sullivan’s responsibilities in Malta involved representing FWP during the development of the BLM’s Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Resource Management Plan, the BLM’s Hi-Line Resource Management Plan, and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan. He’s also been heavily involved with the Missouri River Breaks Elk Working Group and the Region 6 Sage Grouse Working Group, among other similar organizations, and helped secure an extensive conservation easement agreement on the Cowell Ranch south of Malta in 2001. Sullivan has extensive experience running a wide variety of on-the-ground habitat and access projects on private and public land and wildlife management areas (WMAs) scattered along the Hi-Line. “Malta has also been a great place to raise a family. Habitat and access have always been the priorities of the Region 6 wildlife program, and that won’t change,” said Sullivan.

a jackleg fence and a locked gate on the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area ten miles south of Anaconda. In both incidents, motorized vehicles illegally entered winter closure areas. At the German Gulch entrance to the WMA, vandals forcibly removed a section of jackleg fence and drove onto the range. There were tire tracks of a vehicle and off-highway vehicles at the site. In the other incident, which took place at the Cabbage Gulch entrance to the WMA, vandals drove a vehicle through a locked gate into a closed area and built a fire in the roadway. There were multiple vehicle tracks in the area. While Montana’s wildlife management areas are available for people to enjoy through much of the year, the primary management focus of the areas is wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation. Seasonal winter closures are in place on most wildlife management areas to provide critical and secure winter range for big game generally from Dec. 1 to May 15 of each year. It is against the law to enter a wildlife management area during wintertime closures. Under a new law passed during the 2009 legislative session, those convicted of criminal mischief or trespassing on any FWP-owned property can be fined, jailed, and have hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges revoked. Anyone with any information is encouraged to call Butte-area FWP Warden Regan Dean at 406-494-1976 or 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800- 847-6668 ). Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

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Hunter Harvest Great Falls Spring Survey Is Hunter Education Underway MFWP Course Set MFWP M

ontana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ annual game harvest survey is underway and is expected to continue into May. This critical part of the hunting season cycle provides the information that wildlife biologists and managers need to estimate the annual wild game harvest and to recommend quotas for upcoming hunting seasons. FWP biometrician Robin Russell in Bozeman said that about 80,000 Montana households are generally contacted over the course of the survey. Survey interviewers collect information on big and small game -- including deer, elk, antelope, moose, turkey and upland game birds. This year the survey calls will be made from calling centers in Bozeman and Helena. The simple telephone survey generally takes about five minutes to complete.

R

egistration will be 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., March 2; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 3-5, at the Region 4 Fish, Wildlife and Parks office, 4600 Giant Springs Road. A parent or guardian must accompany each student 17 or younger to co-sign the registration card and liability release. Classes will be 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., March 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 and 22 at East Middle School, 4040 Central Ave. A field day test will take place March 20. At registration, the parent or guardian will be asked to select a morning or afternoon time for the student on field day. By state law, everyone born after Jan. 1, 1985, must complete a hunter education course before they can hunt in Montana. For more information on this or any other course in north central Montana contact the FWP office in Great Falls, 454-5840.


26 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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the demands of beginning, intermediate, and experienced riders. Whether you prefer steady, mellow cruising with few elevation changes, or you are craving the powdery steeps, there are plenty of options to suit your taste. SnoWest Magazine traditionally awards West Yellowstone with a top position in the Top 15 Trails in the West for snowmobilers. Each year, the magazine sends out nearly 2,000 surveys and asks readers to rank their favorites according to ten different categories (from scenery and grooming to weather). West Yellowstone has held spot #1 or #2 for the past eleven years. The Madison Arm Loop is located north and west of West Yellowstone and is 20 miles in length. It will take you by the Madison Arm of Hebgen Lake. This could easily be considered the most relaxing ride of the trails in the Yellowstone area. The trail is well maintained and usually provides great wildlife viewing opportunities. If you are new to snowmobiling, consider this as a first ride before heading out to the other trails in the system. The northern edge of the Madison Arm Loop skirts along the edge of Hebgen Lake, while the west edge goes along the South Fork of the Madison River. (Caution: the ice along Hebgen Lake is not safe to ride on). South Plateau Trail can be access from Electric Street right in West Yellowstone. This is a quieter trail and is recommended for the novice to intermediate snowmobiler. The trail runs along the boundary of Yellowstone National Park and is your best opportunity to view the moose of the region. You can ride this trail out and back, or link it up with one of the other trails to make a great loop ride. Be sure you know how long these loops are and where the nearest gas is along the way. (Be sure to pick up a map from the Chamber of Commerce or West Yellowstone businesses.) The South Plateau heads south for 13 miles where is meets the Black Bear Cutoff (to Idaho) or 16.2 miles where is meets the Black Canyon Trail. It provides great views of the area’s mountains, following creeks and rivers away from the crowds. There is an abundance of off-trail riding but make sure that you do not enter Yellowstone Park (the trail skirts the western edge of the Park). See the snow ghosts of Two Top on the most famous trail in all of North America! Two Top Trail is a popular choice for its variety of terrain and 2,000-foot elevation gain. The trail is groomed, and powder fields abound. This trail has everything and makes it one of

the most visited trails in the system. Whether you are a novice or an expert, you will enjoy this well- groomed trail. This trail is a large loop with plenty of extra off-trail riding for those in search of more adventure. There are numerous bowls out there with drop offs and overhanging cliffs. The bowls are great to ride, but make sure you know where you are out there. On clear days you can view the Teton Mountains and be treated to an incredible panorama of the entire region. From the upper areas, the surrounding mountain ranges come into view, including the Wyoming’s Teton’s, Idaho’s Centennial Mountains, Lionhead in Montana, and Yellowstone National Park. Constant driven winds create ghostly ice patterns plastered on the trees at the top of this mountain creating the famous “snow ghosts.” The Big Sky Trail provides some of the best backcountry snowmobiling in Montana. This 110- mile trail begins just north of West Yellowstone. The first portion is groomed, but the trail quickly turns into an un-groomed powder experience. The Big Sky Trail is not groomed as often as other trails in the area. If you are in search of fresh powder, you may find it here. The trail begins from West Yellowstone and heads north along the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. From West Yellowstone, there is seventeen miles of groomed trail followed by thirteen miles of ‘un-groomed powder’ until it reaches the Sunlight Basin Trail. About 9 miles out of town the trail crosses the highway and heads northwest. After the road crosses the highway, the area opens up into the cabin and Tepee Creek area. This area has open bowls, deep powder, happy snowmobilers and a forest service cabin that can be rented. Though the scenery can be breathtaking, you will seldom see wildlife due to the immense powder and thick forest. Deep fields of snow, and outstanding hill climbing opportunities are the hallmark of this wellknown and challenging trail. This is a trail for more aggressive riders looking for backcountry access. (Try Carrot Basin and Skyline Ridge.) Lionhead Trail offers an exciting experience for those seeking something more radical. Following the east side of the Continental Divide, the trail climbs to over 10,000 feet. It is also one of the shortest and steepest trips in the area at around 16 miles, but one of the most scenic trails with expansive vistas from the Teton to Yellowstone. This trail rides along the Continental Divide and then up to the top of Lionhead Mountain through a series of switchbacks that are not recommended for the inexperienced rider. (continued on next page)


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Horse Butte Loop travels the shores of Hebgen Lake. This trail is a great ride to introduce the novice rider into the snowmobiling community. The 20-mile loop takes you by Hebgen Lake and some of the best ice fishing in the west. If you are looking to get away from the crowds of the Yellowstone trail system, this is a great smooth ride for you. This trail is also a great ride when the weather is a bit too much on the higher trails. Access the loop from the 4.8 Horse Butte Trail. (You can add another 15 miles by taking the Cougar Creek Trail.) This trail makes a ride through thick pines and open meadows and along the lake. Watch for the fire lookout and great views from the top of Horse Butte. There is off- trail riding through then trees and meadows, although some of the area is restricted (posted signs). The Continental Divide Trail offers a unique snow travel experience, connecting central Wyoming with our community via Yellowstone National Park. The trail system begins near Lander, Wyoming at Sinks Canyon, and winds through the Wind River Mountains near Pinedale and Dubois. The trail then passes through Togwotee Pass and Moran before entering Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The trail follows the Rockefeller Parkway and ends at Yellowstone’s southern entrance

West Yellowstone Fishery Managers Predict 470,000 World Snowmobile Columbia River Spring Chinook EXPO March 12th-14th In 2010 WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE SNOWMOBILEEXPO.COM The technical committee 45 percent. An accurate preseason forecast is advising Columbia River fishery necessary to set commercial and recreational E

XPO is recognized worldwide as the “Largest Snowmobile Event in the West.” Ski-doo, Arctic Cat, Polaris, and Yamaha will unveil their new 2010 snowmobile lines for the first time to the public at the same location. Hundreds of new aftermarket exhibits will also be on display at the West Yellowstone Holiday Inn Conference Hotel, center for the 2010 EXPO. This year combines annual favorite racing events with new competitions including ATV racing, freestyle aerials, and a Toughman Enduro Race. Yellowstone Park tours by snowmobile and snowcoach will also be available through EXPO will also be available. Back again this year will be MWR ATV RACING with qualifying rounds on Friday and finals on Saturday mornings. Three classes of sport utility vehicles (amateur, pro, and UTV) will battle each other on the same course used for snocross. The West Yellowstone World Snowmobile EXPO 2010 has something for every snowmobile enthusiast. Bring your friends and family to the “Largest Snowmobile show in the West.” For more information on lodging and Yellowstone tours, call 406-646-7701 or visit www.destinationyellowstone.com.

managers has released its forecast for the 2010 spring chinook run. If the fish show up as projected, the forecast of 470,000 spring chinook would be the largest return to the Columbia since 1938. The forecasted run is up significantly from last year’s final run of 169,300 fish. Because of challenges in forecasting the spring chinook returns in recent years, members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) had to reconsider the model they have used in past years to predict the number of returning fish. According to Stuart Ellis, current chair of the TAC and fisheries scientist of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), committee members were leery of the record number of spring chinook “jacks” counted at Bonneville Dam in 2009. Jacks are immature, precocious males that return after just one or two years in the ocean. In the past few years, forecasts relying heavily on jack counts from the previous season had overstated the actual return of adult fish by an average of

harvest levels that meet treaty obligations under U.S. v Oregon and conservation mandates to protect fish runs listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Ellis said this year the committee considered several additional models that took into account other factors such as ocean conditions. “The number of jacks that returned in 2009 was four times greater than anything we’ve seen before, which made the number a statistical anomaly,” Ellis said. “At the same time, we know the environment for young salmon appears to be changing and we needed to account for that.” “We’re still projecting a strong return for upriver spring chinook salmon next year, but we needed to temper last year’s jack return with other indicators of spring chinook abundance,” he added. The seven models chosen by TAC generated a range of predicted run sizes from 366,000 to 528,000 adults. The committee members agreed on 470,000 as an average of the models. This forecast will now be used by the managers to develop preseason fishing plans.


28 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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FEBRUARY 2010

Rocky Mountain States Lifetime License May Be The Deal Of A Lifetime H

unters and anglers, who are to use the license the rest of his life considering buying a 2010 license, may to hunt in Idaho, regardless of where want to think about a lifetime license. he might move. He might have to buy Regardless of your age, buying a nonresident tags, but he can always come lifetime license could be the best investback to Idaho to hunt. ment a hunter or angler can make. And Lifetime licenses are available the best time to buy a lifetime license is only from Fish and Game regional offices before your second birthday. and the headquarters office in Boise. The Five-month-old Tyler Caine Jr., lifetime license does not include tags and of Boise, did just that - well his family permits. did it for him. They bought him a lifetime Lifetime licenses authorize all hunting license on Monday, January 11, privileges associated with a for $276.75. corresponding annual license. They are Young Tyler was born into a valid for the lifetime of the license holder hunting and fishing family, and his parents and are available to all residents of Idaho. can’t wait until he’s old enough to enjoy If a lifetime certificate holder the benefits of this lifetime gift. moves out of Idaho, they will continue to The license was a Christmas receive an annual license, but they will gift from his grandparents, several aunts have to pay nonresident tag and permit and uncles, and a great-grandmother. All fees. The cost depends on the type of contributed to the cost. license - hunting, fishing or combination When he gets old enough to need - and the age of the applicant. a hunting license, young Tyler will be able APPLICANT AGE COMBINATION HUNTING FISHING Under 2 $795.50 $276.75 $601.75 2 - 50 $1,113.00 $386.75 $841.75 51 and older $636.75 $221.75 $481.75

Super Hunt Entries On Sale Now I

t’s time to buy a chance at the hunt of a lifetime. Entries in this year’s first Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo drawing must be received at Fish and Game headquarters by May 31 with the drawing set for June 15. Super Hunt is a fundraising drawing for 40 big game tags. The tags are handed out to winners in two drawings. Entries are drawn for elk, deer, pronghorn and moose tags. Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose. That includes general hunts and controlled hunts. The first drawing in June will be for eight elk, eight deer, and eight pronghorn hunts as well as one moose hunt; one “Super Hunt Combo” entry also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, pronghorn, and moose. The second drawing will be held in mid-August when another “Super Hunt Combo” and entries for two elk, two deer, and two pronghorn hunts along with one moose hunt will be drawn. The entry period for the second drawing is June 2 through August 11.

Hunters can take an animal or animals on their Super Hunt or Super Hunt Combo tags in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold. All other rules of individual hunts apply. The special drawings began in 2004 as a way to raise money for the Access Yes! program, which helps assure hunter and angler access to and across private lands by compensating willing landowners. The first entry costs $6; additional entries for the same species cost $4 each when purchased at the same time. Super Hunt Combo entries cost $20 for one; additional entries are $16 when purchased at the same time. Entries are available at license vendors and all Fish and Game offices, or they can be ordered on the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ cms/hunt/superhunt/, and on the phone at 800-824-3729 or 800-554-8685. Fill out the entry order forms and mail them to: Fish and Game License Section, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707.

Elk Poachers Plead Guilty I

gnoring a hunter check station has cost two Boise men more than just the $121 fine for failure to stop. Derek Smith, 41, and Joseph Eden, 38, both of Boise, pleaded guilty in Fourth District Court in Ada County this month to possession of three unlawfully taken elk. Both had their hunting privileges revoked for the next decade. In mid-October, Smith was pulled over for failing to stop at a Fish and Game check station along State Highway 21. During an ensuing conversation, Smith claimed to have killed a female elk on a controlled hunt antlerless elk tag earlier in the hunting season, and then later changed his story. Further investigation uncovered additional evidence linking Smith with Eden, and search warrants were eventually secured for the residences of both men. Hidden in a storeroom in Smith’s residence, officers discovered a 6x7 set of antlers from an elk poached earlier in the year by Smith. Officers also learned that Smith had killed a spike elk using a rifle during the 2008 archery season. Officers searching the Eden residence found Eden in the process of butchering the bull elk that belonged to the 6 x 7 set of elk antlers seized from Smith’s residence. Officers also discovered evidence of a female elk poached by Eden during the 2008 elk

hunting season. Though the men poached all three elk in Boise County, Smith and Eden were charged with unlawful possession of big game animals in Ada County. In the District Court in Ada County on October 28, the two men initially pleaded innocent to poaching three elk in just over a 12-month period. “It’s a sad fact that for some people, killing wildlife illegally is a routine matter,” Senior Conservation Officer Marshall Haynes said. “These animals are true trophies that many Idaho sportsmen would love to have the opportunity to hunt.” Facing multiple charges, the two men changed their pleas to guilty December 16. Smith’s sentence included a 10-year hunting license revocation, $240 in fines and court costs, and $1,500 in restitution to Fish and Game. He also was sentenced to 180 days in jail - 160 days suspended - and two years probation. Eden’s sentence included a 10-year hunting license revocation, $240 in fines and court costs, and $750 in restitution to Fish and Game. He also was sentenced to 180 days in jail - 165 suspended - and two years probation. Separate charges of transferring elk tags were dismissed in the plea agreement.

Wolf Hunters Reminded To Get New Tags H

unters who want to pursue wolves after December 31, are reminded they will need a 2010 wolf tag. And all hunters need a 2010 Idaho hunting license to hunt in the New Year. Wolf hunt rules allow a hunter to take only one wolf per calendar year. Hunters who shoot a wolf between January 1 and March 31, 2010, will not be able to hunt wolves again until 2011. Wolf hunting seasons already have closed in five wolf management zones where harvest limits have been reached. Wolf hunters are reminded to check the harvest limit in the wolf hunting zones they intend to hunt. Idaho Department of Fish and Game set wolf harvest limits by 12 zones. The season closes in each zone when the limit for that zone is reached, or when the statewide limit of 220 wolves is reached, or on March 31,

whichever comes first. As of Monday, January 4, the statewide hunter harvest was at 140 wolves. To find out whether a zone is open, call 877-872-3190. The Fish and Game wolf harvest Web page is updated less frequently, but provides a zone map and other useful information: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/ wolf/quota.cfm. Wolf hunters are required by state law to report within 24 hours of harvesting a wolf and then must present the hide and skull to a Fish and Game conservation officer or regional office within five days. To report a wolf kill, call 877-872-3190 toll free. As a reminder to all hunters and anglers, they need a new, 2010 Idaho license to hunt or fish on January 1.


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Rocky Mountain States Game Wardens Seek Public’s Help To Solve Rash Of Illegal Big Game Killings N

evada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) game wardens are investigating a rash of illegally killed big game animals around the Reno area and are seeking the public’s help to solve these poaching cases. “We’ve been swamped,” said Rob Buonamici, chief game warden at NDOW. “Between many cases locally and multiple poachings near Elko, we are on track for a very bad year for illegal killings.” The latest case is a yearling doe shot in the head and left to waste at Bedell Flat behind Redrock, near the California border. The animal was discovered November 15, and game wardens are looking for anyone who was in the area in the very early morning hours of that day who might have witnessed the crime. In another case a buck was shot and left to rot in the Truckee River near the Mustang exit off Interstate 80. Only

D

the antlers of the animal were taken. The animal was discovered November 6th. Game wardens hope some of the construction workers or visitors to the nearby nature conservancy project might have seen something unusual in the area. There were several other cases recently, including two mule deer bucks and one male antelope. All the animals were shot and left to rot in several areas around Reno. “We worry when we have so many similar crimes right in our back yard,” said Buonamici. “If these criminals are getting this brave around populated areas, we can only guess at the crimes going on in Nevada’s far flung places.” Concerned people with information can contact Operation Game Thief at (800) 992-3030. Callers can remain anonymous and rewards are paid for information that leads to the conviction of those responsible wildlife crime.

Deer, Elk And Antelope Hit Hard By Poachers In Northwestern NM epartment of Game and Fish conservation officers are investigating multiple poaching cases in Northwestern New Mexico involving deer, elk and antelope. Fourteen deer, one elk and three antelope are known to have been killed illegally so far this winter. While no parts of the antelope were removed from the scenes of the crimes, “the majority of the deer and the elk have only had the heads removed, and the rest was left to rot” said Brad Ryan, Aztec District Conservation Officer in Aztec. In early December, three of the deer were discovered decapitated on the “Rosa” portion of the Bureau of Land Management property near Navajo Lake. Other headless deer have been found in Ahagadero Canyon on the Jicarilla District of the Carson National Forest, the Horse Wash area in game management unit 2A, Middle Mesa north of Navajo Lake State Park, near Lindrith, Heron Lake State Park and near the Laguna Vista subdivision adjacent to Heron Lake. The elk was found at mile marker 99 on US 64 east of Bloomfield.

“These big deer are the reason Northern New Mexico is known for great deer hunting,” said Bill Taylor, Game Manager for Northwest Area Operations. “If poachers continue to kill these big deer for their antlers, disrupting the breeding cycle, we could see a decrease in the population and quality of deer harvested in the region.” The three dead antelope were killed about 5 miles north of Kirtland along an oil field service road. This case is unique because nothing was taken from the animals. Investigations of these incidents are pending, but anyone with information about these cases or any other examples of the illegal take of wildlife should call the Operation Game Thief hotline, (800) 432-4263. Rewards are being offered; up to $750 in the elk poaching case, up to $500.00 in the deer poaching case and up to $350.00 in the antelope case. To qualify, tipsters must provide information resulting in an arrest or charges being filed.

PHOTO BY BRENT STETTLER

Apply For A 2010 Big Game Permit I

f you enjoy hunting big game in Utah, a time you wait for all year is almost here. Starting Feb. 1, you can apply for a permit to hunt big game animals in 2010. Starting Feb. 1, you can apply for a permit to hunt big game animals in 2010. If you’re not going to hunt in 2010, you can still apply for a bonus point or a preference point. “Big game hunting in Utah is very popular with people across the country,” says Judi Tutorow, wildlife

licensing coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “We expect to receive almost 300,000 applications this year.” Start applying on Feb. 1: You can apply for a 2010 permit at wildlife.utah.gov starting Feb. 1. Your application must be received through the Web site no later than 11 p.m. on March 1 to be entered in the draw for permits. If you have questions or need help completing your application, please call any DWR office before 6pm on March 1. Results of the 2010 Utah Big Game Draw will be available by April 29. Applying for a point: If you’re not going to hunt in 2010, you can still apply for a bonus point or a preference point. These points increase the chance that you’ll draw a permit the next time you apply. You can start applying for a point on Feb. 1. Your application for a point must be received through wildlife. utah.gov no later than 11 p.m. on March 8. Please remember that you must have a hunting license or a combination license to apply for a point or a hunting permit. For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4700.

DWR Changes Record Fish Rules H

ave you ever wondered what you’d do if you caught a fish that was a new Utah state record? How would you get it certified? In the past, the procedure to get a record fish certified was a little vague. But not anymore. To help anglers, biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources have spelled out the requirements on new record fish application forms. The forms became available on Jan. 1. You can see the forms and learn the requirements at wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/ record-fish.html. “In addition to explaining the rules better, we also dropped six fish from the list,” says Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR. Three nongame fish—Utah chub, Utah sucker and white sucker—are among the six fish that have been dropped from the list. Two hybrid trout species that the DWR hasn’t produced in its hatcheries for years—brownbow and brake—have also

MARC ANDERSON OF PLEASANT GROVE SHOWS THE HUGE TIGER MUSKIE HE CAUGHT AT PINEVIEW RESERVOIR IN 2006. ANDERSON’S MUSKIE HELD THE STATE RECORD FOR ABOUT FIVE WEEKS, THEN ANOTHER ANGLER CAUGHT AN EVEN BIGGER TIGER MUSKIE. PHOTO BY BEN NADOLSKI

been dropped. And albino rainbow trout, which now fall under the general rainbow trout category, have also been dropped from the list. “Many anglers have a difficult time telling the different sucker species apart,” Cushing says. “Removing suckers from the list should reduce the chance that an angler catches an endangered June sucker and then keep the fish, not realizing he or she has a fish that’s listed on the federal Endangered Species list.”


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Take Charge Of Your Health AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association’s national call for women to take charge of their health and live stronger, healthier lives. Women represent over 50% of total U.S. deaths from cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. More women die from heart disease than men. Awareness is the first step, and the American Heart Association is holding it’s National Event “National Wear Red Day For Women” on Friday, February 5th. Red is the Heart Association’s color for women and heart disease. So wear a red dress, shirt, hat, scarf or anything red on February 5th as a show of support for all women who have been or might be touched by heart disease. Missoula will host the fifth annual “Go Red For Women Luncheon” on February 25th at the Hilton Garden Inn. This event focuses on education and raising awareness. The day includes three educational breakout sessions, sponsor booths, displays and health information, a silent auction, keynote address by comedienne and health care humorist, Diana Jordan and heart-healthy lunch. Wear Red. Registration opens at 10:30am and the luncheon concludes at 2:00pm. The Go Red for Women Luncheon is themed around sisterhood and inspiration and is a life-changing experience focusing on support in the fight against heart disease in women, heightening awareness and creating a passionate call-to-action to generate funds to support education and research. Women will learn how to live healthy and live longer, healthier lives. For more information contact: Amy Hetzler at 406-829-3377 or e-mail: amy.hetzler@heart.org. You won’t want to miss this event.

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Half Million Acres Top Resolution National Wild Of Habitat Work For Waterfowlers: Turkey Wetlands Federation In 2009 PHEASANTS FOREVER Protect DUCKS UNLIMITED Pheasants Forever also opens over Banquet Events 8,300 acres for public hunting in last year Millions of wetlands used The 621 Pheasants Forever

chapters, 103 Quail Forever chapters and 125,000 members of “The Habitat Organization” nationwide completed over 22,000 wildlife habitat projects in 2009, benefitting over 500,000 acres for pheasants, quail and other wildlife. This includes over 8,300 acres of land acquired and then opened to public hunting and recreation as state-managed wildlife areas or federal Waterfowl Production Areas. Pheasants Forever spent over $34.7 million on program expenses last year, including $4.9 on land acquisitions. In fact, since Pheasants Forever formed in 1982, the organization has spent $50 million on land acquisitions, opening 144,000 acres to public hunting and outdoor recreation. And in 2009, 9,942 youngsters took part in local Pheasants Forever mentored youth hunts that introduce them to hunting and wildlife habitat conservation. “The past year was another testament to the ability of Pheasants Forever’s local approach to wildlife habitat conservation,” said Howard Vincent , Pheasants Forever National President and CEO. Pheasants Forever and its quail division, Quail Forever, empower county and local chapters with the responsibility to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds will be spent - the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. “A half million acres is great, but we know with our model, we have the ability to do even more habitat projects on more acres and accomplish more for our favorite upland birds.” Since 1982, Pheasants Forever has raised and spent over $365 million, which has helped benefit wildlife on over 5.8 million acres and provided for 68,000 youth to take part in youth mentored hunting and youth conservation education events.

as prime breeding habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region could be threatened with drainage and destruction under regulatory guidance released in 2008. More than 20 million acres of marshes, wetlands and lakes across the country are at risk of being lost without action by Congress to restore protections to these areas. “Waterfowlers could lose millions of birds a year if these breeding habitats are destroyed,” said Dr. Scott Yaich, director of conservation operations for Ducks Unlimited. “This is a top priority for sportsmen in this Congress.” A bill to restore protections to wetlands, endorsed by sportsmen’s groups, farmers, ranchers and clean water professionals, is awaiting debate on the Senate floor. Ducks Unlimited played a critical role in bringing diverse interests to the bargaining table to hammer out a compromise bill that protects wetlands as well as landowners’ rights to work their land. “Clean water and wetlands are important not just for hunters and anglers but for all of us,” said Yaich. “Farmers and ranchers depend on adequate supplies of clean water for their crops and herds, and the wetlands that help provide it also provide waterfowl. Many landowners and farmers also depend upon upstream wetlands to help reduce flood damage to their croplands and other property.” Waterfowlers add over $2.3 billion to the U.S. economy every year, according to a study from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Losing these wetlands could seriously hurt our waterfowling traditions and impact the rural communities that depend on waterfowl hunters as part of their economy,” said Andrew Limmer, a duck hunter from Milwaukee, Wis. Sportsmen and women can learn more about the threats to wetlands, at the DU Clean Water Action Center.

Missouri River Gobblers Chapter Great Falls 03/06/2010 Contact Bodie Grundel 406-788-3063 Clark Fork Valley Chapter Plains 03/12/2010 Contact Tim Brooker 406-274-2639 Milk River Gobblers Chapter Havre 03/13/2010 Contact Terry Turner 406-262-2708 Missoula Valley Longspurs Chapter Missoula 04/03/2010 Contact Joe Hiett 406-239-9442 Stillwater Gobblers Chapter Columbus 04/02/2010 Contact Jody Johannes 406-322-6020 Sweet Grass Strutters Chapter Big Timber 04/03/2010 Contact Jeff Cowell 406-932-5992 Central Montana Gobblers Lewistown 05/01/2010 Contact Grant Peterson 406-781-8550 Northwest Montana Longbeards Kalispell 05/21/2010 Contact Frank Brisendine 406-250-6270 Bitterroot Longbeards 04/08/2010 Contact Chris Fortune 406-360-1029 If you would be interested in helping start the Butte chapter back up please contact Chris Fortune the Montana Regional Director of the National Wild Turkey Federation at (406) 360-1029.


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Rules For Ice Ice Fishing Fishing Safety MFWP Derbies MFWP FEBRUARY 1-27 8AM- 6PM T he ice fishing season is here, Annual Perch Pounder but ice conditions may vary and not always be safe. Starting with the recent cold snap, ice begins to firm up, then melts when temperatures fluctuate. That means ice safe yesterday may be a death trap tomorrow. Whatever the weather, it’s best to test the condition of the ice before venturing forth. Ice thickness depends on a number of factors: currents, inflows from streams, water depth, underwater springs or other features protruding through the ice. Slight changes in any of these can lead to uncertain ice conditions. Here are some tips for staying safe on the ice: · There should be a minimum of six inches of hard ice before individual foot travel. · Stay off the ice along the shoreline if it is cracked or squishy. Don’t go on the ice during thaws. · Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and ice may also indicate weak spots. · Small bodies of water tend to freeze thicker. Rivers and lakes are more prone to wind, currents and wave action that weaken ice. · Don’t gather in large groups on the ice. · Don’t drive large vehicles onto the ice. · If you break through, try not to panic. Move or swim back to where you fell in. Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift your body onto the ice. A set of ice picks, worn around the neck, can aid in a self-rescue. Once out of the water, don’t stand but roll away from the hole until you reach solid ice. The best method for determining ice thickness is carry a spud bar, or chisel, and test the thickness when walking onto a frozen lake. That’s especially true if no one recently has been on the lake.

Gene Fincher: 406-261-6445 All Region 1 Waters Perch FEBRUARY 6 8AM-2PM The Perch Assault Mike Howe: 406-249-0556 Lake Mary Ronan Yellow Perch FEBRUARY 13 6AM-5PM Valier Volunteer Fire Department Derby Travis Lake: 406-279-3241 Lake Frances Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, Burbot FEBRUARY 13 3AM-2PM 10th Annual LMR Derby Chancy Jeschke: 406-257-7525 Lake Mary Ronan Yellow Perch, Salmon FEBRUARY 14 8AM-3PM V.F.W. Ice Fishing Derby Julian A. Theriault: 406-547-3447 Newlan Reservoir Rainbow, Cutthroat, Brook Trout & Ling FEBRUARY 20 10AM-4PM 14th Annual Ice Fishing Contest Diane Brandt: 406-228-2222 Fort Peck Reservoir Walleye, Northern Pike, Perch, Ling, Carp, Suckers FEBRUARY 20 9AM-3PM Ryan Wagner Memorial Scholarship Ice Fishing Derby Michael Sartori: 406-882-4018 Murphy Lake Perch, Northern Pike, Large Mouth Bass, Trout, Northern Pike Minnow, Sunfish FEBRUARY 20 6AM- 5PM & FEBRUARY 21 6AM-3PM McGregor Lake Resort Fishing Derby Julianne Bacialli: 406-858-2253 McGregor Lake Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout FEBRUARY 27 10AM-2PM Canyon Kids Christmas Fund Fishing Derby Don Jermunsen: 406-387-4053 Lion Lake Perch, Trout

The Redesigned 2010 Outback Motor Trend’s 2010 Sport/Utility of the Year.®

2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited

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aving spent time with the car, Motor Trend Editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie said, “It boasts car-like refinement, drivability and gas mileage on the road, yet is as capable in the rough stuff as all but the most off-road focused sport utilities. Thoughtfully engineered, cleverly detailed and competitively priced, the Subaru Outback is a terrific all-rounder with broad appeal.” Even more flattering is the fact that this is the second year in a row Subaru took home the award, making us the first car company to ever do so. In the words of Thomas J. Doll, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Subaru of America Inc. “To win the 2009 award for the Forester was wonderful enough, but to have won for the 2010 Outback this year is truly an outstanding achievement.” The Subaru Boxer Engine® positions the pistons flat and turns the engine so it’s going the same direction as the central driveshaft, giving you a smoother performance that comes from the horizontally opposed pistons. That reduced vibration can help an engine perform more reliably. Balance and stability result from a flat profile and low placement. And its layout has allowed Subaru to build an all-wheel drive system with almost perfect side-to-side symmetry. With its unique design, the Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive keeps more power routed to all four wheels and keeps the vehicle exceptionally balanced for poise and tight handling. Not every all-wheel drive

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system is the same, and none provide traction and control in quite the same way as Subaru AWD. Subaru Symmetrical AWD keeps power routed to all four wheels all the time, helping to better prevent slippage before it happens. And if slippage does occur, its simple and efficient design -- with power flowing in one direction and minimal mechanical components -- allows it to respond more quickly. It immediately reduces engine power to the slipping wheel and gives it to the wheels that have traction. With it’s superior engineering, it’s easy to see why Subaru was the only manufacturer to receive the 2010 IIHS top safety picks for all models, including the Outback. Keeping the passenger area intact in the event of an impact is the highest of all safety priorities. Subaru builds each of its vehicles with a Ring-shaped Reinforcement Frame. This frame is designed and fortified to withstand tremendous force in order to maintain structural integrity during a collision and help shield occupants from the worst of the impact. What’s more, its unique design diverts that dangerous impact energy away from occupants to further protect them in a collision. Combine the Subaru Boxer Engine, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive Standard, and Fuel-Economy, and you’ve got a mix that can’t be beat in the 2010 Subaru Outback. With it’s stylish exterior, and roomy interior (enough room to store the gear you need to get out and enjoy life), it’s no wonder the 2010 Subaru Outback was named Motor Trend’s 2010 Sport/Utility Of The Year®. Keeping with it’s concern for the environment, Subaru also offers the 2010 Outback as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV). For more information on the 2010 Subaru Outback or Subaru in general visit www.subaru.com or call 4 Seasons Motors in Missoula at (406) 728-2510 or 1-800-800-6569.


32 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

ANACONDA LEGENDS OF THE WULF NORDIC SKI RACE: February 13

ON-LINE AT WWW.BIGSKYOUTDOORNEWS.NET

Calendar Of Events

BOZEMAN TERRAIN PARK JAM SNOWBOARD/SKIER: February 27 - 28

Terrain Park Jam Snowboard/Skier will be held in the Legends of the Wulf Nordic Ski Race, formerly Ben Terrain Park. Competitors have the opportunity to hit a Ali Haggin’s Mile High Nordic Ski Race, is a freestyle Nordic ski race with distances of 1, 2, 5, 9, and 19 km. feature as many times as time allows. This will be a judged event. 16 miles northeast of Bozeman on Highway 86. The entry fee is $25 for adults and $15 for juniors 17 and Phone: 406-586-1518 or visit www.bridgerbowl.com under, and ask for family rates. A meal and awards at end E-mail: skitrip@bridgerbowl.com of race is included in entry fee. All juniors 17 and under receive a medal for participation. Medals awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each race distance. The 9 and BOZEMAN 19km courses are hilly and technically challenging. The CABIN FEVER GUN SHOW: course is at an elevation above 6,000 feet and provides March 12 - 14 expansive views of Mount Haggin and the Pintler Range. Cabin Fever Gun Show offers western collectibles, rifles, six Held at Mount Haggin Nordic Ski Trails, 11 miles south shooters, wildlife and western art, antiques, and over of Anaconda on the road to Wisdom. 300 booths. All items for sale or trade. Collectors and Phone: 406-560-6060 or visit http://missoulanordic.org dealers are from all over the US. E-mail: jgriffin@mt.gov Held at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds. Phone: 406-580-5458

BIG SKY WINTERFEST: March 7

Come out to Winterfest for a day of fun, family, and friends. The registration starts at noon at the Big Sky Community Park in the Meadow Village, with races beginning at 12:30 p.m. At Winterfest you can be sure to find happenings throughout the day including both children’s activities and races, 5 different cross country ski events which are guaranteed to be hilarious, and even a race for your dog. Throughout the afternoon there will be a DJ and food vendors selling items to satisfy your hunger. Complimentary cross-country ski rentals will be available at the event courtesy of Lone Mountain Ranch. Held at Big Sky Community Park on Little Coyote Road. From I-90 take Highway 64 into Big Sky. Little Coyote Road is about 1-2 miles down on your right side. Phone: 406-995-3000 or visit www.bigskychamber.com E-mail: info@bigskychamber.com

BILLINGS 35th ANNUAL NORTHERN RODEO ASSOCIATION FINALS: February 18 - 20 The Northern Rodeo Association Finals are hosted each February in indoor comfort by the MetraPark Arena in Billings. NRF pays out nearly $60,000 in payoff and prizes, and the event features only the top ten money winners in each of the eight rodeo events competing on top livestock. Phone: 406-252-1122

BOZEMAN WILD WEST WINTERFEST: February 12 - 14 Three days of fun, family events: The All Breed Horse Sale, Chili Cook-off, Dog Keg Pull, Doxie Derby, Dog Talent Show and Freestyle Dance, Battle of the Breeds, Children’s Art Show, Hockey Tournament, Kids’ Activities, Petting Zoo, Photography Show, Quilt Show, Sweetheart Fur and Feather Show, Packers’ Scramble, XL Country Carhartt Sweetheart Dance and Working Horse and Driver Competition. In between events enjoy some delicious food, listen to some music, and wander through the commercial exhibitor building. Held at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds, 901 North Black Avenue. Phone: 406-582-3270 or visit www.gallatin.mt.gov/fairgrounds E-mail: fairgrounds@gallatin.mt.gov

FEBRUARY 2010

HELENA RACE TO THE SKY SLED DOG RACE: February 12 - 16

MISSOULA NORTHERN DIVISION FREESTYLE COMPETITION: February 13 - 13

The Race to the Sky will have its official kick-off This annual event, sanctioned by the U.S.S.A., celebration on Friday, starting with a vet check at draws the best skiers in the area for moguls, freestyle noon. That evening an auction for rides at the restart competition and jumping. Held at Montana Snowbowl, in Lincoln will happen. On Saturday, onlookers will 12 miles northwest of Missoula. Take the Reserve be able to witness the start of the race at Camp Rimini. Street exit off I-90. Follow Grant Creek Road for 4.5 Camp Rimini was a former World War Dog Training miles. Turn left on Snowbowl Road and follow 6 miles and Reception Center near Helena. Watch them finish to the top. Phone: 406-549-9777 Saturday in Deer Lodge after running 45 miles. Events or visit www.montanasnowbowl.com in Deer Lodge during the afternoon and evening. On E-mail: info@montanasnowbowl.com Sunday, the race restarts its continuous portion of Race to the Sky at Hi-Country Snack Foods in Lincoln at NEIHART noon. Successful bidders at Friday night’s auction will LEARN TO SKI FOR FREE: be boarding their musher’s sleds for a first-hand view of Showdown’s Learn to Ski for Free the Race to the Sky excitement. The finish is at February 21, March 7 Hi-Country Snack Foods near Lincoln .The awards First Time skiers ages 7 and up are encouraged to learn ceremony is Wednesday night in Lincoln. The public to ski for free. This offer includes a mandatory two is welcome and encouraged to attend all the events. hour group lesson, rental equipment, and a beginner Phone: 406-881-3647 or visit www.racetothesky.org ESSEX chairlift ticket. An affordable way to learn the great E-mail: info@racetothesky.org sport of downhill skiing, participants must register ANNUAL SNOW RODEO: March 20 - 21 online at showdownmontana.com. Rentals available to The Annual Snow Rodeo contains hilarious events for the HELENA participants at 12:30 pm and lesson takes place at whole family on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. These FOUL WEATHER ARCHERY SHOOT: 1:30 pm. Lift tickets granted at the conclusion of the are basic rodeo events but the contestants are on skis. February 21 lesson. Spaces are unlimited. Phone: 406-236-5522 Spectators and contestants welcome. Bareback bronc ride 30 – 40 3-D Rhinehart Targets. or visit www.showdownmontana.com down the mountain on an inner tube horse on skis. Rope a Registration is from 8:00 am to 10:00 am wooden goat while traveling down a hill. Be a horse at the chuckwagon race. A fun time on skis and snowshoes. Great Held at the Z Bar Z Shooting Clays on the corner of Lincoln Road & Birdseye Road. Phone 439-5146 fun for children and adults. Special room rates available. or visit www.lewisandclarkarchers.com Held at the Izaak Walton Inn, which is located on the southern tip of Glacier National Park in between East KALISPELL Glacier and West Glacier off Highway 2 in Essex. GREAT ROCKIES SPORTSHOW: Phone: 406-888-5700 or visit www.izaakwaltoninn.com E-mail: stay@izaakwaltoninn.com March 12 - 14 Exhibitors, features, and seminars on the great outdoors. Whether it’s fishing, hunting, camping, boats, vacation GLACIER NATIONAL PARK travel or the great outdoors, northwest Montana WINTER SIGNS SNOWSHOE sportsmen and women love the annual Great Rockies 2/04/09 PROGRAM: Offered Twice Daily Each Sportshow! Exhibitors from across Africa, Alaska, Helena Chapter Banquet Saturday And Sunday Through March 21 Canada, and Western states will be on hand.Visitors Contact: Carrie Scoles (406) 443-1552 or (Weather And Snow Conditions Permitting) will enjoy seminars and films by top hunting, fishing (406) 431-1525 Free, two-hour, ranger-led snowshoe excursions of the and outdoor experts. They can also see the latest in winter environment to discover how the park’s wild winter boats, campers and RVs. Special features include the residents survive the cold and harsh months of winter. These annual Heads and Horns Trophy Buck Contest, the guided winter outings are suitable for all ages and abilities. Northwest Big Game Display, trophy scoring, films, 02/06/10 Tours begin and conclude at the Apgar Visitor Center. kid’s trout pond, fly fishing activities including fly Billings Phone: 406-888-7800 or visit www.nps.gov/glac casting and fly tying demos, outdoor cooking seminars, Beartooth Big Game Banquet horse packing and backcountry clinics, sporting dog Contact: Mike Baugh (406) 855-0324 GLASGOW demos, children’s activities and more. Held at the ICE FISHING TOURNAMENT: Flathead County Fairgrounds. Phone: 406-585-3424

EVENTS TO SUPPORT WILDLIFE

PHEASANTS FOREVER RMEF EVENTS

February 20

Competition ice fishing in the Marina Bay at Fort Peck Lake. Top prize is $2,000, with other cash prizes and merchandise prizes. Any fish caught could be the winner from perch to northern pike; walleyes are accepted too. Bring the whole family, dress warmly and expect to have a lot of fun. The holes are pre-drilled, so just bring a scoop, a bucket, your fishing equipment and whatever you need to spend three hours on the ice. No tents or sleeping bags. There is a limit of 200 fishermen. The event starts at noon and is over at 3:00pm. Prizes will be awarded right after the final. The Fort Peck Marina is just off Highway 24, eighteen miles from Glasgow. Follow the signs. Phone: 406-228-2222 or visit www.glasgowmt.net E-mail: chamber@glasgowmt.net

LINCOLN SCHOLARSHIP/CHARITY SNOWMOBILE POKER RUN: February 20

Riders travel a well-marked route on smooth trails collecting cards as they go. High poker hand wins and many door prizes are given. A local student and charity each year are the recipients of the club’s share of the proceeds. Once in Lincoln, ample snowmobile trailer parking is available at Hooper Park. From there, travel 3 miles north on Sucker Creek Red to the clubhouse. Road conditions permitting, parking is available at the clubhouse. Phone: 406-362-4140 E-mail: mjparis@linetel.net

02/13/10 Kalispell Flathead Valley Big Game Banquet Tim Wold (406) 212-7249

03/12/10 Livingston Upper Yellowstone Big Game Banquet Contact: Jesse Hemmingsen (406) 223-0403 03/20/10 Hamilton Bitterroot Chapter Big Game Banquet Contact: Jon Miller (406) 777-0214


FEBRUARY 2010

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 33

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Cash In On Idaho Metalheads BY NEAL M. COTE OF BITE ME FLIES

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watched the big fluffy snowflakes as they slowly drifted down and settled on the cork of my rod handle. In what seamed like just a few minutes, there was snow on everything. My breath steaming up into the gloom, it feels like time is standing still. Looking up, I watched others all around drifting through the grey dawn. The quiet punctuated by the sound of outboards throttling up to run to the head of the hole and the whistling sound of Goldeneye wings as they ripped over the boat to get out of the way. Reeling up my drift rig, we throttle up to the head of the hole and cast as the boat slows and starts to drift with the current. Feeling the tap of an occasional rock as we drift back, I wait for that little bit of extra weight as a fish takes. And reel in and run up and drift back...And reel in and run up and drift back... And just when you begin to think that you will never feel

and run up and drift back... And just when you begin to think that you will never feelanything different, it happens. That feeling of extra weight on the end of your line, maybe a little tug as well and your senses go into overload! Sweep the rod and there it is! Feeling the strong head shake and the sudden surge of weight......FISH ON!! Traveling to Idaho’s Clearwater River for Steelhead is something that can be one of the most exciting and one of the most maddenly difficult for a first time angler. Here are a few tips and tricks that can hopefully get you on the right track to your first Metalhead. DRIFT FISHING Drift fishing is probably the easiest way to start fishing for steelhead. The basic rig is a pencil weight attached to a swivel. From that a 20-30” leader to a Corkie float and a 1/0 to a size 2 hook. Yarn is added to the hook to complete the rig. Colors are up to the angler with pink, red and orange being the most popular picks. You can add to this a spawn sac with roe or a scent of choice. Team this with a medium weight 8’6” casting rod and reel loaded with 12 lb. mono and your ready. Drift fishing can be done from the bank or from a boat. Once you are rigged up, if you are bank fishing, cast across the current and let the rig sink to the bottom. Keep tight to the rig as the current carries it downstream. Add or subtract weight so your rig just touches the bottom, and not

bounces off of every rock. Keeping close to the bottom without hitting and getting snagged is the key, for you can be sure you are where the fish are and actually feel them bite. Too much weight and you are going to feel every rock and once you have “set the hook” a few hundred times without hooking a fish, well lets just say that you are not going to be as trigger happy as when you started. The best strategy is to work the entire run from close to the shore and working your way out with each following cast. Once you have covered all the water, you can reach from where you are standing move down a couple of steps and repeat the process. If you get a hit or catch a steelhead try to make a mental note of where you casted and where the fish hit. Steelhead use the same runs so if you catch one it is likely that you will be able to catch more at the same location. Look for current seams and fan cast all the water in front of you. Steelhead like to hold right on those seams and if you are lucky, your rig will drift right down to one. Just keep at it, and sooner or later a fish will move up to your drift. From a boat the system is the same but the rod and reel are usually changed to a spinning rod and reel. And the drifting is done by positioning the boat on the current seam. Short casts to the upstream side are then drifted downstream the same speed as the boat. Controlling the boat becomes the most important part of the system. Too fast and you don’t feel the bottom, too slow and snag city. The boat should already be moving with the current before you cast out. The idea is to get the boat moving the same speed as your rigs. BOBBER FISHING The basic rig is a slip bobber set up, then a weight and swivel. Add 10-15” leader and a marabou jig to finish it off. Set the bobber stop knot so your jig is just off the bottom, and you are ready to go. Cast to likely seams and try to keep as much of your line off the water as possible. If your bobber stops, goes under or lays over on its side, set the hook. Now the same casting rod can be used, but specialized 9’ or longer rods can help you keep your line off the water to control the drifts better. This tactic is almost as easy as drift fishing in my mind, but learning how to get your rig to drift perfectly down certain drifts can be a little more involved than it looks. Add in trying to get as drag free a drift as possible and you will quickly be overwhelmed. As for which one is better, depends on the day you are there. Keep your offering near the bottom ... that’s where the fish are! Watch the action of the bobber to see how close you are to the bottom if you are unsure of the depth. You should see the top of the float tip downstream every so often ... this the the offering tapping a rock on the bottom. If you never see the bobber do this, it means that you likely are not near the bottom. Gradually increase your depth until you see your bobber doing this. Drift as natural as possible ... this can be achieved by keeping as much line between the rod tip and bobber out of the water, and if some of it does enter the water ‘mending’

FEBRUARY 2010

it upstream to prevent the belly of line that forms in the water from pulling the bobber downstream faster than the current flow. One thing that really differentiates float fishing from fishing hardware or drift gear is the ease in distinguishing what is a bite and what isn’t. While every dive of the bobber isn’t a bite ... if the bobber’s depth is properly set, the visual clue of the bobber going under the surface usually signifies an interested party at the other end. This visual clue is especially helpful for those who haven’t had a lot of steelhead or salmon fishing experience and have difficulty in detecting some of the more subtle bites. Like any other form of fishing for steelhead or salmon, if you’re unsure, set the hook! CONDITIONS Now that we have the basic rigs and gear, what do you look for once you’re on the water? The level that the Clearwater is running can greatly influence how good the fishing will be. If the water level is high and muddy in the main river, it might just be a trip killer. But you have options, move up to the South Fork a few miles and the water clarity could be better. Also there is the North Fork, which is completely determined by the dam. The best time to fish the main river is with a medium size flow, hopefully just as the levels are on the drop. This will usually get those fish moving up the riverto complete their spawning run. The clarity will be good, and allow you to scale down the amount of weight it takes to get you near the bottom. Steelhead, when moving upriver, always follow the path of least resistance. In normal to low water, this equates to travel in the portion of the river with the greatest flow. The increase of water allows easier passage for fish over boulders, rapids, chutes and obstructions. There is always one side of the river that has more flow. This is a major key when trying to determine which side of the river steelhead will choose to hold. Most of the time this is fairly simple; the deepest or slowest portion (more suited to hide steelhead) of the river is on one side. There are times when they are difficult to tell apart. It can some times be imperceptible, the flow may look even all the way across. You have just found the side of the holding water the steelhead will travel through, and the side they will hold in. “Comfort” may be a good word to use also. You will never find them laying over any type of sand bottom. Sand and fish gills do not mix, and steelhead avoid these sandy areas, even though a spot may look like holding water. If the bottom is predominantly sand, skip it. Gravel, rocks and boulders comprise the bottom makeup to look for. Steelhead will lay on top, along side and behind rocks. Rocks and boulders also help break up current, making it easier for fish to hold without expending energy. When the river flows over a submerged large rock or boulder, it causes a swirling boil, giving away a prime holding location. As we slid the net under that big male, I just knew that the steelhead gods had smiled.....then reset the 8 hour per fish clock. And reel in and run up and drift back... Good luck out there!!!


FEBRUARY 2010

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 35

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The Young & The Old (continued from page 6) the edge of my vision. Several slow steps allowed me to peer through a screen of pine needles at the base of a man-sized tree to behold two bull elk, one nibbling grass from under a huge fir tree. The other lounged in a bed nearby. A fifteen minute vigil revealed yet another antlered elk laying further up the slope. Then to my amazement I spotted two more. All in all, five bulls were arrayed before me within shooting range, each appearing in body size to be around two and a half years old. Deep in the backcountry, I elected not to shoot, but the memory of those bachelors is as fresh today as it was on that snowy morning some ten years ago. Later in the day, I took a similar bull that was still consorting with a herd of cows closer to the trailhead. Although most hunters never kill a five year-old antlered elk in their lifetime, in the absence of human predation it is around this age that bulls approach their maximum body weight. In good habitat with abundant feed and high mineral content, their antlers and body may continue to enlarge for several years after their fifth birthday. Bulls of this age are rarely encountered by hunters except in units managed for them. Reducing the number of tags available for bull harvest is about the only sure way to usher a significant percentage of male elk into this age bracket. Units that require difficult access, such as expansive wilderness areas or units that contain private land may also buffer bulls from mortality early in life. No matter how they manage to dodge hunters long enough to drop four sets of antlers, these bulls behave differently than their younger counterparts.

The biggest, toughest actors on the stage, older-age bulls dominate the breeding hierarchy. Fully-grown bulls are sometimes very vocal during the rut, but in many places they learn that frequent bugling leads to frequent encounters with two-legged predators and they clam up. Even if an older bull is bugling as he shepherds a large cow herd, it doesn’t mean he’ll respond to a well-tuned whistle from a hunter. Confronted with what appears to be the noise of a rival, many sagacious old stags will simply clamp their gums shut and prod their cows into the next drainage. Like younger males, older-aged bulls typically depart the cow herds after the rut. Some of them join bachelor bands that contain a range of age classes. But older stags are much more likely to be found as solitary wanderers than their juniors. If you’re serious about tagging a trophy, be on the lookout for large, lone tracks. These are usually left by a mature bull. Stillhunting, moving slowly and carefully while scanning your surroundings, is another good technique for hunting older bulls. Focus your efforts in heavy timber on steep slopes or other areas avoided by hunters. One season, the folks in my elk camp dropped three six-point bulls where raghorns are the norm. Each of them was killed in or near heavy timber. All were taken by stillhunting. Each bull was alone. Generalizations about age are often wrong when applied to people. Save them for the mountains instead. Valid knowledge about the behavior of various aged bull elk will improve your hunting and won’t incite an argument with grandpa.

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36 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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FEBRUARY 2010


FEBRUARY 2010

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Five Hunters Convicted In Illegal Outfitting Case BY RON SELDEN, MFWP

F

ive out-of-state men tied to an illicit commercial hunting operation in the Culbertson and Froid areas of northeastern Montana have been convicted on multiple state wildlife charges. Robert Nelsen, 60, of Bowling Green, KY, was charged with running an illegal outfitting business and related offenses for activities that took place in 2005 through 2007. State officials said the offenses largely occurred on privately owned lands enrolled in Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Block Management Program. Nelsen pleaded guilty in the Montana 15th Judicial District Court to a felony count of outfitting without a license. He also was convicted on the following misdemeanor charges in Roosevelt County Justice Court: -One count of wasting and abandoning a game bird; -One count of discharging a firearm from a public roadway; -Three counts of hunting game birds without permission; -Three counts of accountability (for the conduct of clients); -Three counts of acting as an outfitter without a license; -and seven counts of killing and/or possessing more than the legal limit of game birds. District Court Judge David Cybulski of Wolf Point and Justice of the Peace Bruce Waldhausen of Culbertson fined Nelsen a total of $5,555 and ordered him to pay $1,050 in restitution. In addition, Cybulski revoked Nelsen’s hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for five years, and Waldhausen revoked them for another three years. Nelsen’s associates/clients included William McCarley of Auburn, KY, Perry Bond of Louisville, KY, Chris Riopelle of Denver, CO, and James Booth of Davie, FL. FWP Warden Ezra Schwalm initially investigated the case when he was stationed in Plentywood. Roosevelt County Attorney Ryan Rusche prosecuted the defendants. McCarley was convicted on a misdemeanor count of violating Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission regulations for illegally shooting a hen pheasant. He was fined $135. Bond was convicted on a misdemeanor count of hunting during a closed season for shooting a hen pheasant. He was fined $135 and ordered to pay $25 in restitution. Riopelle and Booth each received deferred prosecutions with fines and restitution attached on two misdemeanor counts of retaining the services on an unlicensed outfitter. They each paid a

$575 fine and $500 in restitution and for a period of one year were ordered to obey all laws; not apply or purchase any Montana hunting, fishing or trapping licenses, and not hire an outfitter in the state. “Robert Nelsen was primarily conducting hunts on Block Management Areas (BMAs) in northeastern Montana as a way of supporting his unlawful outfitting business,” explained FWP Criminal Investigator Lennie Buhmann, who helped pursue the convictions. The Block Management Program is a cooperative partnership between private landowners, FWP and the public. Formally established more than two decades ago, the program has become a model for many other government agencies trying to balance the complex issues of responsible wildlife management, public access, and the socioeconomic concerns of private property owners. Contracted landowners receive hunter-impact payments from FWP for allowing public access. These payments are made for each hunter based on who signs up to use the property. Landowners also get help from hunters in controlling wildlife, which may be damaging crops and otherwise affecting productivity. FWP benefits from the program because increased hunter access helps the agency manage wildlife populations. And the public gains because Block Management opens up more free places to hunt. In some cases, BMAs provide critical links to adjacent public lands that may be otherwise inaccessible. “Unauthorized commercial ventures are not allowed on BMAs,” said Region 6 Warden Captain Mike Herman. In fact, FWP rules state that outfitting and commercial hunting activities on BMAs are not consistent with the intent of providing free public access to recreational opportunities on private lands. That’s because these unauthorized activities on contacted properties cost the public in a number of ways: They diminish BMA program funds, they displace other hunters, and they disturb upland birds and big game animals, as well as reduce their numbers. While Nelsen only conducted his illegally outfitted hunts over several-week periods each fall, use records show the parties hit the BMAs hard. Investigators say Nelsen and his illicit clients lodged 93 BMA access days in 2005, 122 access days in 2006, and 21 access days in 2007. The 2007 numbers were lower because Nelsen came to Montana later and did not have as many clients booked as in the preceding two years. When he was apprehended, Nelsen had more than 30 pheasants over his limit.

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 37

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Montana State Parks Host Record Two Million Visits In 2009 MFWP “In another positive trend, Montana’s 54 state parks 95 percent of visitors surveyed recently reported a record number of visits— 2 million—last year. “Eighty-three percent of those visits were by Montanans,” said Chas Van Genderen, State Parks Administrator. “Overall visit numbers have grown five of the past six years. Only 2008, with its high gas prices, showed a slight decrease.” Thirteen parks hosted more visits than ever before—including Makoshika with its unique badlands scenery, Flathead Lake’s Wild Horse Island, and Tongue River Reservoir in the southeastern corner of the state. Van Genderen said water-based parks were most popular, with more than a million visits--a 15 percent increase over 2008. Parks along Flathead Lake and Spring Meadow Lake State Park near Helena were among the water-based parks with record-breaking seasons. Pictograph Cave near Billings and other parks with cultural features attracted more than 600,000 visits—a 12 percent increase—while parks with outstanding natural features, such as Lewis & Clark Caverns near Whitehall, saw a 9 percent increase in traffic in the past year.

said their experience at a Montana state park was good or excellent,” Van Genderen said. Camping also grew significantly, with a reported 32 percent increase in overnight visits in 2009 compared to 2008. More than 287,000 visitors stayed overnight at a state park in a tent, RV, rental cabin, yurt, or tipi. “Half of state parks offer camping now, many with improved services such as interpretive programs, showers and group-use shelters,” Van Genderen said. Many state parks offer affordable vacations close to home and convenient getaways for those with a few minutes or hours to spend in the outdoors. Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls, with its trails along the Missouri River, reported a record 302,000 visits in 2009, making it the most visited park in the system. For more information on Montana State Parks visit Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at: http://fwp.mt.gov/parks/


38 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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Winter

SURVIVAL BRUCE AUCHLY, FWP REGION 4 INFORMATION OFFICER MFWP

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RICH L. MCKEE TYPICAL MULE DEER 204-5/8 B&C COUNTY IN: CARBON COUNTY, WY. 2006

JESS ROBINSON OF BUTTE WITH HIS GREAT BULL ELK GREEN SCORE 373”

ubzero temperatures and snowstorms are good excuses to stay inside and turn up the heat. Wildlife, however, doesn’t have that option. Antelope and members of the deer family in Montana have to tough it out. Most do through a variety of methods. But severe winter weather can tax even the hardiest critters. Big game survive winter through four main adaptations: an insulated coat, reducing their metabolism (up to one-third of what they need to meet basic life functions), remaining bedded for long periods during bad weather and relying on stored body fat. Up to 30 percent of a deer’s winter energy requirements can be met through body fat. By the way, don’t believe the old hunter’s tale of predicting a winter’s severity by the amount of body fat on a deer, or elk. The amount of fat says more about the animal’s ability to find adequate food in the late summer and fall than the upcoming winter. “For deer, their condition going into winter is important,” says Tom Stivers, Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologist. “East of the Divide, elk will go to where ever they can find some grass. And antelope, if it gets really tough, they’ll move to try to find sage and forbs.” Both mule deer and whitetails will move to find food, too, often to winter habitats the species has used for a millennium. When winter hits the Rocky Mountain Front, for example, mule deer will move down in elevation to ridges and foothills along the front. The same holds true in the Missouri River Breaks, Stivers says. Winter represents a downhill slide for big game, even with migrational movements.

“Mule deer on core winter range and habitat will do okay,” Stivers says, “but deer have evolved to lose weight in the winter.” One scientist likened a deer’s year to sledding on a brushy hill. Through summer and fall the animal climbs the hill, adding body fat. The winter and early spring are the downhill slide. Grass, shrubs and plants can slow the descent, but if the bottom of the hill is reached before spring plant growth starts, the animal dies. “Elk are big body animals,” Stivers says. “They can eat grass in the winter and get that internal engine running and produce a lot of heat, like cattle. But deer have to process higher nutritional food. So they seek tips of browse.” Of course plants need to be in good shape going into winter, too, or browse, like willows and chokecherry, won’t have the necessary nutrition. Deer and antelope and elk do die each winter. Sometimes it’s from age, sometimes it’s malnutrition, and sometimes it’s predators. More than likely death comes from stress caused by a combination of factors rather than just weather. In fact, an early winter may have little consequence on animals because most have fat reserves to draw on. But as an animal’s energy supply dwindles, usually later in winter, stress factors will start to kill the young, the old and the weak. One remedy suggested periodically is to feed the deer or elk. It almost always doesn’t work for several reasons. But that’s a topic for another day. Now it’s time to put another log on the fire.


FEBRUARY 2010

ON-LINE AT WWW.BIGSKYOUTDOORNEWS.NET

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 39

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40 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure  

Outdoor News - Montana and the Rocky Mountain States. Hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and more.

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