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JULY 2009 www.outdoorsmontana.com

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WALLEYE TACTICS

5 Steps to an ANTELOPE AMBUSH

Five Habits Of Effective Elk Hunters


2 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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JULY 2009


JULY 2009

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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ON-LINE AT WWW.OUTDOORSMONTANA.COM water-holes or stock tanks, the ground blind is king for concealment. However it takes more than just popping up a ground blind at the edge of a pond and waiting for a shooter buck to walk by. I often hear guys complaining about approaching animals spooking when they encounter their ground blind set. Same-day ground blind sets can be tough. Particularly if you’re setting up on a water-hole in the wide open, flat country, void of any structure. When time allows, put your ground blind in place well in advance of your hunt to give ample time for the resident herd to grow comfortable with the blind’s presence. Also, be cautious of using the cheapest ground blind on the shelf. Poorly constructed blinds tend to flap in the wind. A ground blind flapping in the wind is a red-flag to approaching animals and will no doubt send them on a hasty retreat. Like much of the hunting gear we rely on, you get what you pay for when it comes to quality ground blinds. Use one that won’t that is free of game-spooking wind flap. My favorites are the Evolution XP-1 from Rhino Laboratories (rhino-labs.com) and the Primos Double Bull Darkhorse (primos.com). Both blinds offer super visibility, ample shot opportunities, ease of setup, structural integrity, and no flap fabric. If I have my choice, I’ll always choose a water-hole that is not only littered with tracks around the edge, but one that also features some kind of structure, be it a single BY BRODIE SWISHER tree, windmill, brush, or some type of change in the landscape. Such structure helps breakup the outline of elieve it or not, Montana’s for their particular area. A good my ground blind, resulting in greater big-game hunting season cranks up friend of mine traveled back to the concealment. next month already with the arrival area where I connected on a of the antelope 900 series archery water-hole buck in the 2007 season. season. It will be here before you He too made good in the 2008 season Use Decoys for the Ultimate know it…August 15th to be exact. from the same exact setup despite Ambush While a successful antelope hunt with nearly every pond in the area being archery gear can be tough, it is not out full of water. One interesting point to of reach. The following 5 steps will note is that the antelope that visited Antelope are suckers for a well help tip the odds in your favor this our “honey-hole” often traveled past placed decoy, particularly during their season as you attempt to ambush your other water-holes that at first glance rutting cycle. However, many hunters next antelope. appeared to be a more likely, and more overlook the use of decoys for their accessible stop for them to make. early season ambush when the season However, for some reason the herd kicks off in mid-August. I’ve had the Find the Right Drink preferred our particular pond, a setup opportunity to hunt with Ground Swat overlooked by most hunters. The camo designer/owner, Dave Deming The 2008 early-archery point is, even in years when there is of Billings, MT. Dave has spent his antelope season proved tough. There more water than the ideal antelope fair share of time in hot pursuit of the was lots of excess water, making hunt calls for, you can still ambush prairie goats of eastern Montana and patterning antelope at water-holes your buck by finding their favorite he loves to put a decoy to work when a difficult task. The talk around drink stop. Find their preferred in pursuit of hard-headed antelope. antelope camp was that many hunters water-hole and you’ll have a hot spot “The use of a decoy in combination abandoned their ground blinds and that will produce for years to come. with a blind is an excellent option to resorted to spot-n-stalk methods. consider, says Deming. “Antelope are Even with all the additional very curious and social animals and water-holes available to antelope, Stay Concealed can be brought into bow range with a many hunters found success when decoy in early season, not just in the they found the right water-hole When it comes to hunting around rut.” (continued on page 8)

5 Steps For An Antelope Ambush B

JULY 2009

Archery Shoots MBHA July 11 Scheels Sponsored 3-D Shoot Billings Registration from 8:00-9:00 a.m. Shooting registration will be $15 per adult. The shoot will consist of two rounds of 28 (56 total) per NFAA rules Contact Frank Higgins 406-860-6220 July 11 - 12 MVA Archery Fair Mission Valley Archers Big Sky Sporting Clays Polson Starts at 7:00 a.m. on Sat. and ends at 4:00 p.m. Sun. 80 3D targets and other games Visit www.missionvalleyarchers.com July 18 Great Falls Archery Club Kings Hill Shoot E-mail Scott at sdbpowers@sofast.net July 25 - 26 Makoshika Bowman 3D Shoot Glendive at Makoshika State Park Contact Phil Tuccillo, 406-939-0697 August 2 Bowhunters Rendezvous Helena Lewis & Clark Archers Z Bar Z Sporting Clays 3-D Target Shoot 9am - 3pm August 2 Sunriver Valley Archers Summer 3D Shoot Sunriver Registration: 8:00-10:00 a.m. Contact Robert Pasma, 406-467-3343 August 9 Electric City Archers 3D Shoot Great Falls E-mail Eugene Koppy at ekoppy@hotmail.com August 9 Lewistown Bowhunters Assoc. Bonanza Shoot Lewistown August 15 Mission Valley Archers Members Only Shoot Starts at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 4:00 p.m. Big Sky Sporting Clays Polson Visit www.missionvalleyarchers.com


JULY 2009

ON-LINE AT WWW.OUTDOORSMONTANA.COM •

Travis R. De Boer 11. Yellow Bay State Park, MFWP

12. Fly Tying Corner, Russell Parks 14. Montana Fishing Report 16. New Montana State Record Bass, MFWP 17. Cultivate A Lifelong Fishing Buddy, Mike Demick 18. Get In Shape For Fall Elk, Andrew McKean 19. Parents Guide: Getting Kids Outdoors, MFWP 20. FWP Offers Boating Safety Course 21. Fishing With The Captain, Mark Ward 23. Painted Rocks State Park On Painted Rocks Reservoir, MFWP 24. Hunting & Conservation News 26. Western Montana Chapter Spotlight, Mule Deer Foundation 27. Gear Review, Pat Stinson 28. News From Rocky Mountain States 30. The Top 10 Reasons To Join The Montana Bowhunters Assoc., Joe Esparza 31. Research Offers 10 Reasons For Managing Wolves, RMEF 32. Photo Page 33. IF&G To Conduct Two Year Study On Elk Movement, IF&G 34. Calendar Of Events 36. Catching Tiger Trout, UDW 37. Summer Walleye Tactics For Right Now, Neal Cote 38. Beckman WMA (Part Two), Tracy Watt

Cover photo: Robert, age 10, Missoula, with fish he caught at Beavertail Pond on Memorial weekend. Largest fish he caught - 29”. Way to go Robert!

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The entire contents is © 2009, 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 5

• 5

BOW HUNTERS

Contents

6. Traveler’s Corner, US Diesel Parts 9. Five Habits Of Effective Elk Hunters, By Jack Ballard 10. Soften Up For Hard-Faced Softies,

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Chronic Wasting Disease Not Found In 2009 MFWP

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ontana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tested about 2,000 deer, elk and moose collected during the 2008-2009 hunting season and did not detect chronic wasting disease in any of the animals tested. Montana’s detection program tests sick and road-killed deer, elk and moose , and hunter harvest samples collected in “high risk” areas along Montana’s borders with Wyoming, South Dakota, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Over the past 11 years FWP has tested more than 14,000 wild elk or deer in Montana for CWD and has not yet found any evidence of the disease. CWD was diagnosed in 1999 in nine captive elk on an alternative livestock facility, or game farm, near Philipsburg. All the animals there were destroyed and the facility was quarantined. “Although we have not found CWD in wildlife populations of Montana, given the location of the disease in wild elk, deer and moose in adjacent states and Canadian provinces it is likely that we will find it at some point” said Neil Anderson, FWP’s Wildlife Laboratory supervisor. “After CWD was detected in a moose near Jackson Hole in Wyoming, we are reviewing where we need to focus our efforts. Should CWD find its way into elk frequenting the feed grounds in Wyoming, it will only be a matter of time before we find it in elk populations of southwestern Montana,” Anderson said. FWP adopted a Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan to help protect Montana’s wild deer and elk from infection and to manage the disease should it occur here. CWD, a chronic brain disease in deer, elk and moose that is always fatal, has not yet been found in wild herds in Montana. “We are working to prevent CWD from entering the state, monitoring Montana’s wild game for the disease, and preparing, through research and planning, to manage it if it does occur,” said Tim Feldner, author of FWP’s Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan. To review Montana’s new CWD management plan , or visit the CWD Frequently Asked Questions go to the FWP home page at fwp.mt.gov and use the search feature. CWD has been detected in Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, and Colorado among other states, and in Saskatchewan and Alberta. No one is sure where CWD came from. It first showed up in the wild in 1981. Since then it has been found in wild herds or alternative livestock ranches, or game farms, in 15 states and two provinces.

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8 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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5 Steps For An Antelope Ambush (continued from page 4) When hunting the big, open prairie grounds that antelope call home, a decoy is often just the ticket to draw a shooter goat to within bow range. There are a number of antelope decoys on the market today, but few offer the pack-ability and ease of setup that can be found with decoys from the folks at Montana Decoy company in Colstrip, MT (montanadecoy.com). The company even offers a cow (beef cow) decoy for the spot-n-stalk hunter wishing to close the gap in wide open antelope country. Regardless of any preconceived notions you may have about hunting with decoys, you owe it to yourself to try an antelope decoy on your next hunt. You just might find yourself in the hot-seat for some fastpaced action.

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JULY 2009

While most antelope meet their maker due to a well placed ground blind set, few things provide the satisfaction and feeling of a hunt done right like an ambush in wide open country. “Antelope like wide open country,” says Deming. “This is where they’ll be the most relaxed. The smart hunter will figure out a way to hunt them in the wide open. Watch for natural funnels that tend to concentrate antelope along a certain travel route. Antelope will often travel along an irrigation pivot or wheel line, crossing around the ends as opposed to crossing in the middle.” In the 2008 season Deming’s son Nate scored on his first big game animal with a bow when he shot a big nanny-goat as a small group of antelope worked their way around the end of a pivot in wide open country. “Fence crossings or natural funnels in and out of fields are another great ambush spot,” says Deming. “Antelope are creatures of habit and typically enter and leave a field in the same spot. Key in on these locations and you’ll be in the right spot for an ambush.” Whether it’s a grueling stalk in the open, or attempting an ambush in the smallest of cover, quality camo is a must. Fooling the eyes of an antelope is no easy task. Be sure to select camo that conceals in the open country. A couple of my favorite patterns for wide open country include the new Ground Swat (patternmasters.net), Brown and Green Deception patterns from Predator Camo (predatorcamo.com), ASAT (asatcamo. com), and the new GORE Optifade offered in the Sitka Gear line of clothing (sitkagear.com). These patterns do a super job of breaking up the hunter’s

outline even when in wide open country. Their light colors and open patterns blend well in every variation of antelope country.

Prepare Your Gear for Goats Sadly, in all our efforts to get ourselves into position to come to full draw on an unsuspecting antelope, we often overlook the moment of truth – the shot – and the gear that will make our antelope success complete. Shots at antelope tend to be longer than that of other game simply because of the open country they inhabit. Dave Deming is one of the deadliest bowhunters I know and this is a direct result his consistent long-range target practice. “The most important tip I can give anyone is to shoot a lot of arrows in pre-season preparation,” says Deming. “Antelope live by their eyes and that often means longer shots opportunities than we might have with deer or elk. They key is to practice, practice, practice!” Another good friend, Matt Alwine, is a successful antelope hunter and champion archer. Matt says, “I like to shoot a lighter, faster arrow when in pursuit of antelope. Antelope are extremely fast and are quick to jump the string, so a fast shooting bow/arrow combination is an advantage. Kinetic energy is not as much an issue with antelope as it is with elk or mule deer, so shoot and lighter arrow for extra speed and deadly accurate broadhead for the ultimate setup on jumpy antelope.” And don’t forget the rangefinder. Judging targets in the wide open can be a challenge. Take the guesswork out of it with a laser rangefinder. Nothing hurts worse than to watch your arrow fly high, or drop short of your target. Don’t let poor distance judging doom your hunt. Be sure of the distance before you drop the string on your next antelope with a quality rangefinder. The arrival of early antelope season is an exciting time of the year as we celebrate the onset of another hunting season. Nothing seems to kick the season off better than an early season antelope ambush! Hot August days, ground blinds, water-holes, and antelope…what more could you ask for? Brodie Swisher is world champion game caller, outdoor writer, and seminar speaker. Check out his website at www.BroOutdoors.com.


JULY 2009

ON-LINE AT WWW.OUTDOORSMONTANA.COM •

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

Five Habits of Effective Elk Hunters T

he differences between consistently successful elk hunters and those who notch a tag infrequently are often subtle. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to share the hillsides with a number of older, master hunters and learn from their experience. No two hunt exactly alike, but all are similar in their approach to hunting and their overwhelming success. Can you replicate their exploits on your next hunt? You bet! Attend to these five habits of effective elk hunters and you’ll be retrieving winter meat from your freezer rather than the supermarket. Habit #1 - MAKE THE MOST OF OPENING DAY - It seems that most hunters head into the mountains the day before the season opens, set up a camp, and then hit the hills at dawn. Alternatively, they stagger from bed at 3 a. m., down fourteen cups of black coffee, then train their floating, red-rimmed eyes on the asphalt and gravel to be in the high country the moment the season opens. With a limited amount of vacation time to burn, many reason that they’ll get the most from their

hours afield by allotting precious leave days to the actual hunting season. However, elk are often most vulnerable on opening day -- if you know where they are in advance. Had I but three days to commit to an annual elk hunt, I’d burn one spotting and scouting before open day rather than hunting. One fall, I spent three evenings before the season’s inauguration behind binoculars and a spotting scope, searching for elk herds. On the first reconnaissance, as shadows lengthened across the sage and timber mosaic on a distant mountainside, a cousin and I spotted a huge herd of elk feeding near a thick stand of timber. About ten brow-tined bulls kept company with nearly seventy cows, two of which sported six tines on each rusty antler. On each successive evening, the animals occupied the same spot. On opening morning, after enduring a three mile hike in the dark, I crept into the sage a couple hundred yards from the herd’s dusky breakfast hole. At dawn, I was into the elk. With a good plan in place, your elk season may last less than an hour.

• 9

BY JACK BALLARD

Habit #2 - KNOW THE TERRITORY - In the absence of a forest fire or major shift in weather patterns, vegetation or predation, elk generally occupy the same segments of a region decade upon decade. After hunting an area that holds a reasonable number of elk for a few years, you should accumulate knowledge of their preferred haunts, acquiring answers to perennial questions. Where do the elk feed? How do they react to hunting pressure? Where do they go to escape severe weather? Where and how can I use the movement of other hunters to enhance my own success? Answers to these questions yield elk steaks, but it takes years in the same range to unravel the riddles. Rest assured that you’ll put more heat in your hunting by deepening your familiarity with a known region than by chasing the latest “hotspot.” Habit # 3 - BE READY - The readiness habit actually cuts across multiple facets of elk hunting. Has that new rifle you found under the Christmas tree been fired enough to stoke your confidence? Are you sure your elk

tag is in your pocket, not on the kitchen table back home? Although these are peripheral aspects of readiness, preparedness when it comes to quickly identifying and firing at the target is perhaps the cardinal virtue of the effective elk hunter. Nearly every season I find myself in the company of a novice to the game. Finding that packing a rifle on one’s shoulder via a sling is more comfortable than keeping it in hand, the neophyte almost invariably goes tromping through the parks and pines with the crosshairs of the scope aimed at the sky overhead and a dominant hand clutching the rifle sling. Guess what happens when an elk of the legal variety steps out of the timber across the clearing? Blood pounds in the beginner’s brain and an epic struggle with a sling which now seems to be wrapped several times around the hunter’s neck and shoulders begins. Now how stands the wapiti? Back in the timber, of course -- about the time the prospective shooter wrangles the rifle from his or her coat-sleeve. (continued on page 33)


10 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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f you spend any time on the Snake or Columbia Rivers, pay attention to the guides and charters. Their watercraft, attitudes and approaches to this mighty waterway are as varied as are the fish in the sea. From monster jet boats to rafts, from side drifting or plug-pulling gear to spey-rods almost no two are alike. However, if you look at the numerous rods sticking out of their rod holders during Smallmouth season, you will notice perhaps the only thing that all these very different guys have in common is the use of soft plastics. The reason for this is that these baits consistently take huge numbers of trophy Bass season after season. There are basically two food sources that matter to Smallies - crawdads and baitfish. There’s not a lure in the world that does a better job of imitating both of these than a properly rigged plastic. Throw in that you can do both without re-rigging or switching rods and the fact that a thrifty shopper can get them for five cents a piece and it becomes hard to see why you would use anything else. What makes these lures so deadly is there life-like action and versatility. They can be swam, jigged, crawled, twitched, slashed, or even (believe it or not) left to sit like real bait, hardly moved. Basically anything you can do with other baits you can do better with plastics and at a fraction of the price! Just as there are two food sources that matter most to Smallies, there are two rigs and two plastics that matter most to the guides that chase them on this river system. Grubs and tubes rigged on jigs and drop-shot set ups. Drop shot rigs are great because they mimic suspended bait, stay in the strike zone, and hang up very little. To rig these all you need are plastics, drop-shot weights, and hooks. You simply tie on the hook leaving a long tail from which the drop-shot weight hangs a few feet below. (Kits are available at most sporting goods stores.) They can be retrieved any of the

above ways, but usually you just need to let it sit and suspended for a second to draw a savage bite. This is a very easy-to-use and productive rig for a novice or a pro. Even more versatile, however, is a jig rigged grub or tube. To rig a grub, just slide it on the hook keeping the tail curled straight up or down to produce the best action and straight swimming. For a tube you simply insert the head in the tube and push the eye of the hook through the plastic. Then once attached experiment with retrieves until you find what works. Sometimes the simplest is the most deadly; if fish are feeding aggressively all you have to do is cast and retrieve like using a spinner or shallow diving crank bait. Just start your retrieve just before the bait actually hits the water so that it hits the ground running so to speak. Often this approach is all that is needed to have a great day of bass fishing. Of course there are times when Bass are a little lethargic or in deeper water for whatever reason and a slower deeper presentation are required; this is where a lift and drop style or crawling retrieve will shine. The Lift and Drop consists of lifting your rod slightly and dropping, reeling up slack as you go so you can detect subtle hits. Crawling is one of my favorite ways to catch Smallies and is extremely effective when used on beds. Just let it sink and retrieve super slow, keeping the bait in contact with the bottom at all times. Sometimes you will feel only a slight tick at the tip of your rod or even a slight jump in your line, this is where you give a powerful hook set as it is most likely a Smallmouth inhaling your bait. Slow fishing bottom takes practice and puts your lures in jeopardy of snagging, but it often fools the smartest and wariest fish, so just remember that if you shop wisely you can afford to donate twenty lures for well under three dollars. (continued on page 16)

JULY 2009

Sagebrush News: Trout Of A Higher Station BY CHUCK ROBBINS

which for me is hunky-dory—some distance upstream I noticed a slight bulge in the water at the leading edge of debris lodged against the grass. Closing in revealed a very large, dark, submarine-like shadow moving rhythmically to and fro beneath the flat surface. Judging the frequency its white maw opened and closed he was obviously busily engaged munching down just about whatever floated by. Despite countless naturals drifting past overhead, not once did he tip up so I drew the obvious conclusion and pitched a nymph. In the clear, shallow water I could easily follow its drift and each time as the nymph drew near, the big trout simply slid sideways, allowed it to pass then slid back and continued casual dining. Again I performed the PHOTO COURTESY CHUCK ROBBINS obvious: replaced 5X tippet with 6X, added a foot; replaced the 16 with an 18, then a 20; cycled thru all the n acquaintance called the various PMD wets in my box and little spring creek flowing past his even tossed out a couple dries just Bozeman area house, Humility in case. No dice. While I suppose Creek; or as another acquaintance any one of the above s-words would labeled it, “A very small creek full serve as a good excuse, my take is of very large skittish trout.” Such more one of flat out disinterest. trout are also said to be savvy, selecNothing left it seems but to tive, shrewd, and even smart; though give it one last best shot. So I tie given its pea-size brain and all, those on a wet ant and...Voila! But the are tough pills for this old boy to trout—even bigger now that I at swallow. Still there are those trout last have him hooked (aren’t they all)—is unruffled; simply turns, that are, if not impossible, certainly swims slowly and deliberately back darn difficult. But the worst thing, should I finally get lucky, more often under the debris, circles a submerged snag, gives a little flip of his mighty than not the toughest nuts to crack are uncanny at turning the tables and snout and Pop! 6X tippet parts and... And this is the part really gets you. leaving me crooning that old The so and so then slowly and, yes, familiar tune “weren’t for bad knowingly swims back out, takes up luck...” a position in my wake—a scant two For instance take the tubby rainbow I locked horns with one day feet below my boot laces for cripes sake and—you guessed it—resumes last July. nonchalant munching. OK. So Waist deep in a quiet maybe some trout are savvy...Nah! backwater of the Beaverhead River, How about just lucky... amid a heavy PMD hatch, casting Chuck is a freelance writer/ a variety of time-tested patterns— photographer and fly-fishing guide. nymph, emerger, cripple, dun, To check out his articles, books, spinner— to a pod of so-so trout blogs, photos and more go to www. with so-so success—not exactly chuckngalerobbins.com. tearing ‘em up but doing okay

A


JULY 2009

ON-LINE AT WWW.OUTDOORSMONTANA.COM •

The “HOT SPOT” PRESENTED BY BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS “Where to go, what to take, maps, and more.”

Yellow Bay State Park MFWP

YELLOWSTONE BAY PARK - PHOTO MFWP

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Yellow Bay is in the heart of the famous Montana sweet cherry

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orchards, blossoms color the hillsides during the spring. The park includes Yellow Bay Creek, four walk-in tent camping spots and a wide, sandy beach for swimming, sunbathing, scuba diving, boating, fishing, and bird watching.

Game Fish Opportunities: Lake Trout, Lake Whitefish, Mountain Whitefish, Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Yellow Perch

Activities: Boating Fishing Swimming Camping Picnicking Bicycling Group Use Wildlife Viewing

Contact information: (406) 752-5501.

Open: Jan. 1—Dec. 31 Size: 15 acres Elevation: 2907 ft Nearest Town: Bigfork

Directions: 15 miles north of Polson on Montana 35.

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 11


12 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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otorized or non-motorized boating requires a depth of knowledge that many people gain by experience rather than any formal training. Experience is a good way to learn. Experts suggest that inexperienced boaters team up with more experienced people to learn all of the basics, including boating and water safety. Here is a self-quiz on some topics important to all boaters.

Fly Tying Corner: CDC Caddis BY RUSSELL PARKS

Q. In what four situations must a person always wear a personal flotation device or life jacket? A. Life jackets must be worn by children under 12 years of age, or anyone being towed, and anyone on a personal watercraft. Q. If your canoe capsizes on a river, what should you do? A. Stay on the up-stream side of the canoe, float on your back feet first and don’t fight the current. Q. What are the most common causes of capsizing a boat?

A

re you seeing those ‘erratic, dipping’ bugs flying around? This caddis utilizes some of that ‘extra’ material that you always want something to do with besides throwing it away. It has a very subtle flash built into the body and wing that provides life and depth to the pattern…. irresistible to trout! Add a little Dry Magic and dry shake before you fish and this fly will produce.

A. High speed turns, bad weather, ignoring approaching storms, overloading the boat, and inexperience are factors that may capsize a boat. Q. What are the three most common causes of boating fatalities? A. Capsizing, falling overboard, and collisions with another vessel or object. Q. Why should you stay with the boat if you are forced into the water and it’s still afloat? A. The boat can support you and it is a signal to others that you are in trouble and by being next to the boat it is easier to find and rescue you.

Materials: Hook: MFC 7004, Sizes 14-18 Thread: Tan 8/0 Body: CDC Dubbing & Pearl UV Ice Dub Underwing: Pearl UV Ice Dub Wing: Tan CDC Feathers

Q. What are some signs that the weather is changing? A. A change in barometric pressure, wind shifts, clouds developing, lightening or choppy water all signal weather changes. Q. What are the first two things you should do if a fire starts onboard a boat?

Step 1: Dress the hook with thread, blend together dubbing and a few strands of Ice Dub, and dub the body forward from bend of the hook stopping about an eye’s length back from eye

A. Stop the boat and put on a lifejacket. Q. When two motorboats are crossing paths, which boat has the right of way? A. The boat on the right has right of way. The boat on the left should slow down and pass behind the boat on the right.

Step 2: Select a clump of Ice Dub and tie in as an underwing Step 3: Using the thick stem ends of two CDC feathers, tie in a tent style wing

Q. What qualifies as boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs? A. BUI, or boating under the influence, means a person’s ability to safely operate a boat has been diminished by using alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

Step 4: Whip finish a head, trim wings slightly beyond bend of hook in a round caddis shape wing


JULY 2009

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 13

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JULY 2009

Mo nta n a Fis h i n g Rep o rt and some lake whitefish should start to show up towards the end of the month. If you’ve never tried fishing for lake whitefish before, these hard fighting and tasty critters start to congregate in Flathead’s bays in 40-50’ of water to feed on hatching perch fry. Jigging with a green Rattle D’Zastor, Kastmaster, Buckshot spoon or Swedish Pimple with a whitefish fly dropper can provide some fast-paced action for fish in the two to four pound range. Fishing usually starts towards the end of July and continues through August, so be sure and mark a few days on your fishing calendar. CHRIS MADSEN

Western Montana Fishing Report Brought To You By The Missoula UFA Wholesale Sports BY CHRIS MADSEN, (406) 532-9000 e-mail: fishing-115@live.com

A

fter an extended run-off period, with high and muddy water limiting our river fishing options in June; it looks like July is shaping to be a good month. Even though the rivers of western Montana left a lot to be desired as far as fishing conditions went, the long run-off bodes well for the fishing in July and August. With two good snow packs in a row the reservoirs and lakes should all have plenty of water in them this summer with enough to satisfy everyone’s interests. All in all, it figures to be a great month to match wits with our cold-blooded quarry. Here is a rundown of a few places to try this month: FLATHEAD LAKE: The lake trout and perch bite should continue to be strong through July,

GEORGETOWN LAKE: July is THE month to be on Georgetown, and for one very good reason: damselflies. Georgetown is one of the few lakes in the country where large trout can consistently be taken on dry damsel patterns. Expect to fish nymphs in the morning, as trout set up to ambush migrating damsels before they reach shore, and then switch over to surface imitations in the afternoon as risers become active. Pick a feeding fish out, determine which way he is headed, lead him by a few feet, and then try not to pull the fly away before he eats it. Which most of the time is easier said than done. If you’re wondering where to fish on the lake just look for all the boats. Fishing the evening caddis hatch is another excellent option on this lake. Skating a large caddis pattern across the surface can draw explosive strikes akin to a great white shark attack on a sea lion. Keep your legs out of the water if you’re in a pontoon boat. CLARK FORK RIVER: Often over looked by local fishers the lower Clark Fork is a very productive fishery during the summer. Once the water levels lower and we get some clarity back the numerous hatches should keep the trout rising and the fly caster busy. The trout pod up in the wide slow waters of the lower river. Long, light leaders and tiny flies are sometimes necessary to fool them. This section of the river also has some great warm water fishing. Smallmouth bass are abundant and eager to take your artificial or natural bait. The popular or unpopular pike, depending on who you talk to, is also present in good

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numbers and can be taken with a variety of tackle and techniques. BLACKFOOT RIVER: Another classic Montana trout water, the Blackfoot may not be our most productive trout stream, but it’s beauty and variety of water types and fishing options make it a can’t miss in July. The salmonflies should still be going on the Blackfoot when this article comes out. The hatch started a little later this year due to the large amount of cold run-off but it is in full swing at the moment. Golden Stones, PMD’s, Green Drakes, caddis and a variety of big, bushy dry flies will also take fish on top, and there may be no better place around to cast streamers for big browns that are measured in pounds, not inches. You won’t catch one on every cast, but nothing that good should come easy. The excellent snow pack and cool spring should keep the water at a respectable level and help avoid the wide spread restrictions that have affected the late summer fishing on this river in years past. ROCK CREEK: July marks the end of the float season on Rock Creek, but not the end of the good fishing. Lower flows will make it much friendlier for wading anglers, and you won’t have to worry about being run down by a wayward raft...or ten. Golden stones and yellow sallies will draw strikes all month, and on any given day PMD’s, caddis, Green Drakes and hoppers can be important. Don’t forget your San Juan worms. SMALL STREAMS: Our small streams should come back into fishable shape soon, and will provide some great opportunities this month. Most will see some of the same hatches as the larger rivers, like PMD’s, caddis, Green Drakes and yellow sallies, but often generic attractor patterns will work just as well. Don’t forget to put on a bead head nymph as a dropper and increase your catch. If you have become jaded by overeducated trout and crowded rivers, try hiking up a tributary stream for a day, and see what fishing is like where the trout don’t speak Latin and there is no one to be impressed by how much your rod and reel costs. Good luck to everyone, enjoy what is shaping up to be an excellent July.

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JESSE FLYNN

North Central Montana Fishing Report Brought To You By The Helena UFA Wholesale Sports BY JESSE FLYNN (406) 457-7200 CANYON FERRY: It seems that Canyon Ferry has been fishing better than it has in years. There has even been some nice pike being picked up in the lake, as if we all didn’t know that there was pike in Canyon Ferry. July is here, and now is the time anglers may want to switch up fishing tactics. Anglers will more than likely want to be fishing in deep water using a wide array of tackle (bottom bouncers, deep cranks, jigs)are all affective baits. This does not mean that you should rule out the shallows. Canyon Ferry is a big body of water and as the summer goes on so do the fish. They will go wherever they need to in order to obtain a food source. Another quick tip: a positive attitude on your end of the fishing rod will certainly produce more fish, it is almost as if the fish can feel our vibe, heck maybe they can? HAUSER LAKE: Has and will continue to produce limits of walleye and trout. Nothing of any reel size to speak of but we can never tell what July will bring. Stop in to any of the local shops to see what they are best hitting on, as you know it changes day to day. Anglers can’t go wrong with jigs, bottom bouncers, lindy rigs, and cranks in just about any of the local lakes around the Helena area. One fun thing that I wanted to mention that a lot of us are

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JULY 2009

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 15

Montana Fishing Report getting into is bow fishing for carp. Get an old re-curve or compound bow, set it up with a bow fishing reel and arrow and go wade the shallows; man is this a kick in the pants! Just remember shoot low! Either way you go have a wonderful 4th of July, and note you can’t catch fish if your line isn’t in the water. HOLTER LAKE: One can expect to pick up nice trout and walleye below the dam. Expect the c.f.s (cubic feet per second) to be high because of all the rain and run-off. Anglers will still manage to pick up fish by using heavier than normal weight. This also means that rods and reel will need to be a heavier set up. It is very important to match the gear you are using to the specific type of fishing you want to do. Having the correct rod and reel will ultimately save one a lot of time and money. Each rod has a weight and line rating on them

RYAN ONGLEY

Southwest Montana Fishing Report Brought To You By The Bozeman UFA Wholesale Sports BY RYAN ONGLEY (406) 586-0100

Primetime In SW Montana!

Well with July in Montana comes prime

dry fly fishing conditions on our area waters. The main body and tail ends of the Salmonfly hatches will be occurring during the first half of the month. Also caddis and pale morning dun emergences will keep the fish looking up as well. Then in the latter part of the month throwing some big bushy attractors will be great patterns to use as well. Keep in mind if we get some extended very hot weather at all. The most productive dry fly fishing will be early in the morning and late in the evenings. If temps stay fairly average to cool the bugs should pop at more traditional times.

ANYTIME

and is intended to be used with in these parameters. July will be the month for heavy boater traffic, so be courteous of others and pay attention to your surrounding as not everyone is paying attention to you. REGULATING RESERVOIR: Still slow going but we will keep you informed when the Konkani fishing picks up. I shouldn’t say that because fish are being caught but in no record fashion by no means. In the past reports I always reiterated trolling techniques for the salmon to be most affective, which it usually is. Well in July maybe we should focus are tactics otherwise. Maybe jigging them will prove to be most productive this month. Fishing is intended to be a stress reliever not a stressor, so if your regular go to method isn’t producing fish like you had hoped, simply change your method. Upper Madison: Salmonflies will work their way upstream tapering off usually about mid month. Have on hand a good selection of both Salmonfly and Golden imitations in both adults and nymphs. PMD’s and Hydrophsyche Caddis will also be emerging in great numbers throughout the month. PMD sparkle duns, Brook’s sprout emergers, and Barr’s emergers will take care of the surface and emerger activity. Pheasant tail nymphs, PT Cruzers are my favorite imitations sub surface. For the caddis activity have a good selection of Elk Hair Caddis, X or X2 Caddis, and Iris Caddis in tan and amber. Sizes 16 – 18 should be carried for both pmd’s and caddis. Beaverhead River: The fishing should continue to be great on the Beav through July. Nymphing with PT Cruzers and other small mayfly nymphs should remain steady. With good surface activity to PMD’s and Caddis as well. If you have a chance to hit the evening Caddis activity on this river don’t pass it up. It can be tremendous. Again sizes 16-18 for dries and the same below. And definitely make sure you have some Cranefly patterns in nymphs and dries. Gallatin River: The Gallatin should be coming back into shape around the second or third week of the month below Taylor’s Fork. Until then nymphing should be very good in the Park stretches with Caddis and PMD activity increasing as the water temps rise. There is also a small emergence of Green Drakes in the Park to Big Sky stretch that can bring some surprisingly large fish to net. You won’t see many of the Drakes but don’t be afraid to fish and emerger or dry blind to some likely looking riffles and hold on. As the river below tailors fork clears Caddis and Pmd’s should emerge and don’t forget about the Salmonflies from the mouth of the canyon upstream to the Park if the weather stabilizes and warms up in the first half of the month.

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16 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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These are just a few ways to fish a very versatile, productive and inexpensive bait. There are no limits to what these baits can do and at a fraction of the cost of other Bass baits. The two most important factors in my opinion are presentation and bait size or “matching the hatch” to use a familiar term. Don’t worry too much about color - just make sure it’s visible and keep it in the water. Experiment with retrieves, remember what works and set hooks aggressively; these fish have very hard mouths. Another good way to kick up your plastics game is to go fishing with a reputable guide. It just so happens that I am one of these and would love the work, but there are lots of us over here so check out our websites. And remember when you see the hundred fish catch rates that (1) it’s not B.S. (2) that’s generally per person, and (3) that’s done almost exclusively with cheap soft plastics. If you like our Steelhead, you will love our under-fished and aggressive Smallmouth! Travis R. De Boer Head-Guerilla/Fish Thrilla! www.GuerillaGuideService.com

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New Montana State Record Bass Confirmed From Noxon Rapids Reservoir MFWP

State Record Bass - May 2009 - Noxon Rapids PHOTO COURTESY MFWP

A

n Idaho angler caught an 8.8-pound largemouth bass in Noxon Rapids Reservoir on May 2 that has been confirmed as a new Montana state record. Darin Williams of Pinehurst Idaho was fishing with a partner at a bass fishing tournament when he hooked and landed the huge largemouth. The 8.8-pound bass measured 22.5 inches long and beat the old record by a half-pound. Williams caught the fish on tube bait. The lunker bass was released after the weigh-in. The previous Montana record largemouth bass was 22 inches long and weighed 8.29 pounds. It was caught in 1999 in Many Lakes east of Kalispell.

Billings Girl Anglers Using Catches Record Small Pontoon Fish MFWP Boats Need Life Jackets MFWP A three-year-old Billings While traditional float-tube and girl is the holder of a new state fishing record. Bette Schmieding landed the nine-inch, .84-pound green sunfish May 25, 2009, from Hickson’s Pond near Acton. Bette, who turns four years old July 24, was fishing with her grandfather, James Bender of Billings, when the record fish bit the worm on her hook. The fish’s weight was verified on a certified scale at Albertson’s on Central Avenue in Billings. Bender said the pond is privately owned, but the owner allows fishing with permission. The record displaces a . 56-pound, 8.6-inch green sunfish caught in 1991 by Roger Fliger of Billings in Castle Rock Reservoir at Colstrip.

bell-boat anglers are not using “vessels” and therefore are not required to carry a life vest, anglers on the new paddle and oar pontoons must carry a life vest because the pontoons are classified as a “vessel.” That means these boaters are required to carry a life vest for each person on board. Children under 12 years of age must wear their vest at all times. New technology has provided anglers with smaller floating vessels, known as “pontoons,” to access their favorite fishing spots. Anglers using these small pontoon boats propelled by oars for transportation to their fishing holes are also required to carry a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest. “If an angler is sitting above the water and the vessel is designed to be rowed or paddled, then a life vest is required on the vessel,” said Jim Kropp, MFWPs enforcement administrator. “ We encourage all float tube and belly boat users to wear them.” Anglers using float tubes with motors must register the craft and also must carry a life vest on board.


JULY 2009

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 17

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Cultivate A Lifelong Fishing Buddy, Take A Child Fishing By Mike Demick, IG&F Family Fishing Waters are great spots laugh. When a six-year old yells, “I KEEP IT SHORT - Children close to home geared for families and SLOW DOWN AND BE got a fish!” the thrill of that one moment wear out fast and have shorter attention lives for days, sometimes years for both youngster and adult. Fishing with youngsters can provide memories for a lifetime. It provides a time to bond, talk, listen to their stories, ask them about their friends and interests, and share joyful experiences outdoors. But cultivating a life-long fishing buddy requires a little planning, patience and an understanding that it’s less about catching fish and more about having fun. With Idaho’s Free Fishing Day scheduled this Saturday, June 13, the Idaho Fish and Game encourages parents to keep a few things in mind when taking youngsters fishing to ensure a happy outing for everyone. START THEM YOUNG - Some parents think a child needs to be twelve or older to take them fishing. Actually, you can start by taking babies for short walks outside, along the lake shore or on a dock. Feeling and sensing the outdoors is the most critical step. Young children are fascinated with animals, so show them nearby songbirds, minnows, tadpoles and even insects.

spans than adults. Make a trip last about an hour per year of age. While a oneyear-old has had all they want of fishing after an hour, the six-year-old might last half a day. For mixed ages, be prepared. Bring snacks and toys to occupy younger children once they become restless. Another important suggestion is to leave before they ask to. Always leave them wanting more, and they’ll soon be begging to go again. KEEP IT SIMPLE - There are many affordable children’s rod and reel combos on the market for $6 to $15. Zebco and Shakespeare make combos to fit the smallest of children with Barbie and SpongeBob Squarepants outfits just to name a few. As children grow, they can get Spiderman or Batman and right on up the line. Think of fishing equipment as a gift for birthdays or Christmas. You can’t beat a kid’s combo with a tackle box full of tiny hooks, sinkers and bobbers to light up a child’s eyes. AVOID HARD TO CATCH SPECIES - Break youths in on easy-to-catch species like bluegill, perch, crappie, or hatchery trout. Idaho’s

the likelihood you’ll catch fish. These waters are easy to reach and the rules are simple. For a list of waters, review a copy of the fishing rules booklet or visit the department’s website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. DON’T MISINTERPRET “SUCCESS” - So what if you drop your tackle box and spill all the contents - or your toddler falls in a mud puddle? If you spend the day together and have just one moment of laughter, you’ve had a successful day. Never judge your success by the number or size of fish you catch. Cherish the memories you make everyday. TAKE PICTURES, AND PLENTY OF THEM - Get close-ups of a child who’s got the giggles or even the one who’s crying because the family dog ate his cookie when he wasn’t looking. One of my favorite photos of a friend’s daughter was taken when she was about five years old and had gotten the fishing line tangled, became impatient and started to cry. Rather than waiting for a smile, I took the photo and every time I see it now, I

PATIENT - Set time aside for the children and devote every minute of it seeing to it that they are having fun. When a child makes a mistake, remember when you were in that same learning situation and how it felt. DON’T FORGET SAFETY - Especially life vests, sunscreen and sting kits. Remember to use life vests that fit snugly and wear them whenever around water. In Idaho, law requires all children 14 and under to wear an approved life jacket when in a boat 19 feet or less when it is under way or under power. This law applies to all boats, not just those powered by a motor, including canoes, kayaks, rafts and float tubes. Children can burn fast in the hot summer sun so go early or go late but avoid the heat of the day. It’s also a good idea to take a few Band-Aids and even a sting kit for the occasional injury. Children grow up fast, so make it fun, be positive and treasure the time spent together outdoors. Most importantly, consider fishing with the kids as an investment with payoffs in the future.


18 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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JULY 2009

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Friday: 12 to 5 pm - Open to the public Saturday - 9 am to 6 pm - Open to the public (Members cocktail hour and banquet to follow) Sunday - 10 am to 4 pm - Open to the public) Admission: $5 per day Kids under 10 years - FREE $10 for 3-day pass For show info contact: Darlene Weinand Phone 406-543-0845 e-mail: gmwknives@aol.com

hink your ticket to hunting success this fall depends on whether you draw a choice elk permit or just the right buck deer license in this summer’s lottery? Think again. Whether or not you are able to wrap your tag on an elk, deer or even antelope depends on your ability to get to it. And accessing the big country where these animals live requires more physical ability than you probably have right now. That’s a nice way of saying that you’re in lousy shape, and here’s no greater motivation to start exercising than the news that your own physical inability may make the difference in eating elk roasts or beefsteak this winter. Hunters who are in shape are able to hunt harder, higher and longer than those hunters who are confined to their pickups or who are afraid to head to remote ridges where the best and most animals are. In many years, like many of the last several, hunters who waited for winter weather to push elk to them ended the season with un-notched tags The good news is that if you start exercising soon you still have enough time to get in decent shape for opening day. Here are some painless ways to get started:

build your wind and tighten your muscle tone. * Load Your Backpack – You will almost certainly hunt with a backpack. Get it out of the garage and fill it with full water jugs. Then strap it on and get walking. If you want to ramp up your exercises, add some uphill pulls into your route. Add more weight or distance when you want to increase your workout. * Do Simple Calisthenics – Sit-ups aren’t just for middle-school gym class. These effective, simple exercises will tighten your trunk and minimize the chance of back injury as you hike under a pack, field dress your elk and pack the meat out of the hills. Push-ups are also great ways to strengthen your upper arms and pecs, the muscles that you’ll use to pull yourself up and down mountains, stabilize a loaded pack and set up camp.

* Don’t Push It – As good as you’ll feel by getting in shape, don’t try to do too much too soon. If you haven’t been used to exercising, it’s easy to injure yourself if you treat your middle-aged body like that of a college kid. And injuries will certainly keep you from hunting as * Walk – Sounds way too simple, but hard as you want. just walking a mile a day will get your So go slow, but be consistent. legs, torso and cardio-vascular system You’ll be rewarded with more days in shape for October. If you currently in the field, more satisfaction while walk a mile, double the distance. A you’re out, and hopefully with more brisk walk will strengthen your legs, venison in your freezer.


JULY 2009

ON-LINE AT WWW.OUTDOORSMONTANA.COM •

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 19

Parents’ Guide: Getting Kids Outdoors Activity : Begin To Keep A Nature

Journal Or Fishing Log To Preserve Treasured Memories Ready:

Identify an easily accessible outdoor location you would enjoy visiting regularly to fish and explore. For help, go to the FWP Web site at fwp.mt.gov and use the Montana Fishing Guide on the Fishing page. Many Fishing Access Site pages offer a photo of the location so you can see the type of environment it offers. It can be fun to return to the same site through the summer to notice the subtle seasonal changes that occur as spring progresses into summer. Set: Set aside a backpack for spontaneous outdoor exploration. Collect items you’d like to have handy at a moment’s notice, for example: energy bars, bottled water, field glasses or spotting scope, bug spray, sun screen, flashlight, small first aid kit, bandana’s to soak in water and knot around your neck to stay cool in the heat of the day, inexpensive digital camera, and of course your outdoor journals of logs and plastic baggies for collecting “specimens.” Fishing gear might include poles, fishing tackle box with appropriate lures, bait, a copy of the 2009 Montana fishing regulations, fishing licenses, waders and life vests for the youngsters are always a good idea whether they will be shore fishing or on a boat. Locate the family’s basic spring and summer outdoor clothing including sun hats, sunglasses, waterproof sandals for wading, extra socks, sweatshirts for an extra layer of warmth, and a warm jacket for cold nights. Store the gear in a single handy place. Go: Begin with a short exploratory walk to get your bearings in your newly adopted corner of the great Montana outdoors. Ask the kids to help identify the best potential “fishing holes” at this site. What makes for a good fishing hole? What kind of luck are the other anglers at the site having and why? Is the water at the

high-water mark or is it low? Is the flow rapid or slow? Check the shoreline to see if and where it may drop off quickly into deep water. Notice the type of bugs hovering over the water, is this what the fish are eating? Can you see fish coming to the surface to feed? The Power of Observing and Questioning:

MFWP

Tell Stories: Your kids might enjoy storytelling about their observations. Focus on something that interests them and start “wondering.” Try to answer the classic questions--the what, when, where, why and how of what you are seeing. Soon you will have a story, including things you don’t know or can’t explain. Kids might enjoy finding the answers at home on the Internet.

Montana’s science teachers are increasingly using the inquiry process to teach youngsters to explore and learn about their world—that process is to observe, wonder, question, seek evidence and facts, formulate explanations and communicate them to others.

FWP Can Help FWP’s Web site offers a variety of helpful information for those preparing to explore the Montana outdoors:

Children outdoors for some unstructured fun will have an opportunity to practice these skills in a real-life setting and to record their thoughts, in words, sketches and by collecting found objects or pressing and adding specimens to their nature journal.

http://fwp.mt.gov/education/ecosystem/ default.html

Let Nature Take The Lead: There are endless opportunities for memorable summer experiences depending on the location you choose and what is going on in the natural world that day. Summer is a time when children can observe all the ways that the natural world reawakens, grows and comes to fruition. Noticing how summer makes them feel will help young people realize that what is happening in the natural world affects their lives and moods every day. Use Your Senses: A way to help young people fully experience spring is to ask them to focus on one sense at a time: sight, sound, touch, taste and feel. Cover your ears and observe: Look around you —what catches your eye and why? Cover your eyes and listen : What do you hear at first, what do you hear as you listen longer? Cover your eyes and ears to smell and feel: Can you identify everything you smell and feel? Take your time and you may be surprised at what you discover.

Learn about the type of ecosystems a particular location represents and the wildlife adapted to live there:

Or, ask about the KUBS, Kids Under The Big Sky, guides or the Junior Ranger Program available at some Montana State Parks. To read more about keeping a fishing log: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishing/guide/fishingLog/default.html To locate a Fishing Access Site near you: http://fwp.mt.gov/lands/searchfas.aspx Access the Web-based educational materials that FWP has to offer here: http://fwp.mt.gov/education/teachers/default.html Find the answers to questions about Montana’s plants and animals by using these handy online field guides: http://fieldguide.mt.gov/ For wildlife watching tips and ways to avoid disturbing wild animals when you see them, go here: http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/livingwwildlife/wildlifewatching.html For reminders on outdoor safety go to: http://fwp.mt.gov/recreation/safety/default.html The National Wildlife Federation at www. nwf.org/kidsoutdoors also offers a useful booklet on Connecting Today’s Kids With Nature, and a national web campaign at www.GreenHour.org with tips to help parents get their kids outdoors more often.

Anglers Be Careful Of Catching Pallid Sturgeons MFWP T

he recent success of pallid sturgeon stocking in the Missouri River has more anglers catching this endangered fish species. That means anglers need to know the difference between pallids and their cousins, shovelnose sturgeon, which are legal to keep. “Over the past 10 years we have released 182,862 yearling pallids into the Missouri River between Loma and the Fred Robinson Bridge,” says Bill Gardner, Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist in Lewistown. This year alone, fisheries workers released 6,486 of the 10-inch juveniles pallids. “There’s getting to be a lot of 2 to 5 lb. juvenile pallid sturgeon out there,” Gardner says, “and they look a lot like shovelnose, so make sure you can tell the difference apart from each other. And we’ve found these juvenile pallids are easy to catch on worms.” The main thing to watch for is the barbels, sometimes called “whiskers,” which hang under their fish’s nose. “Pallids have four barbels like the shovelnose,” Gardner says, “but the outer ones are much longer, twice as long, as the inner ones. In contrast, the shovelnose’s four barbels are nearly all similar in length.” The key differences are pictured in Montana fishing regulations. The legal limit for shovelnose sturgeon is 5 fish daily; none over 40 inches. However, pallids are a federally protected endangered species and must be released immediately. Few wild adult pallids remain in the middle Missouri River reach. Gardner estimates there are only about 25 wild pallid sturgeon adults remaining in the 180-mile stretch of river. “We are seeing some relatively good annual survival rates of between 25 and 74 percent for the hatchery pallids over the first 4 years after stocking,” Gardner says. “Some of the yearlings stocked out during 1998 are now in the 6-pound class size, so they seem to be growing at a steady rate.” A lot of people and agencies are working on pallid sturgeon recovery, including FWP, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal Bureau of Reclamation, federal Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Montana State University, Western Area Power Association and PPL Montana. “We have been working on recovering pallid sturgeon in this area for nearly 20 years,” Gardner says, “and we are now finally starting to see some good, positive results. So, anglers now need to thoroughly examine any sturgeon they catch before keeping it.”


20 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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JULY 2009

Fertilizing the eggs from a Northern pike with milt from a true muskie creates a huge fish called a tiger muskie. This unidentified anglers shows the tiger muskie he caught at Pineview Reservoir in November 2005. Photo UDW

Utah Is Ready To Raise Its Own Tiger Muskies UDW 1,000 true muskies released in Lee Kay ponds

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FWP Offers Boating Safety Course MFWP Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ boat safety education program includes a home-study course for motorboat and personal watercraft operators. Those 13 years of age or older who successfully complete the course will receive a motorboat operator’s certificate. Boating safety videos are available on the FWP Web site at fwp.mt.gov. To obtain the motorboat home-study course packet, contact the nearest regional FWP office, or call FWP at 406-444-2535. Boating classes are also offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. For your safety and the safety of others, please be certain you know Montana’s boating rules and regulations.

Lake Trout Confirmed In Lindbergh Lake MFWP

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WP recently conducted a spring gill net series on Lindbergh Lake, and confirmed that lake trout have found their way into the 4-1/2 mile long, 725-acre lake. Lindbergh Lake is located in the Swan River Drainage about 40 miles upstream from Swan Lake, where lake trout were confirmed to be present 9 years ago. On June 17, FWP crews captured four lake trout ranging from 425-481 mm (16-19”). Three lake trout were captured in the upper end of the Lindbergh Lake and one was captured in the outlet area. The nets also captured 10 bull trout, and a number of northern pike minnow (formerly called squawfish), large scale suckers, long nose suckers, mountain whitefish, and rainbow trout.

Fisheries Biologist Leo Rosenthal noted that in the weeks leading up to the sampling, he received three separate reports of lake trout caught by anglers in Lindbergh Lake, indicating that these fish are likely abundant. Previous net surveys in Lindbergh in 2003-2007 did not capture lake trout although there were unconfirmed angler reports in 2008. It is not known whether there is a spawning population of lake trout in Lindbergh Lake, or if the lake trout are migrants from downstream. FWP will monitor the situation and consider the implications of this latest discovery for management of the Swan Drainage fisheries.

ne of the largest sport fish in the country will soon be raised in Utah. On June 16, a total of 1,000 true muskies from Nebraska were stocked into ponds at the Lee Kay Public Shooting Range in Salt Lake City. They’re small now, but in three years, they’ll be mature enough to reproduce. When the muskies reach that stage, biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources will take milt from the males. Then they’ll use that milt to fertilize eggs from Northern pike. After the eggs are fertilized, Utah will have the first batch of tiger muskies ever produced in the state. “More and more anglers are fishing for tiger muskies,” says Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR. “I can see why: they’re an impressive fish. When you catch one of these monsters, they put up a big fight.” Four years of hard work Cushing says the DWR introduced tiger muskies to Utah in 1988. The program went well for years. Then, in 2005, the DWR stopped bringing tiger muskies into the state after biologists became concerned about aquatic diseases in the Midwest. “When that happened, we decided it was time to raise our own tiger muskies,” Cushing says. That decision led to lots of work. Creating ponds in which to raise the fish was the first step. The shooting range at Lee Kay takes up only a small part of the 1,200-acre facility. And the facility doesn’t have any other fishing waters near it. “When water leaves the pond, it flows into a nearby basin and evaporates,” Cushing says. (continued on page 36)


ON-LINE AT WWW.OUTDOORSMONTANA.COM •

Fishing With The Captain Mark Ward

Governors Cup will be held July 10-11th. You still have time to enter by contacting Dianne Brandt at the Glasgow Chamber 406-228-2222. This month on the big lake in Western Montana Flathead Lake the lake whitefish bite should start. In the past the whitefish bite has begun around the middle of the month, however with the colder he longer than normal than normal spring that bite might spring that most of Montana be pushed a couple of weeks back. experienced this year will have its Last year the whitefish bite on effect on fishing in July. I think for the Flathead Lake was disappointing. most part that it will be positive. I look Anglers were able to catch fish for good fishing to extend in all the but the bite was not even close to rivers. The Spring-Run off was very the 2 years leading up to last year. good as most fly fishers didn’t really Nobody knows for certain why get into any decent fishing on the the bite was off last year but let rivers until the middle of last month. us hope it will start again string The river fishing should continue to be this year. I know a lot of anglers strong until late July and could carry are looking forward to fishing for over into August. Check with your whitefish on Flathead Lake. For local fly shop or sporting goods store more information on Flathead Lake for the latest dry fly hatches on the trout fishing and the whitefish get river stretch that you intend to fish. contact of Dick Zimmer at Zimmer The lake fishing should also Tackle in Pablo. 675-0068. bode well into July. The walleye bite Noxon Reservoir should on Canyon Ferry, Hauser, and Holter also be a good place to fish for Reservoirs, which normally slows northern pike and bass this month. down, might get a few extra weeks of The lake, which hosts many of good fishing. Tiber Reservoir north the Montana Bass Federation of Great Falls just started to pick qualifying tournaments in Western up late last month so July should be Montana, also now boats the new a good month. Tiber Marina (759state record largemouth bass. The 7100) is open on the lake for the latest new state record which was caught in daily reports. They also have all by Idaho angler Darin Williams your tackle and live bait needs. Fort on May 2nd during a tournament Peck Reservoir has been producing weighed 8.8 pounds and was 22 some great fishing all spring and and ½ inches in length.

T

July normally a good month should be excellent fishing. The 134 mile reservoir on the north east part of the state has good water this year. The water level has risen every month this year and because of it the vegetation that is now under water has produced great habitat for bait fish. The end results is the northern pike and walleyes are more active closer to shore where the bait fish are and the fisherman are fishing. This month Fort Peck will play host to two walleye tournaments. The Walleye

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.

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 21


22 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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JULY 2009

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JULY 2009

ON-LINE AT WWW.OUTDOORSMONTANA.COM •

Painted Rocks State Park On Painted Rocks Reservoir MFWP

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ocated in the scenic Bitterroot Mountains, this 23-acre park offers boating and water sport opportunities on the reservoir. The remote pine-forest setting is a great get-away for a weekend of camping, fishing and relaxation. Painted Rocks State Park is located on Painted Rocks Reservoir. Painted Rocks State Park is the only FWP managed site on Painted Rocks Reservoir. Painted Rocks Reservoir is a tributary of the West Fork Bitterroot River. Activities: Boating Fishing Swimming Camping Picnicking Bicycling

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 23

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24 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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JULY 2009

Hunting And Conservation News Hunting & Conservation News Proudly Sponsored By

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Outdoor Skills Workshops For Women MFWP The 16th annual “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” workshop, sponsored

Comments Sought On Environmental Assessment For A Three-Year Removal Effort Of Lake Trout In Swan Lake MFWP

Other outdoor skills workshops for beginners are: July 11 or July 12: Let’s Go Kayaking Location: Hyalite Reservoir near Bozeman Fee: $18 July 18 & July 19 Canoeing on Pond & River Location: Great Falls Fee: $55 Check the FWP Web for details at fwp.mt.gov on the Education page under Outdoors Woman. To receive register information for these classes, provide your name and mailing address to the BOW Coordinator at: FWP-BOW, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT, 59620; call: 406-444-2615; or e-mail Liz Lodman at: llodman@mt.gov.

FWP Region One, has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) for the purpose of conducting a three-year removal effort of lake trout in Swan Lake. Nonnative, predatory lake trout threaten the bull trout and kokanee populations and fisheries of Swan Lake. The proposed action would involve contracting with professional fishery consultants to conduct gill netting over a three-week period beginning in late August 2009. The netting will be conducted annually for three years, and will help determine feasibility and effectiveness of alternatives for managing the lake trout population (suppression of the population). All salvageable-size lake trout captured during the project, not used for scientific investigations, will be culled and donated to food banks or other facilities. The draft EA is available on the FWP web site at fwp.mt.gov under Recent Public Notices. Copies may be requested at the FWP headquarters office, 490 N Meridian Road, Kalispell. A copy is available for viewing at the Montana State Library, 1515 E 6 th Ave., Helena; and at 521 Electric Avenue in Bigfork; the Seeley Lake Library, and the Swan Lake Library and Swan Lake Trading Post in the town of Swan Lake. The draft will be out for public review through Wednesday, July 8, 2009. Written comments must be postmarked by July 8, 2009. Please direct your questions or comments to Leo Rosenthal, fisheries biologist, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 490 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell, MT 59901, 751-4548 , or e-mail lrosenthal@mt.gov.

by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, will be held July 31 – Aug. 2 at the Birch Creek Center near Dillon. The hands-on workshop will offer opportunities to build a survival shelter, cast a fly rod, use a map and compass, learn to shoot a rifle and cook a Dutch-oven treat. New this year are classes on rowing a raft, nature journaling, knot tying and designing a native garden. The $200 fee includes class instruction, meals and lodging. Partial scholarships are available. Space is limited and classes are filled as registrations are received. Teachers who attend the workshop can receive continuing education credit from the Office of Public Instruction. The workshop is designed for women, but is open to anyone 18 years of age and over with a desire to learn new skills.

FWP Seeks New Access Law Applicants For Builds Bridges Region 2 Citizen MFWP Advisory new state law that won Committee MFWP bipartisanAsupport among Montana lawmakers is already rebuilding bridges and anglers. Montana Fish, Wildlife & among landowners House Bill 190, which Parks is seeking applicants to fill four volunteer positions on the Region 2 Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). The CAC is a general advisory committee that provides input and guidance to FWP on a diverse array of issues—from wildlife and fisheries management to access, recreation and law enforcement. The panel of volunteers typically has four to five evening meetings per year in Missoula. Members serve four year terms and can reapply when their terms expire. Meals and travel expenses are provided. Applicants are being sought to fill vacancies created by term expirations of members serving from Anaconda, Hamilton and Missoula. These members represented parks and recreation, wildlife, fish, private business and landowner/ rancher interests. Residents of those areas and/or with those interests are encouraged to apply for the vacancies, however applicants will be considered from across west-central Montana, including the counties of Ravalli, Missoula, Deer Lodge, Powell, Granite, Mineral and the southwestern portion of Lewis & Clark. FWP is interested in selecting members from a pool of candidates who represent a variety of interests. The department welcomes applications from hunters, anglers, landowners, trappers, outfitters and guides, outdoor recreationists, conservationists, and the general public. The function of the CAC is to: · Help promote Montana’s strong hunting, fishing, trapping, and outdoor recreation traditions · Provide a forum for ongoing two-way communication with our neighbors and communities · Help FWP personnel maintain and improve responsiveness to the public · Help FWP identify emerging issues · Provide advice and perspective on important resource and management issues · Assist FWP with crafting local, sustainable solutions on regional and statewide issues Applicants will be asked to provide an overview of their interests and

establishes rules for public access to rivers at county-road bridges, resolved longstanding stream access and livestock control concerns. While the law allows landowners to continue the common practice of stringing livestock fence lines at a bridge, it also obligates FWP to build gates or other structures in a manner that provides public access yet still restrains livestock. A new cooperative access structure has already been built near a bridge on the Dearborn River south of Great Falls; and two more are scheduled to be built at bridges on the North Fork of the Blackfoot River near Ovando, and on the Blackfoot River near Helmville. “It’s heartening to see that the hard work of lawmakers, stockgrowers, and anglers is already creating good will,” said Joe Maurier, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. “Together we’re rebuilding bridges of cooperation, providing public access to Montana’s rivers and streams, and safeguarding Montana livestock.” The law also outlines how landowners and FWP can resolve disputes, and ultimately provides FWP steps to follow to install an access structure if an agreement can’t be reached amicably. For information on the access at bridges program, contact your nearest FWP office.

involvement in natural resource issues and write a few sentences on why they are interested in serving on the CAC. To apply, download an application (posted below), call Vivaca Crowser at 406-542-5518, or stop by the FWP Region 2 Office in Missoula, 3201 Spurgin Road. Completed applications must be received by FWP by Wednesday, July 15, 2009. FWP Region 2 managers and current CAC members will review applications and select the new members. Successful applicants will be invited to attend their first CAC meeting on Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m


JULY 2009

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 25

Hunting And Conservation News Elk & Brucellosis Cooperation Produce Rewards MFWP Montana’s effort to better understand the risk and spread of brucellosis by seeking the help of hunters and landowners produced good results for researchers and several rewards for some lucky participants. Brucellosis is a contagious bacterial infection in domestic animals, wildlife and humans worldwide. In Montana, brucellosis has only been detected in elk, bison and recently cattle in areas surrounding Yellowstone National Park. Brucellosis can cause pregnant cattle, bison and elk to abort their calves. Since 1981, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tested about 7,000 elk for brucellosis exposure, mostly in the Greater Yellowstone Area north and west of the national park. The results of those tests show brucellosis exposure rates that range from 0 to 5.5 percent. In 2008, FWP expanded testing—with the help of hunters, landowners, outfitters, and local business— to 30 hunting districts within Beaverhead, Madison, Gallatin, Park, Sweet Grass, Stillwater and Carbon counties. The effort seeks to confirm the location of the disease in wildlife, complete wildlife and livestock risk assessment, and then determine if wildlife or livestock management practices need adjustments. With last year’s expanded disease surveillance effort, FWP mailed blood-sample collection kits to 2,900 hunters who obtained permits to hunt elk within targeted hunting districts in southwestern Montana. Cooperating landowners and outfitters also helped to distribute an additional 1,200 kits and 2,900 more kits were available to hunters at information kiosks at key public-hunting access points or at FWP regional offices. In all, 1,289 elk samples were submitted for testing. Final results are expected in July. “The cooperation we witnessed last fall was extraordinary among landowners, hunters, outfitters and commercial businesses,” said FWP Director Joe Maurier. “We all understand that managing the brucellosis risk is a shared responsibility.” This was an intense and rigorous effort,” Maurier said. “Cooperation like this helps to create solutions. Brucellosis is not a wildlife problem and it’s not a livestock problem. It’s a disease problem that poses a management risk to our state. It’s evident most agree that it’s in Montana’s best interest to work together to promote a healthy livestock industry and healthy wildlife populations.”

Hunters Must Register By July 15 For Game Damage Hunt Roster MFWP Hunters interested in taking part in any game-damage hunting opportunities on private land this year must register by July 15 with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP). Game damage occurs when animals such as elk, deer or antelope concentrate on private farms and ranches and damage crops and property. FWP’s game damage hunt rules are designed to respond to the needs of landowners who provide public hunting during the general hunting season, yet who could nevertheless suffer losses due to wildlife damage without this additional management tool. In addition to game damage hunts, those who register will also be eligible for special management season hunts. Special management seasons are called for in response to concentrations of big game due to seasonal migrations, extreme weather conditions, restrictive public hunting on adjacent or nearby properties, and other factors. Hunts could take place anytime from Aug. 15 through Feb.15, 2010. Officials stress however, that game-damage hunts are only offered when needed and the need for such hunts may or may not develop. A final game damage roster, randomly generated from all the online registrations, will be posted by Aug. 1 . FWP will contact hunters on the rosters if hunting opportunities arise. Prospective hunters must register for the hunt rosters online at fwp. mt.gov . A link to register will is available on the FWP Web site home page. The

Internet-based registration can be completed on personal computers, at most public libraries, and at any FWP office. To register, hunters will need their ALS number. They will be prompted to enter a preferred hunting district for potential deer, elk, and antelope game damage hunts. Prospective hunters may choose to participate in all three species lists. Hunters are urged to print the confirmation page after completing the registration process. The effort to create hunter rosters is specifically intended to decrease game damage response time and to streamline the game damage process.

Adults Can Still Take Bowhunter Education On Line MFWP Bowhunter Education students

age 18 or older may take the bowhunter education course online. Log on to: <http:// www.bowhunter-ed.com/mt/index.htm> . Montana accepts an independent study method that involves a two-part process-this online course, completed on your own time and your own schedule, followed by a 4-hour field day exercise led by certified Montana bowhunter education volunteer instructors. The cost to take the certification test is $20. Field day options are limited. You must register seven days in advance for a field day as prompted on line, after the completion of the online test. This is the only way to ensure that you can become certified in time. For 2009, a special field day for online students is scheduled for Saturday, July 18 in the Kalispell area . Call FWP at 752-5501. In Montana all bowhunter education courses and field days have to be completed by July 31 of each year.


26 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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Western Montana Chapter Spotlight - Mule Deer Foundation BY TRACY WATT

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everal years ago, a hunter field check in Montana led to a license-fraud investigation that revealed a poaching ring had taken nearly 100 trophy-class mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, antelope, moose, mountain lion, and black bear using spotlights and silencers. The poachers were ordered to pay thousands of dollars in state fines, they were sentenced to prison time, and they will never again legally possess firearms or archery equipment. More recently, investigators in a Seeley Lake area poaching case documented over 86 illegally killed animals over the course of fifteen years. The ring leader is serving no prison time but will be on probation for five years. He must pay a $50,000 fine and has lost his hunting privileges for life. Reports like these are becoming all too common as poachers are targeting Montana’s trophy wildlife for commercial profit. (FWP) poaching investigations have gone from just a handful in the 1990s to approximately 40 new cases each year. It is no wonder that the Western Montana Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation has made this a top priority. According to Chapter Chair, Ray Rugg, the local chapter has donated over $11,000 to the FWP since 2003 for saturation and airplane patrols in western Montana. He said the majority of money donated has gone toward helping enforce the hunting regulations of mule deer. Rugg went on to say that when the Western Montanan Chapter’s committee members discussed how best to spend their money to help support the Mule Deer Foundation mission, they decided that helping the FWP stop poaching was their best alternative. “We can’t do anything about the wolves, we can’t do anything about the weather, but we can help the fish and game enforce the hunting regulations,” he said.

During a saturation patrol, FWP personnel will inundate a targeted area, trying to close down every drainage and check every tag. FWP Game Warden, Mike Fegely, said, “We move a bunch of guys into one area on a weekend and really hit it hard.” He believes that doing a saturation patrol for just one weekend can make a lasting impression on hunters, letting them know the FWP is serious about enforcing hunting regulations. Fegely went on to say that airplane patrols are also a great way to put a stop to hunting violations, although very expensive. “They are a tool we probably could not afford if not for the help of the MDF.” Fegely said the Western Montana Chapter assistance is starting to show dividends and the game wardens are prosecuting more cases against violators each year. He concluded, “The bottom line is the more tools we have and the more boots we can put on the ground, the more cases we can make.” Other donations the Western Montana Chapter has made to the FWP include: mule deer decoys; decoy hide repair; motion cameras and remote trail cameras; computer and hardware used to compile and make cases against hunting violators; and metal detectors. Additionally, the Chapter has helped with a Wilderness Outdoor Career School, they have donated money for interpretive signs about mule deer at the Heart Lake Trailhead in the Superior Ranger District, and they have put money toward weed control and management on Ryan Gulch and Mount Sentinel. A few years back, committee members purchased materials and furnished over 50 hours of labor to install fencing on Blue Mountain that restricts ATV use on mule deer habitat. In 2007 the Western Montana Chapter decided to do something a little different and donated all of their Chapter

Rewards and Conservation Partnership dollars to the Blackfoot Challenge. Almost $10,000 dollars were contributed to help with this multi-million dollar project to acquire 5,600 acres in the Blackfoot Valley to preserve habitat for mule deer and other wildlife. Accomplishments in 2008 include the launching of the MDF Montana License Plate program. Committee Chair, Ray Rugg, and Committee Member, Jennifer Cote, initiated the project in 2004 and Montana State Chair, Dan Dellinger, saw the project to completion in early 2008. The plates are now available through all Montana registrar offices. Money raised from sales of the Montana plates will be used, in part, to fund habitat enhancements, as well as conservation research and education in the state. Also in 2008 the Western Montana Chapter put still more money towards saturation patrols. They also started a Landowner Appreciation Award to honor landowners who have contributed significantly to advancing the mission of the Mule Deer Foundation. The Western Montana Chapter committee members justly represent the passionate, hard-working people of the Big Sky state. Since the Chapter’s inception in 2003, they’ve logged over 280 direct hours on the ground to benefit mule deer. Every year during the Western Montana Chapter banquet, the crew auctions off a “work day,” whereby the committee members will work for a day – doing anything from building a deck, painting, digging ditches, burning slash, you name it! This year’s banquet will be held on July 18th, 2009 at the Hole-in-the-Wall Ranch on the West Fork of Fish Creek. There is an Early Bird Drawing for a .22 Pistol for those registering by June 1, 2009. The Chapter is also offering raffle tickets for a rifle, scope and case for just $5 each or five for $20. The drawing will be held at the July 18th banquet. New games this year will include outdoor archery, horse shoes, golf, and much more. If you are interested in becoming a part of this dedicated and ambitious group of volunteers or would like to attend the Hole-in-the-Wall banquet, please contact Ray Rugg at 406-822-4240.

JULY 2009

PHOTO BY SCOTT ROOT

Men Charged With Poaching 18 Deer UDW Face prison time and more than $60,000 in fines\

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our Utah County men have been charged with killing 18 buck deer in Juab County. Four men are facing prison time and more than $60,000 in fines after allegedly poaching 18 deer in Juab County. Seven of the deer had antler spreads of more than 24 inches, making them “trophy” animals under Utah law. One of the seven deer was a massive buck with a 30-inch antler spread. The case is one of the state’s biggest poaching cases in recent memory. Thirty-eight-year-old Rex Powell, 42-year-old Joseph Pantos, 30-year-old Ryan Hoover and 21-year-old Chris Vance face third-degree felony or misdemeanor counts for wanton destruction of protected wildlife, more commonly known as poaching. Officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources have been investigating the case since 2007, when members of the public began discovering deer carcasses within the boundaries of the well-known Vernon limited-entry deer hunting unit. The investigation led officers to Powell’s home. Officers seized three mounted deer heads and 15 sets of antlers after serving a search warrant in March 2009. The four men now face time in prison and more than $60,000 in fines. They may also lose their hunting privileges in 31 states involved in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Utah is among the states involved in the compact.


JULY 2009

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 27

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

Merrell Aspen L/S Shirt Recommend Yes

Highlights: “The Aspen shirt looks great with the Bhutan Fly Fishing pant,” so says my wife. The shirt is long sleeve, soft against the skin, with raglan sleeves and odor resistant. I wear the Aspen everywhere and on a schizophrenic weather day on Big Horn River, rain one minute with cold winds, sunshine the next, it received a potpourri of testing. Because it is Black, the Aspen was almost too hot when the sun came out. The shirt is made from a Bio-Blend™ Cocona™ moisture wicking odor resistant micro fiber polyester. I’m going to keep it as simple as I can, because I am not sure how they do this, but the fabric is manufactured with coconut shells. This is not the first coconut shell shirt that I have tested, but is the first from Merrell. The Aspen is a refined fitting shirt; wears tough and yes, it does look attractive. Drawbacks: None Rating: Good Water...Great Tester: Pat Stinson Suggested Retail: $50.00

Merrell Bhutan Fly Fishing Pant

Recommend Yes...Buy Highlights: This spring and summer, we have received four pieces from Merrell clothing. The Bhutan Fishing pant is 100% nylon, 50+ UPF sun block, and dries quickly. There are two side cargo pockets with zippered back pockets and a short 10-inch inseam. They will tell you they are wrinkle free, which means right out of the dryer. I rolled them up and put them in my fishing bag and they came out with patchwork wrinkles. We do not consider this a problem; as the wrinkles disappeared after a half hour of wearing. I was concerned with the 10-inch inseam, (not a whole lot of room), but after wearing, I found that they stayed tight to my hips without slipping down to my knees. The Bhutan includes a 33-inch length. No high water pants for me. All in all, the Bhutan Fishing pant fits great and looks the same. Drawbacks: None Rating: Good Water...Great Tester: Pat Stinson Suggested Retail: $75.00

Sperry-Topsider Barracuda Boat Shoe

Recommend Yes...Buy Highlights: This is the first season for SperryTopsider shoes at Montana Test. We test and review a plethora of casual footwear and the new Sperry’s were a pleasant surprise, but not unexpected. Some years ago I owned and wore a pair out. This season I am wearing the Barracuda Sport Fisherman camping, fishing, and as casual wear. As you can see from the picture, they are getting a drilling. I was skeptical of the claim “waterproof”, but surprisingly the Barracudas have not leaked and I have drenched them. Besides waterproof, they are lightweight, offer a padded tongue, a removable footbed, and molded EVA cushion midsole. This tech information is boring, but important. The real test as always is fit and comfort. The Barracuda is my shoe for the summer. I wear them everywhere and with sensitive feet, comfort is priority one. Sperry-Topsiders are for the gentlemen in all of us but, they wear like iron and the comfort is authentic. Drawbacks: None Rating: Good Water...Great Tester: Pat Stinson Suggested Retail: $90.00

NEW LOCATION NOW OPEN


28 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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JULY 2009

Rocky Mountain States Be ‘Bear Aware’ When Camping

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he Colorado Division of Wildlife reminds campers to be “bear aware” when enjoying the outdoors. Campers should keep their campsites clean to avoid attracting bears, or other wildlife. Bears go into campgrounds because food is often available around tents, camp trailers, and dumpsters. The potential for conflicts increases when food brings bears and humans come into close contact. “Bears are built to eat and their sense of smell is incredible,” explained Justin Krall, a district wildlife manager in the Westcliffe area. “They can smell food from miles away and they’ll travel to find it.” In a natural setting, bears would just as soon avoid people, but bears that learn to associate humans with food begin to lose their natural fear of people. “Food Conditioned” bears are the most dangerous kind. They usually end up being euthanized. “It is unfortunate, but bears get into trouble because humans leave food around,” Krall said. “Bears are not naturally aggressive toward humans, they are actually very shy creatures,” Krall said. “However, bears are on a mission to find food. Campers need to take precautions to avoid problems for you and your family, but also for the campers who use the site after you. Do not leave food or garbage behind.

Always pack out your trash.” Here are a few tips for campers in bear country: * Keep a clean site and clean up thoroughly after every meal; * After grilling, allow the fire to continue until food scraps and grease are burned completely off the grill. * Do not eat in your tent or keep food in your tent; * Do not leave pet food outside for a long period of time. Any uneaten pet food should also be stored in a secure container. * Store unused food and garbage in secure containers out of the reach of bears and away from your sleeping area; * If you see a bear in a campground, report it to the local DOW office as soon as possible. * If you come in close contact with a bear, talk to it firmly and make yourself look as large as possible. Back away slowly, but do not run. * Teach children and others who might be unfamiliar with bears about bear safety. For additional information on how the public can do their part to keep bears wild please visit the Division of Wildlife’s Living With Wildlife web page at http://wildlife. state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/ and click on the “Living with Bears in Colorado” link.

Anglers Urged To Take Rainbows In Lake Pend Oreille If $15 were not enough, “Ultimately, we want to anglers will have one more reason to harvest the rainbow trout they catch from Lake Pend Oreille this year. Idaho Fish and Game has implanted micro-tags into the heads of about 100 rainbow trout that were caught and released in the lake. The “passive integrated transponder” (PIT) tags are worth anywhere from $50 to $1,000. The tags cannot be seen, but anglers who are fortunate enough to catch one of the fish will be rewarded if they turn the head in through the normal Angler Incentive Program. Fisheries officials will be using a special detector to scan all heads turned in for the tags beginning in June. The value of each tag is randomly assigned, but there will be at least five rainbow trout with tags worth $1,000, and total payout is expected to be nearly $20,000. Funding for the program is provided by Avista. The harvest incentives are part of a multi-faceted effort to restore the kokanee population in Pend Oreille. A key component of the recovery is decreasing the number of predators in the lake. The rapid expansion of the lake trout (mackinaw) population in the 1990s combined with a depressed kokanee population has thrown predator-prey populations out of balance, threatening the world-famous fishery and the federally protected bull trout population. The added rainbow harvest incentive is designed to encourage anglers to keep the pressure on the rainbow trout population, said Jim Fredericks, regional fishery manager for Idaho Fish and Game.

manage the lake for the trophy rainbow trout fishery that made it world famous,” Fredericks said. “But we need to reduce rainbows along with lake trout in the short-term or we risk losing kokanee. Without kokanee, we’ll never be able to restore a trophy rainbow fishery.” Commercial netting equipment is being used along with harvest incentives for lake trout, which appears to be reversing the expansion of the lake trout population. Fredericks notes they’ve seen the lake trout population show definite signs of over harvest, which is exactly what they hope to see. Additionally, kokanee survival rates over the last year showed a notable increase, suggesting the efforts to reduce predators is paying off. Rainbows don’t seem to be in decline, however. “Whether we like it or not, we need to put more pressure on the rainbow population for the next couple of years,” Fredericks said. “Though kokanee survival rates have improved, they need to get a lot better before the population will be recovered.” Anglers who catch lake trout of any size, or rainbow trout over 13 inches caught from Lake Pend Oreille may submit the heads for payment to one of the following locations: Holiday Shores Marina, Hope Marine Services, Anchor Gas (Garfield Bay), Hudson’s Bay Marina (Bayview), Fish and Game Bayview Research Station, Fish and Game regional office (Coeur d’Alene).


JULY 2009

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 29

Rocky Mountain States Nevada Gaining Deer Management Specialist

Responding to a decline in mule deer numbers, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has re-structured positions to create budget for a wildlife staff specialist focused solely on the coveted game species. The mule deer specialist position will be under the Game Division, headquartered in Reno. “When the Governor hired me, he made it clear that one of his top priorities was for me to address the declining deer population in Nevada,” said Ken Mayer, NDOW’s director. “Thus, since I have been director, I have been assessing the deer situation in Nevada and developing a plan to address this important issue,” he continued. Working with regional and field biologists, the new staff member will make statewide management and research recommendations based on experience, data acquired in the field, research, and scientific inquiry. Through the Game Chief, the mule deer staff specialist will work closely with the Director’s office and the Commission to develop policy in the area of mule deer management in Nevada and will represent NDOW at regional and local meetings, and at national and international symposia. The mule deer specialist will also provide information to all interested parties, including the public and scientific community.

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ermits not allocated in the draw are available. If you don’t have a permit to hunt buck deer in Utah this fall, your next chance to get one is now. Most of Utah’s buck deer permits were taken in the draw, but more than 6,200 Northern Region rifle and muzzleloader, and 2,300 statewide general archery permits, are still available. Bull elk permits to hunt during Utah’s general season also go on sale. When did permits sell out in 2008? Buck deer permits to hunt during Utah’s general archery hunt were the first permits to sell out last year. Northern Region rifle and muzzleloader permits were the next to go. General bull elk permits sold out on Sept. 25. For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

This new staff member will also relieve some of the demands on the big game staff biologist, taxed with a heavy workload, and will complement that position. “This position will focus solely on deer management and conservation in Nevada and will work closely with the field staff in NDOW’s three regions to assess the herd status, limiting factors and develop measures to address those limiting factors,” Mayer continued. “It has been obvious to me from the beginning of my administration that if we were to be successful in developing and implementing an effective approach to address the deer decline, we needed to develop field-based habitat and predator management programs and dynamic herd assessments,” Mayer continued. “As well it is critical that we have a dedicated staff member to lead the effort.” NDOW created this position by re-allocating resources from a hatchery technician position at Lake Mead. Due to the invasion of quagga mussels in the lake, the Lake Mead Hatchery is currently not cultivating fish. The agency is seeking alternative water sources to operate that hatchery. NDOW will begin recruitment next week, and Game Chief Mark Atkinson said the agency is looking for applicants with intimate knowledge of mule deer in Nevada.

Mule Deer Poacher Fined $8,000, Loses Hunting Privileges P

oaching of a trophy mule deer has resulted in nearly $8,000 in fines and restitution and suspension of hunting and fishing privileges for eight years for Rocky Donaldson Jr. of Story. Sheridan County Circuit Court Judge John J. Sampson ordered Donaldson to pay $5,410 in fines and $2,500 in restitution for killing the 10 by 8 point buck without a license and making a false statement on an interstate game tag affidavit. In addition, Donaldson’s hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for eight years, making him ineligible to purchase hunting or fishing licenses until 2017. Donaldson was also placed on one year unsupervised probation and sentenced to sixty days in jail, suspended upon successful completion of his probation. The case was instigated in early 2008 when Wyoming Game and Fish Department Sheridan game warden Bruce Scigliano received information that Donaldson had killed a large buck deer without a license east of Sheridan. Further investigation in April 2009 showed that Donaldson had taken the head of a trophy class deer to a Sheridan taxidermy shop, signing an affidavit claiming that a Sheridan area woman had killed the animal. As a result of further investigation by Scigliano and Dayton game warden Alan Osterland, it was learned that Donaldson had killed the deer without a license on Oct. 1, 2007. Donaldson then persuaded the woman to buy a license to “cover” the illegal kill. Donaldson had only recently moved to Wyoming in the summer of 2007 and was not eligible to

purchase resident licenses. “Not only did Mr. Donaldson choose to kill a large deer without a license, he then convinced a second person to transfer a license, allowing Donaldson to take the animal to a taxidermy shop,” says Scigliano. “When an individual takes an animal in for taxidermy they are required to sign an interstate game tag affidavit, supplying the name of the person who harvested the animal and attesting that the animal was taken legally. In this case, this was obviously false and the sentence reflects the importance of a properly signed affidavit.” Scigliano acknowledges that the case would not have been possible without the cooperation of members of the public and a Game and Fish clerical worker. “This was a large deer taken on public land,” Scigliano said. “Unfortunately, due to the actions of one individual, it was not available for legal hunters. It took the cooperation of several folks to bring the case to its successful conclusion.” Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation can also call the Stop Poaching hotline at 877-WGFD-TIP. Tips are most helpful when specific information is provided such as the date, time, location and specific details about the suspected violation. If possible, those reporting violations are asked to include a physical description of the suspected individual as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident. Stop Poaching tips can be reported on the WGFD Web site /wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/ submitTip.aspx.


30 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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“We Specialize In All Animal Encounters ncounters””

JULY 2009

The Top 10 Reasons To Join Montana Bowhunters Association

BY JOE ESPARZA, OWNER SPORTSMENSACCESS.COM

In addition to preserving and promoting bowhunting, some of the MBA’s major goals are:

BIG OR SMALL

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Ding, Dent, Or Major

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BODY WORK

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WE CAN HELP! Call us first.

Not an association to rest on their laurels, Montana Bowhunters Association was also responsible for here are a lot of organizaintroducing HB 74 in 2009 which tions you can join to support hunting allows the Fish, Wildlife, and Parks in Montana. Personally, I belong to a Commission the discretion to include number of them, but I think one of the mountain lion, bear, and wolf among best is Montana Bowhunters. Here’s one of the reasons: They are an organi- the species for which the commission zation that has the ear of the legislature may designate archery seasons. This bill was signed into law on March 17, so your voice can really be heard. If you enjoy archery hunting for antelope 2009. Over the past few years, we’ve in the state and use the multi-district all seen more and more areas in the series 900 license, you can thank the state move to special drawings, limiting Montana Bowhunters Association for opportunity to get out in the field with this hunt. They introduced this cona general license. It looks like this cept back in 2003 and it was put into practice by Montana Fish Wildlife and trend will be continuing in the coming years with more regulations and special Parks. I’ve been an active bowhunter draw units being proposed to manage hunters, not game animals. Consider since I was in college. I started this statistic: In 2008, 41,246 archery bowhunting because I liked the stamps were sold in Montana. Of amount of game I saw during the archery hunting season. I also liked the those, 35,694 were residents and 5,960 were non-residents. In just the last five challenge of pitting myself against a years there has been a 33% increase in game animal with a stick and a string. Getting in close with a bow and having archery stamps sold. I don’t know about you, but the opportunity to harvest an animal is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting I want a voice in how regulations are done. This organization is a way for ways to hunt. your voice to be heard about the kind Like many of you who are of hunting you want to see in the state. busy juggling work, spending time MBA is about expanding opportunity with the family, and getting your for all hunters, not just bowhunters. chores done around the house, finding I recently polled the Board of time for an organization is sometimes Directors of Montana Bowhunters very difficult to do. But like I said Association and here’s a compilation of earlier, you can have input because their Top 10 Reasons to join the MBA. this organization has the ear of the The MBA: legislature. In 1973, the Montana 1. Is the only organization in Bowhunters Association (MBA) was Montana promoting bowhunting. established as a nonprofit organization 2. Initiates and supports legislation by and for Montana’s bowhunters. Its to protect and expand bowhunting opportunities. sole purpose remains the same today 3. Works to protect hunting as it was 36 years ago: To unite the rights and influence legislative state’s bowhunting sportsmen to work decisions affecting bowhunting. towards a common goal of preserving and promoting the sport of bowhunting (continued next page) in Montana.

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Another Chance To Hunt Bighorns In Idaho IF&G

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unters who were unsuccessful in Idaho’s 2009 bighorn sheep controlled hunt permit drawing have one more chance to hunt bighorn sheep this year. They can buy Idaho 2009 Bighorn Sheep Raffle tickets through the Idaho chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. Each year the foundation markets one bighorn sheep raffle tag for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Proceeds from the bighorn sheep raffle are used by Fish and Game for the benefit and enhancement of bighorn sheep in Idaho. Hunters can buy raffle chances on the Wild Sheep Foundation website www.idahowildsheep.org. This year’s drawing will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, at Fish and Game headquarters in Boise. Winner will be able to hunt in any unit open to sheep hunting for Rocky Mountain or California bighorn in 2009, pursuant to Fish and Game rules - except Unit 11, Hells Canyon of the Snake River. Unit 11 is available to the lottery winner on alternating years. A hunting license and permit will be provided to winner, who must be 18 years old and eligible to apply for a hunting license in Idaho. The once-in-alifetime rule is waived for this tag. For more information by contact: tottens@clearwire.net, by phone 208-3212389, or on the Web site www.idahowildsheep.org. The Wild Sheep Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to protect and restore bighorn sheep to historic habitats throughout Idaho.

Promoting ethical bowhunting through education Improving landowner bowhunter relationships Providing a voice in the management of Montana’s big game and providing an opportunity to assist in the preservation of wildlife habitat


JULY 2009

The Top 10 Reasons To Join Montana Bowhunters Association (continued) 4.

Introduces you to new people who know of new places to hunt. 5. Membership is cheaper than a dozen arrows or a round of golf. 6. Introduces you to people from other outdoor interest groups. 7. Magazine offers tips and tactics from others to help you have a successful hunt. 8. Gives you a place to voice your opinion and have it heard. 9. Publishes a cool magazine. 10. Promotes fun events like the annual carp shoot. So if you are ready to have fun, shooting carp at the annual carp shoot, or get to know some fellow bowhunters, or influence decisions being made about bowhunting, join the Montana Bowhunters Association at www.mtba.org. Joe Esparza is the owner of SportsmensAccess.com, a membership website that provides members with the most comprehensive database and mapping service in the state of Montana for hunting and fishing on public and private land.

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 31

Research Offers 10 Reasons For Managing Wolves RMEF

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cience-based field research, funded in part by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, is yielding solid data on why gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming should be managed by state wildlife agencies. Wolves have been on and off endangered species lists in recent months. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has repeatedly announced at least partial delisting and state-based management via regulated wolf hunting. But, each time, anti-hunting groups have blocked the effort with lawsuits. “List, delist, repeat. It’s become an endless cycle driven by those who profit from legal uncertainty over gray wolves,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Tying up this issue in courts defies a proven conservation system that is extremely successful at balancing predatory species within biological and social tolerances.” The Elk Foundation has long funded scientific research on topics surrounding elk and habitat. Universities and state and federal agencies apply for RMEF research grants and conduct the projects. Researchers present results to peers at professional conferences. New understanding leads to better management

strategies for all wildlife in elk country. Here’s a sample of findings, from many different research projects, that support the Elk Foundation’s position that wolves should be managed this fall via state-regulated hunting. 1. In the northern Rockies, original wolf recovery goals for population size and breeding pair estimates are now exceeded by over 500 percent and 333 percent, respectively. 2. Wolf populations in Montana are increasing 10-34 percent annually. 3. Wolves are the top predator on adult elk, especially bulls. Bears take more calves, but at least black bears can be scientifically managed via hunting. 4. Cow-calf ratios are commonly lower in areas with both bears and wolves. 5. Between November and April, wolf packs in Montana kill 7-23 elk per wolf. 6. Since 2000, elk numbers across nonwolf western states have held relatively stable, while elk populations across Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have dropped a combined 4.2 percent. In many local areas, elk reductions have been dramatic and significant. Wolves are a factor, affecting not only elk numbers, but also

their distribution, movement and behavior 7. Elk hunting adds nearly $1 billion per year to the U.S. economy. 8. Hunter opportunity is being reduced to counter declining elk populations in Idaho. 9. A fully restored—but still federally protected—population of keystone predators is complicating and hindering elk management, as well as conservation itself. 10. In 1907, only 41,000 elk could be counted in the U.S. Leadership, stewardship and funding from hunters restored elk to their current population of more than 1 million. It’s this resource that made wolf recovery possible. Yet hunters and state conservation agencies are being victimized by continuous delays in wolf management. Allen encouraged Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work together on a mutually agreeable wolf management plan. This would remove one of the obstacles that conservationists can actually control, enabling regulated wolf hunting alongside Idaho and Montana, he said.


32 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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JULY 2009

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Five Habits of Effective Elk Hunters (continued from page 9) Go ahead and sling your rifle when you’re hoofing it down the trail in the dark. Otherwise, make it a habit to have it in hand, ready to raise and fire. Habit #4 - GET MOBILE Not long ago I scanned the results of a study conducted on public-land deer hunters in Pennsylvania. Tracking participants with GPS units and aerial surveys, researchers found more than two-thirds of the hunters less than one-half mile from a road open to vehicle traffic. Do these research results apply to Montana hunters? Maybe not directly. However, they are relevant in pointing out that the vast majority of hunters stick too close to their transportation. Research projects in multiple states and habitats clearly indicate that elk don’t like roads and vehicle noise. If you’re one of those who sticks close to the pickup, hiking an extra mile will do more to enhance your elk hunting than a $10,000 gift certificate from the local sporting goods store. Habit #5 - SLOW DOWN - The first few times I trailed master elk hunters in the timber, I was irritated by how little ground they covered. I was accustomed to traversing much more terrain and encountering many more elk. Unfortunately, the encounters generally consisted of spying rapidly moving yellow rumps and hearing frantic hoofbeats just at the outer range of my senses. Older, wiser, and possessed of less energy, my hunting pace now carries me over perhaps a third of the ground I once covered. But I see more elk bodies and far fewer backsides. Effective elk hunters stalk slowly. However, they’ll also move at a faster pace when traveling the trail or searching for their quarry. In the absence of fresh sign or an area known to hold game, it’s wise to clip down the miles until you come upon elk or indications of their presence. At that point, a snail’s pace is the quickest way to a wapiti. Will that elk be a bull or a cow? Will it present a reasonable shot? Neither you nor I control those outcomes, as luck and chance play powerful roles in the success of any elk hunt. It’s funny, though. Lady Luck and Captain Chance favor those who acquire the essential habits of effective elk hunting. I wonder why?

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 33

Absolutely The Easie Easiest st Way To Move Game, Pa Packs, cks, Traverse Rough Country and Go Around Gates I have used ‘Neet-Kart’ during the past three Montana hunting seasons. The cart easily allowed me to transport three 150 pound plus elk halves on three 2-mile round trips in one day by myself. The cart when loaded is a breeze to balance and walks right over downed trees and rocks with minimal effort. On eastern Montana hunts for deer and antelope, the sealant-filled tire tubes performed in cactus and thorn country without any flats. Big game animals can be hauled cross-country faster with ..Neet Kart.’ than with a horse. I wish I had the cart 30 years ago. - Doug Bolender. Kalispell. MT “The Easy Way Out...& Back”

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IF&G To Conduct Two-year Study Of Elk Movement IF&G

I

n the late spring of 2009, Idaho Fish and Game plans to launch a two-year study of the timing, duration and direction of seasonal migrations for elk summering in Unit 61 in Island Park area. “This work will differ from previous research efforts in the Island Park Zone because we will capture and radio-collar newborn elk calves on summer range, monitor their survival, investigate the cause of mortalities, and monitor their seasonal movements throughout the year,” Regional Wildlife Biologist Shane Roberts said. Fish and Game hopes to determine what portion of the elk population in Unit 61 winters in Montana and what portion is available for harvest by Idaho hunters.

During 2009-2010, the research will focus on elk summering around Henry’s Lake in the eastern portion of Unit 61, while research during 2010-2011 will focus on elk summering in the western portion of Unit 61. Idaho and Montana have different elk management objectives in their elk hunting districts or zones adjacent to this stretch of the state border. While Idaho is reducing harvest opportunity in response to a declining wintering elk population on the Sand Creek desert, Montana has increased hunting opportunity in many of its southwest hunting districts in response to agricultural depredations. A better understanding of seasonal elk movements and harvest availability in Unit 61 is crucial to effective elk management on both sides of the Idaho-Montana border.

Migratory elk populations in Upper Snake Region often cross state boundaries during some portion of their seasonal movements, and it is no secret that elk move between Idaho and Montana along the northern boundary of the Island Park Elk Zone. Previous research on elk that winter in the Island Park Elk Zone (Sand Creek desert, Unit 60A) has shown that few of these elk spend summer-fall in Unit 61. Conversely, research conducted in the GravellySnowcrest and Madison Mountains of Montana estimated that more than 1,800 elk that wintered in Montana spent some portion of spring-fall in Idaho, primarily in Unit 61. If those estimates are accurate, a significant portion of the elk are available to Idaho hunters in the Island Park Zone are wintering in Montana and are therefore not included in winter population estimates from aerial surveys.


34 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

BANNACK Bannack Days: July 18 - 19 Return to the early days in Montana’s history with a celebration of mining and life in Montana’s first territorial capital. While here, take part in a stage coach ride, candle making, Main Street gunfight, old time dancing, pioneer craft demonstrations and lots of music and family fun. A variety of food concessions are offered throughout the day, including lunch and snacks. Bannack Days is located in Bannack State Park, 25 miles southwest of Dillon, 4 miles off Highway 278. Phone: 406-834-3413 or visit www.bannack.org

BIG SKY Trek to the Big Sky: July 25 Enjoy the beautiful scenery at Big Sky, Get some exercise, Taste a great picnic lunch, Listen to a cool band and support people with disabilities by joining the TREK TO THE BIG SKY, a fundraiser for REACH. Come up to Big Sky Resort behind the Mountain Mall between 10:00 and 10:30am. Pay just $15 to register, get a free Trek water bottle, then take a leisurely three-mile hike up the mountain. When you reach the top enjoy a picnic lunch and live music. Stay as long as you want and take the scenic gondola back to the bottom. For those unable to make the hike the gondola is available to take you up and down the mountain. Held at Big Sky Resort. From the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 64, turn west on Highway 64. Big Sky Resort is approximately eight miles. Phone: 406-587-1271

BILLINGS Big Sky State Games: July 17 - 19

ON-LINE AT WWW.OUTDOORSMONTANA.COM

JULY 2009

Calendar Of Events

BOZEMAN Bozeman Trail Gun Show: July 10 - 12

FORT BENTON Montana Cup Boat Race: July 25

Over 300 booths of firearms and related items, cowboy and This is a team event for outriggers, rowing shells, Indian memorabilia, bits, spurs and saddles, six shooters and canoes and kayaks. Two races will be held, a old rifles, western and wildlife art, furniture, vintage clothing four-mile and a 20-mile. The entry fee is $30.00 and and jewelry, knives, books, prints and photos. This show is includes a t-shirt. Meal and awards ceremony after smoke free and family orientated. From I-90, 7th St Exit, race. Phone: 406-771-7240 or visit south on 7th to Tamarack. Left, 3 blocks on Tamarack to http://bighornwilderness.com Gallatin County Fairgrounds. Phone: 406-586-6179 or e-mail: bozemangunshow@aol.com GREAT FALLS

BOZEMAN Headwaters Relay - A Run to the Source: July 31 - August 2

2009 RiverFest: July 11

LIVINGSTON Yellowstone Boat Float: July 10 - 12

The annual boat float starts at Livingston and retraces the Lewis & Clark Expedition all the way to Laurel. There are two overnight stops, one in Big Timber and one in Reed Point. Phone: 406-222-4414

MISSOULA Missoula Marathon: July 12

In addition to the traditional 26.2-mile marathon, there is a half-marathon and a kid’s marathon. The courses are all relatively flat and fast with the marathon, half marathon and kids marathon finishing in downtown Missoula. Phone: 406-626-4055 or visit www.missoulamarathon.org

2009 RiverFest is an annual festival held along the scenic Missouri River in Great Falls, promising a day filled with fun, food, warm weather, entertainment and The Headwaters Relay is a 3-day, 232 mile team relay race celebration. The celebration is Saturday from 12:00pm through the mountains and valleys of Southwest Montana. - 8:00pm. And it’s FREE to the public! Free activities The route is 98% on dirt and two-track roads revisiting will include sea planes, canoeing and kayaking MISSOULA Lewis and Clark’s trek from Three Forks to Beaverhead demonstrations on the River, musical entertainment, Missoula Gun and Antique Show: Rock. The Relay ends at Hellroaring Creek, the ultimate an arts and crafts show and sale, skate boarding August 7 - 9 source of the Missouri River. Phone: 406-539-0368, demonstrations and competition, concessions and a There will be 800 tables to check out. Enjoy antiques, visit http://montanamtnrec.com/hwrelay, or beer garden, hands-on activities for all ages, children’s modern rifles, pistols, ammunition scopes, binoculars, e-mail: dodemet@aol.com activities including face painting, hair coloring, art Winchesters, Colts, Sharps, Remington, Smith & projects, games and more, petting zoo and pony Wesson, Springfield, knives, civil war articles, cowboy rides, NorthWestern Energy bucket truck rides, large and Indian artifacts, western artifacts, china, dolls, toys, CUT BANK equipment displays and demonstrations provided by Rendezvous Cut Bank: August 7 - 9 lamps, jewelry, bead work, books, art, horse bits, spurs, Join the Cut Bank Creek Muzzleloaders for a Rendezvous. the Fire Department, MAFB and MANG. Also enjoy furniture, and many more related items. Held at the of reduced admission of $6.00 to the Electric City Water Friday and Saturday - Registration - Trailwalk - Hunter University of Montana Adam’s Center in Missoula. Park for all ages from 11:00am to 6:00pm. There is Course Sunday - Shoot off - Long Gong - Team Shoot Phone: 406-549-4817 truly something for everyone. Held along the Missouri - Prizes Open iron sights only - Patched Round Ball Three Falls is a miss Breakfast will be served - Donations River on River Drive. The Festival will go from Sight and Sound Park on River Drive, north towards 9th accepted This is a fun family event and all are welcome to Street South to Elk’s Riverside Park. participate Adults - $25.00 - Juniors $10.00 - Family $50.00 Phone: 406-771-1265 or visit www.greatfallsmt.net Team Shoot - Free for all - practice your skills Camp fires are dependent upon the weather. This is private HELENA property. Pack it in, pack it out. Respect the land. Prizes are provided by the Cut Bank Creek Muzzleloaders. Cardboard Cup Regatta: July 11 Blanket Prize Donations accepted Traders are welcome. The Spring Meadow Lake Cardboard Cup Regatta No set fee, but a Blanket prize is appreciated. From Cut is a family fun event. Building a boat requires some Bank: West on US 2 to the intersection of Secondary 358. imagination. However, the boat must be made of Go south 1 mile to Raemaker Road and turn left, follow corrugated cardboard and pass a boat inspection before 7/18/2008 Raemaker Road to the banks of Cut Bank Creek. racing. Phone: 406-443-2376 or visit Missoula, MT Phone: 406-873-3331 or e-mail: nrduram@hotmail.com www.springmeadowresources.org

Olympic style sports festival for Montana and Wyoming residents. Between 11,000 - 12,000 athletes of all ages and abilities participate. Weekend highlights include the Opening Ceremonies, where the torch lighting is done by an Olympic great. There are thirty-seven sports to choose from i.e.: Archery, arm-wrestling, badminton, basketball, billiards, bowling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, cycling, dance sports, disc golf, electronic darts, equestrian, fencing, flag football, golf, figure skating, fitness walk, handball, ice hockey, karate, pickle ball, racquetball, road race, roller skating, shooting, soccer, softball, summer biathlon, DARBY swimming, table tennis, tae-kwan-do/judo, tennis, track Logger’s Days: July 17 - 18 and field, triathlon, volleyball, weightlifting and The annual Logger’s Days is held at the south end of Darby wrestling. Phone: 406-254-7426 or visit on U.S. Highway 93. Friday evening begins at 6pm family http://bigskygames.org games and live music. Saturday festivities begin with E-mail: info@bigskygames.org parade at 9:00am and 10:00am with 17 exciting competitive logging events, from Hot Saws to Log Rolling. Cash prizes BILLINGS awarded. Kid’s events include a watermelon eating contest Magic City Hot Air Balloon Rally: July 24 - 26 and Sawdust Pile. Great food and spirits and live music Friday: Morning flight from Amend Park (6:00am) make this event a fun-filled family day! Saturday: Morning flight from Amend Park (6:00am) Phone: 406-961-8324 Saturday: Balloon Glow at Amend Park (dusk) Sunday: Morning flight from Amend Park (6:00am) DEER LODGE You can purchase a Balloon Ride for a morning flight Grant-Kohrs Ranch Days: July 25 - 26 (except Thursday) by e-mailing mchabr@bresnan.net. Grant-Kohrs Ranch is happy to present this annual All rides are $175 per flight (weather permitting). There celebration of the cowboy and cattleman’s West which will be a limited number of rides available each day. includes roping, branding, chuck wagon cooking, Magic City Hot Air Balloon Rally will be held at Amend blacksmithing and traditional cowboy music and poetry. Park. From the South Billings Boulevard exit off I-90, Speakers and cultural demonstrators interpret the open range proceed north to intersection of South Billings Boulevard cattle era at this historic working ranch preserved by the and King Avenue East. Proceed west from intersection National Park Service. Wagons will run all day Saturday for about a quarter mile. Amend Park is located on north side enjoyable rides, and refreshments provided on site. of King Avenue East. Held at the ranch in Deer Lodge Montana, west off I-90 Phone: 406-671-3104

EVENTS TO SUPPORT WILDLIFE

Mule Deer Foundation

HELENA One Helena Hundred: July 18

The Helena Bicycle Club is inviting you to join them on their 17th Annual One Helena Hundred ride. Bicycle the beautiful Recreation Road along the Missouri River Phone: 406-465-1838 or visit or visit www.helenabicycleclub.org

Libby Two Rivers Rendezvous: July 16 - 19

This event recreates the rendezvous of the fur trade-era from 1820-1840. A variety of blackpowder shooting events as well as tomahawk and knife throwing that tests the participants mountain man skills. Activities are scheduled for all ages with games and events for kids and old timers. Camping facilities accommodate both modern campers as well as Tee Pees and primitive tents. Participants are encouraged to wear traditional fur trade era or earlier dress. Come out for a weekend of good family fun at one of Montana’s premier blackpowder events. Held 15 miles north of Libby on Highway 37, turn right on the Fisher River Road and then 8 miles to the Fawn Creek Campground. Phone: 406-293-9798

Western Montana Chapter Contact Ray Rugg: (406) 822-4240 RD: Ron Knapp, rknapp@muledeer.org

Nat’l Wild Turkey Fed. 07/31/2009 Bitterroot Longbeards Hamilton, MT 59840 Contact David Harlacher (406) 642 3507

08/06/2009 Wild Turkey Gun Bash & Banquet W Montana Longbeards Somers Contact: Frank Brisendine (406) 857 3711

RMEF EVENTS

07/16/09 Gallatin Life Sponsor Event Bozeman Contact: Scott Westphal (406) 266-3042


JULY 2009

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 35

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(continued from page 20)

“We needed to build the ponds in an area where the fish couldn’t escape into another water,” he says. “This location is the perfect spot.” After the ponds were built, the next step was putting Northern pike in them. Luckily, the biologists had a relatively close source for pike—Recapture Reservoir in southeastern Utah. After placing pike in the ponds, the biologists faced their most difficult task—finding disease-free true muskies somewhere in the country. “All of the muskies outside of Utah had disease issues,” Cushing says. After four years of searching and plenty of setbacks, a disease-free population was found in Nebraska. “We’re excited to have these muskies here in Utah,” Cushing says. “Now they’re here, the future of tiger muskie fishing in Utah looks great.” In addition to providing anglers with more tiger muskies to catch, the fish may also become a tool the DWR can use to obtain wildlife species from other states. “Several Western states would like to get tiger muskie fishing going in their state,” he says. “Hopefully our tiger muskie program will go well enough that we can trade some of our extra fish for wildlife species we need here in Utah.”

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Utah Is Ready To Raise Its Own Tiger Muskies

Randall Stillson, a DWR volunteer services coordinator, shows a fat tiger trout. The fish was caught at Scofield Reservoir during gill-net sampling work last fall. Photo by Brent Stettler

Catching Tiger Trout UDW

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nglers are spreading the word: tiger trout are a beautiful fish that put up a big fight. And they taste great on the table. If you want to hook one of these fighters, you need to toss aside some of the techniques you’ve used to catch rainbow trout. Catching tiger trout requires understanding the fish and utilizing a new set of strategies and tactics. Tiger trout: A tiger trout is created by fertilizing a brown trout egg with brook trout milt and then heat shocking the egg. The result is a sterile hybrid whose appearance and behavior is a mixture of both species. Since tiger trout are sterile (meaning they can’t reproduce), all of the fishes’ energy can be directed towards growing. This creates a fast growing and aggressive fish that’s a great fighter. Tiger trout are veracious predators. They prey heavily on small fish, including Utah chubs, redside shiners

JULY 2009

and other minnows. Because tigers favor natural foods, it’s tough to catch them using PowerBait, marshmallows and other commercially prepared baits. When you fish for tigers is also an important consideration. You’ll find the most success fishing early in the morning or late in the evening. Depending on the phase of the moon, nighttime can also be a good time to fish. Tigers will often feed at night when the moon lights up the surface. Mid-day is the least effective time to fish. Warm season fishing: As the temperature rises in the summer, tiger trout move into deeper, cooler water. Some tips for catching tigers in the summer are available below. Fishing from the shore: If you’re fishing from the shore, fish right at daybreak or as the sun goes down in the evenings. The water in the shallows is cooler during those times of the day. The cooler water draws tiger trout into the shallows to feed on bait fish. When the fish move into the shore, fly anglers can do really well using large, silver streamers. Spin cast anglers can do well using a lure that imitates a minnow. A Rapala, for example, is a great lure for spin cast anglers to try. During the middle part of the day, a sunburn is probably all you’ll catch from the shore in the summer. Fishing from a float tube or a pontoon boat: If you’re fly-casting from a float tube or a pontoon boat, and the trout are rising to feed, use floating line with patterns that imitate the insects that are near the surface. These insects will include damsel flies, midges, mosquitoes and flying ants If an insect hatch is occurring, it can be tough to catch tigers: your fly will have to compete with all of the natural insects that are available to the fish. If the trout aren’t rising, fly anglers should try a wet fly weighted with sinking line. Effective warm-season patterns include dark-colored leeches, wooly buggers, minnow imitations, scuds and nymphs. Remember that these summertime fly patterns need to be tied on a hook size that’s smaller than you’d use at other

times of the year. Spin-casting anglers can take advantage of the fact that tiger trout are vulnerable to spoons, spinners and lures that excite their aggressive nature. Be sure to fish in deep, cool water. Fishing from a boat: Trolling for tigers is a great way to catch them from boats. Some anglers prefer pop gear coupled with a nightcrawler or a terminal lure. Lures and spinners used on their own can also be effective. The Jakes Spin-a-Lure is probably the best all-around lure for tiger trout. Other effective lures for tiger trout include Triple Teasers and Kastmasters. If you like to still-fish, try dropping a dead minnow or a straight nightcrawler into cool, deep water. Then retrieve it back in a way that makes the bait look like it’s alive. Whenever possible, use a fish graph to locate fish or areas that have promising bottom topography and structure. Dropping your bait or lure into a school of fish or promising habitat will make a huge difference in your success rate. Description: Tiger trout have a pattern of wormy markings (known as vermiculations) on their back. These markings are similar to the markings on a brook trout. At times, the markings will be light on top with a dark background. At other times, the reverse is true — the markings will be dark and the background light. The lower fins often have a white leading edge, and tigers have a squared-off tail. On the underside of a tiger trout, the color can vary from a pale gold to a bright red. The richness of the color depends on the sex of the fish (males are more colorful than females) and the time of the year. Tigers are the brightest in the fall, during their spawning period. In the winter, the species can appear grayish or brown. During this time of the year, the fish may also have dark, wormy markings over a silver background.


JULY 2009

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Summer Walleye Tactics For Right Now....BY NEAL COTE BITE ME FLIES

HUSKYJERKS PHOTO COURTESY NEAL COTE

I

f you are heading for a lake, river or reservoir and have dreams of catching a live well full of Walleye, keep a few things in mind...... 1) Bigger females have a larger air bladder, which makes them hyper sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure. Being deeper makes the adjustment a little easier when the weather changes. 2) Bigger females spend too much energy chasing small baitfish that are found in shallow water. The bigger baitfish that are found in shallow water like Perch are hard to swallow as they have defensive spins in their fins. Lake Chub, Whitefish, Carp, Burbot and Cisco are all found in abundance down deep. They are easier to swallow and more rewarding when considering the amount of energy needed to catch them. These deep water baitfish, especially Whitefish, have more oil in their meat thus more calories.

40 feet down and use your electronics to find the larger Walleyes and target the 5 feet above the depth that those fish are holding. Many anglers think that if you are not near the bottom, they can’t catch a fish, but this could be further from the truth.\ A good searching bait is the Rapala Husky Jerk. Many other Rapalas like their Shad Raps will also work in this situation. Speed and depth will also make or break this pattern. Faster for really active fish, and progressively slower for less active ones. To determine how deep you are, the Regular Husky Jerks go down about 1 foot for every 10 feet of line out. The Down Deep Rapalas go down about 3 feet for every 10 feet of line out. So using a Down Deep Rapala, getting down 30 feet deep means you need 100 feet of line out. This is just a general estimate. The speed of your troll will effect how deep the lures will go.

Planer Boards can be a great aid to spread out your presentations, and get your baits away from the boat which might be spooking fish. They are great for fishing multiple lines, covering more water, and allowing you to try many different lures to find out what the Walleye want on any particular day. Another option is to swim jigs at the target depth, as well as drop shooting. You will find this to be easy if the wind is calm, but this is Montana, and the weather 3) A Walleyes metabolism speeds up in will dictate you present tactics. shallow warm water. As a result, the In the summer, Walleyes tend to bigger they get, the more food they need go after more natural colors like silver, to maintain their weight. If the food is not brown, black and white. When fishing there, they go to deeper cold water so their with jigs, you can go to a heavier jig like metabolism slows down. The dangerous a 3/8-oz or even 1/4-oz depending on how thing about being a fish is there is a fine deep you are fishing. The twistertails or threshold between eating more or rubber you put on the jig should be these conserving energy. If a big Walleye gets to natural colors. Live minnows, if allowed, the point where they can not find enough are excellent whether on a jig or just a food to maintain their weight, they do not strait hook. Leaches also work in this as get smaller, they die. As soon as a Walleye well as Crawlers. gets to the point where they are starting to weaken from lack of food energy, they do Hot Days - Some times the Walleyes get not have the energy to catch baitfish and very lazy in the summer, especially if it’s starve to death. a hot sunny day. When using a jig, cast out and literally drag the jig across the 4) In many lakes, there is a large bottom. Give it tiny little jigs (2 or 3 population of Northern Pike. Pike inches) once in a while just to shake off regularly attack Walleyes and bigger any mud or weeds. This bottom dragging slower moving females are an easy target. will get the Walleyes feeding and it really This is another reason why they go deep works! You should always jig slowly, just right after they spawn. make the jig motion longer in the morning, as the Walleyes are more Larger Lakes and Reservoirs aggressive. Sharp quick jigs will attract When you are Walleye fishing on big pike. water, the Walleyes tend to stay suspended Trolling off the rocky points is along with the schools of baitfish. The also good in the summer. Natural colors best thing to do is troll until you come like silver or gold seem to work best. If across a deeper school of baitfish and then you use bright colors, you will hit tons of keep trolling over the bait school. Look pike. In the summer, the Walleyes tend to for these baitfish anywhere from 15 to go a little deeper and stay off rocky points

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 37

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or rocky drop-offs because wave action on the rocks creates more oxygen. Also, bugs and other food floating on the surface tend to get more dense when drifting past a point so small minnows show up to feed and the Walleyes feed on the minnows. Wind is probably the biggest factor in finding fish, both on the shoreline and out in the open water. Look for fish suspending out further of the same points mentioned above. Rivers Walleyes will swim up stream and hang around deep pools or back moving currents on either side of a rapids, and can stack up below dams. When fishing in a river for Walleyes, the best thing to use is a slip float with a leach or a worm. You can also cast Rapalas and reel them in through the slower moving current and back-eddies. You can use jigs but you will get snagged many times and it can ruin your day. Matching a lighter jig with the right plastic and counting down to depth can work, but is a lot more time consuming. Don’t be afraid to experiment, as this can get you into the fish that everyone else is missing using standard tactics. Other Tactics Fish at Night - Some of the really big females will come in close to shore at night. Between 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM and again just before sunrise, try trolling with an Original Floating Rapala along the shore in 2 or 3 feet of water or troll past rocky shoals. Make sure you scout out the areas you want to troll in the daylight, and if you have a GPS, waypoint your way through a trolling pattern. Once you have this mapped out, you will be able to fish in total darkness without running into the shore! Or put a worm or a minnow on a hook and cast off shore with a Lindy rig. This is a good way to fish if you have a fire going and a cooler full of ice and cold beer.\ Anyway you decide to go, I think you will agree that if you try some of these tactics, you will get that live well full, and you just might get the largest Walleye of the year. Hope you will be safe and have a great time on the water!!!

Walleye Tournaments For The ‘09 Season From Walleyes Unlimited

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ou must be a member of Walleyes Unlimited to enter these tournaments. To join visit Walleyes Unlimited of Montana at www.montanawalleyesunlimited.net. Montana Governor’s Cup Fort Peck Reservoir July 9-11, 2009 Entry Fee - $400 Per Team (includes $10 Conservation Team Fee) Maximum 200 2-Person Teams Payable to: Montana Governor’s Cup Attn: Tournament Mgr. PO Box 832,Glasgow, MT 59230 Call 405-288-2222 or visit www.mtgovcup.com Hell Creek Tournament July 25-26 2009 Entry Fee - $200 Per Team (includes $10 Conservation Team Fee) Maximum 120 2-Person Teams Payable to: Hell Creek Tournament Attn: Tournament Mgr. Calvin Thomas PO Box 22, Sand Springs, MT 59077 For more information call: 557-2311 Fall Classic Fort Peck Reservoir August 8-9 2009 Entry Fee - $250 Per Team (includes $10 Conservation Team Fee) Maximum 100 2-Person Teams Payable to: Fall Classic Attn: Tournament Mgr. Craig Larson 116 Indian Street, Wolf Point, MT 59201 Fall Finale Yellowtail Reservoir August 28-29 2009 Call: Rod Putnam 591-1141


38 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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Senate Makes Next Step Toward Protecting America’s Waters Ducks Unlimited

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he U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 12 to 7 to advance an amended Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) to the full Senate. Ducks Unlimited says this is a positive move to protect wetlands for waterfowl and clean water for America. “This is a huge step toward restoring the Clean Water Act’s safety net for prairie potholes and well over 20 million acres of wetlands throughout the United States that provide critical habitat for waterfowl and other fish and wildlife - and waterfowl hunters,” said Don Young, executive vice president of Ducks Unlimited. Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Barbara Boxer (DCA) clarified through an amendment to the original Feingold bill that broad, existing Clean Water Act exemptions for agriculture and forestry were to be retained. DU supported the continuation of the agricultural and forestry exemptions, including the additional exemptions for prior converted cropland and manmade waste treatment systems. The National Farmers Union also expressed support for the compromise amendment, lending agriculture’s support for the bill. The amendment accepted by the

committee improves the bill and represents a positive compromise, and we thank Sens. Baucus, Klobuchar and Boxer for their efforts,” Young said. “We will now be supporting the bill as it moves to the full Senate and the House of Representatives to ensure our wetlands are protected.” CWRA is supported by DU and other conservation and sportsmen’s groups. Under the amended bill, Clean Water Act protections will be restored to geographically isolated wetlands at risk of pollution and destruction under current guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers. The guidance on interpreting the Clean Water Act from the EPA and Army Corps came in response to two Supreme Court cases. Since the guidance was released, confusion over permitting requirements among farmers, ranchers, developers and other landowners and managers has increased dramatically as agencies have struggled to apply the guidance to proposed projects. Under the amended CWRA, the guiding language would be restored to the way it was in 2001, which would reduce confusion over jurisdiction and the time to receive permits for altering wetlands, streams and other waters.

JULY 2009

Beckman WMA: The Man, The Land, The Plan BY TRACY WATT PART 2 OF A 2 PART SERIES Great Falls Shooting Sports Complex.

In good keeping with his intentions, Beckman’s land was eventually sold to the Great Falls Shooting Sports Complex group. The Mule Deer Foundation donated $20,000 to help purchase the land for the shooting complex. MDF Regional Manager Ron Knapp said, “This was a great achievement in protecting wildlife in central Montana, as proceeds from the sale of Beckman’s land will go into a Trust Fund set up to acquire mule deer habitat. Not to mention, the shooting range was sorely needed. The Great Falls area lacked a large, accessible public shooting area prior to this transaction. It was a real team effort, and the Mule Deer Foundation is proud to be a partner.” In the end, LeRoy Byron Beckman’s Last Will and Testament established the RBB Deer Lands Trust Fund to purchase winter-summer range lands primarily for mule deer, to be used for public hunting and recreation. The land was to be acquired with monies from the Trust then gifted to the MFWP. The stipulations required that none of the money could be used for the management or operations of the property. According to Graham Taylor, MFWP Wildlife Manager, “Beckman’s Will was quite a piece of work and very specific relative to ‘deer and public deer hunting.’” Taylor said those terms were used repeatedly throughout the document. Tom Stivers, MFWP Wildlife Biologist who now oversees the Beckman Wildlife Management Area (WMA), said, “Beckman set a real example for what other people could do – have land managed for the public as well as for deer. He was pretty noble.” The final dollars in the Beckman Trust were expended earlier this year. In all, LeRoy Beckman contributed over three million dollars towards the creation of what is becoming a premier wildlife management area in central Montana. The Beckman WMA is as beautiful as it is bountiful – which brings us to the second story – the land. The majority of the 6,500 acre property is classified as river breaks. These breaks consist of steep-sided coulees with ridges and gently sloping benches. There are a dozen coulees that run water intermittently and seven perennial springs. The WMA’s east

boundary is a bluff, 200 feet high, overlooking the Judith River. The river flows across almost four miles of the WMA, and along its banks are almost 1,000 acres of bottomlands. “It is a natural, undammed, freely operational river, which has a significant bearing on the timber and other aspects of the property,” said Graham Taylor, MFWP Wildlife Manager. Vegetation on the WMA includes ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, cottonwood, willow, chokecherry, silver sage, western wheatgrass and more. Most of the riparian grassland terraces have been cultivated into alfalfa and tame grass hay fields. There is a variety of wildlife on the Beckman WMA. This ecosystem makes the WMA year-round habitat for deer. Mule deer occupy the upland meadows and ridges and often make daily use of the alfalfa fields on the river bottom. Mule deer numbers on the property fluctuate, but are generally highest during spring and fall. To date, the highest number of mule deer surveyed during one season was 200. This Mecca also hosts significant numbers of sharp-tailed grouse and pronghorn antelope on the grassy upland benches. Merriam’s turkeys favor the pine/fir sites, while ring-necked pheasants make extensive use of the riparian vegetation on the river bottom. The area is also home to foxes, coyotes, Canadian geese, raptors and myriad other creatures. When entering the property and heading east, the view is a kaleidoscope of wildlife, sounds, textures and colors. In the foreground are fields of various grasses, sage and wildflowers, often dotted with mule deer around sunset. The landscape drops off abruptly into the Judith River Basin. On the far side, the jagged stone walls rise straight up in mottled tan and grey tones, to level off sharply at the far side, where privately owned farm lands produce golden crops that reflect the sun’s light. Finally, in the far distance, forested foothills ascend and surrender to the purple-blue Judith Mountains that give way only to the Big Sky. For more information on the Beckman WMA, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/lands/site_1116176. aspx.


JULY 2009

ON-LINE AT WWW.OUTDOORSMONTANA.COM •

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE • 39

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Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure July 2009