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H UNTING THE
ELK RUT IT始S SUMMER
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The Midwest Might Not Be Your Best Bet Anymore By Nick Mundt Sponsored by: Robinson Outdoors, Tree Spider & ScentBlocker Products Reprinted with permission from bowhunting.net For more please go to: www.bowhunting.net
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Looking For A Trophy Whitetail?
W HEN YOU TALK whitetail hunting, most folks immediately think of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Texas or other states in the Midwest, South or East.
But friends, you can bet your antler belt buckle that some of the most exciting whitetail hunting happens far west of these deer hotbeds. Folks, we’re not in Kansas anymore! Hunting for Western whitetails is truly exciting. It’s hard for Easterners to believe, but the sheer number of deer in the West can be incredible and you see some really heavy concentrations of deer. If you’ve ever watched a TV show filmed along Montana’s Milk River, you’ve probably seen just how abundant Western deer can be. Deer practically come oozing out of cover to feed in alfalfa fields in the evening. It’s always exciting, there’s always action and there are plenty of nice bucks to go around. HUNTING EARLY Early season is probably the best time to hunt Western whitetails. Deer are very predictable early in the season — even trophy-class bucks. Archery seasons open in most Western states around Sept. 1. At that time, it’s not unusual to see bachelor groups of bucks still hanging together. This makes for memorable hunting and awesome video. Sometimes the hardest part is picking which buck to shoot. Plus, during that first week of bow season, you’ve got a legitimate shot at taking a velvet buck, which is a goal for a lot of hunters. Early season hunting is actually pretty simplistic, which just adds to your chance of success. At that time, deer rely heavily on alfalfa fields. By that time of year, most of the natural grass is burned up from long, hot, summer days. In some areas, alfalfa fields will be irrigated, and the stuff grows lush and green. Alfalfa is the only thing around that’s green and the deer practically attack it. By the time the rut rolls around, deer scatter, as bucks chase does, making it a lot harder to ambush a shooter buck. It might be hard to believe, but hunting is way better on opening day than it is during the rut in the West. ACORN CONNECTION When archery season opens, the strategy is simple: target deer coming to feed in alfalfa fields in the evening. However, by mid- to late-September, feeding preferences change, at least temporarily. At that time, scrub oaks begin dropping acorns and deer are (continued)
ADVERTISING RICK HAGGERTY 406-370-1368 Publisher - Amy Haggerty - Helena, MT. email@example.com|www.huntingfishingnews.net The entire contents is © 2013, 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, Inc. 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, Inc. to use or not use at their discretion. VOLUME 10 Issue 5. cover photo: ©Tom Reichner|shutterstock
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attracted to them like a magnet. You’ll find these scrub oaks growing in valleys and draws at relatively low elevations. Some years, deer hit acorns harder than others because acorn crops are sporadic. Everything in the West, from acorn crops to antler growth, is related to spring weather. If there’s good moisture in spring, antlers grow larger and acorn crops tend to be better, unless there’s a late freeze from a spring storm. The way deer feed on acorns is amazing. I’ve had deer come right under my stand and I’ve had a lot of fun watching them rooting around like pigs to find these small nuts. The acorn window is short-lived. After a week or two, the deer have most of the acorns cleaned up and they go back to feeding on alfalfa fields until they scatter during the rut.
WESTERN SCOUTING Anyone
who has ever hunted in the West knows the importance of good optics. Western hunters do a lot of glassing over wide-open country. The best way to put a buck on the ground is to put in your time scouting. I climb up high to a good vantage point in the evening. I want to make sure I’m high enough that I have a good prevailing wind to keep deer from detecting me. You’ve got to watch out for swirling winds that could tip off your presence to deer. After I get to my scouting spot, I glass for several days as deer filter into alfalfa fields to feed in the evening. Deer, including big bucks, are highly visible and it’s really easy to keep tabs on them as they leave their bedding areas and enter scrub oaks or alfalfa fields to feed each night. In this respect, Western whitetail hunting is a lot different than hunting in the East, where deer are in thick cover most of the time. It’s just a lot more fun to scout Western deer. Observe how big bucks enter the food source each night. If a buck comes out in the same spot a couple days in a row, chances are it’s going to come out there again. Watch for possible ambush sites along its path. A buck I shot a couple years ago was a prime example of how predictable Western deer can be. I watched a heavy-racked buck that would come through a cattle gate and then turn to the left before stepping out into the field. Most of the other deer came straight through the gate and simply walked out into the field, but this guy liked to lurk along the edge of the cover. Every night for five nights, it did the same thing. When it was finally time to hunt, I set up along the route it had been taking. It came through the gate, turned left as usual and came right to me. It was a mainframe 9-pointer with some stickers. It scored 160 with 43 inches of mass. The only reason I got that deer is because I watched it for five days and knew exactly what it was doing. When it comes to preparing for your hunt, it’s better to hunt smart than to hunt hard. Forget morning hunts. You’ll just booger the deer out of the field as they return to their beds. If you spook them once, they will be a lot more wary and more inclined to use the field only after nightfall, especially the biggest bucks. Scout in the evenings to pattern a buck and then hang a stand quickly at midday. Try to be as unobtrusive as possible when you place your stand and make sure you minimize the scent you leave behind. Fortunately for hunters, even though cover can be somewhat sparse, often there are a lot of ponderosa pines at slightly higher elevations, just above alfalfa fields. The bucks really want to stick tight to heavy cover as much as possible before entering open alfalfa fields, so they often pass near trees, which helps a lot when trying to ambush a deer. Ponderosa pines have a lot of branches that really provide some great cover. This is essential when you are dealing with dozens of eyes. Luckily for Western hunters, our whitetails haven’t learned to look up into trees like deer in some Eastern areas do. There is usually a suitable tree for hanging a stand, but ground blinds are an option for Western whitetails as well. Portable blinds can be placed in draws, in scrub brush or other travel areas that lack suitable stand trees. Hay bale blinds placed in the middle of a field can also be effective and exciting to hunt from, but you risk scaring deer while hunting in their feeding areas. (continued on page 32)
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The Elk Rut
You’ve Gotta Be There!
© Betty4240 | Dreamstime.com
By David Rowell - http://www.elk-hunting-tips.net Increasing odds of “Close Encounters of the Herd Kind”
T he peak of the rut is when the most elk breeding activity occurs. It can be quite frenzied, with lots of bugling, cow talk and elk movement
when other circumstances align themselves. Weather influences the daytime rut activity, as does hunting pressure, wolf and other predator presence and, of course, location of food and bedding areas. If you are in prime elk habitat and the elk are there, knowing when the peak of the elk rut will occur is just a start.
6 - Hunting & Fishing News
Moon Phases, Cold Snaps and Predators
During a full moon a lot of activity, including feeding and rut action, will occur at night. Then elk will rest more during the day because of the overnight orgy. Be advised, however, that rut activity might continue into the early dawn before the silence sets in. After a dreaded full moon many elk hunters, including myself, have learned to be in prime country before daylight listening to the cacophony of elk rut sounds to determine where they are and where they’re going. More elk activity occurs during the day after a dark night. If the moon is in a dark phase, particularly during the peak of the elk rut, don’t miss it if you can be there! In 2013 the dark of the moon occurs on September 5th. I will definitely be riding my mountain bike in the dark mornings up toward my favorite spot Friday through Monday of that weekend. Cold snaps and light rain or snow can’t be predicted ahead of time, but if it occurs during the latter half of September, be there! When I hear wolves howling in the darkness on the way into my hunting areas, I don’t expect much of the day. Usually the elk will quiet down when they hear wolves to avoid giving their location away. The wolves will usually move on in nomadic fashion. So the very next day might be back to normal.
Talk to Them!
Be prepared to participate with the elk rut using estrus cow talk, or bugles when the night starts to fade into legal shooting time. There is a problem with the peak of the elk rut, though. Bull elk in rut are not only facing hunters and weather conditions, but each other. Once a big herd bull has an established harem why would he leave to fight a distant challenging bull? If you want to pull a herd bull away from his cows, you will have to be up close and in his face. It’s much easier to call a satellite bull to you from just outside the scene of a herd bull and his harem of cows. Many hunters are well satisfied with that. Trophy bull elk hunters find those “brush bulls” and “rag horns” to be bothersome pests.
Getting in close to a big herd bull takes a lot of skill and luck. There are plenty of cows and satellite bulls, even curious spikes outside of that herd bull’s comfort zone, ready to bust you before you get close enough to him to pull him in with a call of some kind. Usually the herd bull will simply move his harem away from a challenging bull, rather than risk the loss. Often he will even ignore a hot estrus call. Oh, he’ll raise a lot of bugling hell with you alright. You’ll be thinking, “he’s gonna come in!”, but alas he stays just out of reach of your bow. Now, if you have an opportunity to hunt during a rifle season when a bull is bugling, your chances of seeing him in range are good.
The Rut Phases:
There are several rut phases you should be aware of when deciding when you want to focus your elk rut hunts.
Early Phase of Elk Rut
We hunt the entire elk season and I have learned to prefer the early “pre-rut” period above all. In 2010 I called in and killed a nice six-point bull on Labor Day, my first “summer time” elk kill. During the early weeks of archery season (early September in Montana) is my favorite time to hunt. Not only is the weather awesome, but all of the bulls are moving around in anticipation of the buildup of the rutting season. Bulls are scraping the ground and peeing in it to intimidate competitor bulls and to impress cows. They’re raking small trees to build up their neck strength for potential fights. During the warm weather, wallows are used more heavily. So, early on the signs are all fresh, the bulls are not “cowed up” and the bugling begins. In reality, much of this can start in August so a last minute scout trip, as long as you don’t spook them, may prove valuable on the opening week of the early season. A few cows can come into estrus during the early phase of the elk rut (early September), so act, smell and sound like a cow elk at this time and you might find a bull looking for a “date” with you. Just be careful with the “hyper hot” estrus sounds. Wary bulls might not buy it that early.
The Build Up to the Elk Rut Peak
During the rest of September most of the cow elk will come into estrus. The closer you get to the “peak of the rut”, the greater your chances are of hearing and seeing more elk. But seeing and hearing is not killing. As mentioned above, the peak of the rut ties the bigger bulls to their cows and smaller bulls are jockeying around the herd hoping to steal an opportunity.
The Peak of the Elk Rut
There will be lots of daytime noise and movement during the peak of the elk rut. Quiet time tends to occur between 10:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M., but if you hang around the edges of the bedding area, restless bulls might venture out to check on a cow he thinks he hears nearby. (Probably a satellite bull, though.) The elk will eventually move around to eat and/or drink during the day, so this quiet time of day could still be productive for you, if you stick around. It’s a little discouraging not hearing anything in the heat of the day, but if you know where they are bedded you have to decide whether to stick around and risk spooking them, or giving it a shot later on or the next day. If you’re prepared (with good nourishment) to spend the day in the field, this is a great time for a nap on the forest floor. I’ve never felt more relaxed and at peace than napping on a warm, sunny day during the peak of the elk rut. It’s sometimes hard to tell which bugles are in my dreams and which ones were real.
Second Rut Period
The chances dwindle quickly after the peak of the rut rages for a week to ten days, or so around the equinox. At the end of September things quiet down a bit. The bulls are exhausted and the number of cows in estrus dwindles. (continued on page 41)
© Keith Livingston|Dreamstime.com
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The Long Shots By H&F Pro Staff
T he best way to increase your lethal range in September’s deer and elk seasons is to practice making long shots on the target range now. Small
shooting errors rarely surface at short shot distances. If you’re comfortable to 40, increase your target distance to 60 yards. As target distance increases so do small but chronic errors in form. While you may never attempt a shot on an animal at these exaggerated distances—and we would certainly never recommend reaching beyond your effective range— your confidence and consistency at shorter, real-world shot distances will increase dramatically and you’ll become a more lethal, ethical bowhunter.
Here are a number of form considerations to focus on: Open Your Grip. Fine-tune your open grip, resting your index and
middle finger on the front of the riser. With this specific form, you can keep a firm yet gentle grip without introducing unwanted torque on the riser. The Pull-Apart. Think of a drawn bow as a taunt rubber band pulled tight between your outstretched arms. Imagine the rubber band being cut while at full-draw. When the stored energy is released, your bow hand and drawing hand will move forward and rearward (respectively). This open draw stance is indicative of good follow-through, but must be practiced thoughtfully before it becomes instinctive. As you shoot, exaggerate the pulling apart of your hands until it becomes automatic. Easy Feet. Next time you’re talking to a buddy, look down at your feet. Believe it or not, this “conversational footwork” is your most comfortable and natural. When shooting your bow, repeat this stance. Transfer about 60 percent of your body weight to your front foot while keeping your knees bent very slightly. This stance becomes more important the farther you shoot. Multiple Anchors. Great archers have consistent, easily repeatable anchor points. To be consistent, use a peep sight, a round fluorescent sight-pin guard, kisser button and specific anatomical anchor point (behind the ear, jaw bone, corner of the mouth, etc.). The more anchors you have for each shot, the more repeatable your accuracy. Know the Distance. Unknown shot distances have plagued archers for millennia. You must know the distance to every target you shoot, right down to the precise yard. The only way to dial in this distance is by using a laser rangefinder. Rangefinders are very reasonably priced and should be standard equipment for any archer and bow hunter. Don’t Squint. Aiming with just one eye negatively affects your accuracy because you lose stereoscopic binocular vision and diminish your peripheral field of view. Additionally, monocular vision (one eye closed) decreases your overall field of view by 25 percent. Practice shooting with both eyes open until it becomes second nature.
Mark Kayser with daughter Katelyn and her first deer, rattled and shot in eastern Montana.
Question & Answers With Mark Kayser WHERE WAS MARK BORN? Dell Rapids, South Dakota WHAT WAS MARK’S FIRST GAME ANIMAL? Ring-necked pheasant...are you kidding? I was raised in South Dakota! HOW OLD WAS MARK WHEN HE SHOT HIS FIRST BIG GAME ANIMAL? I bowkilled my first deer ever at the age of 15. I was 16 when I shot my first turkey. HOW MANY STATES, PROVINCES AND COUNTRIES HAS MARK HUNTED? 17 states, 5 Canadian provinces and 2 countries (Namibia and Argentina) WHERE WAS MARK’S FIRST EXTREME HUNT? Ontario where a black bear tried to get up in the tree with me. I arrowed him a few minutes later and didn’t sleep for two days due to the adrenaline. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SPECIES TO HUNT? Elk and whitetails are a neck and neck tie. I also have to admit to being a coyote hunting junkie. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HUNT? Anything my kids want to hunt. I love watching them get buck fever and pulling off a super shot. HOW MANY DAYS AND MILES DOES MARK LOG EACH YEAR HUNTING? I spend a minimum of 180 days on the road each year and log 15,000 miles or more on my truck. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT TO HIT WHILE TRAVELING? If there’s a Pizza Ranch nearby I’ll hit it otherwise I’m a big fan of KFC when I’m burning calories. WHAT’S MARK’S FAVORITE SPORTING TEAM? I got to be honest. I’m not a huge fan of sports and rarely watch them. My Super Bowl Sunday tradition has been to go coyote hunting and get back in time to watch the last half of the game. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC? I like country. Billy Currington is great. I also like rock and enjoy Breaking Benjamin. That said, it’s difficult for hunting folk like me to like too many groups since it seems like every day I discover another donating to animal rights groups. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PASTIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT HUNTING? I love to spend time outdoors with my family. When I’m not doing that I love hiking the Bighorn Mountains in my backyard with a goal to pick up a few shed antlers. WHAT’S ONE THING MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU? If I hadn’t ended up in the outdoor industry I’d likely be selling tractors to farmers in eastern South Dakota. My main chore tractor is a 1950s era 350 Farmall that runs like a top. July 2013
Southeast Montana Elk Numbers Continue to Rise MFWP R ecent surveys conducted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and
Parks (MFWP) Wildlife Biologist, Dean Waltee, show elk populations across southeast Montana continue to increase. Between December 2011 and March 2013, Waltee aerially surveyed 3,300 square miles of suitable elk habitat across hunting districts (HD) 704 and 705. Data collected showed nearly 1,500 elk present; more than double the 2004 estimate of 600 for the same area. Preliminary survey efforts showed a minimum of 300 additional elk in HD 702. “Based on sportsman and landowner interest in maintaining current populations combined with minimal game damage complaints from private landowners, I feel we have found a healthy balance between optimizing recreational opportunity and minimizing local impacts,” Waltee said. “However, I have concerns going forward about allowing population growth to continue as it has and feel we are rapidly moving towards a point where growth could get away from us. If elk populations continue to increase at the present rate, there will be 4,000 elk in HDs 704 and 705 a decade from now. That many elk would cause more conflict than enjoyment. Overpopulated elk would lead to poor landowner tolerance and could degrade habitat, leading to mule deer population declines. (continued on page 34)
10 - Hunting & Fishing News
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All animals have the same three basic needs; food, water and shelter. To a prey species such as a deer or elk, shelter is most important. The next thing I look for are food sources. The last necessity is water.
N ative Americans realized early that hunting with archery equipment is a challenge. To gain an edge over the animal’s keen senses, many Indians looked above for answers. Some things never change. Each fall, most of us Eastern (for the sake of this article, when I say
“Eastern” I am referring to all states East of the Rocky Mountain region) whitetail hunters take to the trees, gently pulling our archery equipment closely behind. To some, treestand hunting sounds like self-inflicted punishment. I’ll admit, it’s boring at times; but a properly placed stand, hunted in the right conditions, can be the thing that rut dreams are made of. Although I have never had an opportunity to hunt Western big game animals, I’ve learned that along with whitetails, mulies, elk and bears can be hunted from treestands as well. Hunting western animals from a tree makes sense. No matter the location, animals still have basic needs and behaviors that can be exploited.
Location, Location, Location
Hunters and real-estate agents aren’t too different. When hunting from a tree, location is the most important factor that we all must consider. I like to start from the outside in, and piece together the puzzle of where to place the stand. Once I have all of the pieces put together, the precise location of the stand will show itself. All animals have the same three basic needs; food, water and shelter. To a prey species such as a deer or elk, shelter is most important. Through post season scouting, shed hunting, and summer observations I learn exactly where the animals bed. Once I have located bedding cover, I start to analyze why the deer bed there. For beginners, I pay attention to wind direction, entrance and escape routes, thermal patterns, and the animal’s possible range of sight and sound. I mark all potential bedding areas on a map or aerial photograph. The next thing I look for are food sources. Deer, elk and bears can browse on just about anything, but to spend quality time in an area, they will need a consistent food source. In the agricultural and wooded areas of the Eastern U.S., food can be anything from acorns and berries to hay, corn, and bean fields. What is important to remember is that like humans, animals crave variety, and need to regularly change their habits. I constantly ask myself what is the preferred food source right now? In my neck of the woods, early fall brings acorns raining down like manna from Heaven. At this point, acorns are the preferred food source. Any hunter worth his salt knows that all bets are off, and when acorns are falling, to hunt them ASAP. It’s important to always pay attention to all food sources in the area. Know when the animals are going to be eating what. If consistent food is not available, then planting food plots may be an option? (after checking the state’s game laws) There’s no reason why Eastern whitetails should be the only ones getting fat all year long on bountiful food plots. Once food sources have been identified, I mark them on the map as well. (continued on page 14) July 2013 11
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Fish the Weedline for Summer Action
By Bob Jensen, www.berkley-fishing.com
n the summer, predator fish like walleyes, pike, bass, and crappies will be wherever their food is. If there isn’t something for them to eat in an area, they simply won’t be there, or at least they won’t be there very long. One area where there is usually something for the fish to eat is the weedline. Throughout the summer months, predator fish can usually find an abundance of food on the weedline. Here’s how you can catch those weedline fish. Fish that are on, over, or near the weedline will bite on a variety of baits. When they’re over the tops of the weeds, spinnerbaits, topwaters, and shallow running crankbaits will all catch fish. But day-in and day-out, if you want to get bit on the weedline, it’s really tough to beat a jig tipped with some form of soft bait. Usually, under even the most difficult conditions, some sort of fish will eat a jig with soft bait on it. The area of the weedline that will hold the most fish are the irregularities. If you can find a point or pocket in the weeds, there are probably going to be some fish willing to bite nearby. Let’s get rigged up. Spinning tackle is the way to go. A six and half to seven foot medium or medium-heavy action rod will be about right. You want a rod that will control the fish and also provide sensitivity and good hook-setting ability.
Fenwick HMG Rod
Fenwick HMG’s and Berkley Tactix rods are good choices. Team the rod with an Abu Garcia Cardinal 802 or 804 reel spooled with a sensitive but tough line. You’ll be snapping the jig off the weeds frequently, and the weeds can beat up your line. 20/8 or 14/6 FireLine is a good choice.
If you prefer monofilament line, go with Trilene Sensation or XT. Line size for the mono will vary according to fish attitudes. If they’re biters, eight or ten pound test is a good choice, but if they want a tiny jig and are fussy, you might need to go to six pound test.
J.R. Lund caught this 10 pound 29-1/2 inch walleye at Rock Creek (Fort Peck) in May. Photo: Mt. Walleyes Unlimited
Trilene Sensation Berkley Fishing
Cardinal 802 Reel Abu Garcia
You’ll be casting your presentation to the deep edge of the weeds. The water could be seven feet deep or it could be fifteen feet deep. Usually the clearer the water, the deeper you’ll fish. Not always, but usually. An eighth ounce jig head will do the job almost all the time. Sometimes a little heavier will be more appropriate, every now and then smaller will be best. The Lip-Stick Jig-Worm is a great jig to use with soft bait. It has a super-sharp long-shanked hook and a collar to hold the bait in place. Soft baits are available in a wide variety of shapes and colors. For largemouth bass it’s not a bad idea to start with a worm shaped Gulp! or PowerBait in the watermelon color. Bass really like watermelon worms in most Midwest waters. 3” Gulp Minnow Grub Chartreuse For walleyes, a three inch Gulp! Minnow Grub or Power Minnow with some chartreuse are good places to start. Berkley Fishing If you just want to get bit when you’re fishing in the next few weeks and months, and who doesn’t want to get bit when they’re fishing, tie a jig tipped with soft bait onto your line and cast it around a weedline. I’ll bet your desire to get bit is fulfilled. 12 - Hunting & Fishing News
FISH LIKE A PRO
To conserve, enhance and protect the free-flowing character of the Big Hole River, its unique culture, fish and wildlife
Quick Tips from Berkley Topwater Time In-Fisherman
Walking baits, poppers, propeller baits and minnowbaits twitched on top shine on rivers during the summer months. Much of the habitat is shallow and snaggy, and topwaters keep you fishing without hang-ups. Topwaters have magic appeal for river smallmouths in warm water, too. Work them, then pause and let the current carry them over another likely spot.
Swimming Jigs to Summer Bass In-Fisherman
During summer, bass hold in woody snags at the edge of islands and side channels of larger rivers, where they feed on shad that swim by in the current. To lure them out, cast a jig upstream and toward the bank, then work it back through the logs and trees with a swimming retrieve. Experiment with a steady retrieve much like a spinnerbait or a hopping action that sometimes triggers extra bites.
Swimming Grubs for Suspended Bass In-Fisherman
Smallmouths often suspend over relatively deep water in reservoirs and natural lakes in summer, when baitfish populations peak. In reservoirs, they tend to follow shad or shiners. A 4- to 5-inch grub worked horizontally on a jig head can work wonders. Determine depths fish are using with sonar (or visual clues, when fish are in the top 5 feet) and choose a jig weight that matches the depth (1/6-ounce for the top 5 feet, 1/8-ounce for 5 to 10 feet, and so on). Run the grub on straight, with hook exiting on the seam. Cast, count it down to the desired depth and reel it in at a steady pace. Slow tends to be best, but not always. Heavy jigs and fast retrieves can produce better, at times.
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Access and Exits?
The next questions I ask myself are how will I get there? and how will I leave? Hunter access and exit routes are extremely important when using a treestand. I consider the wind direction before anything. For my evening stands, I make sure that none of my scent will blow into a bedding area, or over a possible trail leading out of a bed. For my morning setups, I am sure that none of my scent will blow into the food source or trails leading from it as well. Human scent lingers for a while and if the animals detect something suspicious, they probably won’t show up during shooting light. Other things to consider are parking, and possible sources of human interference.
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Eastern Treestand Tricks for Western Game >
(continued from page 11)
The last necessity is water. Game animals aren’t too picky when it comes to drinking water. In fact, it seems that the more foul and dank, the better. Water sources can be anything from creeks and rivers, to lakes and ponds, to seasonal mud puddles that somehow stay wet most of the season. The same goes for water as it does food sources. If a consistent water source isn’t available, then make one. (once again, after checking the state game laws) To make a water source, my dad and I usually find a low spot in the ground. We’ll dig a hole; lay a thick rubber livestock watering tank in it, and backfill around. We throw a few big rocks in the tank to help it hold steady, and also place a big log for misguided mice and rats to crawl out. Nothing will contaminate a good water tank like a drowned, rodent. I also mark the water sources on the map.
Pick a Tree
Now that I have located the food, water and shelter, I choose a few possible stand locations. It can be assumed that the animals are one step ahead of us and probably have well-worn trails leading from bedding point A to food source B, etc... Hunting in a tree along one of these trails is a safe place to start. I like to hunt out of solid trees that offer a lot of cover. I don’t too high, maybe 15’-20’. I know some who hunt a lot higher and also very successful hunters who never go above 10’. Keep in mind, higher isn’t always better. Being high in a tree does decrease the chance of being seen or winded. Adversely, hunting high increases the chances of being silhouetted against the skyline and decreases the vital shooting window due to the increased target angle. It’s also important to remember to wear safety equipment whenever leaving the ground; be it preparing a treestand location or hunting. Make sure the treestand will cooperate with shooting preference. I shoot left handed, so when I set up my stands, I arrange it so that most anticipated shots come natural for a left handed shooter. 14 - Hunting & Fishing News
I’m not a detail oriented person, but when picking the perfect tree for a stand, I force myself to be. I like to consider things that others don’t. Logical things that are often overlooked are details such as sun direction? It’s important to remember to keep the sun at our backs, and in the animal’s eyes. If and when we do draw back on an animal for a shot, I don’t want them to peek up at me and see me lit up like a fireworks festival. Instead, I want them to squint from the sun’s glare, or turn away to avoid looking into the bright light, giving me more time to aim, and not alerting them to my presence. Sun direction is important. Remember, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Plan the morning and evening stands accordingly. While thinking about morning and evening stands, remember the thermal effect. “Thermals” are often discussed casually, but not many people understand them. I will not claim to be an expert, but I know the basics. In a nutshell, the rising sun warms cooler air. Warm air rises, so, in the morning, a hunter’s scent will rise with the warming air currents. It would make sense for a morning stand to be well above any anticipated game movement. For instance, in an area with some hills and valleys, a decent place for a morning stand could be near the top of a ridge, where any rising scent will be above the animal’s detectable range of scent. On the other hand in the evenings, near the bottom may be a better place to setup. Any cooling air will sink to the lowest point and the hunter’s scent will pool up, hopefully out of the reach of a curious nose. I spoke to my friend and veteran western bowhunter Troy Pottenger of NextBuk Outdoors about his thoughts on the thermal effect with such drastic elevation changes as the Rocky Mountain region. Troy explained that bucks will sometimes bed between 1500-3000 vertical feet above a doe group. He also shared with me, “...thermals out west don’t switch until about 2 hours after daylight and about 1 hour before dark. Timing your exit and entrance around these thermals is key, show up to early and you tip every critter in the area ascending and or descending to your position.” Another important factor when hunting the wind is to consider how the animals will use it. An example would be if a deer walks directly with the wind in his face, and his eyes facing forward, ears to his side, he is creating a vulnerable area behind him where he can’t sense approaching danger. From what I have observed, deer don’t always use the wind to their advantage, but whenever possible they do. Be sure to set treestands accordingly for the animal to feel comfortable passing by. As I mentioned earlier, the trails should indicate how the animals travel. Just be sure to hunt a particular stand when the wind would help the game feel safe along those trails.
There are many schools of thought as to when to prepare a treestand. I believe in two of them. First, I try to prepare and hang stands in the early summer months. The reason for this is that usually the foliage is full grown by this time. By trimming a stand at this time, I’ll have a good idea what it will look like come fall. I have trimmed and hung stands in the early spring, only to be disappointed at the amount of growth that has taken place over the summer, making my early efforts almost meaningless. I tend to be rather conservative when preparing treestands. I like to make clear entrance and exit routes. Sometimes I’ll use a chainsaw, sometimes a handsaw, sometimes pruners. I don’t want to cut out a lot of material, alerting the deer, and possibly other hunters as well. I also like to cut enough where I can access the tree without alerting anything that I’m nearby. I don’t trim a lot on the tree itself. In fact, I may carry extra branches into it. I like to have a solid place to hang a stand, with a clear shooting lane or two, and keep lots of background cover.
As I mentioned previously, I don’t hunt as high as some for a few reasons. First, I don’t like the shot angle at a deer’s vitals over 20’. Some people don’t mind, but I prefer to shoot at them a bit lower. Second, some trees really thin out the taller they get. I have a hard time sitting still, so I depend on heavy background cover keeping me from being detected. Once the stand is hung, I’ll clear out a few shooting lanes. I don’t get too wild when cutting shooting lanes for the same reasons I don’t cut giant trails. Enough to safely sneak an arrow through to a spot on a trail should suffice. A great place for a shooting lane is near a creek or fence crossing, where the deer naturally pause for a moment. I don’t like to shoot at moving animals, and stopping them with a “BLAAT” usually puts them on alert. I try to let Mother Nature stop them for me.
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The other school of thought is to hang a stand whenever, wherever the sign is hot! I always prepare many stands before the season, and I keep two portable stands on hand as well; one climber and one lock-on with climbing sticks. The best laid plans could crumble at any time and plenty a deer season have been wasted sitting in unproductive stands hoping to get lucky. I think of every single hunt as an opportunity to kill that big old buck, and hunt with the confidence that I have a chance each time. If my pre-hung setups do not show a lot of decent sign, I’ll grab a portable stand and go find some. It’s often said, the best time to hunt a stand is the first time.
There are some other little tricks and details I use that are worth discussing. Always, under all circumstances, wear safety equipment when leaving the ground. Many people use safety harnesses when they reach the stand, but are unprotected while climbing and descending. A lineman’s belt is inexpensive and connects to all modern safety harnesses. The linemen’s belt isn’t foolproof, but will greatly increase my chances if I slip and fall while climbing in or out. There are also several fall arrest systems on the market, combined with a safety harness that will help reduce the shock of a fall as well. I constantly check the wind while on stand. Wind indicators can be purchased at the store but I use the old Indian trick of dry milkweed fibers. They are free, natural, and can be seen floating effortlessly on the wind from hundreds of yards. Several hours of milkweed fiber trials and conversations with other hunters have made me feel confident saying that a hunter’s scent is affected by gravity, and the wind acts like flowing water. Keep both of those things in mind while on stand. I like to range several landmarks when I am hunting out of a treestand. A rangefinder is the archer’s most important tool and I keep mine readily available while hunting. I’ll try to memorize the distances, and quiz myself occasionally just to be sure. If at all possible, I range the animal itself before shooting, but if not; I should at least be in the ballpark for an ethical shot. Another little trick I’ve picked up on is to tie an old t-shirt around the trunk of the tree behind my stand. This allows me to shift around smoothly without getting the bark caught in my jacket and making extra noise.
For a western hunter who is used to spot and stalk techniques, treestand hunting could possibly be death by boredom. It’s nothing for us Eastern guys to spend the whole day on stand during the rut, from dawn to dusk. Bring plenty of water and food and dress warm. I usually walk in light, with my heavy clothes packed so I don’t work up too much of a sweat. Bring a cellphone as well. I use mine to play games, and also keep me honest. There’s been several times where I swear it was noon, only to look at the clock and realize it was only 8:30.
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Schedule of Events
“Bugling in the Big Sky” Elk Calling Contest ~Friday July 19th~ Meet and greet the pros at the gun counter. ~Saturday July 20th~ 9:00-10:00 Youth calling division 10:00-11:00 Women’s calling division 11:00-12:00 Elk calling and hunting seminar featuring Jim Brenner of Primos Hunting Calls 12:30-1:30 Pee-Wee’s calling division 1:30-2:30 Elk calling and hunting seminar featuring Wayne Carlton of Hunter Specialties. 2:30-3:30 Men’s calling division 4:00-5:00 Matt Brimmer of Rocky Mountain Game Calls Elk hunting and calling seminar. Hunters bring in your antlers, shed antlers, horns and skulls to be scored for the Montana Record Book FREE of charge 5:00-7:00
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I asked Troy to summarize his thoughts on treestand hunting the Rocky Mountain region. “The Western hunters that do the best with tree stands are often down in the valleys near agriculture or in river bottoms where terrain and cover are congregated and narrowed. After hunting treestands in big mountainous country for 30 years, while most thought I was nuts, the key for me has been targeting the right kind of cover and terrain features at the right elevations.” Remember, no matter the location, animals have basic needs. With proper scouting and effort, a treestand can be a deadly tool in exploiting the animal’s habits. Be safe, shoot straight, and have fun!
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Summertime Bass Fishing Tips
ByNick Simonson, Nodak Outdoors http://www.nodakoutdoors.com/bass-fishing-tips.php
lop, gunk, or matting, call it what you will, but by this time in the summer, the combination of weed tops and surface vegetation has sealed off water access for shoreline anglers and limited the area that boat anglers can work. But those anglers who overlook this green gobbledygook could also be passing up some stellar opportunities at tangling with monster bass. Hit the junk Simply put, Largemouth bass love the shade that floating mats of vegetation provide on hot summer days. Think of these shoreline weed beds as a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet that sits under an awning along the busiest street in town. Not only is there shade from the elements, but there is also enough food to keep the prepare-for-winter binge cycle going. Once an area filled with matted weeds is discovered, check for surrounding structure to locate the prime “spot-on-a-spot” to fish. If a creek channel or a point is nearby successful fishing is likely, due to the daily travel routine of bass. Bass fishing tips for lunker bass involve getting in deep and getting them out Weapons for weeds “Fear no fish” is the G. Loomis’ rod company’s motto, “fear no mess” should be every slop angler’s motto. Casts deep into the gunk, or even up onto the surrounding shoreline guarantee that those fish hanging at the shallow edge of the slop will sense your lure. Of course, getting the lure back to the boat can be a challenge, making weedless rigging of the utmost importance. Selecting a weedless surface bait is key. First and foremost on the list of surface baits is the Scum Frog. This lure has proven itself time and again, and is extremely weedless right out of the package. The dual hook stays tucked next to the body of the bait and the frog’s soft form and wispy legs make it look natural on the water. Another excellent choice is any number of bass tubes available. Texas rigged with a worm hook from size 4/0 down to 1/0 depending on bait size, these lures provide streamlined weedless presentations, even in the thick stuff. Experiment with a variety of soft plastics such as lizards, worms, frogs and grubs in lengths from three to eight inches, depending on the size and voracity of the bass you are fishing for. Make it creepy Once the lure is rigged right and ready to go, find a weed-covered area along a channel or near a point with varying degrees of cover available. Look for slop that has thick green mounds of weeds, matted weed tops and a few open holes throughout. Cast the bait towards shore, aiming for where the water meets land. The idea is to hit the shoreline and be able to pull the bait into the water from shore. Don’t be surprised if a fish swirls within a few feet of the water’s edge. Bass are well known for holding shallow. Keep moving the lure slowly across the surface in a retrieve-pause-twitch style. Sometimes the strikes will come on a fast movement, other times a boil results from the lure hanging motionless overhead. Hit the holes Not all weed mats are created equal. The ones that are usually the most productive have gaps and holes in their ceilings. These are perfect feeding areas for fish. Twitch a tube or a frog and bring it to the far edge. Pause it on the edge of the hole then move it into the opening and let it sit still. Be patient, some fish wait a while before committing to the bait. If no strike occurs, pull the bait across the gap and twitch it again with a subsequent pause. (continued next page) 16 - Hunting & Fishing News
----TASTY TIPS---Rosemary and Thyme Barbecued Walleye & Potatoes From Trevor Johnson, Kit’s Tackle
Make a tinfoil boat (use heavy duty) to place your fillets in.
After you lay your fillets in the tinfoil I like to sprinkle the following over them: -Salt -Pepper -Garlic -Rosemary -Thyme Before you close the boat over the fish add a couple pats of butter to the fillets. I cook them on medium for about 10 minutes. I can assure you this is worth a try!!
Trevor Johnson of Kit’s Tackle “One of the many AWESOME walleye we jigged up on Fort Peck...notice the Glass Minnow hangin’ from his beak!!”
Hard hooksets By far, the most exciting aspect of this style of
fishing is watching a bass explode through the weeds to attack a bait. When that water boils, feel for the fish for a split second, then set the hook, HARD! First the hook must go through the plastic of the lure then into the fish’s mouth. A quick snap just won’t do it. If setting the hook wasn’t a big enough challenge, the weeds will be. The largemouth will dance and jump, but when that thick cover is there, ol’ black stripe is heading down. After a positive hookset, keep the rod high and the line tight because once that fish gets into the weeds and begins to wrap the line around the stems and roots of the plants, the going gets tougher. A medium rod at least 6’6′′ in length is a minimum mandatory piece of equipment, along with a powerful reel lined with at least 12-pound monofilament. Superlines work even better with increased abrasion resistance and their ability to cut through weed stalks. The misses and lost fish are part of this kind of angling, and should be expected. However, the explosion on the lure and a positive hook set are a rush to remember. So when all of those other fish have you down as the temperatures go up this summer, a trip to bass water is in order. While there, don’t forget to search the slop for some of the biggest lunker bass that can be found...in our outdoors. © Scootz | Dreamstime.com
July 2013 17
Tweaking Big Lake Tactics for Teensier Water ‘Eyes With a little modification, the same techniques work wonders no matter where walleyes roam By Mitch Eeagan Traditions Media Author Mitch Eeagan and St. Croix Pro Brian “Bro” Brosdahl (pictured) favor the species and technique-specific Eyecon series for walleyes regardless of the situation – there’s a model to match every style of walleye fishing. Photo by Bill Lindner Photography
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W alleyes are walleyes no matter where they wander. As a general rule, whether they reside in inland lakes, rivers, reservoirs or the Great Lakes, their year-round habits are shaped by two things: spawning and eating.
With that said, you’d think the same techniques would work the same wonders for conjuring up strikes regardless of where you fish. Well, you know what? By and large, they do. But some big water tactics need a little tweaking to produce on your average sized natural lake.
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Take the trolling ploys used to catch walleyes on the Great Lakes and huge reservoirs of the West; they’ll also work wonders on small inland lakes. The size and depth of the watercourse, however, may restrict you from setting up as many lines before beaching on the opposite shore, or, using the exact same lures and line, not snagging in the shallows with every trolling pass. But it can be done. And oftentimes the tactics normally used on big water will out produce the tried and true ones generally associated with smaller lakes. DOWN AND OUT My own experiences with fine-tuning big water tactics for tiny water ‘eyes come from the small inland lakes of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For years the small water techniques of jigging, rigging and casting crankbaits were the tradition on the tannic-stained waterways surrounding basecamp. And we caught fish... well, most of the time. But I’ll admit there were times the fish were smaller and fewer than we’d like. And some years, honestly, they were nearly nonexistent.
(continued on page 21)
18 - Hunting & Fishing News
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Say Hello To Success: Where to chase the Fish this Month Brought to you by
Forrest Fawthrop with a nice Holter rainbow
ummer has officially started here in the northwest and with that comes fantastic fishing opportunities around Montana and beyond. Lots of water and plenty of bugs in the air will keep anglers busy this summer. The run-off has tapered off and conditions are beginning to stabilize in the region, so expect the fishing to really take off now. A good mix of species will keep anglers busy this summer. It’s a great time to be near any body of water fishing for that giant we know is lurking down below! Here are a few good summertime hot spots to consider.
A nice variety of fish in this big body of water will keep angler’s poles bent here. Crappie, walleye, northern pike, and bass are on tap here, and from recent reports, the fish are fat and feisty right now. You can toss a Rapala Shad Rap, a minnow-jig combo, or a Mepp’s Aglia. They have all been effective picking up fish in the early summer. Any predatory imitating fish patterns will get these toothy critters to strike. JDR Specialty Tackle has just the right patterns made for these big lakes, so you’ll want to have a few of these in your tackle box as well. All of the southwest area rivers will The Bleeding Eye pattern imitates be fishing great now. It’s a fly fisherman’s paradise throughout the a wounded bait fish that a pike just summer months here, and there are can’t resist. If you like to fish to the no shortages of water to fish. As the shallow banks and weed lines, any of these combinations will pick-up weather turns hot for a few days, the fish. you’ll see the terrestrial fishing go off. This is when you’ll need to be on the water. Stoneflies, PMD’s, Yellow Sallies, and San Juan Worms work well now. Hopper patterns will Warming water temperatures at be effective as the summer rolls on. this north central Montana lake will make for some good walleye and As the trout are picking food from pike fishing early in the summer. the surface, they will hit a caddis or Suspending a jig under a bobber is mayfly nymph as well.
a great way to catch these walleye that are looking for an easy meal. Trolling jointed crankbaits along weeded edges is also productive. The trick is to drag the crankbait over and just above growing weeds where northern pike and walleye like to feed on small bait fish. A quarter-ounce jig and a piece of night crawler or a live leech along the bottom will work well now. Desirable jig colors are pink and chartreuse, or try a supercraw Glass Minnow from Kit’s Tackle. This is a deadly crawfish pattern on Montana’s lakes and rivers. Northern pike anglers will continue to score big by casting blades, spinnerbaits or Husky Jerks towards the banks, and retrieving slowly back to the boat. Expect an explosion to occur once these feisty critters hit!
two hot spots on the north end of the lake at the mouth of the Flathead River and the bar off of Woods Bay Point. These whitefish hunt over the carpet of weeds in 40 to 50 feet picking off fry that venture out from the thicker weeds. Most anglers will vertically jig. You can try a green Marabou leadhead jig, Kastmasters, or Zimmer’s Rattle-D-Zastor. Good numbers of lake trout that average 3-5 lbs. can be caught using a dodger, flasher, hoochies combo or try a few spoons in the perch pattern near the surface. The fish are suspended throughout the water column now.
You can head to Georgetown Lake now as the fishing will be phenomenal in July. Damsel flies will converge around the lake now and big trout love these rare bugs. Fish nymphs Head to the Flathead for some good in the morning hours as these trout set-up to ambush these migrating kokanee salmon and bass fishing damsels before they can reach this summer. Trolling along the the shore. Surface imitations in shoreline between Tuffit and the Lodge will produce some exceptional the afternoon work as the fish rise fishing. Use electronics to locate the and become more active. You can catch the evening caddis hatch as kokanee, then troll Wedding Ring well right now. Big trout call this spinner set-ups, Cowbells, or Ford lake home and this is a great area Fenders with a tailing fly behind to catch kokanee. Bass anglers do well to spend some quality summertime near typical weeded edge shorelines fishing and relaxing. and any sunken structure. There is plenty of camping nearby as well as a full service resort with cabins and RV spaces available. Lots of water and plenty of bugs in the air right now at Hebgen. Early morning action will produce big rainbows and browns. Fly fishermen The annual whitefish bite will begin have been lucky using midge patterns in mid-summer and run through the in the 14 to 18 size. Go a little larger fall. These tasty fish will normally once the Callibaetis begin to show. start biting around the second week Fish the South Fork and along the of July into September. Whitefish North Shore area for good numbers of cruise the edges of weedlines looking fish. Throwing your typical hardware for perch fry to devour. You’ll find in the Mepp’s yellow-brown colors, (continued on page 29)
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Big Lake Tactics (continued from page 18)
But since being exposed to the modified big-water trolling tactics from two Lund walleye pros, I’ve modified the way I fish small waters. And once I started landing more and bigger fish than the others at camp, it didn’t take long for everyone to follow suit. LEAD LOWDOWN The first ploy I practiced just a few years back was trolling leadcore, which I learned from walleye wizard Mark Martin. “Pulling leadcore in small lakes is probably the most overlooked method of them all,” says the Twin Lakes, Michigan, pro. “Perhaps it’s because the system is so easy to use, and anglers want to make things more difficult than they need to be.” Literally pulling plugs right behind his Lund Pro-V, Martin lets out only 3 to 4 colors of ‘core (each color representing 10-feet of line) depending on how deep the water is and where he’s marking fish. To the tip of the lead-filled line he ties on a 6-foot leader of 10-pound-test monofilament. “In smaller lakes I may only have time to let out two lines before running out of room, so I’ll have my partner deploying and fishing out one side of the boat while I do the same on the other. And we’ll just hang onto the rods rather than put them in a holder so we can immediately adjust the amount of line out if our lures hit bottom, or quickly reel in before starting another pass,” he adds. Martin’s two best baits for trolling behind leadcore are #5 Rapala Shad Raps and spinners (aka: crawler harnesses) with plump night crawlers fresh from his Plano 745 Worm and Leech Box. When cranks are being pulled, Martin creeps along at .08 to 1.4 MPH, while he averages 1.2 to 2 MPH when trolling crankbaits. And he trolls one or the other on all rods, not a combination of both, because of the difference in speed requirements. The first time I tried this was after several hours of jigging the usual shallow water haunts without success. One pass while scanning with my Humminbird sonar and I spied fish hovering about 10-feet off bottom in 35-feet of water. With three colors of leadcore out on an 8-foot St. Croix Eyecon trolling rod and Diawa line-counter reel with a crankbait in tow, it took only four passes through the short, few hundred yard area to scoop a two-man limit of walleyes. It was a small water leadcore lesson learned. HE AIN’T HEAVY There are still those days, however, when walleyes seem to disappear from sonar’s sight over main-lake basins. When this is the case, more than likely, the fish are ultra shallow and tucked tight to cover. “When walleyes are in skinny water they’re usually hanging close to weeds, wood and rocks. And when the bite is off, it’s best to cover as much water as possible and get your offering in front of as many fish as possible,” says guru-of-getting-walleyes-to-strike, Mark Brumbaugh. “But trolling in shallow weed-infested waters can be frustrating... unless you break out the heavy line, that is.” When pulling small Reef Runner crankbaits or spinners in shallow water, Brumbaugh ups his trolling reel’s main line to 20-pound-test monofilament and often ties the snap directly to the thicker-than-normal line. “The water resistances due to the line’s broad diameter will keep the lure up and off the bottom, free from snags. And when tucked deep into cover, walleyes will dart up and out for a quick strike, even when the lure is several feet over head,” he adds. Only if the lure’s action is diminished because of the heavier, stiffer line will Brumbaugh add two feet of lighter 10-pound-test leader material, which he attaches via a small ball-bearing swivel. The swivel, too, acts as a “snare” if weeds are floating on the surface and catching and wrapping the line. If he’s fishing straight off the 20-pound test, Brumbaugh will pinch on a tiny split-shot about two feet above the lure to keep weeds off it. Maximizing his bite, Brumbaugh employees Off Shore in-line planer boards to get as many lines extended from the path of his Lund and out to fish that haven’t been spooked. It was literally just last year that I took Brumbaugh’s advice and spooled 20-pound to the reels on my St. Croix Eyecon rods and tickled the weed tops with crankbaits and spinners. The result was another upset bunch back at camp that didn’t know about this heavy-line trick. HIGH AND LOW Looking to land more walleyes from small inland lakes when tried and true tactics don’t seem to be working? Look no further than plying the depths with leadcore and crankbaits or spinners if you’re marking fish deep, or going heavier than normal in pound test to keep your lures up and out of the shallow weeds.
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TRIPLE PLAYTop guides reveal three tricks for tagging fish at the plate
By Ted Pilgrim Northland Tackle.com Swimbaits, especially the soft plastic varieties, have quickly evolved into foundational multi-species presentations. Here a weed-inhabiting walleye snapped-up a Northland Fishing Tackle Rock-R-Minnow.
The nightcrawler might be freshwater fishing’s most perfect live bait. Rigged on a spinner-harness, the universally loved morsel interests everything from Photos courtesy of Northland Fishing Tackle (www.northlandtackle.com) bass to bluegills, crappies to catfish. and Frabill (www.frabill.com).
E very guide worth his salt has one. You know, that sneaky trick up his sleeve that always keeps his clients’ rods bent. Cold fronts, breathless
firecracker days, July blizzards (it could happen)—the conditions are almost beside the point. These slick tricks simply catch fish, atmospheric conditions losing their bark and bite. Ask any guide: when times get tough in mid to late summer, it’s real nice to know you’ve got that ace bait awaiting deployment. In my own guiding days, the golden ticket was a Gopher Bait Spin tipped with a minnow. Throw these simple contraptions behind the boat, start driving around the weededge, and pretty soon, we’d have all kinds of fish hooked up— everything from bass and pike to walleyes and crappies. Another client fish fry, delivered. The photos would tell the story—big grins on everyone’s face. Curiously, today, lures like the Bait Spin remain overlooked and underutilized. So simple in design, but oh so appealing to fish, which pretty much describes the three patterns that follow: basic, fundamentally great baits that simply catch lots and lots of fish. Sneakin’ through the Weeds Early in my guiding career, I still recall a particular blazing-hot August day. It had been a challenging one to say the least. I was falling all over myself apologizing to my clients for the tough bite when who should roll into the dock but the legendary Marv Koep, possibly the most-recognized fishing guide in the North Country. Of course, Marv had fish (he always did)—a beautiful mixed bag of walleyes, pike, crappies, and even a deep-bodied smallmouth for someone’s wall. Days later, I caught up with Marv, who graciously shared his secret. “Weed Weasels tipped with minnows,” he said simply, flashing his characteristic sunshine smile. As I gradually discovered in the years that followed, Northland Weed Weasels were a secret of many top guides. Slick pointed nose, tapered head, light Y-weed-guard, bait-keeper, Mustad Ultra-Point hook—the
22 - Hunting & Fishing News
combination proven deadly for everything with fins. Mostly, though, the boys kept the ‘Sneak secret under their hat, so word never spread much beyond a handful of local sharpies. Still, I quickly learned that to add these amazingly weedless jigs to my own bag of tricks. On any given summer day, I always had an array of rods rigged with Weed Weasels. Slowly we’d move along the edge of the spacious weed bar, peppering casts up into the vegetation, and swimming the combo back through the cover. Within a cast or two, rods would bend. The trick never failed to produce action. And I mean never. Sometimes, we’d tip the jig with a three-inch grub for extra buoyancy, color and action, but live bait was the thing. Wild redtail chubs, small suckers and golden shiners—you absolutely knew something was going to take a bite. In the world of guiding, that level of confidence is a beautiful thing. The Weed Weasel fished through weeds so well, so clean, that anyone could catch fish with it. Throw the bait out, count it down and start slowly reeling it back. Then as now, it’s just that simple. When summer’s heat sends fish deep into vegetation, many of the best Northwoods guides still reach for their classic Weed Weasels. Ask their clients. These jigs just plain catch fish. A Rockin’ Bite While everybody and their uncle’s out backtrolling the rocks, sand and mud, guide Tim Anderson likes to cast weeds. Nothing crazy about that. Nothing, that is, except the walleyes, muskies, pike and bass he’s extracting from these jungles. Anderson operates Central Minnesota’s Big Fish Hunt Guide Service, chasing the hottest predator bites going. This year, he discovered a deadly new lure that’s out-fished everything from crankbaits to spinnerbaits, and jigs to jerkbaits. For Anderson, that lure is the Northland Rock-R-Minnow— a super-realistic soft plastic paddletail swimbait. Among insiders, the Rock-R-Minnow is on the fast-track to “classic” status, a lure that’s always kept rigged and ready in the boat, even though said insiders aren’t themselves spilling the beans (sound familiar?). Anderson likes the bait for its lively, yet easygoing stature. “If you can cast and reel, you can catch fish with this bait,” he says. And he’s right. Rigged with a simple 3/8- to 1/2-ounce jig-head or the weighted Lipstick Swimbait hook included in the package, the 5-inch Rock-R-Minnow casts like a bullet, sinks fast, and slithers through grass like a snake. Reel, reel, then pause a second. Reel-reel-reel-pause again. Rip a weed or two. Whack! That’s all there is to it. On recent trips to a famous walleye lake, Anderson and I boated fifteen to twenty big walleyes each day, as well as several bonus pike and bass. We filled the Frabill net with a constant procession of heavyweights, all while dancing around bored jiggers and riggers. Roach’s World Spins “If I simply want to catch fish in summer, I’m pulling my little spinner rigs,” says veteran guide Tony Roach. Growing up with a family of mega-talented anglers, Roach learned early that if he wanted to catch more than sloppy seconds, he’d have to get sneaky with his own set of tricks. Chief among them was a small spinner rig tipped with live bait. More often than not, Roach’s approach delivers the goods—a fact to which I can readily attest. “In summer, I like to tie my own multi-species rigs,” Roach states. “Start with a three to six-foot leader of 6-pound test mono. Snell on a single #6 Super-Glo Attractor Hook. Slide on three or four 4mm beads, a clevis and a #2 Baitfish-Image Colorado blade. In dirty water, I like Northland’s Golden Shiner pattern. For clear lakes, the Yellow Perch pattern is a winner.” In weeds, Roach runs a bullet sinker. Over clean bottom he prefers a Northland Slip-Bouncer, which lets him troll faster without losing the ability to feed line to biting fish. He tips the rig with a medium leech and simply starts cruising along the structure using his bow-mount electric motor. When the leech needs replacing, a Frabill Leech Tote is always at hand, and quickly coughs up a volunteer. Roach’s multi-species spinners account for a dazzling array of catches. The #2 blade weeds out little panfish, and selects for the biggest bluegills in the lake. If the spot holds crappies, walleyes, perch, or bass, the rig takes them as well. “It’s what I call my vacuum rig,” Roach quips. “If you pull this thing through fish, it’s going to get bit.” Indeed, in want of a summertime fish fry, or just plain action at the end of your line, it would be hard to imagine a more potent lineup than the triple threat of tricks above...
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Hunting & Conservation News Proudly Sponsored By
Republic Services of Montana
HUNTING & CONS Rocky Mountain elk. The study shows that the hotter and dryer summer conditions of the last two decades, coincident with the long-term drought widely affecting the West, has reduced the duration of the spring period when tender new grasses are available to elk. This makes it harder for female migratory elk to find the forage they need to both nurse a calf and breed. Though elk typically bear a calf every year, migratory elk that nursed a calf had only a 23 percent chance of becoming pregnant again in the following year. Another likely cause of the declining calf numbers among migrants was predation. Migrants share their range with four times as many grizzly bears and wolves than resident elk, and both predators are well known to prey on young elk calves. Resident elk get a break from high levels of predation in part because when predators kill livestock on the resident range, they are often lethally removed by wildlife managers and ranchers.
Migration No Longer Best Strategy for Yellowstone Elk U.S. Geological Survey
Photo: Jonny Armstrong , Wyoming Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit/Univ. of Wyoming
igratory elk are coming back from Yellowstone National Park with fewer calves due to drought and increased numbers of big predators – two landscape-level changes that are reducing the benefits of migration with broader implications for conservation of migratory animals, according to a new study published in the journal Ecology. The new study by the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit – a joint program involving U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Wyoming, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, describes a long-term decline in the number of calves produced annually by the Clarks Fork herd, a population of about 4000 elk whose migrants travel annually between winter ranges near Cody, Wyoming and summer ranges within Yellowstone National Park. Migratory elk experienced a 19 percent depression in rates of pregnancy over the four years of the study and a 70 percent decline in calf production over 21 years of monitoring by the WGFD, while the elk that did not migrate, known as resident elk, in the same herd experienced high pregnancy and calf production and are expanding their numbers and range into private lands outside of the park. “This is one of North America’s wildest and best-protected landscapes, where elk and other ungulates still retain their long-distance seasonal migrations – and yet it is the migratory elk that are struggling while their resident counterparts thrive in the foothills,” said Arthur Middleton, who led this work as a University of Wyoming doctoral student and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. A key finding of the study was that only 70 percent of migratory elk were pregnant, compared to 90 percent of residents – a rate more typical of 24 - Hunting & Fishing News
“A lower pregnancy rate reduces the number of calves that are born in the first place, then predation seems to reduce the number of migratory calves that survive the first few months of life,” said Matthew Kauffman a research wildlife biologist with the USGS and Assistant Professor at the University of Wyoming. Kauffman goes on to explain that resident elk numbers are growing in the foothills not because migrants are choosing to stay behind, but rather because irrigated fields and lower predator numbers are allowing residents to raise more calves to adulthood. Globally, wildlife migration is a dwindling phenomenon. Research and management often focus on conspicuous barriers like fences, roads, and other kinds of development that can physically impede migration corridors. While those are important, this study suggests that even in a landscape as well-protected as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, subtler changes in predator management and forage quality on the seasonal ranges of migratory animals will also play an important role. Migration is conventionally understood as a strategy to gain better forage quality while also reducing exposure to denning predators, but in this case, it seems those benefits are instead being realized by the residents. The study’s authors note that their work does not predict that migratory elk will disappear, but rather that there could be a long-term shift underway in the relative abundance of migratory versus resident elk in the system. The study also highlights the perils of characterizing Yellowstone wolf re-introduction as a “natural experiment.” Other key factors have changed since wolves were re-introduced, including growth in grizzly bears numbers and recurrent long-term drought associated with reduced snowpack and hotter summers. The authors caution that such factors should be taken into account in the effort to understand ongoing ecological changes in Yellowstone. Middleton also points out that this work highlights the complex challenges facing regional wildlife managers and other stakeholders as they continue to adapt to the reintroduction and recovery of large carnivores, and severe drought that some studies suggest is linked to longer-term climate change. “Most immediately, these trends have meant lost hunting opportunity in the backcountry areas frequented by migratory elk, and increasing crop damage and forage competition with domestic livestock in the front country areas where resident elk are expanding,” said Middleton. This work was a collaboration among the USGS’s Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the WGFD, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with cooperation from YNP and other agencies. Primary funders include the WGFD, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board, the Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, and USGS, among others. The study is featured in a Forum section of Ecology, with a series of commentaries from other ecologists who study wildlife migration and predator-prey interactions. Funding from the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center contributed to this study.
SERVATION NEWS RMEF Grants to Benefit 20,000 Acres of Wildlife Habitat in Montana RMEF T he Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will fund more than 20 habitat projects in Montana that positively affect more than 20,000 acres of elk
country. RMEF will also fund ongoing elk survival and recruitment research and provide hunting heritage outreach to advance Montana’s rich hunting heritage. RMEF grants for 2013 total $276,195 and directly affect 15 counties: Beaverhead, Broadwater, Flathead, Gallatin, Garfield, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, Missoula, Petroleum, Powell, Ravalli, Sanders and Silver Bow counties. Two other projects provide marketing outreach. “RMEF’s first ever habitat project as an organization was 25 years ago in Montana. This latest round of grant funding further solidifies our commitment to conserving elk habitat across the state,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Noxious weed treatment, prescribed burns, forest thinning, and working to restore aspen stands will not only benefit elk but also a wide range of wildlife.” Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 770 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Montana with a combined value of more than $132.6 million. “Our volunteers continue to amaze! Their passion and diligent hard work raised the grant money for elk and elk country through local membership drives and banquet fundraising,” added Allen. Allen also thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation across the country. RMEF grants will help fund the following 2013 projects in Montana, listed by county: Beaverhead County—Thin and burn 5,532 acres to retain sagebrush grassland habitat on elk summer range and calving habitat on Bureau of Land Management land (BLM) in the Medicine Lodge Watershed; aerially treat 430 acres of elk summer range to control spotted knapweed in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (BDNF); treat 200 acres of BDNF land for noxious weeds and enhance and improve watershed and habitat by removing fencing no longer needed to aid recovering aspen; and enhance big game habitat on 156 acres of the BDNF by removing conifers among mountain mahogany, treating noxious weeds and burning slash piles. Broadwater County—Hand slash and burn 702 acres of winter elk range to maintain grasslands and improve aspen in the Elkhorn Mountain Range on the Helena National Forest. Flathead County—Thin and burn 1,500 acres to increase forage production for elk and other wildlife on the Flathead Indian Reservation (also affects Lake County); implement aerial and ground treatments for noxious weeds on 500 acres to improve prairie habitat for 300 wintering elk on the Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge; treat weed infestations on 460 acres of elk winter range on the Flathead National Forest and Bob Marshall Wilderness; slash and burn 280 acres to stimulate shrub and grass growth in the Flathead National Forest (FNF); implement slash and burn operations to improve 153 acres of year-long elk range in the FNF; and sponsor the Flathead Valley Archers Stumpshooter Youth Development Program. Gallatin County—Treat 230 acres of noxious weeds on elk winter range on the western edge of Yellowstone National Park in the Gallatin National Forest; and promote RMEF and shooting sports while sponsoring the Montana High School Rodeo Finals. Garfield County—Burn 1,875 acres on BLM and private lands to reduce stand density and increase forage on year-round elk habitat. Lewis and Clark County—Sponsor 7th Annual Northwest Miniature Bullriding Finals featuring top riders from Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Lincoln County—Treat noxious weeds on 250 miles of roads and release insects on 1,000 acres of elk winter range across swath of private, state and federal lands as part of a three-year project; implement noxious weed treatment on 22 acres on winter elk range in the Kootenai National Forest. (continued on page 37) July 2013 25
REGIONAL NEWS Appeals Court Upholds DNR Rulemaking On Wolf Season
A court decision issued today by the Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) authority to
set wolf seasons. The following is a statement from DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr: “This decision affirms that the DNR, as directed by the Legislature, set the correct and proper course in establishing last year’s wolf season. Furthermore, the recent Legislature clarified the rulemaking process for setting future seasons, affirming the DNR is using the correct season-setting process.” The DNR used the same rulemaking process for the wolf season as it does for dozens of other game species. Landwehr said the DNR is committed to the long-term sustainability of the state’s wolf population, the largest in the lower 48 states, and the agency took a conservative approach to the inaugural season. Plans are underway for a 2013 wolf season. The DNR will set the season this summer after analyzing data from the previous season and a wolf population estimate is completed.
Commission Adopts Grizzly Position Statement
T he Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, May 16, adopted a position statement on grizzly bears in Idaho.
The statement supports the removal of grizzly bears in Idaho from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. “Idaho can manage the bears better,” Commission Tony McDermott of the Panhandle Region said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could save millions by simply delisting the bear throughout all of Idaho, he said. The state has the regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in place, and © Al Parker | Dreamstime.com people would be more tolerant of bears if the state were managing them. The commission would continue to act to ensure sustainable grizzly bear populations for the foreseeable future in the occupied core habitats USFWS has identified in Idaho, the statement says. “Key to the success of this effort is effective and efficient management of bear-human conflict.” The commission supports the prompt federal delisting and transition to state management for grizzly bears throughout Idaho as both legally compliant with the Endangered Species Act as well as the best vehicle for achieving the act’s objectives, the statement says. 26 - Hunting & Fishing News
State Record Fish is a Saugeye L
ab results confirm Dan Faiman’s state record fish is a saugeye. The Fairview, Mont. angler caught the 12 pound record fish on Jan. 16 from the Yellowstone River. Because the fish had identifying characteristics of both species, genetic material was sent to a lab to determine whether the fish was a walleye, sauger or saugeye, which is a cross between the two. Faiman’s catch broke the previous record, set in 1984, by 4 ounces.
Second Chance For Idaho’s Super Hunt Tags T
here is still time to enter for Idaho’s Second Drawing for Super Hunt Tags. Super Hunt and Super Hunt Combo tags allow hunters to participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn and/or moose. To win a tag hunters need to purchase entries for the Super Hunt drawings. Money raised by the drawings provides hunters and anglers access to private lands through the Access Yes! program. Deadline for entries is August 10, 2013 for the second drawing. Two elk, two deer, two pronghorn and one moose hunt will be drawn. One Super Hunt Combo hunt will also be drawn. This winner is entitled to hunt all four species - one elk, one deer, one pronghorn and one moose. Winners will be notified by August 15.
REGIONAL NEWS So. Utah Ready For Summer Anglers Photo by Richard Hepworth Navajo Lake has some big splake in it. DWR Aquatic Biologist Stan Beckstrom shows a five-pound splake he caught at Navajo during a fishing trip in mid-May.
IBoulder f you want to catch trout in Utah’s Dixie, Navajo Lake and lakes on Mountain are good places to try... Richard Hepworth, regional aquatic manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, provides advice to help you catch fish during your next trip to these waters. Navajo Lake - Access to Navajo Lake is good, and the water is rising. Right now, the lake is offering fast fishing for splake...And rainbow trout fishing is just starting to pick up. Hepworth and fellow DWR biologist Stan Beckstrom caught splake in the 16- to 20-inch range while fishing at the lake during the weekend of May 18. Some of the splake weighed more than five pounds. Hepworth says catching splake at Navajo is relatively simple. All you need is a rod and reel, some hooks and a few night crawlers. “First, use the night crawlers to catch a couple of Utah chubs,” he says. “Look for chubs in deep water that transitions to warm, shallow areas. Then, cut the chubs up, and place a cut piece on a large hook, size 4 or bigger.” Once you’ve placed a piece of chub meat on your hook, throw your bait out, and wait. If a splake doesn’t take your bait, moving it occasionally might convince a splake to strike. You should be able to cast the chub meat without having to add additional weight to your line. If you want to cast farther, however, add a sliding weight to the line so a fish doesn’t feel resistance when it picks up the bait. This technique can work well to catch any predatory trout: splake, tiger, brown or Bear Lake cutthroat. Navajo Lake is in the Dixie National Forest, about 26 miles east of Cedar City. Lakes on Boulder Mountain - Lakes on Boulder Mountain provide great fishing and spectacular scenery. Currently, you can access the mountain’s mid-elevation waters. You can get to some of the lakes, such as Posey or the Barkers, by vehicle. Others require a short hike or a longer trek. By the first of July, you should be able to access lakes on top of the mountain. The lakes on Boulder Mountain offer a variety of fish, including brook trout, cutthroat, splake, tiger trout, rainbows and even grayling. Hepworth says almost any traditional bait will work to catch them. “Night crawlers, cut baits, jigs, flies and even a fly and bubble will all produce good results,” he says. You may find dead fish (ones that didn’t survive the winter) around some lakes’ edges. Hepworth says these lakes may have fewer fish in them. However, lakes where fish died during the winter can also hold some of the biggest fish. Boulder Mountain is in the Dixie National Forest north of Boulder. If you have questions about fishing Navajo Lake or lakes on Boulder Mountain, call the DWR’s Southern Region office at 435-865-6100.
Bear Enters House, Attacks Elderly Woman Photo: Department of Game and Fish Conservation Officer Kyle Jackson inspects a bear suspected of attacking an elderly Cimarron woman...
A large black bear broke into a home north of Cimarron and attacked
an elderly, bedridden woman Tuesday night. A bear believed to have been the attacker was caught and killed by Game and Fish officers today. The woman received minor injuries. The 82-year-old woman, who asked to not be identified, was in bed with the doors and windows open when a bear broke the latch on a screen door and entered her room. The housekeeper went in about 10 p.m. to close the doors and turn off her light and found her with scratches on her nose and head. The housekeeper applied first aid but didn’t find it necessary to call for further medical assistance. Game and Fish officers were called the next morning when it was apparent that a bear had broken the screen door. Conservation Officer Kyle Jackson contacted Hap Blacksten, a local houndman, who was able to find the bear with dogs. The bear was killed and taken to the Veterinarian Diagnostic Center in Albuquerque, where it will be tested for rabies. “This was a large male bear, probably weighing over 400 pounds,” Officer Jackson said. “Comparing it to the marks on the door, we believe this is the bear that broke in, but there was no apparent reason for the bear to enter the house.”... July 2013 27
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Fishing Report (continued from page 20) Panther Martins, and Thomas Cyclones in yellow, reds and gold work well to catch these big trout that will be in the 18 - 23 inch range.
HELENA AREA LAKES Big trout and lots of them, and walleye in big numbers is the word on the lakes that surround the Helena area. Holter, Hauser, Canyon Ferry Reservoir and below the dams will be prime fishing now. Smaller sized walleye will keep you busy on Holter as the water temperature through the Gates has warmed. Jig with a worm towards any rocky structure or shoreline for walleye in shallow waters. The trout have been very aggressive all season long and many big brown trout have been caught in the Holter Lake system. Once the hot weather hits, fish early in the morning or right before dark for the best bite. Summer boaters are out in full force, so there will be a lot of boats on these waters now.
NOXON RESERVOIR If it’s quality bass fishing you’re after, head up to the Noxon Rapids Reservoir in mid-to-late July for some good action. Target the largemouth bass working spinnerbaits and plastics along weedbeds, sunken timber or docks along the lake’s southern shore. Fishing a drop-shot rig with a worm, jigs with a trailer or crankbaits tossed to the lake’s shorelines will take Noxon’s largemouth bass. Smallmouth bass tend to like deeper water associated with rocks and along the sheer faces of submerged rocky cliffs. Working weighted 4 inch tube jigs around the rubble can produce 2 to 4 lb.
bass. You can also pull smallies from sunken rock ledges with chartreuse colored spinnerbaits or perch patterned Rapala Husky Jerks. Any perch colored lures, pumkin seed and crayfish colors work the best. Don’t be surprised if you tie into a meaty northern pike using the same techniques here. Boaters typically launch just east of Trout Creek on the upper southern shoreline of Noxon. You can stop by the Lakeside Motel for the latest bite on Noxon.
FT. PECK RESERVOIR The weather is key when fishing Fort Peck during the early summer. Look for calm weather patterns if you’re headed to this big eastern Montana reservoir. Good walleye fishing is being reported out of Rock Creek and Hell Creek Marinas. The walleye will begin to disperse out to the main lake points as the water temperature begins to warm. If you fish out of Hell Creek Marina you can fish Snow Creek and Crooked Creek Bays for good numbers of walleye using a white jig color and a minnow. The northern pike fishing will be amazing here as well as the smallmouth bass. Fish in the 12 to 18 foot water range for best results. Pitch a jig or a spinner or pull a crankbait and you are sure to have success. If you can hit Ft. Peck just right when warm weather and light winds are in the forecast, the fishing is truly outstanding, and you can target just about any species of fish you like. It’s a good idea to have reliable electronics to fish Ft. Peck, as it is big, and some of the bays can seem to go on forever. Call Hell Creek Marina at 557-2345 or Bill at Rock Creek at 485-2560 for reports on Ft. Peck.
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UTILITY ATVs ARE RECOMMENDED FOR RIDERS 16 YEARS OF AGE AND OLDER. ALL ATV RIDERS SHOULD TAKE A TRAINING COURSE AND READ THEIR OWNER’S MANUAL THOROUGHLY. MULTI-PURPOSE UTILITY VEHICLES CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO OPERATE. BIG RED IS ONLY FOR DRIVERS 16 YEARS AND OLDER. DRIVER AND PASSENGER MUST BE TALL ENOUGH FOR SEAT BELT TO FIT PROPERLY AND TO BRACE THEMSELVES WITH BOTH FEET FIRMLY ON THE FLOOR. PASSENGER MUST BE ABLE TO GRASP THE HANDHOLD. NEVER DRIVE WITH MORE THAN ONE PASSENGER. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT, AND KEEP THE SIDE NETS AND DOORS CLOSED. ALL MUV USERS SHOULD WATCH THE SAFETY VIDEO “MULTIPURPOSE UTILITY VEHICLES: A GUIDE TO SAFE OPERATION” AND READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL BEFORE OPERATING THE VEHICLE. FOR BOTH TYPES OF VEHICLES, ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, EYE PROTECTION AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING. AVOID EXCESSIVE SPEEDS, AND BE CAREFUL ON DIFFICULT TERRAIN. FOR YOUR SAFETY BE RESPONSIBLE. NEVER DRIVE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL, OR ON PUBLIC ROADS. RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT WHEN DRIVING. CRF450R IS INTENDED FOR CLOSED-COURSE OPERATION ONLY. ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, EYE PROTECTION AND PROTECTIVE CLOTHING, AND PLEASE RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT. OBEY THE LAW AND READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL THOROUGHLY. CRF®, Big Red® and Fourtrax Foreman 4x4 ES w/EPS Are Registered Trademarks Of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. honda.com (07/13) July 2013 29
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Speed Goats By Bob Humphrey, Yamaha Outdoors Photo: Bob Humphrey
Among the earliest western seasons to open up are elk and pronghorn. Endemic to the North
American continent, pronghorns are our fastest land animal. They have the eyesight of a hawk and the nose of a deer making them one of our most challenging big game animals. There are three general methods to hunt these speed goats: ambush, spot-and-stalk or decoying, all of which we’ll discuss below. AMBUSH Hunting from a blind positioned over a watering hole is a popular and productive method, though it requires a great deal of patience. You could be sitting for up to 14 hours in a blind, often in very warm temperatures. In fact, warm, dry conditions are favorable as they drive pronghorn to water. Prime hunting hours are the same as for most big game -- twilight -- but all-day hunting is recommended because antelope could come for a drink of water any time, even high noon. The more permanent the water source the better, as the goats will be more regular visitors. Pronghorns have keen noses so place your blind downwind of the waterhole. Having the sun at your back is also helpful, though difficult to accomplish if you hunt all day. Facing north is the best way to address that. You can also re-position throughout the day if the wind allows. SPOT-AND-STALK Spot-and-stalk hunting -- sneaking within range of one of the fastest, wariest and most keen-eyed creatures in the animal kingdom in open terrain with little or no cover -- may seem like an insurmountable challenge. But it can be done. Rolling hills and brushy draws offer far more cover than you might imagine, and you can sometimes use terrain and cover to your advantage. Pronghorn seem to be less wary of vehicles than hunters afoot, and while it’s unlikely you’ll be able to drive within range, you may be able to reach cover you wouldn’t be able to walk to. You can manage with a four-wheel-drive vehicle on ranch roads and smooth plains, but on rougher terrain ATVs -- either a four-wheeler with storage or a Side-by-Side vehicle -- make a much better option. You can drive over much rougher and steeper ground, get in and out of tight draws, haul all the food and water you’ll need for a day’s hunt and have an easy means for hauling your hard-won prize out. You’ll also need good optics. This includes a spotting scope of at least 20x and a tripod as well as 10x binoculars. A range finder is also a must for both gun and bowhunters. It’s generally more difficult to judge distance in open terrain and shots are often at longer ranges than eastern hunters are accustomed to. DECOYING During the rut you can sometimes lure buck antelope into range with a decoy. Challenging the dominance of a rutting buck with a buck decoy is much more effective than trying to lure him with a doe. With this method it’s advantageous to hunt with a partner so one hunter holds the decoy leaving the other free to shoot. To begin you employ the same methods as spot-and-stalk, trying to get as close as you can before showing your decoy. Because you may be sneaking, crawling and hiking over large areas, lightweight, portability makes two-dimensional silhouette decoys your best option. WHAT ELSE? Shots are often at long range so be sure to practice and sight in your gun or bow for longer shots. It’s early and it’s hot so bring along plenty of water. You may be creeping and crawling long distances across rough ground and the occasional cactus plant so knee pads and leather gloves are a strong consideration. Shooting sticks or a pod are also a good idea for the rifle hunter.
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Looking For A Trophy Whitetail?
(continued from page 5)
SHOT CONSIDERATIONS Contrary to what Eastern hunters might think, you don’t
necessarily have to take mile-long bow shots in the West. Most of your shots, like in the East, will be less than 40 yards, although my Bone Collector Brother Michael Waddell took a great buck at 52 yards a couple years ago on a Western hunt. Although your shots won’t necessarily be long, remember, Western deer are skittish. They are constantly dealing with lions and other predators. Aim at the heart or the lower one-third of the lungs to keep deer from ducking your arrow.
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WESTERN WEATHER Weather varies a lot in the West. It can be 30 degrees in the
morning and 90 degrees in the afternoon, so you really need to bring the full gamut of hunting gear, from heavy winter clothing down to shirtsleeves. Layering is key so you can adjust to changing temperatures. Obviously, hiding from the noses and eyes of so many deer is a challenge as well. Finding good stand sites that keep you concealed from deer is imperative. You also need to make sure you are as scent-free as possible, especially if the weather is hot. Using ScentBlocker’s scent-elimination products will ensure deer don’t bust you.
BONUS SPECIES The idea of watching dozens of deer in a single evening makes
hunting Western whitetails a very appealing proposition. As if that wasn’t enough, you can make your hunt a real dream by combining a whitetail hunt with other species. Mule deer and antelope are most likely to use similar habitat to whitetails. In fact, you’ll often see muleys while you’re whitetail hunting. Elk typically inhabit higher elevations, but with some extra work, you could chase elk as well. If you’ve only got one chance to hunt out West, why not go all out?
GO WEST Some hunters don’t even realize that Western states like Montana, Wyoming
and even Idaho have populations of white-tailed deer. This adaptable species keeps spreading West and into higher elevations. They are now quite abundant in many areas. Plus, they are pretty predictable and relatively easy to hunt. Although the Western states might seem like an unlikely place to shoot a trophy whitetail, you just might be amazed at the caliber and quantity of deer that live there! 32 - Hunting & Fishing News
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Pheasants Forever Spotlights the 12 Most Threatened Areas in Pheasant Country Sheridan County Named Pheasants Forever
...“ he list of the most threatened areas in pheasant country underscores the importance of the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the current CRP General Sign-Up,” says Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs. “Voluntary conservation programs like CRP provide the bulk of upland habitat in pheasant country. Sustainable farming operations include plans addressing soil, water and wildlife conservation and these farms and ranches support strong rural communities and our nation’s hunting heritage... Sheridan County, Mont. – This northeast Montana area is well-known for the quality pheasant habitat and great pheasant hunting and has been a destination for many hunters. Will it continue to hold that reputation in the future? Conservation Reserve Program acreage has dropped from 156,000-plus acres to just over 111,000 acres and another 17,000 acres leave the program this year. In addition to pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge are upland game birds affected by the habitat loss. For the complete list visit pheasantsforever.org.
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Rocky Mountain Map Gallery Debuts Custom Printed Maps Kiosk Missoula’s Rocky Mountain Map
Gallery announced that it has partnered with MyTopo of Billings, MT to provide an in-store mapping kiosk allowing customers to quickly create and order custom-printed topographic maps and aerial photos. According to Rocky Mountain Map Gallery owner, Kevin McCann, “While we still carry a complete inventory of large-scale USGS Topo sheets for the northern Rocky Mountains region, we were getting a steady and increasing number of requests for custom area and scale topographic maps that would combine several individual topo sheets onto a single, water-proof sheet. MyTopo offered exactly what we needed to set up our in-store mapping kiosk.” MyTopo’s dynamic system will also give Rocky Mountain Map Gallery customers the option to add US Forest Service roads, public land boundaries, Game Management Unit (GMU) boundaries, GPS tracks and waypoints, and other data layers to a custom-centered and -scaled topographic or aerial photo base map. While the MyTopo.com website allows anyone to create and order a custom printed map online, the Map Gallery will have numerous examples of the actual printed maps on-hand for customers to preview and gallery staff can assist with creating a custom map by quickly navigating the online map creation interface while explaining some of the more technical options available regarding map scales, coordinate system grids and datums. Once the customer’s map is created, the order is placed through MyTopo, where it is printed to the customer’s specification and shipped within 24 hours directly to the customer’s address. Turn-around time from when the map is ordered to delivery is generally 2-3 days with standard shipping. The Rocky Mountain Map Gallery has been selling maps and guidebooks through its Missoula gallery since 2009. They also offer a unique selection of antique and vintage maps, books and art prints focused on the landscape, history and culture of Montana and the Rocky Mountain west. The gallery is located at 1710 Brooks St... For more information, call 406-542-1541 or visit the gallery online at www.rockymtnmaps.com. MyTopo is based in Billings, MT. MyTopo provides navigation-ready mapping services, data, and software for professional and recreational use with a focus on efficient delivery accompanied by exceptional customer service. For more information, call 877-587-9004 or visit MyTopo online at www.mytopo.com.
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Southeast Montana Elk Numbers Continue to Rise
(continued from page 10)
Neither sounds ideal to me,” said Waltee. According to Waltee, MFWP Biologists use antlerless quotas to manage populations. “A single bull can breed more than 20 cows in a season, so harvesting males has little impact on population growth rates. Elk population management will depend on increasing annual cow harvest.” Annual cow harvest across HDs 704 and 705 is increasing and has averaged 112 over the past five years. However, it remains lower than needed to curb continued population growth. Approximately 160 cow elk need to be harvested annually to match reproductive rates and maintain current populations. “This seems like a marginal increase but population growth becomes exponential,” Waltee explained. “The more cow elk there are giving birth, the faster the population will grow.” If the population exceeds or even approaches 4,000 individuals, it will become difficult to achieve sufficient harvest to manage population growth. Because the increase in cow harvest necessary to curb growth is currently minimal, now is the time to act. Ten to fifteen years from now will be too late,” Waltee cautions. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will be looking to increase antlerless harvest opportunities on United States Forest Service (USFS) lands in Region 7 and encourages private landowners to allow hunter access to harvest cow elk. Current elk harvest structure in HDs 704 and 705 require a permit to harvest antlered elk or antlerless elk on USFS lands. A general elk license but no permit is required to harvest antlerless elk on private, state, or Bureau of Land Management lands outside of USFS Administrative Boundaries. Because deer and not cow elk hunting attracts most hunters to southeast Montana, Waltee suspects the key to successful elk population management will be allowing access to hunters targeting deer but who will also harvest cow elk as opportunities arise. “The need to capitalize on antlerless harvest opportunities is the primary reason MFWP implemented and has maintained the general antlerless structure outside of USFS boundaries,” Waltee said. “This structure provides landowners with the flexibility needed to manage private lands elk populations within their tolerance.” Waltee’s concern with growing elk populations are the resource competition impacts they will have on other wildlife like mule deer and also local livestock operations. “Elk have become popular across southeast Montana, but too many will have a substantial impact,” Waltee said. One adult elk equals 0.6 Animal Unit Months (AUM). This means that a single elk will consume 3 times the forage of a mule deer, which equal 0.2 AUM, and about 60% of the forage required for a cow-calf pair. “Wildlife managers and enthusiasts need to recognize the impacts elk have on folks trying to balance wildlife populations with making a living off of the land they manage,” said Waltee “The goal” Waltee emphasized, “is not to drive elk populations down, but work towards maintaining current populations which are manageable, socially acceptable, are providing reasonable recreation opportunities, and have not significantly impacted mule deer populations. Simply defined, we have struck a good balance between interests.” Those interested in learning more about survey efforts or findings are encouraged to contact Wildlife Biologist Dean Waltee at (406) 436-2327 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. 34 - Hunting & Fishing News
July 2013 35
Babe Winkelman and his Montana buck
It’s Summer, And Bowhunting Is On Your Mind... By Babe Winkelman
he hunting bug. Yes, it’s all-consuming. I’ve got it. You’ve got it. And even when it’s the off-season it doesn’t go away. There is simply no cure. So what’s a person to do when they want to hunt but can’t? The answer is easy: become a better hunter. There are two sure-fire ways to improve your odds of scoring in the upcoming season. One is to improve your knowledge of the animals in your hunting grounds; and you can do this through scouting and observing, either on foot with binoculars or with cutting-edge digital scouting cameras. The second way to become a more accomplished predator is to hone your shooting skills during the off-season, to help ensure lethal arrow placement later.
Your eyes in the woods Digital scouting cameras have forever changed the way we scout for whitetails. In addition to showing you the exact animals you have working your property, they can also help you “pattern” the herd, as well as individual bucks. I talked to a bowhunter and fan recently at a sport & hunting show. He was eager to show me photos on his smartphone of a buck he harvested last year. It was a dandy! A mature 4 x 5 with amazing mass and big, palmated brow tines that looked like knife blades. He told me the story of how he took the impressive whitetail. He had one of his Cuddeback cameras on the edge of a tiny food plot he had planted in a small clearing in his woods. He retrieved his images once a week during mid-afternoon when he was least likely to spook anything. On several occasions, when there was a south wind, he had photographic evidence of the buck accessing the food plot at about 4:30 p.m. So this sharp guy waited for an afternoon when there was a perfect south wind and snuck into his stand near that food plot at about 2:00 p.m. Right around 4:20, that massive 9-pointer came sneaking in for an afternoon snack – just like clockwork. The hunter’s Rage broadhead from 30 yards blew through both lungs and made that young man a very happy bowhunter! This demonstrates an important point about using Cuddebacks. Instead of just looking at all the interesting pictures you capture, keep careful daily records of wind direction, temperature, lunar phase and general conditions so you can cross-reference the dates and times of photos. This will dramatically help you pattern deer movement and activity. During the summer months, scouting cameras can reveal a lot about what you can expect come fall. No, you can’t look at polished antlers. But you can monitor those bucks in velvet as they grow. One of my favorite summer Cuddeback tactics is to put the cameras near mineral lick sites, because deer visit those sites very predictably to get the nutrients they instinctively know they need for antler growth, milk production, etc.
Shoot your best! Aside from scouting, the other critical off-season activity is to spend time at the range. If you have enough room where you live to take even 15-yard shots, set a goal for yourself to take at least 10 shots per day. And when you practice, try to mix things up a bit. Put your Block target behind narrow gaps between trees, so it becomes commonplace to snake arrows through small openings. Shoot standing, but also practice your shooting from sitting on a stool, kneeling and even sitting on the ground. If you hunt primarily from a treestand, put your Block target below an upstairs deck, or strap a ladder stand to a tree in your yard. Shooting from an elevated position, particularly down at severe angles, is far different than shooting on flat ground. Repeated practice sessions do more than improve your shooting form and accuracy. They also extend your range and they build the most important characteristic a bowhunter can have: Confidence! When you KNOW a buck is going down the moment you release that bowstring... well, that’s just the greatest feeling in the world. Editor’s note: Always check Big Game Regulations in your hunting area for the use of motion-tracking devices and/or camera devices, and the use of mineral lick. 36 - Hunting & Fishing News
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Begin your bowhunter education certification by studying at home on your computer. Upon successful completion of the online bowhunter education course (which is confirmed by taking an exam online) you will be issued a Field Day Qualifier Certificate. This Field Day Qualifier Certificate is necessary to obtain entrance into the final portion of your bowhunter education course, which takes place with certified Montana instructors in the field. After completing the field day portion, you will then receive your official proof of course completion.
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Helena 406-449-3111 RMEF Grants...(continued from page 25)
Madison County—Treat 165 acres of invasive weeds to improve forage on elk summer and transitional range in the Ruby Watershed on the BDNF. Missoula County—Sponsor Forest Discovery Days, a three-day outdoor event attended by nearly 500 fifth graders offering education on career opportunities in the forest industry such as forest ecology, wildlife, wildfire, and wood processing. Petroleum County—Conduct prescribed burn over 4,400 acres in the Missouri River Breaks as part of continuing partnership with BLM to increase the production and diversity of forbs on elk winter range. Powell County—Treat 429 acres of noxious weeds in the Marcum Mountain area as part of a multi-year effort on BLM lands to increase forage for elk and other wildlife. Ravalli County—Provide third year of funding for Bitterroot elk survival and recruitment study which includes additional calf tagging and follow-up to maintain an adequate sample size; and sponsor a workshop supporting a statewide coalition of diverse interests that raise awareness of local wildfire threats and issues. Sanders County—Reduce encroaching conifers to rejuvenate shrubs, grasses and forbs across 1,098 acres of elk winter range in the Kootenai National Forest; chemically treat noxious weeds on 285 miles of roads (or approximately 900 acres) across private and public lands within the Fisher/Thompson conservation easement (also affects Flathead and Lincoln Counties); use chain saws to conduct pre-burn slash treatments on 75 acres of elk winter range in the Lolo National Forest. Silver Bow County—Implement noxious weed treatment on 700 acres on BLM lands within the Big Hole River Watershed on critical elk and mule deer winter range and calving habitat. Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage and marketing projects for funding. Partners for 2012 projects in Montana include the Bureau of Land Management; Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Flathead, Gallatin, Helena, Kootenai, and Lolo National Forests; Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; and other state agencies, private landowners, foundations, organizations and universities. July 2013 37
Bob Ward & Sons New Gear Review
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Optimus Vega Camp Stove Integrated 4 Season mode The new Optimus Vega is a high
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1Offer valid from June 1, 2013, until July 31, 2013. 3.9% APR is for 60 months only on all Gator Utility Vehicles excluding TX Turf and ProGator. 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. Available at participating dealers. Prices and models may vary by dealer. †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 destination 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. 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. 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. FOX is a trademark of FOX 2.0 Performance Series Shocks. John Deere’s green and yellow color scheme, the leaping deer symbol and JOHN DEERE are trademarks of Deere & Company. A0D030DCU1A54752-00000000 38 - Hunting & Fishing News
Waterworks is about. The Speedster is a super-high retrieve rate reel with a narrower spool, inboard mounted handle and an outer diameter significantly larger than Waterwork’s highest performing reels. The narrow spool prevents line barreling, the added circumference and inboard handle improve retrieve rate. Mate these features with their time tested smooth as silk, maintenance free drag system, Classic Waterworks Lamson styling and attention to detail, and you have what the name implies: A Hotrod of a reel.
With just 3 years under their belt, Strother Archery is
fast becoming a leader in the industry. Their Badger Cam’s power stroke is second to none and enables every archer to “Extend Their Range” beyond what they’ve had in other bows. This cam system is easy to tune, simple to service and requires little maintenance. Combine that with their Precision Limb Technology, a limb that is like no other limb on the market. It will hold a dimension tolerance and deflection tolerance that will eliminate many of the issues seen on the market today. Their Super-Glide cable slide has no moving parts leading to increased reliability and minimized failure in the field. A solid bow for your money. See these and other fine products at one of the 5 Bob Ward & Son’s locations in Missoula, Bozeman, Helena, Butte, Hamilton or shop 24/7 online at www.bobwards.com
Bob Ward’s Shooter’s Weekend To Raise Money For Buck Up For Wounded Warriors Bob Ward & Sons’ 10th Annual Shooter’s
Weekend will be held on August 3rd and 4th. Proceeds from the shooting demo this year will again benefit Buck Up For Wounded Warriors. Bob Ward’s has teamed up with hunting brands Federal, Remington, Browning and Vortex Optics, to raise funds for © Teresa Kenney | Dreamstime.com “Buck Up”, whose mission is to provide Combat Veterans and their Families with a Support Team, tools, and training required to successfully transition into their community as a productive and independent survivor. (www.buckupforwoundedwarriors.com) On Saturday, August 3rd, the shoot will be held in the Missoula area at Deer Creek Shooting Center. On Sunday, August 4th, the shoot moves to the Butte area and will be held at the Rocker Gun Range. Times for both events are 10am – 4pm. There is no charge for spectators, but there is a charge to demo guns and shoot. Proceeds from shooting tickets in the past have been donated by Bob Ward’s to various outdoor and sporting related causes. We are excited to again partner with Buck Up for Wounded Warriors.
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Missoula: Grant Creek Inn (July 20th) - 3pm to 8pm
Receive a $10.00 gift coupon from Sponsor Bob Ward & Sons
Great Falls: Townhouse Inn (July 21st) - 12pm to 5pm Receive a $10.00 gift card from sponsor Big Bear Sports
Helena: Holiday Inn (July 22nd) - 5pm to 10pm
Receive a $10.00 gift coupon from Sponsor Bob Ward & Sons
Bozeman: C’Mon Inn (July 23rd) - 5pm to 10pm
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Billings: Hampton Inn (July 24th) - 5pm to 10pm
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Shooter’s Weekend is an opportunity for enthusiasts to experience with hands on demonstrations a variety of rifles, shotguns and handguns from many different manufacturers. Shooters are encouraged to bring friends and family, as this is an event for everyone from novices to experts. Bob Ward’s experienced staff, vendors and volunteers will be on hand to assist all shooters. Children under 18 years must be accompanied by a parent in order to shoot. Gun manufacturers Remington, Marlin, Savage, Browning, Winchester, Nighthawk Custom, Springfield Armory, Ruger, Glock, Smith and Wesson, Franklin Armory, Walther, Barrett, AAC, LWRC, Silencerco, Sure Fire, Benelli, Beretta, Sako, FNH, Ruger, Armalite, Weatherby will be represented. Bob Ward’s and the manufacturers provide firearms and ammunition and request that the public not bring their own. Bob Ward’s is Montana’s oldest and largest sporting goods retailer with stores in Missoula, Butte, Helena, Hamilton and Bozeman, and online at www.bobwards.com. In June, the company celebrated its 96th anniversary. For more information, contact Ryan Corwin, Bob Ward’s Advertising Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 406.728.3220. July 2013 39
Trust Your Hunting Guide
Photo and editorial by Steve Hickoff, Yamaha Outdoors
hey often know the land, the game animals and birds on it, better than anyone. These hard-working guides deal with a variety of hunters, from the absolutely inexperienced to veteran gunners, but often the former rather than the latter. If you hunt with and hire out professional guides, trust their judgment when they call the shot—within reason, of course. In the end though, you pull the trigger. If possible, meet with the guide before going a field, and discuss your preferences for the hunt. Listen to them too. Some outfits conduct pre-hunt lodge discussions the night before clients and guides go out. If the camp you’re visiting doesn’t allow time to exchange ideas in this setting, suggest it at the supper table, or some other comfortable situation. Ideally your hunting guide should know your gun or bow’s limitations, the ammo or archery tackle you’re using, and most of all, your experience level. Relax, but not too much. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. Pressing too hard has a way of translating into a lack of hunting success—both shooting, and otherwise. Both buck fever—the sudden, undeniable racing of your heart and failure to stay calm when you need to react— along with the opposite exaggerated nonchalance of not being fully prepared, will make you miss shots, and fail to close the deal. Bear down in the moment of truth. You’ve worked too hard to arrive at that opportunity to blow it. 40 - Hunting & Fishing News
The Elk Rut
(continued from page 7)
However, a second phase of younger or unbred cows going into estrus (again) occurs to some extent in October, but not like the peak of the elk rut. Rifle hunters still call bull elk in after rifle season starts, if they are in the right place at the right time. At this time the cows begin to herd up before winter. The bulls will join those herds that have young cows going into estrus. Consequently, these herds might be quite large and vocal. When herds are large, elk are actually harder to find because they aren’t spread out all over the place. If you find those herds and their travel routes, you’ve found some bulls to call and hunt! But remember the number of eyes available now to guard that herd. Hunt between the bedding and feeding areas. Use calf calls and excited estrus calls once you get close.
A Third Rut Cycle? Some research indicates that a few very young cows go into estrus for the first time well into November. Wary bulls who have been well educated and reminded about sneaky hunters who sound like cow elk may be hard to pull in with a cow call. Spray a little Elk Fire, or other “cow elk in estrus” pee around and give a few estrus squeals. Otherwise, man the binoculars and make some tracks, ever ready for the unexpected.
Forget the Rules! Full Speed Ahead! The peak of the elk rut is pure magic! There is no more truly fascinating time for a hunter than being in the middle of a crazy, fighting, rowdy, noisy circus of elk acting plumb stupid. Don’t let less than ideal circumstances discourage you. On a very warm morning in 2009 I shot a nice six point bull at 10:00 A.M. during the peak of the rut. Despite the heat, elk were still going nuts all around me and even walked up and looked at me while I was field dressing my kill over an hour later. In 2008, after a quiet, discouraging morning on the public land side of the fence, some hunters from the private land side pushed a herd of around 100 elk over to me. Their elk rut activity was undaunted. They all walked single file from my right to my left as they fought, bugled, screamed and raked trees in transit just out of bow range of me. It was like watching a surreal movie. The whole scenario took a half hour to play itself out. The point is, remember the rules of thumb, but be prepared to throw the “rules” out and just go with the flow.
July 2013 41
Deer Blinds or Ladder Tree Stands: Which Work Best for Deer Hunters? By Marty Prokop www.free-deer-hunting-tips.com /articles/deer_blinds_or_ladder_ tree_stands.htm © Bruce Macqueen | Dreamstime.com
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42 - Hunting & Fishing News
Iversus n a prior blog post Moses asked about deer hunting from ground blinds ladder style deer hunting tree stands and which worked better. I have tried both ground blinds and ladder tree stands. I’ve had great deer hunting success using both. Marty Prokop on Ladder-Style Deer Hunting Tree Stands There are many brands of ladder tree stands available for deer hunting. You can choose a single-person ladder tree stand, two-man ladder tree stands, tripod ladder tree stands, four-legged ladder tree stands and even fully enclosed shooting house ladder tree stands. I prefer the larger platform, shooting and side rails and overall comfort of the two-man ladder tree stand. Personally, I feel safer using a two-man tree stand even though I deer hunt with one person in the tree stand. A ladder tree stand is a little harder to conceal than a portable deer hunting tree stand. Try to place your deer hunting tree stand at least one month or longer, if you are able, prior to when you plan to deer hunt from it. Always check your state and local deer hunting regulations prior to placing any tree stands in your deer hunting area. Marty Prokop Secret for Picking the Right Tree Place your ladder tree stand so the ladder and tree stand platform are concealed by brush or small saplings but will still allow you to access the ladder safely. I find a tree that is strong enough for my deer hunting tree stand with smaller trees clustered around it. I secure my deer hunting tree stand platform to the large tree in the center of the tree cluster. I position it so the smaller trees camouflage — or break up the visual pattern of — my deer hunting tree stand. Use camouflage burlap or other camouflage material to drape your deer hunting platform. I actually make “walls” of camouflage material. My tree stand looks like it is a camouflage house without a roof. The camouflaged walls help conceal movements when you are sitting in your tree stand and will provide a wind break. Make sure the material does not affect your ability to climb into your deer hunting tree stand safely. If there are no tree clusters available, then I choose a tree with low hanging branches the tree stand platform can sit above. Having the platform of your ladder tree stand above some branches will help break up the outline of the platform when a deer looks up at the tree. Drape the shooting platform and the shooting rest with camouflage burlap for added concealment.
Ladder tree stands set up properly will allow you to sit longer and more comfortably, which could help you bag a big buck. How Marty Prokop Uses Deer Hunting Blinds Deer hunting blinds can be very effective tools in helping you tag a deer. Always consult your state and local hunting regulations to see if deer hunting from a deer blind is legal for your area. In prior deer hunting seasons I constructed ground deer hunting blinds from vegetation and downed trees. Deer moved in fairly close to the blinds made of natural items found in the deer hunting woods. As a result, many deer were tagged from these homemade blinds. During the most recent deer hunting season, I opted to try one of the pop-up style deer hunting blinds. One nice feature about most pop-up deer hunting blinds is being totally sheltered from the elements. You can sit in rain, snow and windy conditions and stay warm and dry. The longer you are able to comfortably sit in one place, the more likely you are to tag a big buck deer. There are many styles of pop-up deer hunting blinds on the market today. Look for a deer hunting blind with a dark interior and scent-blocking liner. The dark interior helps shadow a hunter while sitting in the blind. The scent-blocking liner will help, but not totally prevent, human odor from contaminating the deer hunting area. Choose a pop-up blind that has large, shoot-thru camouflage mesh windows. This will let you see deer as they approach and help conceal your movements inside the blind. Whether using a portable deer hunting blind or building one from natural materials you find on your deer hunting land, always set up your deer hunting blind at least two months before deer hunting season begins. This allows deer in the area to become accustom to it, and they move about in more normal patterns providing you a chance at a perfect shot. Marty Prokopâ€™s Deer Hunting Blind Special Tip Most pop-up deer hunting blinds I have researched give the option of using the shoot-through mesh to cover the window opening or having an open window. This past deer hunting season I used both options. On certain days I would unzip the window and not place the camouflage mesh over the opening. On other days I would open the windows and cover them with the camouflage mesh. Deer were spooked by the large black hole created by having the window open without the camouflage mesh. When the window openings were covered with the camouflage shoot-through mesh, I saw more deer at closer ranges. Good Luck and Great Hunting. Marty Prokop http://www.free-deer-hunting-tips.com
About Marty Prokop Deer hunting expert Marty Prokop reveals closely guarded deer hunting secrets on how to get deer every time. Get his Free Deer Hunting Tips Newsletter, free deer videos and free online deer hunting game at Free Deer Hunting Tips.com Marty Prokop has 24-years experience The Ravage Ground Blind from Big Game. deer hunting, processing deer for deer Typical ground blind used by western hunters. hunters and venison sausage making. Marty Prokop teaches deer hunting, hunter safety, deer processing and deer sausage making classes. Marty Prokop has processed 7,805 deer, field dressed 422 deer and made over 991,990 pounds of sausage, smoked meats and jerky. Marty Prokop worked with Minnesota DNR programs. His deer hunting videos are used in statewide advanced hunter education classes. Marty Prokop is a successful speaker, outdoor writer and published author. July 2013 43
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Located in Missoula, MT., Snowy Mountain Rifles creates custom long range hunting and tactical rifles you can count on. The above custom hunting rifle was built by Snowy Mountain Rifles. It is chambered in the popular 6.5x284. It was built on the 360 Series action. It has a maple laminate stock,stainless steel Lilja #5 weight barrel in 1-8 twist. Timney trigger, 0 MOA Rail, PTG steel bottom Metal. Rifle was Cerakoted matte black.
This Rifle is 6.5x47 and built on a SMR 350 Series action. It has jewel trigger, SMR bottom metal, Lilja vamint taper, and HS Precision stock. The barrel is 25” and Cerakoted OD Green. Snowy Mountain Rifle Company 406-546-8732 or www.snowymountainrifles.com
Montana Rifle Company’s ASR The ASR is a classic rifle offered in either matte blued chrome moly
steel or 100% stainless steel barreled actions. The ASR in chrome moly blued steel is offered in a field grade American Black Walnut stock and the ASR-SS is a stainless steel barreled action in a field grade American Black Walnut stock. The ASR line is available in 22 different cartridges and in right or left hand configurations. Montana Rifle Company 406-756-4867 www.montanarifle.com
Model 56 from Cooper Firearms Although still a young company, Cooper Firearms of Montana, Inc. has firmly placed its mark in the history of American shooting sports by having set a standard of quality formerly reserved only to custom gunmakers. The company introduced the Model 56 in several magnum calibers in early 2010. With its sucess the Model 56 became the basis for the very sought after “Best of the West” Signature Model 560 featured in its very popular TV Show. Available in many styles and calibers.
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Nikon’s advanced ID Technology compensates for various incline or decline shooting angles—up to an incredible +/- 89 degrees (nearly vertical up or down).
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HANDGUN HUNTING By Jeff Davis, Whitetails Unlimited If you’re looking for more challenge
in your hunting trips, try using a handgun. Delivering less power, range, and accuracy than a rifle, but much more than a bow and arrow, hunting with a handgun can make you a better hunter. TIP 1: DO IT RIGHT. Make sure you thoroughly understand all of the laws and regulations regarding handgun hunting in your area. Rules can vary widely from state to state, and an innocent assumption can get you in big trouble. In my state, no one outside of law enforcement can carry a concealed handgun, so if your coat falls across the butt of a holstered handgun, you may be committing a felony. TIP 2: SAFETY FIRST. Handguns are smaller, lighter, and shorter than rifles, and it is much easier to lose control of where the muzzle is pointing. Shooting your kneecap off in a tree stand will quickly ruin your day, so be extra vigilant with that basic commandment of firearm safety: Always control the muzzle of your firearm, and never point it at anything you don’t want to shoot. TIP 3: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. In the right hands, a high-powered, scoped handgun can reliably take deer far in excess of 100 yards. In the wrong hands, that same handgun will wound a deer at any range. Just as with rifles, muzzleloaders or bows, the difference is the shooter, not the device. Find the range at which you can put five out of five rounds into a paper plate, every time, under hunting conditions, and you have your maximum effective range with that handgun. It may be 30 yards, it may be 110, but whatever it is, don’t take a shot beyond your effective range. For me, that’s 40 yards offhand with iron sights on a .44 Magnum, and 110 yards with a supported, scoped Smith & Wesson .460. TIP 4: BRING ENOUGH GUN. Check state laws regarding minimum caliber or power laws, but make sure you use a caliber large enough for deer, and use ammunition designed for hunting. In my opinion, a .357 Magnum is the floor for deer, regardless of what the law allows. The S&W .500 and .460 are adequate for any North American big game, and again, in my opinion, are not too big for whitetails. I would rather drop an animal immediately than track it for hours. Do not substitute large calibers for shooting skill (see #3)...
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Hunting and fishing news and tips. Featuring Montana and the Rocky Mountains.