Montana Hunting & Fishing News - November 2016

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HUNTING & F Montana

November 2016



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© Keith Livingston |


Elk Hunting High Pressure Areas H&F News Pro Staff


lk are like most deer species in that they have remarkable senses, and as the first shots of rifle season ring out, these elk will start to make their way to heavy cover. Big bull elk will be in survival mode, and start to group up and head to the thickest slice of timber they have in their home range. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find them. A hunter who is willing to go that little extra this time of the year, should get a crack at a bull or a cow to fill the freezer. We’ve penciled out a few thoughts on hunting during the big game rifle season after these elk have gone through bow season, and now know that their woods are starting to get a bit crowded and loud.

Here’s how we hunt elk. The morning hunt.

Be in a glassing/ambush location well before light. This should be a spot high on a ridge or point that overlooks a lot of country, has some open feeding areas, and/or watering area near it, and a saddle or bench that pushed elk might cross when other hunters start up from areas below you. This spot should be at least a mile from roads or major trails. Start glassing as soon as you have light, enjoy the sunrise and watch the openings and timber edges first, if you spot elk and have time to plan and execute a stalk, do so. If the elk are heading fast for cover and you have no shot, mark the exact spot where they went into cover. If you hear shooting in your area, be ready in case they happen to flee in your direction. If you can stop them with a sharp cow call, do it. Maybe you can get a good shot off at your bull. Sometimes, it pays to stay in a good elk ambush area all day and glass, especially if there are elk in the area. (continued on page 8) November 2016


©Steven Oehlenschlager|/



F rom Kansas to Virginia to Canada, 90 percent of the adult does will come into estrus and be bred from roughly November 5-20, regardless of

moon phase or weather. It’s been that way for decades in the Northern two-thirds of North America, and will continue to be that way forever. Take off anytime from Halloween through Thanksgiving, and you’ll hunt some phase of the rut. Anytime you hunt rutting deer you are going to have a good time, and with the potential to shoot a big buck. But I do believe that some days and weeks are better than others each year, according to when the various phases of the “rutting moon” occur each November. I base this on two things. One, 30 years of hunting and observing whitetails as they seek, chase and breed each November. And two, my keen interest in all things lunar, and how the four phases might affect deer movement. I read all the moon research I can get my hands on, and then compare that data to my field notes. The most recent study on the moon and its effects on whitetail movement was conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University. Researchers tracked GPS-collared deer throughout the four lunar phases, and analyzed text messages sent from those collars to determine when the does and bucks moved the most–and the least. I cross-referenced the study’s findings with my field notes, and found some similarities and common ground. I’ll use that to make predictions on how and when the deer will move around and rut this November. October 30, 2016: New Moon The NC State study confirmed one fact we already know: Whitetails are crepuscular, which means they are active mostly at dawn and dusk, regardless of moon phase. “That fact did not change,” says researcher Marcus Lashley, who headed the study. “But the intensity of movement in each period when the deer decided to move did change.” In some moon phases the deer were noticeably more active at dawn than they were at dusk. The new (dark) moon is example of that. “We saw a large peak of movement at daylight during this phase, and below average movement the rest of the day and night,” Lashley notes. In any given year the first week of November is one of the best times to bowhunt for a big deer; hundreds of giants are arrowed this week across North America. If you take off this week, hunt all day every day, because you never know. But remember the new science that says with the moon new and dark and waxing crescent, bucks will be most active at daylight. Get on stand extra early and hunt the mornings extra hard. November 7, 2016: First-Quarter Moon The NC State study found that during the first-quarter moon, deer move less on average throughout the day than in all the other phases. Researcher Lashley goes so far as to say, “That would be a good seven days to work.” This is where I totally disagree with the science. Looking back to my notes and past blogs, it is no secret that many huge bucks are killed every year during the peak-rut window of November 8-14. This is always a good week to take off work! (continued on page 19)

6 - Hunting & Fishing News

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This is a neglected time to harvest an elk. At this time, you’ll need to make a decision. If you have seen nothing and heard no shots fired, you may want to hike or drive to a new location for the evening hunt, or you may want to stay put if your faith in this area is high, or you may choose to try and ghost through some dark timber and try to get close to elk there. This can be difficult to pull off in heavy timber, and understand that you may push the elk further away, but you may also get your shot at a bull that’s tucked away and thinks he’s out of harm’s way. Again, if you can plan and execute a stalk, do it. Otherwise, remember everything you have seen so far, so a plan can be formed for the evening hunt. Now is the time to take a few minutes to eat and get fueled back up.

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Based on what you saw in the morning and mid-day, you should have several ideas for the evening’s effort. If you spotted elk entering the timber, and they have not been disturbed, set-up nearby and wait for them to start trickling out just before dark to feed. This often happens, but not always, so keep a sharp eye on all of your open areas and remember to keep track of the wind direction, as it changes with the falling temperatures. If you have seen no elk or fresh sign that day, you may want to try a different glassing location for your evening hunt. Regardless of where you end up, stay put and glass constantly until it is dark. Enjoy the sunset and then hike out, and make your plan for the next day.

Elk can cover great distances very quickly, and if the hunting pressure is heavy, or some other factor has moved them out, you must be willing to find them. Stay mentally tough.

This is the most critical aspect to elk hunting success. You may go several days without seeing elk and begin to feel discouraged. Your body may be sore, you might be tired, and the mornings may be getting colder and come earlier.

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Remember, the mountain may bless you with good fortune at any moment. Enjoy all the aspects of your hunt; the views, the smells, the comradery with your hunting partner(s). Killing an elk is why you are there, but not the only reason. So, keep at it, and remember that you are hunting, not shooting. Months from now, when you are snug in your own home, you will at least be able to feel the pride in your efforts, whether you harvest an elk or not. Good hunting.

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November 2016


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F all fishing has a cult following in Montana. Die hard anglers visit the Big Sky state in October every year hoping to hook up with the fish

of a lifetime. For a variety of reasons, most angler put their fall fishing eggs in the October basket and ignore the late fall. Rivers in November are virtually empty with most of the locals hunting and out of state anglers gone for the season. The truth is that November holds some of the very best fly fishing opportunities for huge fish both in Montana and in Yellowstone National Park. November certainly presents some risks for bad weather and early cold fronts and lodging options become more limited with most fishing lodges closing shop at the end of October. Our guides absolutely love November - partly because they finally get to fish on their own but also because it is the best month to catch the largest trout of the year. I get pretty nervous about steering guests towards a November trip due to the risk of weather, but for those folks traveling to Montana for other reasons or if you don’t mind colder weather November can be incredible. The biggest draw of late season fishing is the chance at hooking the monster brown trout of a life time. Browns are fall spawners and let their guard down in October and November. While spawning begins as early as October the peak spawning month is November with some browns spawning into December. Not only do the big resident browns in rivers become more aggressive in the fall, but in many streams browns out of large lakes run into streams and rivers and suddenly become accessible. While there are still some 30” plus browns that reside year round in the Madison, Jefferson, Missouri, Yellowstone and a few others in the state - many of the big trout (we consider anything over 23” to be really, really big) spend their summers in lakes getting fat on large food supplies without fighting currents. These big lake run browns don’t show up until early October and continue moving into rivers well into November. Many of our guides are convinced that the biggest lake run browns are the last to enter the system. Keep in mind that we are not advocating fishing on redds (large “cleaned” gravel areas where trout lay and then protect their eggs), but simply recognizing that big browns are moving well into November and often not actually spawning until late November or even December. Brian McGeehan with a 25” Lake Run Brown (continued on page 32)

November 2016 11

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itting in a tree stand, while effective, can be a mind numbing and bone chilling effort. Those of us who suffer from hunting ADD prefer to have boots on the ground looking for deer. The noise of walking through the woods, combined with the movement of your body, though, give deer ample warnings and often the only sign of a buck you see is a white tail running through the woods, oddly resembling a middle finger.

“Still hunting” can be an incredibly effective way for restless hunters to pursue game, however, as long as you have the right gear, techniques and a proper application of patience.

Jim Durfee is an avid bow hunter in southern Utah and the founder of SneekTec, a company that makes noise dampening boot covers for still hunters. Below, Durfee shares his best tips to help you find hunting success with boots on the ground, instead of going stir crazy in a tree stand. Know the area you hunt, intimately. Durfee said you need to know the topography of the area you are hunting. Access points and game trails are like veins and arteries, leading to the heart of where bucks and bulls live. 12 - Hunting & Fishing News

Topography isn’t the only thing you need to understand, however. Durfee said you also need to know the terrain of where you’re hunting as to better know what kind of land you will be stalking on and which camo patterns will match. Always have your bow, or rifle, ready. Durfee keeps his rifle unslung while still hunting, and prefers to use open sights for a more traditional feel and for the quick shots that come with still hunting. Durfee will also keep an arrow nocked while bow hunting depending on the terrain. In thick timber and brush, Durfee keeps his arrows in the quiver because the risk of having your arrow catch a branch and swing off your rest is too great. Wait for a light rain. Durfee prefers light rains not only for the quiet they create in the forest, but for the effect it has on the animals too. While you may be wearing a brimmed hat to keep the water out of your eyes, Durfee said without this technology animals may have their heads down more often to keep the water out of their eyes. Learn a new definition of slow. Go slow, like painfully. This seems obvious, but you need to blend in with the stationary bushes Durfee said. Possibly more important though is to keep your sound down. While deer are great at seeing anything that doesn’t belong in their woods, they can’t see it if their back is turned. Their hearing, on the other hand, works 360 degrees. So if you’re creeping through the woods and getting lapped by snails, you’re probably still going too fast. Learn to cope with going slow. It can be mind numbing, but you need to do everything in your power to stay focused and keep that slow pace. Durfee admits to occasionally stopping and messing around with his phone, when he feels he’s starting to speed up. The patience of walking slow is a learned skill and you need to do whatever it takes to stay slow, even if it means stopping and drawing in the dirt for a while. It’s all about your clothing in the thick brush. The main source of noise through the brush is leaves and branches scraping across your clothes. It’s a very unnatural sound. Durfee suggests getting a soft material pullover to wear when traveling through the brush. Performance clothing, he said, are great and have excellent camo patterns, but those patterns won’t do any good if you’re too loud.

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Still hunt to your stand. Even if you’re using a tree stand, or ground blind, take your time getting there. In the dark of early morning you never know what you may bump in front of you, and you certainly wouldn’t be the first hunter to tag out before you even got in the stand (within legal shooting hours of course). Snapping a twig isn’t the end of the world. You will eventually snap a twig under your boot and it will make you cringe, but instead of cursing, or giving up, just freeze. If you sit and listen in the woods you will notice that twigs snap all the time. Squirrels, deer and wind can all cause loud noises and animals are used to this. The snap may alert nearby animals, but the longer you wait silently, the more time the animals have to relax. If you snap that dreaded twig with a deer in your sights, the hunt becomes more difficult, but still not impossible. Durfee said

to freeze, avoid eye contact and watch the animals body language and wait for it to relax. More importantly, however, look around for other animals you have alerted. Deer are seldom alone, Durfee said, and more often than not it’s the deer you don’t see that will ruin your hunt.

Keep those feet flat. Durfee stresses staying off your toes, or your heels when Sneaking. Durfee said when you press your foot down flat and controlled, your weight is properly distributed across the terrain. Sticks and twigs, which would normally snap under the focused pressure of one side of your foot, may not break with your weight spread out. Cover your skin. Durfee advices covering every inch of skin on your body. Bare skin will stick out like a sore thumb in the woods and prey species will be able to pick up on that quickly. Maybe more important may be your eyes, though. Try using a facemask combined with a brimmed hat, pulled over your eyes a little to hide your natural predator face. Pack, or no pack? Durfee understands how cumbersome a backpack can be when trying to move silent through the woods, but to him the pros dwarf the cons. Durfee said the gear he can put in his

pack more than makes up for the extra noise a pack will make when stalking. First aid, food and water are essential and may

not fit into anything less than a small backpack. Knives, game bags and flagging tape are other essentials that, combined with everything else, make up the bare minimum of what you need to bring on a hunt. Durfee even said his pack helps his posture and helps his balance when moving slow.

November 2016 13

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By Kyle Wintersteen, Managing Editor, Delta Waterfowl

D uck chatter rains down through the oaks of our beaver pond, shattering the stillness of the crisp December morning. Long, squealing wingbeats reveal an unmistakable cause for elation — these are not the wood ducks or gadwalls we’ve been enjoying, but the year’s first sizeable collection of mallards.

As a greeting call is issued, even I hear the anxiety in my notes. Yet the ducks swing back into the wind, cup their flashing underwings and pitch down through the trees. Just as I pick out a pair of drakes, someone voices the greatest two words in all the sporting life: “Take ’em!” Take ’em. It’s a less-than-articulate phrase, but I suspect you can’t utter it to yourself without feeling something — without sensing a tingling surge of adrenaline to your gut or reliving canvasbacks pouring in so many seasons ago. If you asked me why I pursue waterfowl, I’d probably note my fascination with the various waterfowl species, the dogs, the decoys, the sunrises, the history and so on. That’s an honest take, but a politically correct one. Let’s be frank: It is the Take ’Em Moment — when mallards are backpedaling over the decoys — that we all live for. The emotions felt in those precious seconds are unrivaled, and we seek to dwell in them as much as possible. That’s why our mounted ducks are so often depicted in cupped-and-committed fashion, even if their demise is owed to passing shots. A flying duck, however beautiful, does not speak to the duck hunter as one with outstretched wings. Waterfowl artists picked up on this long ago, and I assure you it’s not lost on magazine editors selecting cover photos.


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The sentiment is timeless. Take the portrayals of hunting on the walls of prehistoric dwellings. Frequently the subject is presented with implement drawn, preparing to unleash at beast or fowl. I’m no anthropologist, but this suggests to me that even when hunting was about survival, its participants were captivated by the Take ’Em Moment. It is ingrained in us, I argue, a natural and healthy aspect of human instinct. To be clear, the opportunity to shoot and, yes, to kill ducks is a component of the Take ’Em Moment, but it is not the overarching source of its thrill. It’s exceedingly more magical than that. We scout for opportune hunting areas and ensure not a decoy is out of place, and yet on the occasion that ducks hover over my decoys — no matter how many times it occurs — I’m equal parts elated and surprised. The ducks have traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or North Dakota, and they’ve selected my spread to descend upon. What are the odds? Despite the ducks and geese having the advantages of vision and instinct, here we are: It’s a Take ’Em Moment. And I will cherish every second.

©Steven Oehlenschlager|

MONTANA—GOOD WEATHER SPELLS GOOD HUNTING Pheasants Forever Forecast: Favorable crow counts and brood sightings, combined with generally mild winter and spring weather, suggest hunters will find average to better-than-average hunting though most of Montana’s pheasant range. “Should be a very good season,” says John Vore, game management bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. In region 6, ideal summer conditions have contributed to high production of young pheasants, especially in the far northeastern corner of the state. Much the same is true in region 4 in north-central Montana, except “those localized areas hit by weather events,” according to Region 4 Wildlife Manager Graham Taylor. (The loss of CRP acreage in the northern tier of regions 4 and 6 will hurt pheasant hunting in the long run.) In region 7 in the southeast, a mild winter contributed to good over-winter survival. Spring crow counts indicated a population 20 percent above the long-term average. Unfortunately, heavy thunderstorms during the peak hatching period may have trimmed nest and chick survival in local areas. Regions 5 and 3 in the south-central and southwestern part of the state also expect hunting better than last year. In region 1, wetter weather in spring and summer provided better habitat than last year’s. Production appears good on Ninepipe Wildlife Management Area. Conditions were also good in the Flathead Valley. Season Dates: October 8, 2016 through January 1, 2017 Daily Bag Limit: 3 Possession Limit: 9 November 2016 15



Mark Kayser rattling for whitetails. ©Mark Kayser

know. I know. Montana is a mule deer hunting paradise and whether you’re a resident or a nonresident, you likely think mule deer first during the deer season. What about that other species? Montana has a thriving whitetail population and when you combine deer calls into your hunt you’ll experience why Montana is made for calling whitetails. Montana’s firearm season expands the entire spectrum of the rut. Whitetails fill niches from border to border in Big Sky Country. Public lands abound across the state with whitetail opportunities. Why wouldn’t you try calling whitetails? 16 - Hunting & Fishing News

There are three main calls you should learn for whitetail calling success: buck vocalizations, doe vocalizations and antler rattling. Of course whitetail communication is not that simple. Research is ongoing, but if you keep your conversation simple, you’ll be more successful. As bucks begin spending more time alone in the pre-rut calling becomes effective with their territoriality and hunt for estrus does. Throughout the rut rely heavily on grunts and antler rattling in a consistent manner. Every 15 minutes is not too often to broadcast a message. Why so often? Whitetails roam during the rut. If a bedded buck hears you and doesn’t respond you’re out nothing. However, if a roaming buck crosses a ridge and doesn’t hear your calls it could pass by behind a screen of cedars if you don’t rattle, or grunt. You also want to incorporate the estrus bleat, an extension of the doe and fawn communication bleat. Rattling, grunts and bleats combined make a killer combination. Rattling lures in a buck from afar. Think of it as a long distance phone call. Grunts focus a deer on your approximate location and if the buck hangs up you can use bleats to complete the ruse. An incoming buck will think there is a fight going on over a hot doe and when it hears the related conversations he should roll right in. There is one more call you may want to use on occasion. Relatively new to the calling world is the snort-wheeze call that bucks use prior to a fight. When sizing up the competition, bucks walk parallel to each other and exhale viciously in a long hissing sound. It’s the most aggressive message a buck sends to a foe and it can lead to real antler clash. It’s the perfect finisher to a buck on the fence looking at your position. To minimize the amount of calls I carry into the woods I rely on Hunters Specialties Slam Talker deer call ( It produces grunts, bleats and the challenge of a snort wheeze call. For rattling I prefer real antlers. I have an addiction to the real thing and I’m not taking a 12-step program. If you want to minimize your cargo load further, consider a Heavy Horns rattling bag from Hunters Specialties... How long should you call? For me it depends on if deer are responding and then deciphering their mood. You should never call to a deer in full view of you unless you’re hidden better than a Sasquatch, the reigning hide and seek champ. In thick brush, where you suspect deer to be within 200 to 300 yards, rattling or a snort wheeze has the ability to draw bucks out. One rule of thumb I follow is if you believe deer are within that 200-yard distance, rattle your antlers briefly and then wait. If you see a deer appear at 100 yards or less you should probably stop rattling as they can focus clearly on that loud sound. If they hold up after that use grunts, bleats and the snort wheeze to jumpstart their motor. I prefer to call to deer with quick messages as they pass behind screens of vegetation or disappear behind a terrain feature. That way they can’t pinpoint my location and they stay on the hunt to find the faux whitetail. Weather conditions can change that rule though. Breezy conditions create additional background noise with banging branches and rustling leaves. Rain or snow also generates extra noise that deer need to sort through to focus on a single sound. Snow even absorbs sound. Moving deer crunch leaves in the woodland duff. Even the sounds of a nearby tractor in an adjacent field could disrupt the laser focus of a buck’s hearing. Use good judgment, but you still may be able to direct a deer for a close shot by calling to it in these conditions. Where is the best place to call Montana whitetails? Truthfully, you can call a buck from a heavy cottonwood river bottom or across a grassy pasture. The key to calling is to make a deer hunt for you. You have to call from cover or from behind terrain. If you call from an open position deer can see that there isn’t another deer and they may shy from the setup. I once called a buck across a wide-open pasture in a dense fog. It literally showed up in bow range, but I landed a Hornady SST ( perfectly and the buck left tagged in my truck bed. If mule deer are giving you fits or you’re ready for new excitement in your deer hunting season, consider calling whitetails. Montana is made for it. CONTACT INFORMATION: More hunting strategies from Mark at

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You Can Find Deer but They Can Find You Too By Dr. Grant Woods with John E. Phillips

T o locate deer, I’ll study the movement patterns of deer during the early bowhunting season. Often then the bucks will be moving as though they’re not disturbed. The three areas to concentrate on when you’re looking for deer in November are places where deer eat, drink and bed before the rut. A mature buck in November will be in what I call a secure area where he doesn’t believe he’ll see a hunter or thinks he can escape before the hunter sees or takes him. A secure area may be only a small trash pile out in the middle of a 40-acre field where the buck can smell and see in all directions. Finding a big buck is only half the battle. You must make sure he doesn’t find you before you locate him. From the studies I’ve done, the most-effective way to discover a nice November buck is to scout from the skinning shed, a technique I’ve learned when my company, Woods and Associates, removes nuisance deer from golf courses, airports and other places. We take the maximum number of deer possible in the shortest time. As a member of a hunting lease, or when hunting on public lands where deer are checked in and sometimes field dressed, you quickly and easily can learn where and how to see the most deer by being at the skinning shed. Carefully looking at the deer’s stomach contents, can tell you exactly what that deer’s been eating. Remember, deer are unequivocally slaves to their guts. Each week you hunt, your hunt needs to start in the skinning shed, because the information you gather there will tell you what deer are feeding on right now and at what time. Next you need to determine when deer are eating. I’ll usually split the deer’s esophagus to learn what he’s eaten just before being harvested. Further back in the stomach is where we’ll find other food content. If the deer has grass in his mouth or in his esophagus, he’s been feeding at the closest time to his harvest on a grass or an alfalfa field. If we discover honeysuckle lower in the stomach and then see acorns further back in the stomach, the deer’s eaten that before he’s reached the fields. This knowledge enables the hunter to arrange his morning and afternoon stands in the areas providing these foods. Something we’ve learned by scouting from the skinning shed is that one of the deer’s preferred foods is mushrooms. I believe and so does retired deer researcher Dr. Larry Marchinton from the University of Georgia, that deer become addicted to hallucinogenic mushrooms. Marchinton and I have found that deer will disregard danger to reach those mushrooms when they come up after a rain.

The more diverse the habitat you’re hunting, the more critical having different stands for mornings and evenings becomes. Rarely will you find a deer eating in the same places in the mornings that he eats at in the evenings. But if you pinpoint a two-way bottleneck with tracks going in both directions, definitely hang a stand, and hunt there all day... 18 - Hunting & Fishing News

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(continued from page 6) That said, I mention this. On and around November 10 every season, especially in the Midwest, the “lockdown” hits in many areas as mature bucks hole up in covers and tend and breed does. Couple that with the data that says the overall deer activity will diminish during the first-quarter moon and things could get tough. Friend and big-buck hunter Mark Drury, a moon fanatic like me, concurs. “Look for the lockdown in mid-November to be fairly tough, but once bucks start to free up around the 14th, and with the full moon coming on, I think the buck movement will be quite good at all times of the day.” November 14, 2016: Full Moon Mark Drury texted me recently and said: “I think this year’s rut will be a little better than last year’s, good if temperatures are normal or below, but not great. I’m looking most forward to November 14-18 and I will sit all day. Daylight activity could be really good right then.” For the last several years Drury and I have texted back and forth from tree stands across America, talking about the moon and what we’re seeing. Turns out we’re both working on and adding to a new theory—mature bucks move great during the day in and around the full moon in November. Of course this flies in the face of what many of you have read for years and believe–that deer are most active at night during a big moon, and therefore move less in daylight, and thusly the full moon is bad for hunting. But I believe we’re on to something, because the more I hunt during the rutting moon across the U.S. and Canada, the more mature bucks I seem to see wandering around the woods, or chasing does. Mark agrees. We are not scientists so we can’t give you any hard data to that end, we just know we like hunting the full moon more and more. Marcus Lashley is a scientist, and his findings on the full moon back us up, at least somewhat. “A common misconception is that deer can see better at night (and hence move all over the place) because it’s brighter when the moon is full. But according to our data they actually move less on average at night during a full moon and more during the middle of the day, and also earlier in the evenings,” he says. While Mark Drury is only so-so on the 2016 rut, I’m more optimistic. I see things setting up to be pretty good during the moon that waxes full on November 14. Many of the old bucks will be coming out of lockdown around then, and as they go back on the prowl for more does, some of them will move long and hard from around 11:00 a.m. until dark each day. Plan to get on stand by 9:00 a.m. and hunt till dark. November 21, 2016: Last-Quarter Moon Later on in November is tough and unpredictable any season. The breeding is winding down, and weary bucks have been pressured for two months. Simple math says there are fewer bucks in the woods because a number of them were harvested earlier in the season. But there is still hope. According to the NC State researchers, from a moon perspective, the deer movement should be best from November 21 until the end of the month. “If you are going to hunt the last hour of the day anytime this season, you should do it on the last quarter because that was the most extreme deer movement we saw during the whole study.” Try this. Set an afternoon stand near a secluded, thick-cover funnel that leads out to a crop field where you know some does are feeding. A skittish, weary buck is still ready and willing to breed any last doe that will give him a chance. You might just shoot one yet as he sneaks out to check the girls in the last wisps of light. Good luck and let me know how you do moon-wise this fall. Photo

November 2016 19

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Oh boy, the adrenaline is on and pumping as I head for my first tournament on one of the premier channel catfish

destinations, The Grand Forks part of the Red River. I had been talking to Captain Brad Durrick for quite some time through Facebook. It started with a simple add, as a friend, then we chatted at some length about catfishing in general. Soon after, I had the opportunity to meet him in the early spring as he had come to Montana for some seminar work. Of course we jumped in my boat, and I showed him the free flowing Yellowstone. We had some good fishing despite a cold and rainy trip. Now it was my turn. As my wife and kids and I headed to The Boundary Battle, my mind ran wild imagining all the big fish I was going to catch. Upon arrival, Captain was there to greet me and show me where all the boat ramps were. I was so excited, the wife and I went out that first night to try and get into the night bite. After several hours, we headed back to the hotel, without a single nibble. So we move into day two and day three. I fished, and fished hard. We both did. To no avail. Where were these big fish I had been dreaming of? Finally, the Captain had the opportunity to take me out, and show me his river. As we fished, I sat, I watched, I learned. Captain takes us to our first stop, with a slow bite and a couple small fish, I could then see the determination in his eyes to get me on a fatty. So we move, talking the whole time, he gave me almost constant advice on the river he runs on a daily basis. And, yes it did pay off. The discussion works to distract me, and before I know it, my rod bends in half. Like a ninja, I picked the rod up, and it was game on! I fought and reeled, worried at any moment the fish was going to spit the hook and wink at me as it swam away. Not today, I probably mumbled aloud, with nothing on my mind but seeing the beast. When she came out of the water, I knew my eyes were huge. She was beautiful. “16.4 lbs,” were the next words I heard the Captain say. “My new personal best,” I blurted out. Captain Brad, is one of the finest channel cat chasers I know. He is a full time guide, seminar speaker, magazine and book writer, and I was honored to be in his boat, catching a fish of a lifetime. Please check him out at Make your way to the Red, and let him know I sent ya! The best times to fish the Red are generally the spring and fall for bigger fish. June into July is a typical spawn bite, with BIG fish, but tends be be a slower bite. Below the dam (which is down river) in Grand Forks, structure, such as laid down trees are easy to locate compared to above. There is not a heavy current like we have here on the Yellowstone, so being able to pick water apart can make finding fish a bit easier. Current seams always tend to have a deeper section. Above the dam (up river) is a drastic change. There is not much available noticeable structure, a good fish finder is key, as is time to down scan fish holding areas. Frogs, suckers, goldeye, goldeye guts, and water dogs are great bait options. The Red is not a very wide river, so a variety of baits and fan casting is one of the best ways to key in on what the bait preference is, as well as cover a large area to locate active fish. Eddie White owns and operates The Minnow Bucket in Huntley Montana, also a writer, seminar speaker and tournament angler. Contact Eddie at: on Facebook at or by phone at 406-696-1281 20 - Hunting & Fishing News



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

Clay Buckmiller with another big Gator from Fort Peck Reservoir out of Rock Creek Marina

With the heart of fall settling in

here in the West and November’s cool temperatures, area anglers can expect exceptional fishing before old man winter starts to really take hold, as we get closer to freeze up. Open water action on most Montana rivers and reservoirs can produce “monsters” now. Calm, cool days will create a feeding explosion for all big-game fish. Brown trout, northern pike, yellow perch and smallmouth bass will all be seeking food near the shorelines and creek inlets to fill up here in the late fall. Confidence in the lures and gear you use, paves the way for fall fishing success. So, this month, we will take a look at a few key spots for good fishing, fish to target, and some of the gear that catches big fish. Brown trout: As brown trout begin their spawning period, these fish get very aggressive and will strike at almost anything they feel threatened by. Eggs will be floating on gravelly bottoms near the edges of the shore, and feeding fish will be trying to get at these morsels that are floating about. If you’re fly fishing, use streamers and nymphs, and fish along undercut banks, downed timber and in deep pools

for good success. The best time to hit the water will be early in the morning and again towards evening, but as water temperatures begin to cool, you can expect big strikes pretty much any time during the day. Top fishing spots for November browns include: • Holter Lake • Madison River - below Hebgen • Bighorn River • Marias River - below the dam • Rock Creek - east of Missoula • Musselshell River • Beaverhead River Top gear for big browns includes: • Countdown Rapalas - rainbow, trout or brown trout colors • Panther Martin - with a gold blade and a black/yellow body • Splitshot/worm - simple, but effective! • Blue Foxes - 1/8 oz. size • Nymphs and streamers on the fly egg sucking leech in black/green colors • Jig and a worm - tossed near the shorelines • Kit’s Tackle Marabou Jig, dark colors, plus a yellow perch and Walleye Fry Glass Minnow. Jig in 15 - 30 feet of water near the shorelines and weed beds. • Krocodile Spoon - Overlooked as a brown trout catcher!

Northern pike: Bring your spinning rod and tackle if you’re going after big game in November. Cooling water and dying weeds will put all the toothy critters in a feeding mood, and the big, mean northern pike are at the top of the food chain in big reservoirs here in Montana. These brawny fish are feeding on a bit of everything they can now, so it’s pretty much just showing up for the dance for anglers who want to hit the water on cool, calm days. The exciting thing about fishing for pike now, is that you will usually get a mixed bag of fish that includes walleye, perch and bass as well, and all are great eating fish. Top fishing spots for November pike include: • Fort Peck Lake • Nelson Reservoir • Salmon/Seeley Lake • Flathead Sloughs • Tiber Reservoir • Whitefish Lake Top gear for northern pike includes: • Crankbaits - perch and minnow colors • Live minnows - baited on a jighead fished in 12 to 18 feet of water near the shorelines • Spinnerbaits - white, black and chartreuse colors, tossed near the weed beds are sure to get some action! • Rapala Husky Jerks - in clear or perch colors, size No. 14 • Mepps Cyclops or Blue Fox spinners in blue/silver color • Reefrunner and Wally Divers trolled in 8 - 20 feet of water • Rapala Shadrap - SR-9 in crawdad color. Smallmouth bass: Fall is an excellent time to catch these feisty, good-eating fish. Autumn bass will be hovering near the edges of weed beds, near boat docks, and under isolated cover looking for feeder fish.

Slow-roll spinnerbaits and lures along the edges and what’s left of weed beds now. Be sure to cast along and around any boat docks, submerged trees and stumps. Top fishing spots for November smallmouth bass include: • Noxon Reservoir • Flathead River from Kerr Dam down to Noxon • Lake Mary Ronan • Thompson Lake Chains • Fort Peck Reservoir • Cabinet Gorge Top gear for smallmouth bass includes: • Spinnerbaits - chartreuse color • Jigs/worms • Soft plastic jerk baits - purple color works well • Flash-N-Glow in yellow - 1/0 hook baited with a nightcrawler • Shallow crankbaits Yellow perch: Cooling water temperatures don’t just affect the big fish, it also improves the perch bite here as we close out the year. A bucket full of yellow perch is a fantastic reward for any angler willing to get on the water to target these tasty fish. Dropping a jig tipped with a worm in the 15 to 30 foot depth will produce perch in November. Top fishing spots for November yellow perch include: • Holter Lake • Flathead Lake • Canyon Ferry Reservoir • Middle Thompson Lake • Lake Mary Ronan • Lower Stillwater Lake • Fort Peck Reservoir Top gear for yellow perch includes: • Jig/worm combination • Minnows • Kit’s Tackle Walleye Fry and Yellow Perch Glass Minnows.


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Steelhead Counts Bonneville/Lower Granite Dams Idaho Department of Fish and Game

2016 Steelhead Count From July 1 to December 31

Idaho Steelhead B-runs are in! Orofino Idaho

Boats are catching big metal heads by plugging eggs and sand shrimp.

The largest steelhead of the season are making their way up the Clearwater system now. The fishing will really turn on from now until the end of the season for steelhead. Montana anglers can make the short trip (in some cases) to the Lewiston area to fill their cooler with these delicious fish. Rain and snow will bring the river up, pulling fish in and making for good fishing.

Once the weather turns really cold, these fish become very active. You can catch ‘em on big weighted spinners or spoons.

From the bank, it’s float bobbers and jigs, or fly fishing with a good old-fashioned egg-sucking leech or any kind of big and ugly “dredger streamer.”

The lower Salmon River, either up or downstream from Riggins will have plenty of fish. Bobber-jig rigs are popular and produce here.

Fish the heads of the holes right where riffles come in, or the tailouts.

To view winter passage at Bonneville Dam go to: Corps of Engineers Fish Reporting Site 5 Year Average Date Daily Total to Date Total Count Dam of Count Count in 2016 to Date Bonneville October 3 1,147 164,704 264,149 Lower Granite October 3 2,821 46,049 79,042 Counts include wild and hatchery origin fish. Most steelhead bound for Idaho cross Bonneville Dam between July 1 and October 31. Information on numbers of steelhead crossing the Columbia and Snake River dams is taken from data posted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and is updated weekly during the counting season.

Steelhead numbers are good, and by Thanksgiving, you should see a lot of fish moving upstream.

November 2016 23

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PREDATOR PRIMER What the uninitiated need to know about predator hunting

By Josh Lantz

C oyotes, foxes and bobcats are North America’s most abundant terrestrial predators. These species play key roles

in the ecosystem, helping to manage rodent populations, scavenging carrion and preying on larger animals that may be sick or weak. They are also cunning and adaptable. 26 - Hunting & Fishing News

Coyotes, in particular, have undergone significant changes relative to range, behavior and physiology in just a short period of time. Once relegated to the American West, coyotes have expanded their range to include most of the North American continent over the past 100 years or so. Such expansion has been linked to human development and the resultant extirpation of larger predators like gray wolves, black bears and cougars. Their ability to adapt to human land use development and a relative abundance of larger prey like white-tailed deer has also brought about changes to the coyote’s social structure. Once largely solitary, coyotes now live in highly flexible social organizations ranging from family groups or loosely knit packs of unrelated individuals. Studies also suggest that their body size is increasing, perhaps due to hybridization with wolves and domestic dogs, which is well documented in certain areas throughout their expanded range. These adaptations have affected changes in the ways coyotes hunt, especially for larger prey like deer, which they typically pursue in pairs or small groups. Why hunt predators? Since predator species have few natural enemies throughout much of their range, hunting helps to keep populations in check. This is especially important in areas where predators are numerous and may be adversely impacting livestock, pets, game or other wildlife populations. In addition to preying on such animals, coyotes are also known to carry and transmit a variety of diseases and parasites. Predator pelts also have commercial value and may be legally sold in most states. Further, predator-hunting opportunities are widespread and typically extend into late winter when other hunting seasons are closed. Finally, almost anyone who enjoys hunting for deer, turkey, elk or other game species is likely to find predator hunting fun, challenging and rewarding due to the active calling it employs and the intellect of the animals pursued. Gearing up With the popularity of predator hunting on the rise, a full compliment of predator-hunting gear and accessories is currently available over a variety of brands and price points. When used within the limits of its particular range and in accordance with applicable state laws, almost any firearm can be successfully used for predator hunting. Most serious predator hunters, however, prefer bolt-action or AR-style rifles chambered in the neighborhood of .223 Rem, .22-250 Rem, .220 Swift, .204 Ruger or .243 Win. Those shooting the smaller end of this range can expect better results using the heaviest premium ammunition they can obtain. Heavier-barreled varmint models also offer increased downrange accuracy. That said, deer hunters just getting into predator hunting are likely to find their existing deer rifles to be capable and acceptable predator guns. Be sure to check your state’s hunting regulations for any restrictions. (continued on page 36)

HUNTING & CONSERVATION NEWS I-177 Bad for Elk, Wildlife Management Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Hunting & Conservation News Proudly Sponsored By

Republic Services of Montana


he Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation strongly opposes Initiative 177, a measure on Montana’s November ballot that would immediately ban trapping on all public lands in the state. If passed it would severely cripple scientifically sound management practices that maintain healthy wildlife populations across Montana. “Removing trapping as a management tool flies in the face of the science-based North American Wildlife Conservation Model which is the foundation of maintaining the healthiest and most successful wildlife populations in the world. And managing wildlife at the ballot box is extremely dangerous for our wildlife and should remain in the hands of state wildlife agencies,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “A trapping ban would lead to an immediate jump in the wolf population of at least 15 percent and likely greater than that, which would trigger an even greater detrimental impact on the overall size and health of our elk, moose and deer populations.” Trapping is a highly regulated and effective means of harvest with controlled seasons. It is used for a variety of reasons including wildlife management, research, food, hunting, public health and safety, and pest control. Issues of concern: Wildlife management—Trapping is a key tool for wildlife managers. I-177 would negatively affect science-based wildlife management which has been successfully used to establish, restore and sustain wildlife populations in North America. Increased costs/lost revenue—I-177 will cost taxpayers at least $422,000 annually for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to pay for new staffers, radio collars and other equipment, predator and pest control, monitoring, investigations, property damage and implementing alternative methods to trapping in place of what trappers already pay to do. In addition, towns, cities, parks, schools and universities will also be forced to pay for alternative pest and predator control efforts to manage disease-carrying species, driving the total taxpayer burden for I-177 into the millions of dollars. Elk vs. wolf numbers—Trapping is vital in helping to manage ballooning wolf populations which are already 400 percent above minimum recovery goals. Thirty-nine percent or 338 of the 871 wolves taken during Montana’s wolf hunting seasons since 2012 were taken via trapping. Montana currently has an estimated population of 536-734 wolves. Without trapping efforts the past four years, the population would number well above 1,000. Poison—Removing trapping could lead to wildlife managers using other means for predator control such as more pesticides, which are much more dangerous for wildlife, humans and pets due to their indiscriminate nature. Public Access—Public lands should be available for all. I-177 dictates a group of Montanans (trappers) involved in a sustainable management practice for decades are no longer welcome on Montana’s publicly-owned lands which cover a third of the state’s 94-million-acre landscape. Other Factors—Montana’s Constitution protects a citizen’s right to harvest wild fish and game. I-177 was formulated and backed by the leaders of a group who grew up outside the state of Montana. Find more detailed information here:


T he Boone and Crockett Club and Pope & Young Club confirm the existence of potential new archery World’s Record typical American elk

taken in Montana by a resident hunter. The elk’s B&C green score is an astounding 429-6/8 net and 448-4/8 gross. It was taken on a solo hunt early in the Montana archery season. After a couple days of packing the bull out, the hunter who at this time prefers to remain anonymous, took his bull to a taxidermist. A rough score confirmed it was time to call an experienced Boone and Crockett Official Measurer. “The antlers need to complete a required 60-day drying period before they can be officially scored,” said Boone and Crockett’s Director of Big Game Records, Justin Spring. “But a senior B&C Measurer taped the bull, so we’re confident with the green score.” The current Pope and Young Club’s World’s Record typical American elk, taken in Arizona in 2005, scores 412-1/8 points. The green score of this bull is 4-3/8 higher than the current #4 typical bull in Boone and Crockett’s All-time Records. According to Spring, “This bull may well be the largest typical American elk taken in the last 48 years.” Both conservation and record keeping organizations work closely in their efforts to document and monitor the status of native North American big game species. Spring said, “After meeting the hunter, hearing the story, and seeing the photos I knew this was a special animal and a historic moment in big game hunting and conservation. I immediately contacted P&Y.” Joe Bell, Pope and Young’s Executive Director expressed, “Any game animal taken in an ethical, sportsmanship-like manner is a trophy worth honoring. However, some specimens are remarkable, not only for their size, but how they symbolize successful conservation efforts. The existence of outstanding specimens like this incredible animal is testament that today’s hunters, wildlife professionals, and conservation organizations are achieving tremendous success by practicing sound conservation and wildlife-management programs.” November 2016 27


Best Elk/Deer Combo Hunts

H&F News Pro Staff


© Creativeworks64 |

ate November elk season will have some hunters hard-pressed to find an elk to fill the freezer, while deer hunters should have ample opportunities to take down a buck, as we head into the heart of big game season in Montana. Blue-ribbon hunting is within easy reach this month, and North-Central Montana may offer up your best chances of filling both of your tags. You can chase elk in the Little Belt Mountains and hike for mule deer in the foothills of the Big Belts or the Breaks of the Teton River. If whitetails are what you are after, you can hunt major tributaries along the Missouri River. Central Montana’s timbered mountains, grassy foothills and timbered river bottoms from Craig, north through Great Falls, to Conrad and from Fort Benton to Stanford and south to King’s Hill offer up exceptional hunting areas to fill a tag.

Best elk - Little Belts

Don’t expect miracles and elk behind every tree, but you can find great hunting in this area. A general tag will let you hunt for elk. Hunt method - Hike into roadless areas that include the Lost Fork of the Judith, the Upper Middle Fork Judith, and the headwaters of Lone Tree Creek. These are all good transitional areas to find elk. In the foothills of the Little Belts, drainages such as Dry Wolf, Sage and Willow Creek that flow into the Judith Basin will be good for both elk and mule deer. Some Block Management Areas offer productive hunting and good access that routinely produce solid animals.

Best deer - Big Belts - Highwood mountains

If you’ve notched your elk tag, it’s time to focus on deer. There are some particularly productive landscapes here, from agriculture land to mountain foothills to the protective dense timber of higher country. Plus, a dozen rivers drain these mountains, and provide high-quality forage for the river-bottoms that host good populations of whitetail. The brushy draws and coulees make for exceptional mule deer habitat. (continued on page 44) 28 - Hunting & Fishing News



t the end of June 2016, Ballot Initiative No. 177 (I-177) was qualified by the Montana Secretary of State’s office for inclusion on the fall 2016 general election ballot. I-177 generally prohibits the use of traps and snares for animals on any public lands within Montana. Given that 30% of the state of Montana is public land (mostly USFS or BLM managed lands),

this ballot initiative, if passed, would make public trapping a criminal offense on the very lands that so many Montanans hunt, fish, trap, and otherwise recreate on. The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) and our Montana WSF Chapter recognize the statutory authority of the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) Department and Commission to manage the public trust fish and wildlife resources of Montana... ...“This initiative flies in the face of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,” stated WSF President and CEO Gray N. Thornton, “whereby the public actively participates in management of state-owned fish and wildlife; I-177 effectively prohibits and criminalizes public participation in an effective wildlife management technique that Montanans have voluntarily practiced for almost two centuries.” Furthermore, Article IX, Section 7 of the Montana Constitution (Preservation of Harvest Heritage) clearly states that “the opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever [emphasis added] be preserved to the individual citizens of the state…” ...“The Wild Sheep Foundation, along with our Montana WSF Chapter, will work diligently with our partners in the Montanan’s for Wildlife and Public Land Access coalition to defeat I-177, an ill-conceived ballot initiative designed to strip away constitutionally-protected rights of Montana sportsmen and women and remove the public from participating in managing their public resources,” added Thornton.

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on Initiative I-177 It’s bad for wildlife, bad for ranchers, and bad for Montana. Paid for by Western Montana Fur Center Anaconda, MT George Kortum, Owner November 2016 29

REGIONAL NEWS Pheasant Hunting Tips A

Dubois Hunter Attacked By Grizzly Bear


n the morning of October 2, a hunter was attacked by a grizzly bear while attempting to recover an elk harvest in the Warms Springs Drainage northwest of Dubois, Wyoming on the Shoshone National Forest. Upon notification of the incident, Predator Attack Team personnel from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department responded immediately to the scene to assist the victim, call for help and investigate the situation. The initial investigation indicates an encounter with a female grizzly bear and two offspring that were feeding off the elk carcass. The victim is currently under medical care and is fully cooperating with the investigation despite the severity of the injuries sustained during the attack. The incident occurred in heavy timber, and evidence collected from the victim and the area is currently being evaluated to gain more knowledge about the situation. There were no shots fired during the attack. “This is a terribly unfortunate incident and our primary concern is for the victim’s well-being and ongoing recovery from a life-changing event. Game and Fish continues to stress the importance of being bear aware and taking the necessary precautions when hunting or recreating in grizzly bear country,” said Dan Thompson, large carnivore section supervisor. Game and Fish will provide updates as they become available. For more information, contact Large Carnivore Section Supervisor Dan Thompson or Lander Region Wildlife Supervisor Jason Hunter at the Lander Regional Office, 307-332-2688. 30 - Hunting & Fishing News

ccording to a DNR wildlife research biologist, pheasants follow a schedule as routine as your daily commute to and from work. Understanding the pheasant’s daily movements can increase your odds of flushing a rooster. “Pheasants start their day before sunrise at roost sites, usually in areas of short- to medium-height grass or weeds, where they spend the night.”... Pheasants usually begin feeding around 8 a.m. When shooting hours begin an hour later, the birds are still feeding, often in grain fields while cautiously making their way toward safe cover. “Look for the edges of picked cornfields,” says Kimmel,...By mid-morning, pheasants have left the fields for the densest, thickest cover they can find, such as standing corn, federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields, brush patches, wetlands, or native grasses. Kimmel says the birds will “hunker down here for the day until late afternoon.”...Remember: The nastier the weather, the deeper into cover the pheasant will go.... During the late afternoon, the birds move from their loafing spots back to the feeding areas. As in the morning, birds now are easier to spot from a distance and are more accessible to hunters. “That’s why the first and last shooting hours are consistently the best times to hunt pheasants,” Kimmel adds. Gear Up... License/Hunting Regulations Handbook – The trail to good hunting starts with knowing the rules, a license and pheasant stamp. Maps – Scouting an area will increase your odds of finding pheasants and good maps will help your efforts. Go to for free maps that identify Wildlife Management Areas and Walk-In Access areas. Combined, these programs provide 1.3 million acres of public hunting on 1,550 parcels. A local plat book may also come in handy to identify specific pieces of land. Shotgun and shells – Bring along a shotgun that you have practiced with and are comfortable shooting. The style or gauge of the shotgun is not nearly as important as your proficiency with it. Since pheasants are fairly tough birds, you will want to choose a heavier load such as 4 or 5 shot and limit your shooting distances to 50 yards or less. This will result in fewer wounded birds. Also be aware that if you are hunting federal land, non-toxic shot is required. Blaze orange – Minnesota pheasant hunters are required to wear at least one visible article of clothing above the waist that is blaze orange. This could be a hat, jacket or hunting vest. Remember that more blaze orange will make you more visible to other hunters. Good boots – Pheasant hunting involves lots of walking on uneven terrain. Good quality, above-the-ankle boots will provide the comfort and support you need for a day in the field. Since crossing creeks and marshy areas is common, waterproof boots are preferred by many hunters. Layered clothing–Cool fall mornings often turn into sunny, warm afternoons. Layered clothing will prepare you for a variety of weather conditions. Long sleeves and gloves will help keep you from getting scratched up when moving through tall grass, cattails or woody cover. Hunting chaps or brush pants will protect your legs and keep you dry on mornings when the grass is wet. Eye & ear protection – Anytime you use a firearm, you should protect your eyes and ears. A pair of sunglasses and foam ear plugs will provide basic protection. More expensive options included coated, colored, high impact lenses and digital hearing aids that enhance some sounds while protecting from loud noises. A good dog – While a dog is not required to hunt pheasants, a good hunting dog will increase the number of opportunities you have to harvest birds and provide you with a companion in the field. A hunting dog is a year-round commitment. Be sure you are willing to invest significant time and energy before purchasing a dog. Refreshments – After a few hours in the field, you will need to refuel. Don’t forget water and snacks to keep you going through the day. Water your dog often and consider canine energy bars that are on the market.

REGIONAL NEWS Eastern Idaho Fire Prompts Commission To Offer Special Hunts By Roger Phillips, Public Information Specialist

In response to a wildfire that burned about 75 percent of the Tex Creek

Wildlife Management Area near Idaho Falls, Idaho Fish and Game is offering special controlled hunts with 500 antlerless deer tags and 500 antlerless elk tags to be sold on a first-come, first-served basis... The special deer season will run Nov. 10 through Nov. 30, and the elk season will run Nov. 17 through Nov. 30 in units 69-1X and 66-1X... Tags for these hunts are considered “extra” tags so hunters who have already bought a tag can purchase one. There will be no tags sold online. Tags will be available at Fish and Game offices, businesses that sell licenses and tags, and by phone (with a credit or debit card) at (800) 554-8685. Fish and Game commissioners encourage parents and grandparents to get young hunters involved in these controlled hunts, which are a temporary and unexpected opportunity for antlerless hunts. The fire burned about 53,000 acres in Eastern Idaho, including approximately 75 percent of the 34,000-acre wildlife management area. The fire burned most of the crucial range for about 3,500 elk, 5,000 mule deer and 100 moose that winter on the WMA, so it can sustain fewer animals this winter. Fish and Game is also prepared to start emergency winter feeding following the hunting seasons. F&G officials decided a combination of emergency winter feeding and additional harvest is the best way to reduce over-winter mortality, allow winter range vegetation to recover, and reduce damage to nearby private land...


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Hells Canyon Produces Another Record Sturgeon By Martin Koenig, Natural Resource Program Coordinator

Oregon Man Pleads Guilty To Animal Poisoning And Unlawful Take Of Big Game By Roger Phillips, Public Information Specialist


im Clemens, an Oregon resident, entered a guilty plea Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 to one count of poisoning animals and one count of unlawful take of big game. Fourth District Magistrate Lamont Berecz ordered Clemens to serve 10 days of jail time, 200 hours of community service in lieu of an additional 20 days of jail time, and four years’ probation, during which time he cannot hunt. The court also ordered Clemens to pay $675 in fines, court costs and community service insurance, $400 in civil damages for the big game animal killed, and $10,000 in restitution to Idaho Fish and Game for investigative costs. “This was a complex investigative effort by Fish and Game officers,” Valley County Prosecutor Carol Brockmann said. “Their investigation included packing into the remote area to locate the field-dressed carcass, obtaining DNA samples from the deceased animals, multiple interviews in two states and close cooperation with the prosecution effort. It was through these efforts this case was seen to a successful conclusion.” The charges are the result of an investigation launched in January 2016, when Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers received a citizen report that two dogs had been poisoned in the Middle Fork Salmon River area during the fall hunting season...Sample results from a wolf carcass that the officers found near the site confirmed that it had ingested poison, and sample results from the poisoned dog matched the deer carcass. Clemens admitted to Fish and Game that he put a small amount of poison on the carcass of the deer he had killed after the meat was removed...

Catch-and-release record White Sturgeon Fairchild group photo: Kirk Fairchild, Seamus Fairchild, Lawaine Fairchild and Homer Brown landed this giant 117” White Sturgeon to qualify for a new catch-and-release Idaho State Record. August 16, 2016 Congratulations to Kirk Fairchild, Seamus Fairchild, Lawaine Fairchild and Homer Brown on their new catch-and-release record White Sturgeon. This Snake River giant from Hells Canyon was landed on August 16, 2016 and measured 117 inches long enough to beat the previous record of 113.5” Catch-and-release records are new for 2016... You can see the list of current records and learn how to apply for your own record on our State Record Fish Page. If you are thinking of chasing a record sturgeon, check out the guidelines for how to measure and photograph them. November 2016 31

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PHOTOS FROM THE FIELD Andy Lough with his first bow kill. Pictured with his daughters Hailey (far left) and Emma Jean (right). Congrats Andy! Brother and sister Fletcher & Emersyn of Missoula getting in some practice time.

Send us your photos 32 - Hunting & Fishing News

Fall Run Hot Spots Large browns often do not run into small tributaries (although some do). Traditional fisheries like the Yellowstone River can still produce good fishing for browns. If you are looking for big lake run fish pick any reservoir on the map and give the river that feeds it a try in late October or November. Some better run fall run brown trout rivers include the Madison inside of Yellowstone Park, the Madison above Quake Lake, the Madison near Ennis above Ennis Lake, the Missouri above Holter or Canyon Ferry Reservoirs, the Lewis Channel in Yellowstone and the Lewis River above Jackson Lake. Some of the tributaries of larger fisheries like the Yellowstone and Jefferson River can experience lesser known fall runs. Where to Target Fall Run Fish Within The River It is important to find runs that “hold” browns during the fall run. For example on the legendary fall run out of Hebgen Lake into the Madison in Yellowstone Park there are some stretches where the browns move through quickly and other runs where the fish seem to stack up, or stage, prior to the spawn. Sometimes you need to find these runs by trial and error but once you do they tend to produce season after season. Focus on main river features, look for larger runs with uniform currents and some depth. Also pay attention for obstacles that slow fish down like diversion dams or simply a long flat section upstream of a deeper run. Waterfalls and rapids are other locations that will force trout to stage prior to moving upriver.

Targeting “stopping” points like waterfalls, diversions and other staging areas is always a good bet.

Flies and Techniques for Late Season Browns Keep in mind that big trout are in big rivers so bring your 6, 7 or even 8 weights in November. Both nymphing and swinging streamers can be productive. In my experience, float fishing with a traditional fast stripped streamer is not nearly as effective as targeting just a few “holding” runs and then getting out to wade and really work the productive water. Nymphing can be deadly for late season fall run browns. The water is cold and the fish aren’t willing to move much. Make sure to get the flies right on the bottom so adjust the indicator and weight setup frequently. For fly selection egg patterns can be deadly in the late fall but also try baetis emergers and big stonefly nymphs. Fly selection isn’t as important as being in the right water and running your flies at the right depth. Takes are subtle so strike at even the slightest reaction on the indicator. Switch rods are becoming increasingly popular for fall run browns in the bigger rivers. I think the ideal switch rod is just over 11’ with a 7 weight switch line. Switch lines are more “mendable” than traditional spey rod lines and much more effective for indicator nymphing. The longer rod also makes big mends easy when fishing large rivers where the biggest fall run fish can be found. On smaller tributary runs traditional 9’ size 6 or even 5wt rods are perfect. Streamer fishing can still be productive in November but using more of a steelhead or salmon swing technique is better than aggressive stripping. The water is cold and the fish are becoming a bit lethargic due to depressed temperatures. A full sinking line like a Teeny style line with a shooting head over 20’ with 150-250 grain line is perfect depending on current speed and depth. I carry a 150, 200 and 250 grain line with me and switch frequently to find the right combination.

Streamers tend to be most productive at dawn and dusk and even after dusk. Although water temps are warmest at mid-day, big fall run browns often prefer the low light hours. Once the sun gets a little higher nymphing is often more productive. I like giant leech style of patterns like size 4 or 2 and in dark colors like black or dark purple. The Baetis Hatch Another perk of late season fishing is surprisingly good match the hatch dry fly fishing over the fall baetis hatch. Some of the most intense baetis (aka blue winged olive) hatches I have witnessed have been in November with hundreds of trout rising and not a soul in sight. The fall baetis can be pretty small so plan on size 18s or even 20s. The late season baetis fishing can be very productive, especially if you are lucky enough to be on the water on a cloudy day when the hatch is exponentially more intense. Many rivers can have excellent November baetis hatches but my favorites are the Yellowstone, Livingston Spring Creeks, and Missouri.

Sometimes Big Bows Follow Big Browns in the Fall

Where to Find the “Sippers” On a cloudy day when A 31.5” Monster Missouri River Brown the hatch is exploding you will have no problem finding “heads” to cast to. Pay attention to where the trout are on these days because you will want to revisit these locations on a sunny day when just a few bugs are trickling off. In the late fall the trout willing to feed on the surface are not interested in fighting current so skip the beautiful riffles that produces explosive strikes over the early summer caddis hatches and focus on the “soft” seams and back eddies. My three favorite types of water to look for surface oriented fish in November are the slow and diffuse seams downstream of where big riffles dump into long deep runs. The trout are not in the inside corners where the “hard” seams separate the fast water from the slow eddy water. They have moved back down the run where there is a much more subtle difference in current speed from the main current and the slower bank eddies. Another great location to find heads is in giant back eddies that collect foam. Watch the foam closely for small dark circles that quickly vanish that occur when trout suck a fly out of the foam temporarily allowing you to see the water below the foam. Tailouts of long runs just above large riffles can also be a good place to target rising trout.

Weather and November Fishing November weather can be all over the map - warm, sunny and in the sixties or sub zero (and sometimes in the same day). My personal cut off is about 20 degrees, anything below that and the guides freeze up too fast (both the human ones and the ones on your rod). The gorgeous blue bird days aren’t always the best for fishing but there is always a “bite” in the early morning and late evening if you are targeting fall run fish and often a few fish will be sipping at mid day in the slow seams and back eddies during a sparse baetis hatch. When the weather turns south you want to make sure to get your rod - as long as it isn’t snowing sideways the fishing can be quite good both for the fall run fish and the sippers at mid day. November 2016 33




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calling but with nowhere to turn for guidance but YouTube and calling contests. While such resources occasionally offer a handy tip, most are so crowded with useless chaos they’re often difficult to watch all the way through. Somewhere along the line, it seems, duck calling contests began rewarding contestants for performing instrumental symphonies on duck calls, rather than for sounding like a duck. So became the accepted measure of success within the industry: Champion callers are often those who can manipulate a duck call to sound the most extreme, not necessarily those who produce the sounds that consistently put the most ducks on the strap. Practical ways to consistently call ducks are increasingly becoming lost in our modern teachings. As ducks in the wild never perform machine-gun feed chatter or ear-piercing hail calls, it stands to reason that our calling shouldn’t either. To consistently be successful in the field, hunters should first master the basics of calling, and then learn when to further expand their auditory offerings. After literally thousands of hours listening to live ducks in and around refuges, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Ducks make very basic noises the vast majority of the time. Of all puddle duck species, hen mallards are the most vocal, and the most imitated by hunters. The basic vocalizations of the hen mallard can be broken down into three categories. The hail or greeting call The hail call is the basic greeting call hen mallards use to encourage other ducks, often flying overhead, to come join their group. This call usually consists of three to seven notes (“KAH, Kah, kah, kah, kah…”). The first or second note is nearly always emphasized, and the sequence often tapers off in volume and tone. Greeting and hail calls should always remain realistic in tone and sequence, but can vary greatly in volume depending on the particular hunting setting and the distance to the birds being called. When hunting over expansive areas of water or large fields, for example, hunters who really let this call sing can often turn birds from incredible distances and heights. The Zink NBG call specializes in this, as its design responds well to a huge volume of air. This single-reed monster also features Zink’s proprietary Z-Cut tone channel, which prevents sticking by moving air through the reed, regardless of how much moisture is in the call. The greeting or hail call is most useful in attracting the attention of ducks passing by and turning them towards a decoy spread. The same call is equally effective when used to redirect ducks that may have flown over the spread, and are debating leaving the area. This method, called calling on the corners, refers to the use of a hail call just as the birds are beginning to turn away. It can be tricky to master the timing, and hunters should note that the same sounds are used throughout the sequence, although they can and should be toned down once ducks are circling in tight.

Smart hunters often switch from wide-open large-volume calls to models designed to sound their best at softer volumes when birds are in close. Zink’s ATM Green Machine call is the Ohio-based company’s bestseller, and for good reason. A superb finishing call, this double-reed model makes the soft, sweet sounds that bring birds feet-down into the decoys, with just the right amount of volume for versatility. The basic quack Ducks quack for a lot of reasons (“Qu-aaat”) and do so regularly. This single sound plays a Swiss-Army-Knife role in duck calling, and mastery of this basic vocalization is incredibly valuable and underrated in the world of waterfowl hunting. Hen mallards often quack when they first land in a decoy spread or with real birds. They will also quack when seeking or directing their young – often well into the hunting season. In addition, hens may frequently quack when a drake approaches them late in the winter when breeding couples begin paring off. Finally, hen mallards also quack when alarmed or while taking off. A single quack call, repeated about once every second, is an assurance call that can seal the deal on birds circling in tight. It allows hunters to keep a little chatter going with the birds as they make their final descent, and actually works to calm down members of the hunting party and allow the birds to settle in to the kill hole, preventing premature shots. The next time ducks are debating landing in your spread, try quacking them down right into the hole. The feeding calls Without question, the feeding call, or feeding chuckle, is the most misunderstood and misused call in duck hunting. True feeding calls are a series of short, pressurized tongue-taps (“Tet-tet-tettet-tet…”). Nearly all modern calling resources, however, insist that the feeding calls of ducks are long, drawn out, machine-gun affairs, where the caller occasionally rolls their tongue throughout, or exhibits incredible air control to prevent doing so. Thankfully, the true sounds mallard ducks make while feeding are simple, single “tets” as they swim or walk around, pecking like pigeons or scooping up floating matter. Faster feeding calls can be used to mimic large groups of ducks, but be sure to incorporate a large decoy spread in an area known for heavy feeding to aid in realism. In addition, the use of decoys mimicking feeding birds can help to sell your trap. Avian-X Topflight Mallard Backwater Packs contain active feeding poses that effectively portray feeding birds. Jerk rigs nearly always help the cause, too, giving live birds the impression that they’re missing out on a good opportunity. A good feeding call can be used to convince circling birds to commit. Use it in conjunction with the single quack once the attention of the birds is turned toward the decoy spread. These light calls are best performed with a low-key call like the aforementioned Zink ATM, or the Zink Double Magnum Power Hen PH-2, known for it’s deep, raspy realism. Feed calls often have the greatest effectiveness late in the season, as ducks need increased nutrition to fend off cold temperatures and recover from energy-draining migrations. Overlooked additions Hen mallards get all the press when it comes to duck vocalizations, but they aren’t the only birds using sound to communicate. Drake mallards produce a throaty, filtered whistle (“weejsht, weejsht”) most often heard when they are alone or in situations of reduced visibility like twilight or dense fog. Again, hunters can use this call to bring ducks down into the hole. It’s also incredibly effective on quiet, still mornings, and can be magical on pressured birds. Other species of ducks vocalize very uniquely. All species of teal “peep”, while American wigeon use a three-note whistle, with emphasis on the second inflection, to communicate. Pintails talk through a throaty whistle that takes a bit of practice to produce. The good news is that all of these unique duck sounds can be mimicked with one call, the Zink Mallard Drake Whistle. This unique looking device – with the shape and coloration of a drake mallard head – is an inexpensive way to create additional realism in your calling sequences and put the odds in your favor when calling numerous species. Duck hunting can seem complicated, complete with more variables than we can mentally manage. It isn’t, so don’t make it that way. Becoming proficient with the hail call, basic quack and feed call – and understanding when to use them – will get the job done in the field. After all, hunting isn’t a competition, and the only judges that matter are the birds.






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PREDATOR PRIMER (continued from page 26)

As with most kinds of hunting, quality optics are critical to predator-hunting success. Binoculars help hunters spot predators early enough to prepare for a shot. Eight-to-ten-power binos with 40-50 mm objective lenses offer a user-friendly combination of magnification, image stability and brightness. Laser rangefinders allow hunters to accurately range distance-to-target. Models that automatically compensate for slope and employ bright or adjustable displays make ranging easier in areas of varying terrain and during low-light periods. Finally, a quality, variable-power riflescope allows predator hunters to clearly identify their target and place an accurate killing shot. Since predators are often most active during low-light periods, look for a scope that will perform in such conditions. The light-gathering abilities of a riflescope increase as objective lens size increases. A larger tube diameter also helps, although to a lesser degree. Finally, lower magnification settings increase light-gathering capability in a variable-power scope. What all of this suggests is that a predator hunter will be well-served by choosing a scope with a large objective lens of at least 50 mm and a larger tube size of 30-33 mm. Make these light-gathering factors your primary considerations, then select a variable-power magnification that makes the scope useful for the other types of hunting you may do with your rifle. Calling is an essential part of predator hunting. Bobcats, coyotes and foxes are highly opportunistic and will investigate any sounds made by their prey, especially distress cries. Additionally, coyotes, in particular, are highly vocal animals and communicate with a complex vocabulary. While volumes have been written on coyote communications and vocalizations, biologists still don’t have a solid understanding of what it all means. As with any game-calling endeavor, firsthand observation is the best teacher, so beginning predator hunters are likely to experience the best outcomes by sticking to the proven rodent squeaks and distress cries that can be produced, with practice, by inexpensive mouth calls. Programmable electronic calls that can be placed and activated remotely are great options for more advanced predator hunters. Decoys are also effective predator-hunting tools. Anything small and furry that moves can be irresistible eye candy to predators. Naturally curious and bold at times, coyotes, foxes and bobcats are also cunning and wary, so an intriguing visual queue – presented in combination with effective calling – can complete the illusion that gives predators the confidence necessary to close the distance. Mobility is key when hunting predators. Most experienced predator hunters suggest setting up in an area offering good concealment and extended visibility, then staying there for 15-30 minutes. Depending on how intrusive you are while getting to your spot, consider waiting 10-15 minutes for things to settle down before calling. Call intermittently for 15-30 seconds at a time and remain still after calling while scanning the area for signs of incoming predators. If nothing appears within 15 minutes or so, most experts advise moving on and repeating the process at another set-up. A product like Tenzing’s well thought out TZ PP15 Predator Pack makes transporting your firearm, ammunition, calls and other essential gear between set-ups quick and easy. Furthermore, this clever pack’s unique, spring-loaded adjustable legs and padded seat allow predator hunters to quickly set up anywhere and remain comfortably seated while calling and shooting. When the exciting time comes to make a shot, it’s tempting to simply level the crosshairs on the center of the animal – regardless of the angle – and squeeze the trigger. But killing animals with fast, relatively lightweight projectiles can be tricky business. Know the particular ballistics of your rifle and ammunition, and don’t risk shots that may wound an animal and prevent recovery. Make shot selection the same priority you make it while hunting deer or other game. When using smaller calibers, a broadside shot into center mass directly above the front leg is the highest percentage kill shot a predator hunter can make. Predator hunting is rewarding for all the right reasons. It is challenging due to the quarry’s intellect, available when other hunting seasons may be closed, and typically highly beneficial from a management standpoint. All it takes is a few key pieces of gear and a desire to participate.


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By Jason Mitchell

ew lures can be as effective day in and day out for jumbo perch as spoons. This lure category packs weight, flash and water displacement into the presentation. Spoons can be seen and one aspect of finding fish is making sure that the fish can find you. An easy to find profile not only pulls fish in but can also raise fish further off the bottom and the higher you can lift perch, the easier they are to catch. Day in and day out, I find myself using some type of spoon whenever I am looking for perch or hunting down schools of aggressive fish. Spoons can shine whenever you need to eliminate water or are in a situation where the battle is simply finding fish knowing that if you can hunt these fish down… you will catch them. What can make winter perch fishing challenging is the somewhat randomness of their location and the fact that these fish are often moving. Perch can often be found relating to some type of definite edge but when schools of fish start roaming expansive flats and basins, there is a certain unpredictableness where you have to be willing to drill holes in order to find fish. Perch can also range dramatically in aggressiveness from recklessness to demanding finesse. While tough bites can demand small tungsten jig profiles or even dead stick presentations, many bites can be discovered and maximized by using spoons. Deep Water Exploration Spoons can shine over deep water for a variety of reasons. Deep water is often darker so the larger profile and flash of a spoon can be seen from further away. Most of the time in water deeper than twenty feet, I like to use a lead spoon that drops fast to maximize my fishing time but also drops straight down without swaying to the edge of the cone angle so I can watch the spoon on my electronics through the entire descent. The Clam Tackle Speed Spoon was designed specifically for this application. This particular spoon drops through the water fast and drops straight down without any drift and features a short dropper chain which is deadly for combining a little bit of finesse to the presentation. On hotter bites, replace the chain with a treble hook. I find that my batting average is better if I use a treble hook whenever tipping with anything that has bulk like a minnow head, perch eye (where legal) or a Makki XL Minnow. Besides adding some weight for pounding the mud along with profile and flash, a spoon also essentially works as a delivery system for your bait whether you are using soft plastics, Eurolarvae, a minnow or some other type of live bait. With that being said, I often find myself changing hooks on the spoon to maximize the efficiency of the presentation. When finesse requires wax worms or Eurolarvae, I often stick with the chain dropper but switch hooks when I can. I have the mentality that I am going to use the largest hook I can get away with because when you hook fish on a larger hook, you can reel the fish up faster and put a lot more leverage on the fish and also unhook the fish faster. Another deep-water spoon tactic we pioneered many years ago is a method we call “bottom dragging” which shines whenever fish are keying on invertebrates in the mud. If you catch perch that have mud in their gills or really pink gills and pink scales on the belly, those fish are rubbing on the bottom. The bottom dragging technique requires a spoon like the Clam Tackle Blade Spoon that does drift to the side of the hole when fished over deeper water. To maximize the drift, let the spoon free fall to the side of the hole as far as possible. When the spoon hits the bottom, slowly drag the spoon back towards the center of the hole. I find that I often do better with this technique if I tie about a six-inch dropper below the spoon. The drag has to be slow and tedious. We have seen this presentation shine on tough bites where the fish won’t accelerate toward the presentation or lift off the bottom. Running and Gunning Shallow Water The nuances of finding perch changes in less than ten feet of water. Flutter spoons can really shine particularly in clear water. There are times when we see perch respond to a spoon as soon as it clears the bottom of the hole in really clear water. I also find myself incorporating soft plastics with a single hook spoon much more so in shallow water or in some cases not using any bait at all. Shallow water fish are notorious for being more aggressive so your presentation and strategy should reflect the attitude of the fish. So often, shallow water demands even more mobility as it seems like ninety percent of the fish can be caught in ten percent windows… where you have to simply eliminate water and find that hot hole or two each day where you can wind up on the fish. When you finally find the fish, you are on them where multiple fish are stacked up below and you literally have a fish on as soon as you get back down. The key to catching fish is simply finding them and than being as efficient as possible so you catch as many fish as possible before you lose them. On these torrid shallow water bites, I like the efficiency of a large gap single hook. No split ring or treble hook, use a fixed hook spoon like the Clam Tackle Blade Jig where a larger hook is molded into the spoon. This single hook accomplishes a couple of things… you can load up a soft plastic or more bait on to the hook but also the larger hook allows you to reel the fish up faster and allows you to unhook the fish much faster which speeds up your turn around time. I will even go so far as to bend out the hook and pinch down the barb so I can get fish unhooked even faster. I will also use heavier line and a stiffer rod just so I can crank the fish up as fast as possible as the name of the game is maximizing your opportunities. One of my favorite presentations over shallow water is to horizontally rig a Makki XL Minnow on to a Blade Jig. We filmed an episode on Lake Winnibigoshish a few winters ago with this presentation and the number of fish you can catch on a soft plastic is staggering. Again, you make yourself more efficient by being able to get fish unhooked faster and not having to rebait. Additional Considerations As a general rule of thumb, we rely more so on glow colors and gold over deeper water or whenever light penetration is less. Chromes, metallic and realistic finishes can often shine over deeper water but color is sometimes over rated in that there are many variables and factors that are usually much more important. The most important factor is finding the fish and being efficient with the bites and how you manage the school. Match the spoon profile and characteristics with the water and don’t be afraid to make additional tweaks to hook size to maximize your efficiency on the ice this winter.

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This is a transitional time in the woods. Some does have been bred, others are still to be bred, bow season is still on in some states, the rifles are starting to boom (or will shortly) in other areas.

Four things to keep in mind: #1: Hunt where two or three ridges converge and peter out into a creek bottom or swamp. The thicker the cover the better. If food sources are anywhere close, the spot will be a dumping ground for lots of whitetails. No doubt you’ll find trails, rubs and scrapes. Set a stand or blind on a vantage 150 yards or so downwind of a convergence of hills and watch for a day or two. Once you get a better idea of how, when and where deer move through the area, move in tighter for a quick-strike ambush. Of course if you’re hunting with a gun and a burly shooter rolls by within range, take him. It could happen. #2:Look for the narrowest point between two blocks of woods, and set a stand or blind to cover it. When crossing a crop field or pasture many bucks will run the choke point between the two timbers or thickets, thereby minimizing their exposure in the wide open. This is an especially good setup for gun hunters. Stay on your toes and be ready for a quick shot, because bucks generally trot or move quickly from point A to B. Stop one in the open middle with a big grunt or a rattling blast if you have to. #3: “X marks the spot” might be your deadliest tactic. Follow scrapes to a spot where it cuts a major doe trail deep in the woods. There you will find freshly thrashed saplings and more scrapes. Hang a stand on the downwind side of that intersection. You will see bucks; one might be a shooter. #4: Hunting pressure changes everything, and you have got to factor it in to your strategy. If you hunt private ground or a block of public land with people, let them have the fields, cutovers, creek funnels and other “best” spots. You check an aerial map and go the thickest, roughest hell-holes a three-quarters of a mile or more away. That’s where the big bucks will go to flee the pressure, but most of the other people won’t go there. Hunt deep inside and get your buck. 40 - Hunting & Fishing News

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A Fallen Fall Turkey Is A Real Trophy By Babe Winkelman

H arvesting a lovesick spring gobbler isn’t easy. But the general strategy is. Think about it: you know you’re dealing with Toms that are

on a quest to score with hens. So you gravitate to a favorable location close to known roosting sites. You set up a blind, put out a decoy or a combination of hen, jake and/or longbeard decoys. Then you make the calls of a lonesome hen in need of company to elicit a gobbling response. You stay still and coax the dizzy gobbler into shotgun or bow range. Bang. You’re done. Now, a lot can go wrong in this simple scenario. Even though gobblers are driven by a desire to breed, they still keep their wits about them. Their eyesight is just as keen, and their instinct to flee the scene if things aren’t right is just as strong. So even though you know just what’s in a big Tom’s head, he’s still hard to kill. In the fall, he’s harder to get. He’s not driven by desire. He’s driven by necessity to eat and not get eaten. Simple as that. So how in the heck do you go about harvesting a fall longbeard? There are generally four ways to hunt autumn birds: ambush, spot-and-stalk, scatter/call-back and flock calling. Ambushing is a great way to score, if you know the lay of the land and the behavioral patterns of the birds you’re after. For example, if you have a predictable roost site, and know that at some point during the day the turkeys feed in a certain field or scratch in the same places, then you can approach fall turkeys like deer hunting. Set up between bedding and feeding areas and wait. Spotting and stalking is a fun way to bag a bird too. This requires a lot of time spent glassing and studying birds. If they’re loafing on a field, hillside, ridge or whatever, you can creep within range. It’s tough, because their eyes are so amazingly good. Plus you’re typically dealing with flocks. A pack of 17 has 34 eyes – all on the lookout for you. Only the best stalkers equipped with great camouflage and a lot of patience can pull off a successful stalk. If you see a flock marching, then it’s time to put on the gas and get yourself in front of them to intercept a bird. The scatter & call back method is a very proven fall technique. If you’re after a mature Tom, this really isn’t the way to go. That’s because Toms are not terribly social in the fall. They don’t care about the hens and poults. They’re more likely to hang out with other Toms as they vie for their pecking order in the flock. When scattered, they take their sweet time getting back to other birds. But if you’re content with a hen or poult, go ahead and do the scatter technique. Find a flock, run into them making as much racket as you can and try to bust them up into as many different directions as possible. Then hunker down, wait a few minutes and make some standard yelps and purrs. If you get a response, or hear a turkey in the distance calling independently, mimic that bird. Give the same call right back to it. The turkeys desperately want to regroup for security, and if you imitate their language then you can’t go wrong. If it is only a longbeard you want, and if you want to get him by calling, then calling to a gobbler group is the way to go. The one thing that never changes among gobblers is their disdain for one another as they rank in the pecking order. And they’re always up for a fight – or at least to watch one and see how it unfolds. So here’s what you do: imitate a turkey fight. Fights are loud, so you need to make a lot of noise with fighting purrs, cutts and clucks. And remember that turkeys fight with their whole bodies, so mix a lot of wing beats, thumps and brush busting into the symphony. It’s helpful to have a buddy work with you as a team to accurately duplicate the sounds of a drop-down-drag-out fight. One guy can call while the other guy beats the wings and brush. For safety’s sake, make sure you know you’re hunting in an area where there are no other hunters while doing this. If you succeed on an autumn longbeard, then my hat is off to you. It’s quite an accomplishment, and we’d like to hear about your success story and see a picture of your bird at!

RECIPE CORNER By Kris Winkelman

Venison Philly Casserole Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes Main Ingredients: venison, mushrooms, onions 1-1 ½ lbs ground venison 1 pkg mushrooms 8 slices Provolone cheese butter 1 large onion (thinly sliced) 1 med red bell pepper (cut into strips) 2 cloves garlic chopped 1 can (16.3oz) home style biscuits Seasoned salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 pan with non stick cooking spray, fry meat after seasoned, towards the end, add mushrooms, onions and peppers cook until tender crisp and drain. Place meat and vegetables and top with cheese in 9 x 13 pan, flatten biscuits with your hands and place on top of meat and vegetables. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until brown. November 2016 43

NotES ON NoVEmbER Best Elk/Deer Combo Hunts (continued from page 28)

Hunt method - The best bucks normally range onto inaccessible private lands, but every year a few jaw-dropping deer are taken on National Forest Land and at higher elevations where big bucks grow and occupy deep timbered elk habitat. Look for Block Management land around the perimeter of the Highwoods, and wait for a winter storm to move both deer and elk to these lower elevation habitats. Now it’s time to lace up your boots and hunt hard. Savvy deer hunters head to the Breaks of the Teton, Marias, and Missouri Rivers north and east of Great Falls. This is primarily private land - much of it inside the legendary Golden Triangle wheat area, but there are some remarkable BMA’s that allow a hiking hunter the chance at overlooked mule deer and high-towering whitetails. Do your research to find areas with some water. Look for concentrations of both species in the few sections of CRP land. These areas can hold some of the best deer in the region. Now is the time for looking for bands of does, concentrate on these areas as a big buck won’t be too far off.

Hunt hard, far away from roads, back in canyons, where there are clearings. Take a good set of binoculars along and spend as much time sitting and glassing as you do walking. Make sure you check MFWP Big Game Regulations for the area you intend to hunt.

© brm1949|

44 - Hunting & Fishing News

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46 - Hunting & Fishing News




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