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HUNTING & FISHING MONTANA

March 2019

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Trev’s Top 3 Author Trevor Johnson with Hauser Lake Brown Trout

y the time you will be reading this, there will be B some mighty fine open water fishing opportunities here in the 406 state. March is one of my favorite times of the year to fish, for three main reasons. First, there aren’t as many people on the water yet. The wake board boats and jet skis are still wrapped up tight in storage. Second, it is the best time of year for multi-species opportunities on the water. Most of the species are doing the same thing and seeking the shallower, warmer water to recuperate from the winter months and forage. Third, THE WALLEYE ARE STILL PRE-SPAWN AND MOUNSTROUS. And you all know I love me some big booty walleye!! A couple of my favorite picks for the early months in Montana are Holter and Hauser Lakes (near Helena) and our far west friend, Noxon Rapids (near Thompson Falls ). I have talked about them many times before, but gosh darn they can be fun!! In both lakes we target the large trout and walleye shallow with jigs! It is a big misconception that the fish are sluggish this time of year and hard to catch. Most all species have the feed bag on and are ready to smash that Glass Minnow! Speaking of Glass Minnows, our new 2019 “SUPERSTITION” has been incredible!

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So here are a few quick tips on how to approach a day of multi species fishing on these lakes. On all three lakes, we focus on the upper end near where the river starts to dissipate into the lake. Both the trout and walleye are starting to stage to get ready to

4 | Hunting & Fishing News

By Trevor Johnson Kit’s Tackle and KT Sportfishing www.kitstackle.com move up the river and spawn. Where the river turns to lake, we usually see a drastic change in water temperature which is like hitting a brick wall for the fish. For us anglers, this is a big bonus placing all the eggs in one basket, rather than spread out like a massive Easter egg hunt. I mean, I’m all for working hard to find fish, but heck yes I want to have a better chance, don’t you!?!? At Noxon, we ramp in at the Flat Iron ramp and find awesome fishing within a mile or two of the ramp. Although we do catch a few trout, bass and pike here, during March/April we mainly catch WALLEYE! Even if you have a Lowrance Navionics or Hummingbird Lakemaster chip, this area of the lake is not mapped so make sure to use caution on your first outing. It is fairly easy to read the seams of the river to know where to fish here and navigate. Almost straight across from the ramp are some great back eddy holes against the shore as a place to start. Then keep your eye out for a few more holes upriver, and some great spots down river towards Finley Flats. Here, we like to use 1/8 and 1/4 oz Glass Minnows for pitching and 3/8 and 1/2 oz for vertical tipped with either a half a live night crawler or a Berkley Gulp minnow or worm. With the current a little stronger here, we like to both vertical jig and cast the jigs to shore. We use the bow mount motor to keep the same speed as the current which helps keep your jig vertical and also easier to maintain a good action while casting. When fishing vertical we target this stretch in 14-20 fow and when pitching we focus on anywhere from 2-12 fow. Next up is the middle of the three lakes in the upper Missouri river chain, Hauser. Hauser gets a lot less attention than the more popular Canyon Ferry and Holter Lakes, but don’t count it out! Hauser is an absolute blast to fish in the month of March. We catch walleyes and rainbows, but the bonus here is the abundance of brown trout. There are days in March we catch more than ten brown trout a day along with big rainbows and a few walleyes. There is also a darn good chance at a huge pike here; there is quite a few being caught. (continued on page 6)


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(continued from page 4)

We like to ramp in at the Riverside ramp/campground which is directly below Canyon Ferry Dam on the east side of the river. We like to motor downriver a mile or so then start fishing all the rocky cliffs and structure on both sides of the lake. On this stretch, we mainly focus on the “Johnson” jig technique and keep the Glass Minnows flying towards the shore. We contour the shore and cast the jigs right up to the bank and jig them back to the boat. In between jig-ups we let the jig fall back to the bottom or at least close to the bottom.

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6 | Hunting & Fishing News

Client Jim Stipich with a 14lb Gates Of the Mountains Walleye

Photo: Trevor Johnson

Last but not least and the dearest to my heart, upper Holter Lake (Gates of the Rocky Mountains.) I have spent more time on this stretch of water than all other waters combined. Let’s just say I’ve tossed jigs into about every nook and cranny on the entire shoreline. We like to ramp in right at the Gates of the Mountains Marina. It is a private marina and they do charge a ramp fee, but it is an easy ramp and puts you within minutes of the best fishing the lake has to offer. We mainly like to focus on the canyon walls right at the entrance to the Gates of the Mountains. We like to fish both sides of the canyon down towards Merriweather campground covering all the shoreline. Again using the “Johnson Jig” technique this will yield an amazing day of big rainbows and the occasional brown trout. If we want to up the odds of adding a monster walleye to the bag, our main focus is on the river channel right in front of the boat ramp. They call the area American Bar; it is right in front of all the cabins on the lake. We focus on drifting down the main river channel and pitching up on its sides to intercept the feeding walleyes and trout. Although the walleye are scarce in this stretch, there are days in March we catch upwards of fifty-sixty trout, and that my friends, is “JIGGIN’ THE DREAM”. Kit’s Tackle Outfitters offers guided trips on all three of these bodies of water so if you are ever interested in learning the “Johnson Jig” or going on an epic fishing adventure, dad and I are your guys! Trevor is the co-founder of Kit’s Tackle “Jiggin’ the Dream” along with his father, Kit. He is a true made in Montana fishing guide and owner of Kit’s Tackle Sportfishing, an insane outdoor enthusiast, a wild man in the woods and on the water and they even say he’s a quarter mountain goat. He’s a happy husband, a proud daddy to a beautiful little girl and boy, and two sweet dogs. When he’s not shoveling coal into the jig engine, you can find him on the water or leaving boot tracks in the wilds of Montana.


Mike Hanback and friend with SD Mule Deer

Deer Season Is Over:

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES By Mike Hanback

www.bigdeerblog.com

started thinking back about what went right and Ihave what went wrong last season. The best memories are of the few days when I shot a buck, but I will learn the most by replaying and analyzing all those tough and lean days and weeks when I didn’t get a deer. How did I mess up? What could I have done differently? Map and Scout More A buddy called last September and said, “Hey man, I got permission to hunt a new farm, you in?” “Let’s go!” I roared and off we went for a week in the early season. We hunted like mad, had fun, saw some deer but came home empty-handed. We should have slowed down and scouted a day or two or a week from home and before we ever stepped foot on the farm. If you’ll hunt new ground this fall, obtain old-school maps and aerial photographs, and also pull up the property’s coordinates on Google Earth. Spend time studying the lay of crop fields, woods and edges; look for a cut-over or power-line where whitetails will feed and mingle. Check for cover—grown-up fields, cedar stands, beaver swamps and the like. Ridge thickets that overlook crop fields or creek bottoms are especially good places for bucks to bed. Search for strips of woods, hollows, cover-laced streams and other funnels that connect feeding and bedding areas. Mark a couple of potential stand sites in and around those travel corridors. It’s that simple. By studying maps you can eliminate up to 50 percent of marginal habitat before you ever leave the house. Then you’re ready to load up, drive out and initiate a smart ground game in spots where deer will be active. (continued on page 30)

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Hunting & Fishing News | 7


Photo credits: Josh Kirchner

IN-STATE VS. OUT-OF-STATE HUNTING By Josh Kirchner Lodge Like Atmosphere With Resort Amenities •Spacious & Comfortable Rooms • Free Hot Breakfast •Large Indoor Pools & Jacuzzis - All Hotels • Business Meeting Facilities •High Speed Internet Access • Exercise & Game Rooms •iPod Docking Stations In All Rooms •Refrigerators, Microwaves, Coffee Makers In Every Room • 42” or 50” Flat Screen TV In Every Room

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Originally published att

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rowing up in the great state of Arizona, I hunted and fished annually throughout my entire childhood. G It was a simpler time for me. No obligations, no bills, just

worrying about when I would get back into the hills again. We had our deer camp most years and had a blast at all of them. Stories that I still tell today originated from those very hunts. The thought of hunting out-of-state is not one that hit me sooner than later. I was quite content with spending all of my time in Arizona. That was until a few years back when I got sick of not getting drawn for elk in my home state. I wanted to chase bugling bulls and was willing to travel greater distances to do it. I’ve left my stomping grounds of the Arizona desert over the past few years during the month of September to do just that. Going through that whole process has shined a light on some pros and cons of hunting in state vs. hunting out-of-state. So, if you’ve been kicking around the idea of leaving the nest, hopefully, after this article, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.

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huntingfishingnews@yahoo.com www.huntingfishingnews.net The entire contents is © 2019, 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 this 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 16 Issue 1 Cover Photo: Franky | dreamstime.com

8 | Hunting & Fishing News

Home is definitely where the heart is and hunting is no exception to that. Some of my spots are like second homes to me—not just because of how much I frequent them—but because of how comfortable I am there. I know every rock, rub and game trail in the area. I know where I am going to sleep, how long it takes to hike to certain destinations and what time of year and where I can expect to see critters. Those are just a few advantages of returning to these areas. They also hold so much sentimental value to me. These are the spots that shaped me into the hunter I am today. They are the reason I hunt the way that I do. Someday, I hope to bring my future kids to these spots to show them things like where dad shot his first bear or where I saw my first bugling bull. There is nothing like home sweet home.


Pros of hunting in your home state

So, obviously, there are a ton of pros to hunting in your home state. Drive time is a big one. 95% of the areas I frequent are less than three hours from my doorstep. This gives me the opportunity to scout them on a very regular basis as well as hunt them when the time comes. Also, your family is only usually a few hours away and, for me, that is just an added comfort. I know that if things go south, I can either be home quickly or someone can be on their way to me in a hurry. That word comfort is really the big thing here— not just for family, but for your hunting as well. You know these areas well and, I would say, have the best chance at success hunting them rather than somewhere out-of-state where you’ve never been. These areas are filled with just as much nostalgia as they are animals. • More frequent scouting opportunities. • Much more cost effective. • More opportunities to hunt, especially with over-the-counter (OTC) tags. • Family is near. • Shorter drives.

Cons of hunting in your home state

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Out-of-state hunting is becoming more and more popular in our community. With resources like goHUNT’s INSIDER, these opportunities are surfacing more and more, opening our eyes to ways to spend even more time in the field. People that thought they would never get a chance to hunt elk are finding out that they actually can with some gas money.

Bowhunting for elk on an out of state trip this past fall.

I can’t really think of a ton of cons to hunting in-state. The biggest one, in my opinion, is getting stuck in a rut and doing the same thing over and over again. We are habitual by nature so this is a very common occurrence. Sometimes, we even do this to the point of holding ourselves back from other greater opportunities available. That isn’t necessarily directed towards hunting out-of-state, but also other opportunities within your own state. I’ve been guilty of this more than a few times. • That “same ol’, same ol’” feeling. • Possibly not hunting other species.

OUT-OF-STATE HUNTS

Like I said earlier, I never thought I would travel out-of-state to hunt, but my drive to chase elk stomped that into the ground. I will admit that it was a bit nerve-racking going out-of-state for the first time, but, in the end, it was so gratifying. Seeing the different landscapes and immersing myself in the adventure of it all will easily bring me back. The tag became secondary at that point. These hunts are going to take a bit more planning and forethought, but are well worth it and a great opportunity to see new country and grow as a hunter.

Pros of hunting out of state

Out of state hunts can be daunting, but well worth your investment with time and finances. As far as finances are concerned, it really isn’t that bad. I thought it was unattainable before actually looking into it. Here’s an example: my 10-day backcountry elk hunt to Colorado cost about $1,200 with tag and all. (continued on page 14)

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FAVORITE TROUT SPEY FLIES FOR MONTANA Photo: Montana Angler

By Montana Angler For a guided fly fishing trip call 406-522-9854 or www.montanaangler.com

fun and effective method of trout fishing is the A down-and-across streamer swing. The popularity of trout spey fishing in Montana has grown exponentially over

the last few years and for good reason. The simplicity of spending a day stepping down a run casting and swinging is a refreshing change from the usual day of trout fishing. Not to mention the take or “grab” while swinging is pretty exciting. The down and across presentation is done under tension, while passively swinging their fly through likely holding water, often daydreaming or enjoying the scenery. Then out of the blue a trout will aggressively grab the fly, sometimes startling the angler! Most of our staff and guides at Montana Angler are experienced spey fishermen and spend our fair share of time fishing our Southwest Montana rivers with a two-handed rod, let us set up a day of fishing that includes swinging flies with a spey rod for trout. As trout anglers, we tend towards bringing everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to fly selection and accessories. Trout spey fishing is a great change because you can leave all the extras at home and just head out with your rod, a sink tip or two, some leader material, and a small assortment of spey flies. Today’s trout spey article focuses on selecting effective flies for casting and swinging with a light trout spey rod.

In Bozeman at: 435 E. Main Street 406-522-9854

What makes for a good trout swing fly? Grillos’ Captain Crunch is an excellent example of a trout spey fly. Good trout spey flies can vary from small soft hackles, to more traditional streamers, up to larger flies that parallel winter steelhead flies like intruders and prom dresses. Depending on the conditions and the chosen equipment for the day one particular style of fly may be more advantageous. The most important consideration other than if the fish will be interested in the fly, is whether or not the angler can effectively present said fly through fishy water. Just as you wouldn’t expect to cast an XL articulated streamer on your light dry fly rod, you shouldn’t expect to cast large swing flies on a small, trout spey rod. Matching your fly to the rod is key to the day’s casting success. Soft hackles: Fishing soft hackles can be very fun and effective when there is some sort of insect activity. One example of a great time to swing soft hackles is early on during a caddis hatch. Caddis tend to make a mad dash for the surface and trout can get keyed in on chasing the caddis that are quickly moving through the water column. A few of our favorite soft hackles are shown on page 21).

Hunting & Fishing News | 11


2019 SPRING MACK DAYS

LAKE TROUT FISHING EVENT on FLATHEAD LAKE

March 15 th th to

May 12

The Iconic Bottom Bouncer By Mark Romanack Fishing 411 www.fishing411.net

UP TO

Fish The Entire Lake

$225,000

CASH & PRIZES

Tuesday through Sunday: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are for the contests, bonus amounts, and tagged fish. Tuesday - Thursday bonuses, tagged fish Lottery prizes: $1,000 to $450 (thirty five drawings) All it takes is one ticket to win in the lottery drawing (Fridays through Sundays only) (1)-$10,000 & (3) $5,000 & (5) $1000 + over 6,000 $100 to $500 tagged lake trout Top ten angler prizes - $800 to $300 (Fri.-Sun.) The last day May 12th is a separate day with its own prizes. Captains $250-(4 prizes) Smallest lake trout $250-(2 prizes) Largest lake trout-$500 - (Fri.- Sun.) Top lady anglers $300, $200, $100 $100-totals used (Fri.-Sun.) Youth anglers - (17-13) 1st-$200, 2nd-$150, 3rd-$75, 4-5th-$50 (Fri.-Sun.) (12 & under) 1st-$100, 2nd-$75, 3rd-$50 (Fri.-Sun.) (8) Weekend Prizes-$100x5 (Fri.-Sun.) drawn and announced weekly Golden Angler Award (70 & older) $200 & $100 and (2) $50 (Fri.-Sun.) Bucket Competition - 3 days of single/team heaviest 4 fish 3/29 Friday, 4/20 Saturday, 5/5 Sunday Yeti Cooler ticket: 1 for every 10 entries (Fri. - Sun.) Last Day: $300, $200, $100 PLUS Heaviest Mack under 30” $200 and $100 BONUSES: ALL ANGLERS WHO ENTER 11 or more LAKE TROUT WIN Every day counts: Tues.-Sun. (51 total days) See www.mackdays.com for complete rules We ask that all boats from out of the Flathead area be inspected for AIS.

Fish Fry for participants & families May 12th at Blue Bay 3:00 Awards Ceremony at 4:00 Entry forms will not be mailed out.

Enter online at www.mackdays.com

or pick up entries at local sporting good stores. You can also enter when you check in your fish at the check in stations during Mack Days.

We remind you to follow all fishing regulations. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have a special $13 fishing permit for the south half on Flathead Lake that is available wherever fishing permits are sold.

Sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks

Photo courtesy Fishing 411

n iconic walleye fishing presentation known as the A bottom bouncer and spinner has probably produced more walleye then all other others combined. What makes

the bottom bouncer/spinner combination so deadly is it works in natural lakes, rivers, impoundments and the Great Lakes. Secondly, this presentation is easy to master. SET THE SPEED The first step in setting a bottom bouncer/spinner rig is to set and maintain the boat speed. If the trolling speed is constantly speeding up and slowing down, the amount of line out it takes to present the bouncer perfectly is also constantly changing. Slow and steady is the answer and for most applications a boat speed of 1.2 to 1.6 MPH is considered perfect. RULE OF 45 A bottom bouncer and spinner rig functions best when it is fished in close proximity to bottom, but not in direct contact with the bottom. Dragging the bottom bouncer causes the trailing harness to make contact with the bottom, potentially fouling on vegetation, debris and zebra mussels. A better option is to let out just enough line so the bottom bouncer skips along the bottom, making contact every few feet. This “touch and go” presentation keeps the bait close enough to the bottom to be effective, but far enough off the bottom to avoid catching bottom debris. This delicate “touch and go” presentation is achieved by free spooling the bouncer and spinner to bottom. When the bouncer crashes bottom, the line on the spool will stop playing out momentarily. At this instant, put your thumb on the spool to stop line from playing out and hold the rod still for a few seconds to allow the line to pull tight. After about five to 10 seconds, take your thumb off the spool and allow more line to play out until the bouncer crashes bottom a second time. When the bouncer hits bottom the second time, close the reel bail and place the rod in a rod holder with the tip of the rod positioned a few inches above the water surface. Set following this regiment, the bouncer will be positioned at about a 45 degree angle between the boat and bottom. ROD HOLDERS WORK BETTER Lots of fishermen like to hold the bottom bouncer rod in their hand to detect light strikes. Often what happens is when a strike occurs, the angler over reacts and literally pulls the rig away from the fish before it is hooked. Using rod holders slows up the process and gives the fish time to eat the crawler and turn away. This is precisely why the best bottom bouncer rods feature a very soft tip and Medium/Light parabolic action that telegraphs the bite, without tipping off the fish something is wrong.


The bottom bouncer/spinner rig is best fished in a saddle or cradle style rod holder such as this Cisco Fishing Systems rod holder.

A cradle style rod holder is the perfect match for bottom bouncer fishing because it allows the rod to be pulled straight up when a fish is hooked. Tube style holders force the angler to pull the rod forward and toward the fish, creating slack line and allowing some fish to escape. HARNESS LENGTH The ideal harness length for bottom bouncer fishing varies from about 36 inches to 48 inches. The shorter versions are fine for stained or off color water and the longer versions produce better in clear water. If the harness is much longer than 48 inches, the blade, crawler and hooks will angle down and make contact with the bottom. BLADE STYLE The majority of the time, bottom bouncers fish best with a Colorado blade style. At times, the Indiana blade is also productive. Blade size depends on the body of water fished. For inland waters where walleye tend to be rather small on average, a No. 2 or 3 blade is a good choice. For impoundments and the Great Lakes where walleye run larger, No. 4, 5 and 6 blades are the most popular. ULTRA SLOW SPEEDS There are times when the bottom bouncer/spinner combination is simply too fast a presentation to generate consistent bites. In this case, using a couple of different presentations on the bottom bouncer can save the day.

Slow Death is a presentation that involves using a special hook and leader presentation designed with just the right bend to cause a small piece of nightcrawler to roll enticingly in the water. Most of the major hook manufacturers feature a “Slow Death” style hook made from ultra thin wire. The Revolve L22 hook produced by Eagle Claw in the Lazer Sharp line is the ideal hook for this presentation Revolve L22 when fished on about 36 to 40 inches of 10 pound test fluorocarbon leader material. Break a nightcrawler in half and thread it onto the hook, leaving an inch or two long tail protruding beyond the hook. The Slow Death presentation works best when the boat is moving from 1.0 to 1.3 MPH. Another ultra slow speed presentation that works wonders with a bottom bouncer is the iconic Spin n Glo floating attractor produced by Yakima Bait Company. The Spin n Glo is a foam float with mylar wings that threads onto the line. The slightest forward movement causes the wings to spin, putting out flash and vibration. Spin n Glo bodies come in hundreds of body and wing color options plus 10 different sizes. The most popular size for walleye fishing applications are the No. 6 and 8 versions.

BOTTOM BOUNCER SIZES Bottom bouncers come in a host of sizes/weights designed for different water depths and trolling speeds. The most common sizes are 1, 2 and 3 ounces, but a number of manufacturers produce these trolling sinkers in sizes up to eight ounces for fishing in deep water applications. The bottom bouncer is not intended to be a finesse presentation. Use as much weight as is required to establish the bouncer in close proximity to the bottom, at the desired trolling speed.

Photo Fishing 411

ATTRACTOR BOUNCERS The garden variety bottom bouncer is little more than a raw piece of lead molded onto a “L” shaped wire. Some manufacturers paint their bottom bouncers to help them attract fish. Others like Yakima Bait add attractors such as the Spin n Glo body, www.yakimabait.com to pull in fish. Attractor bouncers tend to work best when fish are active and the garden variety or “stealth” bouncer works better when fishing is tough. WRAPPING IT UP One of the most challenging things associated with fishing bottom bouncers is figuring out a way to store bouncers and the harnesses. I use plastic utility boxes without any dividers to store my bouncers. Foam leader boards such as produced by www.fisinengproductions.com do a very nice job of organizing the harnesses. Leader boards are in turn stored in utility boxes without dividers, by stacking two or three boards into one box.

Hunting & Fishing News | 13


In-State Vs. Out-Of-State Hunting (continued from page 9)

To save for it, I took $100 every month and put it into a box. Once you get the logistics figured out, it’s all gravy from there and things should fall into place. I encourage

all of you to try hunting out-of-state at least once—at least for the experience. The excitement of the unknown, anticipation of adventure and the personal growth you will gain from doing so makes it worthwhile. At least that’s how it has been

for me. These trips are usually longer as opposed to a two to three day trip in your home state. I would plan to invest at least five to seven days on an out-of-state hunt. You are traveling a great distance and you should plan on spending as much time as you can once you arrive—not just for hunting, but also because of lack of pre-scouting. By opening your door to out-of-state hunting, you are inviting in annual opportunities to pursue most of our big game species in the West. • Adventure. • Opportunity to hunt more species. • Get out of your comfort zone. • Longer hunts.

Cons of hunting out of state

• Less cost effective than at home. • Less opportunity to scout. • Much more forethought and planning required.

ENDNOTE

The time of year that we are sitting in right now holds a lot of anticipation. Everyone is planning for the 2019 hunting seasons and I am no exception. We all have our eyes looking to the future with dreams of what next fall will bring. Whether you are waiting to draw your dream tag or are an OTC hunter to the core, you cannot deny the pull of adventure. Hunting in your home state and traveling out-of-state are both filled with their own advantages and disadvantages as listed above. Even though I adore hunting in my home state, I think it sometimes has a tendency to make me complacent and that has affected my hunting in the past. I grew too comfortable, which translated into not trying as hard. By venturing out of your comfort zone and experiencing new things, it keeps you on your toes and makes you really appreciate those in-state hunts with all of the knowledge you’ve accumulated about them. Once I traveled out-of-state, it gave me a feeling of freedom. The only thing that was stopping me from doing so was myself. Once you realize that, the world becomes your oyster.

14 | Hunting & Fishing News

F&G Commission Sets 2019-20 Moose, Bighorn Sheep And Mountain Goats Seasons And Rules Idaho Department Fish and Game

By Brian Pearson, Conservation Public Information Specialist Hunters can apply for tags April 1 through April 30 uring their annual meeting on Jan. 24, the Idaho Fish D and Game Commission adopted new rules for moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat for the 2019-2020 hunting

seasons. Statewide, the new rules included a reduction in the number of moose tags available to hunters, an increase of two big horn sheep tags, and decrease of four mountain goat tags. The new rules booklets will be out in mid March and online prior to that. The application period for moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat controlled hunts runs from April 1-30. The earliest controlled moose hunt seasons begin at the end of August, as do the majority of those for bighorn sheep and all of those for mountain goat. Applicants are reminded Fish and Game will not be accepting mail-in applications for the controlled hunts. Hunters may apply at any hunting and fishing license vendor or Fish and Game office; with a credit card by calling (800) 554-8685; or online. A 2019 Idaho hunting license is required to apply. New fees for application are $16.75 for residents and $41.75 for nonresidents. Here are the 2019-20 changes at a glance: All three species New rule for 2019 excludes moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat controlled hunt tags from designation by any parent or grandparent to their minor child or grandchild. The change is an attempt to maintain similar drawing odds for these once-in-a-lifetime species rather than drawing odds being lower due to multiple parents and grandparents applying for these species with intent to designate the tag to their child or grandchild. Moose Statewide, there will be 634 moose tags – of which 560 are antlered tags – available each year in 2019-20. Statewide changes total a reduction of 109 antlered tags and 62 antlerless tags from 2017-18. The majority of the statewide reduction in antlered tags (88 percent) will come from the Panhandle region, which decreased from 290 tags in 2017-18 to 194 tags in 2019-20. Decreases in antlered tags in Clearwater, Southeast, and Upper Snake regions. Increase in antlered tags for Magic Valley region, including two additional tags in Hunt Area 54; a new hunt (Hunt Area 56, three tags) in Unit 56, which was split from Hunt Area 55; two fewer tags in Hunt Area 55, now composed of Unit 55 and Unit 57. Elimination of antlerless hunts in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions, as well as Hunt Areas 66A, 76-4, 77, and 78 in Southeast Idaho. One new antlerless hunt that encompasses all of Units 75, 77, and 78 in Southeast Idaho (Hunt Area 75-1, five tags). Decrease of two antlerless tags in Hunt Area 71 in Southeast Idaho. (continued on page 23)


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The Spread

On

Spring

Walleye By Jason Mitchell

www.jasonmitchelloutdoors.com

y nature’s design, not all B walleye spawn on the same day. Not all fish use

the same reef or tributary. Spring spawning activity is often staggered. As a result, post spawn patterns and locations can range all over the board. Not only does each fishery have a unique personality but what makes fish movements even more confusing is that the entire population of fish as a whole is not always on the same page at the same time.

As anglers we get so locked in on finding a specific edge or spot on the spot that fish are using. We attempt to lock in on a specific depth. The fish are in twenty two feet for example… concluding that assumption after catching a few fish and then spending a great majority of our time trying to replicate that depth throughout the day. I find however that I can easily get too specific and that attempting to lock down too specific of a depth range can be really costly during the post spawn period.

I find that we can often catch a lot more fish early in the open water season by not getting too specific. Instead of picking apart a location and attempting to lock down the productive depth, establish or fish in a manner to find as wide of a base line as possible. We might not anticipate fish being in forty feet of water during the middle of May (though we have seen that particularly around bottle neck areas with current or after severe fronts) but what we can anticipate is a shallow range where we might find fish in as shallow as seven feet and as deep as twenty feet. Each unique fishery will have a different range. Might be as shallow as three feet and as deep as ten feet on a prairie dish bowl lake for example. Later in the season as fish become very edge orientated on a piece of structure, you might spend the whole day fishing a specific depth. Early in the season, fish movements are often wider as some fish move up shallow to get some sun or heat while other fish are deeper recuperating from the spawn. Fish often seem to be more spread out on a specific piece of structure where the shallowest fish might be in eight feet of water for example while some fish might be as deep as twenty feet. At times, some fish will push up into shallower water during the warmest part of the day when the water temperatures bump up a few degrees while other situations still see the shallowest movements of fish occurring during low light or after dark. The bottom line is that you can often catch more fish by fishing through a wider range of depths and this is exactly why casting or pitching from the boat makes so much sense.

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Casting jigs and soft plastics catches a lot of fish in the spring and early summer on a wide variety of fisheries in part because you can deliver your presentation away from the boat which is a big factor when fish are shallow and won’t let you drive over the top in shallow water. There is another factor at play however that makes the casting game so effective. As you work a piece of structure, say you have the boat in fifteen feet of water for example. The reality is that there might be some fish scattered in fifteen feet of water while other fish might be laid up in ten or seven feet of water. Now you can control your boat and make a drift or pass in fifteen feet of water and make another pass in ten feet of water to contact fish or you can cover a lot more water by simply making a pass in fifteen feet of water and cast up into shallow water where you are not only touching the shallow water but also fishing the water below the boat on the end of each cast. What we often find early in the year is that where fish are on a piece of structure is a moving target. We might pop a few fish deep right below the boat and then catch some fish on a far cast on top of the structure. Other fish hit the jig half way back to the boat. That range in depth is so typical and not only does fan casting these locations allow you to touch all these different zones, it also enables anglers to find fish much more quickly.

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So many walleye anglers get locked into finding a specific depth and then fishing below the boat but the damage you can do by simply casting around the boat essentially expands the water you are fishing dramatically. There are always limitations and exceptions however.

The fan casting mentality shines on isolated pieces of structure where there is some depth change where you can saturate the location with repeated cast. The reality is that if you use a jig heavy enough to touch fifteen feet of water below the boat on the end of the cast, the jig is going to be heavy and prone to snag in five feet of water. Because you have to err on the side of heavy to cover a wider range of depths, the jig and soft plastic combination is often deadly as you can swim the jig and fish faster during the top of the retrieve to stay out of snags. If fish do keep coming from a more specific depth range, you can fine tune your presentation further by lightening up to target a shallow depth or in some cases use a slip bobber or split shot rig. You can also decide to fish vertically over one specific depth with the optimum jig weight if that is what the fish tell you to do. Stay flexible and gather information by noting where fish are coming from on the structure. When the pattern seems to be all over the board in regards to depth or when you are trying to establish what the base line is each day, you can gather a lot of information in a hurry by casting through locations. Fishing below the boat or behind the boat will still be part of your game plan but you will catch even more fish if you incorporate a lot more casting into your early season walleye fishing and remember that the advantages of casting go beyond just targeting shallow fish that spook from the boat.

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

Shot taken from the foot bridge at Kootenai Falls in Northwestern Montana. Photo jfergusonphotos depositphotos.com

pringtime is upon us! The water is cold, not yet recovered S from winter’s chill, and that means the trout are cold, their metabolism still slow. You needn’t wait any longer to hit the water though, as trout and other predatory fish are feeding and can be caught with the right gear. The good news is you won’t have to go far to find hungry fish in March. It’s time to fish with beaded wet flies, small spinners and bait along receding water edges where you can find fish stacked up at the mouths of tributaries where the water is rich with oxygen and food. You can experience career fishing days on spring creeks, area lakes and reservoirs. Ice-Out Brings Big Spawning Rainbows to a Host of Montana Reservoirs Ignore anyone who says the water is too cold to fish. So long as it’s not frozen, the fish you are after will be there, patiently waiting for you. Don’t always expect to catch a ton of fish. Do expect to have fun and catch some beautiful fish. If fish are your game, then you need to be fishing lakes, rivers and reservoirs in the spring, because that’s when some of the biggest fish of the year are landed. Here are a few area locations that have produced great fishing for years. HAUSER DAM: Magnum trout are just starting to keg up in the Missouri River below Hauser Dam. Rainbow trout in this tailwater, just minutes from the Helena Valley are large

and very aggressive now as they start to go through the motions of the spawning period. Throughout the month of March you can have career days on these fish that get as big as 24 inches. You may have to tolerate some bitter cold and windy days through the canyon, but the first 3 miles of the river below Hauser are arguably Montana’s best big-trout location early in the season. You can fish both sides of the river, as there’s a decent foot trail that extends down to Beaver Creek, a favorite spawning tributary of the Missouri. Fly fishing will absolutely work, using small nymphs tied with bright, flashy colors and a small strike indicator. Hardware fishing will also take fish, though it’s far less effective than flies. Try dead-drifting smaller Panther Martin spoons and small red and silver Mepp’s. Jigs will also take giant trout (Kit’s jigs www.kitstackle.com) work great in this fantastic fishery. WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR: This wind-blasted lake located northwest of Augusta is an outstanding spot for larger rainbows after ice-off. Work the edges along the face of the dam, where trout are heading for their false spawn. Spawn sacks, nightcrawlers/jigs and purple egg-sucking leeches work well here. Some huge northern pike will also make things interesting for you as you fish throughout the day. PAINTED ROCKS RESERVOIR: Expect fast action on rainbow trout on this subalpine lake located southwest of Hamilton, down along the Bitterroot mountain range. Depending on the ice and snow conditions on this high-country lake, you may have ice on longer than expected, but a mix of smaller Panther Martin spinners, cured eggs and a beadhead nymph fished under a float will take plenty of trout on this scenic lake. There are plenty of camping spots in the area to set-up your camp. COONEY RESERVOIR: Some huge rainbow trout are feeding on anything in sight on this reservoir located southwest of Laurel. Plan to be mobile for bigger trout that wander around the lake. Smaller countdown Rapalas and blue-and-silver combination lures slowly twitched off rocky points will land you plenty of fish. Warm-water species like walleye and smallmouth bass are also prevalent here, so plan accordingly. NOXON RESERVOIR: On Western Montana’s Noxon Reservoir, you can fish the rock ledges and submerged rubble for smallmouth bass before lunch, then work the flooded timber and back-bay weeds for thumper largemouth bass that inhabit the lake, fishing well into the evening. This long, narrow reservoir is not only one of Montana’s best big-bass lakes, but it also is very accessible and offers exceptional catch rates on a variety of tackle. As a bonus, it also puts out magnum northern pike, that seems are hidden below weed beds in almost every bay or inlet that you’ll be fishing. Noxon grows large fish, because of its location, called the “banana belt” of Montana. It’s lower elevation and normally easier winters provide a longer growing season for fish forage in the form of mainly trout and perch, which can be credited for this fine bass fishery. The pre-spawn bite here is good, but because of its limited spawning habitat, it’s hard to sight fish for the larger females.

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A more productive method is to fish structure using plastic worms. Focus on submerged stumps, downed trees and floating docks near the shorelines. In the early season, most of the smallie action will be in the south end of Noxon. Spinnerbaits, jigs and nightcrawlers work well, as does drop-shotting. FLATHEAD RIVER SLOUGHS: Take advantage of the northern pike moving into the Flathead River sloughs. As the ice pulls back from the shorelines, pike will start looking for warm water and submerged vegetation, and soon will have spawning on their mind. Strikes can be hit and miss, depending on the cold weather fronts moving in and out now. Look for shallow areas - 5 feet or less, where the pike can soak up some sun when it’s out. They’ll hit dead bait (smelt) and jigs. Expect some nice yellow perch fishing as well up from the Sportsman Bridge Access Site off Hwy. 82 on the Flathead River. KOOTENAI RIVER: This tailrace below Libby Dam in Northwest Montana may feature some of the largest trout in Montana, if not all of the Northern Rockies, and this is one of the best times of the year to catch huge rainbow trout. Heavy metal lures like the Krocodile Spoons, Twister Tails on jigs and nightcrawlers will catch trout here either from the bank casting and cranking or drifting. These huge fish gorge on Kokanee salmon that float through the dam. You can expect good fishing all the way down to Kootenai Falls. LAKE KOOCANUSA: The good fishing will really start to kick in for big rainbows that are running in the 8 to 12 pound range. The Rocky Gorge area is where anglers have found excellent results, using large flies and Apexes running on the surface with a planer board. In the deeper waters most anglers fish plugs and downriggers. The Bristow Bay area fishes well in the spring and up the lake from the Marina. Good electronics will serve you well on this big body of water.

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Tailwater fisheries - Trout rivers regulated by upstream dams are great bets for big fish in the early spring. They often require a different outlook when selecting flies than freestone rivers do, since the food sources tailwaters provide are usually different. Therefore, these five patterns in a variety of colors and sizes will usually give you a good starting point, no matter which tailwater you’re on in the Northern Rockies Region. • Zebra Midge - Midge are present in all tailwaters, and in most they are an important year-round food source. Probably the most effective midge pattern is the simple zebra midge, a fly made of thread, wire and a hook. • Scuds - Scuds, a freshwater shrimp, are present in most tailwaters and are rich in protein and nutrients that trout love. Favorite colors would be orange and pink that imitate floating trout eggs that these big fish will attack and devour. • San Juan Worms - Great for trout, mainly because they resemble a real worm. Worms are a good source of protein and fat, and when they are available, trout are hard-pressed not to take a bite! Go to colors would be red and grey. • Woolly Buggers - The bugger features a generic “bugginess” that gets the attention of predatory fish everywhere. The most basic and popular colors are solid black, olive, and brown/yellow. Woolly buggers are designed to trigger a reaction bite. Good sizes to carry would be from size 4 to 10, with larger flies effective at night. • Pheasant Tail Nymph - While various mayflies are important on tailwaters, the Pheasant Tail is the most important mayfly pattern for these waters, overall. Beadhead versions are most effective now in sizes 16 to 20.

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FAVORITE TROUT SPEY FLIES FOR MONTANA (continued from page 11) They all have a similar profile in the water, a long webby hackle that moves and pulsates while swinging the fly, and 2 of the 3 have a little tungsten bead that helps keep the fly down in the water column. A soft hackle with a little bit of flash in the fly will stand out while swinging across the current as well. Another nice thing about swinging soft hackles is that the small flies can be effectively cast on the smallest and lightest of spey rods. These are perfectly suited to casting on the new generation of “micro-spey” rods that have become popular in the last couple years. These smaller, ultra light spey rods don’t have the backbone to cast a big fly and a heavy sink tip, however they are perfect for casting small flies on lighter tips. A longer leader and a full-floating “dryline” can even be employed while fishing these soft hackles, allowing the angler to swing the flies just under the surface. The light rods also make for a very fun fight when hooked up.

Mercer’s Swing Caddis Schmidt’s New Trick Silvey’s Soft Serve

Streamers: Again, one of the first considerations when selecting a streamer for swing fishing is the castability of the pattern. When choosing streamers for swinging, lighter flies are more favorable, allowing your sink tip to drop the fly down in the water column rather than a heavy fly with a large conehead or large lead eyes. Similarly, flies that maintain their profile in the water without being too bulky are great choices. Bulky flies may be effective for the short casting and stripping method of streamer fishing from a boat, however flies that “fish big, but cast small” are more ideal for swinging as they’ll drop more quickly in the water column and will maintain their depth while swinging under tension. Look for more flowy flies tied with materials that won’t soak up a lot of water.

This will make them easier to cast and gives the fly more movement in the water. Many standard streamers in your fly selection will work well as long as they aren’t too heavy or bulky.

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Trout spey specific flies: As fishing for trout with spey rods has become more and more popular, specific flies have been developed that lend themselves to swing fishing for trout. These patterns tend to borrow design elements from steelhead flies, such as stinger hooks, light overall weight, and longer flowy materials that give the fly an illusion of being larger without actually being large and bulky flies.

Typically, flashy materials are good additions to trout spey flies as well, adding a bit of flash is yet another trigger that will hopefully get a curious trout to pursue and strike your fly.

You’ll also note that effective trout spey flies are tied relatively sparsely as sparse flies will drop quickly in the water column and will hold their depth while under tension. A few very effective trout spey specific flies are shown below:

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Hug The Bank For Spring Smallmouths In Rivers

Spring means high water in most areas, due to snowmelt and high annual rainfall. And spring means movement for river bass. A plunge-pool below a dam is a classic wintering site. As water temperatures broach 50oF, smallmouths begin to wander downstream from a dam or upstream from a reservoir, toward spawning areas. Until the water reaches 60oF, most bass are scattered. And, because the water is high, they hug the banks, where current is reduced. Working overhanging grass, reeds, woodcover and eddies right against the bank with a spinnerbait tends to be the odds-on method, because it covers water fast - one of the key principles for finding scattered fish. As the bass begin to concentrate again, switch to plastics presented on weedless jig heads or Texas-rigged. Pitch right up on the bank or into overhanging grass and slip it into the water.

Go Weightless For Prespawn Bass

As lakes warm in the spring, largemouth bass move into shallow cover in coves, canals, and harbors. They seek warming water offered by these spots that also provide plentiful baitfish. Bass are eager to feed, but not yet

aggressive in the cool water. And they can be spooky in these shallow areas that also tend to be clear.Try fishing weightless or nearly weightles softbaits, including stickbaits, tubes, worms, and lizards. Weightless lures sink slowly and look lifelike as they rest in pockets among the vegetation. In deeper spots or if it’s breezy, a 1/16-ounce weight makes it easier to present the baits.

Trolling For Spring Trout In Lakes & Reservoirs

During springtime, stocked trout in lakes and reservoirs can be found fairly shallow, feeding in the upper 10 to 15 feet of the water column. An effective technique to catch spring trout is to troll with crankbaits, either longlining directly behind the boat or with planer boards. Troll with 10 to 20 feet of line out at a speed around 2 mph. Cover a lot of water, and focus on high-percentage areas including steep drop-offs along mainlake shorelines, around sunken islands, saddles, and points.

Prespawn Cover Options For Bass

Staging bass move toward the bank as spawn-time approaches. When reservoir flats have warmed into the upper 50oF range, look for bass among flooded stumps, brushpiles, and along the inside corners of points within feeder creeks. After feeding in these areas, bass head to the bank to spawn. Making long casts with lightly weighted lures like a PowerBait Jerk Shad or Gulp! Sinking Minnow is deadly. The key is to fish a variety of cover types until you discover which ones bass are favoring at the time. Once you figure it out, follow the pattern in that part of the reservoir and you should have consistent success.

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Fast Versus Slow: F&G Commission Sets 2019-20 Moose,

Understanding Fly Rod Actions By Zach Lazzari

Photo by Ryan McSparran

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ly rod actions are often misunderstood and understated when rods are sold through retail outlets. Obviously, a few great fly shops exist and they will take the time to walk an angler through the actions and options but many will simply suggest a medium-fast rod as a safe bet and drive the purchase. In many cases, the medium-fast action rod is the best bet. But it’s worth understanding other actions and options, in case there is another perfect fit for your fly fishing purposes. SLOW FLEX Slow action rods appeal to a very specific crowd. I would categorize fiberglass rods into the slow flex class as well. A slow action has little to no spine and it loads through the entire rod. You aren’t double hauling and slinging 80-ft casts here. It’s a more elongated motion with a longer pause on each end to load the rod and lay out a cast. Slow actions are deliberate and are most often used for dry fly fishing to trout. They can crossover to plenty of other species, but the flex is almost custom made for small dry flies and delicate casts over selective trout. That’s not to say big fish are out of the question. In fact, the rods are great for absorbing the weight of a big fish on small hooks and light class tippets. You get more bend and give against a big fish. If you fish spring creeks, tailwaters and stillwaters where small bugs and picky fish are the norm, a slow or full flex rod is a joy to fish. MEDIUM ACTION You don’t see a ton of medium specific action rods. Many are lumped into a slow-medium action rating by manufacturers and that does make sense. The medium action is similar in function to the slow action rod. It’s not loading fast but it has a little more punch and versatility than a true slow action stick. If you want a lower rod without dropping the spine completely, look for a medium action rating. THE MEDIUM-FAST STANDARD The medium-fast action rating makes up the bulk of fly rods today. It really is the most versatile action available and it serves every skill level well. The rod is a little more forgiving to beginner casters than a fast action that requires precision control. It still has the spine to launch bigger flies with a single or double haul and it casts everything from a tiny dry fly to big streamer without any ill effect. In terms of a general action to do everything, you want a medium-fast rod for utility purposes. I do a ton of fishing for numerous species with a medium fast 6-weight. It’s caught panfish, trout, pike, steelhead, salmon and bass on a host of flies. Fish ranging from 10-inches to 15-pounds have held up fine on my medium-fast 6-weight. FAST ACTIONS FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES The fast action rod is less forgiving but many casters adapt quickly. You have less margin for error on the loading time but the rod can handle distance, wind and big flies better than any other action. Saltwater anglers default to fast action rods. Dedicated streamer fisherman on trout waters should be using them more as well. It’s an easier delivery on heavy streamers. Same goes for pike, musky and bass. Steelhead and salmon fisherman tend to go fast action on single hand fly rods as well. When you need to deliver big bugs, long casts and fight through the elements, a fast action rod is your best bet. For more visit Mystic Fly Rods at www.mysticoutdoors.com

Bighorn Sheep And Mountain Goats Seasons And Rules (continued from page 14)

Bighorn Sheep Statewide, there will be 99 bighorn sheep tags available each year in 2019-20, two more than in 2018. The statewide net increases in Rocky Mountain bighorn ram tags were offset by decreases in California bighorn ram tags. Units 13 and 18 were removed from Hunt Area 11 in the Hells Canyon area. Increase in Rocky Mountain ram tags in the Upper Snake (Hunt Area 20A, one additional tag) and Salmon regions (Hunt Area 37, one additional tag each in the Aug. 30 through Sept. 20 season and Sept. 21 through Oct. 13 seasons). A new Rocky Mountain bighorn ram hunt in Unit 51-1, on the southern part of the Lemhi Range. In a recent summer survey, biologists counted 80 big horn sheep – more than in the past – and ram numbers suggested that the population will support two tags. Two new late-season controlled hunts in Hunt Areas 36A and 37A. Biologists initially proposed an increase in tags for existing controlled hunts in those Hunt Areas based on recent survey numbers, but instead allocated the increase in tags to the late hunts in response to public comments from hunters. Reduction of one tag in Hunt Area 26, which has also been redrawn to exclude the portion of Unit 20A it previously included in 2017-18. Statewide reduction of four tags total in California bighorn ram hunts, with Hunt Area 46-1 going from three tags in 2017-18 to two tags in 2019-20. Three tags for Hunt Area 54 were eliminated, and the boundary for the two tags in Hunt Area 55 was expanded to include Hunt Area 54. Mountain Goat Statewide, there will be 44 mountain goat tags available each year in 2019-20, down from 48 in 2017-18. New hunt created, Hunt Area 51-1, with two tags available. Includes portions of Unit 51 and Unit 58. Hunt Area 37A boundary was redrawn to include other sections of Unit 51 and Unit 58. Increases in tags some areas of the Frank Church Wilderness, including one additional tag each in Hunt Areas 27-2 and 27-4, due to high success rates and low nanny harvest. The boundaries on those areas have been redrawn, bringing more goats into those hunt areas and allowing for greater tag numbers. Increases of one tag in Hunt Area 43 and two tags in Hunt Area 50. Elimination of Hunt Area 1 (Panhandle). Biologists do not believe that there are sufficient goats in that Hunt Area to support a tag based on reports from sportsmen in the area, knowledge of population dynamics and herds that spend time in Idaho and Montana. Biologists plan to survey the area next year and reevaluate it. Hunt Area 7 is changed to Hunt Area 9, and composed solely of Unit 9 – where the majority of the goats in the area live. The change is an effort to shift hunters to where there are goat numbers strong enough to support a tag. Reduction of three tags each in Hunt Areas 36-1 and 36A-1, due to declining hunter success and high incidence of nanny harvest in those regions, as well as a reduction of one tag in 36A-3. Reduction of one tag in Hunt Areas 10-1 and two tags in Hunt Area 67

Hunting & Fishing News | 23


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HOW TO USE A SPOTTING SCOPE For

SHOOTING

By Travis Pike www.outdoorempire.com potting scopes are interesting optics used to see a wide S variety of objectives. They can be used to stare at the stars, watch birds, observe nature, and shoot. Yes, to shoot! Shooting at long ranges often involves a variety of optics including spotting scopes. They are traditionally very powerful, yet compact optics enough for the perfect day at the range.

Why Use a Spotting Scope For Shooting? Spotting scopes are used for a number of shooting tasks. From competition to sniping, you need a high-quality tool that provides bright, clear images and powerful magnification. This type of scope can even be used to check your target for holes and track your hits. Shooters can also use their spotting scope to observe weather conditions downrange. Some conditions, like wind, will be different at 500 to 1,000 yards away. This device allows you to see dust blowing in the wind, trees moving, and other prime views to make wind calls! In a tactical scenario, a spotter will use a spotting scope to provide corrections to the shooter, observe potential threats, and monitor downrange weather conditions. In a hunting scenario, spotting scopes are used to find game. The close, clear view allows you to confirm species and gender. Spotting scopes are perfect for setting up a stalk and allowing the hunter to scout an area ahead of time. When the time comes to pull the trigger, you can be sure you are doing everything in your ability to make a humane kill.

Photo courtesy Outdoor Empire

How to use a Spotting Scope for Shooting Step 1: Getting into Position A proper position is always important for an accurate shot. It is also critical in how you use a spotting scope. You have to set up in a manner that facilitates accurate firing as well as scope use. This typically means one of two things: a seated position or a prone position. Step 2: Adjust the Distance Once you get into position, you need to adjust the spotting scope a comfortable distance from you. You need to be able to Photo courtesy Outdoor Empire transition to the spotting scope from your rifle in a means that doesn’t screw up your shooting position. This ensures you don’t screw up a good stable firing position between shots. Step 3: Mount The spotting scope needs to be tripod mounted. They are very powerful, even at the lowest power. Any slight movement, even hand tremors, will throw you way off target. (continued on page 32)


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5 TIPS FOR GLASSING UP MORE BEARS THIS SPRING By Dan Wilde Originally published at

www.goHUNT.com

Second, now that you’ve found a potential area that might hold bears, you need to find the best vantage point from which to glass them. When hunting steep canyons, you can often find a rocky outcropping or scree slide on the opposing (north-facing) side to post up at. Using the ground level view tool is invaluable here. It will give you a pretty good idea of what you will be able to see from the potential glassing location. You need to take trees and other obstructions into consideration that don’t necessarily show up on Google Earth. Overall, this tool will give you a good idea of whether a spot is worth your time or not. Make sure to mark these areas on your GPS because, when you are hiking in the bottom of the canyon, it’s often so thick that you won’t be able to see these spots from the trail.

2. RESEARCH FOOD SOURCES FOR YOUR AREA Knowing what a bear feeds on in the spring in your area is going to be extremely important. I’ve hiked hours back into a spot that looked great from Google Earth, but, once I got there, the slopes that I thought were going to be luscious green grass were actually shrubs or a more undesirable plant like beargrass. It pays to have some knowledge of what these bears are looking for food-wise. While it’s common knowledge that they love berries in the fall, in my experience, you are going to find them in completely different places in the spring because they are in need of a ripe food source. Where I hunt in western Montana, bears mostly feed on grasses, glacier lilies or skunk cabbage. Another potential opportunity is to post up on a winter kill. If you find a dead elk, moose or deer in a bear dense area, there is a good chance a bear is going to catch wind of it and come in to claim a free meal. Keep in mind, though, that if you shoot a bear that has been feeding on a rotting carcass for days, the meat is likely going to reflect that. While a bear feeding on green vegetation can taste quite good, one feeding on that kill might not.

Photo credit: Nick Balla

3. HIKE HIGHER

1. START WITH GOOGLE EARTH Google Earth is a great place to begin your scouting for a lot of hunts, but I’ve found that to be especially true with spring bear hunting. Mine is littered with little yellow pins all over western Montana with a simple title: PGS. This stands for “potential glassing spot.” First, you want to find general areas or mountain ranges that you might be interested in hunting. Then, from there, start picking apart the area, looking for south or east facing slopes. These are the first places for the snow to melt in the spring and, in turn, start growing green grass that bears will likely feed on. Other good pieces of topography to look for are cliffs that have ledges on it and avalanche chutes. Snowpack will be minimal on the cliffs due to the steepness, which means that bears will frequent these ledges, especially early in the season. In steep chutes, an avalanche will clear off a lot of the snowpack and, as Steven Rinella writes in his book on big game hunting, “Locate one of these productive slopes, and you might see multiple bears per day while other hunters are sitting at home because ‘it’s still too early’ to chase bears.” Finding areas with clear cuts and closed logging roads can also be a great place to look. You can walk the logging roads, which often grow grass along the edges and simultaneously glass opposing clear cuts and openings.

28 | Hunting & Fishing News

Photo credit: Dan Wilde

This one may only apply to certain hunting areas, but the higher you are willing to hike, the more bears you are going to see. This is due to the simple fact that you are going to be able to see significantly more with each few hundred feet of elevation you gain. Of course, there needs to be a good perch up higher where you can glass from; otherwise, you’re wasting your time or energy. In the past, I would usually hike 1,000 feet up or so on the opposing ridge. However, after talking with a local bear hunting guide who hunts similar areas that I do, I’m convinced I need to go even higher. In the same canyon where I saw two bears the whole spring, he glassed up eleven in one evening. He was willing to hike thousands of feet up the opposing ridge where he could glass for miles down the canyon. (continued on page 41)


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PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD Kayden of Helena Mt. with a nice 5x4 buck

Vince Lindgren of Missoula with his 2018 archery bull elk taken Sept. 2 - 20 yard shot.

Zane with a nice Montana whitetail.

Rayn with a nice Montana muley -Snowy Mountain Rifles Custom Built 6.5 x 47 on a manners stock with a Vortex Gen 2 Razor, Benchmark Barrel.

Deer Season Is Over:

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES (continued from page 7)

Hunt Terrain, Not Sign Day after day for a week in Virginia, I fell into the trap of watching a set of smoking-hot scrapes on a ridge. I saw a few deer, but never a shooter buck. Your strategy for next season should be: Don’t hunt particular scrapes at all. You still need to ground scout and find the freshest sign. But then, read your maps and scout out from the buck rubs and scrapes for 200 to 300 yards or so. Pinpoint a creek crossing, ditch head or strip of woods—you get the picture— with more fresh tracks and trails in it, and hang a tree stand right there. While a big 10-pointer likely won’t hit those scrapes you found in daylight, there’s a good chance he’ll travel in a nearby funnel anytime of day. Play the terrain near hot sign to see more shooters. Get Aggressive When It’s Time To One day I spotted a nice 10-pointer chasing a doe on a ridge 120 yards away. From the same bow stand the next morning, I saw him again. On the third morning he was gone. What was I thinking? I should have moved in on him sooner! When you see a big deer rutting on a ridge or in a creek bottom a couple times, don’t just sit there and hope he’ll eventually circle around by your stand, move in. He might be gone tomorrow…but then he might be back again, scraping or hassling a hot doe. But one thing is for sure, he won’t be around for too long. If you sit back and wait 3 or 4 days he will leave with a doe, or run a mile to find another hottie. Your motto should be: When the rut is on move in for the kill! See Buck, React One morning I sat in a stick blind for four hours without seeing a deer, and I admit my guard was down. I caught a flash to the left—giant buck! I froze. He didn’t see me, but just as fast as he had appeared he was gone. Our granddaddies taught our daddies who taught us to be still and not move a muscle because a big buck will see us and spook. So naturally, one of our bad habits is to be too timid and tentative when a big deer comes close. We freeze and don’t move a muscle. A lot of shooter bucks get away, like that 160-incher did to me last fall (I cried). Train yourself to be more aggressive. You still need to be smart and quiet of course, but you need to be pro-active, too. Keep your eye on a buck as he comes in, shift your feet on stand to get into shooting position, get your bow or gun up when his head and eyes are hidden behind brush or a tree. Move slowly and smoothly, but move! Continue to flow with the animal as he creeps closer and closer. Here’s the most important part. Whether hunting with bow or gun, take the first clear, solid, close-enough shot you have at a buck’s heart/lung vitals. Do not tarry and wait for him to come three more steps, or turn another foot left or whatever. Kill an 8- or 10-pointer now, before he wises up or something blows up.


WILD SHEEP RESTORATION SURVIVES THE FARM BILL

Wild Sheep Foundation www.wildsheepfoundation.org

he Wild Sheep Foundation’s (WSF) purpose is to, T “Put and Keep Wild Sheep on the Mountain.” One of the largest hurdles in fulfilling that purpose is potential for

disease transmission between domestic sheep and goats and wild sheep. Domestic sheep carry bacteria called Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae that, when contracted by wild sheep, can cause pneumonia leading to an all-age die-off and complete eradication of that wild sheep herd. The best and most common-sense approach to mitigating potential disease transfer, is to keep wild sheep and domestic sheep apart on the landscape. In some places, this happens naturally, with wild sheep habitat nearly inhospitable to domestic sheep, or potentially the rancher that tends them. However, in places such as Wyoming, wild sheep and domestic sheep occupied much of the same range on public lands; essentially creating a time-bomb for a catastrophic all-age die-off. Thankfully, the area had several domestic sheep producers that were willing to work with WSF, Wyoming WSF, other chapters and affiliates, and numerous other wild sheep advocates’ and sportsmen’s organizations to find multiple-use solutions that allowed for continued restoration of wild sheep, as well as promote the livelihoods and interests of domestic sheep production. Some landowners changed to different livestock types, others agreed to have their public land grazing allotments bought out and their domestic sheep moved to a conflict-free grazing allotment, and a few simply took cash to buy private land away from wild sheep range that would support their domestic sheep herd all year long. Needless to say, the plan worked well, and all parties were satisfied. Earlier this year, Rep Liz Cheney (WY-R) looked to derail the previous conservation work in Wyoming and throughout

the western USA by attaching a misguided amendment, the “Cheney Amendment,” to the Farm Bill which would have replaced local collaboration with top-down federal intervention. Essentially, the amendment would have forced the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to utilize the previously vacated allotments without assessing the risk to wild sheep. With wild sheep conservation on the line, not to mention millions of dollars in private citizens’ and business’ dollars previously donated to buy-out the allotments in the first place, WSF, its chapters and affiliates, and numerous other wild sheep advocates’ and sportsmen’s organizations went to work with a mission to stop the amendment. Meetings were immediately scheduled on the Hill asking for congressional support to stop the amendment, while local Wyoming residents theoretically stormed the castle, tactically calling Rep Liz Cheney staff to demonstrate their displeasure with her recent policy decisions. Hunters and wild sheep advocates felt this amendment not only undermined previous collaboration between wild sheep and domestic sheep interests, but also posed a risk to a viable hunting resource with no regard for sportsmen’s interests. Due to collaborative efforts, WSF, its chapters and affiliates, and numerous other wild sheep advocates’ and sportsmen’s organizations were proud to learn that the “Cheney Amendment” has now been officially struck from the Farm Bill in conference. Gray N. Thornton, President and CEO of WSF responded, “This is just another example of incredible collaboration within the outdoor community. Wyoming has stood as a prime example of what can be accomplished when both wild sheep and domestic sheep interests come to the table with a priority to find multiple-use solutions. The misguided Cheney Amendment threatened to undo two decades of collaborative wild sheep restoration and conservation not only in Wyoming, but throughout wild sheep range. We are glad to get yet another win on behalf of wild sheep, sportsmen, and anyone else who enjoys this iconic species.”...


HOW TO USE A SPOTTING SCOPE For

SHOOTING

(continued from page 27)

Attaching the scope to the tripod can be done at home, but setting it up needs to be done after you find your position. You need to get into position to decide where to set the tripod, as well as height. Step 4: Adjust the Magnification Once the tripod is in place, adjust the optic to the most favorable position. Adjust the magnification until the picture is clear. If you want to see small holes in big targets, take the time to get on target. If you are observing weather and wind, you don’t have to be right on the target. Instead, you may want to focus on a tree blowing in the wind, tall grass, or dust patterns. Step 5: Adjust Your Focus Once the magnification is set, you need to dial your focus until the area you are observing is crystal clear. Focus is an easy adjustment and a very necessary one. Take your time, and make sure you have the clearest image possible. This helps reduce strain on your eyes and allow you to look downrange much longer than usual.

Why A Spotting Scope and Not Binoculars?

Some folks might wonder why they can’t just use binoculars. In some situations, binoculars will certainly work. Unfortunately, binoculars are much lower powered than spotting scopes. That means they can’t zoom into long ranges like spotting scopes can. This also makes it much harder to see smaller details in targets, such as bullet holes. A spotting scope can do that. Binoculars can show

you the grass blowing behind a target. A spotting scope can get you in deep and show you in detail how hard it’s blowing and in exactly what direction. Photo courtesy Outdoor Empire When tripod mounted, a spotting scope stays on target. You usually just have to lean over and take a peek. No need to set your rifle down to use this optic. Just peek over, look through it, and get back to shooting. Binocular use requires you to lay down your gun. In tactical scenarios, you’ll often find teams using both binoculars and spotting scopes. The spotting scope will always be near the rifle because it provides the necessary power. The power of this type of scope allows the user to easily recognize a potential threat all the way down to exact facial features! In a war zone, you need clarity to be decisive. Hunters can pick and shoot the largest animal in a herd. They can also find animals trying to be stealthy. Animals are good at camouflage, and trying to spot one through the brush can be hard. You can zoom in with the power of a spotting scope. Binoculars are still great optics that have their place. However, the spotting scope is king when it comes to long range targets. A pair of binos may work if you are 25 yards away and trying to spot tiny holes in a black target. Let’s be real though, serious shooters use serious tools. It’s hard to get more serious, and more useful, than a spotting scope. The ability to use this product at the range and in the field will make you a more effective and more accurate shooter. Never underestimate the power of good optics!

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take a training course. For safety and training information, see your dealer or call the ATV Safety Institute at 1 (800) 887-2887. ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: always wear a helmet, eye protection, and other protective clothing. Always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. Never ride on paved surfaces or public roads. Never carry passengers on any ATV not specifically designed by the manufacturer for such use. Never engage in stunt driving. Avoid excessive speeds and be particularly careful on difficult terrain. All Can-Am ATV adult models are Category G ATVs (General Use Models) intended for recreational and/ or utility use by an operator age 16 or older. ATVs with engine sizes of greater than 90 cc are recommended for use only by those age 16 and older, except for those designated as T14. BRP urges you to “TREAD LIGHTLY” on public and private lands. Preserve your future riding opportunities by showing respect for the environment, local laws and the rights of others when you ride. Make sure that all laws, regulations, and BRP’s warnings/recommendations for ATV passengers are respected. Ride responsibly. Read the side-by-side vehicle (SSV) Operator’s Guide and watch the Safety DVD before driving. For your safety: wear a helmet, eye protection and other protective gear. Fasten lateral net and seat belt at all times. Always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. SSV is for off-road use only. Never ride on paved surfaces or public roads. Operator must be at least 16 years old. Passenger must be at least 12 years old and able to hold handgrips and plant feet while seated against the backrest. Make sure that all laws and regulations, are respected. Ride responsibly.

32 | Hunting & Fishing News


BACKCOUNTRY MEDICAL KIT

and

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

By Zach Lazzari

www.kawdyoutfitters.com

taken far too many risks by carrying a less than adequate Ia’ve medical kit in the past. After hearing a guide friend discuss recent incident with a client falling and sustaining a

head injury on a fishing trip, I decided to change things up (luckily, he was prepared). In the past, I carried a full medical kit while guiding but rarely brought it along on solo trips. The duct tape and super glue in my equipment repair kit doubled as a medical kit. The major limiting factor here is weight. Rather than strategically creating a solo, lightweight kit, I simply skipped it all together. I recently spent some time creating an emergency preparedness game plan and medical safety kit for hunting trips. It’s better late than never and is an obvious pre-trip necessity that too many of us overlook and under-appreciate. Emergency Systems I used to carry a SPOT emergency satellite system on remote guide trips. I let that subscription lapse but am renewing it now. I never had to call for medical help but did use the call a tow truck feature several times. You can call the truck without cell service and it really saved my butt while being stranded in a ditch on the Olympic Peninsula in February. I also used it to mark interesting waypoints while backpacking on several occasions. It helped with map study and planning for future backcountry hunts. Another option is a Personal Locator Beacon. They don’t have the message sending ability like a satellite system but they put out a distress signal when in clear view of the sky. They are also very small and easy to carry along. The typical battery will last for a full 24 hours of straight use. Some of the emergency systems are packaged with rescue insurance plans. These are worth their weight in gold if you require a helicopter flight. Additionally, a policy with a company like Global Rescue can go a long ways towards covering emergency services and costs for domestic, foreign and backcountry travel. Ultralight Backcountry Medical Kit I’m keeping my kit pretty simple as I don’t have any medical conditions. It’s primarily centered around patching cuts and cleaning wounds in an emergency. Tape and Glue I didn’t throw out the duct tape or super glue. I used super glue in place of stitches for years as a wrestler and it works wonders. Athletic tape is great but duct tape can wrap a wound or fix gear so I keep a small roll for multipurpose use. Gauze and Bandages A few small squares of gauze and several adhesive bandage squares. I use the large squares and will cut them into strips if needed. Primarily used for blisters. You could stuff the gauze in a deep wound to stop bleeding if needed. Disinfectant A small amount of antiseptic in case of a serious wound and a small tube of triple antibiotic ointment. Rinse wounds with water first then clean everything before patching yourself up. QuickClot In a worst case scenario, rapid blood loss can crush your odds of surviving. Hunters and anglers are handling knives and firearms in remote places where accidents can happen. A blood clotting agent will stop the rapid blood loss and can save your life. It’s also easy to find over the counter. Pills I don’t keep any pills around but many folks take along aspirin for swelling and potential heart problems. Personally, I don’t take pain meds and don’t bother carrying them in my pack. For information on guided hunts with Kawdy Outfitters visit www.kawdyoutfitters.com

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How To Choose Your Outfitter SNS Outfitter & Guides www.huntwyo.com dmittedly, selecting the right hunting outfitter is not an A easy process. With hundreds of thousands of outfitters around the world, there are numerous aspects to take into consideration. First, what species are you interested in hunting? Once you have that figured out, which state do you want to hunt in? Are you looking for an area where tags are easy to draw? Furthermore, are you looking for a trophy or simply want to fill your freezer? You’ll also want to consider the length of the hunt and whether or not you prefer a horseback hunt. As you can see, there are a plethora of factors to take into consideration. Once you narrow down your preferences — or at least have a fairly solid idea of your likings — you take to the Internet. Between interactive websites, great trophy photos, and testimonials that make you feel like you were on the hunt yourself, it’s difficult to choose. So, here is what we suggest Interview the outfitter: Pick up the phone and give the outfitter a call. Make sure you ask plenty of questions. Ask about their process, the quality of hunt, the overall experience, and simply have a friendly conversation.

Generally speaking, the feel that you get from a call with the outfitter you’ll know the hunt is right for you or not. However, if you’re still wondering you can ask for references. Call the references: Touch base with the references that you received from the outfitter, hear their hunting experience(s) with said outfitter you’re interested in. Ask if they would change anything about their experience or if they would always recommend family and friends to this outfitter. Search online: Look for reviews, images, stories, or blogs. More than likely, you’ll either find the best news or the worst, it can be a true test to the outfitters reputation. Years in business: There is something to be said about the longevity of the outfitter’s business. You should be more hesitant to send a large deposit to a newly established outfitter. Typically, outfitters that have been in business for several years are highly reputable. Understand what is offered: Be sure you understand what is offered in the hunting package you’re purchasing. For us at SNS Outfitter and Guides, we try and make the process as simple as possible. We purchase your hunting license, preference points, and take care of as much as the paper work as possible. However, many outfitters are not like that, so be sure you understand what is included and what is not. Insurance and policies: This is critical-be sure your outfitter is bonded, licensed, and insured. Check the cancellation policy. Simply know the ins and outs of the entire outfitter. Your hunter-to-guide ratio: Upon booking and knowing your package, you should also be aware of the hunter to guide ratio. Is it 1:1 or 1:2, or possibly more? At SNS, they offer both one guide to one hunter as well as one guide to two hunters. Be sure to ask — that way, there won’t be any surprises upon arriving to hunting camp. Lastly, while many outfitters are reputable, knowing the right questions to ask (and trusting your instincts) will take you to the right outfitter. It’s important that you enjoy your hunt and it checks the boxes that you were looking for. For information on guided hunts with SNS Outfitter & Guides visit www.huntwyo.com

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34 | Hunting & Fishing News


RANCHER KILLS WOLF 40 MILES EAST OF BILLINGS

Join us April 20th for the

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Bull of the Month Herd Bull BOONE & CROCKETT Score: 415 7/8 Location: Montana Date: 2016 Hunter: Will Schott

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this magnificent bull and more at the Elk Country Visitor Center.

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rancher legally harvested a wolf on his property 40 miles east of Billings Tuesday. The rancher, who held a Montana wolf hunting license, said he harvested the wolf after it chased some of his cattle away from a coulee where he was feeding them. The wolf was a young male and weighed about 100 pounds. The rancher said he did not see other wolves and did not believe the animal killed or injured any of his cattle. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials inspected and tagged the animal Tuesday. FWP wolf specialist Abbie Nelson said there is no way to know where the wolf came from. During this time of year lone wolves – and young males in particular – can travel hundreds of miles in search of a mate. Since the rancher did not see other wolves it is likely that the wolf was passing through the area, she said. About 10 percent of the known wolf population goes into dispersal every year, a natural life history trait for sexually mature wolves, Nelson said. The average age of dispersing wolves is 2.5 years. The next month is breeding season for wolves, when they tend to move around more. The average dispersal distance is 50 to 60 miles, but recent examples from Montana show that longer dispersals are not uncommon. Wolves have been tracked more than 300 miles from Jackson, Wyo., to Broadus and from Livingston to Canmore, Alberta. Though some residents may be surprised that a wolf was harvested east of Billings, Nelson said it is not unique. While wolf populations and management activities are largely focused on western Montana and wildlands in and around Yellowstone National Park, wolves are not unheard of much further east. A hunter harvested a wolf in Valley County near Glasgow Jan. 9, 2019. And Nelson has heard recent reports of wolf sightings near the Crow Reservation. Last year biologists tracked a small pack of wolves from Wyoming through the Clarks Fork River drainage until one was harvested south of Joliet. Several years ago a collared wolf was tracked for weeks from northeastern Washington to central Montana, north of Judith Gap, where it was killed. Wolves and hunting: According to the 2017 Montana Gray Wolf Program Annual Report, population estimates suggest there are approximately 900 wolves in Montana, with an annual wolf harvest that averages about 225 animals. During the 2017-2018 wolf season, 255 wolves were harvested: 65 percent hunting, 35 percent trapping. Approximately, $380,000 was generated for wolf conservation and management by wolf license sales. Wolves may be hunted throughout the state, with a season from Sept. 2 through March 15. Hunting wolves requires a wolf license, which can be purchased over the counter for $19 (resident) or $50 (nonresident). Wolves may also be trapped ($20 resident, $1 resident landowner, $250 nonresident) from Dec. 15-Feb. 28. Completion of either the Idaho or Montana wolf trapping certification class is mandatory. Persons could take a combination of up to five wolves via hunting and/or trapping. Wolves and people: Wolf sightings do periodically happen in eastern Montana, but currently no wolf packs are known to exist in the eastern side of the state... To learn more about Montana’s wolf population, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov and follow the links to “Fish & Wildlife” and “Wolf.”

Directions: Take I-90 to Exit 101 in Missoula. Drive 1/4 mile north to 5705 Grant Creek Road. accessible with RV parking. Open year round. For information, call (406) 523-4545 or 866-266-7750 or visit www.rmef.org.

Hunting & Fishing News | 35


Hunting & Conservation News Proudly Sponsored By

Republic Services of Montana Photo courtesy RMEF

RMEF Marks Decade of Record Membership Growth Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

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halk it up as the tenth year in a row that the C Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation registered record membership. As of December 31, 2018, RMEF had 234,982 members, marking a 3.2 percent membership increase from 2017. “We greatly appreciate our members and volunteers who support our mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “This continued growth is an indicator of the valuable conservation work we have done and momentum for the work to be accomplished. As we have always done, we will continue to open and improve access to our public lands and enhance wildlife habitat through tangible on-the-ground projects. We will also continue to advocate and expand hunting participation.” 2018 Highlights: - Opened/improved public access to 26,556 acres in five states - Enhanced 134,699 acres of wildlife habitat in 27 states - Permanently protected 13,431 acres of habitat across eight states - Provided funding/volunteer manpower to assist with West Virginia elk restoration - Surpassed 12,000 volunteers who raised a record single-year amount of revenue to advance RMEF’s conservation mission - Provided $715,671 in funding to benefit ongoing elk research & studies - Advocated Congress and state legislatures for many issues including forest management reform, Land and Water Conservation Fund reauthorization, Great Lakes states wolf delisting, Yellowstone area grizzly delisting, wildfire funding & more - Participated in victorious court cases benefitting forest management & wildlife habitat management - Reached 84.5 million people via its social media platforms, had 822,634 followers & more than 12.8 million video views - Totaled more than 5 million combined page views on rmef.org and elknetwork.com “2018 was an incredible year for RMEF on all fronts. We look forward to celebrating these latest accomplishments and others at our 2019 Elk Camp and Mountain Festival,” added Weaver. Since 1984, RMEF and its partners completed more than 11,800 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $1.1 billion. These projects protected or enhanced 7.4 million acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 1.2 million acres.

36 | Hunting & Fishing News


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FWP Closes On Three Conservation Easements MFWP ontana Fish, Wildlife & Parks finalized three significant M conservation easements in the Habitat Montana program that will protect more than 18,000 acres and provide 970 hunter days a year.

“I’m pleased we are able to expand public access and the hunting and recreational opportunities these lands provide,” said FWP Director Martha Williams. “We’re also ensuring that we can keep working families on their land, while conserving wildlife habitat, and preserving Montana’s outdoor traditions for future generations.” All three easements focused on protecting high-valued wildlife habitat and providing public access – key components of FWP’s Habitat Montana program. The Birdtail Conservation Easement, White Deer Meadows Conservation Easement, and North Sunday Creek Conservation Easement all faced year-end deadlines, but they all closed prior to the new year. The White Deer Meadows Conservation Easement north of Bozeman in the Bridger Foothills will protect 405 acres of critical deer winter range and open up 170 hunter-days per year. The North Sunday Creek Conservation Easement in Custer and Rosebud counties will protect 14,301 acres of sagebrush and grasslands important for sage-grouse, mule deer and pronghorn. The easement also opens up 400 hunter-days per year. The Birdtail Conservation Easement in Cascade County will protect 3,980 acres of year-round foothill habitat for elk, mule deer and native gamebirds as well as guaranteeing access to 400 hunter-days per year.

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HUNTING SKILL PRIORITIES FOR THIS OFFSEASON By Trail Kreitzer Originally published at

www.goHUNT.com

Scouting can be tricky, but there are some details worth considering before you even get started. Knowledge of the game you are hunting is critical. Elk, deer, and even antelope have different behaviors, diets and habitat needs depending on the time of year you are hunting. We could get into the nitty-gritty and, perhaps, that is another article in itself, but before you blindly go scouting, spend some real time thinking about the behavior of the animal you are hunting and what types of needs have to be met during the time of year when you will be hunting. Scouting is something I personally want to improve on this year and that, essentially, boils down to making more time for it. The people that spend the most time scouting are the most successful hunters I know. Time is a sensitive subject and there are people making millions teaching other people how to manage it, but the cold hard truth is that if you want to find success you have to manage and find time to scout. Scouting does not mean you necessarily have to get boots on the ground. It certainly helps a ton, but there are a lot of hunters that get it done every year in areas they have never hunted. Scout. Use Google Earth. Read unit profiles, talk to biologists, game wardens, taxidermists, post on forums, and pour over maps to find the best areas to hunt prior to showing up. Keep detailed notes and have several areas picked out prior to your hunt. Another key aspect of successful hunters that fits within this box is that they seem to be connected. By connected, I mean that they tend to have a network of hunting contacts that they utilize to get information. Information is everything. I can recall a number of times when a tip from a hunting buddy or forum changed the course of my hunt. Reach out, ask questions and get connected.

3. Methods and tactics-glassing, calling, ambush, spot and stalk

Photo credit Trail Kreitzer

ike a lot of you, I’m always searching and analyzing how Lpieces I can get better at hunting. There are so many parts and that go into a successful hunt: researching where to apply, where to scout, what gear to use, how can I shoot better, stay out longer, get to where I need to be quicker, where to hunt and how can I make the shot count when it presents itself—the list goes on and on. People’s strengths and interests vary and it’s easy to do the things that come easily to you. I’m certainly guilty of that. I love shooting my bow and I always seem to make time to shoot my bow for an hour or so every day. On the flip side, I have some holes in other areas that may be more important when it boils down to the actual hunt. The point is, it takes a lot of parts and pieces to find success and I would encourage you to think about where can you improve. It’s also had me thinking about what the most important pieces are for being successful. If you had to rank the elements of a consistently successful hunter, what would that look like? For me, my personal thoughts on it would look like this.

1. Application and tag strategy

(You can’t hunt if you don’t have a tag and you can’t kill a mature animal if none exist within the area you plan to hunt.) Some time spent researching up front will definitely pay dividends on the back end. I can’t say it enough, but goHUNT’s INSIDER research has truly changed the game.

2. Game knowledge and scouting

Knowledge of the game you hunt and scouting go hand in hand and are the second most important factors to me especially if you are trying to harvest a mature animal.

38 | Hunting & Fishing News

Number three and four are closely related and patience and persistence is a key piece of most hunting tactics. Another tactic or skill that sits at the core Calling elk in New Mexico with a Phelps E-Z-Estrus Elk Call. of all methods Photo credit Lorenzo Sartini whether it’s calling or spot and stalk—is an understanding of thermals and learning to play the wind. I can’t express how important thermals and reading the wind is to your success. Glassing technique is also extremely important in the more open mountainous and desert terrain. I remember talking to a fellow hunter a year ago that stated he had covered over 25 miles on foot over the past two days hunting spot and stalk mule deer in an area that is very conducive to glassing. Although I was impressed at his efforts, he’d seen very few deer and I wasn’t surprised. Use what the terrain gives you and, if it’s glassable, a good pair of tripod-mounted binoculars, good glassing technique and hours of persistent glassing are critical to finding and killing consistently. Calling is another area I am working to improve. As I have more opportunity to hunt in other states like Wyoming, New Mexico, Idaho or Colorado that have rut archery elk hunts, I am trying to add those tools to my skill set. Finally, whether it’s spot and stalk, ambush hunting or calling, patience is so important—important enough that I think it requires its own bullet point below.

4. Patience and persistence

When I think of patience and how it applies to hunting it’s most often associated with slowing down, sticking it out and putting the time in. I have a vivid memory of a 180” class buck blowing out of his bed at 24 yards after I had thrown a rock over him in an attempt to get him out of his bed.


I had sat there for three hours when I decided to throw the rock: I was hot, uncomfortable, and weak minded. Had I continued to sit, waiting until he stood on his own, I’m positive I would have harvested that buck. The best hunters I know are mentally tough, which is what it takes to stay engaged every day of a hunt. Hunting is hard. It’s like I told my wife last year during her first hunt: if you want to be successful you’re going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Stay persistent and be patient when it counts.

technical mountaineering clothing, lightweight durable backpacks and lightweight backpacking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, pads, food). All of these items in some way allows you to be more efficient whether that’s being able to stay out longer or make the shot that much more accurate when you take it. Hunting equipment continues to evolve and, all ethical arguments aside, good gear will help you be more successful.

5. Physical fitness

I’m not on the fitness bandwagon to the point that I’m going to tell you that if you can’t run sub-seven-minute miles for five miles and squat 350 lbs that there is no way you can be a successful hunter every year. Being in the best physical shape you can be in will increase the number of chances you’ll get to be successful though. The biggest difference I’ve observed is that a physically fit individual won’t hesitate to try a stalk or make a play on an animal even if they know that it’s likely they will be unsuccessful and have a long hike back out. It takes chances to harvest and the more chances you can give yourself, the better you will do.

This is one I have thought about quite a lot. It would seem that proficiency with your weapon would be much higher on the list because when it boils right down to it, the shot itself is what kills the animal. The reality is that the best hunters I know are not world class shooters. Sure, they are good enough and they practice with their weapon, but if they had a choice between spending a Saturday in July scouting or shooting a local 3D, undoubtedly, they are out glassing and getting to know their hunt area. Shoot as much as you can, but, if your primary goal is to harvest a trophy buck or bull, finding one and knowing as much as you can about it is more important.

Is hunting equipment all that important? Without hesitation, I would say that it is. It could even be farther up the list perhaps. It’ll be interesting to see what you all think. I regularly tell people that if you have a dollar to spend beyond your hunting license and your weapon, spend it on optics. In my opinion, good glass isn’t important—it’s essential for western hunting. There have been real advancements in hunting gear technology—a lot of which will increase your opportunities and improve your chances of success. A few off the top of my head that make a tremendous difference: rangefinders, GPS with layers,

There are probably a few more, but the bulk of what I believe it takes to be successful are wrapped up in those seven keys. If I were to sum it up in a couple sentences I would say: do the research, get a license, scout and make connections. Study your game, work on your methodology, build persistence and patience. Get in shape, which is a great way to build mental toughness and persistence. Get the best gear you can afford and practice with it. Become proficient with it, but don’t forget about and forego the other steps required in lieu of what’s enjoyable or easy. Finally, have some fun. Enjoy the moments and highs and lows along the way...

6. Gear

7. Proficiency with your weapon

IN CONCLUSION

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Hunting & Fishing News | 39


ElkNut

The DVD series is absolutely awesome. You can purchase individual DVD’s for specific scenarios or just grab an entire set. They also have bugles and a playbook in written or audio formats. They are one of the longest standing authorities and resources available and have a loyal following that speaks to the effectiveness of their products.

Elk 101

Photo Ryan McSparran

WANT TO BE AN EXPERT AT CALLING ELK?

- Use These Resources To Up Your Game By Zach Lazzari Lazy J Bar O Outfitters www.lazyjbaro.com

alling elk successfully requires hours of practice and C study. It’s not a skill learned overnight and mentorship makes a huge difference on the learning curve. If you’re

going on a guided archery elk hunt with Lazy J Bar O Outfitters this year, be sure and soak it up from your guide – don’t hesitate to ask questions. There’s no better lesson than in the field. If you don’t have an expert to train under, there are a few DVD and online courses available that are worth the dough. Spend the time leading into the season practicing with one or more of the top available resources. Everyone has a slightly different style and it pays to learn from all of them while developing your own nuances and style in the field.

These guys have excellent reviews for their online course, some of which come from top tier hunters. Their Elk University has 15 modules that cover every aspect of an elk hunt, including calling (module 9). The comprehensive courses uses a combination of written content, photos, audio and video for instruction. It really doesn’t matter where you sit on the experience spectrum, you will learn something from this course. It begins with the planning phase and ends with the packing phase of your hunt. The ability to easily access all of the content through their member portal makes it an attractive option.

Roe Hunting

They have a great library of videos only accessible with a membership. The courses are separated between turkey and elk with the option to purchase separately or as a package. You can also choose an annual package or a quarterly membership. The quarterly option is perfect for summer practice as you prepare for the rut and fall hunts. They cover bull and cow calls in a variety of scenarios while really diving into the different aspects of behavior. They cover locating elk and have an 8-part series dedicated to understanding elk calling habits and re-thinking the common approaches to calling during the rut. For information on guided Montana elk hunts with Lazy J Bar O Outfitters call 406-932-5687, visit www.lazyjbaro.com or drop them an email at https://www.lazyjbaro.com/contact-us/

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Directions: Take I-90 to Exit 101 in Missoula. Drive 1⁄4 mile north to 5705 Grant Creek Road. accessible with RV parking. Open year round. For information, call 406-523-4545 or 866-266-7750 or visit www.rmef.org.


5 TIPS FOR GLASSING UP MORE BEARS THIS SPRING (continued from page 28)

S outhwest Montana Chapter

32nd ANNUAL BANQUET

FUNDRAISER Saturday, April 6th AND

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Photo credit: Dan Wilde

Granted, if you find a bear that far off, you’re likely not going to be able to get to it that same night if you have to descend thousands of feet first. Regardless, it is going to help you focus in on where exactly the bears are located and, then, you can move in closer the following day.

4. FIND BEAR SCAT Now, this tip likely doesn’t apply as much to the steep and deep canyons as it does to the gradual slope areas with closed logging roads. While I prefer to hunt the steep country for bears, areas with closed logging roads and clear cuts can be extremely productive as well. Often, while walking these roads, you will find spots that are absolutely covered in multiple piles of bear scat. If you find a spot like this—with scat that is both fresh and old—you can almost guarantee that a bear will be back. If you can find a spot nearby to watch that area there is a great chance you will glass up a bear. The only problem is that these logging roads are often in such thick areas that it can be hard to find a good place to glass it from.

5. GET COMFY AND BE PATIENT Lastly, do your best to get comfortable and be patient. Bear hunting can be a lot of hard work, punctuated by a lot of time spent sitting behind your glass with boredom creeping in. When I key in on a great glassing spot, I will sit in the exact spot for an entire day—if not multiple days. It can be tempting to feel like you are being lazy and need to hike, but glassing from a spot where you can see a lot of good country is absolutely going to be the most efficient way to find a bear. In order to be able to sit that long, do anything you can to make it enjoyable and comfortable. Bring a glassing pad to make those long sits more bearable. Also, mounting your binoculars on a tripod is going to make glassing for extended periods of time extremely more comfortable and help reduce fatigue. Bring snacks, dress warm, and take shifts napping with your hunting buddy. Do anything you can to help yourself be patient enough to stick with it because if you can stay focused and glass good bear country for an extended period of time, you will glass up more bears. And, once you do that, it’s time to make a stalk.

$100 general raffle tickets, 5 Les Schwab raffle tickets, 5 progressive raffle tickets, and 5 elk country raffle tickets. A $250.00 value for $150.00 ( Pre-banquet price only). Tickets must be purchased in advance. Not sold at the door.

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For Tickets, Sponsor Or Banquet Information please call Tony Roth at 406-490-5301 If you would like to donate items for use at our banquet as an auction or raffle item please call Sonya at 406-565-1985

BASIL, FENNEL AND ROSEMARY GRILLED TROUT By Lindsey Bartosh a 12 Gauge Girl

www.huntingandcooking.com

Ingredients:

3 to 4 anchovy filets 4 to 5 sprigs fresh rosemary 4 to 5 leafy ends of fennel bulb One stick softened butter, unsalted Handful fresh basil leaves, slightly torn 4 rainbow trout, skinned but still on bones

Instructions:

Preheat outdoor grill to high heat. Take stick of softened butter and, using a fork, mash the anchovy filets with the butter. Continuing working until filets are evenly mixed into butter. Set aside. On a large piece of foil, place the sprigs of fresh herbs. Tear the basil leaves slightly, as this helps to release the flavors of the leaf. I created one large packet to cook all of my trout at one time. You could also individual wrap the trout in their own packets, using two sprigs of fresh herbs per packet. Slather the fish with generous portions of the butter. Carefully fold the packet closed, taking care to ensure there are no holes for the steam to escape from. Place packet directly on grill and cook for 15 minutes. The packet should puff up and you can hear the butter boiling when the fish is done. Enjoy!!!!

Hunting & Fishing News | 41


Twenty Pre-Season Turkey Tips By Jay Anglin

ild turkeys are almost as fickle as the springtime weather W we experience while hunting them. These and other factors often combine to limit opportunities for turkey-hunting

success to just a few hours of hunting per season. Solid preparation is imperative. Serious turkey hunters are prepared to deal with any situation and leave nothing to chance. Turkey hunting is a fairly simple affair from a gear standpoint, but there are still plenty of things to consider prior to the season. Don’t wait until the day before the season begins to get organized. Here are 20 tips to help ensure you’re prepared for opening day. •Inspect and try on clothing and footwear. It may be time to replace a faded pair of hunting pants or leaky boots. While turkeys aren’t known for their sense of smell, deer are. Nervous whitetails have ruined countless turkey hunts when they blew and ran right as Ol’ Tom was strutting into the decoys. If you are shopping for new turkey duds, consider buying lightweight scent-control apparel like any one of ScentLok’s many Early Season designs. •Packable rain suits are game changers when faced with crummy weather. Check for rips and tears that need mending. This vital piece of gear is often put away wet and ends up having that smell. This is a great time to wash them. Run and gun hunters who don’t have a rain suit should seriously consider the investment. •Use a large tote such as a Plano Sportsman’s Trunk to store clothing critical gear so you’re always organized and ready to go. If you want to keep your clothing as scent-free as possible, keep it in the ozone and activated carbon-powered OZ Chamber 8k Storage Bag by ScentLok. •Remove everything from your turkey vest and make sure the zippers and buckles are working okay, and repair as needed. Again, they don’t last forever and it may be time for a new one. •Wash or replace that stinky facemask and make sure you have a backup or two available. •Go through calls and make sure all of them are in working order - prep them for active duty. Diaphragm calls are often in poor condition and need to be replaced. Take an inventory of what you need and stock up. Keep worn-in mouth calls you’ve practiced with in your vest ready to hunt and have

42 | Hunting & Fishing News

extras available. •Be sure your vest has other essentials such as biodegradable wipes, insect repellent, lens wipes and an energy bar or two. •It’s always good to have backup items such as camo gloves and facemasks, especially if you plan on taking others hunting. •Pattern your shotgun(s). Try to replicate actual hunting conditions when possible by wearing full head camo, vest and boots. Shoot while leaning against a backrest like you would during an actual hunt. •Pattern guns with different loads and choke combos. Inexperienced hunters and youths who may have difficulty holding the gun steady should consider using a slightly more open choke that offers a bigger pattern inside of 30 yards. Practice in the comfort zone, not ridiculously long ranges that increase the odds of missing or wounding birds. •Practice with lighter loads that don’t promote a flinch. Use the big stuff during the actual hunt. Smaller statured hunters should consider using a lighter 20 gauge that offers less weight and reduced recoil. •Clean and adjust your binoculars so they work perfectly for you. If they aren’t working properly or have terrible optics, consider buying some good ones. Also, reputable manufacturers back their glass with great warranties. If your good ones aren’t functioning properly contact the company to learn about your options. •Devices that protect your binoculars and keep them close to your chest are great for turkey hunting. Specialized products like the Tenzing TZ OSS15 are invaluable for protecting quality glass during the hunt. •Trim your decoys down to what you really use and keep them in the big tote or available in your vehicle. Today’s decoys work better because they are incredibly realistic. Some are also durable, collapsible and fit neatly into a provided carry bag, such as the broad range of poses and sub-species available in Avian-X’s LCD series. Turkeys aren’t getting any dumber, so it’s time to get serious about your decoys. •Even if you don’t hunt from a ground blind often, have one ready for inclement weather or when you have a fidgety hunting partner. They’re also great for early season hunts when there isn’t a lot of vegetation for cover. Select one that has enough room for two or three hunters like the innovative new Ameristep Distorter. Run and gun turkey hunters can also benefit from the fast and highly portable concealment afforded by a smaller three panel blind like the Ameristep Throwdown Blind. This ultra portable model weighs less than two pounds and fits easily into a turkey vest. •If you hunt public land, make sure no rules have changed since last season. •If you hunt private land, be sure and check-in with landowners. Ask if anybody else is hunting, where you can and cannot park, etc. •If you plan on traveling, be sure you can get permits. Some states offer leftovers; if you missed the draw or didn’t get in, there still may be hope. •Consistently successful turkey hunters never leave well enough alone when it comes to hunting spots. Do your homework and scout the countryside. Always shoot for a net gain of hunting property with each new season. •Last but not least, start scouting religiously. Be there early to listen to birds before fly down and then take a ride and see where they are spending time. Do the same in the afternoon. Right before the season, roost a few gobblers to make sure you have options on opening morning. Turkey hunting may seem like a simple affair, but most hunters should expect to get out what they put in. With a little bit of preparation and planning, the success factor increases tremendously. Good luck on opening morning.

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3 Things To Look For In A Sleeping Bag For Your Next Hunt By Ryan McSparran www.kawdyoutfitters.com

Photo courtesy Ryan McSparran

n a remote hunting trip,...having a quality sleeping bag O serves a few major benefits. The most obvious upside is comfort. But a high quality sleep system will also be

lightweight and take up less room in your backpack or duffel. Quality sleeping bags provide a higher warmth-to-weight ratio. If you are preparing for a combo hunt in B.C., or a hunt in any remote location, here are three critical things that you should look for in a sleeping bag. 1. Quality Materials The best sleeping bags are made with the best materials. While many sleeping bags may look alike, materials and construction make a world of difference. Start by looking at sleeping bag manufacturers that have a reputation for quality. This starts with the bag’s fill.

44 | Hunting & Fishing News

Premium down is by far the lightest and warmest option in fill materials for sleeping bags. Some examples of quality manufacturers include (but aren’t limited to), Western Mountaineering, Marmot and Big Agnes. It’s true that synthetic materials offer more moisture resistance than down. However, synthetic bags can’t compete with the light weight and warmth of down. Additionally, synthetics won’t last as long if you use your bag regularly. Many hunters worry about using down, particularly in wet climates like British Columbia, because down loses its insulative properties if it gets wet. But most manufacturers now use water-resistant down or down/synthetic blends that repel water. These are probably the best options, since they offer the best of both worlds. Be aware that the difference between high quality and low quality down is massive. Look for sleeping bags with 800 or 900-fill down. The higher the fill power, the fewer feathers it takes to achieve the same warmth. For example, imagine two comparable 15-degree F sleeping bags, one is filled with 850-fill down and the other with 600-fill down. The lower quality bag might require a stuff sack that’s twice as big, and weigh nearly twice as much. Finally, the face or shell fabric of any sleeping bag should also be lightweight and water resistant. High quality face fabrics aren’t cheap, but they are a critical part of your sleeping bag’s construction. 2. Warmth When you start with a sleeping bag that’s made with high quality down and materials, you might be surprised how warm a sleeping bag can be that weighs so little and packs so small. For a typical mountain hunt, we’d recommend a sleeping bag with a temperature rating between +15F (-10C) to 0F (18C). If you’re a warm sleeper, go with the higher temperature rating to save space and weight. Bags rated for colder temperatures require more fill. You want to sleep comfortably, but remember that the more fill you add, your sleeping bag will get heavier and bulkier. 3. Weight and Compression As we’ve already mentioned, sleeping bags with the best materials and technology will weigh less and compress smaller. The higher that warmth-to-weight ratio, the better. When comparing two sleeping bags side-by-side with the same temperature rating and one is much cheaper than the other, the cost is almost always a factor of weight and compression size. A quality sleeping bag that’s warm enough for a wilderness hunt will typically weigh between two and three pounds. A good bag will keep you warm and comfortable on a multi-day hunt in the Canadian bush, plus, it will be easy to carry wherever your travels take you. Sleeping Pads Like sleeping bags, a good sleeping pad is a sum of its materials, weight and packability. For early season hunts, consider the Thermarest NeoAir XLite. The XLite is extremely lightweight and comfortable. For hunts later in the season, we recommend the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm. The XTherm adds a little insulation for comfort in colder weather. A full-length pad is the most comfortable, but a ¾ length pad will work great and save weight, particularly on early season stone sheep and mountain goat hunts. For information on guided hunts with Kawdy Outfitters call 250-306-8624 (Oct.15-July) and 604-629-9582 (July-Oct 15) or visit www.kawdyoutfitters.com


FISH JIGS TO LOCATE SPRING WALLEYES Photo Northland Tackle

W

By Team Northland Pro-Staffer Bob Jensen www.northlandtackle.com

alleye anglers taking to the water for the first time after the ice clears from their favorite lakes generally know where to start looking for fish—those post-spawners set up in shallow, warm feeding areas near the rivers or shorelines that recently held their interest. A lake of any size will typically feature a number of potential hotspots, however, and they can be fairly large. Then, it becomes a matter of pinpointing concentrations of walleyes. I like to do it by fishing fairly quickly with a jig-and-minnow, or even something like a Slurp!® Jig Head and Impulse® Swim’n Grub. Because I typically focus on depths 10 feet or less, I go with a 1/8-ounce head of one color and a 3-inch grub body of a contrasting color, say pink-and-white or orange-and-chartreuse. If there are two anglers in the boat, each should start with a different combo until the walleyes start showing a preference for a certain shade or combination of colors. The retrieve is slow and steady; you don’t want to hop or twitch the jig too much. Just swim it slowly near the bottom as you probe the entire area. When you catch a couple of fish from a particular spot, it’s time to slow down and really work it hard with a jig-and-minnow. If the bottom contains some rock, cobble or other debris, I go with a 1/16-ounce Fire-Ball® Jig and minnow and crawl it as much as possible. On a sandy bottom, I’ll simply drag an 1/8-ounce Stand-Up Fire-Ball® Jig

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Profile for Amy Haggerty

Montana Hunting & Fishing News - March 2019  

Trev's Top 3 - Where to Fish in Montana in March, Deer Season Is Over: Learn From Your Mistakes, In-State Vs Out-of-State Hunting, Favorite...

Montana Hunting & Fishing News - March 2019  

Trev's Top 3 - Where to Fish in Montana in March, Deer Season Is Over: Learn From Your Mistakes, In-State Vs Out-of-State Hunting, Favorite...