HUNTING & FISHING Montana
News March 2013
Big Game Drawing Deadlines 10 Turkey Hunting Tips FISHING:
Finding Bass In March
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4 - Hunting & Fishing News
By Michelle Holden
Igetting t is late winter once again, my, how time flies! You will be this article in time to see Montana’s Elk application has
passed and the Utah’s deadline is no more than a glimmer of hope if you move fast. New Mexico is a few weeks away with Colorado just sliding in the first two days of April. In the west we are accustom to these deadlines for animals not hunted for another 8 months. The difficulty is that they are all different. Is it possible that they all have different calendars? With special Trophy seasons, some requiring points, different draw systems, they not only don’t have the same calendars; they are not even on the same page in any book! Either way, here is what they are- if it happened to slip by while you have been keeping the wolf away from your door, (Pardon the pun). Hunting has drastically changed over the last 40 or 50 years. What used to be an over the counter purchase has now become a hope and dream in some areas. Lottery systems have replaced first come first served and preference points are sportsman’s gold. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Here are a few details you should know about our western states and their draw systems and deadlines.
Deadline: March 15 The scoop: Great elk and mule deer hunting with plenty of public land options. Opportunities for a combo hunt are available. Deer numbers should be on the up in Montana! (continued next page)
Deadline: Deer-May 17, Pronghorn-May 22, Elk-May 24 The scoop: Colorado offers special auctions and raffles for sheep, goat, elk and moose. You can find out more by searching ‘Colorado auction and raffle licenses’. With the largest elk population in the country, Colorado is a must for your list of places to hunt each year. If you wish to forgo the wait of building preference points, there are many over the counter tags for the western part of the state.
Deadline: June 5 The Scoop: I believe the Idaho hunt planner is the most user friendly interactive web page of all the states. Information is laid out for hunt options, areas, regulations, special dates, statistics and hunting articles as well as links for apps for your smart phone. Google ‘Idaho hunt planner’. Idaho often is overlooked. It is a state with multiple features worth looking into, one of which is a large amount of public land for hunting. With Idaho you must choose to put in for big game (deer, elk, antelope), or trophy game (moose, sheep, goat). There are no preference points for the lottery and you must purchase a non-refundable hunting permit for $150.
Deadline: March 4 The Scoop: Utah is well known for trophy bull elk and trophy mule deer. The turnoff is that each applicant must purchase a non-refundable, non-resident basic hunting license for $65, ($85 to combine small game and fishing), just to enter the lottery.
Deadline: March 15 The Scoop: Wyoming offers preference points for non-residents only. Although Wyoming has a lot of public land, hunters that choose to hunt in wilderness areas must have a licensed guide. The vast majority of all the pronghorn antelope in the country are in the state of Wyoming, making antelope one of the most sought after species in the state.
Deadline: Deer-July 20 The Scoop: South Dakota does not offer elk hunting to non-residents. The state has quality whitetail hunting with pockets of mule deer. While you have fewer big game opportunities, the state is chock full of wild birds which makes for a great opportunity to combine deer hunting with upland bird hunting.
Deadline: Elk-March 28, Deer-June 6 The scoop: Non-residents may participate in the RMEF elk license raffle. Non-residents may not hunt any species on G&F Dept. lands October 13-19.
Christie Johnson 19, of Cheyenne WY, with the bull bison she harvested January 4, 2013, The bison was shot on the Elk Refuge near Jackson Hole. She used a .35 Whelen. To have this hunt in January, Johnson had to apply the previous spring.
Deadline: March 20 The Scoop: This is another state that requires a hunting license to be purchased before submitting to the lottery.
Deadline: 2nd draw, June 26 The Scoop: Great mule deer hunting with plenty of BLM land. Once again, $140 hunting license required to enter the lottery, plus an entry fee.
With today’s modern conveniences and technology, it is easy to set up calendar reminders each year to make sure you never miss a deadline again. And with preference points becoming the norm, it is a painful loss if you do miss a deadline. If you do your homework for each state there are plenty of opportunities for leftover and over-the-counter permits each and every year. But, hey, if you don’t get the elk, deer or even sheep license you wanted you can always go to the RMEF, Mule Deer Foundation or Wild Sheep Foundation Conventions and buy a license at auction where you will probably pay $75 - $125,000 for the license. Lesson: don’t miss the application deadline dates. March 2013
urprise! urprise! urprise! By Johnny Costello Reprinted with permission from Bowhunting.net For more please go to: www.bowhunting.net
W e, as bowhunters, know that when we prepare ourselves for an
upcoming season we have no idea what surprises may come our way. Isn’t that the excitement of it all anyway? Well let me tell you, there was no way I could’ve primed myself enough for what was to come my way this year. We started our year typically by scouting every weekend from the beginning of July on. Along our travels we found some new promising areas to add with our good ole standbys, and things began to fall together quite well. Before long we had many feed/mineral sites cultivating and they were all spruced with trail cams and treestands. The first few weeks the activity was minor but slowly began to increase until every one of our stations were being overrun with does. A few spots had some average bucks passing by, but we weren’t interested in these. Our sights were on the migration in November so we weren’t expecting any jaw droppers until then. In the first week of August I made my rounds through three counties and (continued on page 29)
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Publisher - Amy Haggerty - Helena, MT. email@example.com www.huntingfishingnews.net The entire contents is © 2013, all rights reserved. May not be reproduced without prior consent. The material and information printed is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure, Inc. Nor does the printed material necessarily express the views of Big Sky Outdoor News & Adventure, Inc. All photo & editorial submissions become the property of big sky outdoor News & adventure, Inc. to use or not use at their discretion. VOLUME 10 Issue 1. Cover photo: ©Dennis Donohue|Shutterstock
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6 - Hunting & Fishing News
Stellar 2012 Leads to Higher Hopes for RMEF in 2013 RMEF
Fresh off a fourth consecutive year of record membership, growing total acres conserved to more than 6.2 million and placing an increased emphasis on hunting heritage, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation now ambitiously eyes 2013. “We are grateful for what was a successful 2012 on many different fronts,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Our volunteers and members continue to amaze with their passion and hard work in furthering our mission, but we have even bigger plans to do more for conservation in 2013.”
-Reached a lifetime mark of habitat enhanced or protected of 6,287,980 acres. -Continued priority focus and funding of public access projects. To date, RMEF has opened nearly 650,000 previously inaccessible acres for the public to hunt, fish or otherwise enjoy. -Completed 544 projects in 2012, bringing the total lifetime number of projects to 8,096. -Restored a wild elk herd in Virginia. -Fueled continuing elk restoration projects in Missouri, Wisconsin and Maryland. -Recorded fourth straight year of record membership, now at 196,079. -Provided 312 grants in 43 states for hunting heritage and conservation outreach, reaching more than 393,000 children and adults. -Enhanced mission statement to “ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage”. -Maintained strong fiscal performance with budget positive organizational performance. -Maintained the highest rating, 4 Stars, from Charity navigator, America’s top charity ratings service. With dozens of on-the-ground conservation projects already in the works in many states, hundreds of local banquets and fundraisers scheduled in the coming months, and RMEF’s upcoming annual national convention later this month, excitement and expectations are sky-high for 2013. “We will unveil news at Elk Camp that will propel RMEF into a realm not previously known,” added Allen. “This game-changing announcement will allow RMEF to do more conservation work, focus more effort on passing on our hunting heritage to our children and grandchildren, and free up more land for public access than ever before.” March 2013
8 - Hunting & Fishing News
Do It Yourself Elk Hunting? By David Rowell
“Increase the chances of ‘close encounters of the herd kind”
D o it yourself elk hunting (DIY) in the wilderness is a rich experience if you have the equipment, endurance and back-country savvy necessary. WILDERNESS “LIGHT CAMP” Wilderness back pack (“light camp”) hunting can be deeply rewarding, but when darkness falls and the temperature drops it tends to separate the men from the boys. In an unforgiving and potentially harsh environment, everything you have to keep you safe, healthy and comfortable is carefully measured in ounces, and is strategically crammed into a pack on your back. Those ounces are all that stand between you and the harshness of a cold mountain rain, wind or snow storm. Plan carefully before embarking on do it yourself elk hunting in the back country wilderness where medical and rescue services are slow in coming and may be impossible to summon. Sometimes wilderness light camp hunts are done while carrying everything with you while you hunt. Doing this requires that you be fit enough to pull a bow or hold a rifle steady with 40 to 60 pounds of gear balanced on your hips and shoulders, even after spending all day carrying the weight. Sometimes these ©Wesley Aston|Shutterstock hunters will hike in, set up a spike camp and day hunt out from there, perhaps adjusting camp locations when the elk move or beckon from a distant mountain. The advantage of do it yourself elk hunting with all your gear in your backpack is that you can go wherever you want in expansive elk habitat with no concern about getting back to base camp. Camp is where you are when light begins to fade. NO RIDGE TOO FAR If you find a bull or two that you want to follow, you’re free to do that. If they move over the ridge and into the next drainage at 4:00 in the afternoon, over the ridge you go. When it gets dark, you find a flat spot to call camp, eat some food and get some rest, then go back at them in the morning. During archery season you might be camped close enough to hear them bugle through the night. It is paramount that you be fit and know your physical and emotional limitations (we all have them) before embarking on several days of do it yourself elk hunting, hauling your livelihood on your back in potentially harsh conditions. Make sure you thoroughly prepare your own body for the incredible strain that you will put on it. You are highly advised to walk yourself mentally through the potentially harsh conditions you will face. Feel the pain, the loneliness, the fatigue and the stress. Try to see how you will react emotionally to an extended “vacation” from civilization. If you’re up to it, go for it! Each trek will make you a different person! (continued on page 41) March 2013
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Gimmie Shelter: Two Places To Find Bass In March Gary Klein, Berkley Fishing
Y ou’ve made it through the winter although there were times when you doubted you would, what with all the cold weather and subsequent falloff in your fishing activity. But take comfort in the fact that March is one of the best months of the year for targeting big, Pre Spawn bass yes, they made it through the winter, too. These bass are easily some of the most aggressive of the year and are relatively easy to find, especially compared to the deep, offshore fishing that is so common during the winter. March is the time of year when nature calls the fish to the shallow water to begin preparations for the spawn. While, in some latitudes (Florida, South Texas and farther south) the fish are already spawning, in most places the bass haven’t started yet. They are moving shallow to be adjacent to spawning flats and to take advantage of the warming temperatures. As the sun warms the air, it’s the shallow water that warms up the fastest; and where there’s warm water there are baitfish. To begin my search for bass in March, I start by considering the environment in which I am fishing. In North America, bass are found in only four types of fisheries: river systems, natural lakes, man-made lakes and tidal systems, each with its own set of environmental factors that determines where the bass will be. But for the sake of this time of the year, I prefer to simplify the classification of the fishery into just two selections: clear water and stained water. Clear water generally has a lot of aquatic vegetation in it and the bass will relate to the edges of these vegetation lines much as they would a shoreline though the edge of the vegetation line may or may not be near the shore. In stained water, where there is less vegetation through which the water is filtered, the bulk of the bass will be relating to the shoreline. In both cases, expect to find the bass in less than 10 feet of water. What I am looking for in both fisheries are areas of protected water. In a man-made reservoir, I would be looking for little pockets, places out of the wind and current, whether the current is created by the wind, the drawing of water or the influx of water from feeder creeks and rivers. In a natural lake, north shores are good places to start because they are protected from the cold north winds while still able to benefit from the warmth of a south wind. Once I have located these places by scouting topographic maps and using my on-board electronics, I begin to piece together the pattern within the pattern. The good news is that once you’ve located the fish, the chances of there being a lot of bass in the area are quite high. The bad news is that there might be many locations within a fishery that fit the criteria of where the bass like to be. By figuring out the subtle differences between the multiple sheltered areas, you can cover water much more quickly and efficiently. In stained water, for example, bass might be relating heavily to tree stumps. To catch these bass, I rely on either a big jig or a Texas-rigged Berkley Power Lizard to reveal how to approach these fish. I like an eight-foot Flippin’ stick and a high-speed baitcasting reel spooled with 25-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line. (continued on page 15) 10 - Hunting & Fishing News
WALLEYE MASTER by Nick Simonson Nodak Outdoors http://www.nodakoutdoors.com/walleye-master.php
I heard the audible click of a bail opening at the front of the boat
and the whisper of line being played out and I chuckled. I turned and watched the same scene that I had observed multiple times last Sunday night. There in the spotlight was the star of the evening, my frequent fishing buddy, Josh Holm of Valley City, ND; and he was ready to set the hook on his umpteenth walleye since sundown. “Again?!” I asked in a swirl of awe and jealousy. “Yup,” Josh responded stoically from the front of the boat as he dropped his rod tip in respect to the dead weight at the other end of the line. Half joking and half serious, I asked my cousin, Dylan Zubke of Watford City, ND, who had joined us...“are you watching this? We are in the presence of a master!” He laughed and stated he didn’t have to be reminded of Josh’s walleye wisdom, as our professor for the evening had already instructed Dylan to his biggest walleye ever – a 28-incher coming just before dusk on a crawler-tipped stand-up jig just off the creek delta near the cabin. I cranked my reel in unison with Dylan and our jigs came up over the side of the boat as Josh’s line tightened and his rod bowed slightly. The small movement from his rod tip confirmed the fish was still at the other end. Josh swept back forcefully and the rod bent in an arc that rivaled that of the crescent moon above, which had finally peaked through the cloud cover that had been with us all day. The fish, in only a few feet of water, quickly and audibly thrashed its way to the surface. I clicked the switch on my headlamp and its profile was revealed. On any other night, the Brutus before us would have been an amazing walleye – girthy and big-headed – but it was becoming old hat for the man that now stood at the front of the boat. Still, those of us in the back of the boat let out a collective gasp at its size as it made its runs left and right and then under the boat. I slipped the tattered net into the water and wondered how many walleyes it had held in its thirty-plus years or if it had held any that were bigger than the one that swirled before us in the headlamp-lit shallows. My guess was, from the multiple holes of varying sizes, a good number of fish had been there before; but from the size of the walleye in front of me, I ventured that few bigger had found their way into it during that same time. After several powerful pushes under the boat, the fish rolled to the surface and slid well below the rim of the aluminum frame and tattered edges of the old cloth web, coming to rest deep in the bottom of the net. To be sure the walleye’s weight didn’t snap the old landing net; I cupped my free hand around the fish’s belly as I heaved it in. I tweaked the 1/8th-ounce stand up jig from the snout of the massive walleye, pulled a tangle of netting from its spiny dorsal fin and lifted it out to Josh. “I think it might go 29,” I guessed excitedly as I readied the tape measure, “it looks a lot thicker than your first one,” I continued, rambling as I tried to read the measurement. “It’ll be close,” Josh replied, calm as ever. The fish in his hands taped out at all of 28 inches; the same as his first fish of the evening which he then followed up with big walleyes measuring 25, 27, and 20 inches which he released, and a couple eater-sized fish in the livewell. The two 28-inchers were perfect bookends to the outing which any angler would have been satisfied with... “Yup, not bad,” Josh replied as he re-baited his hook, clicked his headlamp off and fired his jig into the darkness, hoping to master yet another fish...in our outdoors. March 2013 11
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What Is The Best Time Of Year To Fish For Steelhead? Idaho Fish and Game
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With every entry in Fish and Game’s Super Hunt drawings, hunters get a chance at winning the hunt of a lifetime, and their entry fee helps support hunter and angler access to and across private lands. The first drawing in June will pick 26 lucky hunters, each of whom will win one of 25 tags - eight elk, eight deer, and eight pronghorn hunts as well as one moose hunt; and one “Super Hunt Combo” entry also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for one each elk, deer, pronghorn and moose. The second drawing will be in August when another “Super Hunt Combo” and entries for two elk, two deer, and two pronghorn hunts along with one moose hunt will be drawn. The entry period for the second drawing is June 2 through August 11. Winners can participate in any open hunt in the state for deer, elk, pronghorn or moose, including general hunts and controlled hunts, in addition to any general season or controlled hunt tags they also hold. Hunters who win any Super Hunt tag may still enter controlled hunts, except where other restrictions apply. All other rules of individual hunts apply. The first Super Hunt entry will cost $6. Each additional entry purchased at the same time will cost $4 each. The Super Hunt Combo entries work the same way. The first one costs $20, and each additional entry purchased at the same time will cost $16. Entries...can be ordered on the Internet at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/?getPage=22, and on the phone at 800-554-8685... 12 - Hunting & Fishing News
state over such a long period of time, it’s really hard to say there is a best time and place. If an angler has a chance to follow the run upstream, the best time could be any month from July or August through May. The first part of each year’s fall/spring steelhead run starts swimming into the state in July and the Clearwater River seasons open then (most areas for catch and release fishing, be sure to check the regulations). As the run builds, fishing gets better and catch rates can be pretty good all the way through to December. Colder water does slow down fish activity though. Snake River fishing is probably best in September and October, but is good through December, but most of that is accessed only by boat. Because it’s a little further upstream the Salmon River doesn’t start fishing good until usually in October in the lower and mid-reaches but anglers can be catching fish all the way to Salmon by the end of October. It’s the same as the other rivers, as the water temperature gets colder the fish are less active and bite less, but they are still there and do bite. January and February can be times to fish with a little more solitude. The days are shorter and colder and there are fewer anglers out but the fish are out there and can be caught. Things start to pick up again in mid to late February. The Salmon River upstream of Salmon, the Little Salmon River and the South Fork Clearwater all provide the best fishing in spring - March, April and May for those areas that stay open until then. Catch rates can be really good then; the fish are stacking into the smaller rivers at the end of their migration. The best time to fish steelhead - the long days of September on the lower Clearwater, a warm October day in the Salmon River canyon, a colder January day in a drift boat near Riggins or Orofino, or enjoying the spring thaw in the Stanley Basin in April - is just a matter of personal choice. Each month of the year and each location provides a completely different fishing experience.
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Author, Trevor Johnson holding a spectacular 2013 Super Bowl Sunday Brown Trout that fell for the “Black” Pro Series Marabou
SALMO TRUTTA By Trevor Johnson, Kit’s Tackle
W e all have that special thing that haunts us before we fall asleep... no I’m not talking about my wife, I’m talking about that magical place in our mind that we wander off to until we can dream about it further when asleep. I’m talking about the place of banana yellows and pale silvers with black splotches...any guesses??
I’m talking about the world of the elusive, sometimes intangible brown trout. I have a very sentimental connection with brown trout and their poignant attachment to my childhood. Since I was small enough
to be fish food to a giant brown, my father has instilled his passion for the shark-like disposition of the Salmo Trutta and made them unforgettable to me. If there was a Disney
movie of my dad and the brown trout it would be called, “The Trout King.” As far back as I can remember, I can recall dad and my grandpa telling me stories of giant browns...most kids were hearing about the sports team that almost won and I was being poisoned by the romance of big yellow that got away. In fact, I can remember in grade school kids telling stories of the most epic sports team losses. I was assuring them they had nothing on the 20 pound brown my grandpa lost below Hauser Dam in the 1970’s!! Not to mention the days we would land more than a dozen gorgeous brownies on the Little Blackfoot River together (and after all the hard work, with soaked sneakers and jeans, my grandpa “Poppy” would treat me to the Avon Café and I would always indulge in the Chocolate Cream pie.) With a jig box full of memories, life progresses, but the dreamy brown trout still encompass the very water I used to fish with my grandpa and dad. Since I was about twelve years old, I can’t remember a day that has passed I haven’t dreamt of what it would be like to land a giant brown. My favorite artist, Tom Petty said it best on his Wildflowers album, “Was it something you could dream of, but never could quite touch.” A couple years back I was blessed enough to be with dad when he caught the biggest brown of his life and witnessed first-hand how much it meant to him. I have to admit, I am absolutely obsessed and so infatuated with the daunting nature of the brown trout, whether twelve inches or thirty. If you’re even one jig up as excited as me or dad to lay your eyes upon a wintertime brown trout, here is my two cast to helping you land one of these magnificent specimens. (continued on page 16)
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Ten Tips for Turkey Hunting carrylitedecoys.com
hether you’re a veteran turkey hunter or a newbie heading to the woods for the first time, these tips can help you see more success this season. SOFT CALL FIRST Don’t start out with aggressive calling first thing when calling to a gobbler. Start off with soft clucks and purrs. If that doesn’t seem to work, go into some medium volume yelps. If that still doesn’t get him, try some cutting and aggressive yelping. If you call too much and too loud to start with, you might run your gobbler off, and the game is over. If you start soft, you can always work your way into the more aggressive calls. SCOUTING This is the one thing that can make more of a difference than anything. If you know where a gobbler goes on his daily routine, you are way ahead. Simply get to a favored strut or feeding area before the gobbler does, and call softly. If he is coming there anyway, you will have no problem. Remember, it is easy to call a gobbler to somewhere he already wants to go. KNOW YOUR GUN AND AMMO Go to the pattern board and find a gun, choke and load that shoot well. Know the distance where your gun’s performance tapers off, and never shoot past it. We have an obligation to do everything within our power to make clean harvests on wild turkeys. A good pattern should be at 85-95% in a 30” circle at 40 yards. LEARN TO USE DIFFERENT CALLS The more different calls and types of calls you can use, the better you will be in the turkey woods. Some days gobblers will answer a diaphragm, and the next day they will only answer a tube call. On windy days, box calls and aluminum calls cut through the wind. Also if you can use a variety of calls, you can use something different and won’t sound like everyone else hunting in your area. (continued page 37) 14 - Hunting & Fishing News
he Merriam’s turkey represents one of Montana’s most prized upland game birds. A flock of wild turkeys moving across a hillside studded with ponderosa pine has become an exciting-and permanent-addition to Montana’s wildlife and hunting scene. This serves as a fitting tribute to the sportsmen who worked so hard to insure that introduction of the wild turkey into Montana would be a success. HISTORICAL INFORMATION: Montana falls outside the wild turkey’s ancestral range and it is not native to Montana. When the Montana Department of Fish and Game decided to introduce turkeys into Montana, it selected the Merriam’s as the best choice to achieve success. In 1954, department biologists introduced 13 Colorado birds into the Judith Mountains of central Montana. A second release was made in 1955 when 18 turkeys from Wyoming were released into the Long Pines area of southeastern Montana. Wyoming stock was also used in the Ashland area of southeastern Montana in 1956 and 1957 when 26 birds were released. This marked the last time stock from outside Montana was transplanted. Subsequent trapping and relocating distributed turkeys through numerous sites in Montana. TURKEY HUNTING SEASONS: Montana has a spring gobbler season and an either-sex fall season. Hunters are required to purchase a turkey tag in addition to a bird and conservation license...Popular hunting areas include the Long Pines and Ashland areas of the Custer National Forest and portions of Fergus County and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Specific information on season hunting dates, open and closed areas, and other information on regulations can be obtained from the turkey regulations for the spring and fall hunts. TIPS FOR HUNTING GOBBLERS IN THE SPRING: Consistently, successful turkey hunting for toms requires a high degree of skill. Wild turkeys are extremely wary and possess keen color vision and good hearing ability. Finding a place to hunt turkeys in the spring does not present major problems since much hunting in eastern Montana occurs on either U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or Bureau of Land Management land. But finding turkeys can present a problem. Preseason scouting for sign left by turkeys is the best way to find a good hunting area. Signs to look for are roost trees, droppings, feathers, scratch and dusting areas. Also, listen for gobbling. Make a note of feeding areas. In the timbered areas, preferred roost trees are tall, over- mature and dead ponderosa pines that are sheltered from high winds. A lot of the turkey range east of the Continental Divide is on private property. You must have permission to hunt turkeys on private property. Climbing a high butte during late afternoon and scanning the open park areas with a spotting scope is a good way to spot turkeys. If any toms are in the vicinity, chances are good they will be out in the open going through their courtship display. Once you spot a tom, mark his location and arrive there early the next morning before he leaves the roost tree. Some hunters use an owl hooter during the early morning to get roosted birds to call back. Hooters are commercial mouth-blown devices that imitate a large owl’s hoot. Once a gobbler is located, the hunter can move in quietly, then hide and use his turkey call. (continued on page 32)
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Gimmie Shelter: Two Places To Find Bass In March (continued from page 10) I use either a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce jig (green pumpkin for clear water; black and blue for stained) tipped with a PowerBait Chigger Craw or a 6-inch PowerBait Power Lizard rigged with 5/0 hook and a 1/4- or 3/16-ounce weight. I rely on pinpoint accuracy to flip or pitch to these targets. Once I determine where they are on the stumps (behind, sun side, leeward side, middle), I translate that information to subsequent stumps, allowing me to cover more water. In fisheries with lots of vegetation, spinnerbaits and topwater baits fished near the grass lines seem to work best. Whereas bass in stained water seem to rely on their lateral lines to detect motion and feed, bass in clear water feed much more by sight and are more likely to leave the shelter of the grass line and pursue a moving bait. Using a seven-foot fiberglass rod and a standard-speed retrieve baitcasting reel spooled with 30- to 50-pound SpiderWire Stealth, I make long casts with a Colorado-blade spinnerbait (the big, round blades move more water) or a Berkley PowerBait 5-inch Jerk Shad. If I see fish coming to the top and breaking the surface or notice bluegill sunning near the top of the water column, this is a sure sign to switch from the spinnerbait to the jerk shad. With the jerk shad, I rig the bait on a 5/0 extra-wide gap hook and throw it on 17- or 20-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line using a seven-foot medium-heavy casting rod, keeping the bait in sight. I don’t let it run too deep. Fished slowly, I am much more successful with this bait if I can see the strikes. In both types of water, you don’t have to be too concerned with finessing bass these times of year. The water is warming; they are actively feeding in preparation for the spawn, so there’s no reason to downsize your baits. Big jigs, heavy line and powerful rods used with pinpoint casting and plenty of on-the-water fish-locating practice will help you find these bass while they are holed up and transitioning toward the spawn. Cody, age 7 March 2013 15
SALMO TRUTTA (Continued from page 13)
Kit’s Tackle himself with a February brown thirty years prior on the same shoreline we fished Sunday.-----------------------
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My two favorite marabou flavors for early year browns
A Rapala Clackin’ Minnow that has a slow action and shallow dive 16 - Hunting & Fishing News
1.) ICE OFF is the time for brown trout!! Mentally picture the size of your local lake and how deep it is and all the different depths and contours fish could be dwelling in. Now draw a mental line at the first ten or fifteen yards off shore and eliminate the rest. In my opinion, you are upping your odds by at least 75%. This takes the needle out of the haystack and gives you a much better shot at getting bit by a brown trout. Brown trout immediately seek refuge in the shallows in early spring for two reasons. It is the warmest water for them to recover from spawning and also holds the most abundant amount of forage (depending on the dynamics of your lake.) So the key factor here is to focus your presentation in shallow water (under 10 feet in most cases.) 2.) Use LARGE profile jigs. In our local lakes my favorites are the Pro Series “Black” marabou and the “Iridescent Crayfish” marabou. Sculpin and crayfish imitations make easy prey for lethargic cold water brown trout. In low light conditions we switch it over to the realistic presentation of the Glass Minnows. Our favorites being the “Yellow Perch” and “Fire Tiger” flavors. My dad used to say, “a big brown is too smart to eat a bright fire tiger jig”...it was later that day my step-momma caught a slob of a sow brown trout pushing eight pounds on the very “Fire Tiger” Glass Minnow that couldn’t 3.) Cold water brown trout are a lot like fishing for pre-spawn walleye. It is not a numbers game; we are looking for a couple big bites that bring in BIG REWARDS!! When jig fishing and targeting big February-April browns it is of paramount importance to slow the cadence of your jigging rhythm down. You don’t have to change the way you jig... just do it in slow motion (and let your jig sink a little longer.) Unlike rainbows that often hold higher in the water column, brown trout are bottom dwellers. Always let your jig sink to the bottom before the next jig and if you get snagged...it might be a giant brown;) And since browns are very lethargic this time of year, it is important to become a critical line watcher. The slightest twitch could be a 25” brown sampling your jig. 4.) We all know brown trout can be pretty nocturnal and for you night owls here are my recommendations. a.) Big jigs are hard to beat (the same I mentioned earlier) b.) Crankbaits...especially in the stick bait fashion with subtle action for this time of year (my favorites include, Rapala countdown, Husky Jerks and Bomber Long A’s.) Save the noisy action packed plugs for summer and fall. Make sure you impart a stop and go action on your bait to mimic a wounded baitfish. Trust me, a giant cold-water brown doesn’t want to chase a healthy looking plug (I’m not saying they won’t, but you will up your chances by using a distressed action.) 5.) CATCH AND RELEASE HERE FOLKS!! I don’t want to sound like a broken record but no excuses on this topic. Brown trout are also very docile creatures once in your hands. They are a little more forgiving to handling in the cold water but always treat with upmost respect. Quick photos and maybe even a little smooch, then send them back along their way to smash your jig again someday. Browns are also notorious for doing the death roll when hooked and twisting themselves in your line. Always have a pair of cutter pliers handy to free a tangled fish. 6.) Don’t get too mesmerized gazing away at the beauty of the brown trout...you might fall in the drink!! Cheers to “JIGGIN’ THE DREAM” for banana yellows!!
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Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact 2012 National Shooting Sports Foundation
United States companies that manufacture, distribute and sell sporting
firearms, ammunition and supplies are an important part of the country’s economy. Manufacturers of firearms, ammunition and supplies, along with the companies that sell and distribute these products, provide well paying jobs in America and pay significant amounts in tax to the state and Federal governments. Economic Impact of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Industry in the U.S.
Not only does the firearms and ammunition industry create jobs, it also generates sizable tax revenues. In the United States the industry and its employees pay over $2.07 billion in taxes including property, income, and sales based levies. 
 This is in addition to over $2.50 billion in Federal business taxes and $488.00 million in Federal excise taxes. Source: John Dunham and Associates, Inc. New York, New York 2012
When HunterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com sought to determine
how much weight the “Made in U.S.A.” tag carried with sportsmen when making purchases of outdoor equipment, they found most respondents agreed that U.S.-made products were of better quality and it was important to buy them...When asked how important it is to buy fishing tackle or hunting equipment that is made in the U.S.A., nearly 89 percent of anglers said it was very or somewhat important, while 94 percent of hunters said it was very or somewhat important. At the same time, 47 percent of those anglers feel U.S.-made tackle is generally better in quality and 63 percent of hunters believe U.S.-made hunting gear is better than equipment made overseas. So how much more are sportsmen willing to pay to support American jobs? If the “Made in the U.S.A.” product exceeds the price of a foreign counterpart by 5 percent or less, 85 percent of anglers and 89 percent of hunters report they will buy the higher-priced American-made product. But after that, numbers begin to drop sharply, and once the price of the U.S. product exceeds the cost of the foreign product by 20 to 30 percent, only 34 percent of anglers and 36 percent of hunters say they are willing to pay the difference. “All things being equal, sportsmen appreciate American quality and are certainly eager to support American jobs; however, it doesn’t take much of a price difference before economic realities set in and hunters and anglers are forced to make important decisions about how much they will spend,’” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com. March 2013 19
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Cranking Offshore Structure After the spawn, big bass quickly move to offshore structure, where they hold along humps, ledges, or deep underwater points. Theyâ€™re ready to feed, so wet their appetite with a big deep-diving crankbait. Make long casts so you can cover large areas from different angles and find the sweet spot on the structure. Crank the bait down, then work it more slowly through any cover in the area. Concentrate on the movement of the lure to detect light bites and to keep from snagging.
Fundamental Live Bait Rigging for Walleyes In-Fisherman
The fundamental livebait rig consists of a slipsinker sliding on the main line, followed by a snell consisting of a swivel, length of line, and hook. Most snells range from about 3 to 5 feet. This rig is bumped along the bottom in likely areas where walleyes hold, in spring, particularly along sand and gravel drop-offs at the deep edge of bars at the mouth of creek arms. Most rigging in spring is in relatively shallow water. In windy conditions, walleyes also often move up on shallow flats. Longer snells often produce better results than shorter snells in clear water. Because stealth often is a key in rigging situations, anglers often tie up their own snells with a light (6-pound), limp monofilament, instead of relying on over-the-counter snells that have heavier line.
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I am a power fisherman. Power fishing is a broad term used to describe using reaction style lures to cover vast amounts of water. Included in this power fishing style, my favorite way to catch bass is skip pitching and swimming a jig. Skip pitching involves using a conventional reel and getting a jig to skip far back under cover. Swimming a jig involves slowly pumping a jig at various depths horizontally through the water column.
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Fishing: CLARK CANYON RESERVOIR C lark Canyon Reservoir, located south of Dillon, MT. is the headwaters of the Beaverhead River, and the terminus of the Red Rock River.
Clark Canyon Reservoir offers some of the finest lake fishing for rainbow trout to be found anywhere in the state of Montana. Each year, this reservoir is heavily stocked with fast growing strains of rainbow trout.
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The high quality of fishing Clark Canyon brings people from all areas. As soon as the ice comes off the reservoir in March and April, you’ll find anglers out on the water. Both brown and rainbow trout are active at this time. You’ll also find an abundance of Burbot in Clark Canyon Reservoir. Access to this 6,000 acre lake lies just off Interstate 15, with a number of dirt roads that have access to the water.
Map produced using National Geographic TOPO Rocky Mountain Maps www.rockymtnmaps.com March 2013 21
Say Hello To Success: Where to chase the Fish this Month Brought to you by
Travis Mastrude with a nice catch
purple egg sucking leeches work well here. You can also fish nearby Pishkun Reservoir, which is about the same size. To get to Pishkun, go to the town of Choteau and follow Hwy. 287 just south of town. You can fish for trout, northern pike, and yellow perch.
FLATHEAD RIVER SLOUGHS
Some of the hottest fishing of the year in Montana is just around the corner, as ice leaves the shoreline of low-country lakes and reservoirs. You won’t have to go far to find fish that are hungry and suddenly accessible. As with most anything, timing is important to success. You’ll want to fish wet flies, smaller spinners, and bait along receding edges of ice or find fish stacked up at the mouths of tributary streams where the run-off is rich with oxygen and food. Here are some good fishing spots to check out in March.
PAINTED ROCKS RESERVOIR
Expect fast action for rainbows on this sub-alpine lake, located southwest of Hamilton down the Bitterroot Valley, (depending on ice and snow conditions.) It’s been a pretty mild winter in the Bitterroot Valley, so if warmer weather continues, expect ice-out conditions. A mix of small Panther Martin Spinners, cured eggs and a beadhead nymph fished under a float will take big trout through the early spring months. Big trout are lurking in these waters. Expect big browns as well as rainbows.
COONEY RESERVOIR Some huge rainbow trout are feeding on anything in sight on this reservoir just southwest of Laurel, MT. It’s known for bigger sized trout as well as some whopper walleye. The best spot to fish here is along rocky points using a smaller Countdown Rapala, blue and silver patterns to start. Slowly twitching your bait will produce fish. The wind here can play tricks on your fishing plans, so you may have to move around a bit, but there should be no shortage of hungry fish once you get settled in.
This wind-blasted lake north of Augusta is another exceptional spot for ice-off rainbows, and you’ll have good action on fish that average 12 inches, but expect bigger. Willow Creek Reservoir is moderately sized, running about 1,500 acres. Willow Creek Reservoir is part of the WCR Wildlife Management Area, allowing for great access all along the lake and camping is allowed. The best fishing is along the face of the Dam where these trout will hold up. Spawn Sacks, night crawlers, and
You can take advantage of northern pike moving into the Flathead River sloughs now, depending on how long the ice stays on the river’s oxbows. As the ice pulls back, pike will start looking for warmer water and submerged vegetation. Strikes can be hit and miss, but there are some giants in these waters. Look for shallow areas - 5 feet or less, where pike like to soak up the rays. They will hit on dead bait (smelt), and jigs. For open water, try Sportsman’s Bridge Fishing Access Site off Hwy. 82 on the Flathead River. Fish the mouths of Fennon Slough and Rose Creek as the ice recedes.
Great fishing can be had here as the ice starts to break up on this reservoir located near Havre. The best time to target large pre-spawn pike is right after ice-off. Target the shallows using large spoons and spinners. You’ll want to be in the 10 to 15 foot depth for notherns. For walleye, it will be hit and miss, as larger pre-spawn females become lethargic until after the spawn is over. You may find some male walleye in the shallow water. Throw all of the loud stuff you can at them to get them to strike.
FT. PECK RESERVOIR
Anglers can get some good action on Ft. Peck as the winter cap recedes off this reservoir. Toothy predators will be on the bite. There is a short window between ice-out on this northeastern Montana reservoir and the start of the walleye spawn, but the next few weeks can be an exceptional time to catch fat, egg-laden females. Rock Creek can be an excellent place to start if conditions are favorable, fishing the Big Dry Arm of the lake. Jig a minnow along the rocky shorelines and expect some action. Expect big northerns and smallmouth bass. If you do catch a big female fish, it’s always good to take photos and measurements, then release the fish back into the water to spawn. You can always get a taxidermist to mount the fish for you, using this method. Keep the smaller fish for table fare. They taste much better!
For hot spring bass action, you’ll want to head up to Noxon Reservoir. Located near Thompson Falls, Noxon grows big bass, both smallmouth and largemouth. You can fish rock ledges and submerged rubble for smallmouth before lunch, then work flooded timber and back-bay weeds for thumper largemouth towards the evening. This long, narrow reservoir is one of Montana’s finest bass fisheries. Magnum northern pike are caught here as well. Because of the terrain, the species here are diverse. Bring a variety of tackle. Drop-shotting can work, jigs and pork rind trailers work well around the weed beds. Top water fishing along weeded edges near any structure is a good bet. A good largemouth bass on Noxon will go 3 to 6 lbs. and smallies in the 2 lb. range.
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You can throw tiny nymphs to magnum rainbows that are just starting to keg up in the Missouri River just below Hauser Dam. Trout in this tailwater just minutes from the Helena Valley are large. Most are stockers from Holter Lake that run up the Dam and go through the motions of spawning. Early in the season, through the first part of March, you can have amazing days fishing here on fish that will average 16 inches up to 24 inches. Hauser is probably one of Montana’s best early season rainbow spots. Hardware will also take big rainbows. Try dead drifting smaller Panther Martins, spoons, and small red and silver lures.
CLARK CANYON RESERVOIR
Good fishing will continue on this southwest Montana impoundment, as the season changes. Ice-out fishing should produce big trout this spring. For trout, concentrate on the south and southwest sides of the reservoir, where water depths are less than 10 feet. Bait fishing and jigging are popular early season fishing methods. Black, purple, brown or olive leadhead jigs with or without bait, fished on lightweight spinning gear will produce trout. If you’re fly fishing, midge patterns work well now. Rainbows, brown trout, and burbot will be caught here in the early spring.
BITTERROOT RIVER Spring marks the arrival of one of Montana’s most famous bug hatches - the Bitterroot River’s Skwalas. These bugs will be found from the headwaters of the West and East Forks near Darby, downstream to beyond Florence. Normal hatches run through around March 20 to April 20th on the Bitterroot. With the long winter behind us, and mostly unpressured river, these fish will be more than willing to rise to the surface for these bugs. Bullethead Skwala patterns tied in olive greens will bring eager fish crashing to the surface. Another hatch that may occur this time of the year - March Browns.
Warmer days have allowed for some enjoyable fishing along southwest Montana’s Upper Madison
River area, as well as the fishing stretch from Hebgen to Quake Lake. Late morning and mid-day trips have been most productive. The river’s fish are feeding on nymphs. A good nymphing set-up this time of the year will be a rubber leg Stonefly trailed by a San Juan worm, small beadheads, and Pheasant Tails. Small hardware such as Panther Martins, Mepp’s lures, and smaller bright flashers will attract aggressive trout. As the days warm up, look for the midge activity to pick-up here, and on the nearby Gallatin River.
HOLTER LAKE Holter Lake can be a very exciting place to fish towards the end of March. Known for it’s prolonged pre-spawn walleye bite, thanks to slow to warm up water that is hidden in the Gates Of The Mountains Canyon. 10 lb. walleye can be caught if you know where to fish. You can jig or slow roll a bottom bouncer with a plastic worm or night crawler in front of finicky walleye now. You can expect many smaller sized walleye as well. Trout will be abundant, and in good size. Rainbows and big browns lurk in Holter Lake. If you want a guide for this amazing fishery, call the “Walleye Hunter” at 406-459-5352 for a great day of top notch fishing.
FLATHEAD LAKE Spring Mack Days on Flathead Lake starts this month as area anglers are lured by cash and prizes, and a chance to hook into giant “Lakers” on Flathead. Whether your trolling, or jigging, finding the right depth is the key on this huge lake. Flatfish, Kwik Fish, Hoochies, and spoons are lures that work well here, as do Crank baits. Electronics are a must to locate more fish. Go to mackdays.com if you are interested in entering this year’s events.
2013 SPRING MACK DAYS LAKE TROUT FISHING EVENT ON FLATHEAD LAKE 34 DAYS OF FISHING! March 15th through
May 19th Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays-except the last week* *Enjoy 10 straight fishing days from May 10th - May 19th at the end of the event.
Up to $150,000 in CASH & PRIZES 1-$10,000, 5-$5,000, 10-$1,000 & Over 3,500--$100 to $500 Tagged Lake Trout Plus 4,000 $500-$100
Lottery Prizes ($1,000-$200)-all it takes is one fish/ticket to win Plus-Top ten angler prizes $700-$200-best 18/34-days count-last day is separate Captains $250-(4 prizes), Smallest lake trout $250-(2 prizes), Largest lake trout $500 Top lady anglers $300,$200, $100. $100, $100-totals used Youth anglers- (17-13) 1st- $200, 2nd-$150, 3rd-$75, 4-5th-$50 (12 & under) 1st-$100, 2nd-$75, 3rd-$50 will also be entered in the lottery drawing. Weekend Prizes-eleven $200 & $100 Golden Angler Award (70 & older)-$200 & $100 3 days of single/team-heaviest 4-fish-go to www.mackdays.com Last Day Only: $500, $300, $200, $100 & Heaviest Mack under 30”-$200 & $100
BONUSES: ALL ANGLERS WHO ENTER 20 OR MORE LAKE TROUT WIN. The higher your total is at the end of the event-the higher your bonus-every day (34) counts. Fish Fry for participants & families-May 19th at Blue Bay Awards Ceremony at 5:00
Entry forms will not be mailed out.
Early season fishing can be hot or cold in the spring. Slowing down your retrieval speed on lures and natural baits is a sure way to catch more fish early in the year. You can also use scents as fish will respond to the smell. Berkley’s Power Bait works well as an added way to get the fish to bite this time of the year.
Enter online at www.mackdays.com
or pick up entries at local sporting good stores - or you can even enter when you check in your fish at the check in stations during Mack Days. It is easier if you enter before the event begins. We remind you to follow all fishing regulations. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have a special $12 fishing permit for the south half on Flathead Lake that is available wherever fishing permits are sold.
Good fishing! Email photos of your spring catch to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks March 2013 23
Hunting & Conservation News Proudly Sponsored By
HUNTING & CONS New Wolf Laws Take Effect Immediately MFWP, February 13, 2013
A wolf management bill that won swift and overwhelming bipartisan support in the Montana Legislature was signed into law today by the state’s new governor.
Gov. Steve Bullock said the law, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Flynn, will allow hunters to purchase up to three wolf licenses and lowers the price of a nonresident wolf license from $350 to $50.
THIRTY-SIX CHARGES FILED IN SANDERS COUNTY BIG GAME POACHING MFWP Three Sanders County residents were recently charged with multiple fish and game violations including hunting game during a closed season and unlawfully using artificial light to kill game animals. Deputy County Attorney Amy Kenison filed 36 charges for violations based on FWP Warden Tom Chianelli’s investigation into a string of poaching that occurred in March/April of 2012 in the Thompson Falls area. Bryant Eaton of Trout Creek faces 18 fish and game charges including 5 charges of taking of game animals during a closed season, 5 charges of unlawfully using artificial light to take game animals, and 5 charges of possessing and transporting unlawfully killed game animals. Eaton also faces two counts of waste of a game animal and one count of unlawfully obtaining a license when his privileges were suspended. Court records show Eaton’s hunting privileges are currently suspended for a previous fish and game violation. Eaton has entered a not guilty plea and is scheduled to appear before Sanders County Justice of the Peace Don Strine at a later date. Stuart Mitchell of Thompson Falls was also charged with 13 counts of similar violations, including 5 counts of possessing and transporting unlawfully killed game animals, 3 counts of unlawfully using artificial light to take game animals, 3 counts of taking game animals during a closed season and 2 counts of waste of a game animal. Mitchell entered a guilty plea to all 13 charges and has been ordered to pay over $6000 in fines and restitution and received a lifetime suspension of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges. Mitchell was also ordered to serve a day in jail for each of the 13 charges. Teresa Schimmel of Thompson Falls was charged with 4 counts of possessing unlawfully killed game animals and for the unlawful sale of game animals. Schimmel also entered a guilty plea to 5 charges and was ordered to pay $1925 in fines and received a lifetime suspension of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges. Schimmel was ordered to serve a day in jail for each of the 5 charges. 24 - Hunting & Fishing News
The measure will also fortify state wildlife officials’ science-based efforts to manage Montana’s recovered and growing wolf population, the Governor said. “This legislation leaves management of the gray wolf where it belongs, in the hands of scientists, not politicians,” Gov. Bullock said. The legislation was amended by lawmakers to allow hunting and trapping of wolves near national parks and allows wildlife officials to close such areas after established wolf harvest quotas are met. In signing the legislation, Gov. Bullock asked FWP to ramp up education programs aimed at averting the harvest of collared wolves near national parks. Gov. Bullock also directed his staff to determine the best way to reengage the wolf advisory council. The council was originally formed to lead the state’s productive wolf conservation and management plan discussions more than 12 years ago. The new law also allows for wolf hunters to use their license after 24-hours of purchase, instead of a five-day wait; authorizes the use of electronic calls ; and removes the requirement for wolf hunters to wear hunter-orange clothing after the general deer and elk hunting seasons have ended. The recovery of the wolf in the northern Rockies—an area generally comprised of wolf populations in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming—remains one of the fastest endangered species comebacks on record. The recovery goal for wolves in the three states was set at a minimum of 30 breeding pairs—successfully reproducing wolf packs—and a minimum of 300 individual wolves for at least three consecutive years. In the mid 1990s, to hasten the overall pace of wolf recovery, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. By 2002 the recovery goal was reached and the wolf population has increased every year since. Today, at least 1,774 wolves in 287 packs and about 109 breeding pairs, live in the region. The minimum Montana wolf population estimates at the end of 2011 include 653 wolves, in 130 verified packs, and 39 breeding pairs. New official population estimates are expected in March...
Award-winning TV Hunting Host Among New RMEF Board Members RMEF
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is pleased to welcome six new members to its board of directors. Among them is Randy Newberg, host of the popular television hunting show “On Your Own Adventures.” “Randy is a long-time friend to RMEF,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “But even more than that, his passion for conservation, public access and wildlife management, and his leadership will offer a clear, wise direction for our organization for years to come.” “My vision is the RMEF will continue the valuable conservation work that has made such a difference in my life, all while adding to access efforts RMEF has provided for those of us who use these public lands,” said Newberg. “My vision is also that RMEF will provide leadership on important land and habitat issues during a time when funding for conservation is being cut, when public lands are being looked at as a liability, and when hunting can be even more valuable to our society. The ultimate vision being that all Americans understand that Hunting is Conservation.”...
SERVATION NEWS Trophy Quantity vs. Quality: Today’s Hunter Has Both Boone and Crockett Club New research shows that Boone and
Forest E. Hayes, Bighorn Sheep 184-1/8 B&C, Ravalli County ‘05
Crockett-class trophies have become more plentiful, and that average scores of record entries have declined by only insignificant amounts, over time. Researchers studied trends in the size of trophy horns and antlers using Boone and Crockett Club records. Results, published by The Wildlife Society in the Feb. 2013 issue of Wildlife Monographs, did show that trophy size of North American big game declined in 14 of 25 categories, but only by an average of 1.87 percent for antlered species and 0.68 percent for horned species, between 1950 and 2008.
“There is no evidence that this small decline in size is of biological significance,” said research co-author Jim Heffelfinger, a biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, “especially when weighed against the great conservation gains accomplished through the regulated harvest of big game species. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation has proven to be an unparalleled success, owing to the contributions of sportsmen and women.” Researchers concluded that slight declines in trophy quality are most likely explained by a gradual reduction in male age structures resulting from more intensive harvest of males. If so, state wildlife agencies could implement management strategies to reverse the trend, but such decisions may come with a loss of hunting opportunity. The newly published study was conducted by a team of six scientists from Idaho State University, University of Montana, Arizona Game and Fish Department and California Department of Fish and Game, all led by Dr. Kevin L. Monteith of the University of Wyoming. The group analyzed a 108-year dataset comprising 22,000 records across 25 categories of wild, native North American big game trophies. The Boone and Crockett Club has maintained such records, dating back to before the publishing of its first records book in 1932, to provide a valuable dataset for assessing long-term trends in physical characteristics of big game species. These records provide conservationists with valuable information for a great variety of comparative management and research purposes. Overall B&C record entries have increased over time, dramatically so in recent decades. For example, Boone and Crockett received a total of 119 trophy entries in 1950, followed by 402 in 1960, 355 in 1970, 349 in 1980, 843 in 1990, 1,244 in 2000 and 1,508 in 2010. This amounts to a 1,167.22 percent increase in trophy entries between 1950 and 2010.
Hunters, Mark Your Calendars for March 15, May 1 & June 1 MFWP • March 15 is the deadline to apply for 2013 deer and elk hunting permits. Streamlined eight-page application packets that contain all the information residents need to apply are available at all license providers, FWP offices and online at fwp.mt.gov. Nonresidents who wish to apply for big game combination, elk combination or deer combination licenses and deer and elk permits for the 2013 Montana hunting season can also apply online or download an application from FWP’s website. • May 1 is the deadline to apply for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and bison licenses. • June 1 is the deadline to apply for Elk B, Deer B and Antelope licenses. Cow elk hunting opportunities are available as “Elk B” licenses; and doe hunting opportunities are available as “Deer B” licenses.
NWTF Withdraws From Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show National Wild Turkey Federation T
he National Wild Turkey Federation has withdrawn from the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa., due to the decision to ban the display of modern sporting rifles.
As a leading advocate for the preservation of our hunting heritage, the NWTF believes it is an important time to take a clear stance on its support of sportsmen and the Second Amendment and the clear link between the two. The NWTF has canceled its booth space and will be rescheduling the NWTF sanctioned calling contest that was slated to take place at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show once a suitable venue is determined. “We feel strongly about the importance of the Second Amendment in pursuit of our mission of preserving our hunting heritage,” said Skip Motts, President of the NWTF Pennsylvania State Chapter. “We reached out to our chapters from across the state and received overwhelming support for taking this stand.” The NWTF works to pass on the right to hunt to future generations, including reducing legal barriers to creating new hunters and introducing almost 100,000 people to outdoor sports annually. The right to bear arms is another pillar of the hunting tradition that the NWTF fully supports. The efforts to preserve our hunting heritage can be undone if new barriers to hunting are created by limiting the tools that the vast majority of sportsmen depend on to hunt. March 2013 25
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UNIT 49 ELK NUMBERS UP, DEER NUMBERS STRONG
Winter deer composition surveys and Unit 49 elk population counts offer a bright outlook for the 2013 hunting season. “Our surveys this winter have given us a useful snapshot of the status of our big game herds in relation to our management objectives,” said Randy Smith, Magic Valley wildlife manager. “Elk numbers are up in Unit 49, and our deer composition surveys show good buck to doe ratios and satisfactory fawn to doe ratios across the region.” The previous Unit 49 elk count was in 2008. Since then several changes were made in hunting seasons to increase elk numbers, especially bulls. Reports from hunters and landowners suggested that elk numbers had increased in that unit, and survey data confirm those reports. Overall elk numbers in Unit 49 have increased by 32 percent, from 2,048 elk in 2008 to 2,721 in 2013. The increase is largely the result of a substantial increase in bulls; this year’s count saw a 90 percent increase, from 260 bulls in 2008 to 494 bulls in 2013. Overall cow and calf numbers also increased. “We are very pleased with the increasing numbers and will be looking for opportunities this fall for hunters to be able to reap the benefit of a growing elk population,” Smith said. During December, biologists were also able to conduct aerial mule deer surveys in portions of five units to determine herd composition. In Units 45, 54 and 55, sample sizes were large enough to accurately reflect population data. In Unit 45, biologists saw a satisfactory fawn to doe ratio of 62.7 fawns per 100 does. The observed buck to doe ratio of 40.9 bucks per 100 does exceeds management objectives... 26 - Hunting & Fishing News
indicates the rate of population decline has accelerated dramatically. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that the northeast population declined 35 percent from last year. Since 2010, the moose population has declined 52 percent. In response to the survey results, the DNR will not open a 2013 state moose hunting season or consider opening future seasons unless the population recovers. “The state’s moose population has been in decline for years but never at the precipitous rate documented this winter,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “This is further and definitive evidence the population is not healthy. It reaffirms the conservation community’s need to better understand why this iconic species of the north is disappearing from our state.” Landwehr stressed the state’s limited hunts are not the cause of the population decline. “Yet taking this action is reasonable and responsible in light of latest data and an uncertain future,” Landwehr said Based on the aerial survey conducted in January, the new population estimate is 2,760 animals, down from 4,230 in 2012. The population estimate was as high as 8,840 as recently as 2006. Completed in 2011, the DNR’s moose management and research plan established biological and management thresholds for closing the season. While those thresholds have not been met, DNR managers did not anticipate such a precipitous decline in the overall moose population when the thresholds were established. “It’s now prudent to control every source of mortality we can as we seek to understand causes of population decline,’’ said Landwehr, explaining the rationale for closing the season. To help solve why moose are rapidly dying, the DNR is leading the largest and most high-tech multi-partner moose research effort ever initiated. Starting in January, wildlife researchers began fitting 100 moose in northeastern Minnesota with GPS tracking and data collection collars. This multi-year research project will investigate the causes of adult moose mortality, calf mortality, calf survival, moose use of existing habitat and habitat quality. To date, 92 collars have been placed on moose in the Grand Marais, Ely and Two Harbors areas. Information and insights from this pioneering research may help identify management options that could stop or slow the moose population decline. Rolf Peterson, a research professor at Michigan Technological University who is renowned for his study of the wolf-moose relationship on Lake Superior’s Isle Royale and chaired the DNR’s former moose advisory committee, concurred with the DNR’s commitment to conduct pioneering research and discontinue hunting until more is known. “The DNR’s decision to suspend hunting makes sense given the disturbing and abrupt decline in moose numbers,” Peterson said. “To me, the big news is the incredibly disappointing survey results. The hunting decision is simply a logical reaction to an uncertain situation that researchers are trying to resolve.” The DNR has conducted aerial moose population surveys in northeastern Minnesota since 1960. The survey involves flying transects in 49 randomly selected plots spread across the Arrowhead region of Minnesota. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and 1854 Treaty Authority contributed funding and provided personnel for the annual survey. A copy of the aerial survey report is available online at www.mndnr. gov/moose, a Web page that also provides field updates from moose researchers, an interactive map of the study area as well as photographs and video of field research activities.
REGIONAL NEWS WGFD Captures and Collars Wolves to Monitor Populations
T he Wyoming Game and Fish Department is wrapping up a successful wolf capturing and collaring effort conducted intermittently over the last six weeks in northwest Wyoming.
“The Game and Fish will capture and collar wolves in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area annually to monitor population size and distribution in Wyoming,” said Large Carnivore Section supervisor Mark Bruscino. “Recent capture operations have been successful and since December, we have radio collared 16 wolves in the Jackson, Meeteetse, and Cody areas. We now have at least one radio-collared wolf in most major packs in Wyoming,” Bruscino added.
Mike Boyce, large carnivore biologist in Jackson fits a radio collar on a chemically immobilized wolf.
“Information collected from radio-collared wolves is helpful in documenting the population status of a recovered wolf population and will help ensure the species remains biologically recovered and under state management authority in the future,” Bruscino said. “Radio collars allow biologists to more readily locate wolf packs, count adults and pups, and more accurately estimate the number and location of wolf packs and breeding pairs in Wyoming.” “Although the final population estimate has not been prepared,
we are confident that Wyoming will have a sufficient number of wolves within the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area to fulfill our commitment to maintain a recovered population consisting of at least 100 individuals and ten breeding pairs on lands outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation,” Bruscino said. The official wolf population estimate prepared by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be available to the public in April 2013. All capture operations were conducted within the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area. Wolves were captured by a helicopter crew using either a dart gun with a chemical immobilization drug or by an aerial net gun. Upon capture, Game and Fish biologists fit each animal with a radio collar, draw blood for disease and genetic testing, and collect information on wolf age and sex. All wolves were released in good condition after capture. “It is important to maintain collared wolves throughout occupied wolf habitat but, as with many other wildlife collaring programs, we expect and plan to have collared wolves harvested during hunting seasons and in areas where wolves are designated as Predatory Animals,” said Bruscino. “The WGFD mitigates this impact through the number of collars we place on wolves and the locations of collared wolves.” Hunters who harvest a collared wolf in areas of Wyoming where wolves are designated as Trophy Game animals are required to return the radio collar to the WGFD within five days of the date of harvest. Hunters who harvest a collared wolf in areas where wolves are classified as Predatory Animals are required to turn in the radio collar within 10 days of the date of harvest.
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Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! (continued from page 6) switched the game cam cards with a fresh one then headed home. Lisa and I began screening our photos with no expectations of any big surprises. Boy were we wrong. As I was skipping through an SD card I caught a glimpse of a night photo that almost knocked me off the chair! Here was a buck deep in the photo that resembled a muley with a rack much larger than a typical Blacktail! Where this brute came from I’ll never know but what I did know was the game was on. I began visiting this set-up wearing rubber boots and gloves each time, while being completely sprayed down with Dead Down Wind Evolve 3D with Scent Prevent Technology. I was packing in every mineral supplement I could think of with every trip. I left the site each time by rubbing the surrounding trees with Conquest Scent’s Evercalm. It was paying off as his interest for my plot was increasing but still only nightly. This was good enough. I knew I had plenty of time to sway the buck I named ‘Jethro’ into breaking his nocturnal habits. The early season, opened Aug. 27th so I kept praying he would put his guard down enough to show himself during the day. That day came at 7:35 a.m. on Aug. 20th. and the fever set in. After a very long week I found myself 30 ft. up a madrone tree at 3:30 a.m. of opening day, only to learn that this would be the beginning of a very long rocky road. I sat in that tree many a long day during the early season without even a glimpse of this buck. Obviously he was much smarter than I was hoping for. All along I was eating up valuable elk hunting time because these seasons run parallel to one another. During that month I shifted gears a few times to try and bring an elk home and one of the weekends I chose to chase elk ‘Jethro’ showed up at my empty stand at 7:30 a.m.. When early season finally ended my freezer was still empty. Now my only hope would be during late season. During our off-time Lisa and I kept an eye on our sites and enhanced them continuously with every trick in the book. During this time the buck showed himself just enough to keep me on full alert. Then one evening while studying an SD card from the Rogue unit we got another shock. We saw the Cactus Buck, another buck that set us crazy with anticipation. Most hunters don’t get a chance to hunt either of these bucks in two lifetimes. We were stoked. Now it was Lisa’s turn to get excited. She was going to try for the Cactus Buck. Once again we upped the ante by increasing supplements and scents to our new hotspot, along with a few mock scrapes. Let the games begin. Another buck we named Barnacle Bill began making his visits almost daily but only at night. By mid-October he began following the does in under the sun, and Lisa began really chomping at the bit. Things were looking good, but as I said earlier this was to be a season of surprises. After many daytime visits in a row, Barnacle Bill ceased coming in on Oct. 24th. Simultaneously, a monstrosity bear appeared to stake claim and was there every night, all night
We assumed this was the sole reason for Bill’s disappearing act. This was no ordinary bear. In fact, my dear friend Jim Ponciano holds a world record for taking a black bear with traditional archery gear and when he analyzed my photos he felt that this bear rivaled his record easily. Of course, because it was in late fall, this bruiser was 100% nocturnal and since we can’t hunt bears over any type of lure in Oregon it ruled out any chance of hunting him. When I finally settled down I realized the only choice we had was that somehow, that bear had to go if we were ever going to have a chance of seeing Bill again. So there we were, pulling all of the deer/mineral blocks etc., leaving only the plot itself. It worked, kinda, the big bear left and the deer slowly returned, but no Bill. Jethro hadn’t been showing up lately either. No matter what, Lisa and I weren’t about to give up. We were in too deep to fold now, especially knowing the bucks that were out there. I was now faced with splitting my attention between the two hot sites while continuing to maintain my other stands for some special friends who were flying in to film a hunt. Late season’s opening day arrived and Lisa and I hunted her area hard for the entire weekend. Lisa had to work the following week so I switched strategies and decided to hunt my area. My friend/mentor Scott Haugen advised me to film this hunt on my own and low and behold on the third morning Jethro appeared, along with a severe rain storm. The shock and awe of his dynamic appearance was overwhelming to say the least. It had been such a long wait for this moment but I had my camera mounted on a tree-pod and because of the torrential downpour I had it covered and pushed to the side. Not quite far enough however. Because of the angle of his approach, the brush and the blinding rain I was in a position of trying to awkwardly shoot around the camera. In doing so I tried to force the shot and I made the granddaddy of all mistakes. It was all over in the blink of an eye and I had missed. I couldn’t believe it. To make matters worse, I never saw that great buck again. I did keep my promise to Lisa and focused all of my energies into helping her fulfill her dream. Along the way she passed up a number of shot opportunities on mature bucks just to save her tag for Cactus Bill. She suffered many long days in extreme weather conditions to no avail. As she continued to hunt for this great buck my friends Bob Fromme, Jerry Morrison and Dave Ferrario arrived for their hunts. (continued on page 38)
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PREDATOR HUNTING BASICS By Jason Herbert
ot long ago I sat in this exact spot belting out deep buck grunts in hopes of catching the attention of a wandering whitetail. Now the scenery was a bit different; I was still downwind of a thick, nasty bedding area, but there I was a foot of snow on the ground and nothing green in sight. Also, instead of a grunt tube I was wailing on a rabbit distress call in hopes of luring a hungry coyote from his cozy winter den. With a thick blanket of snow coating most of the Midwest, many post season deer scouting plans have been ruined. Rather than just sit around, some deer hunters are still taking to the woods in hopes of putting a tag or two on a predator. All across the country coyotes, wolves, bobcats and other rascals are putting a dent in the whitetail and turkey populations. Rather than just wait for the snow to melt to start whitetail scouting, how about trying to take a few predators out of the pack? THE SETUP - Around me, coyotes are really terrorizing the local game animals. I’m just getting into predator hunting so I stick with basic techniques and woodsmanship skills. The best times to hunt are dawn and dusk, with nighttime being fantastic if legal. I try to set up downwind of where I think the coyotes will be, and call from there. Of course, it isn’t that simple, and the basic setup requires a bit more thought. Coyotes depend on their sense of smell a lot. They will naturally try to get downwind of the call to make sure it is legit before committing. The trick is to keep some sort of barrier at your back, so they cannot get downwind. I was talking with my good buddy and coyote hunting guru Ken Morand, and his logic made complete sense. For the novice predator hunter, try to get near a river, steep embankment, lake, or anything else the coyote can’t get across. Then, if a coyote is interested in the call, he’ll have no choice but to come in upwind. THE CALL - Again, take a pretty logical approach to calling. The point is to lure the coyote out of hiding for a shot. Some people are really good at howling, but for beginners, just stick to wounded animal sounds. If a lot of rabbit tracks are showing up in the area, then use a rabbit distress call. If it seems to be more squirrels, birds, etc... then use those types of distress calls. Ken also suggested tying a few turkey feathers to an old arrow shaft as a sort of decoy/distraction to place in the ground. “The feathers give the coyote something to focus on, and help the shooter take a decent shot.” Many experienced predator hunters have expensive electronic callers. If possible, invite one of them along to show how it’s done. CAMOUFLAGE - Yet again, take a basic approach to this. Try to blend in as much as possible. Use brush, trees, blow-downs, and anything else that can cover a hunter’s silhouette and movement. Some hunters build natural blinds out of hay bales left over from the summer. These blinds may also help a hunter stay warm. Wearing snow camo or whatever pattern that will blend in won’t hurt any. SCOUTING - Predators can be scouted like deer and turkey. Use trail cameras at high traffic areas. Look for fresh tracks, what they may be feeding on, and dens. Listen at night for howling, “yipping”, and other noises they may make. Where legal, baiting with road kill may be a helpful way to locate and pattern a few predators. SCENT CONTROL - Even when using the wind to our advantage, a hunter has to keep scent control at the top of their priority list. Many times hours after the hunt is over, the coyotes will come into the area and investigate. If they smell any bit of human scent, they won’t cooperate at all in the future. Coyotes and other predators are pretty nervous animals, and they don’t tolerate any human interference in a situation as intimate as this.
© Moose Henderson | Dreamstime.com
(continued on page 32)
30 - Hunting & Fishing News
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Predator Hunting Basics continued from page 30 Be sure to use all of the scent control protocol that needs to take place during deer season. ScentBlocker’s Ti4 spray will come in really handy when pursuing coyotes. Ti4 oxidizes, neutralizes, absorbs and prevents odors on clothing and gear, making it a must have spray for any dedicated hunter. The Dream Season 17” knee boot is perfect for deep snow hunts allowing for warmth, scent control, and quiet easy movements. Robinson Outdoor Products, LLC. also produces the Whitewater series of insulated clothing. Whitewater’s Reversible Sherpa AP and AP Snow Camo are perfect insulated hunting gear for diehard cold weather predator hunters. Be sure to treat and store these clothes just like fall deer hunting garments by washing them in ScentBlocker Clothes Wash and storing them in an airtight, scent free container until the hunt. Also, keep scent killing sprays inside so they will not freeze, and use them generously on boots and anything else that will come in contact with the ground. Remember, when properly set up, it’s not so much getting winded we need to worry about, it’s leaving sign that we were there. Have Fun - As with any hunting situation be safe and have fun. Be sure to follow state and local game laws. In some areas, predators are really doing a lot of damage to game animals. In other areas, the predators themselves are protected. Proper predator management is a great way to help contribute to healthy deer herds, small game populations, and turkey flocks for the future. 32 - Hunting & Fishing News
-If you don’t hear a bird gobble of its own volition, move through the woods and make several hen yelps every 300 to 400 yards. Such calling should be done only from a location where you can hide quickly and also have a good view of the surroundings. -Be in the woods by the crack of dawn, because this is when the breeding-age toms begin sounding off with lusty gobbles audible half a mile away on a still morning. Breeding-age toms do most of their gobbling during the first two hours of daylight, but during the height of the mating season, an occasional gobble may be heard at any time of the day. -If you hear more than one tom gobbling, move in on the closest tom as fast as possible. Stalking a more distant tom may result in a busted stalk. -When calling to a tom on the roost early in the morning, a couple of soft, sleepy clucks works better than the hen yelp. A tom is reluctant to respond to a love yelp so early in the morning. -Whether you wear camouflage or not, your clothing should blend with the foliage around you. Although some hunters swear by facial camouflage and clothing, other good hunters are inclined to believe one’s movements spook turkeys. -Where should you take a stand? After a gobbler sounds, try to move within 200 yards of his position and then choose a stand in a fairly open area. As a general rule, turkeys avoid thickets that could conceal an enemy. A turkey likes a certain amount of ground cover within the timber to make it feel secure. However, the ground cover must be open enough to instantly afford the turkey good vision, allow it to walk without touching or coming into bodily contact with thick ground growth and assure it quick wing action and passage if need be. Turkeys are like any other animals-their behavior is mostly directed toward survival. Once you are on a stand, sit still and be patient. Smoking, coughing and other unnecessary movements simply do not fit into the strategic plan for hunting turkeys. -Try to get uphill and on the same ridge as a gobbler. It’s the easiest place to call from. Turkeys are a lot easier to call uphill than downhill. -When selecting a calling site, look for a tree with a good thick base. Sit in front of it, and use it as a backrest. -Weather conditions play a big part in the success of the spring gobbler hunt. A day that starts with a clear, cool morning and no wind is a good choice for hunting turkeys. Eastern Montana unfortunately has its share of inclement weather during the spring turkey season. Cold weather especially when coupled with a foot of snow-usually dampens the amorous attitudes of gobblers, making calling almost useless. If such weather conditions occur, stay home, practice your calls, read up on the life history of the wild turkey and hope for a better day. -Rifles are not a legal weapon for the spring season, most turkey hunters prefer using a 12-gauge shotgun with a full choke and using 0.2 or No. 4 shot. Turkeys are big, tough birds, and their vital organs are tucked away beneath heavy, metallic-colored feathers. Breeding-age toms also have what is called a breast sponge, which acts like a flak jacket. It’s a large mass of fatty tissue that helps them remain in prime physical condition during the breeding season. Wild turkeys also have blinding speed afoot, and even a broken wing seldom results in a turkey in the oven. Because a turkey’s body is nothing less than a miniature armored-tank, preferred areas to shoot at are head and neck. (continued)
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CALLING TURKEYS: Selecting a call presents a bewildering problem for the beginner, especially if he asks for advice-few turkey hunters are likely to agree on a selection. This diversity is understandable, since calls differ widely in appearance and method of operation. One of the most popular and easiest to use is the large hinged-type box call. The top edges of the box are beveled and are chalked by the user. By drawing the paddle or lid very slowly and gently across either lip, the low, seductive mating yelp of a hen can be imitated. Concentrate your efforts on learning to imitate only the hen yelps and clucks. These are really the only two calls you have to learn for a successful hunt. The yelp is soft and plaintive and usually uttered in a series of threes. Visualize it as: “kee-yuk, kee-yuk, kee-yuk . . . . key-yuk, key- yuk.” It must be done pleadingly with medium-pitched sounds, and with each perk ending on a rising inflection. A calling sequence should start with four or five yelps. The rhythm of the yelping sequence is far more important than the tone, and this is what you should try to perfect when calling. Surprisingly enough, some hens will produce yelps that are really off key. When the hen is responsive to the gobbler, her call is snappy and to the point. As soon as you make some hen yelps, the tom will usually respond quickly with a gobble. Make a second call soon after the first to convince him that he really heard what he thought he did. Then, remain quiet for a while, regardless of how much he keeps gobbling. You can be sure he has zeroed in on your position and can come straight to you, if so inclined. If he is still gobbling from the same location 10-15 minutes after you last called to him, you might try a couple of clucks every 5 or 10 minutes until he comes in. If the bird is a 2-year old tom unable to gather a harem of hens, he will often move in quickly after hearing your hen yelps. But if you are working on a long-bearded old tom with a complement of hens in the vicinity, you are probably going to have a frustrating experience. The hens in his harem may go to him soon after he starts gobbling and your early morning efforts to lure him to you usually will be futile. A little patience and a different call may turn the tables. Under such a set of circumstances, a gobble from your box call may spell the margin of victory. Many box calls have a crisscross arrangement of rubber bands holding the lid gently to the box top. If you hold the call bottom down in the palm of your hand, handle pointed away from you, a quick shake will produce a gobble. This call often moves a hesitant tom into range because he thinks a rival gobbler is moving in on his hens. Use it with caution, however, because it also might call up another hunter. Probably the best way to learn the yelping sequence of the hen turkey is to listen to a good caller or to a turkey-calling instructional record. If you are halfway serious about learning the basic calls, practice the yelping sequence outdoors throughout the year and don’t wait until the day before the hunt to review your calling instructions and to begin practicing yelps. DECOYS: Hens normally go to toms for breeding, so you’ll have to do some good coaching to get the tom to come even a reasonable distance to you. A hen decoy can be placed in an open area within shotgun range of the caller. A young tom “jake” decoy can also be used near the hen to suggest competition for the older tom. Decoys can be purchased through large sporting goods stores, made from stuffed wild or domestic (not white) turkeys or made by yourself using foam, papier-mâché or other materials which can be easily worked and light enough to carry...
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s they reached their destination, novice bowhunter Van Holmes turned to his outfitter, Scott Sanderford of Croton Creek, and asked if he had any last minute advice. Sanderford turned to Holmes and succinctly replied, “Don’t miss.” It sounds simple enough, in theory, but sometimes falls short in practice.
And practice is the key component to reducing the chances of a miss. Bowhunting requires far more practice than gun hunting. The shooter is part of the equipment. You’ve got to become first familiar, then proficient with your bow and arrow combination. Start close, at 15 or 20 yards. Adjust your sight pins, then keep shooting until you can consistently place your arrows in a tight group -- four inches or less. Then move back in 10 yard increments, setting successive pins and achieving consistent groups. When you get to the point where you can no longer consistently group arrows, you’ve reached your maximum effective distance -- on the range. Hunting conditions vary, so you should scale it back a bit under field conditions. You should also practice under field conditions. Standing on flat ground in an open field won’t fully prepare you for hunting. If you’re going to hunt from an elevated platform, practice from one. The higher you sit, the less the effect of gravity will be on your arrow, which could result in you hitting higher than your practiced point of aim. If you’ll be hunting from a ground blind, practice from one, sitting in a chair, as any change in position can affect shooting form, and accuracy. It’s also a good idea to practice on 3-D targets. Deer, and other game, aren’t square, and don’t have perfectly placed dots where you’re supposed to aim. Practicing on a 3-D target gets you more accustomed to picking a spot where there isn’t one, and will help immensely when you have to do it on the real thing. Lots of folks travel away from home to hunt. If you do, make sure you practice after you arrive at your destination, and before you hunt. There are several good reasons for this. One is that your sights could have changed, particularly if you flew. The rigors of air travel can wreak havoc on delicate equipment. Another reason is different conditions. Changes in elevation, climate and temperature can sometimes have subtle effects on your sights, possibly requiring minor but important adjustments. Different environments can also affect the shooter. Easterners used to hunting in thick woods often have a much more difficult time judging distance in more open terrain of the west.
Practice not only shooting, but judging distances. A range finder can be a real asset both for practice and hunting. Practice gets you more familiar, comfortable and proficient with your equipment. More importantly, it builds muscle memory. The ultimate objective is to reach a point where you are practiced enough so you no longer have to think about the process when the moment of truth arrives. It becomes automatic, making you less prone to error. 34 - Hunting & Fishing News
This is what a spring longbeard might see as it arrives at your setup position. Listen for sounds other than the gobble to avoid having a bird bust you this coming spring turkey season. Photo: Steve Hickoff
Don’t Get Busted by a Gobbler
By Steve Hickoff - Yamaha Outdoors
t can happen fast. You hear footsteps in the leaves. It might be that gobbling turkey you raised checking out your position silently, looking for the hen you pretended to be. Key on the sound of footsteps while also being safe — turkeys and hunters walking make similar noises at times. ALWAYS IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET: Listen for these other sounds to lock in on a gobbler that might have you in his sights rather than the other way around: CLUCKING: It might just be a single cluck: “pock.” Still if you hear it, you’ll be ready for that turkey to appear. Or you can cluck back. And you can reposition if the gobbler clucked and moved off. SPITTING AND DRUMMING: While the gobble is easy to distinguish, some hunters can’t or don’t know what to listen for when it comes to the “pfft-dummmm” sound of a strutting gobbler. This might be one of the only sounds you hear as that solo bird comes to your setup. BIRD AND ANIMAL NOISES: Squirrels barking and chittering, blue jays screeching and crows cawing wildly can key you into a turkey’s movements in your direction. I’ve killed a gobbler or two this way when other wildlife let me know that big silent longbeard was coming. Ever been busted by a gobbler that snuck up from behind without you knowing it? Chances are you heard alarm putting first then turned to see your now frightened gobbler moving off in the other direction.
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FISHING ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER Washington Department Of Fish And Wildlife Spring Chinook Photo Courtesy: Steve’s Guided Adventures www.stevesguidedadventures.com 360-609-1902
F ishery managers from Washington and Oregon today set 2013 fishing seasons for the lower Columbia River that anticipate a smaller return of spring chinook salmon and reflect continuing concerns about the river’s white sturgeon population. Most new fishing rules adopted during a public meeting in Portland take effect March 1, when fishing for spring chinook and sturgeon starts to heat up on the lower Columbia. Until then, both fisheries are open on various sections of the river under rules approved last year. After three years of strong returns, fishery managers based harvest guidelines for this year’s spring chinook season on a projected run of 141,400 upriver fish, about 25 percent below the 10-year average. Approximately 203,000 fish destined for areas above Bonneville Dam returned to the Columbia last year. 36 - Hunting & Fishing News
This year’s initial catch guideline for the recreational spring chinook fishery will allow anglers fishing below the dam to catch up to 5,000 hatchery-reared upriver chinook before the run forecast is updated in May. Another 670 adult fish will be reserved for anglers fishing between Bonneville Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam... The spring chinook fishery approved today is scheduled to run through April 5, but could be extended if enough fish are still available under the harvest guideline, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Salmon returns are highly variable, and we’ll have a better idea what the season holds once the bulk of the run starts moving upriver,” Roler said. “Although the preseason forecast is smaller than in recent years, it is still twice as large as those we saw in the 1990s.” As in years past, anglers may retain hatchery-reared spring chinook marked with a clipped adipose fin. Any unmarked wild spring chinook - some of which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act - must be released unharmed. To facilitate the release of wild fish, anglers fishing for salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout are now required to use barbless hooks on the mainstem Columbia River downstream of the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. In a separate action, fishery managers established new rules for the white sturgeon fishery that will reduce harvest rates for the fourth straight year. Amid ongoing concerns about sturgeon abundance in the lower Columbia River, the two states agreed to reduce the harvest rate by an additional 15%. But that reduction will largely be offset by a slight increase in the legalsize sturgeon population - the first indication of improvement in five years. As a result, the harvest guideline for the recreational sturgeon fishery below Bonneville Dam will remain virtually unchanged at 7,790 fish... 2013 SPRING CHINOOK SEASONS Spring chinook fishing is currently open to boat and bank anglers on a daily basis from Buoy 10 near the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to the Interstate 5 bridge. Under the new rules adopted today, the sport fishery will expand upriver to Beacon Rock from March 1 through April 5. During that period, the sport fishery will close on two Tuesdays - March 26 and April 2 - to accommodate possible commercial fisheries. Starting March 1, the bank anglers’ fishing area will be extended from Beacon Rock up to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam. Above Bonneville Dam, the fishery will be open to boat and bank anglers on a daily basis from March 16 through May 5 between the Tower Island powerlines six miles below The Dalles Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish from Bonneville Dam upriver to the Tower Island powerlines during that time. Starting March 1, anglers fishing downriver from Bonneville Dam may retain one adipose-clipped hatchery adult spring chinook as part of their daily catch limit. Above the dam, anglers can keep two marked adult spring chinook per day effective March 16. To guard against overestimating this year’s run, the states will again manage the fisheries with a 30 percent buffer until the forecast can be updated in late April or early May... 2013 WHITE STURGEON SEASONS New harvest guidelines approved for sport sturgeon fisheries in the lower Columbia and lower Willamette rivers will limit this year’s catch to 7,790 fish, similar to the number available for harvest last year. Previous actions had reduced the allowable catch by 38 percent in 2012, 30 percent in 2011, and 40 percent in 2010. As in years past, 80 percent of the allowable catch will be allocated to the sport fishery and 20 percent to the commercial fishery. Under the new harvest rate, the portion of the catch available to recreational fisheries will be allocated as follows: 4,040 fish in the estuary, 2,020 above the Wauna powerlines, and 1,730 in the Willamette River... The retention fishery in the area from the Wauna powerlines upriver to Bonneville Dam is typically split into a winter-through-mid-summer period and a fall period. Last year, the fall fishery was cancelled, because high catch rates from May through July took most of the fish available for harvest in that area. This year, managers agreed to shorten the winter-summer fishery by 18 days to reserve about half the catch for the fall fishery. For more visit http://wdfw.wa.gov
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Foxpro Wildfire 2 Electronic Call
The Foxpro Wildfire is a great value for the serious predator hunter with enhanced volume capabilities, 35 high quality FOXPRO sounds, an upgraded TX9 remote and FOXBANG technology. The Wildfire weighs in at only 1.5lbs. with batteries, and offers maximum portability with enhanced volume and sound quality to help you bring more predators up close and personal. If you need more volume simply connect an external speaker (not included) to the external jack and you are good to go. The TX9 remote allows you to change sounds, control the volume level, mute or pause the sound, has two custom sound presets, auxiliary button, and recall button. All of these features in one amazing, compact, high quality unit makes the Wildfire an incredible value packed with great features and amazing innovations from Foxpro.
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Ten Tips for Turkey Hunting (continued from page 14)
HUNT DURING THE RAIN Turkeys have to live in the rain. Modify your tactics and hunt open fields and pastures where turkeys feel comfortable since they can depend on their eyesight instead of hearing. Portable waterproof blinds are great during the rain. You can stay dry, and wait the turkeys out. CAMO YOURSELF COMPLETELY Head to toe camo is a must when hunting sharp-eyed gobblers. Gloves, face mask and even camoed guns are helpful. Keep movement to a minimum and try to blend in to the natural surroundings. GET AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE Sneak in as close as possible to start calling to a gobbler. If you can get in his comfort zone (75-100 yards) before you make your first call, he will probably come in. Use terrain features to help get close, but don’t crowd a bird and bump him. If you go one step too close, the game is over. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM Hunt in teams, and let one hunter call and one shoot. The caller sits 40-70 yards behind the shooter. In this scenario the gobbler is concentrating on the caller’s position, and the pressure is taken off the shooter. Also, if a bird hangs up 60-70 yards from the calling, he will still be in easy gun range for the shooter. USE LOCATOR CALLS When possible get a turkey to gobble to shock calls like crow or owl calls. You can keep up with the bird’s location without giving away your position with a hen call. When moving in on a gobbler, you don’t have to worry about him coming to your calling at the same time if you are using locator calls March 2013 37
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Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! (continued from page 29) I had to leave Lisa on her own for the remainder of the season and turn my attentions to Bob, Jerry and Dave. My job was to assist them getting in and out of the backcountry each day. I’ve gotten to know Bob and Jerry well through the years and have learned that their passion for hunting is highly contagious. I learn so much from them each time I hunt with them and this visit was no different. Bob’s dedication to archery has put him in a class by himself. Through all of his years of success in the field and decades of incredible hunts and TV shows, he is highly regarded as being one of the greatest bowhunters in the history of the sport. On that note, he sure didn’t need much help from me, other than my quad and some of my trusty VS1. I told Bob about my screwed up encounter and like a good friend he provided some much-needed counseling. Renewed, I decided to hunt a piece of timber on the other side of the unit while waiting for them each day. While they were having non-stop action I was barely keeping my eyes open. This went on for days until I suddenly realized that my season was almost exhausted, as I was, and all I had to show for it was a sore butt. Lisa was feeling the same in her neck of the woods. I found myself climbing down at 10:00 a.m. to go search for some new hope. As I hiked in to one of my partner’s abandoned food plots I was surprised to find a number of fresh buck rubs along with a few active scrapes. As I scanned the area I had to swallow hard to get my heart out of my throat. I quickly raced the fifty-plus miles back home like my hair was on fire. I grabbed a Double-Bull Blind along with a proto-type of a slick creation called The Blind Web by Spidy Gear and hauled (sore) butt back to my new found hot spot. Blind before brushing in with Spidy Gear 38 - Hunting & Fishing News
Blind after brushing in with Spidy Gear
Once I figured out the predominant winds, I popped the blind up and stretched the web over it. Jim was on to something. Within minutes I had the blind completely weaved with branches, brush and fir clusters. The blind melted into its environment (see above photo), and I was ready to go. The next morning I crawled into my fort at 3:30 a.m. after hanging VS1 strategically around the perimeters, and hunkered down for daybreak. As shooting light began to show itself so did a huge buck. Ten minutes later he couldn’t help himself and came into my scents on a rope with his lip curled, eyes back, nose up and nostrils dripping. His carefree approach was what we all dream about and all he found was the arrival of a perfectly tossed arrow from my trusty Bear Carnage. Game over.
Two weeks later my friend Craig called me and told me that while shopping at Sportsman’s Warehouse he saw a rack that looked a lot like Cactus Bill, the buck Lisa had her sights set on. Well Lisa and I hurried over and sure enough, a fortunate rifle hunter had taken her buck in late October. And so it goes.
March 2013 39
Winter Tips Tips For Your Vehicle From Gomer’s/US Diesel Parts W ith winter in full swing, we would like to take a moment to share some products we believe will enhance your vehicle’s performance, reduce fuel costs, and maintain it’s interior.
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CALL US FOR OTHER PERFORMANCE ENHANCING, FUEL-REDUCING PRODUCTS! 40 - Hunting & Fishing News
Do It Yourself Elk Hunting? www.elk-hunting-tips.net (continued from page 9)
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“Increase the chances of ‘close encounters of the herd kind” YOU WILL NOT COME OUT UNSCATHED! In one way or another, you will become injured or sore. Maybe just a blister or three. Maybe a sore hip, a lost toenail or much worse. Something will start to hurt at some point and make you ask yourself, “what am I doing here?”. Barring a painful injury, you’ll soon hear an elk bugle or see sign and remember your mission!
Do it yourself elk hunting is an endurance test. You don’t want to “fail” the test so far from help. You can limit the potential for injury and discomfort greatly, if you know how. WHAT IF YOU KILL AN ELK? If you succeed at killing an elk, you not only have to haul out your equipment, but now you have meat and head to carry out. You will have to make a trip to your vehicle to lighten up. Then you may have to return multiple times to extract your quarry. Some do it yourself wilderness hunters take the added risk and heightened adventure of going it all alone, but after a kill far from roads it might be a good time to call up some friends and share some meat.
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It might be a good idea to prearrange someone with horses to agree to stand ready to help haul out your meat. The owner of the horses must be willing to be at your disposal when you call. In some areas, local ranches provide this service for a reasonable fee. With enough time, strength and energy a person can reasonably expect to bone out the meat and carry it out on a pack by himself or with the help of a friend. I’ve hauled a few out on my back and I weigh less than 140 pounds. “HEAVY” WILDERNESS ELK CAMP If you have horses that are up to hauling camp and elk meat, you can do complete “heavy camp” do it yourself elk hunting. Not every horse will haul gear. Even fewer will pack meat safely. A horse that you have done day trips on may be unpredictable under the demanding circumstances of do it yourself elk hunting trips. Any horse can cause all kinds of trouble when they get the itch to think for themselves and rebel against your plans. You will be at their mercy once you get miles from the trailer. Losing control of a horse may mean losing your gear when you are dependent on it for safety and survival. LEARN FROM A GUIDE FIRST That brings us right back to the idea of using an elk guide at least once. Even if you have horses, if you aren’t familiar with the commitment of extended overnighters with them or with the necessary tack and equipment, learn from watching some good elk outfitters before jumping into the expense and risk of an extended do it yourself hunt. Consider hiring the services of a reputable elk hunting guide at least once. The learning experience will be well worth the money.
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By Rick Hanson
Reprinted with permission from Bowhunting.net For more please go to www.bowhunting.net
W e left my vehicle with bow in hand knowing this was going to be an adventure. Whitetails have this seemingly invincibility around them that
they cannot be stalked with a bow. Well, that thinking is wrong, it can be done and it isn’t immature bucks that I am hunting. These are mature deer that can be stalked. Oh I sit in a treestand now and then but when I want to test my skills as a hunter stalking is the ultimate challenge. The sun allowed us to have at least three hours to walk, run, crouch, crawl and almost slither through the sunflower stalks. I have to tell you, looking across a field of combined sunflowers it looks as if there is no cover, depressions, or contours to use, but with a little glassing one can pick the route that will help with wind direction and concealment. After picking this route, though it will change as deer move and wind direction switch, you have to keep all your senses on high alert. The deer were on the far side of the field feeding and rutting. They certainly were not focused on us. As we moved in their direction, we crouched and jogged through the sunflowers stalks picking our way, trying not to break or scuff a sunflower stalk, alerting the deer that we were entering their domain. Closing the distance we had to adjust to the deer moving, and also to the changing topography. Keeping our heads low we glassed the deer looking for the big buck we had seen through the spotting scope, before deciding to go on this stalk.
We saw the big buck’s competitors but could not find the big buck himself so decisions needed to be made quickly, move closer or wait. The decision was made in a few short minutes we were getting closer. Crawling on my belly putting my bow ahead and picking my way through and around the sunflower stalks, my knees, elbows and back were tightening up, but to succeed you have to forget the pain and move on. Closing the gap we had now entered the deer zone undetected or ignored. Glassing through the sunflower stalks we searched for that big buck, he had to be here. As we were focused on looking for the big buck, a smaller buck that had been giving the bigger buck fits was walking our way, I ranged him at fifty yards and closing — what to do? We sat motionless hoping he would not spook. With each step closer my blood pounded like sledge hammers on my veins, what an adrenaline rush. Fifteen yards from us he stopped, and started moving his head like those inquisitive does that always seems to ruin a great situation. After what seemed like an eternity, with legs cramping and lower back muscles burning, the buck nervously trotted away. With all the rutting and feeding activity the other deer barely took notice. Taking a deep breath I sat and relaxed for a moment. Looking to my right I saw the big buck a hundred and twenty-five yards away crossing the sunflower rows. (next page)
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Time to focus and make things happen. Nocking my Wac’em tipped Victory arrow, I blow on my small grunt call and the buck turned and starts directly towards us. Ranging him at sixty yards away I know he will get closer, so I put my release on my string loop and raised my Elite Answer. The big buck is closing fast; I draw with one fluid motion and settle my pin on the buck’s vitals. He is about twenty-five yards, and he stops and stares, I put my finger on the trigger and my arrow is on its way and buries itself into this magnificent buck. He turns and runs in the direction he came but shows the effects of the razor sharp broadhead. He lies down. I then lay in the snow and dirt, reflecting on what just happened. Waiting for a bit this surreal feeling surrounding me begins to become reality as the sun is beginning to sink into the horizon. On the way to where I shot the buck I see blood is all over the patches of snow and dirt. If I had to trail him, the trail would have been an easy one to follow. As I got near the buck all kinds of emotions run through my head, I had just shot a 150 + buck spot and stalk, not my biggest buck but an impressive accomplishment to say the least. Two hours of crawling through this harsh environment had once again culminated with a beautiful whitetail buck on the ground.
I stalked these deer in a combined sunflower field by using the contour of the land as well as the standing stalks themselves. There are a few things that will help you succeed in this endeavor if you want to elevate your hunting game. Camouflage, binoculars, shooting ability, a deer call, and confidence: Number one on this list may surprise you, but to be a successful spot and stalk hunter in situations such as this, the most important thing is confidence in yourself. Half hearted attempts will not reap rewards. You have to know that you can do this. Beside confidence in your stalking ability you need to have confidence in your shooting ability, knowing that in a pressure situation you can make the shot count. Distance will vary with each individual hunt but practice, and by practice I mean crawling and shooting on your knees, can only help you at that critical moment when success hinges on you and your ability. I think number two is your gear. Use the best you can afford. I am hard on equipment, and if my clothing is comfortable it can keep me in the field longer and focused on making the shot. Archery equipment that you are confident in makes all the difference. I know what has proven its worth, time and time again and I expect my equipment to hold to my standards through the rigors of my hunting season. I also like to have a small deer call, something that can be easily used and then put out of the way in a hurry. It makes the important sounds at the right time to attract your buck, but I don’t use the big bulky calls I have seen. The small call works great for the spot and stalk situation. With every terrain there is opportunity for success and whitetails are not the invincible animal we have made them to be. I am a spot and stalk junkie. Think you will have the opportunity to stalk whitetails? Be ready for an adrenaline rush.
March 2013 43
Support Families Afield By Jon Wemple
I wrote an editorial last month for the Hunting & Fishing News just as an effort was being launched to recruit new hunters to our great heritage of hunting in Montana. Since then, I must say, some very dedicated and committed individuals and organizations have come together to push this agenda along. Similar legislation exists in 34 other states known as Families Afield, and now Montana is making great strides to join in as the 35th state! Our friend Senator Scott Boulanger introduced SB-197, and since then, the bill has been carefully crafted to fit Montana and has cleared the Senate Fish and Game Committee 9-1 and the second reading on the Senate Floor with a bi-partisan vote of 34-16! Families Afield is a proven method to safely recruit both kids and men and women that may not have ever had the opportunity to be introduced to hunting under a “try it before you buy it” concept. This is accomplished by creating an “Apprentice” hunter that must be under close supervision of a “mentor”. As the legislation was presented, Senator Boulanger listened to hunters and added three amendments to the bill, crafting it specifically for Montana needs: 1) Apprentice must be at least 9 years old, 2) Mentor must be at least 21 years old, and 3) an apprentice hunter can only hold the apprentice license in three seasons. The object of Families Afield is to allow parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles who may be hunters, to introduce kids to the sport of hunting before the allure of video games, organized sports and other interests consume their time. Also, it allows us to take a hunter of any age that simply has never had the opportunity to go. The ultimate goal is to recruit hunters to Hunters Education courses around the state- to become fully licensed hunters once they are hooked. I mention that there were some very committed individuals and organizations behind this effort and with this, I want to make a point; I am chairman of what is called the Affiliate Organizations Division of Safari Club International based in Tucson. There, we are honored to work with dozens of like-minded species specific, pro-hunting or conservation organizations. Through these organizations, SCI represents over one million sportsmen and sportswomen across the nation. A model of what is envisioned for our success of the Affiliate Organizations at SCI- has been clearly demonstrated by the collaboration of both Montana and National groups active here in Montana supporting Families Afield. This coalition includes the Montana chapters of Safari Club International, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Mule Deer Foundation, Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association and Citizens for Balanced Use. Nationally, the program is supported by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and the National Rifle Association. When we bring such fine groups together, we can really accomplish the goals of promoting and protecting our great hunting heritage and reinforcing the fact that hunters are the true conservationists. We must stand strong, together and occasionally check logos at the door to get things done; I am honored to work with such fine leaders. Please support this important legislation by contacting your House Representative and telling them you are in favor of SB-197, The Hunter Recruitment Bill. Jon Wemple is president of the Western Montana Chapter of Safari Club International and chairman of affiliate organization memberships of Safari Club International in Tucson, AZ. 44 - Hunting & Fishing News
A Tiny Terror
By Jason Herbert
The Milk River used to be fabled for some of the best deer hunting in the country; not so much anymore. All across the big buck states of the Midwest, velvet clad mature bucks were literally dropping like flies, and whitetail populations across the nation were dwindling. The cause of this carnage wasn’t hunters, or vehicles, or famine but a tiny, seemingly harmless insect known as a midge. These little stinkers were biting deer at every opportunity, and spreading a deadly disease, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD. Just like their disease carrying cousins the mosquito who have decimated human populations throughout history, the midge that carries EHD is quickly claiming countless lives of whitetails. EHD isn’t new. Documented cases of it have existed in the United States for over a hundred years, but with the past few summer’s heat and drought, a “perfect storm” of whitetail carnage was created. The record setting temperatures and dry conditions in much of the nation, forced deer to congregate near water sources more so than usual. Combined with the receding water line and high midge hatching rates, thirsty deer were sitting ducks for the infected biting flies. Mature bucks seemed to be getting profiled and stalked by the flies, but the reality was that due to their larger antler mass, they are more susceptible than the antlerless does. The velvet antlers are fair game for biting, therefore the bigger bucks have more of a surface area for the flies to target. Also, the midges are attracted to the bloody velvet that is being shed, inviting them closer to bucks for that reason as well. Smaller racked bucks and does get infected by flies that bite around their nose, eyes and ears. Once most deer get bit by an infected midge, their days are numbered. About seven days after the bite, signs of the disease will start to set in. The deer will eat less, and lose their fear of man and predators. They’ll salivate and foam at the mouth, run a very high temperature, become progressively weaker, and eventually become unconscious before the mercy of death sets in. Open sores on the animals tongue and their mouth deteriorating are also signs of EHD, but are not to be confused by another hemorrhagic disease, “blue tongue”. Blue tongue is equally vicious, and many get the two confused, but it is a different disease than EHD. Once the initial signs of the EHD show, most deer usually have less than two miserable days of life left. Many EHD victims are found near a water source, the colder the better, because the animal is attempting to cool itself by either drinking or bathing. To hemorrhage means to bleed from ruptured blood vessels. If an autopsy were to be done an a deer that died of EHD, or in the case of the one my friend cut open out of curiosity, one would notice a pinkish/purplish bloody slurry flow from the opened chest cavity. Basically, the deer bleed out from the inside. Whitetail deer are not the only ruminant to be affected by EHD. Documented cases of elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, antelope, moose, and other animals have been recorded throughout the country over the years. Livestock can also be infected with EHD, although it is rare. Although devastating to a deer herd, a strong EHD breakout does not mean all hope is lost. The first hard frosts of each fall bring a welcome disappearance of biting bugs like mosquitoes and midges. Also, some deer are infected and do not die. In fact, the survivors develop antibodies to the disease similar to a child with chickenpox. That deer will continue to live a normal life and not be bothered by EHD again. With surviving deer in the area, the herd will eventually rebound. Many state’s wildlife agencies went into “damage control” mode this fall and revoked the sale of potential deer tags. I know in my home state of Michigan, I received an e-mail from the DNR in early November saying the sale of extra doe permits in heavily hit EHD areas would be reduced. In the past, the famous deer laden area of the Milk River in Montana has struggled with EHD outbreaks. I have heard some of those precious areas have lost 80-90% of their herd in the past. It will take a hard hit area like the Milk River about 5-7 years to recover. There are no practical cures for EHD. The best that state agencies can do is hope their hunters cooperate with harvest statistics and by also reporting dead deer they find. If all goes well they’ll be able to get an accurate count of the herd population and re-think their tag allotment for the next fall. EHD does not affect humans at all, but as with any game meat, it’s recommended that proper cooking techniques still be utilized.
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Throughout the “Big Buck” states of the Midwest, EHD haunted hunters and deer managers all summer long. And we weren’t alone. Reports of EHD killed deer came out of the Northeast and Upper Midwest, spreading south to Texas and North Carolina. EHD seemed to be everywhere. Due diligence, resourcefulness, and fact checking is going to be the trick for success for a traveling hunter in 2013. Nobody can afford to throw good money away, and I recommend that anyone hoping to go on a fall hunting trip follow these simple guidelines. If hunting with an outfitter, call ahead and find out exactly what counties you’ll possibly be hunting in. Ask about EHD, how many dead deer they found, and their management plans for the future. Outfitters depend on killing deer for their livelihood, but they also care about the animals. If they are in a heavily hit area, and worth their salt, the outfitter will be honest and share their strategies for adapting to the EHD outbreak. As always, ask for references of successful and unsuccessful hunters. Call them. Outfitted hunt or DIY, once the counties have been identified, contact the state’s natural resources agency. Much of the EHD statistics can be obtained online. And if not, sometimes a good old fashioned phone call to a game warden is best. Ask for the truth on the 2011 and 2012 EHD kill rates. Find out what counties were most affected, and what measures the state is taking to build the heard back to carrying capacity. When planning a roadtrip, I always call a local taxidermist. Ask the same questions you asked the others. While you’re at it, also ask about the outfitter and what kind of operation they run. Use “Google”. Whenever I have a question, I always ask Google. Submit a question like, “How many deer were killed from EHD in Barry County, MI?” You should be able to find documents from the wildlife agencies, as well as forum posts by local hunters. I’ve found that sometimes when things are good, local hunters won’t say much in order to protect their secrets. But, when things are bad, they’ll rant and rave about to anyone that will listen (or in this case, read). Depending on what “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” is calling for next summer, we may, or may not have seen the last of EHD. Do plenty of research, make phone calls, read online, and find an area to hunt that is worth your time and investment. Hunting is still hunting, and there are never guarantees. If an area has been hit hard by EHD, the chances of shooting a decent deer there will be slim. Not to mention, those areas need a break from hunting pressure anyway and a chance to rebuild their once numerous herd. March 2013 45
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The Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show®) concluded four successful days at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, setting
new attendance records and marking the 35th anniversary of the event. The largest trade show of its kind in the world and the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show attracted a record overall attendance of 62,371, including a new high for buyers and more than 2,000 media representatives. More than 1,600 exhibitors filled booth space covering 630,000 net square feet. The show, which is a trade-only event, attracted industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries. Exhibitors and attendees alike said the SHOT Show is critical to the success of their businesses... Industry veteran Ron Coburn of Savage Arms said, “It’s the industry’s trade show. Everybody who’s in the trade needs to be here to see what’s going on. It’s the place to see friends and showcase our own products.” Dwight Van Brunt of Kimber said, “It’s a powerhouse show--the place where you can talk to writers, dealers and industry VIPs.” “We get to talk to our biggest customers and show them what we have,” said Ernie Callandrelli of Quaker Boy Inc. “We’ve been here all 35 years of the show, so two important benefits are seeing old friends and building key relationships.” The SHOT Show is owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. Revenues from the show support NSSF’s many programs that carry out its mission of promoting, protecting and preserving hunting and the shooting sports, along with promoting responsible firearms ownership and safe storage practices. Showgoers recognize that the SHOT Show’s importance to industry extends beyond selling and buying on the show floor. “What this show generates for our cause is absolutely critical,” said Tom Taylor of Mossberg. Added Steve Lamboy of Micheli-Lamboy Marketing, “We need to communicate more to our members that the funds from this show are going to build the entire future of our industry.” The $4.1 billion firearms and ammunition industry supports many small businesses and helps preserve the more than 200,000 jobs associated with the shooting sports. NSSF added significantly to its membership ranks at the show, pushing its overall total of supporters to more than 8,300. With the show taking place amid heightened national attention about firearms ownership and potential legislation, NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti addressed more than 1,800 industry leaders at the State of the Industry Dinner. “I don’t think many of those who disagree with what we do appreciate the many things we’ve done to advocate personal responsibility with firearms,” Sanetti said. “Ours is a responsible industry,” said Sanetti, “that makes and sells lawful products to law-abiding citizens. They in turn exercise their constitutional right to own, use and enjoy firearms safely and responsibly for all lawful purposes.”... 46 - Hunting & Fishing News
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