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OUTDOOR NEWS Big Sky

MAY 2012

www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

DEER HUNTING TIPS FOR SUCCESS

BIG WALLEYE DESTINATIONS A LATE SPRING

BEAR HUNT COYOTE HUNTING BASICS

A CANADIAN TRIFECTA


2 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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MAY 2012

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MAY 2012

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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4 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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MAY 2012

DEER HUNTING TIPS By Brian Pollard Mossy Oak ProStaff

Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity Photo Howard Communications

Q: How important is pre-season scouting?

Late, Great Gobblers By Steve Hickoff

Gobblers at the wire are tough. Here are some reasons why.

For weeks, that dominant tom has gobbled and the hen or hens came to his position, either to his roost tree or strut zone. Ever notice how many times you raise a gobbler and the hens arrive to intercept him? You started things off and the girl turkeys finished it.

Q: How do you go about scouting in the early season before the bucks are making scrapes?

A: Focus on food sources. If you can glass them from a large hill or a nearby road, do this instead of using cameras. This will give you less disturbance and less sent in your woods. This is not always an option, especially in heavily wooded or secluded areas. This is when I use trail cameras placed on heavily used trails or field edges.

Late in the season, he gobbles and they don’t come to him. Why? They’re nesting, some of them 24/7. Yes, hens leave their nest for a short period of time during the day to feed and do their business. Then they return to the nest. They don’t go to him.

Q: Do you prefer hunting in the woods or along agricultural fields?

The result? You have a deadlock. You call, he gobbles, but doesn’t come. He hangs up. Yes, he may also run right in when they (and you, the caller) fail to appear. That’s the upside of all this. What if he doesn’t?

Q: How high should hunters hang their treestand?

The answer? Options follow: GET TIGHT PHOTO: STEVE HICKOFF YAMAHA OUTDOORS

A: I feel that if you plan to harvest a mature, trophy quality animal that pre-season scouting is as important as or more important than the hunt itself. You should spend as much time scouting as you do hunting or more. Just keep in mind that minimal to no disturbance is always best. If that trophy is lurking on your stomping grounds, it would be a shame to push him off your property. Glass from vantage points and don’t over check your cameras. And as always use scent control as much as possible.

Get tight to his roost tree well before sunrise. Call softly with a no-hands mouth call, if at all, right after he flies down and hits the ground. Clucks and (continued on page 31)

A: I focus on agricultural fields early season. This is mainly to keep my disturbance level down. Then late October I will start moving into the woods more. Usually by November, I am hunting only big timber. Late season, I’m back to the field edges again.

A: I hunt deer not trees. I try to get my stand hung 15-25 feet up with good back drop. A lot of times that isn’t an option. I have had encounters with several trophy class bucks and managed to harvest a few form elevations as low as 7 feet from a treestand. If there are no trees, I place a blind. Most cases you don’t have many opportunities at the deer you have been dreaming of, so when the opportunity arises you must capitalize and adapt to the situation.

Q: Can you have success hunting from the ground?

A: Yes. I prefer to be in an elevated position whenever possible due to the vantage point. To be an effective hunter you must be able to adapt to the situation. If there are no trees were you need to be, hunting from the ground will be your best bet. If you’re not there when he is, I can promise you won’t get the shot. CONTINUED ON PAGE 31


MAY 2012

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RIFLE

Shooting Accuracy

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

• 5

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By S. L. Merriam

A bull elk of this class is a once in a lifetime shot opportunity, can you say in all certainty that you could make a good shot in a lethal area at 300 yards, 400, 500. Shot accuracy means to take home the bull or just take home the story.

The following three examples; shooting elk, shooting varmints and shooting targets all share one very important factor that determines success. That factor is accuracy.

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EXAMPLE 1:

While climbing to gain a better angle I saw the elk approaching at 300 yards. The long 20-inch third points and 22-inch eye guards easily identified him as the old herd bull seen earlier. Although he wouldn’t score as well as the two other bulls he definitely fit the bill as a fully mature elk. When he finally stopped broadside at 295 yards and screamed one last bugle I slowly squeezed the trigger on my .300 WSM and sent the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, 180-grain bullet on its way across the canyon.

EXAMPLE 2:

Clad in white camo to look like a dense growth of brush lacking human shape, I continued to tease the hungry coyote with my mouse call. Each time he gave up looking for the meal and turned away. I produced a few quick, loud squeaks. This turned him each time, and I knew the game would soon be over and require me to “take the shot” before he spooked, turned and ran. All I needed was a momentary standing shot for the .22-250’s bullet to span the 350 yards. The next squeak made him stop, and it was all up to the accuracy of my 40-grain bullet.

EXAMPLE 3:

Shooting competition is always difficult when men massage available technology to its maximum potential and improve accuracy to the point one could only dream of in the past. When shooting a .308 cartridge at a 600-yard, 4-inch bull using a competition rifle, I routinely ask myself, “What advantage do I have over the other shooters that are probably thinking the same thing?” The 168-grain Match King hollow point boat-tail bullet leaves the muzzle at just a tad over 2600 feet per second then slows to about 1800 fps as it makes contact and slides through the bulls-eye. I had slowly squeezed the competition trigger with my concentration focused on the distant tiny black dot. A combination of skill developed through practice, great technology and a bit of luck, ignited the 46.6 grains of Hodgdon CFE 223 and pushed that tiny projectile accurately toward the target.

Where does accuracy come from?

There are three factors that contribute to accuracy or when you miss -inaccuracy: the shooter’s skill, the mechanicals components of rifle barrel, cartridge and bullet combination and finally the factors over which we have no control, wind and temperature.

Joe Hunter needs to focus on skill and his rifle to develop repeatable accuracy when hunting. CONTINUED ON PAGE 32

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6 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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Fishing Tournaments From Walleyes Unlimited MT. WALLEYE CIRCUIT TOURNAMENTS Fresno Walleye Challenge June 2-3 Steve Chvilicek at 395-4485 Tiber Walleye Tourney June 16-17 Doug Rohlf at 799-4210 Canyon Ferry Walleye Festival June 23-24 Dennis Hovden at 266-5582 or 431-6798 Fall Classic at Crooked Creek August 4-5 Travis Scott at 366-5603 FORT PECK FISHING TOURNAMENTS Rock Creek June 2-3 Kris Keller @ 653-3320 Governor’s Cup July 12-14 406-228-2222 Hell Creek JULY 21-22 Calvin Thomas @ 557-2311 OTHER MONTANA FISHING TOURNAMENTS John Arnold Fish Derby August 24 Adrin at 406-439-9473 Broadwater Rod and Gun Club Walleye Derby July 14 Doug Breker at 266-5279 Tournament applications are available under CLUB INFO / FORMS AND APPLICATIONS at: http://www.montanawalleyesunlimited. net/clubinfo.htm

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

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The entire contents is © 2012, 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, inc.. All photo & editorial submissions become the property of big sky outdoor News & adventure to use or not use at their discretion. VOLUME 9, Issue 2.

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Halibut Seasons Paddlefi sh Seasons Set to Open MFWP All paddlefish anglers should obtain a copy of the Montana 2012 paddlefish regulations,

to read the specific rules for each of the different seasons and river stretches. Some of the regulation highlights are: UPPER MISSOURI RIVER - On the upper Missouri River section (upstream from Fort Peck Dam to Fort Benton) the season opens May 1. A white paddlefish tag is required for this stretch of river, and all paddlefish captured must be either tagged and kept or immediately released. The fishery will again be managed with a 500-fish harvest target, and the harvest season will close on a 24-hour notice. Once the 500-fish target quota is reached, catch-and-release fishing will continue until June 15. Specific fishing hours apply (6 a.m. – 9 p.m., MST), and there is no night snagging allowed. Anglers should call the Missouri River Hotline at 406-464-2169 for current information on harvest status. Catch-and-release snagging is open May 1 to June 15. Anglers are reminded that all catch-and-release paddlefish must be released immediately and may not be gaffed or lifted out of the water. YELLOWSTONE AND MISSOURI RIVERS - The paddlefish season on the Yellowstone River and Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam begins May 15. A yellow paddlefish tag is required for this stretch of river and must be properly placed on the first paddlefish caught on a harvest day. The daily fishing hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (MST). Harvest days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The harvest season will close with 24 hours notice if it appears that the harvest target of 1,000 fish may be reached or exceeded. At Intake Fishing Access Site, the harvest season will close when it is estimated the harvest target has been reached. Catch-and- release snagging for paddlefish in the Yellowstone River and the Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam is only allowed at Intake Fishing Access Site. Catch-and-release days at Intake are Sunday, Monday and Thursday. Following the paddlefish harvest closure, catch-and-release snagging will continue only at Intake Fishing Access site for 10 consecutive days following the closure date or through June 30, whichever comes first. Anglers can access the Glendive Chamber of Commerce website at http://www.glendivechamber.com, or call the FWP Region 7 office in Miles City at 406-234-0900, to find the current number of harvested paddlefish at Intake FAS. In the Fort Peck Dredge Cuts area downstream from Fort Peck Dam, a special archery season for paddlefish will be open from July 1 through Aug. 31. A blue paddlefish tag is required for this location. Other selected paddlefish regulations include: An 8/0 maximum hook-size restriction for all river stretches that are open to paddlefishing; Only one paddlefish can be harvested per season per angler; Special handling and transporting rules apply; The color coding on paddlefish tags is: yellow for the Yellowstone River and lower Missouri River; white for the upper Missouri River above Fort Peck Dam; and blue for the Dredge Cuts area below Fort Peck Dam for archery paddlefishing. The appropriate tag is required to fish for paddlefish in each of these river sections, and anglers must choose only one stretch of river to fish; All harvested fish must be properly tagged and should be reported to FWP creel clerks working onsite as quickly as possible; When a paddlefish is captured and tagged, the fish must be removed from the river by the end of that day (9 p.m. MST). “Because river conditions and fishing pressure from anglers can change quickly, anglers are advised to check on paddlefish harvest status before they leave home,” said Region 6 Fisheries Manager Steve Dalbey. “That one call could save a lot of traveling time just to find the season has already closed or is close to being finished.”

Provide Extra Fishing Days On Puget Sound WDFW

Sportfishing seasons for halibut will be

four days longer in Puget Sound, and more fish will be available for harvest early in the season off the state’s southern coast under catch quotas for 2012 adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. Although the state’s recreational catch quota is down slightly from last year, Puget Sound anglers will get an extra day to catch the big flatfish during the Memorial Day weekend and three additional days during the course of the season. That is a welcome change after three successive years of cutbacks in fishing time designed to prevent that fishery from exceeding its catch quota, said Heather Reed, coastal policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)...This year’s catch quota for Puget Sound is 57,393 pounds, with an additional 156,717 pounds distributed among three coastal fisheries. Another change this year is that 80 percent of the quota for recreational halibut fishery in Marine Area 1 off the Columbia River will be allocated to the early season that begins May 3. In past years only 70 percent was dedicated to the early season, with 30 percent reserved for the late season in August. “This change will make more of the quota available during the early season, when that area attracts the highest number of anglers,” Reed said. In all marine areas open to fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form, and must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card. For details visit: http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/mar2212a/


MAY 2012

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

Night Crawlers $2.00/dz Leeches $3.85 Fishing Gear & Bait Biggest Cigar Selection Coldest Beer Around Novelty Section

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Locating the Fresh Water Barracuda BY DAVE PRICE “The large sign read “Welcome to Montana” as we entered the Big Sky State looking for big water and big northern pike. My love affair with big pike makes me travel across the US each year in search of this ultimate predator and encounter him “up close and personal”. When I look back over the years in my pike fishing infancy I’ve tried to hone the skills necessary to go to a new area, locate pike water, locate fish and convince hungry pike that I’m offering them their next meal. In my quest to become a “pike pro” I’ll stop at nothing to realize my quest.”

N orthern pike are delicious to eat although they’re a bit bony. Before I can catch pike to eat there is some homework that I have to perform to make the learning curve shorter on each trip.

First, I look at a map and search out large bodies of water because big water tends to produce big fish where northern pike are concerned. On this trip, I selected the Tongue River Reservoir, a 642 acre lake outside of Decker, Montana.

BACK TO THE BASICS

• 7

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I always contact the local game and fish department (in this case biologist Mike Ruggles at 406-230-0850) to get pre-fishing intelligence on habitat projects and on the general condition of lakes in the area. We wanted to fish lakes that offered flat bottoms with ledges where pike can hide and wait for bait fish. FLOODED VEGETATION IS ALWAYS A GOOD PLACE TO LOOK FOR PIKE. Even though we were looking for pike Mike was able to recommend an alternate site if the pike fishing slowed down.

Northern Pike in Montana

travelled with me into many bodies of water that ended in success or non- success, and a vast amount of knowledge learned has gone into this notebook. I recommend a fishing notebook for all serious fishermen.

Where To Fish The Lake

From ice-out until mid-June, suckers and other pike food fish will spawn in the current of five creeks flowing into the lake and at the river flowing out of the lake. Northern pike fishing

is best in these areas, as the big pike feed on the bait fish.

Food & Cover, Food & Cover

At this, it was time to, “get back to Basics” of pike fishing and confirm we are using all of our knowledge on this fish, especially the half that we have forgotten over the years. All fishermen do. A fly fisherman will open up his fly box and with his index finger poke and probe each one. Try poking and probing around in a tackle box of pike lures and you will probably find that same finger permanently attached to the business end of a pike spoon. You need to be northern pike fishing in the right spots, because 80% to 90% of any lake does not support the fish population. I know because I have fished those 80-90% dry holes, until I learned the secrets as to where they

were, but more important, where the pike were. Now I mumble to myself over and over, “Food & Cover, Food & Cover.”

“Well not only did I get back to basic’s on technique, but retrieved the fish smelling, corners folded water faded notebook I call my pike catching survival notebook.” Now yes it was fishy smelling. If it weren’t fishy smelling, how good could the reference material be rated if it just smelled like a notebook? There are many years of Pike fishing with ink stained and streaked covering these 8 1⁄2 X 10 pages. This book has

Clay Buckmiller President of the Billings Chapter of the Montana Pike Masters with his Ft. Peck Northern Pike

Fishing Depth

The northern pike fishing will take place in less than three feet of water most of the time. That is the depth and location of the action, so use the right lures for northern pike fishing in this shallow water. The anglers fly-fishing for northern pike have some of the most success in this shallow water.

Gear Up For Success

Bunny leeches and rabbit strip flies from 3” to 6” are favorite flies for fly-fishing northern pike. Black colored flies seem to be the most productive, but other colors work better at times. Some of our fly-fishermen will wade the shallow water at the creek inlets, and find they catch more northern pike the more they kick-up the muddy bottoms. The water at these creek inlets is already muddy and stained (continued page 17)


8 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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MAY 2012

Weed Bonanza Find Weedbeds WALLEYES Other Anglers Miss lindyfishingtackle.com

I’ve long been fascinated

by the connection between walleyes and weeds, mostly because the more I understand it, the more I can find and catch fish that other anglers miss...Weed patterns produce big results in classic walleye fisheries... virtually anywhere eyes and aquatic vegetation mix. Admittedly, many anglers have caught on to the notion that weeds mean walleyes.

But many anglers who know the value of vegetation still fail to find the best beds in their favorite lakes, let alone identify must-fish new waters based on their greenery and other environmental factors. It’s a science

worth mastering, because the ability to predict the location of overlooked weedbeds in your home lake—and anticipate where weeds help fuel world-class fisheries in unfamiliar systems—can help you pinpoint potential walleye hotspots.

Early Season

Let’s start with finding sweet spots in the early openwater season. On a late May trip two years ago, during an evening fishing foray on a central Minnesota lake, I noticed odd weedgrowth in the middle of a large bay. A thick stand of exotic curlyleaf pondweed broke the surface in a narrow band extending for several hundred yards over otherwise open water. I knew from past experience the weeds didn’t mirror a depth contour or bottom-content change; in fact the long, thin weedpatch had sprouted perpendicular to a slow taper from 5 to 10 feet.

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Closer inspection revealed stands of pondweed on either side of the bed, but those weeds were still several feet from the surface. Why had the band of weeds topped out so much faster than its neighbors? And more importantly, how could I translate that knowledge into a plan to map out similar vegetative anomalies that could help me catch more walleyes? After all, such lush weededges would certainly attract patrolling predators—especially earlier in the season, when they were 2 to 3 feet high while surrounding weeds were mere sprouts. Best of all, if subsurface beds lacked telltale signs such as depth or bottom changes, I might well have them to myself. I guessed the reason but didn’t have confirmation until the following winter, when I returned to the exact spot in January... an ice road plowed over the area allows greater sunlight penetration. Since curlyleaf is one of the most active aquatic plants during fall and winter, the plants beneath the access road got a major head start on surrounding vegetation. However, even less winter-active species such as coontail and broadleaf pondweed (commonly called “cabbage”) may be similarly affected. Do I even need to suggest the value of mapping such a road with GPS during the winter for early season openwater action?

Of course, not all ice roads produce hidden treasures. Areas too deep to produce plantlife are a bust. While researching the ice road scenario I interviewed Donna Perleberg, aquatic plant ecologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. She offered a handy formula for determining the depth at which weeds grow:

“As a general rule, multiply the midsummer water clarity by 1.5 to find the maximum depth of rooted vegetation,” she said.

For example, in a fertile lake with 4-foot clarity in July, you could expect rooted plants in depths to about 6 feet. In such conditions, a plowed road or other snow-free area over deeper water would have little or no effect on vegetation. State fisheries agencies and aerial photos are good sources of water clarity information... Other factors that can spur weedgrowth include bottom content and shelter from wave action. “You may find little vegetation along a windswept rocky shoreline, even if the depth is adequate, because wave action prevents plants from taking root,” she noted. As for bottom

composition, it pays to know what your target species prefer. ...Nutrient inputs and longterm but isolated changes in water clarity may also play a role in localized plantgrowth.

Exploring New Waters

Studying lakemaps and aerial photos, talking to resource managers, and watching for factors that can affect weed location, can help you develop milk runs of choice weedbeds on your favorite waters. (continued on page 15)


MAY 2012

ON-LINE AT www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

A Late Spring Bear Hunt By Rick Haggerty

The Divide Area offers good road access and diverse habitat.

A

long western Montana’s Continental Divide, a combination of good road access, exceptional bear habitat, and neglected terrain all work to increase your odds of finding a good late spring bear to hunt. From U.S. Highway 12 west of Helena to Interstate 90 just outside of Butte, lies some of the best bear habitat around. Lots of country and little hunting pressure. If you like to get off the road and hunt remote parks and meadows, there’s plenty of opportunity to glass and stalk in this country. The divide is separated by the tributaries of the Clark Fork and Little Blackfoot on the west, the Boulder and the Little Boulder River on the east with scrappy timber, doghair pine and secondary ridges rising up to the tops of the divide. The good road access is due to mining activity at the turn of the century when hardrock miners were pounding the country looking for precious metals and ore. Bear hunters can use

Chuck Schug Photography|istock

these networks of roads to move up or down in elevation much faster to find fresh bear sign. Once the snow has melted in the higher elevations, look for bears to emerge later in the day as it warms up. Some of the better areas to hunt in this country will be around Park Lake, west of Clancy. with it’s sunny ridges that lie between Boulder and Basin and the densely timbered headwaters of Basin Creek. Also hunt the open areas west of Jefferson City. Check mid-elevation meadows where the grass will be greening up faster and bears can feed. The more remote the area, the better your chances will be to spot a bear. Patience and a lot of time spent glassing the CONTINUED PAGE 26

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TOPO MAP - COURTESY ROCKY MOUNTAIN MAPS www.rockymountainmaps.com

• 9


10 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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MAY 2012

“Don’t m miss iss a day on the water.” Big Or Small Ding, Dent Or Major Body Work We Can Help!

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Lindy Rigs – Everything You Need to Know Lindy Fishing Tackle, Courtesy Nodak Outdoors

L indy Rigging revolutionized live bait fishing in the 1960’s and is still one of the most popular and productive methods for taking walleyes throughout the country.

Lindy Rigs can take panfish, walleyes, bass, northern pike, trout and any bottom feeding fish wherever they are–in natural lakes, man-made reservoirs, rivers and streams. With Lindy Rigs you can troll, drift, cast, still fish or “bottom fish” from bank or dock. The Lindy rigging method embodies two important principles of live bait fishing: NATURAL BAIT PRESENTATION – The Rig’s components and proper presentation present your minnow, leech or nightcrawler as “alive” and natural as possible. NO SPOOKING – Lindy Rigs are designed to allow cautious fish to bite without feeling your presence. Each Lindy Rig consists of snell (monofilament leader and hook), slip sinker, and swivel clip. Simple assembly directions are on the back of the package. Here’s a closer look at the Lindy Rig components...each contributes to the fish-catching effectiveness of the rig. FINE-DIAMETER MONOFILAMENT LEADER — Lindy Rigs employ 8-lb. test Berkley XT line-diameter mono leader with high tensile strength and low visibility. This leader has the right amount of “limpness” so that your live bait can swim, dart or undulate in the most enticing natural way. SMALL TOUGH HOOK — Lindy Rig hooks are designed specifically for penetrating and holding in a fish’s mouth. These hooks come in various walleye sizes- “minnow” and “leech/crawler”, crappie, bass, northern pike, and trout. Their low visibility and small size help fool the most finicky walleye. (next page)

Deadman’s Basin Produces Record Muskies By Rick Haggerty

Jesse Sanchez with his Tiger Muskie MFWP Photo

J

ust southeast of Harlowton, Montana off Highway 12 near Ryegate, lies Deadman’s Basin. The last several record tiger muskies, (sterile hybrids of muskellunge and northern pike), have come from this irrigation reservoir. In 2006, a 28.87 pound tiger muskie was caught here. On May 15, 2010, Jesse Sanchez of Billings caught the state record tiger muskie, a whopping 30-pound, 48.38-inch bruiser. He caught the fish on a four-inch-long Daredevle spoon using a light rod, spinning reel and 10-pound Spider Wire fishing line. On July 6, 2011, Dan Weil caught a massive 49”, 31.3-pound tiger muskie, that is the current state record holder (MFWP). May is an excellent time to catch a 20 plus pounder, as these aggressive predators will be hanging in the warmest, weediest water they can find, and will be on a minnow-eating binge. You’ll find them in backs of shallow bays where the water warms fast and weed growth begins earlier than the deeper water. Just about any pocket along the perimeter of the lake can hold good sized muskies; many over 10 pounds and some of the best action will be in secluded cuts that provide easy retreat to deeper water. The face of the Dam on the east side of the lake can also hold hungry muskies. Tiger muskies were put into the lake to control nuisance numbers of white suckers that were outcompeting the managed rainbow and brown trout, and kokanee salmon. Since then, the average trout size has increased and more kokanee are being caught, instead of stunting out or starving. Methods to catch the tiger muskie include using swim baits, spinnerbaits, shallow-running crankbaits and imitations. Top water baits can also be very effective as the water temperature warms, and the fish become more aggressive. White and silver Rapalas are also a good choice. Spinnerbaits in yellow, white and blue and rainbow patterns are the downfall of many big muskies. Trout will be active as well. Size down your minnow imitations to catch larger rainbows in the 4 pound range and larger. Deadman’s basin has 20 campsites, a concrete boat ramp, access for trailers, and latrines. A warm water game fish stamp is required. Directions: 20 miles east of Harlowton or 9 miles west of Ryegate on Hwy. 12.


MAY 2012

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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When Lindy Rigging with leeches–...hook them once in the sucker end. Hooked this way, your leech will trail through WALKING SLIP SINKER — This unique sliding sinker permits a striking fish the water in an undulating natural manner, provided to pull line through it without resistance. It’s a tremendous advance over fixed you’re trolling or drifting slowly. When worked too fast a leech spins, twirls or simply pulls straight through the water clamp-on, trolling and bell-type sinkers which a biting fish must drag over the bottom. The Lindy Walking Sinker rides on a small surface area of its heel with little fish attracting action. Put your bait in the water immediately after hooking. Before lowering your rig to the and eliminates excess bottom drag that tells a suspicious walleye to drop the bait. Your Lindy Rig sinker casts easily and is more snag-proof than most bottom, make sure the leader is stretched out and tangle-free; that the sinker slides; and that your bait is lively. Exactly sinkers. Since it rides on its small heel, it causes little commotion as it rides how you work your Lindy Rig will ultimately depend on along the bottom. When a biting fish changes direction, the sinker will pivot your experience and knowledge.You’ll consider water and in that direction, while continuing its slip-sinker function. bottom conditions and the walleye’s preferences... SWIVEL-CLIP — Here’s the Lindy answer to quick and easy rig assembly and Standard Trolling and Backtrolling: When front trolling snell changing–without broken fingernails, time-consuming effort, and fallenor backtrolling along drop-offs, shore breaks, weedlines, rock bars, or other apart snaps. Just slip the loop of the snell into the clip and you are ready to fish! structure, release line until your sinker hits bottom. Then adjust your line so How To Fish The Lindy Rig you can feel the sinker hit bottom or see slack line develop each time you Select the right weight sinker: Depending on the fishing conditions, you’ll drop your rod tip toward the bait. Frequently, check your depth in this manner. find walleyes shallow or deep, from several feet to 50 feet or more. Your boat In most situations, you’ll want your sinker on bottom or within inches of bottom. and motor’s ability to troll, wind velocity and the walleye’s preferences will find Trolling and Drifting Over Shallow-Water Flats: In water less than 10 feet you fishing at various speeds. Sometimes, especially in shallow water, you’ll deep, especially clean sand and fine gravel bottom areas, it’s often best to want to drag “way back” from the boat, with light 1/8 or 1/4 ounce drag your sinker on the bottom a health distance from the boat. Simply release sinkers; other times you’ll want more lead for a direct feel of a drop-off or line until you feel the sinker hit bottom. and continue to pay out line until your ledge in deep water under the boat. bait is at the desired distance from the boat. Controlled Drift: When working a limited stretch of drop-off or a small area Conditions and sinker requirements vary. That’s why you should own a full of a bar or reef. use both wind and your trolling motor to keep you on the fishassortment of walking sinkers. The following guide is based on slow walleye catching path. While the boat is drifting, make necessary course corrections trolling speeds and should help you select the right sinker for your by shifting the motor into forward or reverse to maintain productive depth. If Lindy Rigging: 1/8oz. for 6-10 feet of water; 1/4oz. for 10-15 feet; 1/2oz. for winds are moderate, you can troll back upwind and repeat the controlled drift. .. 15-25 feet; 3/4oz. for 25-35 feet; 1oz. for 35 feet and deeper. Anchoring and Casting: Anchor upwind of the productive area and cast Hooking Minnows, Leeches and Nightcrawlers: For trolling and drifting, to the fish. Let the Rig settle to the bottom before starting your slow retrieve. hook your minnows just in back of both lips, coming up from below. This way, Sometimes an irregular retrieve with pauses works best. To hold in one spot the minnow stays alive and pulls forward through the water, darting and and stay on a school, anchor both ends of your boat. To cover a wider area, swimming freely and naturally. For vertical fishing and bottom fishing from shore, anchor the boat from the bow and regulate your “swinging area’ by paying out some anglers prefer hooking minnows lightly in the back just below or near or retrieving anchor rope. the dorsal fin. Make sure your minnow is fully alive and active. Hook your nightStill Fishing: Double anchor the boat or allow it to gently sway over the crawler only once at the tip of the nose. In most situations walleyes prefer whole, productive area. Rig with a slip bobber just large enough to hold your sinker off healthy nightcrawlers. For increased success, inflate crawlers with a Lindy Worm bottom. Set depth so that your bait is within a foot of bottom. In rare cases when Blower. Inflated nightcrawlers are super lively and they tantalize walleyes by walleyes suspend, especially at night, experiment with higher settings. Lindy floating several inches above bottom, even when your sinker is dragging. Rigs with 18 or 1/4 oz. sinkers team up beautifully with bobbers and leeches...


12 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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MAY 2012

FISHING With the

CAPTAIN Mark Ward

A great day fishing on the lower Flathead River

P art of my job of course is to go fishing and sometimes I go alone like I did last month. The fishing trip I am referring to was to the lower Flathead

River. I had been putting this trip off for various reasons. Weather, commitments, appointments, all factored in for me not making my first trip of the year to fish for northern pike on the Flathead River sooner. I decided over a weekend that I would make time that following Monday afternoon.

I looked at the water flow on the Water Data page on montanaoutdoor.com and found that the Flathead River near Perma was flowing about 11,000 cfs and it was about 11 feet high. Very fishable water conditions. The weather was supposed to be overcast and in the 65 degree range. I hit the water about 2p.m. and headed downriver to one of my favorite fishing holes. I love to fish using smelt with a bobber and have had some great days in past years fishing for pike with this method. However, this year for some reason, the store I normally buy smelt from did have some smelt, but they were only 2 inches in length. In a hurry, I bought a small package hoping that the minnow size smelt would work. Once I arrived to my fishing hole, I discovered that I didn’t have any bobbers that were big enough to stay afloat, as they held up the bait and the weight that was on my line. So I decided to fish on the bottom. My patience was not very good that day, so I only tried that method of fishing for about an hour. Knowing that my time was limited on this fishing trip I decided to cast swimbait in the weeds. I did this for about another hour with no luck, and then decided to troll along the weed beds back up to the boat ramp. I pulled a D-13 jointed Rapala with an orange back/belly and cream colored bottom. It is the same lure that Bill from Rock Creek Marina used when we went fishing for pike on Fort Peck last year. It wasn’t long before the rod bent over. The fish on the other end of my line felt big. I was looking forward to seeing just how big the pike would be. The fish put up a good fight, but to my surprise ended up being an 18 inch smallmouth bass. That surprised me because the water temperature was in the low 40’s and I didn’t think the bass would be active. Anyway after a quick snap shot, I released this nice size smally back to where it came from. It wasn’t long until I finally had the fish that I came for on the other end of the line. A 34 inch pike thought my orange jointed Rapala looked pretty good. It put up a good fight and was a real experience trying to net. As you all know, any day you can spend on the water is a lot of fun. Catching two nice size fish just topped the trip off. 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.


MAY 2012

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LUCK, AND THE MIGRATION By Rob Marshall

E very year in early fall the Northern Quebec Labrador caribou begin their migration. This journey will entail thousands of caribou traveling over 2000 miles across the arctic tundra. This trek is the world’s largest over land migration made by any animal in the world. And every year we hear hunting stories of the hunters who missed the big migration. Or hunters seeing so many caribou before the main migration that they all tagged out the first day and they missed the migration where normally the larger mature bulls start showing up. Another comment frequently heard is that the caribou are on their way – just a couple days away and they will be here. We heard rumors this past year that the caribou herd numbers were way down, and diseases have taken a toll. Articles read that the Canadian government might be limiting the seasons or even shutting down the hunt for a year or two. Some outfitters said that the migration is fragmented and the caribou are not all together anymore. For September and October during the available hunting season which is when you can go, we noticed the migration not extending far enough south in time to reach the hunting areas our guides could get to, therefore requiring flying further and more often flights to find them. These days, no matter the migration or herd numbers, you still have to choose the right outfitter to put you down somewhere close to the caribou. Then you have to hope on your luck. The luck of hitting the decent weather during the week you are there and the luck of your outfitter having enough planes that are available and working. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Later in this story you will see where the wrong side of a small lake can make all the difference in the world between a nice trophy caribou bull or just an average bull as time vs. luck becomes an issue. What we are talking about here is not just caribou hunting, but trophy bull caribou hunting. A trophy hunt, where the goal is to harvest a mature trophy size bull. CONTINUED ON PAGE 16

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

• 13


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SHALLOW PERSONALITIES Cloud cover and wind action stifle sunlight penetration in the shallows, making daytime fishing that much better. Photo by Bill Lindner, courtesy of Frabill

Those formative years were banked on Lake Geneva in Southern Wisconsin fishing with my Dad. We fished for bass, northern pike, muskies, and panfish during the day – walleyes

FLY FISHING ALSO AVAILABLE ON THE MADISON, MISSOURI, YELLOWSTONE, AND BIG HORN FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT Forrest Fawthrop-Guide #10908 Wild West Fly Fishing Jamie Benedickt- Outfitter #8871 Po Box 134 Livingston, MT 59047 (406)459-5352 or (406)580-2426 So began a lifelong mission to understand the territorial preferences of walleyes throughout the day, the season, even imagining where they’d be feeding when I was stuck back home doing chores. And I held this gut instinct that walleyes not only fed by day, but also much shallower than believed, and ate pretty much anything the lake served. Years of examining the stomach contents of walleyes dispelled the baitfish myth. I’ve come across small snakes, leeches, frogs, mice, soft shell crayfish, innumerable larvae of later winged insects, as well as baitfish galore. Walleyes acclimatize well to what’s available, trust me.

It was, and still is to this day, the ultimate challenge to find and then cream walleyes in the hyper-shallows. First, an angler must trust the fact that walleyes do inhabit depths under 6-feet of water. That means a willingness to commit more than a few casts before bugging out.

By Tom Neustrom

surroundings. This opposed to the fact that many walleye anglers are inflexible, set in their ways. Such was the case fishing alongside friends and relatives as a punk kid who should be happy just to have a seat in the boat.

~ALL YOU NEED IS YOUR LICENSE ~ COOLER ~ CAMERA MONTANA MIX ~ TRY 3 DIFFERENT LAKES OR RIVERS IN 3 DAYS

I always knew, too, that walleyes exclusively roam depths of 10-20 feet – that’s what I was taught, anyway. Since then, I’ve pinned walleyes in depths ranging from scarcely a foot to nearly 100. So much for the depth range stereotype.

Breaking the typecast that walleyes are exclusively deepwater, low-light feeders

W alleyes are flexible, their lives spent adapting to ever evolving

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always reserved for sundown and the wee morning hours. My Dad insisted that you couldn’t catch walleyes during the day. Locals supported this stubborn stance claiming that walleyes only bit at night or under lowlight conditions, and held a strict diet of baitfish. I was infinitely frustrated by the thought of only being able to catch ‘eyes under so-called ‘ideal conditions,’ when sunlight was limited and minnows in masse. Instead of succumbing to the area gospel, though, it motivated me to disprove the diehards.

Also, you need the grit and dedication to experiment with presentations. Jigging is the easy choice, and continually effective. Dragging a slip-sinker and minnow is standard fare, too. But are you mentally prepared to hurl or troll a crankbait all day? Snap on a Rapala Shad Rap – a perennial menace to walleyes – and there’s a real chance of outfishing the boat. Crankbaits, in my opinion, are severely underutilized in shallow situations, especially early in the season.

Admittedly, we do have tools that are forefathers did not. I rely on electronics, as well as time-honored instinct, to know when I’ve entered fertile shallows. My Humminbird 998 with Side Imaging exposes weedbeds, rock piles and wood. Such structures add gravitational pull to a shallow water bite. And then there’s wind. Give me a 48-hour blow into shallow structure and I’ll show you a limit of spring walleyes. Truthfully, the fish-finding-formula needn’t be any trickier than that. Wind + structure + baitfish that have been pressed shoreward and are feasting on zooplankton = walleyes. Technology rears its head again, too. LakeMaster High-Definition Mapping divulges shallow contours that I might have otherwise run over blindly. With it, I can spy slight changes in depth that cause walleyes to congregate. And, with mapping, I can return to these locations time and time again. Like second nature, I start pitching jigs and minnows. The action and cadence of the combo ranges from a slow waltz to a hard rock slam dance, the speed and rambunctiousness of the retrieve dictated by the mood of the fish. Start fast, feather back as needed. NEXT PAGE Think about the crankbaits in your box like minnows volunteering for service. Author and guide Tom Neustrom hears them calling, especially Rapala Husky Jerks when he’s contending with shallow water walleyes. Photo courtesy of Rapala


MAY 2012

ON-LINE AT www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

My top jig for strafing the shallows is a VMC Hammer Head. A killer sharp hook, short-shank, and oblong body (causes the hook to angle slightly upward) make it an unbeatable vessel for moving minnows around the shallows. Sometimes, snapping a jig and soft body bait does the trick, especially for larger fish. A VMC Mooneye Jig with either a Trigger X Minnow or Swimming Grub make perfect pairings. The longer shank and bait-holder barb on the Mooneye Jig provide the ideal foundation for grabbing onto and presenting soft baits. To this, even during a ‘minnow bite,’ I keep at least one combo pre-rigged with a jig and plastic. The broader, faster presentation can sometimes activate the heaviest walleye in the pod. Crankbaits can have the same effect, playing to the likings of larger walleyes. A slow reel, stop, and twitch gives the Rapala Husky Jerk a famous action that often rolls early season walleyes. When I want to pick up the pace and zip over the tops of cabbage and shallow rocks, it’s time to un-holster the Rapala Clackin Rap and new Rippin Rap. The neurotically wobbling, lipless crankbaits load the water with mesmerizing sonic reverberations, catalyzing reactive strikes. Lure performance is maximized by employing quality gear. The Daiwa Aird 2000 throws jigs like the wind’s always to your back – the more economical Daiwa High Speed Exceler 2000 and Ballistic 2000 aren’t far behind. Casting distance is further enhanced with Sufix 832 Advanced Superline, an epic quality braid. Fortified with Gore® Performance Fibers, Sufix 832 is as sensitive as a raw nerve ending and remarkably abrasion resistant. You can literally feel a jig tumbling over bottom rubble, not to mention short nipping walleyes.

Fortunately, more often than not when walleyes inhabit the shallows, short strikes aren’t of great concern. Shallow fish, even those with shallow personalities, tend to be assertive, sometimes downright rude – pushing and shoving to eat the jig first. I can’t go back in time and share these shallow water discoveries with my Dad, so I’m hoping you can pull out a tip and enjoy battling a walleye at high noon when everyone else is napping back at camp.

Weed Bonanza Walleyes (continued from page 8)

But what about the lakes you don’t know? Meet Minnesota DNR senior research biologist Ray Valley. He’s spent years studying vegetation and its affect on fish, and is currently part of a project tracking the affect of climate change, development, runoff, and invasive species on the health of 24 “sentinel” lakes scattered across the Gopher State’s four ecoregions. Valley has long been a believer in the power of shoreline and submerged offshore vegetation to support forage species and shelter juvenile predators. In a study on the role of submersed aquatic vegetation as fish habitat, he noted that in general, “Conditions for gamefish deteriorate when the percentage of a basin that is covered with (submergent vegetation) falls below 10 percent or exceeds 60 percent.” Valley has also observed how the amount of weed edges (both inside and outside, along with deep lanes cut by weed-control programs) can affect fish populations—more being better. He cautions, however, that weed-related indicators can fluctuate from year to year—especially in fertile, highly productive lakes. Vegetation abundance as a predictor of the quality of fishing a lake might offer needs to be considered in the larger context of water chemistry, climate, overall productivity, glacial history, and physical characteristics such as shape, contours, and size. Intel on fish communities is also key. Walleye population data from fisheries agency sampling, along with information on the forage base, helps paint an accurate picture of your prospects on a new lake. On the subject of forage, Valley notes, “One thing that’s impressed me in the sentinel lakes research is how the healthiest, most robust fisheries tend to be in lakes that harbor ciscoes (tullibees). An abundance of yellow perch is also a good sign...Indicator fish vary

across the Walleye Belt, but knowledge of a region’s environmentally-sensitive species can help you zero in on its must-fish fisheries.

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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The key is keeping an eye out for untapped weedbeds... like the ice road gem at the beginning of this story. Once you find them, figuring out how to fish them effectively is the easy part. Cast a Lindy X-Change Jig or Shadling over the emergent weeds—or troll an Old Guide’s Secret spinner and crawler along the weedtops and edges—and you’re in for a good time with walleyes other anglers overlook.

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Friday, 16 September: Wife and I depart Helena at 6:00a.m.. for a full day of flying that will end in Montreal. Saturday, 17 September: We are up really early at 4:00a.m.. Organizing our gear to be weighed for our fly out, with a mandatory stop in Lac Pau to get on the float planes for our final flights into camp. We are loaded into vans for a ride to the Nolinor terminal for our double prop flight away from civilization. All smooth so far and we depart for Lac Pau, which is about a 3-4 hour flight. Once in Lac Pau the delays begin. Unless you speak French, forget trying to figure anything out, you just hope you’re getting on the next plane out. There are at least 16 of us that have to purchase our caribou tags and fishing license, for those who want to try fishing, and of course my group has plans on fishing during down time at camp. Some choose not to get their fishing license which turns out to be a big mistake later. After hours of watching other small groups of hunters being taken out to different camps in both Beavers and Otters, it is now our turn to load into planes and head to what we now learn is going to be Camp 14 on Lac Chabanel.

LUCK, AND THE MIGRATION continued from page 13

So you’ve booked your outfitter and you have your dates set. Now several months

of planning and organizing have taken place. You have 12 days that you have had to block off the calendar probably including several vacation days from work.

You have likely gone out to purchase some additional hunting gear. There might be a diet and exercise program that you have started so you can be in shape to walk across a ground that you have never experienced before, and unless you go back you will never see anything quite the same again. As you get closer to your trip there is planning for the packing task. You will have to cut down on what you want to take and what you have to take. Weight limits per person for final flights into camp. And not forgetting plenty of rain gear because “wet” will be your middle name for a week. The traveling, and customs, and more travel just to get to Montreal. Now you’re about ready to get to camp finally. You would think that all the things that you had to accomplish over the past year just to make everything fall in to place, has already been accomplished? Well not exactly. O.k., NOW everything that happens from this point on (Montreal) has to happen just right from here on out, or the hunt can start to become an expensive disappointment and completely different than all the outdoor TV shows about caribou hunting, and any dreams you may have imagined for your hunt. Once you depart Montreal and are en root to your new home for the next 8 days or so and you’ve reached a little more than half way to camp, this is when you need for things to start falling into place. At this point you may be sitting in a place called Lac Pau to catch your final flight into camp. Lots of things can interrupt your final step to get to camp, so you have to hope that things go right. Now I’d like to share with you our second caribou hunt that is actually a hunting trip that finally ends our first caribou hunt that started two years ago. Some of you may remember the story of the “20 year caribou” that ran in Big Sky Outdoor News about two years ago, this is the final end to that beginning. A couple days before Jennifer and I leave, the other half of our hunting party, my father in-law and brother in-law depart two days earlier to drive across country with all the gear, clothes, rifles, and trailer with freezers/generators on their way to Montreal.

As we settle we notice our party of 4 will be sharing a cabin made for 6 people, however there will be 8 of us. We find out that another outfitters camp could not be reached so our camp has 6 additional hunters in the bunk house next to us that was originally the cabin for the 4 hunters we are now sharing with. This issue will create challenges and problems for everyone in camp over the next few days, especially the cooks, the amount of food we have for Camp 14 and transportation, which equals hunting, purposes. Things are not looking good. Now we have 14 unhappy hunters that will get increasingly unsettled each hour over the next few days, and we have some very concerned outfitting guides and cooks as well. Sunday, 18 September: Our first possible day to hunt, we are up early and everyone is on time for breakfast where you are usually briefed about the upcoming schedule for the day, what planes we will have, who will go with what guides, etc. We are quickly informed one plane is down, and we won’t have availability to other planes for at least two days. This means no hunting for two days, since the caribou have not even reached within 50 miles of our camp. Our party of 4 hunters is very used to this as we have now picked up where we left off from the last trip to Northern Quebec to hunt caribou with this outfitter. Our 4 new friends from Pennsylvania who are on the hunt of a lifetime, and the other 6 hunters stranded at the wrong camp and are doubly upset about their accommodations and are not so understanding about this news. I will say that if you wanted to come to the far reaches of the north, stay on a beautiful lake in a sub-standard little cabin with 7 other large people taking up any extra room you may have already had, and you wanted to eat like a king, you have come to the right place. Because if they got anything right in the brochure, it was the finest meals of any hunt camp being prepared right here, each and every meal, I mean it was superb eating. Now I know how the hobbit felt! But now another new problem arises. The camp’s waterline is freezing and busted and just plain not working, so no hot showers. And now, believe it or not, the heater won’t come on in our cabin, could it get any worse? Everything starts improving. We get our heat and they fix the water lines within the next day. However the hunting situation does not improve. But remember we bought our fishing license and brought appropriate fishing rods and tackle. And as fate would have it, we are sitting on one of the best fishing lakes of all the camps. Our camp is also equipped with some nice v-bottom boats in great condition with Mercury 9.9’s and plenty of fuel. Right now is all I could say is “What caribou?” CONTINUED NEXT PAGE


MAY 2012

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Not speaking for everyone, but Jennifer and I are happy as we continue to set out to go fishing when the wind and rain will allow us. This is a Trophy Caribou hunt and that is what we are here for, and the other hunters are becoming increasingly upset as the hours go by with no planes or caribou in sight. But we are definitely making the best of our situation. By Sunday late morning, we are fishing with one of our guides which is recommended for safety, and we go to a “pike spot” first. Within a short hour we have the first pike on and Jennifer is fighting the fish in but it’s barely hooked and ends up getting loose when it hits the side of the boat, a nice mid-30 inch size pike. Shortly after that I hook up with a decent pike and get it up to the boat and reach down to grab it under the gills and our guide starts screaming at me in French not to grab the fish that way, and about 5 seconds into his tirade sure enough the fish comes off and swims free. Fear no fish Mr. guide, come on! Come to find out the French guides dislike Northern Pike more than they dislike Americans if that’s possible! So the next fish we hook Mr. guide hits full speed, apparently he is done fishing, and so are we, as we lose the fish in 5 knot currents. The fish made a couple jumps and you could see a bright red Arctic Char flying through the air behind us. Our next few fishing trips out would be without a guide! CONTINUED PAGE 22

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(continued from page 7)

and not clear, like the rest of the lake. The conventional anglers need lures that will not hang-up on the bottom. Mepps in-line spinner baits, Johnson Silver Minnow weedless spoons, floating Rapala’s and other floating stick baits, and Texas-rigged soft plastics like 3” to 5” flukes or grubs do well in the early spring for northern pike fishing. Floating stick baits, like the Original Floating Rapala #18, can be cast into the shallow water at the creek inlets. These stick baits will float and can then be twitched to dive a foot or less below the surface and not get hung-up on the bottom. The Montana-rigged soft plastics work exceptionally well at this time of year. The water temperatures are cold and spring weather fronts can make the northern pike sluggish, so a slow presentation can be one of the most productive for northern pike fishing. The Montana-rig to a jig or a worm hook makes the soft plastic weedless in the shallow creek inlets. Flukes, like a Bass Assassin or Zoom Salty Super Fluke, imitate the look and action of leeches, smelt and minnows and have been a favorite for years. Be sure to pack some in your tackle box for northern pike fishing and smallmouth bass fishing. The color of lures that work best in the spring for northern pike fishing are fire tiger, fluorescent orange, chartreuse, blue, white, silver, gold, and many colors of soft plastic. In the months of May and June, the smelt in the lake will feed close to the surface. Northern pike will strike at anything white or silver during this smelt feed, so include lures in these colors. Some smelt will be found floating on the surface and pike are feeding on these dead or dying smelt, so bring a few top water lures with white or silver bottoms. (continued page 23)

Pro Series Marabou Jig Egg Sucking Leech Kit’s Tackle’s recommendation for SPRINGTIME TROUT & WALLEYE

3431 US Hwy 12 East, Helena

Locating the Fresh Water Barracuda

Its late fall and we are sitting on perfect Northern Pike habitat, and some of the best land locked Arctic Char fishing in the world!

Of The Month

Made in Montana Trevor Johnson of Kit’s Tackle with a giant Holter Lake Brown Trout

888-495-1890

• 17

FLY OF THE MONTH

BY BOB BATES, fedflyfishers.org

C

hironomid (midge) patterns are numerous, and everybody has their own phenomenal fish catcher...This pattern by Philip Rowley came after his observation of pupae hatching into adult chironomids ...Chironomid larvas frequently live in the oxygen poor environment of a muddy lake bottom, and they have extra hemoglobin to compensate. Philip says that this is his number one lake pattern...Fishing the Chromie is usually a straightforward application of strike indicator (bobber) techniques. Use a floating line and long leader. Usually, the fly should be near the bottom or top of the weeds. If the strike indicator does anything unexpected like go underwater or move sideways you might have hooked a fish so strike. It might also be a weed...The Chromie may be fished with a regular leader, greased or not greased, to keep it close to the surface. MATERIALS: Hook: Tiemco 2457, Mustad C49S, # 8-14 Bead: Black metal, 1/8th inch for size 12 or 10 hooks Thread: Black 8/0 - 14/0 Gills: White CDC puffs or sparkle yarn Rib: Red holographic Flashabou, Dynafloss or fine red wire Body: Silver Flashabou, Dynafloss or silver holographic Flashabou Thorax: Peacock herl TYING STEPS: 1. Smash barb with smooth jaw pliers. Slip bead on hook with smaller hole toward eye. Put hook in vise with middle part of bend exposed. Slide bead to bend, and attach thread at eye. Use just enough turns to hold thread. 2. Tie on a CDC puff and pull it to a length over the eye equal to the diameter of the bead. Half hitch thread and trim it. Trim excess CDC puff. 3. Put a little head cement on thread, and slide bead forward over thread and CDC puff. The head cement helps the bead slide over everything to the eye. If the bead doesn’t slide over; take it off and rethread it with the larger hole forward. On the next fly reduce the amount of thread, CDC or both. I made this switch to a CDC puff for the gill after fishing a Canadian lake and found the sparkle yarn too stiff when replacing a fly lost to a big fish. Reattach thread behind bead. 4. Tie on one piece of red holographic Flashabou. Hold it on your side of hook as you wrap over it almost to back of hook. Spiral thread forward to bead. 5. Double two pieces of silver Flashabou over the thread, and slide them down thread to secure them onto hook. Put a couple of thread winds over the Flashabou to make sure they stay in place. Return thread to bead. 6. Wrap Flashabou rearward to where rib tie down ended, and then forward to bead. A short hold, 1-inch, helps prevent splitting. Keep even tension on the Flashabou. All of the black thread should be covered. Secure Flashabou, pull it back, and wind thread over the fold back for added security. Trim excess Flashabou. Return thread to bead. 7. Counter wind the rib in an open spiral forward to the bead. Pull on red Flashabou enough to make it stay in place. Excessive tension will thin the Flashabou and it will lose color. Secure as in step 6, and trim excess. 8. Tie on two pieces of peacock herl, wind thread to bead, wrap peacock herl forward (no more than three turns), secure and trim excess. Put a little head cement on the thread and wind it between the peacock herl and the bead. Whip finish behind the bead; trim thread. Philip said that the main purpose of the peacock herl is to cover the thread winds. Some tiers skip this step, but I think it looks nice and finishes the fly. 9. Three times coat the body with Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails or equivalent. Each time hang fly on a wire, paper cup, etc., until dry.


18 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

ON-LINE AT www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

MAY 2012

Turkey Hunting on Public Land

Photo & Editorial By Bob Humphrey

D

isturbance and competition - more precisely, lack thereof - are important components to a quality turkey hunt. Having a place all to yourself is the ideal situation; but itʼs not always realistic for many hunters, particularly those limited to public ground. That doesnʼt mean you should give up and go fishing instead. With a little effort directed in the right direction, it is possible to find quality turkey hunting on public lands. Pre-season scouting is important whether hunting public or private ground; but on public ground you should scout more, and more often. Look for patterns, but donʼt rely too heavily on them. Daily movement patterns can change, particularly as human activity increases during and even before the season. You want to have the most recent information possible.

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Another key is avoiding the crowds. One way to accomplish this is to seek out large parcels. The more land, the more room for hunters to spread out. Get back. Most hunters stick close to the roads. Donʼt be afraid to hike or ride back into more remote areas - and this applies to both hunting and scouting. Check the regulations carefully. Many public areas allow ATVs, something your competition may not be aware of. Ride the trails before the season so you get familiar with them in daylight. Donʼt overlook smaller parcels. By studying maps, you may find smaller, more isolated blocks that other hunters donʼt even realize are public land. Itʼs even better if you can find parcels that abut land closed to hunting. It is possible to call birds off these “reservoirs” and onto huntable public land. Concentrate your scouting in the early morning. There will be fewer hunters out scouting, and the birds are more vocal. This allows you to hear distant birds that late-rising hunters arenʼt aware of. These are but a few tips for creating a better public land hunting experience. Every situation is different and requires its own specific tactics, but if you go the extra mile and put in the time, effort and ingenuity, you should be rewarded with a positive experience, whether you bring home a bird or not.


MAY 2012

ON-LINE AT www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

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Outdoor Calendar Sponsored By C’Mon Inn Bozeman & Missoula Lodge Like Atmosphere With Resort Amenities BIG TIMBER Gun Show: June 8 - 10

LIBBY Koocanusa Resort Salmon & Trout Derby: May 19 - 20

Vendors will be selling art, antiques, books, clothing, jewelry, and guns. With the waterslide Camping facilities, cabins, boat rentals, a restaurant & just down the road there is something for the lounge, gift shop and more. Held at Koocanusa Resort whole family. Held at the Big Timber Civic Center. & Marina on Lake Koocanusa. Phone: 406-293-7474 Phone: 406-932-5969

BROADUS Powder River Buffalo Shoot: June 2 - 3

Using a traditional single shot or lever action rifle, .375 or larger, five metal targets ranging from 250 to 1,000 yards are shot. Six shots are fired at each target, with one target being off-hand. Phone: 406-436-2270

CRAIG Caddis Festival: May 19

The annual Craig Caddis Festival and BBQ Cook-off includes music at the Izzak’s Log Jam, Kids Fun Area, Arts and Crafts and a Community Yard Sale. Parade begins at 3pm and BBQ Cook-off begins at 4pm. Phone: 406-235-3433

FORT BENTON Fort Benton Spring Classic Fishing Derby: May 18 - 20

The annual Fort Benton Spring Classic Fishing Derby has categories for both adults and children. This event is fun and exciting for all ages, filled with prizes and cash. Phone: 406-621-5592

FORT PECK Rock Creek Walleye Tournament: June 2 - 3

Rock Creek Marina is the headquarters for this fun tournament. Phone: 406-653-1463

HAVRE Black Power Shoot: May 26 - 28

Shooters of all ages competing in numerous match events. Tomahawk and knife throwing competitions and a pancake race are part of the fun. Primitive dress is encouraged. Phone: 406-265-2483

HELENA Don’t Fence Me In Trail Run: May 12

Consists of a 30k, 12k, 5k, and a 5k dog walk and is fun for the whole family. Phone: 406-442-0490

Events To Support WILDLIFE

ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION May 12, 2012 Blackfoot/Clearwater Big Game Banquet - Seeley Lake Bruce Wold 406-752-0192 May 19, 2012 Mt. Heartland Big Game Banquet Lewistown Howard F. Lamley III 406-366-6409 June 2, 2012 Gallatin Big Game Banquet - Bozeman Becky L Arbuckle 406-285-3819 NATIONAL WILD TURKEY FEDERATION May 12, 2012 Bitterroot Longbeards - Hamilton Chris Fortune, 406-360-1029 MULE DEER FOUNDATION May 18, 2012 SW Montana Chapter - Bozeman Scott Antonson, 406-570-8652 July 28, 2012 Western Montana Chapter - Missoula Jennifer Cote, 406-880-4719 MT SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE Montana SFW BBQ & Fundraiser June 16, 2012 2-7pm Lumberjack Saloon, Lolo MT Silent & Live Auction, Raffles and games for all ages Laurie Clark, 406-880-2242

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

This year

• 19

HOCO Vacation At RSANCH

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Recipe Corner: Coconut Grouse Strips Kris Winkelman www.winkelman.com 2/3 cup Multi grain crackers (about 8-10) 1/3 cup coconut flaked 1 9oz Jar mango chutney 3 Tbsp lime juice Food-micro|Dreamstime 1 tsp curry powder 4 Grouse breasts (cut into strips) Heat oven to 375 degrees. In gallon plastic bag crush crackers add coconut and shake. In small bowl stir together chutney, lime juice and curry powder. Dip strips into chutney mixture and place in gallon bag cracker mixture. Take out and place on foil sprayed with non stick spray line cookie sheet. Bake at 25 to 30 minutes until brown.

Turkey Enchiladas Kris Winkelman www.winkelman.com 8 flour tortillas 1 lb. Cooked turkey 2 cans enchilada sauce 1 cup tomatoes, cubed 1/2 cup onions, chopped 1 tsp. Garlic powder 1-1/2 cups chopped black olives, reserving a few for top 1 (4 oz.) Jar green chilies, chopped 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese, reserving some for top Place a small amount of oil in pan and heat. Place tortilla shell in to oil, turning once, cook until heated and remove from pan. Add turkey, black olives, tomatoes, onion, chilies and cheese. Fill each shell, roll and place in to a greased glass baking pan. Pour enchilada sauce over all of shells. Bake in a 350 ̊ preheated oven for 40 minutes. Sprinkle remaining sliced black olives and cheese on top and bake a few minutes until cheese is melted.


20 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

ON-LINE AT www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

MAY 2012

Say Hello To Success: Where to chase the Fish this Month Brought to you by

Stoneflies swarm the creek, the fish go berserk. This is when you’ll want to be on Rock Creek. As the hatch progresses, size your flies down, then switch to stimulator and hackle patterns. Towards the end of the hatch, throw smaller Adams and Pale Morning Duns. There are plenty of campsites on Rock Creek if you want to stay and fish a few days. A good place to fish and camp is Harry’s Flat and Big Horn areas.

“My 18 year old son Riley “Fish” Fisher caught his largest pike just 2 weeks ago. What was cool is that he let her go because of how beautiful she is.” 41’’ - 23 lbs

UPPER MISSOURI RIVER

I

t will be busy on the lakes and streams in Montana in May. All area streams that are legal to fish will be open the third Saturday in May. Also, big hatches will get fish rising to the top for a meal. This will be one of the best times of the year to be fishing. Here is a look at just a few areas to fish this month.

FLATHEAD LAKE

Polson area - Shallow water trolling for lake trout will be kicking in gear. Perch colored Rapalas, hammered brass spoons or Krocodiles work best. Target depths of 20 to 80 feet. Stick with lead line or inline sinkers to get lures down. Top spots here will be the Flathead mouth, Big Arm and Skidoo Bays, and the Narrows. Deep jig at Blue, Gravel and Skidoo Bays, and also around the Station Creek area. Target depth 180 to 230 feet with 1 ounce glow green or chartreuse grubs. Perch up to 14 inches are possible in Polson and East Bay. Dunk a nightcrawler or a strip of perch meat in the 3 to 6 foot range. Once the weather stabilizes here, the fish will become more aggressive. Watch for debris on the lake due to run-off.

LAKE KOOCANUSA

Fish for big rainbows in Lake Koocanusa that will average 6 to 10 pounds!

The number of fish per day averages in the 8 to 12 range. Try fishing the shoreline with Rapalas that imitate a small kokanee salmon. Concentrate your efforts around creek mouths and over shallow flats where waters are warmer. For kokanee, hanging a Glo-hook about 8 inches off a Swedish Pimple will fool these salmon. Also, trolling a traditional string of cowbells is a good way to fish while trying to locate schools of kokanee. Wedding Rings work for kokes as well.

KOOTENAI RIVER Black and olive Beadhead Woolly Buggers, sizes 4 and 6 will take trout in the Kootenai River below Libby. As the water warms, try dropping a nightcrawler in deeper, slow water. You’ll find good fly fishing action above Kootenai Falls. Try using a Hare’s Ear, Beadhead Prince, and Zug Bugs.

ROCK CREEK Spring fishing on Rock Creek is the best time to fish large dry flies. In the morning, start out with dark Stonefly nymphs, Copper Johns, and Double Beaded Prince nymphs until you see flies in the river. Switch to a Skwala pattern once you get a fish to rise, and then switch it up to a March Brown. The Salmonfly hatch on Rock Creek is legendary. When these orange

Try fishing Headwater’s State Park, fishing the first mile below the confluence. Try Dardevles, Rapalas and worms. Just below Toston Dam, try drifting worms and casting crankbaits for big rainbows, brown trout and if you want to mix it up, fish for northern pike around the Big Spring area 2 miles down from Toston Dam. This area can produce some fantastic fishing, if you can hit it right.

BLACKFOOT RIVER

Salmon flies should start to hatch towards the middle part of May. Nymphing with a big Stonefly nymph or chucking a big streamer should get the attention of some hungry trout. If the river fishing is tough, head up to Browns Lake, Harpers Lake, or even Salmon Lake for good action. These are lakes that may offer the best chance to put a bend in your rod this month.

UPPER MADISON

Fish the Mac Alee to Burnt Tree accesses for most of the early action. Nymphing with Stones, San Juans, Beatis nymphs, Caddis pupae, and midge pupae should keep your indicators dipping regularly. Streamer fishing should be exceptional. Larger patterns such as Zonkers, Sculpin and Wooly Buggers will also do the trick. After the General Opener, look for the emergence of Blue Winged Olives and March Browns in the wade sections from Quake Lake to Lyon’s Bridge.

YELLOWSTONE RIVER

Early spring is the time for a trophy on the Yellowstone. If you can hit it before runoff, the streamer fishing can be awesome. Go big or go small, just get in front of the fish, and you may hook onto a giant brown trout. Hopefully, the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch will sneak in before the river blows out this month. Size #14 - #16 Olive Caddis patterns should keep you busy when this occurs. In Yellowstone Park in late May on the Madison River as well as the Firehole, be prepared with PMD’s, BWD’s, and Caddis, as well as Salmonflies. Swinging soft hackles and streamer fishing will be another good option.

HEBGEN LAKE Hebgen Lake should be fishing well in May, shortly after the annual Midge emergence begins. Trout will be cruising the shallows picking off Chironomid; pupae sub-surface and adults on top of the water. Using an intermediate line and Stripping Zonkers and leech patterns can be deadly. For soft tackle fishermen, casting a Panther Martin, Mepps, or a Rooster Tail spinner in yellow or orange can be effective. Drifting salmon eggs or a nightcrawler under a bobber will produce trout as well. These fish will be aggressive and will put on a good fight.

HAUSER LAKE

The Causeway area will be busy once the walleye spawn is on. Hit the walleye bite early or late evening. Crankbaits or floating jigs tipped with a crawler or leech should produce. Mid-day find deeper water and jig for them. Look for points that dive off into deeper water and fish either side. You may also find them in a deep river channel. These are all good places to hold up. Water temperatures will be the deciding factor as to where the fish are, and how active they will be. The York Bridge area has been fishing very well for rainbow trout.

THE BEST FISHING BRANDS!

Stores in Bozeman, Butte, Hamilton, Helena and Missoula. Or shop online 24/7 at bobwards.com


MAY 2012

ON-LINE AT www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

CANYON FERRY

The rainbow trout spawn will be coming to an end and the walleye should be in the middle of theirs here in May. Walleye will be spawning in shallow water with a nice gravel bottom to lay in. They normally spawn, as the water temperature gets close to 50 degrees. With our mild spring weather, now is the time to catch aggressive walleye that are hungry. There are many effective ways to catch walleye. You can troll with crankbaits, set-up a Dead Stick with a Lindy Rig and worm or do a lot of jigging with a grub or minnow. You can cast out to shorelines with jigs or jig vertically. Big females have been reported being caught, and this bite will continue through the end of May and June. It’s a chance to catch a big fish, or a lot of eater-sized walleye. Head to the southern end of Canyon Ferry and fish the inside edges of structures which appeal to spawning walleye. The stretch between Goose Bay Campground and Confederate Campground will also produce walleye. Trolling along these edges using a variety of bottom bouncers and crankbaits, leeches, Gulp worms, and nightcrawlers work well on Canyon Ferry. Medium diving crankbaits in perch, silver, rainbow trout, and sucker colors seem to do the trick.

HOLTER LAKE Look for rock piles or slides that conjoin to a sandy flat area. These transitional lines create great cover for fish to forage for food. Holter has many of these types of structures up through the “Gates” that always hold fish. Walleye get down current of

these rocky points and hide behind them. Also, using your sonar, look for stair steps that parallel the shoreline. These are all areas walleye and trout use when cruising for food. Many of the same fishing tactics as are used on Canyon Ferry will work at Holter and Hauser lakes this time of year.

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

• 21

FISHING

PHOTO CONTEST

FORT PECK This year looks like ti may be a banner year for fishing. The water is down from last year’s flooding and with a mild winter behind us, look for fishing conditions to be excellent on Ft. Peck. The walleye will be very aggressive as the water warms and they will begin a feeding frenzy from a long winter and post spawning. Try fishing out of the Hell Creek area and work the waters of Sutherlin Bay, Bone Trail, Timber Creek and other inlets that will hold 10-plus pound walleyes. For a good spring smallmouth bass bite, try fishing Bone Trail and the Snow Creek Bay areas, throwing spinner baits and Rapala Jerks near shorelines around rocky points near shallow inlets for bass that range up to 5 plus pounds here. For big northerns that will take you for an adrenaline filled spin around your boat, try fishing Sutherlin Bay, Hell Creek Bay, and the J Marker areas. Pull a crankbait in around 20 feet of water or pitch a jig or spinnerbait near weedbed areas, and you are sure to have success. The Rock Creek area will also be in great shape this spring. The campground at Rock Creek Marina is back up and running from last year’s flooding that nearly took out the Marina. Give Bill a call at 406-485-2560 for the latest conditions and what he is using to catch big fish in the spring on Ft. Peck.

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IDAHO IDAHO STEELHEAD: Steelhead are still being caught, but it’s a mixed bag this time of the year. Anglers drifting baited jigs, corkies, and bobbers will do the best in areas around Orifino and the upper Clearwater near Kamiah and Kooskia. Depending on river flows, the Little Salmon River at Riggins will offer up some good fishing. LOWLAND LAKES: It’s a great time to be on the lakes in Idaho. Winchester Lake can provide good trout, yellow perch, and crappie fishing through the spring. Spring Valley and Moose Creek are good spots for trout and bluegill. Elk Creek Reservoir has good rainbow and brook trout fishing. Mann Lake near Lewiston will be good for trout, crappie and bass. The best kokanee fishing will be on Dworshak Reservoir in May and June, with most of the action occurring between the Dam and Dent Bridge. Boat anglers trolling slowly with weighted line and standard spinner-gear and hooks baited with maggots or corn are reporting good catches. Rainbow and cutthroat fishing will pick up in May, as the water warms, especially at mouths of tributary streams. Most of these waters will be stocked with catchable rainbows. RIVERS AND STREAMS Look for fishing to pick up this month as waters warm up. Fluctuating water flows can factor in on a good day of fishing, or maybe not so good. That said, stable weather patterns as of late, and water temps in the mid-50s will make for some good action. Bass fishing in the Snake River near Lewiston has been good. Fish curly tailed grubs in around 10 to 12 feet of water near rocky structures for smallmouths. Catfish can be caught in the 4 to 8 pound range and are commonly caught using nightcrawlers, Stink-bait, and Powerbait. Fishing for sturgeon will pick up as well. Anglers should practice low impact techniques that include pinching hook barbs down, using circle-hooks instead of J-hooks, as all sturgeon caught in Idaho must be

immediately released. Salmon season will be good this year on the Clearwater, Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers. Anglers should stay informed on in-season changes and limits before heading out to salmon fish in Idaho.

10a

m! Enter your favorite fishing photo from 2011 or 2012 and

Shop 24/7 www.bobwards.com 5 LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU MISSOULA - BOZEMAN - HELENA - HAMILTON - BUTTE

WILD WEST FLY FISHING Forrest Fawthrop- Guide#10908 Jamie Benedickt- Outfitter#8871

(406) 459-5352 (406) 580-2426 PO Box 134 Livingston, MT 59047 Entrants agree to give BSONA use rights for photos submitted for editorial, advertising or for promotional purposes. All photos and/or editorial submitted become the property of BSONA and will not be returned. Contest begins March 1, 2012. Ends May 15, 2012 at 10am.


22 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

ON-LINE AT www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

MAY 2012

LUCK, AND THE MIGRATION continued from page 17

Monday, 19 September: We wake this morning to a continued strong west wind and at times there are 2-3 foot waves on the lake with heavy gust. The update for hunting has remained the same, no planes, no caribou near camp, no hunting. We gear up for taking the boats out on our own. We were trolling spoons and I started noticing at times that I could see structure at the bottom. I was also noticing a drop off where you could see an edge that came up and went into the shallows. We started getting strikes, and also noticed that the strikes were happening when we were trolling against the wind. We made a pass and came back around and lined up the drop off and went into the wind and BAM! Jennifer had a big pike on, and got it into the boat, a nice 36” healthy Northern Pike that made for some great pictures. We continued and again, another nice pike, this time 33” and all these pike were healthy and had really good girth. We pull up further towards the bank and decide to cast into the shallows back towards the drop off, and again we had a giant pike that became a follower, what I would have done to get her to strike my spoon! I’m thinking this lake has got to be loaded with lots of big pike, and again the lack of not being able to hunt caribou right now is not in our thoughts. Back trolling the drop off, and I catch a 35” northern pike. These pike are definitely feeding up for winter as we are well into the fall for Northern Quebec. As we round out the afternoon I landed another pike that was a 32” fish. We end up hooking 7 Northern Pike and boating 5 of them, and seeing a few nice followers . Tuesday, 20 September: The third day in camp we wake to a nice morning. The rain has stopped and the wind has let up. Excitement stirs as we hear the chance of

planes being made available for hunting. After the guides have their morning ritual meeting, they come to us at the end of breakfast to inform us there are still no Beavers or Otters scheduled to come to Camp 14 today. By now the guides are finding places to hide and some hunters are clearly upset. We finally get a late afternoon break in the weather and decide to head out fishing with a different guide who actually likes to fish and knows a good area on the lake for Arctic Char. The weather is calming, almost perfect conditions. We are fishing with a man who knows this lake and knows what they hit on, things couldn’t be better. Jennifer lands the first fish almost as soon as we get to the spot, a female char, and a nice 3+ pound char with brilliant colors. I hook into a second arctic char within moments of finishing the pictures of the first, this time a big male, and he has some incredible bright red colors, a big fat fish that measures over 26”, the guide made comments that these char are some of the biggest fish he has ever seen from this lake. He also said he believes a world record land locked Arctic Char could be caught out of this lake. We are estimating this male at close to 6+ pounds, which is a big land locked arctic char. Within just a few moments of releasing that fish Jennifer slams another big male char, same exact size, fat, large brilliant red. It appears to be glowing red it’s so bright. Another 26” plus 6+ pound male arctic char that makes for a contest winning photo! We are working the bank that our guide Paul said was an arctic char heaven, and trolling some mepps #4’s slowly through the area where we picked up the first char..... Jennifer’s rod bends (next page)


MAY 2012

ON-LINE AT www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

over hard, she’s like, “I’m on a rock, stop, I ‘m hung up!” I’m watching her rod, and see that familiar bounce... rocks don’t bounce, I’m like, “Duder that’s a fish!!” And she’s like, “Oh yeah it is!” He was staying down, that is a big pike! Jennifer has now realized that she has something very powerful on, and I’m reaching at her spool adjusting the drag loose, telling her don’t horse it, the fish can run. It was awesome helping her on this big fish, a great moment. I’m telling her we have to just let it run let it get tired, let it wear out, we have no net and I have to lift that giant in to the boat. O.K., remember a couple days ago with the French man screaming about grabbing the pike, well enter stage left our second crazy French man screaming words I don’t understand something about “don’t lift that pike into my boat” well I don’t think so, the pike is getting her picture taken! Seriously, the French are scared to death of Northern Pike, really! Now look at the beautiful girl smiling from ear to ear with this monster pike!!! (cover photo) Jennifer has boated a 41+” heavy, monster Northern Pike, a nice trophy class fish, this right after catching several world class trophy arctic char. This pike is an easy 23+ pounds if not bigger. A great afternoon of fishing, we have to head back to camp for dinner, they’re not going to believe the pictures back at camp! I think what I say right now is if you’re going on a hunting trip to the north, get your fishing license and take a rod and tackle! Wednesday, 21 September: Today is our fifth day in camp and again we have hopes of finally going hunting. However as we wake with the sound of rain falling hard on the canvas covered cabin it is not reassuring. Rain usually equals no flying. We go outside and the entire area is socked in tight with heavy fog, you can’t even see 100 yards across the lake. By late morning the storm has cleared off quickly which brings everyone’s spirits up and a Beaver is able to land and take 4 of the Leaf River hunters out to their camp. Later in the day they take another plane load of the Leaf River hunters to the camp that was their original destination. Thursday, 22 September: This morning we wake to a heavy frost and icy fog with snow flurries covering the region. The good news is it’s clear at Lac Pau and Vanessa Lake where the planes are coming from to take us hunting. We pack our gear to stay at Vanessa Lake, but just as quick as we can stuff our gear and sleeping bags into a pack, they change the plans once again and we get ready to pack a day bag and gear up to hunt only 40 miles away with a return to Camp 14 on Lac Chabenal. Things are happening quickly now as two Beavers appear on the horizon and land on the lake and are loading hunters from our cabin. Hunters from the other group of 4 and Bob are loading into both Beavers with guides. They are up and gone on their way to the first hunt. Jennifer,

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

Steven and I with the last two guides will wait for the first Beaver to return. Flying over the hundreds of lakes looking for the caribou is something that I’m sure we will never forget, the excitement of the hunt, spotting wolves and bear, then finally coming onto small broken herds of caribou that grow into larger bands of caribou is different than anything most hunters will ever experience.

• 23

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We make a sharp bank in our small Beaver aircraft to land on a lake that at first looks like a puddle, which will hopefully be in line with the closest direction of the caribou. In no time we are off and running across the wet tundra, through bushes and fields of lichen, up a hill, and up another hill we crest onto a shelf and in the middle of a big herd of caribou.

Lodge Like Atmosphere With Resort Amenities We are totally surrounded by dozens and dozens of caribou. Our guide gets us behind some structure, which out here you’re lucky to find a bush or a rock big enough to hide you. The guide says he sees a shooter, and motions to me; he is a really nice bull and looks to be bigger than the bull I took two years ago, so I make the decision to fill my first tag. We are waiting for some smaller caribou to clear; I’m on him at 153 yards and take the shot. Before we can do anything else the guide had spotted more bulls that could be trophy class bulls and we are off and running trying to make it in front of the moving caribou. We had to remember at this point we are short on hours, not knowing if this is the only afternoon we will get to hunt, so the guide has us in a “shoot the best bull you can find” mode, not exactly what we wanted to be faced with, but you can see where the luck of the draw and timing comes in to play now with weather and logistics. Steven has two nice bulls that he spots and he finally pulls up on one and drops him in his tracks at 75 yards. Now we are looking to find Jennifer a shooter bull. I find a really nice black bear and Jennifer has the black bear tag in her pocket, but our guide insists we must fill caribou tags first so the black bear must wait. He is a good 5 and a half to 6 foot bear that looks as fat as the Northern Pike we were catching. Now with two nice bulls on the ground the guide locates a shooter for Jennifer, and they take off to close the distance. CONTINUED ON PAGE 32

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Locating the Fresh Water Barracuda

Clay Buckmiller

(continued from page 17) Ruggles recommended crappie fishing to keep the kids happy when the pike weren’t extremely active - the crappies were more than happy to oblige us. Crappie schools were suspended in the deep, open water - rooster tail lures, twister tail jigs and jig flies did the trick. I recommend using your depth finder to locate suspended schools of crappie - if they don’t bite, then change lure colors with black, white and yellow being the most popular. There are also walleye pike and bass available in this lake.

how to use perch pattern crank baits and spoons for perch, and even suggested specific feeding areas where we should find fish. He recommended specific lakes, facilities, boat docks, camping areas, lodging, food and bait.

I recommend contacting local fishing clubs or organizations, because they have first-hand knowledge when it comes to fishing area lakes, and they are usually happy to share their findings.

The Pike Masters sponsor a free fishing day for children in June where everything is provided for children to fish. They also sponsor a public fishing tournament at Ft Peck Reservoir each year.

I contacted Clay Buckmiller (406-860-7435), the President of the Billings Chapter of the Montana Pike Masters. He and the 300 members of his club have a wealth of pike fishing knowledge.

The members pay $30 per year per family, and they receive a monthly newsletter and a quarterly magazine with articles on pike fishing in Montana’s lakes. The magazine features tips on where to go and how to fish area lakes so that beginning pike fisherman can find pike anywhere in Montana. (www.pikemasters.com)

Buckmiller was able to tell me the forage (feed) what the pike eat and


24 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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MAY 2012

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RMEF Donates for Improve Your Hunting MDF Applauds Gov. Mead for Wolf Management With New NWTF Wyoming Wolf Plan in Montana RMEF iPhone App

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has offered, and the Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has accepted, $51,000 in funding assistance for the state’s wolf management efforts. Funding from RMEF will be paid directly to Wildlife Services.

Wildlife Services is the federal agency contracted by FWP to resolve wolf conflicts associated with livestock depredation. Wildlife Services also assists in monitoring wolf populations by placing radio-collars in as many wolf packs as possible. The supplemental dollars from RMEF will be used for radio-collaring wolves in packs that are currently not monitored, removing individual problem wolves as authorized by FWP, and improving science-based management of wolf populations overall. The gift from RMEF is not being taken from membership dollars or other funding for habitat conservation, but from a separate account supported by special donations. In fact, RMEF leaders first offered $50,000 but donations added $1,000 to the available total. “RMEF supporters have stepped up to help biologists restore some balance in certain areas,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Wildlife Services is a vital tool for controlling wolves in areas of heavy livestock depredation. That effort helps wildlife conservation, too.” FWP Director Joe Maurier said, “We’re grateful for the partnership from RMEF. Wolves are an additional predator on the Montana landscape, and we’re finding that managing for overall conservation now requires additional attention, manpower and budget.” visit www.rmef.org

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he Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) came out in strong support..of Gov. Matt Mead and the Wyoming Legislature for decisive action...regarding Senate File 41, which will allow for state management of the gray wolf population in Wyoming. There has been a long-fought battle by Wyoming lawmakers to delist the gray wolf, as was accomplished recently in neighboring states, Montana and Idaho. Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gov. Mead and the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept. were able to negotiate a compromise plan that involves removing wolves from endangered species status while allowing for protections in core habitat areas such as Yellowstone Park.

NWTF Turkey Hunting Toolbox is now available for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch... The widely praised app was the top selling app in iTunes’ “Sports” category for several days. The official NWTF Turkey Hunting Toolbox has everything a turkey hunter needs in one phone app. -Exclusive turkey sound ringtones -Turkey sounds recorded from live wild turkeys -Video tips from champion callers -Valuable turkey hunting tips -Range map of wild turkey subspecies -Wild turkey score calculator -Photos and descriptions of the wild turkey subspecies -Links to every state wildlife agency for hunting regulations... The exclusive iPhone app features calling tip videos from champion turkey callers, 12 live turkey sounds, and instant access to dozens of proven turkey hunting tips. All are accessible at your fingertips without an Internet connection - even in the most remote corner of the forest. The app’s wild turkey range map can help hunters explore and zoom in to where each subspecies lives across North America. With a few simple measurements, the app calculates the score of a turkey based on the NWTF Wild Turkey Records official requirements. Turkey hunting fanatics will enjoy exclusive NWTF turkey ringtones.

T

MDF President and CEO Miles Moretti said, “We want to congratulate Wyoming on passage of their wolf plan. Gov. Mead showed great leadership in negotiating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wyoming will now be able to manage wolves in their state. This is a huge step in getting wolves delisted nationwide.” Monday’s 57-1 vote in the Wyoming House in favor of the plan was a critical step in returning wolf management to the state. The legislation now heads to Gov. Mead for his signature. The bill should be signed and wolves delisted by September. It is the position of the Mule Deer Foundation that the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains be delisted and managed by state fish and wildlife agencies. MDF believes states can more effectively balance the management of wolves with the management of other resident wildlife such as mule deer.

Deadline Reminder for Pheasant Release Program MFWP Landowners interested in raising and

releasing ring-necked pheasants this year through the state Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program have until May 15 to submit an application. Under Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Upland Game Bird Release Program, landowners who attempt to establish pheasant populations in suitable habitat can be reimbursed for raising and releasing pheasants. Landowners can apply if the land in the project area remains open to reasonable public hunting. Projects must comprise at least 100 contiguous acres of land and contain a combination of the habitat components - including cover and food - that upland game birds need to survive. Projects on private and public lands submitted in partnership with youth organizations, 4-H clubs, sports groups, or other associations that can guarantee the completion of all project requirements are eligible too. Hunting preserves, lands that host a commercial hunting enterprise and lands where hunting rights are leased or paid for are not eligible. Applicants must apply by mail to FWP in Helena. Approved pheasant releases will occur Aug. 1 - Sept. 15. For more information, and an on-line application form, visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov - search “Upland Game Bird Program.”


MAY 2012

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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Montana’s 2012 SUPERTAG Special Drawing CHANCES ON Deadlines MFWP SALE NOW! MFWP Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ deadlines to apply for special license drawings is May 1 for bison, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat; and June 1 for the elk B, deer B and antelope license drawing. Applying for drawings for special big game hunting permits and licenses is a lot easier these days for hunters who apply using FWP’s Online Services at fwp.mt.gov . Applicants will need a MasterCard or Visa credit card. To cover the cost of offering this service, there is a fee of $1.25, plus 2.55 percent of the total purchase price.

Montana’s SuperTag chances for the

hunt of a lifetime are on sale. MFWPs hopes to beat last year’s sales that topped 67,797 SuperTag chances sold. Proceeds from SuperTag sales go to enhance hunting access and enforcement. Hunters can win the SuperTag drawing by purchasing one or more $5 SuperTag chances for the fall 2012 hunting season. THE DEADLINE TO PURCHASE SUPERTAG CHANCES IS JULY 5. Eight SuperTag hunt licenses are offered—moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, elk, deer, antelope, mountain lion and bison. Winners may hunt any district open to the species for which they won a tag. A 2012 conservation license is needed to purchase a SuperTag. SuperTags are available at all FWP offices, license providers, or online at fwp.mt.gov using FWP’s online licensing service.

Gallatin-Madison Chapter RECOGNIZED NATIONALLY

The Original

Local Ducks Unlimited chapter earns place in President’s Elite The President’s Elite are among

National Shooting Sports Foundation

Ducks Unlimited’s most prestigious volunteer chapters throughout the nation. Every year, the list is reserved for the chapters that raise $100,000 or more for DU’s habitat conservation work. This past fall, the Gallatin-Madison Chapter made the list as one of the organization’s best fundraising chapters. “These fundraising events are the backbone of DU’s habitat conservation efforts, and the volunteers who make up these chapters are the grassroots force making a difference for North American waterfowl populations,” said DU President John Newman. “It takes a great deal of effort to achieve the President’s Elite level, and these chapters deserve to be congratulated by every person who enjoys the outdoors.” The Gallatin-Madison chapter earned a spot in the President’s Elite out of the more than 2,700 DU chapters nationwide. DU’s event fundraising system has long been a model for other conservation organizations around the world and has funded a significant portion of the more than 12 million acres of wetlands and associated habitat DU has conserved since 1937. This year’s President’s Elite chapters also have the distinction of being honored during DU’s 75th Anniversary year, celebrated with special events and wetland project dedications nationwide. The President’s Elite will be recognized during DU’s 75th National Convention in Nashville at the end of May, with many chapter representatives in attendance.

Green Movement United States’ sportsmen have been putting their money where their hearts are since 1937. SPORTSMEN CONTRIBUTE NEARLY $8 MILLION DAILY TOWARD CONSERVATION for everyone through licenses, excise taxes and other special taxes such as duck stamps.

That equates to over $2.7 billion annually for conservation. For more than 80 years, sportsmen have paid more than $12.1 billion for on-the-ground projects in every state, protecting our natural environment and our fish and wildlife.


26 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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R S

RMEF: $1.2 MILLION MEF FOR HABITAT WORK IN SIX STATES

o far in 2012, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has allocated $1,258,888 for habitat stewardship and protection projects in six key elk states. The figure represents a significant increase from 2011. More than 139,000 acres should be conserved for elk and other wildlife in 2012 as a result of these initial allocations. Affected states include Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. RMEF will announce funding allocations for additional states later this year. The combined allocation for the initial six states is $181,562, or 16 percent, higher than their total from 2011. The increase is based on a strong upward trend in banquet-based memberships and fundraising performance by RMEF chapters and volunteers in the respective states.

Allocated amounts and acres expected to be conserved in 2012: Colorado—$251,451 and 42,030 acres Idaho—$82,710 and 31,984 acres Montana—$257,011 and 21,658 acres Oregon—$165,000 and 11,483 acres Washington—$184,460 and 10,454 acres Wyoming—$318,256 and 21,555 acres

A Late Spring Bear Hunt continued from page 9 hillsides will be the answer for a spot and then stalk opportunity. Look for fresh elk and deer sign in these areas, as bear and other smaller predators will roam these areas looking for a quick meal of fawns and calf elk that are easy prey.

Once the snow has left the high country, hunt more above the timberline areas “Thanks to RMEF volunteers and supporters to find black bear digging roots and eating fresh shoots and leaves. and a wave of momentum, our organization is positioned to pump more money than ever into crucial habitat work in six major If you do locate a bruin take the time to determine the sex and size of the areas of elk country,” said David Allen, bear before taking a well-placed shot. RMEF president and CEO.

Once you have harvested a black bear in Montana, you’ll have fi ve (5) days to present your bear to a Montana FWP official. You must present the complete bear hide with proof of sex naturally attached and the skull for purpose of inspection, tagging and removal of a tooth for aging. The FWP hide tag affi xed during inspection must remain attached to the hide until tanned. The entire Divide from the Bob Marshall Wilderness east of Choteau, down to Wisdom and the head of the Big Hole Valley can offer up some phenomenal black bear hunting in the Spring. Remember, grizzly bear populations are on the rise in these areas, and while most grizzly populations are centered around Yellowstone and Glacier Park, the areas in between along the Continental Divide have sparse populations, and you must absolutely make sure that the bear in your sights is a black bear, and not a black bear sow with cubs at her side. If you do encounter a grizzly bear in non-traditional habitat call a MFWP office and report your sighting. The black bear management areas mentioned above are located in BMU 301 Helena-south with the season

MAY 2012

running until May 31, 2012. You can hunt south of this unit in BMU 316 Big Hole, BMU 317 Ruby-Centennial until June 15, 2012. Other BMU open until June 15, 2012 include BMU 216 SapphireFlint Creek, BMU 240 West Bitterroot, BMU 280 Upper Blackfoot, BMU 290 Lower Blackfoot, Garnet Range and BMU 341 Madison-Yellowstone Gallatin areas. Most successful spring bear hunters will have to invest a lot of time and effort to notch a bear tag, with an average of around 10 days spent in the field to locate an area where bears are frequenting. Once you have established these areas, it’s just a matter of time spent, patience and a lot of glassing. Preparation for a spring bear hunt will include your warm weather gear, as you could have snow, rain and sunny all in one day. A good pair of hiking boots, the best optics you can afford, and an accurate long shooting rifle with a good knock-down power bullet. For this, try the Hunting Shack of Montana Bear Load bullet, manufactured in various calibers and made in Montana, this ammo will drop a bear in it’s tracks. As always, be sure and check all of Montana’s black bear hunting regulations before you begin your hunt.


MAY 2012

ON-LINE AT www.bigskyoutdoornews.net

Coyote Hunting Basics, Part I of II By Babe Winkelman

During that seasonal gap between chasing whitetails and hunting spring turkeys, there aren’t many game animals to pursue. But there’s still a lot of fun to be had in the wild, whether you’re shooting a bullet, shotgun shell or arrow. The quarry? Predator dogs, namely coyotes. If you’ve never hunted predators before, then you’re in for a real treat. The excitement level you feel when a hungry dog or cat is in hot pursuit of your calling is intense. To the predator, you’re a meal. It’s a classic case of the hunter becoming the hunted! By sealing the deal on a predator, you achieve several beneficial things when you pull that trigger or release that arrow. First, you’re rewarded with an invigorating sense of accomplishment for duping North America’s most wary and clever adversaries. Second, you harvest a trophy that looks fantastic as a full-body mount or rug in your den. Third, if you choose, you can turn that pelt into cold hard cash. The fur market is very good right now with strong sales in Asia, parts of Europe and elsewhere. Hunters and trappers who take large numbers of predators are doing quite well financially. And finally, the taking of a predator is a very sound conservation measure that benefits all kinds of critters - ground nesting birds especially. So, there’s no good reason NOT to go predator hunting. For many, the idea of getting started as a predator hunter is daunting. But honestly, there’s nothing to be apprehensive about. Chances are, you already own most of the equipment you’ll need. A 12-gauge shotgun is a great all-around weapon for coyotes. Granted, this is a close-range gun that will require more stealth and patience for humane shots inside of 40 yards. In the woodlands of Minnesota, a shotgun is pretty perfect since shot opportunities are generally close and often in heavier cover. As you travel west or southwest, the terrain opens up and calls for longer-reaching projectiles. Calibers like .223s, .22-250s and .243s and are ideal for their flat-shooting, hard-hitting ballistics. And for those who want a real challenge, bowhunting for coyotes is a true test of your hunting skills. Beyond your weapon, the other tools you’ll need are good camouflage clothing, scent elimination spray and calls. Camo is important because a coyote’s eyesight is incredibly acute. They can spot movement that a deer wouldn’t see. But don’t think that putting on a good pattern is enough. Be mindful of your set-up location and make sure you’re within good cover and have something behind you (like a hillside or big tree) to break up you human silhouette. You’ll want scent elimination spray because a ‘yote’s nose is just about as good as it gets. Think about the finest bird dog you ever hunted over and how impressive his nose was. A coyote’s nose is even better. And here’s the thing about a coyote... if they smell something that doesn’t fit in their environment, they’re gone. They don’t test the wind and look around like a deer does. They go, and go fast! So spray down with a good scent control product. Hunter Specialtiies makes some good ones, and they’re also a source for the final tools you need: predator calls. Every predator hunter has at least two calls in his hip pocket: a rabbit in distress call and a mouse squeaker. The rabbit squealer is a long- to mid-range call; the mouse squeaker can seal the deal up close. At the very least, have these calls. And make sure that if you’re in cottontail country, you’re blowing a cottontail call. If you’re in jackrabbit land, opt for that call. There are unique sounds between them and a keen dog can tell the difference. For the most part, a mouse is a mouse no matter where you go, so a squeaker works effectively anywhere. After you have your gear all organized, de-scented and ready to go, it’s time to hit the field. A solid plan of attack is essential, and that plan begins with scouting. Drive around your region to scout for concentrations of coyote sign, ranging from tracks to scat. If there’s snow on the ground, this task is made much easier. When you find signs of predators in an area, start knocking on doors for permission to hunt (unless you’re already scouting public lands). Most landowners want all their predators sent to the great beyond, so if you’re polite and conscientious, there’s a very good chance you’ll be granted with permission to hunt private land. In my next column, I’ll lay down some fundamentals of your actual hunt for coyotes. In the meantime, go online and watch some videos of successful coyote hunts. You’ll learn a lot by watching others call and harvest coyotes. Get excited, catch the fever, and consider off-season coyote hunting as a way to get your predatory fix while doing natural conservation a big, big favor. Until next time... Babe Winkelman is a nationally-known outdoorsman who has taught people to fish and hunt for more than 25 years. Watch the award-winning “Good Fishing” and “Outdoor Secrets” television shows on Versus, Fox Sports, Texas Channel and many local networks. Visit www.winkelman.com for air times or on Facebook.

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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MAY 2012

News from Other States Big Northern Pike Caught At Yuba DWR Aquatic Biologist Don Wiley says

biologists set nets during the week of March 5 to capture Northern pike as they moved into the shallows to spawn. The nets were set close to shore, in about three to eight feet of water. “The first fish we pulled in and released was a 21-and-a-half-pound female Northern pike,” Wiley says. “This is the largest pike I’ve seen come out of Yuba.”

During a March 5 netting operation at Yuba Reservoir, DWR biologists caught and released this huge female Northern pike. The fish weighed more than 21 pounds. Photo by Don Wiley

Biologists are collecting some of the northern pike (mostly males) to make sure the pike are free of disease. If the pike are free of disease, biologists will collect eggs from the females. The eggs will be used to help raise tiger muskies at the DWR’s Lee Kay Warm Water Hatchery Ponds in Salt Lake City. Tiger muskie are a cross between a muskie and a Northern pike.

Yuba Reservoir is just off Interstate 15 in central Utah, about 30 miles south of Nephi...To catch Northern pike at Yuba in the spring, target the shore line and fish in water three to 10 feet deep. Northern pike key in on shoreline areas that have lots of vegetation. They especially like to spawn in areas that have tamarisk. “Avid Northern pike anglers know it’s a good time of year to target these large, toothy fish,” says Scott Root, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR. Root says casting crank baits that imitate fish is an effective way to catch Northern pike. “But remember that catching a pike usually requires a lot of patience and a lot casts,” he says... More information is also available by calling the Yuba State Park office at 435-758-2611 or the DWR’s Springville office at 801-491-5678.

Torrington Teen Catches New State Record Stonecat

Wyoming Game & Fish Dept.

Perseverance and a love for fishing rewarded 14-year-old Colton Bustillos of Torrington with a listing in the Wyoming state fish record book as the holder of Wyoming’s new record stonecat.

Bustillos’ catch was 10.1 inches long, weighed .35 lb. and was caught Mar. 17 from the North Platte River near Torrington. Not realizing what he had, a nearby fisherman suggested that he might want to get his fish checked out as it may be a record. Colton contacted Torrington game warden Jon Stephens who verified the fish was a stone cat and that it was the first entry in Wyoming for that species, making it the new state record.

Colton, who attends Torrington Middle School has been fishing in the river most of the winter. He caught his stonecat using a crappie rig with worms. His father, Bill, said Colton likes all kinds of fishing, hunting, and outdoor activities and gets out whenever he can. The stonecat is a small catfish that grows up to 12 inches in length. In Wyoming, it is found in the North Platte, Belle Fourche, Powder, Tongue, and Big Horn River drainages. Anglers who think they might have caught a state record fish need to get the fish weighed on a certified scale and have it verified by the Game and Fish Department. A listing of state record fish is on the Game and Fish website www.wgfd.wyo.gov.

TIME TO ENTER SUPER HUNT DRAWING T

he deadline to enter the first Super Hunt drawing is May 31. With every entry in Fish and Game’s Super Hunt drawings, hunters get a chance at winning the hunt of a lifetime, and their entry fee helps support hunter and angler access to and across private lands. The first drawing in June will pick 26 lucky hunters, each of whom will win one of 25 tags - eight elk, eight deer, and eight pronghorn hunts as well as one moose hunt; and one “Super Hunt Combo” entry also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, pronghorn and moose. A second drawing will be in August when another “Super Hunt Combo” and entries for two elk, two deer, and two pronghorn hunts along with one moose hunt will be drawn. The entry period for the second drawing is June 2 through August 11. Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose, including general hunts and controlled hunts, in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold.

IDF&G Photo Ryan Smith, 2007 Super Hunt Winner

The buck unofficially scored 220” Boone & Crockett, and is 34 1/2” wide. Hunters who win any Super Hunt tag may still enter controlled hunts, except where other restrictions apply. All other rules of individual hunts apply. The first Super Hunt entry will cost $6. Each additional entry purchased at the same time will cost $4 each. The Super Hunt Combo entries work the same way. The first one costs $20, and each additional entry purchased at the same time will cost $16. Entries...can be ordered on the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/ hunt/superhunt/, and on the phone at 800-554-8685. There is no limit to the number of entries.

IDF&G Commission Sets 2012 BIG GAME SEASONS

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission...set big game seasons for 2012. The commissioners

adopted Fish and Game staff recommendations for this fall’s deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, gray wolf and mountain lion hunts, and added a few changes of their own.

Some of the changes from the 2011-2012 seasons include: (for the complete list visit: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/media/viewNewsRelease.cfm?newsID=6219 ELK -Eliminate general season antlerless elk hunts in the Panhandle. Create separate controlled either-sex hunts in Units 1, 2, 3 and 5. -Reduce antlerless controlled hunt tags in McCall zone. -Increase antlerless elk tags in Owyhee controlled hunt Area 40. -Restructure Landowner Permission Hunts and antlerless hunts in units 45, 49, 52A, 56 and 68 to address depredation concerns; convert Landowner Permission Hunts to extra tag hunts. -Shorten A-tag season in Teton zone. -Create three new controlled hunts with 20 permits each to address depredation concerns in Unit 36B. DEER -Expand muzzleloader opportunity in Panhandle 10 days. -Shorten the season for extra antlerless controlled hunts in Clearwater Region. -Extend antlerless portion of Unit 23 white-tailed deer season for youth only. -Add new deer hunt to Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge to address depredations on neighboring private land and convert antlerless youth hunt in Units 40 and 41 to youth extra antlerless controlled hunt. -Restructure antlerless hunts in Units 44, 45 and 52, restructure youth hunts in Units 47, 54, 55 and 57, and move rotating muzzleloader hunt from Units 47, 54 and 55 to eastern portion of unit 45 -Reduce antlerless hunts in units 43, 44 and 45 in response to hunter concerns. -Keep Unit 36A as an unlimited controlled buck hunt; add Unit 29 to controlled hunt Area 37 muzzleloader hunt.


MAY 2012

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MOSSY OAK EVENT LURES MONSTER BUCK POACHING SUSPECT KDWPT

On Jan. 27-29, Mossy Oak Properties of the Heartland presented the

inaugural Monster Buck Classic (We are Kansas) event at the Kansas ExpoCentre in Topeka. The event was designed to promote deer hunting and outdoor recreation in Kansas and to provide Kansas hunters with the latest information and equipment related to deer hunting. In addition, the event featured a Monster Buck Contest, open to all Kansas residents, in which hunters could enter officially-scored bucks, with prizes offered to the largest deer in typical and non-typical categories for both white-tailed and mule deer. Fortunately for all law-abiding hunters, the contest helped expose the suspected illegal shooting of a big buck.

One entry, which would have potentially been a new Kansas state record, drew suspicion of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) law enforcement officials, and after investigation, David V. Kent was charged with poaching the deer. On Feb. 1, eight charges were filed against Kent by Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones in the District Court of Osage County, Fourth Judicial District, including criminal discharge of a firearm, criminal hunting, illegally hunting with an artificial light, hunting outside of legal hours, illegal hunting during a closed season, using an illegal caliber for taking big game, illegal hunting from a vehicle, and hunting without a valid deer permit... “As a developer of the Mossy Oak Properties brand in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Iowa, I strongly condemn this type of behavior,” said Brian D. Smith, CEO of Mossy Oak Properties of the Heartland and founder of the Kansas Big Buck Classic. “In fact, we believe in the stiffest penalties possible for poaching, and we played a strategic part in exposing this case. We cooperated 100 percent.”

Natural Resources (DNR) announced...that it will offer a limited bulls-only hunting season this fall.

Although hunting mortality of bulls is not a significant factor in the moose population decline, the state’s moose plan, which addresses habitat, climate change, disease and other moose population factors, identifies specific thresholds when moose hunting should cease. The DNR is following that plan by closing two hunting zones in northeastern Minnesota, but continuing to allow limited hunting in other zones. “Our approach is based on the scientific and social considerations brought forth by experts on the legislatively created Minnesota Moose Advisory Committee,” said Erik Thorson, acting DNR big game program leader. “Committee members envisioned a time when hunting would become an issue. That time has come. We’re implementing a reasoned and responsible plan.” Minnesota’s moose population is estimated at 4,230. This compares to last year’s estimate of 4,900 and is down significantly from the 2006 estimate of 8,840. The DNR estimates about 50 bulls will be taken by state hunters this fall. Thorson said the DNR’s limited hunting season will have no significant impact on the moose population. That’s because the bull-cow ratio is sufficient to ensure that all cows can be bred, thereby creating the next generation of moose. The state’s moose management plan recommends using bull-cow ratios as a measure to determine whether a bulls-only hunt should continue. DNR biologists base the harvest level on 5 percent of the estimated bull population. “While it’s true that the state’s moose population is declining it’s also true that bulls-only hunting is not a significant factor in that decline,” said Thorson. “A decade of research has shown that most mortality is from unknown causes unrelated to hunting, perhaps linked to parasites or disease.” In 2008, the Minnesota Legislature directed the DNR to create a Moose Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the agency. The DNR convened a group of individuals from agencies, universities, tribes, and organizations representing a broad cross-section of moose expertise and interests. The Moose Advisory Committee filed a report that the DNR used to formulate its moose management and research plan. That plan states hunting should cease if: The bull to cow ratio drops below 67 bulls per 100 cows for three consecutive years. Overall hunter success drops below 30 percent for three consecutive years. The harvest success rate for any individual hunting zone averages less than 20 percent for three consecutive years. “The bull to cow ratio is well above the identified threshold and at the highest level since 2006,” said Thorson. “Overall hunter success was 58 percent last year, well above the 30 percent threshold. And hunting success rates for individual zones have not dipped below 20 percent for three consecutive years except zones 23 and 34, which we have closed to hunting this year.” Read complete article at: http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2012/03/27/dnr-to-offer-limited-moose-hunt-this-fall/#more-8344


30 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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Deer Hunting Tips continued from page 4

continued from page 4

soft yelps may do the trick.

SIT AND WAIT

Better yet, if you can nail the hang-up strut zone one day, he might just come to the location the next one, and you’ll be waiting.

FAKE HIM OUT

Decoys may or may not pull him in. If he gobbles, and those hen fakes aren’t in his location, well then you’re back in a stalemate. Maybe he’ll come; maybe not.

WOODSMANSHIP

You may just choose to hang out in that area, hoping he crosses your path. Read the land. Pattern the gobbler. For the guy who likes to get a longbeard fired up and bring him in to the calls that may or may not be a hollow victory.

CALL LIKE ONE

You can also call like a gobbler (make coarse yelps, roughly three notes long, or gobble, safety considered). During this late transition time gobblers may just want to run with other toms and jakes.

SHOOT LEGAL

As this goes, you may even want to find a legal shortbeard somewhere, and fill that tag for the backyard grill. Or not. Turkey hunting is often challenging, especially late in the game. Enjoy it all. Filling your tag is a bonus.

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Q: Are doe or buck decoys effective? A: Both can be effective. I prefer a buck decoy early (pre rut) then I will switch to doe later on in the rut when you think they are in lock down. Just keep in mind, sometimes decoys are your ace in the hole and others times they will curse you. Q: Is scent control important when hunting from a treestand? A: Yes. Scent control is very important hunting from any position, possibly the most important factor in tipping the odds in your favor. Q: What calls do you carry? A: Rattling horns - the real thing, Primos buck roar, and Primos can call. I keep my calling to a minimum other than a little rattling pre rut. Itʼs hard to beat one coming to the horns.

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32 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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MAY 2012

LUCK, AND THE MIGRATION continued from page 23

A few hundred yards in front of us the shot reports and Jennifer has taken a nice caribou with a big wide spread, her shot was over 230 yards!

ARCHERY SHOOTS MBA

May 5th & 6th Fisher River Traditional Shoot Fawn Creek Campground near Libby MT Libby Archery Club 406-293-8738 May 6th Safari Shoot PPL Property, Ryan Dam GFAC gfarchery@yahoo.com May 12 3D Forsyth, MT Pronghorn Archery club of Forsyth, MT Barb Purdon bpurdon@q.com May 19-20 2 day shoot Bull Run Guest Ranch Electric City Archers Dan Crawford 406-799-0953 June 2nd & 3rd Fisher River Shoot Fawn Creek Campground near Libby MT Libby Archery Club 406-293-8738 June 9th & 10th Summer Sizzler Williamson Park 5 Miles South Of Shelby On The Frontage Road Marias Valley Archers Loren Skartved 406-424-2256 June 16-17 3D Makoshika State Park Makoshika Bowmen of Glendive MT Contact Jim Thompson 406-687-3412 June 17 3D Forsyth, MT 8 AM registration Pronghorn Archery club of Forsyth, MT Barb Purdon bpurdon@q.com June 23rd & 24th 14th Annual Barber Ranch 2 day archery shoot Barber Ranch BearPaw Bowmen Archery Club – Havre Clyde – 406-265-4572 or checkout www.bearpawbowmen.com

Rifle Shooting Accuracy continued from page 5

Shooting skill is developed through practice and there is no substitute or short cut...the next best form of schooling is to shoot in a weekly league devoted to high power competition rifle. Will it be expensive? That depends on your approach. Handloading your own ammo is almost mandatory to balance shooting expenses and your allotment of hunting related income, but when that moment of truth presents itself your breathing control, rifle positioning and trigger control, learned after weeks, or maybe years, of high power rifle competition will be well rewarded. During the learning phase of shooting skills you also have to focus on the rifle barrel, cartridge, case, powder and bullet. Many times if you try three different boxes of factory ammunition they will place a bullet in three different places, some in small groups and some spread all over. If you only tested one brand of ammo and one bullet weight in your rifle, how would you ever know the full potential of your firearm? Toss in bullet weights in a common caliber like the .30-06 and each brand will produce a different level of accuracy. There are a number of factors to consider that have filled volumes of books...so you should focus on the best all-around bullet and weight, then test that combination across different brands. You’ll find a guarantee written between these lines; the guarantee is that when you have finished the comparison between different ammunition types and brands you will know a lot more about accurately shooting your rifle than you did when you started this quest. Many big manufactures provide a standard load that is known to shoot well out of most rifles. Any idea where your rifle falls in that group? (continued on page 42)

We continue to hike further away from the drop point canvassing hundreds of caribou looking for mature, trophy class bulls, and preferably bigger bulls than what we already have on the ground. As we head away from our first tagged bulls, one guide is field dressing and breaking down those caribou while another guide is hiking us to the top of the distant ridges. The guides typically do not want to wander too far away from the drop point as it takes too long to carry the game back, across difficult ground. There are hundreds of caribou on the ridges all around us. Jennifer and I walk northwest away from everyone to try and find another trophy bull. We walk the back side of a ravine that is rocky, lots of large rocks and small ponds with aspen trees along the backside that dot the landscape. It is pretty amazing habitat. In between the small ponds we see a big sow black bear with two large cubs about 800-1000 yards away. With evening now approaching, and the caribou pulling away from us, we have to head back as we are running out of time. It has been an incredible day, chasing and seeing hundreds if not thousands of caribou, and 4 black bears (two which were clear shooters). We have harvested a total of 8 caribou bulls from our group, including two really nice mature bulls that Bob has taken. We arrive back to Lac Chabenal and unload our gear and caribou into the meat house. Spirits are high around camp as all hunters have finally been

hunting and everyone has tagged at least one good bull. Friday, 23 September: Up early again this morning and the air is much colder. It is clear out but everything is again covered in heavy frost. Today is normally the day that we are packing out of camp and returning to Lac Pau and eventually Montreal by evening. But we are extended one day to try and get everyone their remaining caribou tag filled. We are climbing into the Beavers and our last day to hunt is beginning. How much of the migration has made it into the area we are flying too? And what luck will today bring us as this could be our last day hunting in the Northern Quebec tundra, who knows when we will, if we will, ever make it back to this incredible hunting experience. As we lift off Lac Chabenal and gain altitude, Jennifer nudges and points below, she spotted a bald eagle below us just taking off from a tree top. This has always been really good luck for Jennifer when she sees an eagle like this. Our Beaver float plane gets closer to the area where the pilot and guide expect to start picking up the caribou. We start picking up lots of caribou, at one point it looks like thousands of ants marching across the ground. We are seeing way more caribou today than we have during any day in Northern Quebec over both of the trips we have been on. The pilot and guide are both excited about what they are seeing and we drop lower and bank back and forth to actually look for bigger trophy bulls. (continued next page)


MAY 2012

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Caribou are everywhere for as far as the eye can see. I think that the luck and the migration have both finally caught up to us in a big way! The pilot spots a large ridge that most of the caribou seem to be filing down off of and so we set down on a lake that can give us an approach to that movement. The area on the lake we taxi too is very shallow, we have to get out of the plane on to the floats and hop off into about 3 foot of water to wade 50 yards to the beach with our rifles and day bags held high in the air. Good thing our main clothing we brought to Quebec is chest waders. Once on the bank we regroup and head through the bushes and into the hill and immediately are covered up with caribou. While in the process of moving across the field and dodging caribou, I have spotted several nice bulls that are quickly making their way out of sight, one of them I wanted to put a tag on and he gets too far away as I tried to make a move on him. These caribou are on the move and are getting by us really quick. I see a really nice bull that I want, of course not realizing that today will actually be much better than yesterday, because I’m still on yesterday’s page of “Hurry we have to shoot a bull before the entire herd is gone again.” I take off after him.

occasionally see big bulls moving right in front of them and at this point I know that she is going to end up with a big bull with what she is already passing on.

We are sitting in the middle of a giant migration, amazing to be watching thousands of caribou walking right past us and all around us. The hills 2 miles in front of us have caribou just continually dropping over the top and moving down across a small river, and as they get closer to us coming out of the river bottom, they are moving in two different lines of bodies. The main body of hundreds of caribou streaming right past Jennifer and the other body of caribou coming right past me. Finally, the last afternoon, and we have hit the jackpot, this is what all hunters that pursue the Labrador caribou hope for and look for, and Jennifer still has a tag. At one point I see a really big bull that I don’t think the guide and Jennifer ever spotted him as it came along the blind side of the hill away from them, of course I’m trying to signal to them that there is a shooter. I’m too far away.

Over an hour has passed and I’m glassing on Jennifer more than the caribou now, thinking they must be close to a decision on a bull soon, as several nice bulls are approaching. I see Jennifer getting ready and aiming, I see the possible bull The guide gives up on me as I push that she may be shooting and I notice I’m ahead to get closer to the bull before he directly in the line of fire. I crouch down is out of sight. Jennifer and the guide are further behind the rocks, but still trying both 200+ yards behind me glassing my to keep my binoculars on her and the bull as I find a shooting rest in the rocks. bull to watch what happens. With a 250 yard shot I stop him, Jennifer The bigger of two bulls disappears, and actually watches the impact, and I put as it seemed like much longer but only him down with a second shot. In the a couple seconds later the repeat of her same fashion as yesterday the guide wants to move quickly across the field to rifle sounds with a familiar thud. Jennifer walked up on her trophy bull get Jennifer into position. and could not believe her eyes, it was We make it half way before they end up truly a big trophy caribou bull with two dropping all their gear and bags and really big shovels and two really big bez Jennifer takes only her rifle and they and nice tops. continue on, leaving me with the gear at As we stood in the middle of thousands what will end up being about 500 yards away from them when they set up at the of caribou still filing past us, in the middle of nowhere in Northern Quebec, base of the facing ridge. Now I find with two really nice bulls on the ground, myself sitting with my back against a we looked down to the east and could large rock and I have front row seats see a few miles away across the lake to Jennifer’s hunt, and I’m right in the where 4 of the other hunters were trying middle of the caribou migration that is to find a bull big enough to fill their flowing off of a large hill 2 miles to the remaining tags. north and coming right at me. With no tags left in my pocket, and essentially Several folks at camp thought for sure no bullets left, I carefully pull my camera Jennifer’s bull would score in the Boone and binoculars out of my pack to capture & Crockett minimum to make the book. as much of the next hour as I can. As Our last evening in camp, the weather caribou slowly file past me at sometimes was nice and dinner always the best 30 and 40 yards and occasionally looking in my direction to try and figure out As we began to pack and prepare to leave what tundra critter I might be perched early the next morning, I got a sense of against the rocks. missing this very unique place. There is nothing quite the same anywhere. We Several different times over the next both had an amazing week catching World hour while waiting for the guide and Class trophy Arctic Char and Northern Jennifer to pick out the right bull for her, Pike, and taking the biggest caribou bulls I have really nice bulls walking within we have ever harvested, (a trophy bull bow range of me. I’m able to take many that was close to Boone & Crockett), and close-up pictures of several nice bulls. great memories of sitting in the middle I’m also glassing the bulls that are closer of an enormous migration of Labrador to the ridge where Jennifer is set up, I caribou moving right past our feet.

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

A HUNT TO REMEMBER

• 35

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This is a time in my life Iʼve long awaited. My lovely wife and I wed at 21, and now after 24 years of marriage, I have a son who can come with me to share in the experience of hunting. Author Vince Lindgren and son Nic with Nic’s first deer am more than ready to pass on all that I fully expected a buck to expose itself... have learned from my 33 years in the field No buck, so we moved on up, noticing the and excited about the prospects to come snow was getting deeper as we cleared the which include so much more than just top of a large, high and wide open meadow harvesting an animal. I have spent my which was ringed with timber and had years “selfishly” in pursuit of a “trophy” a large aspen grove in the center. In the animal and have filled many-a-tag. Now, distance were high, snow-packed cliffs and at age 45, I long to share it with and teach rocky bluffs. Looking up at them, my eye it to my hunting partner in hopes that by caught something quite unexpected. Two doing so, he may excel and find greater bull elk had just dropped over from the top success than I. of the rim on the left and I could see they were pushing snow with their bellies. One This is Nic’s first year of hunting at age bull was a five point trailing an exceptional 12. We have spent numerous days in the 6x6! After watching them feed then bed field around Missoula looking for deer down on the first of the three rocky bluffs, and elk and have even enjoyed a time or two around a campfire. It seemed the only we agreed to make a hunt out of it and began our one mile pursuit. I was quite game worth taking would have been a impressed with my son’s willingness, spike whitetail tagging along with a doe. Nic passed on it, yet later decided to shoot especially after I explained how we would eventually be hiking through knee-deep if the opportunity presented itself again. snow. To make a long story short, we It didn’t. So now, here we are in the mountains of Central Montana, hunting the finally made it to the spot where the bulls had bedded, only to find they had moved 3rd weekend of November. The first two . off to the far side of the next rocky bluff. days only offered 30 temps, whiteout It was at this point I explained to Nic that conditions, lots of wind and low clouds most of the elk I have taken are when you making hunting uneventful. Saturday would prove to be virtually the opposite in say to yourself, “Just one more ridge.” Giving it one final push before calling it every way with clear skies, light breezes quits. Well, on this hunt it almost paid off! and chilly - 10 degrees! Nic and I got an As we peered over the rim of the second early start up the mountain prior to first bluff, down into the wind-twisted timber, light. At about 8:00 we spotted our first we expected to see antler tips as the bulls deer, a two point muley, broadside at 100 lay resting. Instead, we were startled by a yards and unaware of our presence. To ram popping up on the point of the ridge my surprise, Nic opted not to take it! His no more than 100 feet away from us! As response was “I want a 3 point or larger.” Umm...I thought. We may not get another we stood watching this amazing animal, chance today and we’re leaving tomorrow.” we were interrupted by the two startled Nic’s next comment redirected my thoughts bulls lunging directly towards us, pushing like freight trains up through the timber back to the moment at hand when he said, and belly-deep snow with the 6 point in the “Dad, there’s a big buck!” And out of the lead! I told Nic to get ready ‘cause they’re trees walked a perfect 150 class, 5x5! going to break over the top within feet from Immediately, Nic took aim and squeezed us! But, as unpredictable as elk can be, the off a round. Unfortunately, he undershot, heavy, wide antlered 6x6 stopped broadside causing the two bucks to run. After some just 30 yards away! From my angle, it was checking, we determined the shot to be a difficult to see the vitals through the myriad clean miss. of wind-twisted branches, but I could see Knowing the bucks were long gone, we I had a clear neck shot. Relinquishing my proceeded up the mountain and were opportunity though, I leaned over to my son surprised by three does quickly moving up who had knelt down to take aim and on our left and judging by their behavior, whispered, “He’s all yours.” There was a

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pause and...no shot! “I can’t get the crosshairs to line up through the branches,” he said. With that, two bulls, with heads laid back, leaped downward, disappearing in an instant. We stood staring at each other for awhile, then I broke the silence by saying, “Now that was a hunt!” Nic was surprised I didn’t shoot and I told him he would understand someday with his own child. It didn’t matter how big the animal, only that he had a fair shake at this amazing opportunity which almost paid off. On our long hike out, we talked about these kinds of opportunities that sometimes don’t work and yet sometimes do and when they do, how rewarding they can be. Much of the time, the amount of reward can be directly proportionate to the amount of effort involved. We stopped for a moment and I said a short prayer thanking the Lord for the privilege of the hunt and asked that Nic would be blessed with a nice buck for his determined efforts. After hunting our way out, we finally made it back to the large, open meadow looking across to from where we had first sat and spotted the elk. With daylight waning and the temps dipping back to -10 degrees from 0, we had visions of a nice, warm cabin and meal awaiting us. However, as we emerged from the timber, I heard Nic’s excited proclamation, “Dad, there’s a BIG buck!”

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I froze in my tracks as my eyes caught sight of it stepping out from behind a large fir tree about 80 yards away, then just as quick, slipped back. They quartered away to about 125 yards then stopped. While they had been creating distance between us, I had Nic use my pack frame to steady his rifle. He squeezed off a round, but missed. Confused, the deer angled back towards us yet stayed away at 100 yards. Nic took aim again and at the report, the does high-tailed it out of there and the buck spun directly away and disappeared over a rise towards the aspens. At the edge of the aspens, we peered through the thick stand and there was Nic’s trophy! As I tipped up the rack, it was apparent that he had just outdone the bucks I’d taken over the years and in his first year of hunting! After a prayer of thanks and pictures, we made ourselves busy with the cleaning, and even though it was -10 below, it really didn’t seem that cold anymore. Nicholas, from your dad: I want to express how proud I am of you. The gumption you showed over the past few days with the early morning hours, your persistent and undaunted pursuit of the elk with snow over your knees, having the moral ethics not to force a shot when you weren’t sure, negative temperatures and having the stick-to-itiveness to keep hunting until shooting hours were almost over revealed your good character. Fine buck and fine work on a job well done son!


36 • BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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The Future Of Montana’s Big Game Animals Is In Your Hands! Thereʼs never been a more important time for YOU to FIGHT for your hunting and fishing rights. Complete this application today and Join Montana Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife!

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To preserve, protect and enhance Montana’s fish and wildlife resources and outdoor opportunities and to ensure our American heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping through hands-on conservation efforts and responsible predator management by Montana Sportsmen. All memberships are a tax deferral as SFW Montana is a no-for-profit 501 C3 entity

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MONTANA SPORTSMEN FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE Join online at www.mt-sfw.org Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife rebuttal to published attack in Missoulian’s Guest Editorial Column dated April 13th, 2012 From: Keith Kubista President, Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.

Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife

is an independent 501 (c) (3) organization focusing on maintaining abundant habitat, access and wildlife for hunters. We work hard to protect hunting and trapping rights and we consider predator control essential to the future of all big game hunting opportunities. Although we are affiliated with the national SFW we are totally autonomous with regard to issues and solutions unique to Montana. Our membership is as diverse as Montana and includes sportsmen, landowners, livestock interests, outfitters, even some non-residents. Our common interest is to protect our heritage of the North American Model of Wildlife Management that gives us direction today. We believe in landowner rights and in resolving issues at the same table. Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks (MDFWP), charged with managing wildlife to preserve our hunting heritage guaranteed in our Montana Constitution, has favored predators over ungulates these recent years. We favor immediate and aggressive predator control to protect the cow elk this spring. Pro predator policies affect livestock producers and their ability to maintain their ranching businesses. We favor restoration of funding for USDA Wildlife Services, the program that professionally controls animal damage.

Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is an all-volunteer organization committed to responsible predator management and we are committed to remain part of the solution. We will work to make sure the coming decisions regarding wolf management and seasons require significant reductions to their population. Another grave concern for sportsmen is the MDFWP reliance on an outdated elk management plan, written with the idea of abundant growing elk numbers. We fully support the process of improving this plan with an accurate count of our game populations and a plan to restore damage. There are people and organizations whose energies are directed at working with agencies and elected officials to protect our rights as sportsmen, MTSFW is one of those. There are other people and organizations, including some recently formed PAC’s who instead attempt to exploit hunters for the purposes of politics or for other agendas. Missoulian readers and others be aware of efforts by those with hidden agendas to divide Montanans. Make no mistake, some are those who want more wolves and to continue with the go slow approach. We are proud of the work we have accomplished and our membership is growing. We are here to stay and will continue to fight the forces that threaten and oppose our culture and our way of life.


MAY 2012

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PREDATOR...OR PREY by Brian Dam Bear management can only be as accurate as the bear data that is gathered to make decisions that manage a bear population.

Photo Courtesy of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks This bear is tranquilized and being installed with a tracking collar after collecting all of its vitals so MFWP can be certain we have a healthy and stable bear population now and in the future.

M

ontana’s black bear season began on April 15th and will continue until June 15th in some management units. Management Unit 1 in the North West corner of the state has the highest black bear harvest, accounting for 50% of the annual take. Each year’s combination of spring and fall seasons provides a stable combined harvest of 500 boars and sows without cubs as Unit 1 contains about 5000 black bears along with another 1000 grizzlies. You will find higher grizzly concentrations in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park along the east side of the state.

Hunting for black bear habitat....

As winter releases its grip on both plants and wildlife the black bears come out of hibernation in search of plants that are beginning to green up such as grasses, bushes, and forbs. Such plants move through their system quickly to get their digestion process back in operation after the long dormant winter period. After the system is working any winter killed carrion provides the nutrition needed to fill out the wrinkles in their skin after a five-month fasting period.

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

A long winter sleep with no nutrition depletes both the fat reserves and muscle tissue leaving the hide covering about three quarters of the original body mass. Remember that when you have a spring bear in your sights, shoot at the upper part of the bear. There can be a lot of loose skin on the bottom half! This time of year a bear’s appetite has a lot to do with their choice of habitat and the places you will locate them feeding. South slopes green up first and are ideal areas to glass for bear. Also check places that were flooded during the snowmelt; the wet forest areas that provide abundant greenery at the edge of the water. In many places forbs are sending up new shoots that are tender and moist making them desirable along with new fern growth in shaded areas. When looking at a mountain, plan your hike to travel in the gullies rather than on the ridges, as that is where the bears travel. Opportunity knocks when you encounter a gated road. Roads without traffic will often green up early and make a great hiking trail when looking for bears. It is not unusual to find black bears feeding in green areas much like dairy cows. On hot spring days the bears will stay in the shade as their heavy black winter coat absorbs heat in direct sunshine. Covering country on foot or with a mountain bike is a quiet way to travel through spring bear habitat while paying attention to overlooks and sharp corners or switchbacks where you peek around to the next section rather than blundering into a feeding bruin.

• 37

A black bear is most active from 3:00 in the afternoon until sometime during the night. Keep that in mind and spend afternoons hunting to be a prime time player. When hunting a mountain start out before noon and get back into the country you want to hunt while the bears are resting. A bear’s weakest defense is their eyesight so use that to your advantage by glassing and spotting from a distance. When you spot one plan your stalk to avoid his nose and ears by staying down wind. HUNTER DOLLARS - Speaking with Jim Williams, Montana’s Wildlife Program manager for Region 1, I was enlightened as to where our hunter dollar has been spent in an effort to make the hunter more successful. A research program in that region has provided bear population details that has allowed the Department to extend the season in part of Region 1 for an additional two weeks. The ideal population model for the region is 5000 black bears which means a sustained harvest level between 10-15% of that number each year. This will maintain a healthy population. LICENSES - Licenses are available over the counter. When you take a bear it must be inspected at a local game and fish office where they will attach a state seal on the corner of the hide. For more details go to the MFWP website. GRIZZLY BEARS - Carry Bear Spray on your belt. The major threat to your safety from a grizzly bear is when you accidently get between a sow and cubs, or when you stumble on a grizzly-killed animal and the bear is still in the area protecting it.


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Frogg Togg’s Pilot™ Guide Jacket has been reviewed alongside $300 - $400 jackets in its category, and stacked up pretty well - especially for a jacket under $100. Made with the same waterproof materials as your breathable waders, this guide jacket has good length, plenty of room, and lots of external gear storage. Features: • 100% waterproof with sealed seams • Adjustable, roll away storm hood • Zipper front with storm flap and rain gutter • Adjustable neoprene sleeve openings • Full cut swing back design makes this the perfect jacket for fishermen

INCREDIBLE LIGHT IN A COMPACT PACKAGE The Fenix PD30 LED Flashlight is a high-tech,

rugged LED flashlight perfect for any lighting application. It features 6 levels of output, allowing for the best compromise between brightness and runtime and the ability to aid in an emergency. In turbo mode, this amazing LED flashlight throws a remarkable 250+ Lumens beam, an incredible amount for a flashlight of any size. If you’re looking for a flashlight with solid reliability, digitally regulated brightness, and compact size, the Fenix PD30 LED Flashlight is for you. Features: • Types of Lighting Output: 6 • Lifespan = 50,000 hrs • Size: 4.7”(L) x .85”(D) • Weight: 1.9 ounces (excl. batteries) • Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard Included accessories: holster, lanyard, body clip, 2 spare o-rings, rubber switch boot Available for $64.95 at Bob Ward’s stores and online at bobwards.com

SHOOTING INDUSTRY ACADEMY OF EXCELLENCE RIFLE OF THE YEAR Smith & Wesson’s new M&P15-22

is a dedicated M&P15-format rifle designed and built as a true .22 LR semi-auto from the ground up, with all the standard operating features and accessory specifications of a modern-version centerfire M&P15 rifle. Built with high strength polymer upper and lower receivers. This creates a reduced weight rifle that retains the looks and operating features of the standard M&P rifle, but weighing a mere 5.5 lbs., it’s light enough to carry all-day on small game hunts. At around $500.00, this rifle is a strong value for your dollar.

New Pennsylvania State Record Elk Confirmed Boone and Crockett Club The largest elk ever recorded in Pennsylvania, a bull taken by a lucky hunter in 2011, has been confirmed as the new state record. The official declaration was made today by the Boone and Crockett Club. An official measurer determined a final score of 442-6/8 B&C non-typical points, which ranks 9th among all non-typical elk in Boone and Crockett records. The bull has nine points on the right antler and eight on the left. The antlers tally 190-3/8 on the right and 188-1/8 on the left, with 47-7/8 inside spread and 29-7/8 in abnormal points. The antlers are unusually wide—an impressive 69 inches at their widest point. The new Pennsylvania record holder, William Zee of Doylestown, Pa., was hunting in Clearfield County, Pa.

Features: • 6 Position Collapsible Stock • Functioning Charging Handle • Adjustable Rear and Front Sights • Two-Position Receiver Mounted Safety Selector • Cartridge Case Deflector • Bolt Catch • Recessed Magazine Release Button • High Strength Polymer Magazine • Light Weight, High Strength Polymer Quad Rail Handguard • Match Grade Precision Barrel

See these and other fine products at one of the 5 Montana Bob Ward & Son’s store locations including Bozeman, Butte, Hamilton, Helena and Missoula or shop online at www.bobwards.com (firearms not available online).


MAY 2012

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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MAY 2012


MAY 2012

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Spring Big Walleye Destinations Gary Brockway caught this 32.5 inch 14.5 pound walleye from Holter on March 15, 2012 Photo courtesy Walleyes Unlimited of Montana

This is the month to hook a big female walleye on spawning shoals.

Here are a few Montana walleye Hot Spots to consider.

BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

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FORT PECK LAKE: The water temperatures are warming up quickly this time of the year, but you still want to fish shallow and slow. Anglers who fish south of Rock Creek in the Big Dry Arm and Hell Creek will catch super-sized walleye in May. Gilbert Bay and across the lake in the Pines Bay are exceptional spots for spring walleye. A live minnow on a spinner rig works well, as do Rattling crankbaits along rocky shorelines. NELSON RESERVOIR: The sunken humps along the northern shoreline hold big fish here. Most springtime walleye anglers will have a ton of success at Nelson. Look for northern pike to be hassling your line too. LAKE FRANCES:

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This irrigation reservoir west of Valier can be really finicky, but boaters who cover a lot of water in May, before the weeds start emerging take some nice sized fish off the western dike. You’ll also catch some beefy perch in the spring here. This impoundment of the Milk River, west of Havre, can produce some big walleye. Launch at the Dam, and work rocky points up to Kremlin Bay with a worm-tipped Crawler Harness.

BIGHORN LAKE:

LOWER MISSOURI RIVER:

Anglers fish the river both above and below Fort Peck Lake, above the Reservoir. This area is one of the best spring and fall fisheries.

TONGUE RIVER RESERVOIR: Many walleye are caught out of this Big Horn County water, which is better known for it’s crappie and smallmouth bass, but produces many eater-sized walleye, and a few big ones as well! TIBER RESERVOIR:

A self-sustaining reservoir that produces plenty of walleye in various sizes, and is still home to the state record walleye. These are a few of Montana’s top waters for spring walleye. Good luck!

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FRESNO RESERVOIR:

Straddling the Montana-Wyoming state line, this is a good walleye and sauger fishery. It is primarily fished with jigs near steep banks or with trolled crankbaits for suspended walleye.

• 41

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MAY 2012

MODERN MUZZLELOADER POINTERS By Peter R. Schoonmaker Tips From Whitetails Unlimited

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0% APR for 36 months only and excludes TX Turf, ProGators, and any XUV or recreational model Gator. Subject to approved credit on Revolving Plan, a service of John Deere Financial, f.s.b. For consumer use only. No down payment required. Other special rates and terms may be available, including financing for commercial use. Before operating or riding, always refer to the safety and operating information on the vehicle and in the Operator’s Manual. Actual vehicle top speed may vary based on belt wear, tire selection, vehicle weight, fuel condition, terrain and other environmental factors. Prices are suggested retail prices only and are subject to change without notice at any time. Dealer may sell for less. Taxes, setup, delivery, freight and preparation charges not included. Attachments and implements sold separately. Shown with the optional equipment not included in the price. Prices and models may vary by dealer. *The engine horsepower and torque information are provided by the engine manufacturer to be used for comparison purposes only. Actual operating horsepower and torque will be less. Refer to the engine manufacturer’s website for additional information. John Deere’s green and yellow color scheme, the leaping deer symbol and JOHN DEERE are trademarks of Deere & Company. AODO30DCU1A51521-00000000

Tip 1: Start Clean And Dry. It doesn’t matter what style of muzzleloader you are shooting; before the powder and projectile can be pushed down the barrel, the bore and breech must be clean and completely dry. Just place a clean, dry patch over a bore brush, and wipe the bore clean of all moisture, oil, and fouling. Then, with the cleaning patch and brush down in the breech, snap a 209 primer. This will confirm that the ignition port is clear and removes barrel fouling as well. Tip 2: The 13-Yard Rule. Sighting-in a muzzleloading rifle is essential, but you can use the “13-yard rule.” You adjust the sights, or learn where to aim to hit dead-on at a target 13 yards away. When zeroed at that distance, your muzzleloader will be a bit high at 50 yards, almost right-on at 75 yards, and a little low at 100-yards. By getting a rifle to group on a target at close range, you only need to fine-tune the rifle for longer ranges. Tip 3: Modern is Superior. A ramrod gets a good workout, handling both loading and cleaning duties. Traditional wooden ramrods meet their limits when it comes to loading sabot and belted projectiles down rifled barrels. Stout, modern synthetic rods are available today for any muzzleloader. These loading/cleaning rods feature a threaded end to take a loading jag and cleaning brush, with a concealed projectile puller at the other end. Tip 4: Witness Safety First. Regardless of what your ramrod is made of, scribe permanent ‘witness marks’ on it. These are lines scratched in the ramrod, even with the muzzle, at the positions that indicate the loaded and unloaded status of the weapon. Then, just by dropping the ramrod down the barrel, you can safely verify the load status of the rifle. Tip 5: Keep it Clean. Even if you shoot a modern muzzleloader, you must still perform the required maintenance on your rifle. Thorough cleaning and lubrication are essential to maintain the rifled barrel, firing mechanism, trigger, and breech. Good old hot water and soap will still get the job done, but there are also many blackpowder solvents available. Rifles with a removable breech plug allow for straight-through breech-to-muzzle cleaning to properly remove fouling from the trigger assembly and firing mechanism. Tip 6: Gear and Gadgets. Muzzleloading components used to be carried loose in an over-the-shoulder bag. Now there are pocket-held speed loaders containing the powder, projectile, and ignition source. Other necessary accessories include a short-starter for starting the projectile down the barrel, and a brass or synthetic in-line capper to reach into the breech of your modern muzzleloader so you can install a 209 primer with a gloved hand. Tip 7: Do the Twist. The fast twists found in modern muzzleloading rifles are intended to shoot modern conical projectiles, which have a greater mass than a round ball. A .50-caliber rifle shooting a .45-caliber sabot bullet achieves superior trajectory and ballistics compared to a .50-caliber round ball. Blackpowder or

replicas in 100-grain loads pushing 250- to 350-grain bullets are comfortable to shoot,

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and more than adequate for white-tailed deer.

Tip 8: Know Your Distance. Comfort, accuracy, and your potential shooting distance should always dictate the choice of projectile and powder charge for your modern muzzleloading rifle. In recent years, 150-grain powder charges have been touted. However, long-range shooting with a muzzleloader is nothing to guess at. Only if your hunting situation dictates long-range shooting should you sight-in such stout powder charges.

Rifle Shooting Accuracy

continued from page 32 Depending on the rifling and amount of wear; your rifle could shoot the standard velocity loads quite well, but change drastically with high dollar-high performance loads. To find the “sweet load” for a specific gun many shooters joined the reloading world to develop their powder charge in half-grain increments to find the right combination that provides the best possible accuracy. Luckily, Montana residents have an edge in their accuracy development process, which can eliminate spending big bucks on personal reloading equipment. The Hunting Shack Munitions (HSM) Company, right here in Stevensville, Montana, has developed over 2000 different handloads that can solve your accuracy problems. Notice I said hand loads, as in the same reloading you would do after purchasing equipment and components. They usually have in stock what you need for your rifle, and to make it even easier to get this ammunition they have retail outlets all around Montana and Idaho including Bob Ward & Sons, Trader Brothers, Wholesale Sports, Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse, and the Bitterroot Trading Post. The Hunting Shack has ammo loaded with premium Berger Bullets and Trophy Bonded Bear Claws just to name a few, with exacting tolerances and loading accuracy that can only be accomplished with good hand loading equipment used by people that take the care necessary to produce consistent accuracy. You’ll never say “I wish this rifle didn’t shoot so well” and it doesn’t matter if you are shooting at a 6x6 bull, a 5x5 buck, a 400-yard coyote or a paper target at long range. Shooters and hunters

always want to place a bullet in the same place every time no matter the range or weather conditions.

The simple way to do that is work with different loads to find which one shoots the best in your rifle. And, going back to shooting skill development, ammo testing provides extra practice so you will also be shooting as well as your rifle when the process is done.


MAY 2012

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BIG SKY OUTDOOR NEWS & ADVENTURE

• 43

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Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure - May 2012