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July 2017


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Chicken of the River By Trevor Johnson, Kit’s Tackle and KT Sportfishing

InearcanMann still remember contouring the shores on upper Holter Lake Gulch with my dad and grandpa slaying the perch. In fact, like it was yesterday, I can vividly remember biting a hot tamale candy in half and placing it on my hook. The very next cast I was hooked up with a big yellow perch. Even being a young boy, I thought to myself, this is my kind of fish! Yellow perch are known for their eagerness to bite along with tremendous fun and excellent table fare.

In the last five years the perch population has made a triumphant comeback in Holter Lake. Everyone has their own opinion as to why, but at the end of the day, they are back in full force!

Author and fishing guide, Trevor Johnson with a Holter perch Although some folks complain it has made the larger

And Holter is booming with jumbo class fish from 10-13” with the occasional larger; along with a steady population of juvenile fish. Not only has this made Holter a blast to fish, but has provided a much needed core forage base for the larger fish.

walleyes and trout tougher to catch because they are constantly gorging on baby perch. In my eyes, the trade-off is well worth it to have a healthy and sustaining fishery.

July and August are my favorite months to target perch on Holter.

By mid-late summer the fish are fully recovered from the spawn and have the feedbag turned to maximum overdrive. They have transformed from skinny post spawn fish into goliath Komodo dragon looking creatures! When filleted properly, the loin of the fillet can be upwards of an inch thick! NOW THAT’S A CHICKEN STRIP OF THE RIVER!! It is a huge misconception that ice fishing or winter fishing for fat pre-spawn fish is the best time to target perch. All the body mass has been depleted to help with egg production and the smaller males with sperm production. I would say there is about half as much meat on a perch in the winter vs a mid-late summertime fish. Also, with Holter being such a nutrient rich cold water system with ambient current the fish are just as good eating in July and August. By mid-summer Holter forms magnificent weed beds along the shores that are like a 24 hour McDonald’s to the perch. The weeds hold everything from hatching bugs to leeches and minnows. Our favorite areas to target are around Cottonwood Creek to the main lake. Our favorite approach is to cast small 1/16 oz jigs along the weed edges in 6-10 FOW.

IT IS ALSO BIG FUN TO USE SLIP BOBBERS WITH LEECHES FOR MAXIMUM VISUAL STIMULATION..ESPECIALLY WITH KIDS ON BOARD! There is also a deeper population of perch throughout the summer. We target these fish in 18-30 FOW in the first couple miles of the canyon at the Gates of the Mountain entrance. For these fish, we use a very unique and effective program. And the cool thing is we pick up a few bonus eater walleye along the way also!

This rig we have developed has out-fished anything else we have ever tried. You ride the drop shot weight across the bottom and this keeps the hooks right in the face of the perch. The VMC Spinshot hooks allow the leeches to swim in a full 360 degree motion. YOU’RE WELCOME!!!!!!! Before you go hook up to your boat and grab your rods please hear me out. We as anglers can be our own worst enemies. It is easy to fall in with the crowd that thinks there is so many perch that what harm could just one guy do to the population? I ask of you to be proactive and do the right thing for the fishery. For example, the summertime perch have such an abundance of meat on them that I on average keep eight good size perch for my family to have a feast. That is sixteen meaty fillets ready for the frying pan. Ultimately it is up to you, please just be mindful and respectful of the fishery. I have two eager little kids at home that can’t to go perchin’ this summer at Holter. And keep in mind, Holter was perchless for a lot of years due to over-harvest of the fish. Enjoy the fishery, protect the resource, and have a blast “Jiggin’ the Dream” for the “chickens of the river” on Holter Lake. Trevor is the co-founder of Kit’s Tackle “Jiggin’ the Dream” along with his father, Kit. He is a true made in Montana fishing guide, an insane outdoor enthusiast, a wild man in the woods and on the water and they even say he’s a quarter mountain goat. He’s a happy husband, a proud daddy to a beautiful little girl and boy, and two sweet dogs. When he’s not shoveling coal into the jig engine, you can find him on the water or leaving boot tracks in the wilds of Montana. To book a guided fishing trip with Trevor call (406) 459-2841 or (406) 459-5206.




Photo credit: Brady Miller

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D rawing an antelope tag for a trophy unit in many of the Western states is difficult at best. This year, I put my 16

bonus points — 14 from unsuccessful past draws and two extras from hunter education and hunter loyalty — to work for me. As it turned out, I had luck on my side and I drew an archery antelope tag in northern Arizona’s Unit 7. In Arizona, archery tags are tough to get, but it can take 20 years or more to draw the more coveted rifle tag. My point: although it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime tag, when the opportunity presents itself, you better take advantage of any antelope tag you draw in the West.


As hardcore hunters we know that scouting leads to success, but sometimes we are guilty of internalizing the scouting process. In other words, we fail to actually follow a process other than just “scouting.” Don’t beat yourself up — this is true of many of our daily activities, too. However, the most successful individuals often follow a process or set of habits that they have either created on their own or have adopted from another. You’ve probably seen a headline like “5 Daily Habits of Highly Successful People.” That is what I am referring to. For hunters, it becomes a certain number of dedicated habits while scouting to become a more successful hunter. Believe me, there is not a one-size-fits-all plan and you probably already have a routine in the back of your head that you’ve been using. To scout more efficiently, lay out a plan to prepare for your upcoming antelope hunt. This will allow you to externalize a process; call it what you want, I call it a game plan. To do that, here are a few thoughts to make the most of your scouting this summer and fall.

EXPECTATIONS NEEDED BEFORE YOU SCOUT First, get a realistic perspective of the unit you will be hunting and the quality of bucks that reside there. Knowing what to expect of the unit(s) you will be hunting will pay dividends while scouting and during the actual hunt. There is no reason to hold out for a 90” antelope if there aren’t any to hold out for. Once you have realistic expectations, you can set your harvest goal(s). There are several tools at your disposal to get a better handle of the trophy-caliber of bucks in your hunt area. (continued page 28)


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Painting entitled “Meat is not meat until it’s in the pot” (photo


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A s the stalk began Bill mentioned a few words of wisdom from a Charlie Russell painting: “Meat isn’t meat until it is

in the pot.” He couldn’t have been more right. As with any hunt there are plenty of things that can unravel at any time. By the time we got within rifle range, it seemed like what was once a sure thing was now up to luck as the band of rams were on the move and fast. This story is written about a day full of memories shared with a brother and a father on a sheep hunt in Montana. Bill has battled with multiple sclerosis for years and was able to finally draw a glory tag in his home state of Montana. He was thankful that his legs had enough gunpowder in them to see him through the hunt. As with any hunting expedition, the alarm clock gets set pretty early. The day was going to begin with a boat ride upriver in search of a quality bighorn sheep. We were going to be running the river fraught with boulders and hidden gravel bars. To add to the difficulty level, the river is chocolate milk, which makes “reading the river” nearly impossible. To add to our good fortune, the morning fog had rolled in and now had taken the river from a black diamond to a double black. Having quite a bit of jet boat driving experience, I wasn’t overly concerned. I just didn’t want to get welded to the bottom on rocks before making it to our hunting spot. I have heard plenty of stories with guys stranded for days on gravel bars as well as plenty of others with guys tearing out their impellers. Everyone has a boat story if they have hunted that country long enough. (continued on page 12)

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The author Jason Mitchell shares some insight on productive tactics for live bait rigging walleye.

Power Rigging By Jason Mitchell

L ive bait is a critical component to catching walleye on many fisheries. Even with the advent of soft plastics and the fact that more walleye anglers

have confidence with artificial baits, there is still a time and place for live bait. With today’s presentations that have replaced live bait with soft plastics in regards to both rigging and jigging, the fall back to live bait often correlates with finesse and triggering fish that won’t commit to more aggressive presentations. When you need to sit on a spot, live bait still shines.

Live bait is far from dead and the dependency of using live bait can vary from angler to angler and lake to lake.

Some fisheries just seem to require live bait if fish are going to be caught with any consistency. Typically, if you have extremely clear water, low population densities of fish and an abundance of forage… live bait will often trump everything. With my own fishing, live bait can be a productive fall back option. I often start out using soft plastics and start out covering water. Typically, you can find the fish and catch the easy fish with soft plastics or artificial baits before eventually wearing out your welcome. After you wear out your welcome on a spot and remove the easy fish, decreasing the competition amongst the remaining fish… these remaining fish typically become tougher to catch. At this point you have two options, you can either keep moving and find new fish or you can hunker down with live bait and scratch a few more. Because of this overall strategy or theme, my live bait rigging has evolved to be a change-up pitch that is used as a final trick in the bag as soft plastics are used on jigs, harnesses and slow death presentations. The reality is that like many walleye anglers, I only use live bait a fraction of what I did twenty years ago. When a spot goes cold, you can either keep grinding away with what worked earlier and wait out fish movements as new fish recharge the spot or you can change up what you are doing to catch fish that have ignored you thus far. Live bait is now what I divert to when nothing else is working. What can scratch more fish off a spot is simply change. The change is what is most important in that there is no silver bullet but simply changing bait, angle and look can often catch a few more fish. Here are a few tricks that have worked well through the years. Scoot and Shoot In water deeper than ten feet, you need to trust your electronics. Speed up and scoot around until you mark fish. Remember as well that when you wear out your welcome in a spot, one of the first things that can happen when a spot gets too much pressure is the size of the fish drops off. When looking for fish with your electronics, the thicker or taller marks are typically your bigger fish. When you find a targeted fish, you can either use the spot lock on your trolling motor or hover if back trolling. If hovering over the top doesn’t work, try going over the fish and dragging past the fish. After you get past the fish, turn around and hit a different angle. It is amazing at times how a fish will require a few tries and only hit on one specific angle. The quicker you can scoot and cover water between fish, the more fish you can catch so often I revert to heavier snells like ten-pound test so the snell doesn’t get all twisted up as I cover water between fish. Bait and Switch So often, anglers get locked in to a specific bait type. Minnows in the spring, crawlers and leeches in the summer. Some lakes require shiners where as other situations require chubs or rainbows. There are general rules of thumb where some minnow or bait types shine on specific fisheries or seasons but when things get tough, give the fish a different look. If you have beat up some fish on a jig and shiner, try making a pass through the spot with a rig and leech. Experiment with different baits and sizes because what can work so well is to just give the fish something different. Keeping bait in tip top condition is paramount when fishing gets tougher. Keep crawlers and leeches on ice. Give leeches new water frequently and use fresh caught wild minnows. So often, the best live bait riggers simply have the best bait. Some anglers trap or catch their own minnows while others simply have better sources but better bait means better fishing. When surface temps warm up, putting a block of ice in part of the live well and using the recirculation can keep minnows in better shape. A live well additive like G Juice (U2 formula) works well keeping minnows in top form. Feeding versus Dragging There was a common thought with anglers at one time that live bait rigging meant keeping the bail of the reel open and feeding line to the fish when bit. Anglers would count to five or ten seconds, close the bail and set the hook. Over the years, anglers have become more conservation minded by not purposely letting a fish swallow a hook. When feeding the fish the bait is necessary, simply dropping the rod tip back towards the fish will usually give the fish enough time to get the bait. What can also work extremely well particularly later in the summer when the water warms up is to not drop the rod tip back or feed fish line but to simply drag the fish with the rod. Let the rod simply load from the fish and keep your forward momentum. What I think happens at times is simply the walleye grabs on to the minnow or chub and the fish can feel the bait sliding out of their mouth. The fish simply chokes up on the bait faster and these fish often hook themselves. What can be amazing is that these two opposite responses can have drastic effects on your fishing. When the dragging response is working, anglers feeding line will struggle and vice versa. Most walleye anglers are familiar with feeding line or dropping the rod tip back… get comfortable with dragging fish before the hookset as well.

10 | Hunting & Fishing News

How To Fish The Jigging Rap FOR WALLEYES


By Tom Neustrom

Ieach t never fails to amaze how many baits flood the market year, but how few become fish-catching sensations.

Fact is, what creates a fish-catching phenomenon is not just the bait but the interpretation of how, when and where the bait should be fished. Case in point, the Rapala® Jigging Rap®, which has been around for decades as a go-to ice fishing bait—and would have stayed in hardwater circles had it not been for a few innovative walleye anglers. The word is out, but many anglers are still a bit puzzled …

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And Jigging Raps catch more than just walleyes.

Smaller #3 and #5 models are aces for panfish, especially during late summer, fall and winter. They’ve taken the bass world by storm, too. Even saltwater anglers are also beginning to harness the power of the erratic-moving bait. As with most artificial baits, there are myriad ways to fish a Jigging Rap. As a reaction bait, you may need to adjust your stroke to make it look interesting and edible to fish. Some days walleyes may prefer erratic and elusive movements; other days, a more subtle cadence may pay dividends. Experimentation is part of the gig, but ultimately, let the walleyes help you decide. “Should I troll or cast Jigging Raps?” Answer is: “all of the above and then some. ” Slow trolling with a bow-mount or transom-mount electric motor, casting, or drifting and maneuvering in current are effective ways to fish Jigging Raps. Slow Trolling with Electric Motor One of the best ways to fish a Jigging Rap is to locate fish with your electronics and systemically work the area. Sometimes I’ll set the Spot-Lock electronic anchoring function and vertically “bomb drop” to the fish I see on the screen. Other times, I may back-troll into the wind. Whatever you decide, the key is to keep the Jigging Rap in direct relation to the bottom and fish location, so stay under 1 mph, although you can increase trolling speed to cover more water if fish appear to be roaming larger areas. In terms of how to work the bait, the key is to be deliberate and consistent. Use a three-foot rod motion, starting at 9 o’clock, moving up to 11 o’clock, then returning to a short rest at 9 o’clock. This creates a bird-in-flight bait motion while bringing the bait back to the same depth at the end of each stroke. I keep my rod tip close to the water’s edge for the best feel bait location and potential bites. Many times you’ll simply feel the weight of a fish as you move forward to repeat the stroke, so there’s no need for a power hookset. Given the needle-sharpness of the Jigging Rap’s hooks, a firm pull is all you need. (continued on page 14)



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Making the climb out of the river (photo

In the back of my mind, I was wondering if Bill had enough power in his legs to get up to where I wanted to glass. After about 45 minutes of hiking, we had split up; my brother, Jeff, and I went one way and my dad and Bill went another. Shortly after separating, I turned around and asked Jeff, “Do you think dad can make it up this way?” to which he just smiled and shook his head no. We were on a near vertical face with about a 60’ vertical drop right below us. Once Jeff and I made it to the top of the ridge, we began to climb out of the fog. We spotted about 15 sheep on the opposite side of the river. That was out of our hunting district, but it’s always good to get the sheep count up. Once on the ridge we began walking out onto every finger, glassing into the hundreds of hiding spots for rams. There are countless places for sheep to hide. It only takes one step for the animals to disappear.

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View overlooking a foggy Montana Missouri River Breaks (photo

We began working our way up to the ridge. As we were almost to the end of the drainage we began talking about going back and meeting up with our dad. As most guys say to themselves, “Well, we’re already here. Let’s hit that next ridge.” Then, once we got there it was, “Well, let’s hit that next one.” Intuition tends to work out. We had almost reached where we were going to call it a day. Having not seen anything, Jeff and I were standing there talking and, since the day was warming up, I decided to take off my long johns. As I had my pants around my ankles, Jeff looked over my shoulder and 100 yards away there was a ram looking right at us. I told Jeff to hold tight; that sheep wasn’t by himself. Once he makes his way over the ridge, I told Jeff we’d hustle over there and see who he is with. After a five minute stare down, he finally disappeared. We trotted over to where he was, splitting up on the way over to cover his escape route. As it just so happened we spotted bighorns at 600 yards away and leaving the country. The ram we saw was with five other rams and one was worth a second look. I quickly got the spotting scope set up and began trying to get an idea of how big this ram was. I had a bittersweet feeling as I knew he was a good one, but these rams were looking like they were headed for the next county. We watched them for another 10 minutes until it looked like they were slowing down. They were on the opposite side of the drainage and a couple of the rams slowed down and started to feed. Knowing they were calming down, I finally had time to get a good look at the group. There were three nice rams in the group with one that was exceptional. We watched them for about another 45 minutes and made the determination that they looked like they weren’t going anywhere. I decided to leave Jeff there to keep a bead on these things while I went back to get my dad. Where we split up from Bill was quite a ways away and at least an hour hike. But this sheep was a shooter so some extra miles were needed to be made. Once I got back to where I could see the river I was a little surprised to see Bill on top of the ridge. He had made it to the top, which shortened my hike by quite a bit. Once I met up with him there was a short discussion about what we had seen. We made our way back up the ridge, trying to stay out of sight of the rams. Once we returned, the rams happened to be in the same spot as when I left. Bill took a quick look through the spotting scope and realized it was a good sheep and quite a bit better than a few of the rams that we had already passed on—all of which were already book rams. Because we were well out of rifle range, we made a plan to get up the ridge to where we thought we could tap the trigger. We worked up our way on the back side of the ridge to stay out of sight, periodically checking on the rams to see if they were holding position. Everything was looking good and it seemed like things were going to come together. This is when Bill busted out the Charlie Russell quote. As we dropped down into the draw to get within range I wanted to do one final check to make sure the rams were still in the same location. Well, as things go, they were nowhere to be seen. Just then Jeff spotted one of the smaller rams going into a draw. We only saw him for two seconds, I did a quick scan and couldn’t spot another ram. It looked as if the smaller ram was bringing up the rear, which told me the other sheep should be coming out of the top. (continued on page 30)

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Hunting & Fishing News | 13

How To Fish The Jigging Rap® FOR WALLEYES (continued from page 11)

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14 | Hunting & Fishing News

Casting Besides fishing vertically or on a slow troll, casting can also be effective. Al Lindner has had great success casting and retrieving Jigging Raps around structure, breaks and shallower flats on a slow troll from the bow while the angler in the rear drags a Jigging Rap. Fan cast the top and sides of structure. After making a long cast, follow the bait down with your rod tip and leave the bail open until the bait hits bottom. Then close the bail and start your retrieve. You can also cast, close your bail and follow the bait down, which allows you to react immediately. Reeling down to the 9 o’clock position and then pulling up to 11 o’clock is the best way to get the feel of this cast and retrieve presentation. Again, acquiring a cadence takes time, but this is a great way to fish quickly and thoroughly. Remember: When following the bait back down, be ready for a walleye to be there when you come back up. You can also do a kind of sideways retrieve, but casting directly forward and working back seems to be the most effective. Current Jigging Raps can also be effective in current areas. Whether anchored up, drifting, or casting, current presents an entirely different scenario. Water motion and speed can impart actions that can’t be created via other retrieves in still waters. One of the most effective methods is to orient the boat upstream of a river hole. Let your Jigging Rap tumble down into the hole, then make successive two- to three-foot rod pulls from deeper water over the upstream hole lip and back to the boat. You may need to experiment with Jigging Rap size to keep the bait in contact with bottom. I often size up to a #9 in current situations. Size Matters Jigging Rap size is dictated by water temperature, depth, speed, structure type, location, and forage size. For walleyes, I may use a #5 early in the season or shallow waters, but typically fish a #7, sizing up to a #9 in late summer and fall. As well, if I’m fishing greater depths or increased current, I bring out the #9. As for color, I start with patterns that mimic the forage where I’m fishing. Water clarity can also be a deciding factor. Perch patterns are typically my first choice, but several other colors work equally as well. I can’t emphasize enough that trial and error is key to fishing these magic baits. Play with size, color and cadence to find out what the walleyes want. Don’t give up to early if you’re not getting bit, just change size, color and cadence. Rods, Reels, and Line My preferred set-up is a 6’ 8” to 7’ 2” medium-light to medium-power fast-action spinning rod. When it comes to choosing the right line for Jigging Raps, the monofilament versus braid debate continues. While both have their place, my preferred setup is 10-pound Sufix® Castable Fluorocarbon. The combination of less stretch and near invisibility allows me to fish many situations efficiently. I attach a small #1 barrel swivel approximately three feet above my Jigging Rap to minimize line twist – and attach the other end of the swivel to a three-foot section of 10-pound Sufix monofilament and tie directly to the Jigging Rap, no clip required. What I like about the monofilament leader is it introduces some stretch to the system, which combined with low-stretch fluorocarbon, helps keep fish hooked. When is the right time to fish braid? I switch to 10-pound (4-pound diameter) Sufix 832® Braid when fishing current or deeper water. 10-4 braid gives me maximum strength while the small line diameter cuts through the water like a knife. Instead of a monofilament leader, I will switch to a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader for more immediate hooksets in deep water. Again, I use a barrel swivel to mitigate line twist, and I tie directly to the Jigging Rap. The learning curve with new presentations never fails to amaze me, and after years on the water, I’m still learning. While I’m constantly reminded that there are no absolutes in fishing, learning to fish the Jigging Rap has given me a new way to catch fish on just about any body of water at any time of the year.

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Fishing Yellowstone Park in July By Brian McGeehan Montana Angler call 406-522-9854 or

S imply put, July is a prime time to fish in Yellowstone National Park. As run-off subsides early in the month,

anglers have a chance to target fish that have not seen flies since the previous fishing season. Both water levels and temperatures are at prime levels and the hatches are both thick and varied. The waters of the Madison drainage become too warm to fish and the main focus for anglers shifts to the Yellowstone River drainage in the northern reaches of the park. Small streams and alpine lakes also become options as the snow rapidly recedes from the high country. Outside of rivers that are thermally heated, virtually the entire park will be fishing well, giving the angler 2.2 million square miles of options. Let’s take a look at some of the best choices.

The Yellowstone in the Canyon - Photo Montana Angler

Yellowstone River

Fishing on the Yellowstone River starts off with a bang, as both salmonflys and golden stones will begin hatching as soon as the river clears right around the first of the month. The hatches will start in the Black Canyon down by Gardiner and gradually move upstream all the way into the Grand Canyon between Tower and Canyon Village. Access to both canyons is hike-in only, with lengths ranging from Âź mile to full on multi-day expeditions.

16 | Hunting & Fishing News

The easiest access point is the Tower Falls trail but consulting a park map will give you plenty of options. The large stoneflies usually go strong for a full two weeks before giving way to smaller insects such as caddis and yellow sallies. Attractor dries become very important by the end of the month. If the dry fly fishing is slow, which can be the case early in the morning or during the mid-day heat, try stripping a streamer down deep. One thing to always keep in mind when planning to fish the Yellowstone is that the Lamar River is a major source of dirty, muddy water during runoff and after summer thunderstorms. The Yellowstone will often be in perfect shape above the Lamar confluence and completely unfishable below.

prolific mayfly hatches including PMD’s and all 3 species of Drakes. Caddis, midges, and the occasional wayward stonefly round out the buffet. As July progresses, terrestrial insects including hoppers, ants, and beetles become the most productive flies. Slough Creek is divided into a series of meadows, with the Lower Meadow and First Meadow being the most popular day trips. The Lower Meadow, which is partially road accessible, extends from the campground down to the confluence with the Lamar while the First Meadow is a 2.5 mile hike above the campground. The average fish runs 14”-18”, with a few over 20”. Slough is fished very hard day in and day out, and the fish become very wary in the slow, gin clear water. However, this does not happen overnight and the fish are much less wary at the start of the summer than the finish. Bring 10 to 12 foot leaders in 4X and 5X, along with your “A” game and you will have a shot at some trophy native Cutthroat Trout.

Lamar River

Lower Meadows in July - Photo Montana Angler

Slough Creek

Slough Creek, a world famous meadow stream known for its large cutthroat trout, is at its best in July. The fishing is in full swing by the first or second week of July with

The Lamar is another of Yellowstone Parks’ famous meadow streams inhabited by good sized Cutthroat Trout. The river is typically the last in the park to clear from spring runoff, usually around the middle of July. Green Drakes and Pale Morning Duns will be the primary hatches, with terrestrials quickly becoming your key flies as the summer heats up. Like Slough Creek, the Lamar is fished quite heavily but the water is not quite as clear and has more pitch to it. Thus, the fish are not as wary but not easy by any means. The most popular stretch of river runs in a large meadow from the Soda Butte confluence downstream about 6 miles to the head of a small canyon. Here, the river runs mostly in site of the road and contains many Cutts from 13”-18”. One trait of Cutthroat Trout, especially those that see a lot of flies, is to rise to the fly extremely slowly. Oftentimes they will suspend themselves just below the fly and drift in sync while they study your offering. (continued page 43)

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Hunting & Fishing News | 17

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S pinner rigging is a great way to catch big numbers of warm-weather walleyes on lakes across Lindy Land. Let these five tips from Lindy pro Mike Christensen help you spin up more ’eyes all summer ...

1. Know When To Spin: Shun close quarters. Spinners rule when walleyes roam flats, weed edges, breaklines and other relatively large areas where covering water is key.

2. Bait Smart: Crawlers are all-around favorites and particularly deadly during a bug hatch. Switch to leeches or minnows when walleyes key on them as a food source.

3. Double Down: When minnows are on the walleyes’ menu, try trolling a two-hook harness with a small fathead on each hook.

4. Sinker Savvy: Weighting systems abound. Deploy bottom

bouncers for pinpoint positioning along well-defined contours. In-line options excel for suspended fish, while lead-core line is a clear-water threat and split-shot are allies when storming the weedtops.

5. Avoid Speed Traps: Don’t let conventional trolling wisdom dictate your pace. Spinners work wonders from .6 to 2.5 mph; experiment with different speeds until the fish tell you how fast (or slow) they want their meals moving at the moment.

Photo courtesy Montana Walleyes Unlimited

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20 | Hunting & Fishing News

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Hunting & Fishing News | 21

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Iourntroducing two-super rad dudes – John Whipple and Casey Dinkel – from AK who know how to hunt, survive and capture 49th state’s beauty via still photography and video like no other. When it comes to nature’s bounty, Alaska can be the most generous place in the world – but she’ll make you work for it, too. Alaska doesn’t care if you’re cold, tired, wet, hungry or all of the above. Just hauling yourself, the gear it takes to survive and game harvested out is about as taxing as it gets. Add 20lbs of electronics you not only have to carry, but care for, in what can be the wettest, most rugged place on earth, and you’ve upped the difficulty ante considerably. Oh, and now you have to get your cameras out and use them – during times when it is the last thing you want to – or should be doing. But that’s how you get those one-in-million shots. The ones that capture raw emotion and the true essence of the hunt at its most intense. That’s what these guys do. If you aren’t following @60thparallel (Instagram) – You should be. Their content rocks and shows up in our (Vortex) catalog, Web site, Social and trade show booth graphics. On the video side, they are regular selections for “The Hunting Film Tour,” another cool thing you should check out. But that’s not all! You get the juicer, the steak knives, the yogurt maker…Ok you aren’t getting a juicer, steak knives or yogurt maker for reading this, but if you continue, you’ll get 13 sweet Alaska-hunting-related tips from some of the best in the business.

13 Tips for Hunting in Alaska 1. Be mindful of the weather, it can change in a heartbeat – literally, seconds. I have personally experienced a sunny blue bird day while stalking a Dall ram; just when I thought I had him dead to rights, the clouds socked in around me so thick I could not see more than a few feet. The wind began to blow and rain fell harder than I had ever experienced before. Between the fog, wind, and rain; I was pinned high in the alpine for two full days. Thankfully, I had brought my tent, sleeping bag, and a few protein bars for just such an emergency. 2. Pick a good pilot!! Choosing a good pilot is no easy task, but I recommend doing a lot of research in this area. Make sure he or she has a good flying record, several years of experience and specializes in hunting charters. Not only will you feel safer, but a pilot well versed in Alaska’s weather and rough terrain will be able to get you into locations most other pilots won’t.

Casey and his Razor HD 27-60×85 Straight Spotter getting a little Alaskan soak 3. Bring Multifunctional Gear. When hunting the remote back country of Alaska, you won’t be able to jog down to the local store if a piece of gear fails. So bringing tough rain gear that can double as your secondary shelter if your tent is destroyed or trekking poles that can replace a broken tent pole may just save your bacon in a scary situation. 4. Test your gear out before a big expedition!!! For example; don’t wait to field test that new water filter out on your two week fly in moose hunt. If the filter fails for any reason and you don’t have a backup plan you’re probably going to be drinking sediment laden giardia infused agua. Instead test your new gear out on several day hikes long before your dream adventure. (continued on page 45)

Hunting & Fishing News | 23

Trout want to eat as much as they can while exerting as little effort as possible. GEAR TIP Small patterns that will catch giant trout:

Slough Creek in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park is a favorite spot for fly fishing ©

Outfitting Montana Anglers for 100 Years

Say Hello to Success: Where to Catch the Fish this Month Summer Trout Opportunities

The Rockies are the envy of much of the fishing world

when it comes to its first-rate mountain streams and reservoirs that are surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery on Earth. The summer months of course, bring on a different challenge for the sport angler - heat and the rising water temperatures. Still, many options await the savvy angler and the month of July can be outstanding once the water flows gradually drop. There are no shortages of fishing options in Montana. Here are a few top summer producers. Dearborn River - Trout: This is one of the many exceptional trout waters coursing through Montana, and one of the lesser fished. Starting in the Scapegoat Wilderness, it makes its way 60 miles through some of the finest trout waters in the Rockies. The Dearborn finally joins up with the Missouri River near Craig. By mid-to-late summer the top-water fishing will be at its prime. Anglers fishing stonefly, caddis and mayfly imitations will be hauling in gorgeous browns and thick rainbow trout. The upper stretch has fast action for mid-sized rainbows and cutthroats as well. Part of this section flows through wilderness area where anyone can fish on public land with a path along the river. All of this area is a wonderful fishing experience. It’s what Montana fly fishing is famous for.

• Parachute Adams, size 22, • Trico Spinner, size 22 • Royal Wulff, size 20 • House and Lot Variant, size 20 The Beaverhead River - Trout: By early July PMDs, golden stoneflies, and yellow sallies will be everywhere. Fishing San Juan worms will be a good option here. Productive areas can be just below Clark Canyon Dam all the way to Dillon. Big Hole River - Trout: Dry fly fishing will continue to be good here. Best spots to fish now will be from Divide to Notch Bottom. Rock Creek (East of Missoula) - Trout: In the summer anglers match the hatch - gray drakes, spruce moths, caddis, hoppers and terrestrials. Land O’Lakes - Fishing the high country: Backcountry fishing certainly has its rewards in scenery, solitude and wild fish, but these come with the price of being physically fit. Montana is loaded with small, isolated lakes in it’s mountainous terrain. Glacier National Park has around 130 named lakes and more than 600 unnamed lakes and potholes to discover. These trout like structure, including brush, downed trees, weed beds and rocks. They also will thrive around water inlets and outlets. These trout can also be selective and sometimes maddening to fish for, as it seems at times like nothing will work. Good backcountry options include Panther Martins, Mepps and Thomas Cyclones in yellows, reds and gold colors. Fly fishers can hook up with a floating line and a few black ants and Montana nymphs. Wait until late afternoons and fish into the night for the best bite. Early morning fishing is also phenomenal. Check your fishing regs when taking to the backcountry and be bear aware. Montana’s Top Summer Lakes and Reservoirs - Bass: On the Lower Clark Fork in Montana, you’ll find three reservoirs with largemouth and smallmouth bass - the largest being the 7,800 acre Noxon Reservoir, followed by Cabinet Gorge and Thompson Falls. Noxon may be your best bet for the biggest smallmouths with plenty of shallow, weedy water and steep drop-offs that the smallmouth bass prefer. You’ll find an abundance of crayfish due to the rocky shorelines which are ideal for both crayfish and smallmouths. Crayfish and perch patterned spinnerbait and Rapala lures work best, casting near these rocky points. Downstream of Noxon is the Cabinet Gorge Reservoir where anglers can pick up some 4 pounders. You can catch these bass using a mixed bag of traditional lures, including a variety of hard and soft plastic lures.


Missoula, Bozeman, Helena, Butte and Hamilton, or 24/7 at

24 | Hunting & Fishing News

N807-31704 Electric Safety Print_001_Fishing_3.625x10

Fort Peck Northern Pike

Flathead Valley Bassin’ - Several lakes are becoming destination lakes for bass in an area known mostly for its trout. A weekend tour of some of the better area lakes should include Bigfork’s Echo Lake. Big bass reside here. Pitch a jig and worm combo around the many docks and hidden structure. Blanchard Lake - Big largemouth bass inhabit this small lake located near Whitefish. Yellow, white or chartreuse spinnerbaits can collect bass in abundance here. Lake Mary Ronan - Now is the time to fish these bass waters. Early morning fishing can pay off big for smallies. The best bass gear includes simple rubber grubs, Powerbait or a worm. Anything that imitates a sucker or Kokanee is going to get bit. Trolling crankbaits can be effective for both trout and bass here. Kokanee anglers will also find the fish agreeable. Yellowstone River - Catfish, Walleye, Sauger, Bass: If you think of Montana’s Yellowstone River only in terms of trout, you are missing most of the action on this big, braided river that drains nearly half the state. Instead of flies, bring a load of nightcrawlers, chicken livers or minnows for the biggest channel cats in Montana. The best action on the Yellowstone is from Columbus and Laurel downstream south to the North Dakota state line. If your bait doesn’t catch catfish, it has equal chances of hooking ling. Worms and minnows will also appeal to the river’s walleye, sauger, and smallmouth bass. There are dozens of FAS located on the river that provide plenty of access, with many located in the warm water reaches of the river. Drop a bait into the tail out of the hole and use enough weight to keep it on the bottom. Night fishing can always prove effective for a limit of whiskerfish. Most nocturnal anglers use bells or light sticks to detect bites. Fort Peck - Walleye: CHANGE BAITS FOR FORT PECK WALLEYE Locating walleye on Fort Peck Lake can start to get difficult as the summer heats up. Trolling spinner rigs baited with leeches is an excellent way to cover ground and pinpoint walleye locations. Once you’ve located some fish, which will likely be off points in the main lake, drift jigs baited with 3-inch shiner or sucker minnows. This switch will likely yield larger, battle-worthy specimens. Duck Creek, Skunk Creek, and off of Haxby Point are prime summer walleye spots. Walleye are dispersing widely from their spawning areas and will feed actively off main lake points that are strafed by the constant lake winds. Troll the mud lines off these points, but be prepared to fish structure, a drop-off or submerged humps on the deep water side of these points. These structures are where big fish will wait to ambush wads of baitfish. Northern pike numbers will be best found in bays around The Pines, Rock Creek, and Hell Creek where they will jump on casted spoons or trolled crankbaits. Good fishing.

Don’t get caught in a bad situation. Nothing is more fun or more satisfying than getting the perfect cast off. To ensure you don’t get caught in a bad situation, stay clear of electrical equipment and never cast fishing lines under power lines. When walking up or down stream, carry your rod low and keep an eye out for low or downed lines. If you see a downed line, stay at least 10 feet away and call 911. Have fun. Stay safe. And we hope you catch the big one.

Zane G. Safety Professional, 1 year of service

Hunting & Fishing News | 25

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Whether you’re hauling gear to your favorite hunting spot, materials to the job site, or just tackling those weekend projects, Tundra is ready to help you do it all. Committed for the long haul to building the most capable full-size pickup truck on the planet, Toyota paid special attention to every detail. To handle the torque of Tundra’s available I-FORCE 5.7L V8, our engineers fitted the differential with a massive 10.5 inch ring gear. This allows use of an aggressive 4.30 rear axle ratio to help amplify and transfer the 401 lb.-ft. of torque the 5.7L V8 produces to the ground. And if you’re hauling, you know a big part of controlling a trailer is the ability to stop it. To that end, Tundra has the largest-in-class front brakes equipped with 4-piston brake calipers.

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The purpose of the Mule Deer Foundation is to ensure the conservation of mule deer, black-tailed deer and their habitat. This month we feature our efforts to educate and inspire youth to become good stewards of the outdoors through the M.U.L.E.Y program.

The M.U.L.E.Y Program, Mindful.Understanding.Legal.Ethical Youth, was created in 2011 as the official youth program of the Mule Deer Foundation. M.U.L.E.Y is designed to safely introduce and mentor youth in hunting and shooting sports, while educating the importance of wildlife conservation. Since its inception, M.U.L.E.Y has introduced and instructed over 85,000 youth in hunting and shooting sports activities. Each year, Mule Deer Foundation chapters throughout the west host M.U.L.E.Y hunting camps, shooting sports events and wildlife conservation activities aimed to inspire the next generation of avid hunters, shooting sports enthusiasts and wildlife conservation advocates. For more information about the M.U.L.E.Y Program in Montana, contact Tracey Manning, Youth Event Coordinator for the Mule Deer Foundation: Jul 4 Jul 7-9 Jul 16-20 Aug 5 Aug 8-13


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There is NO better place to start the scouting process than right here on goHUNT, utilizing the Filtering 2.0 tools that are found on INSIDER. On the goHUNT website under the INSIDER navigation section, simply click on the state that you are preparing to hunt. From there, you can select the unit(s) you have a tag for to begin your research. As you likely already know, you can gain a quick perspective of the unit’s features including terrain, vegetation and access as well as historical weather data and patterns. Here, you will also see a general size or score of bucks found in the unit, and, more importantly, what the trophy potential is in the unit. In my case, I have to look at both Arizona’s Unit 7E and Unit 7W, since my tag is good in both subunits. A quick look reveals that the trophy potential is the same in both units, with bucks taken over 75”; however, after a more careful look, the general size of bucks is slightly larger in Unit 7E. If nothing else, it’s food for thought right now. In my case, I also have to realize that the largest bucks were most likely taken with a rifle and I have an archery tag. When comparing two units, you can also look at this INSIDER article on how to narrow down a unit to hunt once you have drawn a tag.



To expand your research on trophy potential, collect information regarding past hunts by “shopping” local. On a scouting trip, make it a point to stop in at a local sporting goods, archery shop or gun store. Most stores have a “bragging board,” with successful harvest photos. Strike up a conversation with one of the store’s employees to find out about trophy bucks taken over the last few years in the unit you will be hunting. Additionally, these people may know about others’ unsuccessful hunts. Find out all that you can regarding these hunts, too. On top of it all, they may know about a buck or two that made it through the past year’s hunts, which is nice to know. Note: Don’t expect to gain anyone’s secret spots. Be mindful that these people live and hunt here too and are unlikely to give away many details.

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28 | Hunting & Fishing News

Another stop you should consider is to a local taxidermy shop (or two). These professionals don’t just hear the stories; they may have the actual trophies in their possession. Again, stop by and ask a few questions. With a little luck,

you may get to put your hands on a trophy buck taken in the past year or two. If a taxidermist knows the exact location of an individual’s harvest, they are still unlikely to part with that information, especially to an outsider. Again, don’t expect to acquire this info.

Contacting biologists Last, and certainly not least, plan to contact a game biologist that works in the region that you will be hunting. In addition to some of the same information you’ve already collected, they are likely to have specific data related to herd conditions and population numbers. Additionally, in most cases in the West, these professionals are employed by public agencies, and, therefore, should be able to be a little more open with the information that they can provide. Keep in contact with these biologists leading up to the hunt so you stay current on any last minute information that might be crucial to the scouting process and/or hunt. You can check out more information on talking to a game biologist here. After performing a little online research of your own and having talked to several knowledgeable people, you should have an idea of the type of buck you can expect to have a crack at. Set your goal(s), and move to the next step in the process.


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I find it helpful to put in some computer work prior to spending time in the field. To initiate that step, I prefer to sub-divide the unit(s) I will be hunting to make scouting more manageable. To do this, I take full advantage of goHUNT’s Filtering 2.0 tools and mapping features. For example, in my unit (Arizona’s Unit 7), using the provided map, there is the obvious division in the Unit 7E and Unit 7W boundaries. Zooming in a little closer, I can see there is also a well-defined division in the Unit 7E subunit formed by Highway 89N. With that in mind, I now have three easily discernible areas in which to scout. Later, I will rate each area based upon which one might allow for the highest success. Using the INSIDER Google Maps imagery, you can also catalog points of interest like good glassing points, water sources, access roads, and many other resources. Once you have a few manageable hunt areas and some points of interest loading into your GPS, it’s time to put in some “boot time.”


This is the no-brainer step, but I’m sure you will have time constraints. It’s best to start now and make several trips to the unit you have a tag for with at least one trip to each of the subunits you created earlier, if possible. If you can’t spend several days in the field leading up to your hunt, try to take advantage of a couple options.

One scouting idea

Plan a short vacation with your family. For example, Arizona’s Unit 7 is within an hour’s drive of Grand Canyon National Park. Plan some quality time with the family, but also plan time to get in the field at least a few times. Get up early, while everyone else is still sleeping in order to get a few hours of fieldwork in or instead of taking the paved road, take a “shortcut” through a county or forest road to your vacation destination. Stop a few times to check out the area; midday stops are ideal to check potential water sources for tracks and antelope sightings during the day are far more common than other big game species. Worst case, leave a day or two early for your hunt to scout or take enough time off for your hunt to “scout” the first couple of days during the hunt. That said, scouting should be more than driving through your hunt area and/or checking for tracks. With the goal of finding a few trophy-caliber bucks to hunt, at a minimum, I suggest covering the following while in the field. (continued page 34)

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I told Bill, “Get ready. Something is going to happen and it’s going to happen fast.” Just as I said that a ram popped out the top and headed out. In another 25 yards, he would have been gone for good. The first ram began to trot and within seconds he was going to disappear. Bill was on the gun, but now the hard part was going to be determining which ram was which within a few critical seconds. We weren’t going to have the luxury to look at all of the rams at once. We had to decide which one was the one we wanted as they came out. The leaders in the herd would be gone by the time we had the opportunity to look at all of them. Yet, it was crucial to pull the trigger on the right sheep since this tag wasn’t exactly easy to come by. All of this happened within a few short seconds. I quickly scanned the two rams I could see, then made the call that the second sheep was the one to aim for. After I said, “Shoot the second one,” I gave a whistle across the canyon and got the ram to put the brakes on for a second. Pow!

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The ram dropped in his tracks at over 450 yards. We were all pretty excited since it seemed surreal that everything just happened as it did. As with experience, Bill didn’t take his eyes off the ram. The ram was back on his feet and Bill made one final shot and I was able to watch the vapor trail and the hit through the spotting scope. Now the question became, did we shoot the right ram. The guys had me second guessing myself, but I was damn sure it was him. We began making our way over there, but it wasn’t so easy. We were cliffed out. It took about 45 minutes to get over to the ram. Then, suddenly, Jeff and I were now looking at this beautiful animal up close. It was indeed the ram we were after. The ram ended up scoring just over 191” after the official 60 day drying time. Bill couldn’t be happier with his trophy.


W hy are public land elk so difficult to hunt? They know every inch of their landscape. They live in a territory 24/7 and have the

constant threat of predation. They know escape routes and safe zones. They know how to move and where to go when hunting pressure becomes a threat. As hunters, it’s critical that we understand the landscape too. Find the feeding areas and the funnels. Summer scouting trips are perfect for learning an area. When our guides spend time scouting, these trips are more about learning the lay of the land than finding specific animals. The more time you can spend in your hunt area before the season, the better. Here are a few of our guides’ summer scouting tips. Find the Food Elk eat a variety of grasses, plants and they eat bark as well. Look for young trees, especially aspen that have the bark chewed off. Find the meadows that are surrounded by cover and look for old burns where grass, flowers and mushrooms are abundant. Elk are grazers and they must eat, even during the hunting season. When pressure is high, they will utilize the cover of darkness to graze in open areas. You can find these areas and plan a strategy to hunt the nearby timber during the day. Follow the Signs Elk are elusive but they leave no shortage of sign. Look for the scat, follow tracks and find bedding areas that are utilized on a regular basis. Look for rubs on trees as well. Some areas will have sign that elk have passed through and others will have heavy sign that means they frequent that area. Take note of the areas with heavy sign, hike to a high vantage point and scout for potential travel routes. You can plan an ambush along these routes. Look for Water The elk need water and you will too on a backcountry hunt. Find reliable water sources and look for sign. Elk like to wallow as well. A stagnant mud pool that looks unappealing to you may be an elk’s favorite place to visit. Areas with few water sources increase your chances of finding elk at a single spot. Funnels and Pinch Points Use your binoculars to get familiar with the landscape. It’s not all about finding animals while scouting in the summer. Find the drainages that have heavy timber and year-round water sources. Look for the roughest parts of these places to find travel routes. Areas with very steep hillsides and impassable obstacles. These areas will create funnels that force a specific route. You can plan ambushes, set tree stands and focus on these narrow corridors during your hunt. For more information on elk hunting in Montana with Lazy J Bar O Outfitters, please give them a call at 406-932-5687. For prices and other general information, check out their website at

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Looking Back...


N orth Dakota Badlands bound, I drove over night from Bismarck where I live. A winter storm had begun to rock

the region making the three hour drive much longer. Highway travel came to a crawl as snow piled onto the road. Visibility was poor and my trek to the Badlands seemed to be never-ending I was tired but my excitement level was still unbridled. I was heading into my favorite hunting area to pursue my favorite big-game animal in late November. The rut was still going strong and cold nasty weather that would surely have big bucks on their feet all day. As I got off the main highways and made my way on a familiar trail deep into North Dakota’s backcountry, the clock indicated that the night was getting closer to sunrise but there was no sign of the glowing sun on the horizon. In fact there was no horizon at all, the wind had picked up with gusts around 45 mph and a fresh six inches of snow created whiteout conditions. Six more inches were forecasted on the way later in the day. Visibility was tough that morning and I already knew glassing conditions were going to be difficult. Wasn’t really sure what to expect as I put on my gear and grabbed my bow but regardless of the circumstances, I was excited to be where I was. I was hunting with a bow in my hand in one of my favorite areas. I hiked up a ridge I was familiar with and found deer right away. As I continued to hike, deer seemed to be in predictable places thanks to the harsh weather. Tucked down into a protected gulch, I set up my spotter and got comfortable. Brush covered hillsides lay before me where deer could tuck out of the relentless wind and after a couple of hours of glassing… I spotted what looked like a mature buck rutting a doe. These vantages on the wind-blown hilltops overlooking the North Dakota badlands is truly what I live for. I am always scanning and looking for that elusive mule deer buck. When I am not laying next to the spotting scope looking at deer, I am daydreaming about looking at deer. Yes… pursuing mule deer in open country is a huge passion of mine. Back in the civilized world, the weather had likely by now shut down the interstates. Schools and public activities would have been canceled. Televisions would be covered with slow crawling text outlining no travel warnings. Surreal to think that in these cold temperatures and blowing snow, I had made my way to this place. I still had an archery tag in my pocket. My Arctic Shield Shell was covered in snow and frost hung on my eyelashes and eyebrows. The blowing snow made for glassing difficult. Tears ran down my face as the wind blew snow and dirt into my open eyes as I pressed the binoculars next to my brow. The buck I was squinting to get a look at was a good buck but I needed a better look. As this buck focused on what appeared to be a hot doe, I made another move. Sliding behind a big hill, I was able to close the distance to a few hundred yards. My heart pounded as I crawled up to the crest of the rim. When I popped over the top to look down on my buck he was nowhere to be found. That buck had to be close. It had only taken me a few minutes to get into position. As I sat, waited and wondered… to my surprise and delight the scent of this hot doe attracted the attention of another mature buck. Before I even found the original contender, I had a heavy, wide and old beast of a muley right in front of me. I was confident the other buck and doe were still in the area. As this big bruiser followed the doe tracks, he raked his antlers on every juniper in reach. The buck’s swollen up neck shook back and forth in a demonstration of dominance. This buck knew there was a hot doe close up ahead and that he wasn’t the only buck in the drainage. I watched this buck for an hour studying his movements, patiently waiting for my chance to slip in for a shot. I was above the buck with the wind in my face which gave me the ultimate advantage for staying undetected. By now I could see all the deer. Finally, the big buck separated from the other deer and I made a move. Sliding down the hill on my backside as quickly as possible. I wasn’t concerned with style points as I just had to close the distance as quickly as possible. Three hundred yards lay between myself and the deer. I knew I didn’t have that much time. Finally, I made it to the last piece of cover and had somehow stayed out of sight of all the other deer. Some hunters will argue that mule deer are stupid. Arguments are made that mule deer are not as sly as whitetails. Mule deer get up, bounce for a few hundred yards and than stand and look at you. Mule deer however are perfectly suited for surviving their world. One of the most challenging aspects of hunting mule deer is finding that deer and than getting close enough to that deer without blowing all the other deer out of the area. Once one mule deer detects your presence and begins to bounce away, every other deer seemingly joins in the escape. So…when you are hunting and stalking mule deer, you’re not just trying to stalk and get in on one deer. Every set of eyes, ears and nose in that draw or ravine is looking for you. My heart was pounding as I made my way up to the last juniper bush. None of the other deer had busted me. My mind began to click through the different checklists as I try to prepare for the shot. My fingers were shaking as I ranged the buck and a few objects around the deer. I don’t remember drawing back but do remember when the buck finally turned broadside. I shot with full confidence. The arrow entered the side of the buck precisely where I had aimed and emotions officially exploded in that moment. The arrow crashed through the bucks shoulders and he fell to rest right there in front of me. This was the first animal I’d shot with my new Mathews Halon. I tried to enjoy the moment but the weather was still so brutally cold. The snow was deep. The wind was still fierce. I dragged the buck into the bottom of the drainage where I could stay out of the weather and prepare him for the long pack out. I quickly started a fire to keep warm and began the work of skinning and quartering. Despite the pack ahead of me and the elements I would encounter, I had a huge smile on my face. All my wits and gear were put to the test on a successful late-season hunt in the North Dakota badlands.

32 | Hunting & Fishing News

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Develop An Effective Game Plan For Scouting Antelope

(continued from page 29)


In this case, get in some “seat time.” There is nothing more valuable than sitting behind a quality pair of optics attached to a tripod overlooking antelope habitat. And, for antelope, you can do this almost any time of the day. Don’t just look for animals; hone in on their movements with the goal of discerning some pattern. Perhaps there’s a specific time and place they are moving to water, a particular location they cross a fence line, or a travel routine from one location to another. If trouble arises, it may provide a hint about the escape route used by a particular group of animals or within a particular terrain/topography, too. Note: You can even spook animals to see where they go to escape danger, if it’s not too close to your hunt to have a negative impact. Keep a journal with notes about your observations so that it is easier to recall and utilize them later.


Sitting over water is a viable option for all big game species, but this is especially true for antelope hunting. Antelope may visit a water source any time during the day, and maybe even multiple times during a single day. When the hunt rolls around, sitting water will be an option for those that are patient enough to make it one. I am not suggesting that you sit for a day over water while scouting, but, rather, pay close attention to water sources while scouting. While glassing, pay attention to water sources in the area and try to pinpoint the water sources that antelope are using. Remember to note when they are using the water sources, too. If needed, move to a new vantage point to close the distance to get a better look at bucks using these heavily-used water sources. If you find a water that you plan to sit come season, make sure you find time to place your ground blind well before the season begins so that animals are used to it.


Most hunters associate trail cameras with whitetail deer hunting; however, trail cameras work well for all big game species, including antelope. Of course, there are a few differences in the wide open spaces where antelope are found. Fence lines are a great place to put a trail camera and, in many cases, may be the only solid option to mount for a camera. Fence lines are an effective means to find locations where antelope cross from one pasture to another. Hint: If there is a man made crossing — PVC pipe on the bottom wire — start here. Water is also another spot to put a camera. Again, you may have to get creative to install a trail camera in the openness of antelope country. Try a nearby T-post on a fence or encase the camera in a pile of rocks. As always, place the camera facing north or south to limit the effect of the sun’s positioning for the most effective picture capture.

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Now that you have a handle on what can be expected of the unit and you have made some observations on your own, hopefully you have found a few bucks to hunt during the season. If possible, list out three to five areas with a buck or two to hunt on any given day. Having a few options will make it easier to have a quality hunt, especially if you end up spooking a specific buck one day or another hunter is hunting the same location you were going to try out. Based upon your observations, you should also be able to identify the best locations to hunt during a specific time of day. Check your journal, look for any patterns in location and direction of travel that you may have observed. List out potential vantage points to glass from during different times of the day. Remember that it’s always best to have the sun at your back. If everything goes well, you should be able to make three to five stalks per day during the hunt — perhaps even more! Alternatively, if you have the patience, you can make a plan to sit water during a break for lunch, a morning, or an afternoon. It’s all based upon your observations in order to find the best times to be at specific locations. Remember to continue to take notes during the hunt so you can continually fine tune your game plan.

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Take advantage of your antelope tag this year by scouting more efficiently. You don’t have to follow the steps that I follow precisely to be a successful antelope hunter. Rather, you should develop a process that fits your own comfort zone and hunting/scouting style. Try to externalize your process by writing down the steps you follow while scouting. Spend as much time in the field prior to the hunt as possible and, above all else, enjoy the hunt.

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Hunting & Fishing News | 35


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Sportsmen And Women Gain Major Access From Three Land Deals By Roger Phillips, Public Information Specialist, IF&G

Idaho hunters and anglers gained permanent access to

12,600 acres of land in north Idaho for a net cost of about $300,000 thanks to three different land deals recently completed by Idaho Fish and Game. Here’s what they entailed: • Fish and Game sold 1,400 acres of timberland from its St. Maries Wildlife Management Area to Idaho Department of Lands for $4.32 million. The land is adjacent to existing state-owned timberland and managed for timber production, but will remain open to the public. • Fish and Game used that money to buy a private 1,100-acre parcel for $2.6 million near Black Lake along the Coeur d’Alene River. The 1,100 acres will connect two parcels currently owned by Fish and Game and adds 5 miles of river frontage and public access in the Coeur d’Alene River Wildlife Management Area. • Fish and Game also contributed $2 million to pay for a multi-party Forest Legacy Conservation Easement that conserves 13,169 acres of commercial timberland owned by Stimson Lumber Company for continued timber management and wildlife habitat while opening 10,113 acres for public access. The property known as “Clagstone Meadows” is located in south Bonner County, just off U.S. 95 between Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint. The Black Lake property will add to the existing Coeur d’Alene Wildlife Management Area and provide new public access to the area. Last year, Fish and Game also acquired an additional 385 acres of wetlands and riparian habitats to WMA connecting the Black Rock Slough wetland complex near Bull Run Lake. “With those purchases, we’ve got linkages across the whole Coeur d’Alene River from the mouth to Rose Lake for wildlife and sportsmen, and that was our goal,” F&G habitat/lands manager James “JJ” Teare said. All total, the WMA now encompasses 20 miles of river corridor and 9,000 acres of land, much of it wetlands and riparian areas with some adjacent timber and shrub lands. The new lands will provide lots of additional public access to the area, which has the popular Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes biking/hiking trail running through its entirety, but otherwise limited access except by watercraft. “We want people to go out and enjoy the area,” Teare said. “It’s a very scenic and big recreation area with a tremendous amount of wildlife and other natural resources.”... The public access to Clagstone Meadows is scheduled to open on Aug. 1. By then, there will be parking areas built and signage providing maps and outlining the access...

Nearly All Mule Deer Hunting Restrictions Being Lifted In North Dakota Mule Deer Foundation

A spring survey indicated the mule deer population has

increased 16 percent from last year, according to the state Game and Fish Department. The numbers have increased by at least 15 percent in each of the past five years, mainly due to recent mild winters and hunting restrictions on mule deer females, according to big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings. That has contributed to good fawn production since 2013 and more adults, as well. Biologists this month counted 3,349 mule deer in a 306-square-mile area. That works out to 10.9 deer per square mile, up markedly from the record low of 4.6 in 2012. “Also, we have been very conservative with the harvest of mule deer does, which also plays a role as mule deer are not as prolific as whitetail deer and can struggle to rebound,” Stillings said. Hunting of mule deer females was banned in North Dakota for four straight seasons beginning in 2012, to help the population recover following a string of harsh winters in the late-2000s. Last year, it was allowed in five of eight western hunting units. This year, doe hunting will be allowed in all but one of the eight units, in the Watford City area. “That area was part of the state that did get hit hard” last winter, state Wildlife Chief Jeb Williams said. “The farther south you worked, it got much milder and not hit as hard.” If there is another mild winter and the population rebound continues, it’s likely that restrictions will be lifted in all units next year. “However, the long-term health of the population will depend on maintaining high-quality habitat,” Stillings said. The prime territory of mule deer in North Dakota is in oil country, and the recent oil boom has impacted habitat. Williams said Game and Fish has taken steps such as working with oil companies to try to consolidate oil well pads and reduce the need for road-building. By BLAKE NICHOLSON Associated Press Apr 28, 2017 Updated Apr 28, 2017 BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota wildlife officials are lifting nearly all restrictions on mule deer hunting in the Badlands after a fifth straight year of significant gains in deer numbers. —————————————————————————— The Mule Deer Foundation also has been working to boost habitat in western North Dakota. Working with several private landowners and state government outdoors programs, the conservation nonprofit in the past two years has helped create or improve about 30,000 acres of mule deer habitat. At the end of the year, the figure will be 56,000 acres, according to foundation Regional Director Marshall Johnson. About $134,000 in foundation and state money has been invested in the effort, along with an unknown amount of landowner contributions.

“Anytime that you improve habitat, you just increase the chances of sustainable herds, for all wildlife,” Johnson said. “Without habitat, there’s no game. Without game, there’s no hunt.”

Hunting & Fishing News | 39

The Long Range Shooting Guide, Part 1: Theory


By Tom McHale

ong range shooting is kind of like throwing a baseball from right field to home plate. When you boil down all the complexity, you really only have to worry about two things: how far the bullet falls before it hits the target and how far the wind blows it sideways. If you want to make your head hurt, you can add in more variables like moving targets, rotation of the earth, and bullet spin drift, but for now, we’ll keep things simple.

There are only two major guiding principles to worry about for most longer range shooting scenarios: gravity and wind.


This Masterpiece Arms BA Lite PCR rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor is built for long range shooting use. (Photo

Like political promises in an election year, you can always count on gravity. Fortunately, when it comes to long range shooting, gravity is simpler than it may seem at first glance. People get all wrapped around the axle about velocity and bullet shape and how those things “defeat gravity,” but those don’t really have anything to do with defying gravity, at least not directly. You see, gravity only cares about how long an object is exposed to it. If you shoot a bullet exactly parallel to the ground and drop one from your hand at the same time, they’ll both impact the dirt at precisely the same instant, although at very different places. It’s all about the amount of time that the bullet feels the effect of gravity. When you’re shooting long range, you have to predict the impact of gravity so you can adjust accordingly. Remember, the only thing that determines how fast gravity shoves your bullet towards the ground is time, so everything else just determines how much time the bullet is in the air before it reaches your target. The velocity of your ammo is all about time exposure to gravity. The faster the muzzle velocity, the less time the bullet is in the air for any given distance, so the less time gravity can make it drop. The shape of the bullet is also all about time. A more streamlined bullet doesn’t slow down as quickly, so it spends less time in the air before impacting the target. Again, the result is that it will drop less over any given distance than a non-aerodynamic bullet. Another factor that impacts time in flight is atmospheric conditions, although you can simplify that to air density. The denser the air, the more air molecules that bullets bash into during flight, and the faster they slow down. In “thin” air, bullets fly faster, so they aren’t subject to gravity for as much time.

So, gravity is going to happen. The only variable is how much based on the time that your bullet is in flight.


(continued on page 42)

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Fort Peck Facts



By Bernie Hildebrand

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F ort Peck Dam was named for old Fort Peck, which was a trading post on the Missouri River built in 1867 by the

firm of Durfee and Peck. The firm also operated other trading posts along the river at that time. The site of the old fort is about a mile west of the current dam and is under the waters of Fort Peck Reservoir. It had been abandoned in the late 1800s and eventually crumbled into the river, long before the dam was built. Construction of Fort Peck Dam began in the Great Depression year of 1933. The federal project was completed in 1940. In between, it provided work for an estimated 10,000 people and it was estimated that 10,000 more people came in to work other businesses in the area. In all, when men, women and children were counted, some say that 35,000 people lived within a few miles of the town of Fort Peck during the time of construction. Fort Peck Reservoir, formed behind the dam, is 134 miles long, has a maximum depth of 220 feet and has 1,520 miles of shoreline — more miles of shoreline than the Pacific coast of California. The lake is capable of storing 19 million acre-feet of water. Fort Peck Dam itself is four miles long. The width of the base of the dam is 4,900 feet. The top of the dam is 50 feet wide and is 250 feet above the base. At the time of construction, the Fort Peck project was the largest hydraulic fill earthen dam ever built. Even now, more than 60 years after the dam was completed, Fort Peck Dam is still the largest hydraulic fill dam in the United States. There are 49 different fish species that inhabit Fort Peck Reservoir, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Of these, FWP states 28 species are native to this stretch of the Missouri River system, including sauger and paddlefish. The other 21 species are listed as introduced species, including walleyes, smallmouth bass and northern pike. Fort Peck Reservoir claims the current world record for saugeye at 15.66 pounds, the co-world record for sauger at 8.75 pounds and the former Montana state record for walleye at 16.63 pounds and current smallmouth bass at 6.66 pounds.

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Fort Peck Reservoir’s fishery turned on in the late 1980s and early 1990s due to the introductions of two key bait fish species.

First, spottail shiners were introduced which provided food for fish in the shallow water. Then, cisco were introduced which provided deep-water food for fish. Since then, the number and size of species like walleye, sauger, northern pike, smallmouth bass and lake trout have increased substantially. Spring walleye trapping by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and dozens of volunteers take eggs that stock walleye waters all around Montana. By far, the majority of walleyes produced go back into Fort Peck, mostly in the form of just-hatched fry. This supplements an unknown amount of natural reproduction from walleyes that run up the Missouri River above the lake. Fort Peck Reservoir is surrounded by the million-acre-plus Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is perhaps best known now for its mule deer and elk populations. But when it was created, the target species for the mission of the refuge were pronghorn antelope and sharp-tailed grouse. Bernie Hildebrand is a Licensed Fishing Outfitter License Number 6490 619 North Sewell Miles City, MT 59301 406-234-6342 If you have any questions about fishing or are interested in booking a trip, contact him at (406) 234-6342 or send him an e-mail at:

Hunting & Fishing News | 41

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The Long Range Shooting Guide, Part 1: Theory (continued from page 40)

Photo courtesy

Now let’s talk about how exactly a rifle and scope “adjust” for gravity. But first, let’s go over an easy-to-understand analogy for a hot second. Since the World Series just happened and the Cubs violated the physical laws of the universe as we know it by winning, let’s use baseball as an example. When Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward has to throw a fielded line drive to home plate, he has to adjust for gravity, even though he has an awesomely strong throwing arm. Rather than throwing the ball exactly parallel to the ground like a laser beam, he has to throw it upward. If he didn’t, the ball would hit the field somewhere between his starting point and the infield. Because gravity. By “lobbing” the ball higher, he can compensate for the effects of gravity while the ball is in flight so that when it finally gets to the catcher, it’s still in the air and not dribbling along the grass. The principle is exactly the same when shooting a rifle long distance. While some people refer to a bullet “rising” at first, that’s not an accurate description. Let’s use a real-life example with actual math to illustrate the point. If you shoot a standard .223 Remington American Eagle cartridge with a 55-grain bullet exactly parallel to the ground, it will leave the muzzle at 3,240 feet per second give or take. By the time the bullet reaches 100 yards, it will have fallen almost two inches below its original path. By the time it gets to 500 yards, it’s dropped 61.7 inches below its original starting point. By the time it gets 1,000 yards down range, it’s fallen over 429 inches. Clearly, you’d have to shoot from a pretty high tower, or the bullet would have hit the ground after several hundred yards!

42 | Hunting & Fishing News

To compensate for the expected drop of a bullet over distance, the scope and rifle barrel are angled in such a way that the rifle barrel initially points a bit high relative to the line of sight of the scope. Stated differently, if the scope is aimed directly at that target down range, the rifle barrel is aimed above that same target. In effect, the rifle “lobs” the bullet towards the target just like Jason Heyward “lobs” the baseball when throwing from right field all the way to home plate. This angular relationship is the key to understanding the bullet drop principle of long range shooting. For any given distance, with any given bullet, fired at any given velocity, and in any given atmospheric conditions, there are formulas developed by very smart folks which can predict the gravity impact on the bullet. Once the gravity effect (known as bullet drop) is calculated, it’s a fairly simple matter to adjust the angle between the reticle in your scope and the rifle barrel to “lob” the bullet the correct amount. Hold that thought for a minute until after we talk about the wind because the angular relationship applies there too.


If Jason Heyward throws to home plate in the middle of a hurricane, the wind is going to blow the baseball off target. He’ll have to throw into the wind a bit for the ball to find its way to the catcher’s mitt. The same thing applies with long range shooting, and the real impacts are surprising. Let’s look at an example using the same .223 Remington American Eagle bullet. If there is a 10 mile per hour crosswind at your range, and you aim directly at your target, the wind is going to blow that bullet sideways. For close targets, the effect of wind will be hardly noticeable. At longer ranges, however, you better plan for some sideways drift. Here are some real numbers. At 100 yards, the wind will have blown the bullet just .91 inches to the side of your bullseye. At 500 yards, it’s moved 28.4 inches and at 1,000 yards, it’s blown a whopping 152 inches off target. That’s almost 13 feet! So, just as with gravity, you have to make angular adjustments for the wind when shooting at distant targets. How much do you have to adjust? That all depends on the bullet shape, the velocity, and of course, the wind conditions. While gravity is a constant thing where the impact is determined by time, bullet shape and weight attributes determine how much impact the wind has. Imagine holding up a sheet of cardboard against a crosswind. The wind will want to blow that all over, right? Now hold up a sewing needle. The same wind won’t have much of an impact because there is much less surface area on the needle. This is why some bullet designs claim to “buck the wind, ” and they aren’t impacted as much. Fortunately, there are complex mathematical models available to help shooters estimate the impact of the wind based on the specific bullet they’re shooting, the velocity from their rifle, and the current atmospheric conditions. The math behind this stuff is daunting. Fortunately, we live in the age of smartphones and nifty little electronic devices, so all you have to do is plug in numbers. There are plenty of devices, like Kestrel Ballistic weather meters and ballistic computers, smartphone apps, and websites, to help you calculate all this stuff without using a programmable calculator. These ballistic tools will tell you exactly how many inches to compensate for gravity and the wind at specified distances. That’s helpful information, but it doesn’t help you make adjustments to your scope. Scopes adjust based on angular measurements called minutes of angle and milliradians. That’s a whole new topic, but fortunately, it’s a lot simpler than it sounds. We’ll get into that next time, so stay tuned for part two where we’ll get into milliradians, minutes of angle, and how to adjust scopes using those concepts.

Fishing Yellowstone Park in July (continued from page 17)

Make sure to stay patient and don’t rip the fly away before the fish fully engulfs it. If fish are consistently refusing your fly, try downsizing to a small mayfly or beetle pattern instead of a hopper. Keep in mind that the Lamar muddies quickly after a rain, and may be out of commission for a few days.

Soda Butte Creek

A tributary of the Lamar, Soda Butte Creek displays many of the same characteristics. The major difference, besides being a bit smaller, is that Soda Buttes’ meadows are interspersed with faster, steeper, pocket water sections of creek. While the fish are smaller here, they are much less critical of your fly selection and presentation than in the meadows. Soda Butte tends to clear a few days before the Lamar, but shares the propensity to muddy after any rain. While this can be a serious annoyance to the angler, a couple days of dirty water gives the fish a break and provides relief from the mid-summer heat. As with Lamar, look for hatches of Green Drakes and PMD’s in the meadows and throw terrestrials in the absence of rising trout. Your favorite attractor pattern in a #10 or #12 will work in the pocket water. Soda Butte parallels the Northeast Entrance Road all the way to Cooke City, Montana so access is straightforward.

Gardner River

The Gardner is a much more forgiving stream than the technical meadow fisheries of the Lamar Valley. As July dawns, the salmonfly hatch will be underway below the Boiling River, moving above sometime around the second week of July. The Golden Stone hatch, critically important on the Gardner, coincides with the Salmonflies. While it doesn’t get as much publicity, this hatch is often more intense and longer in duration; the fish can really key in on it. Evenings in July are prime for caddis hatches, especially in sections of river where willows are abundant. Make sure to use an emerger pattern as a dropper off of your dry fly. Absent any hatch, the Gardner offers great attractor dry fly fishing in its broken water. First thing in the morning, especially early in July, nymphing under an indicator will be the most productive method. Choose your favorite stonefly nymph with a caddis dropper and look for the deeper holes. Access to the Gardner is mostly roadside up to the Boiling River, with a hike required upstream.

Small Streams

As the last of the snow melts in the high country, most of the small streams have dropped, cleared, and warmed up enough for productive fishing by the middle of July. I love small stream fishing in the park because it gets you off of the beaten path and away from the crowds. The fish are feisty and rise eagerly to attractor dry flies. Most creeks contain small Brook or Cutthroat Trout, but there will be the occasional surprise if you put your time in. Small streams are too sensitive to discuss publicly, but if you do some studying and put some miles on your boots you will quickly discover some “secret” spots of your own. The best tip I can give is that many small streams are miniature versions of the larger rivers they flow into. Exploring new places is half the fun!

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ontanans appreciate, embrace and live the outdoor lifestyle, especially as it pertains to hunting roots that run deep in families for generations. To ensure that hunting tradition continues into the generational future Montanans make wildlife management decisions to maintain healthy game populations. Sometimes there are some complications such as what occurred in the Yellowstone ecosystem with wolf reintroduction. Elk and moose populations particularly suffered from that experiment. Grizzly bears are another factor preying on the ungulate population, but they too may be managed in the near future like wolves. Levi Johnson photo ©Mark Kayser

One species, coyotes, can be managed with a bit more rigor in Montana. No season and few regulations limit your management goals. Why manage Montana coyotes? Research throughout the country confirms that coyotes target spring fawns with a vengeance. If you want more fawns to survive on properties you hunt, private or public, shooting a few extra coyotes may help. This is especially true during the critical spring and summer months when fawns are more susceptible to predation. Many studies indicate that in the height of fawn season, specifically June and July, coyotes will almost exclusively dine on fawns with the percentage of their diet made up of fawns going as high as 70 percent. One Montanan who has perfected coyote management with the use of experienced decoy dogs is Levi Johnson. He hails from coyote country in eastern Montana near the rural outpost of Winnett. Johnson was intrigued by the thought of using dogs to hunt coyotes after watching videos of other hunters practicing the craft. After that he acquired a couple of Mountain Curs in the white color phase and has used decoying dogs ever since. For a decade Johnson has been targeting spring and summer coyotes with high success. I can vouch for that success as my son Cole and I spent a few days with Johnson last summer. We were amazed at how effectively his dogs were able to bring the coyotes into range for easy shots. The longest shot my son had was 200 yards, but most were less than 100 yards and no problem for our Hornady V-Max ammunition. Johnson admits that most decoy action plays out right in front of you due to the dogs bringing the coyotes back into range. But to start the action Johnson begins his setups like most predator hunters using electronic calls. He starts out with lone howls and after a few minutes transitions to prey in distress calls. This combination mimics another canine in the area hunting and finding success. When coyotes come to look Johnson’s dogs are already “trolling” in front of him. They’ll roam several hundred yards out to look for coyotes and Johnson utilizes training, and tracking collars. The training collars remind dogs to return when they find a coyote and the tracking collars help if a dog disappears in pursuit, albeit rare.

Coyotes are programmed to engage this time of the year. They are protecting dens, hunting territory

and most importantly, young pups. Oftentimes you will not only call in the male and female, but you may even lure in a babysitter left back to watch over pups. Doubles and triples are not uncommon and my son experienced his first triple while hunting with Johnson. What was even more remarkable was the fact we moved during the encounter and set up on a second knoll to accomplish the task as the dogs continued their chore of luring in coyotes. Before you kidnap your spouse’s Dachshund you need to understand that not every dog will work to decoy coyotes. Johnson’s dogs have been trained over many seasons to understand coyote behavior and what is expected of them from Johnson. They react to commands with obedience and are big enough to handle themselves when a fight ensues. In fact, their favorite reward during a hunt is to tussle with a coyote... That noted, most breeds will work and the sex of the dog doesn’t matter either. I know that for a fact. I use my border collie for coyote decoying and she now begs to tease any coyote we encounter whether we’re on the hunt, or simply out for a hike. Johnson prefers to run two dogs in the warm months since multiple coyotes may show up, but a single dog that has perfected the skill also brings on results. Hunting with a dog is a special treat whether for upland game, waterfowl or even coyotes. If you do decide to focus on coyote hunting in the warm-weather months with dogs you’ll also get another reward. You will potentially be saving extra fawns that can aid to future recruitment of regional big game populations. That’s a great bonus for any hunter and for future hunting generations.

44 | Hunting & Fishing News


Photo - Left – John is rocking the Viper HS LR 6-24×50. Right – Casey spotting with the Razor HD 27-60×85 Straight Spotter

5. Hike, Lift, and Run. I can’t stress enough the importance of getting into shape before your Alaskan dream hunt. Alaska is steep, rugged, and big, and you often have no choice but to pack your trophy out on your back. Plan on carrying a lot of weight over long distances for any adventure in the last frontier. Preparing physically for your adventure can be the difference between bringing home that trophy of a lifetime or not. 6. Know your Quarry. Simply put; don’t rely on your guide or hunting buddy to help you find that trophy of a life time. The big game animals in Alaska are very different than those of the lower 48 states. Research the animal you are pursuing as much as possible. For example; when embarking on an Alaskan moose hunt, study their biology, communication, and seasonal habitat. Doing your homework will only put the odds in your favor for a successful hunt. 7. Know your landscape. Alaska is home to some unique land features and vegetation that are found nowhere else on the planet. A good example is sphagnum moss; this thick layer of tundra mat is known for growing across swamps and bogs. Many hunters have set foot across what they thought was solid ground, only to fall in up to their arms while they struggle to rescue themselves from the bottom-less bog. 8. If you can’t see it, you can’t hit it. Any experienced hunter can tell you how important a good set of optics is, so I won’t beat this drum too hard, but Alaska is hard on gear, so you want something that will keep working after a lot of abuse. Here is my little optics plug; I run Vortex because it works…plain and simple! As fanatical AK hunters, we run our gear through the ringer day in and day out. We spend thousands of dollars and countless hours researching, training, and preparing for every adventure. So when that hunt of a life time finally arrives, we are confident that we have the best optics in our arsenal to get the job done. (continued on page 50)

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B ackcountry trout are typically easy to catch on the fly; especially the over-eager cutthroat trout found in the South Fork of the Flathead drainage. That said, there

are a few days every year where the fishing turns technical. You can almost get through an entire season with a handful of colorful foam hoppers. Keep an extra set of technical flies handy and you’ll be prepared when the fish become difficult. Causes Backcountry cutthroat trout have a short feeding season and they tend to attack anything that presents potential caloric value. Like any trout however, they will shift focus to a specific food source when it’s overly abundant. This level of tunnel vision is uncommon in the backcountry because the biomass in many rivers does not support large populations of specific insect groups. The conditions must be perfect to trigger a hatch large enough to drive that high level of focus and selectivity. In many cases, this means small midges or blue wing olives are abundant in foam covered eddies and the fish are eating those specific bugs in mass. Recognizing Selective Feeding Assessing the situation quickly will get you on track to have a great day. I believe in following your instincts and making the adjustment sooner than later. The first and most obvious signal is apparent when fish visibly ignore your fly. Many will even take a look before moving on to something else. Really focus on fish behavior in eddies and areas where they tend to gather. When groups of trout are slowly sipping bugs and ignoring your foam dry, it’s time to get serious. Double Down Luckily, adapting your game to selective feeding does not require anything major. You can even leave your foam dry fly tied to the leader. Simply add a second fly to solve the problem. Drop a zebra midge or pheasant tail off the bend or add a parachute Adams to the tandem rig. Those three flies are sufficient for nearly any selective feeding situation. An elk hair caddis is another good option for spruce moths. You will know if spruce moths are on the menu as they are very visible and fish will leap from the water to catch them mid-air. At Lazy J Bar O Outfitters, they offer summer horseback adventures in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. Anglers can enjoy some of the best fishing in Montana with total solitude, for healthy westlope cutthroat and giant bull trout. For information, check out their Summer Pages. or call 406-932-5687. © Arinahabich08 |

46 | Hunting & Fishing News


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HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BUY A MOUNTAIN? By Kristen A. Schmitt Originally published at

M aintaining access to public land is key for hunting, fishing and all types of recreation. This is why multiple organizations support the

Photo Credit: Kim Liebhauser, Bureau of Land Management (photo courtesy

sale of 1,828 acres of land on top of Sheep Mountain in Wyoming to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While the land is currently owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the organization says that they bought the land to keep it public.

“We were afraid somebody was going to buy it and then shut off all access, and we just thought that would be a loss to the community,” Katherine Thompson, TNC’s northwest Wyoming program director, told the Powell Tribune. TNC purchased the property with the intent to transfer it to BLM; however, they could never come up with an agreement that worked for both parties, resulting in a new plan: using federal funds to buy the land back. The push for BLM to acquire the land has garnered support from countless organizations, including county commission, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Shoshone National Forest, National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Wild Sheep Foundation, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Shoshone Backcountry Horseman, Wyoming Audubon Society, Wyoming Native Plant Society, Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, Cody Country Outfitters and Guides Association and Arthur Middleton, according to the Powell Tribune. Separate lobbyists have allegedly visited Interior Secretary Zinke to push the sale forward; Zinke has made it clear that he supports access for hunters and anglers. To purchase the property, BLM may be able to use money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) since it recently designated Sheep Mountain as an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern” in its new land use plan, yet the Sheep Mountain proposal isn’t the only one after LWCF dollars, which means the sale is on hold until proposals are reviewed and approved. The acreage is worth a lot – between $1 and $2 million – and a proper appraisal will not be completed until the sale is established and expected to move forward. For now, the land lies in limbo.

10. Give yourself plenty of time. For most, an Alaskan adventure is a once in a life time experience; be sure to allow enough time to pursue your quarry. As a rule, we usually plan for no less than 10 days in the field. Since you can’t hunt the same day airborne, you’re already down to 9 days and you can usually count on 3 to 5 days of bad weather. So, your 10 day adventure can easily end up only being 5 or less days of actual boots-on-the-ground hunting.


11. Test your gut. I am not talking about your grit here, although that is also important. I am speaking about your menu while in the field. Be sure to acclimate your digestive system to the freeze dried, high protein, calorie-packed foods you’ll be eating several weeks before your dream hunt. It’s not a laughing matter when your stomach starts doing flips in the middle of nowhere due to an extreme diet change.


(continued from page 45)

9. Beware the Ice. If you have the desire to ever hunt Dall Sheep or Mountain Goats in the Last Frontier, you may find yourself having to trek across or even camp on a glacier. While glaciers are stunningly beautiful, make no mistake they are notoriously dangerous. Some basic tips to keep in mind; never jump a crevasse wider than you and your pack are thick, bring crampons especially for when it rains, avoid moulins (Whirlpool of melted glacier water), don’t forget your shades, and bring a warmer than normal sleeping bag……. Remember you are sleeping on an ice box!! Finally, if the ice is covered in snow to the point where you cannot see the bare ice, it is probably best to find another way – unless you have expressly brought proper ice climbing and traversing kit (ropes, axes, repelling gear, ski’s, etc) for such a purpose and are familiar with their use. Snow can conceal fissures and crevasses that can ruin your day in a hurry!

50 | Hunting & Fishing News

12. Every ounce counts. For high mountain backpacking trips, pack the lightest, toughest gear you can possibly afford. This may seem like a no brainer, but I am here to tell you that ounces make pounds and pounds add up fast. A 40lb pack may not sound heavy, but you may change your tune on day 5 of a 10 day hunt when you can barely feel your legs anymore (or feel them too much!). Every year, I seem to shed more and more weight from my pack; constantly replacing older heavier gear with new lighter tougher gear, taking only what I need to survive and get the job done. 13. Pace yourself. If your adventure leads you north of 70 degrees during the month of August, Alaska will grace you with 24 hours of daylight. It can be tempting to hunt through a whole 24 hour period, and if your body is not use to the long daylight hours, you may not even realize how long you have been up. Some folks find it hard to fall asleep when it is still light outside, this is obviously much needed shut-eye after a hard day of chasing critters in rough terrain. This physical and mental exhaustion can catch a person off-guard if you are not careful, which can lead to poor decision making while in the field.

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Profile for Western Hunting & Fishing News

Montana Hunting & Fishing News - July 2017  

The complete July 2017 issue. Develop a Game Plan for Antelope, Elk Hunting 101 - Summer Scouting Tips, Fishing Yellowstone in July, Conque...

Montana Hunting & Fishing News - July 2017  

The complete July 2017 issue. Develop a Game Plan for Antelope, Elk Hunting 101 - Summer Scouting Tips, Fishing Yellowstone in July, Conque...


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