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MONTANA FISHING IN SEPTEMBER: WHAT TO EXPECT By Brian McGeehan Montana Angler call 406-522-9854 or www.montanaangler.com
September is a transition month in Montana.
Fall can arrive early in the Rockies, but warm Indian summers are also possible. Most of the snow from the previous winter has melted out and river flows are low even on a big water year. Nights are becoming longer and temperatures start dropping. Summertime tourists thin out once kids go back to school and many locals set down their fly rods when archery season opens. The beginning of September often feels like an extension of August with terrestrials ruling the day. Montana fishing in September is dominated by hoppers and terrestrials on years when warm temperatures extend into the fall. Hoppers, ants, beetles and crickets always play an important roll in the early fall, especially on hot days. With the exception of the trico mayfly there are not many aquatic hatches in the bigger rivers. Trout are opportunistic and will often key in on larger subsurface food sources like crayfish and sculpins. With lower flows donâ€™t expect trout to always be along the banks.... 5 TOP NYMPHS FOR THE MADISON RIVER By Brian McGeehan The Madison River is quite simply a fantastic nymph fishery. Day in and day out, nymphing the Madison produces quality fish. The consistency of the fishery is one of the main reasons why it is so famous and draws anglers from around the world. Lets take a look at 5 of my top choices when nymphing out on the Madison. 1. Rubber leg Stonefly Whether you call it a Girdle Bug or a Patâ€™s Rubber Legs or whatever else, this simple, classic stonefly pattern is my top choice for the Madison. Stonefly nymphs are found in the river 365 days a year so it is always worth a shot. I fish this pattern from a #4 to a #12 in at least 6 different colors. Generally speaking, in the spring I use larger, darker versions and gradually go smaller and lighter as the season progresses. The fly is usually weighted so it makes an ideal point fly to get your rig down where it needs to be. 2. Prince Nymph Another classic pattern, the Prince is usually my first choice dropper pattern on the Madison. The Prince is a great caddis imitation and the river is thick with caddis for much of the summer. I carry Princes from #12 to #18, and usually choose the size based on water level and clarity. High, off-color water demands larger flies and vice versa. 3. Pheasant Tail The Pheasant Tail is a great imitation of a Blue Winged Olive nymph, and is a top choice in the spring and fall. I will typically fish a #16 in the spring and a #18 in the fall. The Pheasant Tail makes a good dropper fly behind a larger bug like a stonefly or big caddis. Blue Winged Olives tend to hatch best on cloudy days, so keep that in mind when picking out your flies. 4. Lightning Bug The Lightning Bug is a good choice for a general attractor nymph. I will often use them in the dog days of summer when the hatches quiet down. The Lightning Bug can also be used as a caddis imitation. The most popular colors used on the river are silver, gold, and pearl. I carry this fly in #12 to #20. In the larger sizes this can be used as your lead fly, while the small sizes are ideal droppers. 5. Shop Vac The Shop Vac is a good pattern, because it imitates a variety of insects, depending on what size you choose. Larger sizes are good caddis imitations and smaller versions represent midges. I typically fish this bug in #12 to #18. The Shop Vac is rarely my first choice, but it is a great changeup pattern when other flies are not working and has saved plenty of days for me out there on the river.
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WHAT TO DO WITH THE MIDDAY
WHILE ELK HUNTING By Mark Kayser
B owhunting elk in Montana or anywhere for that matter, has plenty of complications. Some include private land, quiet herds, hostile terrain and Mark Kayser with his 2014 elk in extreme terrain ©Mark Kayser
intense hunting pressure. Do you need another problem to add to your list? What are you going to do in the midday when the wind swirls and elk tend to hole up? It’s not time to take up shuffleboard yet. There are solutions to this quandary in the elk woods.
First, consider the wind. It can be predictable if a major front or pressure system parks over the area. This is particularly true in the eastern half of the state with its more open topography. Once the wind begins blowing a certain direction you should be able to depend on it until the next front arrives. The real sticker is topography. Some ridges and small mountains may not have drastic influences on the wind direction, but major topographical features will affect how and when the wind blows. This is truer in western regions of the state. Since elk rely on their noses as much or more than their eyes; you need to understand that effect. Thermals are your main demon and understanding how they work helps you navigate hour by hour through elk habitat. In basic terms, morning thermals are created by cool temperatures that spur air to descend down a mountain carrying all scent with it. As the sun and daytime temperatures warm surrounding surface thermals begin an upslope journey that continues much of the day. Scent then drifts upward. Towards nightfall cooling once again causes air to plunge downward. Unfortunately, during the midday hours winds shift because of heating and cooling collisions, and varying terrain features. When you add in the fact elk tend to settle at midday and set up a security perimeter that would test an Army Ranger regiment, midday quandaries arise. What should you do to stay productive during the midday? Many elk veterans call it quits at midday and that’s one answer, but not likely the one you wanted to hear. If you don’t have time to dawdle on your annual archery elk hunt, don’t sit out the midday hours. Consider these hunting strategies. First, you can’t go wrong with watching water. Why? In many elk areas you can find water in every drainage, but studies in Utah have shown that elk prefer summer habitat within 1/3 mile of water and another 3-year study in central Washington indicated that even in a dry year that elk distribution “was limited to within 805 meters (0.5 miles of water).” That need for water continues into the fall, particularly during the rut when elk are overactive. Now consider the sometimes arid reaches of eastern Montana that may receive less than 18 inches of rainfall a year. Even though ranchers have developed water for livestock needs through the creation of pipelines and impoundments, elk still travel between these sources and have favorites. During the preseason your trail cameras may have revealed a favorite so now is the time to revisit that site for a midday meeting. Elk may gulp gallons of extra water on hot days or days filled with intense rutting activity. They may visit these sites 24/7, but during the rut it’s a great place to park during the midday and watch for a thirsty bull to arrive. What also occurs in and around water? Wallows do. By late summer and into the early season elk wallows begin appearing in traditional wet zones, and new sites. Even when an elk herd rests at midday it’s common for the herd bull or satellites to get up, and visit the nearest wallow. This activity serves a distinct advertising purpose to cover them in scent. They roll in the mud and urinate on themselves to create an odor that you seldom miss when you find yourself downwind of a freshly wallowed bull. Biologists agree it is a way to promote presence, dominance and willingness to breed. It’s almost like a whitetail scrape, but it’s mobile and moves with the animal to advertise. Why is the midday a popular wallow time? That is open to discussion, but most hunters I’ve discussed the topic with feel that once a herd settles for a midday rest the herd bull isn’t busy wrangling the ladies. It’s his time to slip away for another splash of wapiti cologne. One last location you may be able to hunt at midday is a natural mineral lick. Although it might not be as much as a priority as water or a wallow, natural licks do receive attention. Some of the best mineral licks I’ve stumbled upon actually have springs around them creating a one-stop shopping location. If you know of the whereabouts of one of these sites it should be on your list of places to visit for a midday sit. If you do have wallows, mineral licks, waterholes and other active areas marked on your GPS then I’d suggest a wait-and-see approach. If I’m setting up in an area that isn’t too remote my first choice would be to put up a lightweight treestand. Look for models that are less than 15 pounds to ease your pain in getting one into the woods. A treestand is a wonderful thing in the elk woods. It puts your scent above elk and transfers it out of the area on currents above elk-nose level. Plus, elk seldom look up. Two of my top three elk bowkills came with the help of a Mathews bow and a treestand. If you don’t like heights then consider using a hub-style ground blind. It’s a bit weighty, but you won’t have to worry about elk spotting you inside and many contain your scent better than a Ziploc bag. And elk seldom look twice at a ground blind, but it still pays to brush it up to hide the form. Sometimes you just have to set up on the spot. Look for locations that put your scent above elk, such as setting up higher on a slope, and try to disappear into the natural surroundings Look for brushy conifers, boulders, stumps and other features to break up your outline, yet hide you within easy bow range. Lastly, don camouflage that blends to the backdrop such as Mossy Oak’s new Mountain country pattern. A couple years back while on a DIY, public-land hunt I stumbled upon a fresh wallow. I found a downwind deadfall and hid behind it. It took two days of midday sitting, but a 5x5 bull finally circled the wallow and before he could go swimming I sent an arrow his way with my Mathews bow. I don’t mind a bit of sitting for a backstrap ending like that.
6 | Hunting & Fishing News
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No matter where you find yourself hunting elk this fall,
there are two things you can do to improve your chances of success. In addition to just elk hunting, these principles could apply to any type of hunting. On a long hunt, it can be difficult to keep yourself in the game. After several grueling days of hunting, hunters who are able to maintain hard work and patience will ultimately enjoy a more rewarding experience. This brings to mind an archery elk hunt guided by one of our friends and an excellent hunting guide. The guide and his hunter had worked hard through four days of hunting in September when the daylight hours are especially long. They were into elk every day that week, but had no shot opportunities. As mountain hunting often goes, they dealt with constantly shifting winds. The hunter had been close to a couple of bulls. But they were forced to back out each time because of shifting winds. For several days they played cat and mouse games but never got within range. They put a lot of miles on their boots and in the saddle every day of the hunt. Despite tough breaks, the hunter kept his motivation and willingness to do what it took. On the morning of the fifth day they made another long ride and put in some difficult hiking. Once again they got into the elk, but they were still unable to get a shot opportunity. Near the end of the morning, they attempted one last bugle and were thrilled to hear a response from the dark timber about 300 yards away. They closed the distance and moved into position. The guide bugled again and received an immediate response. They had a bull moving in, and were excited that their work might finally be paying off. However, hard work is only half of this story. Just as they got set up, the bull went totally silent. After four days of working for a shot opportunity, this is where many hunters might lose patience and make a mistake. The guide was about 35 yards behind the hunter, giving soft cow calls and breaking a few sticks. Still, there was no response. The guide put away the calls, and the timber was still. This went on for more than 15 minutes with no sound from the bull. Yet the hunter kept his cool and didn’t move a muscle. His patience paid off. Like a ghost emerging from behind a tree, suddenly an antler was visible and then the elk stepped into the clearing. He was tempted to draw but the bull was quartering toward him. With the bull facing him, it would have been dangerous to draw without being seen. Eventually the elk became suspicious and turned to leave, quartering away. (continued on page 15)
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By Mike Hanback
One day I sat on a ridge in Wyoming with an old guy
named Bill and watched through binoculars as a 30-year-old lady stalked a mule deer a mile away. She and her husband had booked a hunt in the same camp where I was staying. She moved slowly, cautiously and I wondered if she’d ever get into rifle range. I snickered and thought, “Might have to go over there and show the girl how it’s done.” “She’s doing perfect,” Bill said from behind his binoculars as she eased up her rifle. We heard the thump, saw the buck buckle and then heard the rifle crack. “Mostly it just takes ‘em one shot,” said the wrinkled cowboy who had guided hundreds of men and maybe 20 women in his day. “A lot of ladies who are really into it are better hunters than men.” I blew out my chest and said, “I don’t know about that now….” “Just what I mean,” Bill cut me off. “You guys beat your chest, get all macho and think you know everything about deer, guns, ballistics, shooting… The more you talk about how much you think you know, the more likely you’ll screw up on a big buck.” Bill went on to say that in his experience, 3 things make women better hunters: 1)they’re patient; 2)they’re good listeners; and 3)they do what they’re told. “If I tell a guy to go sit by that tree for 3 hours he’ll sit maybe an hour before he gets up and starts walking around and messing up the spot,” Bill said. “If I tell a lady to sit there for 3 hours she’ll sit there still and ready the whole time…and a lot of times she’ll kill a big animal.” Bill also said that women tend to be calmer than men, many of whom get excited and come unglued and miss deer. And women generally shoot smaller caliber rifles, like .243 or 7mm-08. They can shoot and hit better than some guy who goes out West with a cannon magnum that thumps his shoulder and makes him flinch. While I have not hunted with a lot of women, I’ve guided a few young ladies over the years. Thinking back on those hunts, yes, they listen. Yes, they tend to stay amazingly calm when a buck shows up. They all shot a low-recoil rifle, and shot it well. Yes, I believe old Bill was right about this in a lot of ways. I ask: If you hunt with your wife or girlfriend, is she better than you?
Early-Season Deer Tactic:
HUNT A STAND WHILE IT’S HOT By Mike Hanback
O ne afternoon a buddy drilled a 10-pointer with his bow from a lock-on near an alfalfa field. I drove our ATV over at dusk, and we looked around for 30 minutes. I was supposed to be Photo credit Mike Hanback
looking for blood splatter, but I got big-eyed with all the trails and fresh shiny rubs (20 that I could see) in the grassy funnel between the bedding timber and the grain. Steve hollered, “Here he is!” We weren’t quiet as we dragged his 10-pointer, loaded it, and rattled off across the field. The next afternoon I stood in the same tree stand and drew an arrow on the third buck that slipped out of the bedding timber and tipped through the grass to me. The deer ran and fell about 30 yards from where my friend’s deer had expired, and I was happy. The experts preach that after you or a buddy kill a buck, you ought to rest that stand for a few days or a week; let the woods and the deer settle down before hunting there again. Hmm, I believe I wrote that once or twice over the years! But sometimes, especially in the early bow season when bucks are still nailed to a bed-to-feed pattern, it pays to go back to a hot tree stand as soon as you can. The deer are moving there for a reason—the feed or acorns are just right, one of the first does smells right, whatever. Bucks will often give you a second or even a third chance before your intrusion moves them to change their pattern and timing. The key: There’s got to be a lot of deer sign in the area, and it’s got to be fresh and hot. There’s got to be a powerful draw that brings multiple deer and bucks past that stand for a few more days or a week.
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Pronghorn Lessons By Tayler Michels, Passion for the Hunt TV
T he pronghorn antelope of the Great Plains is uniquely North American. A legendary icon of the western landscape,
these popular big game animals are suited well for the wide-open prairie and sage with incredible vision and a top end speed that ranks as the fastest land animal on the continent. “All western game animals are fun to hunt,” explains Kelly Burke, of Montana’s Burke Ranch Outfitters, “but antelope are a fun challenge and the very best on the dinner plate.” Burke has been guiding and outfitting in northeast Montana’s Missouri River Country for more than two decades for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and antelope. Like many western big game hunters, Burke has a passion for antelope and offers some hard-earned wisdom. Know when to Fold ‘em The excitement is undeniable when a good-looking buck is spotted right away in the morning. So many hunters will justify a stalk immediately without calculating all the risks. “Don’t even mess with a buck on flat ground with no sneaking opportunity,” says Burke. Even if a buck is bedded, the time it takes to crawl across a mile of cactus only to find yourself, NOT close enough, results in success about once for every thousand attempts. Moral of the story, only stalk bucks that give you a reasonable chance of success. Early season, before the rut kicks in, you can find mature solitary bucks still traveling along creek beds and around the contours of hillsides or water holes where you have a better chance of an ambush. If you can get better at identifying when a buck is “Un-gettable” you will spend less time digging cactus out of your trousers and more time looking for a winner. If you can get good at accessing the odds of a successful stock, you will be telling yourself “no” a lot but also definitely upping your batting average over time for successful stalks. Remember patience is a virtue. Don’t just focus on finding the right antelope but also finding the right terrain and waiting for that animal to make a mistake. When to Decoy A pro when it comes to decoying aggressive bucks, Burke simply says this “When you encounter a mature buck showing those first signs of rut consider that to be a good time to try a decoy.” Signs of rut include protecting a harem of does from other bucks or aggressively chasing younger bucks away. Using a decoy that represents a smaller inferior buck should spark some attention and if you get just close enough to make him angry it could induce a charge. When an aggressive buck is convinced you are here to take one of his does, he’s likely to come charging at top speeds around 50 mph or more. It’s easy to get a little rattled in this situation, there are few things more exciting for a hunter
N807-31704 Electric Safety Print_001_Fishing_3.625x10 to experience than this type of encounter so embrace the chaos and enjoy the moment. Don’t forget to use your rangefinder before you draw your bow. Not unheard of for bucks to come to a decoy setup from across a hundred or more yards of open cactus country. Decoys can be a real game changer in that late August heat when stalking any closer just isn’t an option. Water Holes So many hunters associate antelope hunting with long sits by a water hole. There’s no denying the effectiveness of this strategy but it’s far from a silver bullet. “Hot, dry conditions are the obvious choice for sitting at a water hole,” explains Burke. “But there’s more to hunting water holes that people tend to forget.” Waterhole sits are typically all day sits where the most activity begins around lunchtime with another spurt of activity occurring an hour before dark. Hunters should anticipate long hot days inside a ground blind. Some hunters bring books or magazines to pass time but most importantly, bring plenty of fluids. Hunting waterholes needs to be strategic. The less water there is on the landscape, the better the hunting. If there are numerous waterholes and stock tanks, there are more options. If the dam is too large, the antelope can keep out of bow range. Less water is better but hunters can also play a few tricks like creating disturbances at nearby water sources like leaving a vehicle next to a water tank or using police tape to fence off a nearby stock dam. Antelope can become accustomed to ground blinds quickly, so don’t be afraid to move them if necessary, particularly to play the wind or get closer to the water that the antelope are using. Run and Gun When the days are winding down and all else has failed, there comes a time when you pull all the stops. This is when a real run and gun approach can make the difference. A few lessons Kelly has picked up over his many years chasing speed goats includes some aggressive strategies that can work surprisingly well. Burke adds, “Follow a buck just out of sight until he gives you an opportunity to get close. Especially on a grazing buck when he’s not in a hurry, which is rare for an antelope, stay in striking distance just out of sight until he grazes over a hill. Then quietly and quickly rush up to the top of the hill. You can often catch that buck still in range as he strolls along with his head down and just maybe get a shot off before he knows you’re there.” Another lesson Burke has learned over time that has produced countless close encounters is simply changing your profile when you need to clear crucial yards without the benefit of cover or terrain.
Don’t get caught in a bad situation. Nothing is more fun or more satisfying than getting the perfect cast off. To ensure you don’t get caught in a bad situation, stay clear of electrical equipment and never cast fishing lines under power lines. When walking up or down stream, carry your rod low and keep an eye out for low or downed lines. If you see a downed line, stay at least 10 feet away and call 911. Have fun. Stay safe. And we hope you catch the big one.
“Antelope have incredible eyesight and can identify people with their upright profile,” explains Burke. If you find yourself in a position where you have no choice but to let the goats see you at a distance before you reach cover, be sure to crawl or bend over low the whole time moving slow. This will draw less attention and possibly convince the animals that you aren’t dangerous to them, allowing you just enough chance to make it to cover and complete your stalk. Antelope are an immensely beautiful big game animal that hunters quickly fall in love with. The stalks are exhilarating and there is no shortage of opportunity in many western states including plenty of public land opportunities. Antelope are perfectly designed for the wide-open spaces in which they live. Hunting antelope can be frustrating and humiliating and successful hunters often need to be versatile and persistent. Passion for the Hunt airs on Sundays at 9:00 am on Fox Sports North from July through October. More information can be found at www.passionforthehunt.com.
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Hunting & Fishing News | 13
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entire season. Fish start to bulk up with egg mass and the late open water time-period is a coveted season for many anglers looking to target trophy class fish. The productive patterns can vary from fishery to fishery but there is a surprising amount of similarities across the board when comparing different big fish locations and patterns across several fisheries. There are several prominent patterns that set up during the fall.
What seems to push most patterns into gear are cooling water temperatures.
There doesn’t always seem to be a magic surface temperature but more so a trend. The trends often dictate the strategy. Cooling trends solidify the traditional patterns and locations. Warming trends in fall seem to scatter fish. This is an important scope to consider which will be discussed in more detail later. Productive fall locations for big walleye can be both deep and shallow. Prominent main-lake structure that features quick access to deep water is a classic fall location. Steep structure that has a hard bottom is textbook. Large round boulders are often big fish magnets. Another classic fall location is current. Current that is created by a causeway or slot between a couple of islands or perhaps a feeder creek or bridge will often be a perennial fall location for catching big fish. Current in conjunction with rock or boulders can often be magical, particularly after dark during full moon phases. Shallow locations can run the gamut but weeds like cabbage, wild rice or milfoil can hold a surprising number of big walleyes during the fall until the weeds break down and die. The allure of weeds in the fall is that they provide a consistent and stable environment for fish as everything else in the aquatic world changes quite rapidly. Weeds also seem to hold in or retain some heat as the water temperatures cool. These shallow weed bites get better when water temperatures cool after the first major frost but what is interesting is that these shallow patterns often mimic shallow water spring time patterns in that the afternoon often produces some of the best fishing when the sun warms up the water a touch. Other shallow water locations include rock reefs and current locations that in many cases are after dark locations. Shallow current for example has long provided some exceptional after dark chest wading opportunities for catching giant walleye on many fisheries. Typically, the after dark fishing peaks with each consecutive full moon cycle. The patterns highlighted above are just classic programs that produce some of the biggest walleyes each season for many anglers across the Midwest. These classic fall patterns seem to set up when the water temps begin cooling. The bite often intensifies when the water temperature each morning is consecutively cooler. The worst thing that can happen to fall bites is a warming trend. When an unseasonably warm spell reverses the cooling trend to the point where the water begins to warm back up, this trend seems to unravel traditional locations and patterns. We often joke that the pattern at this point is that there is no pattern. We typically will find fish scattered with no consistency.
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The author Jason Mitchell with a trophy walleye caught trolling the new Salmo Free Diver. This crankbait trolls past thirty feet of water on braided line and is an excellent lure for fall trolling patterns over deep structure.
Knowing what to do during cooling trends over classic patterns is easy. Making the right decisions on when fish scatter is much more difficult. When the water is cooling, you can focus on a spot or location. When the water warms during the fall, you need to focus on a process. The process of covering as much water as possible and fishing through a milk run of good locations knowing you will find fish scattered. When faced with warming trends and scattered fish, many fish will be transitioning and trolling crankbaits can be a great way to target these fish. When fish transition and travel between point A, and point B, they typically take the shortest and easiest route. What this means is that primary main lake contours and the old river channel on reservoirs essentially become underwater highways for traveling fish. Cover water over big locations. For specifically targeting big fish, bigger profiles typically catch bigger fish. Don’t be afraid to double the length and profile from what you would typically use the rest of the year. When faced with transitioning and scattered fish, don’t get hung up on an icon or waypoint as in thinking that you troll until you find the fish and then assume that you will catch more fish from the same location. Instead focus on your fish per hour. On a tough bite, I am happy with a bite an hour. Two bites an hour would be considered good in some cases. Anticipate a grind where you simply put in the time over a general location and pick fish off one at a time. Because fish are scattered, you need to get in the groove where you are probable that you contact so many fish per hour by traveling a set distance. Remember as well that scattered fish often have a much more difficult temperament in that these fish are not competing with other fish and in some cases, are stressed from the distances traveled. This is exactly why I love to troll crankbaits in the fall when dealing with tough conditions. Not only do I cover water and contact more fish, I can also do a better job of getting a reaction strike by using speed to trigger fish. This fall season, catch some of the biggest walleye of the year by matching up your fishing strategies to the general cooling or warming trends happening on the water. Don’t watch the calendar, watch the temperature gauge.
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ELK HUNTING SUCCESS (continued from page 9)
When the elk’s head was behind a tree, the hunter drew his bow. As soon as the elk stepped out on the other side, he released, making an excellent shot. During those long moments with no sound or sign of the bull, it was difficult to remain perfectly still. When the elk finally appeared, it took an incredible amount of patience to wait for the right shot opportunity to unfold. The hunter’s patience was rewarded with a nice bull. For many of us, we wake up early on the first few days of our hunts, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Putting in the work to locate elk and get close to them is enjoyable, even if it’s difficult. But after a few days, many hunters begin to wear down. It becomes more difficult to make those long hikes or rides. Even worse, hunters can easily lose patience. That can result in lost shot opportunities because of thoughtless decisions at the wrong time. In addition to good physical conditioning and proficiency with their weapon, successful hunters also come equipped with a tough mental attitude. By the end of a long hunt, staying alert and in the game might be tough. Hunters who can stay as patient and work as hard the last day as they did on the first, will dramatically improve their chances of success. For more information on Montana elk hunts with Lazy J Bar O Outfitters, please visit their website at www.lazyjbaro.com or phone 406-932-5687. They offer elk hunts in Southwest Montana and in the famed Bob Marshall Wilderness area.
Hunting & Fishing News | 15
HOW TO CATCH LARGE TROUT! By Brian McGeehan Montana Angler call 406-522-9854 or www.montanaangler.com
1) Fish often. Even a blind horse finds water sometimes.
The more time you spend on the water the better the chances that you will stumble into the trout of a lifetime. 2) Fish where large trout are common. This is probably the most important tip of all. Do whatever you can to fish rivers that commonly produce massive trout. I have only caught two trout in the 10lb range: a 28” rainbow in Kamchatka and a 28” brown in New Zealand. In places like New Zealand, a few Alaskan rivers, Kamchatka, and Tierra del Fuego trophy trout in this league are regularly caught. In the lower 48 fish of this size aren’t as common Photo credit Montana Angler but can be found. In the West I would rate Montana and Idaho at the top of the list and Pennsylvania in the East. Some tail waters in Arkansas, Wyoming and Colorado also produce monsters just below large dams. 3) Fish big nasties! With the exception of some huge tail water trout that gorge on freshwater shrimp being out of a dam, most big fish eat big meals. If you spend every day on the water casting tiny dry flies you might have a lot of action but your chances of hooking a trout of a lifetime are slim to none. Monster trout eat sculpins, crayfish, big stoneflies and other trout. I fish a lot of really big streamers that I custom tie. Casting these 10” tandem hooked bunny fur contraptions will scare away most small dogs and make your arm fall off at the end of the day, but throw them often enough good things will happen! A more reasonable option is to dead drift one meaty fly like a zonker trailed by a smaller bead head nymph under a strike indicator. This keeps you in the game for big trout but also increases the odds of not going home skunked. 4) Fish on cloudy days and in the rain. Large trout frequently eat under low light conditions. Since they are often eating meaty meals they often go long periods of time without feeding while digesting their last victim. Fishing at dawn or at dusk is a good bet. Cloud cover and especially a good rain will often trigger intense feeding in the middle of the day by big trout. When the skies turn dark I always grab for my streamer rod and try to hit a home run. 5) Night fish. This isn’t as popular when fishing in Montana as it is in some locations, but it does have its rewards. In my opinion fishing after dark is most effective on rivers that get too warm during the day. Sometimes the best water temperature window occurs in the middle of the night and this is when large predatory browns do their feeding. I don’t do much of this anymore...the thought of waking up to three kids under the age of five after 2 hours sleep is enough to scare me straight. When I was in college in Pennsylvania this was a fun option on some of the limestone streams in the center of the state. The key to night fishing is to pick out 2 or 3 big runs that hold large trout and work them methodically with large bulky streamers that push a lot of water.
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Hunting & Fishing News | 17
WHY CARRYING MULTIPLE OPTICS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR LOCATING MORE DEER By Brady Miller
Originally published at
W hen it comes to hunting, you can’t harvest an animal until you find an animal. Quality optics pay huge dividends in every type of terrain. This is where quality optics comes into play. If you’ve read my past articles, you know I’m addicted to gear and kind of an ounce counter. The sole reason I’m an ounce counter is that I’m willing to sacrifice in some areas of my backcountry system, so I can justify packing around giant optics to find animals and camera gear to capture the memories. The past few years I pretty much carried everything in terms of optics. WHAT TO CARRY? The majority of hunters are probably carrying 10x42s and a spotting scope in the 65 to 85mm range. I ran that exact setup for a long time, but the past five seasons I’ve added yet another pair of optics to my arsenal and I feel like I’m way more effective in the field after making this change. When it comes down to it… being able to find more animals is the “magic” we’re all looking for. I now pack three pairs of glass with me on all of my hunts; 10x42 binoculars, 15x56 binoculars and an 85mm spotting scope. With that said, I might be changing up my system on certain hunts... Below I’m going to describe several different optic options and my thoughts and experiences using them. There are plenty of other methods out there, but these are systems that are fairly easy to build and might not break the bank as much as others. USING 10S, 15S AND A SPOTTING SCOPE Large binoculars definitely have their place in mountain hunting or even lowcountry deer hunting for that matter. To me, 15s are quickly becoming the single most important piece of optics that I own and have a huge advantage for the mule deer or Coues deer hunter. My typical glassing session starts out by using my 10s to quickly scan basins or coulees for deer that might be close by. I’ll then switch to 15s and this is where I’ll really dive in and pick apart the terrain in a grid pattern. While glassing with the 15s, I’ll be switching back and forth to my spotter to check out the bucks I’m glassing up or to confirm or deny a deer body in timber for example. Each November I take my dad and brother hunting for mule deer in Montana, it always amazes me how many more deer I find using my 15s off a tripod compared to them with their 10s handheld. I also run the 10s off my neck in a bino harness to use while stalking in close on an animal. It’s hard to beat this three binocular system and I believe this leads to an exponential increase in finding animals. The mid morning and middle of the day I love glassing for long periods of time with my spotting scope, but this has the tendency to strain my eyes. So when that happens I will switch to 15s for awhile (this switch doesn’t allow me to sacrifice on my long range glassing). (continued on page 24)
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2017 FALL MACK DAYS
LAKE TROUT FISHING EVENT on FLATHEAD LAKE
Sept. 22 nd
Nov. 12th Up to $150,000 to
Floating And Fishing The Kootenai River By Roger Phillips, Public Information Specialist Idaho Department of Fish and Game
CASH & PRIZES
Fish The Entire Lake
Tuesday through Sunday: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are for the contests, bonus amounts, and tagged fish. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will be for bonus amounts and tagged fish only and New: Six $50 lottery drawings, and if you turn in live lake trout to the tagging boat you will receive tickets for a special lottery drawing for two $500 prizes (1)-$10,000 & (3) $5,000 & (5) $1000 + over 6,000 $100 to $500 tagged lake trout Top ten angler prizes - pick your best 15/24-days count on Friday through Sunday Captains $250-(4 prizes), Smallest lake trout $250-(2 prizes), Largest lake trout-$500 - see rules for entries Top lady anglers $300, $200, $100 - $100-totals used Youth anglers - (17-13) 1st-$200, 2nd-$150, 3rd-$75, 4-5th-$50 (12 & under) 1st-$100, 2nd-$75, 3rd-$50 will also be entered in the lottery drawing Weekend Prizes-$300 and $200 will be announced each week Golden Angler Award (70 & older) $200 & $100 Bucket Competition - (3 days-see rules for dates) - weigh in your 4 heaviest lake trout under 30” Yeti Cooler ticket: 1 for every 10 entries Tuesday through Sunday. Last Day: $300, $200, $100 PLUS heaviest lake trout under 30” - 1st $200, 2nd $100 BONUSES: Your total at the end of the 45 days determines bonus. See www.mackdays.com for complete rules All boats have to inspected for AIS.
Fish Fry for participants & families November 12th at Blue Bay 3:00 Awards Ceremony at 4:00 Entry forms will not be mailed out.
Enter online at www.mackdays.com
or pick up entries at local sporting good stores or you can even enter when you check in your fish at the check in stations during Mack Days. It is easier if you enter before the event begins. We remind you to follow all fishing regulations. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have a special $13 fishing permit for the south half on Flathead Lake that is available wherever fishing permits are sold.
Sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks
Photo credit Roger Phillips
Fangler loating through a cool, clear river in a deep canyon, an casts a grasshopper fly toward shore and waits for
a trout to fall for the dupe. It happens with a tell-tale swirl on the glassy surface, and as the angler pulls back on the rod, it bows and bounces like a willow in the wind as a feisty trout realizes its mistake and thrashes in protest. This scene is played out on many rivers in Idaho, and in this case, it’s the North Idaho’s Kootenai River, a gem of a stream that’s gotten a boost in recent years and is producing its best trout fishing in years thanks to a partnership between Idaho Fish and Game and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho. The Kootenai River’s canyon section flows between Montana’s Libby Dam and Bonners Ferry. It’s secluded and scenic with a series of riffles, pools and meanders. But until recently, it lacked nutrients to produce many trout and grow them larger. It harbored a population of rainbow trout and whitefish (along with other fish species), but they tended to be small, and trout reaching the upper teens in length were uncommon. Part of the problem is Libby Dam collects sediments upstream, releasing cool, clear water that’s relatively sterile where once nutrient-rich water flowed downstream. Idaho Fish and Game and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho developed a relatively simple solution to that problem by adding common agriculture fertilizer to the river downstream from the dam. A series of large tanks set on a bluff overlooking the river and a small (about 3 inches) pipe releases the liquid fertilizer into the water at the Idaho and Montana border. The project started in 2005 with funding from Bonneville Power Administration, and the fertilizer sparks the growth of algae, which feeds aquatic insects that support the river’s trout, whitefish and other native fish populations. Fish and Game biologists have seen a boost in both numbers and average size of trout in the river since the project started. They’ve also seen catch rates dramatically improve for anglers. “In general, we’re very pleased with the response,” said T.J. Ross, senior fishery research biologist for Fish and Game. He said it’s likely a combination of the fertilizer project and a rule change in 2002 that limited harvest to two trout for rainbows and cutthroats none under 16 inches.
Ross added many long-time anglers in the area say it’s the best fishing they’ve experienced in years on the Kootenai.
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Fly fishing, Kootenai River, North Idaho, Panhandle, fall color Photo credit Roger Phillips/Idaho Fish and Game
Other anglers are also catching on, too, but the river is still lightly used compared to Idaho’s world-famous trout streams. That’s a bonus for those who make the trip to Bonners Ferry and take advantage of this river that flows through a scenic canyon. Fish and Game and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks also partnered in 2013 to get access from a private landowner to an undeveloped access point at the border near Leonia, Mont., which means Idaho anglers don’t have to float several miles through Montana to reach Idaho’s section of the river. That was a valuable addition because the Kootenai is mostly a floater’s show, which means it’s a great opportunity to drift along and cast to the shoreline and entice trout with flies or lures. Late summer and fall tend to be prime times to fish the river, and there are good opportunities to catch insect hatches that get trout feeding on the surface. But the Kootenai isn’t a “technical” river, so when there’s no obvious hatch, trout will still rise to grasshopper patterns and attractors, as well as take lures and bait. Most of the trout are on the 10 to 14-inch range, but fish measuring in the mid and upper-teens are common, and occasionally fish exceed 20 inches. That’s a big improvement from the past when catch rates were low and the fish fairly small compared to other rivers in the area. Fish and Game is also studying the river to find out which tributary streams provide the best spawning and rearing habitat so they can protect and possibly enhance those areas to provide more natural trout production. For now, the Kootenai has an improved fishery that’s providing fun and excitement for anglers, as well a scenic float through a beautiful part of North Idaho. Character: The river favors floaters over waders because there are few areas that are road accessible within the canyon and canyon walls are steep in many areas. The river is suitable for most river-worthy craft, including rafts, driftboats, kayaks and canoes. There are riffles and small rapids (Class II). The river is also navigable by jetboats. Logistics: The section of the Kootenai River popular with trout anglers is located upstream from Bonners Ferry, and launch/takeout spots can be found at Bonners Ferry, the Twin Rivers Canyon Resort and Leonia, Mont. near the border. Special regulations: Trout limit is two, no rainbow or cutthroat trout under 16 inches. Learn more about the Kootenai River and its fishing opportunities: https://youtu.be/JFlFfW0NwR8
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Hunting & Fishing News | 21
Outfitting Montana Anglers for 100 Years
Say Hello to Success: Where to Catch the Fish this Month
© Mtsue | Dreamstime
all can present some of the best fishing of the year as rainbows and cutts feed up for the upcoming winter and browns get ready for their spawn cycle. It’s not a river-only deal either, as Montana’s many reservoirs will be primed for fantastic fishing as we slide further into fall. Here’s a roundup of a few solid western Montana trout opportunities: Lower Clark Fork River - Fishing should be good below the Alberton Gorge all the way to the Big Eddy near Superior for rainbows and cutthroat trout. Top flies will be Baetis and mahoganies. Small spinning gear like a Mepp’s Aglia will also pick up trout. Middle Fork of the Flathead River - West Glacier holds many great trout opportunities. There is river access for boats on Moccasin Creek, Cascadia or Essex, or you can walk to the river from the road and wade and fish the shallow areas. The 35 mile stretch that follows Hwy. 2 from Bear Creek down to West Glacier can be good. Trailing beetles, emerging blue-winged olives, hoppers, PMD’s and October Caddis will really come into play. Spinning gear will include Panther Martin Teardrop Spinner, Mepp’s Aglia or a Thomas Colorado spoon on bright, sunny days. Clark Canyon Reservoir - Fall fishing on Clark Canyon Reservoir near Dillon will be primed with giant trout. Now that the sizzling summer has passed, head to the south end of the lake for good action using topwater flies or
rainbow colored sinking spinners. Anglers routinely catch 3 to 4 pound trout, but much bigger trout can be caught here. Georgetown Lake - The brook trout here are nice sized and abundant. Kokanee salmon will also hit throughout September. Fish small, dark flies for trout near cattail patches along the lake around Seven Gables. Small spinning gear cast into the cattails will draw out the fish. Brook trout must be over 16 inches to be a keeper (1) daily (check regs). Gates of the Mountains - Holter - You can fish the shallow bays that dredge off into deeper water along the canyon walls for rainbows and hard-fighting browns in Holter this fall. Target inlets around Cottonwood Creek and Split Rock. Trolling Cowbells along with Wedding Rings or worm harnesses tipped with a nightcrawler will pick up 3 to 4 pound rainbows, or you can bounce jigs for walleye and yellow perch with good results now. Hebgen Lake - Autumn angling on this lake can be good from shore, float tube or power boat this fall. If you’re searching for large pre-spawn browns, concentrate on one of the mouths of Hebgen’s many tributaries. Nightcrawlers fished just off the bottom and small to medium spinners, spoons and crankbaits, and leech patterns in browns, black or olive. Large trout can be taken here on dry flies on warmer autumn days. Ennis Lake - As the air cools, Ennis Lake once again, will start fishing well. To fish this lake in the fall, a steady, small boat is a good idea. Rainbows and browns can be stalked in the shallow flats as they try to fatten up for the winter. Crawlers tipped with flavored marshmallows can work well, as will leech and crayfish patterns. Small spinners and spoons like Rapala Countdowns or Thomas Colorado Minnow spoons in the nickel and gold combo work well in these smaller lakes. Tongue River - Trout - The Tongue River has the North Fork and the South Fork, and right now the North Fork is excellent fishing in the pristine setting of the Bighorn Mountains near the Montana/Wyoming border. Trout are wild, abundant and hungry this time of the year, as they get in condition for the cold months that lie ahead. The only drawback is their skittishness if water levels are low. Part of the North Fork of the Tongue flows through rugged canyons where only avid anglers and wild critters venture. As such, it is a wild and wonderful fishing experience. Trout anglers will have the river virtually all to themselves, as many summer travelers have gone. Heavy rainbows and long browns up to 25 inches will be on the prowl. Tongue River Reservoir Bass, Crappie, Northern Pike, Walleye - Large bodies of water such as this one are rare in prairie country, and the Tongue River Reservoir State Park near Decker, Mt. is a favorite among Montana and Wyoming anglers alike.
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This 12 mile long reservoir is home to two Montana state record fish - a black crappie caught in 1973 by Al Elser 16.7” and 3.13 pounds. A 37.5 pound northern pike caught by Lance Moyer in 1972 still holds the state record. A white crappie that measured 18.5” and weighed 3.68 pounds was caught in the Tongue River in May of 1996 by Gene Bassett. 150 campsites surround the reservoir and the fall fishing will be excellent. Flathead - Macks - You can haul in lots of lake trout this fall on Flathead Lake. This is transition time for macks as they move shallower to spawn. In early fall, anchor-up and jig cutbait - rigged jig and fly combos in the 75 to 100 foot water depth off Rocky Point, Bird Island, the east shore’s Gravel, Skidoo and Blue Bays, and on the north end at Painted Rocks and the entire western shore for good fishing points. T-spoons and Flatfish work well around Big Arm, Elmo Bay, Cromwell and the Narrows north of Polson. Fall Mack Days will be happening September 22nd to November 12th. This event is designed to stimulate the harvest of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake, in hopes of improving native bull trout and westslope cutthroat populations, while maintaining lake trout angling. Fort Peck Reservoir - Lake Trout, Chinook - Fort Peck is characterized by abundant edge habitat; points, finger bays, creek mouths, and gumbo shallows, but there is also plenty of deep water habitat, especially in the widest portion of the reservoir located just behind the dam. Lake trout thrive in this cold, clear water that drops to 200 feet. Anglers who invest in the right gear (large boats, downriggers and the type of big minnow imitating trolling lures used for coastal salmon can have epic days. You want to mimic cisco so your color choice should be iridescent blue and silver. Lake trout of 15 or up to 20 pounds, dredged from the reservoirs deepest points are not uncommon. Some of the best lake trout fishing is in the
late summer and early fall once the walleye bite dies off. Marina Bay should be ground zero for salmon. As the lake cools off, running crankbaits will become more effective. Try a 6 to 8 inch crank that mimics a cisco with white and red around its gills - a Rapala glass minnow is a good option . IDAHO - Salmon, Snake and Clearwater Rivers Steelhead - It’s a bit early yet for the bigger sized fish in these rivers, but anglers are already targeting summer-run steelies. From now through November is when you’ll find the best fishing, by catch numbers on Idaho’s Snake, Salmon and Clearwater Rivers. The early A-run fish consists mainly of 4 to 7 pound fish. As fall rolls along into mid-to-late September, you can expect the bigger B-run in the 12 to 15 pound range to start to move in. Cooler water temperatures will dictate the fish movements up into these systems. GEAR UP FOR STEELHEAD Idaho’s steelhead runs are starting to ramp up now as we settle into fall. Here are a couple of items you’ll want to fish with this fall: • Spin-N-Glo - The Spin-N-Glo may be responsible for more steelhead caught than any other drift lure around. It is perfect for drifting, plunking or back trolling for steelhead. It can be fished alone or with bait. • Trolling Plug - The Mag Lip 3.0 trolling plug from Yakima Bait is a favorite among steelhead anglers. The 3.0 dives up to 10 feet and the 3.5 up to 14 feet. Serious anglers are turning to the Mag Lip for steelhead. • Lil’ Corky Bait Floater - Drift fishermen have known the value of adding Lil’ Corky to their rig. Fished alone as an egg imitation or when added to bait the “Corky” helps float bait just off the bottom where steelhead can grab it. Have a great time fishing this fall!
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WHY CARRYING MULTIPLE OPTICS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR LOCATING MORE DEER (continued from page 18) 15s are a true workhorse when you’re glassing all day long and trying to pick up the slightest movement. I fell in love with 15s when I hunted Coues deer in Mexico and since then I’ve been running them on every hunt. Note: 15s are way too much for handheld use. With some practice you might get decent with them... but I feel they are way too much power when bowhunting and their bulkyness and weight are something that Glassing with 15 power Vortex binoculars. I just can’t get used to around my neck. Photo Brady Miller 15s also have a smaller field of view, so they will be difficult to use when stalking in close to an animal. With all that said, I believe the tripod mounted 15x binos are extremely effective for finding game and much easier on the eyes for extended use but the spotter is still mandatory for assessing trophy size. USING 12S AND A SPOTTING SCOPE I really love my 15x56 binoculars and they are my go to pair on the mountain. But… carrying three pairs of optics is starting to get old especially when they are tipping the scales at over 8 pounds in my pack! The main reason they are starting to not fit in my system is that I’m also carrying a large DLSR camera, three lenses, extra batteries, etc on all my backcountry hunts.
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Because of this, I’m thinking about running a pair of 12x50 binoculars off a tripod and also carrying a spotting scope to save some weight in the backcountry. I’ve borrowed a pair of 12s on a scouting trip and instantly fell in love with them. The 12s still have great magnification and field of view, and only running two pairs of optics will greatly cut down on my pack weight. The 12s I’ve tried out can easily be ran off a bino harness and are not too powerful for handheld use and would still be effective while bowhunting.
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Overall, the 12s are very powerful and would be the perfect optic if you’re going deep in the mountains and are looking to save some weight over the three optic setup, but still want to glass off a tripod all day. Plus with the larger field of view and ability to double as chest mounted binos... they are getting looked at seriously hard.
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24 | Hunting & Fishing News
USING 10S AND A SPOTTING SCOPE This is the system I started out with way back in the day. I loved running 10x42 binoculars off a bino harness and then when needed I’d pick apart the terrain with my spotting scope. Back then I just glassed off my knees with the 10s because I felt that they were steady at that magnification for close basin action (but they are nowhere near the level of stable as tripod mounted binos). The wide field of view also allows you to dissect a lot of terrain in fewer grid patterns. After I finished glassing with my 10s, I’d move right into the spotter and use that off and on throughout the day. Back when I ran this setup I feel like I used the spotting scope 60% of the time and the 10s 40% of the time. Since 10s are extremely steady, they are a bowhunters best friend when stalking in on an animal. The 10s and spotter combination works great, but if you’re sitting and glassing all day trying to pick out the subtle ear twitch or antler tine, glassing with 10s will get uncomfortable fast if you’re using them off your knees instead of mounting them to a tripod. Also, even if you do mount your 10s to a tripod, the low magnification is going to make picking up bucks midday a little more difficult. Yes, you do have a spotting scope next to you, but this also isn’t the easiest method and your eyes will slowly hurt from squinting all day. On top of that you’re limiting your field of view. USING 10S AND 15S ONLY - NO SPOTTER I’m not a fan of this system. To me you can never replace the value of a spotting scope. If you’re strictly an elk hunter, then yes, leave the spotting scope and 15s at home. Are 15x binos better than a spotter for glassing big country? Without a doubt. But you have NO ability to take a closer look. If you value the ability to asses sex or trophy quality, the spotter is a necessity if you want to save a ton of time, effort, and boot leather.
RUNNING 10S AND 12S ON THE SAME HUNT I do not suggest running 10s and 12s on the same hunt (in your backpack at the same time). They are too similar in magnification and this is not the best in terms of weight and what you’re gaining. THE PUSH FOR 12S BEING THE ULTIMATE BACKCOUNTRY BINOS Most people already have 10x42 binoculars. So if they’re going to add another pair of optics to their line, they would probably lean toward 15 power binoculars because 12x binoculars are not that much different than 10s. But… hear me out for a second. I honestly think that 12 power binoculars could be the ticket on backcountry hunts (as long as you have a spotting scope with too). 12s are sort of like the middle ground in terms of how much they excel for glassing off a tripod, yet are small and nimble enough to be carrying around your neck in a bino harness.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF A SPOTTING SCOPE Nowadays I prefer to use the 15s for most of my glassing sessions. The spotter always has it’s place in glassing, but when you glass with a spotting scope for a long time, your eye will start to strain and feel uncomfortable. The main purpose of a spotting scope is to take a closer look at something or determining if that branch in the shade is really a branch or an antler tine. Also, if you’re looking to find the biggest buck on the mountain, a spotting scope will save you a lot of leg work being able to zoom in and assess trophy quality. Also a spotting scope allows you to not blow up a basin. What I mean by that is you can glass from a longer distance and can zoom in to tell if a buck is an average 4 point or one worth going after rather than hiking closer which could potentially blow out a spot in front of you or several spots if you need to walk on the backside of a ridge that could potentially wreck your Plan C and D areas. IN CONCLUSION If you’re just starting out and looking to buy optics for the first time you have a lot of options in front of you. I suggest looking at what types of terrain you’ll be hunting, the animal you’ll mainly hunt and... Keep in mind that there really isn’t a “perfect” solution when it comes to optics. There will always be times that you wish you had a slightly different system. Optics are expensive, so buy the setup that you will use for the majority of your hunts. Remember that each optic shines in certain situations and one can not really replace others without sacrificing in one area. For example: 15x binoculars are not a replacement for a spotting scope, 12s might be a great medium ground option but you’re going to be sacrificing magnification power and you will have huge decrease in field of view over 10s, 15s are also difficult to hand hold. Comfort is king when glassing all day and is why I still feel the three optic system is ideal if you don’t mind carrying the extra weight. But... I’m seriously thinking about selling a pair of binoculars to pick up a pair of 12s. Also, it would be great to be able to mix and match optics based on the hunt, but that might be out of budget for a lot of us.
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MONTANA FALL HUNT DATES
Upland Game Bird: Grouse and Partridge General Fall Turkey Deer & Elk (Archery) Fall Black Bear (Archery)
Sep 15 Sep 30 Oct 7 Oct 7 Oct 21
Fall Black Bear (Rifle) Waterfowl: Ducks and Geese Upland Game Bird: Pheasant General Antelope (Rifle) Deer & Elk (Rifle)
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4 TIPS TO STAY DIALED
ARCHERY SEASON By Zach Lazzari Lazy J Bar O Outfitters www.lazyjbaro.com
A rchery season lasts for numerous months in many areas. In the river bottom unit near my Montana home, Photo credit Zach Lazzari
I can hunt from mid-September until January 15th. I can also bag multiple whitetails during this season. We prepare all year for archery season but it’s somehow easy to lapse during the middle and later season. Maybe you take a break to rifle hunt elk or just get busy and circle back to hunting in the later season. Regardless, stay on top of your game to make the most of your late season.
1. CHECK EQUIPMENT
Do weekly equipment checks when you are not bowhunting to keep everything in order. Check your string and apply a light amount of wax if necessary. Check all your connections to ensure screws are tight and nothing is going to come loose. Make sure your broadheads are sharp and haven’t had any incidental contact that caused dulling. Do a full inspection simply for the peace of mind.
© KENETREK, LLC 2017
2. SHOOT EVERY WEEK
Keep shooting even when you are not hunting. It is easy to assume you are still accurate after all the pre-season hunting but you can get rusty in a hurry. Even a few arrows each day will keep your shot crisp and ready for the next deer that crosses your path.
3. STORE YOUR BOW
Safely store your bow between hunts in a hard case. Soft cases are nice but your bow will get bumped and has a higher risk for damage. I keep my bow in the truck while I chase elk during rifle season and having a hard case is critical. Take out on your non-bowhunting trips along with a target and shoot while you have downtime.
4. SWITCH TO COLD WEATHER GEAR
You have practiced and maintained your equipment, now switch over to the cold weather gear to prevent hypothermia. In wet country, muck boots keep your feet dry. Layer up even on seemingly nice days because the winter weather will hit eventually and freeze you out. To learn more about Lazy J Bar O Outfitters visit www.lazyjbaro.com or phone 406-932-5687.
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Hunting & Fishing News | 29
BOWHUNTING WESTERN MONTANA WHITETAILS W hen you ask around at local archery shops for opinions on the best whitetail hunting in Montana, you’ll get plenty of
opinions, with places like the legendary Milk River, Yellowstone and Powder River areas in the eastern portion of the state, but where does the list start when you ask about bowhunting whitetail on the western side of the state? © Mikael Males | Dreamstime
The truth is that there is plenty of great whitetail hunting in Montana for the string and stick crowd, and some of the best is on public land. That’s mainly the case west of the Continental Divide, where big deer hang out in dense timber and wetlands.
East of the Divide, agricultural land is much more dominant and whitetails are more commonly associated with private lands that are much harder to access. With the whitetails starting to come back from a five year decline in numbers, here are the perennially best public land whitetail areas west of the Divide. Seeley Lake, Swan Valley - From Clearwater Junction right up Highway 83 to Seeley Lake, Condon and then past Swan Lake, you can find big timber country whitetails. Deer densities are not what they were a few years back, but if you’re looking for a 150” class buck, you’ll find them hiding in this thick, forested high country. You can also start hunting at lower elevation foothills and valley floor bogs between Rainey Lake and Condon. Up high, you’ll also encounter mule deer, some that are very impressive. Libby - The higher ridges along the Kootenai River that were once dominated by high-racked mule deer, are balanced out with formidable whitetails. Higher roaming whitetails can be found, and there are plenty of good sized bucks here. Hunt the dog hair timber in grown-over clearcuts and watch for closed off logging roads that are hiding deer. These bucks are less pressured and can be found roaming early to feed and in the late evening after thermals start to drop. Look for any rainy days, as deer love to come out just after a nice cool downpour. (continued on page 39)
HUNT ON PUBLIC LANDS
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www.rangitschbrosrv.com Hunting & Fishing News | 31
5 BACKCOUNTRY ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR NEXT HUNT By Justin Klement Originally published at
M ore and more often I get asked
how to get started backpacking, what gear they need, what is too much and so on. Although there are a lot of resources out there, I would like to outline my five top items needed for a backpack hunting Photo credit Seth Webb trip. This will come from a perspective of overall comfort, effectiveness and ease of use. 1.) SAWYER MINI-FILTER WATER FILTER AND PURIFICATION SYSTEM This shows the setup of the Sawyer system. You can quickly disconnect the bite valve and connect the inline filter. This item has hands-down changed my life in the backcountry. Not only is it easier, it’s quicker and just less of a hassle than pumps of latter years. Photo credit Justin Klement
For instance, if any of you have every used pumps in the past, you almost always have to dig into your pack to retrieve your water bladder, which takes time to unpack what needs unpacking, fish your hose through holes that don’t necessarily warrant the ease of fishing said drinking hoses through, and then repacking back into your pack when you’re done. With this Sawyer mini-filter and the required “quick-disconnect” fittings, you can fill your bladder without even taking off your pack if you are so equipped. You simply fill your “squeeze” bags with dirty water, attach the filter and squeeze that dirty water through the filter into your drinking hose that you have attached the female quick Filling the squeeze bag can sometimes be the only connect fitting to. Done. Gone are my drawback of this system. days of packing around a pump. Photo credit Justin Klement 2.) LIGHTWEIGHT GAME BAGS Night and day dedicated game bags are better than the typical older and heavier canvas game socks or even the pillow method. There are several great options on the market, some will allow a full quarter to be carried out and others are for de-boned meat only. (continued on page 44)
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Applicants applying for a license/permit who participate in the Bonus Point system, and are unsuccessful in the drawing, will earn one point. Individuals who missed the deadline to apply or did not apply for bonus points at time of application, may purchase one between July 1st and September 30th of the license year. The bonus points can be used in future years to place the applicants name in the drawing additional times. The number of additional chances is calculated by squaring the base bonus points. Unlike a preference system, a Bonus Points system does not guarantee a license/permit to the applicants with the most bonus points and first-time applicants still have a chance to draw a license/permit. Any bonus points accumulated will not be lost unless the individual draws the species they applied their bonus points to.
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•Bonus points essentially offer you additional drawing chances and are used for first hunting district choice only. •Existing bonus points will be mathematically “squared” prior to the drawing. That means if you already have 3 “base” bonus points those will be “squared” and you’ll then have 9 bonus points going into the drawing. •If you’re unsuccessful, you’ll be awarded an additional base bonus point for next year’s drawing. Bonus Points do not expire.
•If you did not apply for a bonus point you can purchase a bonus point from July 1st through September 30th. The fee to purchase a bonus point without applying is $15 per species for residents and the nonresident fees are $25 per species with the exception of Moose, Sheep, and Goat which are $75 per species. Note: You cannot apply and purchase bonus points in the same year.
•If you wish to participate in the Bonus Point program for licenses/ permits, at the time of your application, you must check “YES” on the Bonus Point questions and include the $20 (nonresident) or $2 (resident) Bonus Point fee per permit type.
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Hunting & Fishing News | 35
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Not all dealers carry all products. Please read the owner’s manual before operating your Honda Power Equipment and never use in a closed or partly enclosed area where you could be exposed to odorless, poisonous to avoid possible injury to power company personnel. Consult a qualified electrician. © 2017 American Honda Motor Co., Inc. www.powerequipment.honda.com
Bowhunting Western Montana Whitetails (continued from page 30)
Ovando, Garnet Mountains - Both the Blackfoot/Clearwater and the eastern side of the Blackfoot River are normally hot spots to locate whitetails. You’ll have to put on your hiking boots as this country is a bit mountainous and timbered, making great cover for cagey, old bucks to hide in. Hunt the decades old clearcuts or any newer recent logging roads you might find to locate deer. The bonus is that you will probably run into a few small herds of elk that roam these hills. Look for any re-prod areas that may have mountain creeks running through, and you should find whitetails. Note: HD 290 is home to the Helmville-Ovando Archery District where deer hunting is restricted to archery equipment only. Lincoln - This high-country is known for growing historically big-racked deer. Though deer numbers have fallen of late, limited B tags offered over the last few hunting seasons have really helped in bringing back the whitetail deer once again. There is plenty of BLM land with public access open for hunting in this area, though most are gated. You can find bucks if you get off and into the timber a bit. Look for water and you’ll find deer. A ground blind is not a bad idea in this area. Note: HD 284 Lincoln Archery District - Deer and elk hunting is restricted for archery equipment only.
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© Yoderrm | Dreamstime
Ravalli - Good mountain whitetail country can be found in the Bitterroot Valley starting up at Lolo Creek to the Idaho border where there is plenty of BLM area to hunt.
Whitetails can be found criss-crossing the creeks and waterways that run along the highway. South along the Bitterroot River, you’ll have plenty of hunting from the Stevensville area south to Darby, then Sula. Burnt Fork, Skalkaho Creek, Sawtooth Creek and the East Fork area around Lake Como and Painted Rocks is beautiful country to set-up a camp and hunt the many draws and creek drainages this country provides. Bonus: Growing elk numbers have been reported in the Bitterroot this season. There are plenty of whitetails in a mix of cottonwood thickets, willow and alder bottoms, and mountain timber stands all across western Montana. Do your homework and legwork, and you’ll be rewarded with a great time hunting in Montana. (Montana’s archery hunting season for deer and elk is set to open Saturday, September 2nd). Check MFWP Hunting regulations before you take to the field this season.
Hunting & Fishing News | 39
NEW AND COOL: THE BEST NEW PRODUCTS FOR UPLAND HUNTING By Tom Bulloch
Pheasants Forever www.pheasantsforever.org
Isomething t gets tougher every year for companies to come up with truly innovative for the hunting market. “New”
products are often little more than cosmetic refreshes on old themes. So, we’ve sifted through all the retreads to find those products that offer value, new technology, genuine improvements or all of the above to the upland hunter. Are they must-haves? You decide. Irish Setter Ravine Boots: A Treat For Your Feet “All-day-comfort” is how Irish Setter (irishsetterboots.com) describes their Ravine Boots, light in weight but with good support and comfort from the Anti-Torsion Chassis that provides stability on uneven ground. They’re offered in seven-inch, non-insulated versions in composite build ($179.99) or all leather ($189.99), and in nine-inch non-insulated ($189.99) and insulated ($209.99) models.
A large number of lacing eyelets help you customize their fit. The Ravines are waterproof, have a comfortable memory foam collar, and a specially designed tongue to baby your shins. The rubber sole provides excellent traction without being overly stiff. They look cool, too. Sylmar Body Guard Dog Vest: In-Vestment in Your Dog’s Safety Jerry Popelka had a problem. The tough, durable vests he always used on his hard-charging hunting dogs—vests he credited with saving thousands in vet bills, and possibly a dog’s life or two—were finally wearing out after years of service. The “new, improved” versions were cheap, poorly made imports. So, he sought out the original vest designer, then in his 80s, acquired his plans, and started his own company. The result is Sylmar Dogwear (sylmardogwear.com), Jerry’s small, family-run company in northern Colorado committed to making the highest quality, best fitting dog vests and related products on the market. The Body Guard Dog Vest, for example, is available in three colors, eight sizes, with or without neoprene lining. They’re tough, visible, and can save your hunting pal from a trip or two to the emergency room. Find ‘em on the PF website from just $49.00. SportDOG TEK 1.5 GPS Tracking + E-Collar: Hopping Good Just what is HopTek technology, and why do you need it? It’s how SportDOG (sportdog.com) incorporates Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum into their new TEK Series 1.5 tracking and training system. By reducing interference, it allows for higher transmitter output power, producing superior range performance. The TEK 1.5 pairs with the company’s proven TEK 2.0 collar, providing tracking and/or training of up to 12 dogs to seven miles. It has 99 stimulation levels, letting you tailor your training from the shyest to the most stubborn hounds. Not only will it track your crew via GPS, but it helps you navigate, too.
ELK COUNTRY VISITOR CENTER Trophy Elk Display Elk Country Wildlife Diorama Wildlife Theater Walking Trail Valid through September 30, 2017
$5 gift to you $5 off a single purchase of $10 or more at the Elk Country Visitor Center Gift Shop Coupon must be surrendered at time of purchase. One coupon per customer. Discount does not apply to memberships, gift cards, prior purchases, or in combination with any other discounts. No cash value. Reproductions not accepted. Certificate cannot be redeemed as cash or merchandise credit if merchandise is returned.
Directions: Take I-90 to Exit 101 in Missoula. Drive 1⁄4 mile north to 5705 Grant Creek Road. accessible with RV parking. Open year round. For information, call 406-523-4545 or 866-266-7750 or visit www.rmef.org.
At $549.95, it’s less expensive and infinitely more convenient than using separate systems for training and tracking. Browning Lona Canvas & Leather Shotgun Case: Class Act This elegant case harkens back to the days when fine shotguns nestled in felt-lined soft canvas and aged leather, not plastic and foam. Quilted, well-padded nine-ounce cotton canvas in black and brown is graced with leather accents and a sling-style adjustable shoulder strap. Brass hardware, including a double-pull zipper, adds to its good looks. A snap-closure side pocket contains loops for shells and/or choke tubes, distinguished with the iconic Browning Buckmark logo stamped in leather. Available in 48- and 52-inch lengths, the latter retailing for $89.99, you can tell your friends there’s a Purdey or Parker inside and they’ll believe you (browning.com). Carhartt Upland Field Pant: For Dirty Jobs. Like Hunting. Known for toughness on the job, it makes sense that Carhartt would bring their no-nonsense durability and comfortable fit to the “job” of upland hunting. Priced right at $79.99 (carhartt.com), these pants are a 60/40 cotton/ polyester blend made rain-repellent with Rain Defender®. They have Carstrong® full-chapped front and half-chapped rear legs. A secure right-leg pocket holds your cell phone. The fit is relaxed and comfortable, with no limits on your freedom of movement. In Carhartt brown, they show that you take your job seriously. Federal Premium® Hi-Bird™ 12-Gauge Shotshells: Say Goodbye, Bird What upland hunter doesn’t welcome a little more lethal range from his shotshells? Federal (federalpremium.com) has combined increased velocity (1275 fps in Hi-Bird standard, 1330 fps in high-speed) with a two-piece wad for maximum range, better patterns at long distances, and optimum penetration and retained energy. SoftCell™ wad technology has the added benefit of reducing perceived recoil. Hi-Bird™ shotshells are all 2 ¾” in length, offered in standard velocity 6, 7.5 and 8 shot configurations with 1 1/8 ounces of shot, retailing at $10.95 per box, and in 6 and 7.5-shot high velocity loads containing 1 ¼ ounces of shot at $12.95 per box. The lead shot is engineered for the best combination of hardness and density. Garmin Vehicle/Handheld/Wristwatch GPS system: Never Lose Your Way. Or Your Dog.Garmin (garmin.com) has created a GPS system for upland hunters and their dogs that will make lost dogs—or lost dog owners—a thing of the past. Start with the DriveTrack 70LMT ($399.99), an in-vehicle GPS with a large, bright display, preloaded with U.S. topo maps. On-road or off-road, it provides superb navigation. It will sync wirelessly with Garmin Astro 430 ($649.99) or Alpha 100 ($799.99) handheld dog tracking GPS devices, which allows you to pinpoint your bird dog’s location up to nine miles away. The slick new Garmin Fenix 5 GPS watch ($599.99) gives you even more dog tracking options, along with dozens of fitness and performance features. You’ll find overlooked hunting spots, spend more productive time in the field, and neither you or your dog will wonder where you are. Technology doesn’t get any better—or more useful—than this. Orvis Women’s Upland Briar Pant: Field Fashion Lots of ladies love to hunt. But they don’t want to look like men while doing it. Orvis (orvis.com) understands perfectly, which is why they had women design and create this tough, functional yet good-looking pair of technical trousers. They incorporate European styling and German tradition with rugged faced fabric and nylon trim. There are two front pockets, two rear flap pockets, and one right-hand leg pocket with a built-in knife sleeve. Traditional olive in color, they retail for $219, but they’re often on sale. (continued on page 48)
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Hunting & Fishing News | 41
GEAR REVIEW SAUER 100 Rifles Premium Comes Standard
Sauer 100 Classic shown also available in Sauer 100 Classic XT
With the S 100, SAUER raises the standard for entry-level
rifles. The adjustable single-stage trigger, three-position safety, hammer-forged original SAUER barrel, famously smooth SAUER bolt, and ERGO MAX stock geometry make it an exceptional choice. The ERGO MAX stock differentiates itself by the air face inclining to the rear, thereby providing improved position of the head behind the telescopic sight which allows for calm sighting and reduced recoil. The SAUER 100 sets the standard in this price class.
Wayne Carlton 3D Elk Decoys
Packs for every size binocular
Made in the USA, Alaska Guide Creations was forged in the
crucible of the Alaskan wilderness. The innovative binocular harness chest pack, by Jaret Owens (guide and entrepreneur), was born from the need to survive and succeed in any outdoor endeavor, where optics are a must.
3D life size elk decoy to attract approaching elk bulls. Tested and
approved by the famous elk hunter Wayne Carlton. This decoy weighs under 2 pounds and is easily packed into the field by simply rolling it up. Mono stake the decoy into the ground for hand free function. Light and easy to carry and turn to approaching Big Bulls. Non-see through laminated design with non-UV printing gives the most natural look in the woods. See these and other fine products at one of the 5 Montana Bob Wardâ€™s Sports & Outdoors stores in Missoula, Bozeman, Helena, Butte and Hamilton or 24/7 at www.bobwards.com
Versatile, Variable Powered Riflescope 3-9x40
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5 BACKCOUNTRY ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR NEXT HUNT (continued from page 32)
Goal Zero Solar Panel for Hunting. Photo credit Justin Klement
Justin Klement packing out elk meat and gear. Photo credit Justin Klement
A great lightweight option is Caribou Gear Game Bags. They are strong, pack down extremely small, keep bugs and dirt off better than the “other options” and fit into a perfect sized bag that can become your entire “kill kit.” This small package of wonder is where I keep my Havalon, along with extra blades, a small sheet of visqueen (polyethylene plastic sheeting) and a small roll of tape to put the tag on. All of this is, for the most part, all I need to quarter, de-bone, and pack out an entire elk. You can get their lightweight “backcountry” version in three sizes: The Carnivore III, Muley Meat on Bone and the Wapiti Meat on Bone. 3.) PORTABLE SOLAR PANELS AND CHARGE PACKS I’ve fallen in love with the Goal Zero Nomad solar panels. These are lightweight, easy to use solar panels that fold up to about half the size of a regular magazine.
What I have seen done is simply lash the solar panel to the top or back of your pack when you’re on a hike or moving glassing locations. This keeps to the age old idea of killing two birds with one stone. Another advantage is that even after a few charges, you’re not going to be carrying around dead weight, it will still be usable to charge other devices such as a GPS or cell phone, so you no longer have to worry about whether or not you can play solitaire during the heat of the day and if you’ll have enough charge to take pictures or call your significant other later. The only downside is cloud cover will severely decrease the effectiveness of a solar panel. Another great option is a rechargeable battery pack like the Poseidon by Dark Energy. For a short weekend trip, these are all you need to keep all Photo credit Brady Miller your electronic devices running. Plus, you can combine a battery pack with a solar panel to keep your battery pack charged.
4) LIGHTWEIGHT TRIPOD A lot of guys still don’t understand the importance of using a tripod to glass. I know I’m not the first to cover this subject, but having your binoculars on a tripod to glass is hands-down the single best tip for glassing, or hunting for that matter, I have ever received. I’ve tested out a few options, but if you’re the lightweight type, the Vortex Uni-Daptor at 1.0 ounces is a great option. Not only is a tripod important for glassing with binoculars, Vortex binoculars mounted on a tripod for enhanced glassing spotting scopes and such, and ability to pick up movement it also works great for your at long distances. camera to snap pictures, Photo credit Justin Klement especially if you’re by yourself. You can easily attach a camera, set it up on a timer and get good quality pictures. Not to mention, you can use your tripod to pry large boulders off your legs in time of need. That one comes from experience... 5.) LAYERING SYSTEM OF CLOTHING I’m not going to go into which ones I prefer, simply because I have heard enough on the war of whose product is better and why. I will simply name a few that I know work, and work well. It’s up to the individual to decide what they like better. I will tell you that I have used a couple and had experience with a few others. Ones I like a lot are KUIU, First Lite Getting ready to pack out an elk. and the disenfranchised Photo credit Justin Klement Core4Element. If you can get your hands on a set of clothing from these companies you’re making good choices. I have used their products and I trust their gear in the backcountry to keep me warm, dry and ultimately safe. Another company I know makes good gear is Sitka, however I have no experience using them. I know there are also a few more I’m leaving out, that does not make them bad choices. What I do like about each of these, is that they offer a layering system. Base layers are key for me, merino wool, which most know about by now is a staple in my pack. It keeps you warm when it’s cool out and dry when it’s hot and wicks sweat and moisture from your skin. Then you get the outer layers, or insulation layers, the outer shells, and rain gear to top it off. IN CLOSING While there are many different types of gear you can bring on a backcountry hunt, these five quick sections are ones I keep returning to time and time again.
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www.onewaymarine.com Full Parts & Service Departments ©2017 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. TM, ® and the BRP logo are registered trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. Products are distributed in the U.S.A. by BRP US Inc. Because of our ongoing commitment to product quality and innovation, BRP reserves the right at any time to discontinue or change specifications, price, design, features, models or equipment without incurring any obligation. Some models depicted may include optional equipment. Read the side-by-side vehicle (SSV) Operator’s Guide and watch the Safety DVD before driving. For your safety: wear a helmet, eye protection and other protective gear. Fasten lateral net and seat belt at all times. Always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. SSV is for off-road use only. Never ride on paved surfaces or public roads. Operator must be at least 16 years old. Passenger must be at least 12 years old and able to hold handgrips and plant feet while seated against the backrest. BRP urges you to “TREAD LIGHTLY” on public and private lands. Preserve your future riding opportunities by showing respect for the environment, local laws and the rights of others when you ride. Make sure that all laws and regulations, are respected. Ride responsibly.
Hunting & Fishing News | 45
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46 | Hunting & Fishing News
SEPTEMBER HUNTING A Few Grouse Hunting Tips © Rinus Baak | Dreamstime
By H&F News Pro Staff
M ontana’s upland bird hunters shouldn’t be disappointed with the number of grouse they see perched throughout
the landscape as we start the early hunting season. Dry, hot summer conditions have forced these birds close to any water resources that they have nearby. River bottoms and timbered creek drainages should be your focus here early on. Once we get moisture these birds will start to spread out looking for different food sources as the mornings get cooler. Here are a few pointers to get you started. WESTERN MONTANA Food sources: Hunt any draws filled with berries and heavy downfall. Start low and work your way up, either by walking old, gated logging roads or riding in with a mountain bike or by driving any low land river bottom roads early in the morning.
Old logging roads are classic places to walk, because they offer edge habitat birds love. In the evenings you can catch grouse out on the roads picking up gravel and pebbles. Any mountain range in western Montana will hold ruffs and blue grouse - Sanders, Mineral, Lincoln, Missoula and Flathead counties all offer up excellent hunting for uplands. CENTRAL MONTANA Sharp-tailed grouse are the main species as you head into central Montana. Montana’s Hi-line area with its abundant grass lands and CRP land hold plenty of birds around their favorite habitat - brushy draws that are adjacent to wheat and other grain fields. Hungarian partridge can also be flushed in these areas. Chouteau, Hill, Blaine and Fergus counties are all good bets to find open prairie birds. Block management areas and any wildlife refuge area or wetland you can hunt will be productive.
For the best success hunting a new area, hunt places with the most water. EASTERN MONTANA Much of the same for hunting tactics as we head into the expansive prairie of eastern Montana. Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge and perennial sloughs, creeks and waterholes are good bets to find upland birds. Phillips, Valley, Daniels, and Richland counties are all good hunting choices. Look for any BMA’s in the area and you will have plenty of area to hunt. The upland season should be fair this season, despite drought-like conditions in northeast Montana.
Hunting & Fishing News | 47
Wild Game Recipe:
Seared Deer Steaks in a Cilantro, Lime, Jalapeño Sauce: Lindsey Bartosh a 12 Gauge Girl www.huntingandcooking.com
Ingredients: 4 deer steak medallions, about three inches thick Cherry tomatoes Asparagus 2 tablespoons olive oil Avocado Steak sauce 2 handfuls torn cilantro 1 jalapeño, sliced 1 inch piece ginger, grated 2 cloves garlic, grated 3 limes, juiced 1/4 cup olive oil 4 tablespoons coconut aminos Salt and pepper Instructions: Cut deer steaks into about three inch thick medallions. Allow to rest at room temperature for fifteen minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Place tomatoes and asparagus on a rimmed cookie sheet, coat .with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in 400 preheated oven for fifteen minutes, or until tomatoes begin to burst. For the sauce, whisk together cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, limes, olive oil, and coconut aminos. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is preheated, place seasoned steaks down for three minutes per side. Pour sauce over cooked steaks, allow to come to a bubble for thirty seconds. On a plate, set two steak medallions, four to five cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and diced avocado. Pour sauce over top and enjoy!
NEW AND COOL: THE BEST NEW PRODUCTS FOR UPLAND HUNTING (continued from page 41) Peet D’odoriz’r Module: Cure For Foul Feet If the smell of your favorite hunting boots causes a gag reflex, call on the power of ozone to tame your foul footwear. The patented Peet D’odoriz’r (peetdryer.com) uses ozone and molecular science to destroy odors, not just mask them with something equally smelly as sprays and powders do. Plug the device in to a 110V outlet (it uses less power than a night light), place it over your boots, and ozone molecules (O3) attach to and destroy odor-carrying oxygen molecules (O2). When not using the module for your boots, it will eliminate odors in any small area, which sounds ideal for certain popular rooms. Just $79.99, the Peet is safe for all footwear, is easily cleaned, and does its job in one to six hours. Syren L4S Shotgun for Women: 12-Gauge Equality Gunmakers have realized women represent one of the fastest-growing segments of hunting and shooting. But, their efforts at addressing this market are often little more than cutting down a stock or making it a “cute” color. Not Syren (syrenusa.com), a division of Caesar Guerini and Fabarm that designs superb scatterguns from the ground up by—and for—women. The Fabarm L4S, a fine semi-auto that has become extremely popular with male bird hunters, has been redesigned with lighter weight (6 ¾ pounds), smaller pistol grip, Monte Carlo stock, and reworked cast at toe under the Syren heading strictly for women. Buy one for your lady—or yourself, if you happen to be a lady—for just $1385.
How Becoming A Mobile Hunter Can
Increase Your Chances Of Success
HUNTING MATURE BUCKS
Being mobile was a large part of being able to harvest this late season buck. It was my first time hunting this area all season and I was able to put this buck down in December.
By Alex Comstock Founder of www.whitetaildna.com
IWhen t’s easy to fall into a routine right? No matter what facet of life, it can be hard to break that routine, even if it doesn’t work. it comes to deer hunting, if you truly want to be successful harvesting mature bucks, the mentality of sitting the same
tree year in and year out might not always work out as you’d like. Not to say there isn’t that special tree that could produce every year at the right time, but by becoming a mobile hunter, you could be setting yourself up for elevated success. MATURE BUCKS ARE ALWAYS CHANGING Whether it be yearly, monthly, weekly, or even daily, it’s not often a mature buck is always going to do the same thing. Sure there are tendencies and patterns you can figure out, but it could require you to bounce around a bit to figure a buck out. You may have multiple encounters with mature bucks during early season hunting one year, but if the crops change, or if any food sources in the area change at all, that tree might not work out the following year. In a shorter period of time, a mature buck may move through a certain funnel or bed in a certain area because of a particular wind. If that wind switches, he may bed or move through a completely different area, and the only way to have a crack at him is through being mobile, and setting up in a different spot as the day or weekend before. What never fails to impress me about a wary, mature buck is their ability to survive. Just when you think you have one figured out, he’ll do something that makes you scratch your head. If you have the ability to be mobile, you can adjust and adapt as the buck does, and have a better chance at crossing his path. How else does hunting mobile help your chances of harvesting a mature buck? It allows you do to a couple other things as well... YOU HUNT MORE AGGRESSIVELY Like I said earlier, it’s easy to go to the same stand over and over again. Maybe one day a mature buck will walk by you, but by being mobile, I think almost by default you become more aggressive. If I see a buck do something and have reason to believe he’s going to do it again, I’ll make that move. In a different situation, if I think a buck is bedding in a certain area, I might move in as close as I can and hunt. What I’ve come to like about being mobile is that if you press in too far, and bump a mature buck, you don’t have to go to that same tree the next day. By being mobile, you can hunt the next day in a completely new area, regardless if you already have a stand in that area or not. BEING MOBILE HELPS AVOID “WEARING OUT” AN AREA When you do find a great treestand location, the last thing you want to do is wear it out by hunting it every day. Truly great stand locations are few and far between and when you do get one, you want to keep it that way. Just as being mobile allows you to hunt more aggressively, on the flip side, you can bounce around the fringes, maybe observe in different locations, and then when the conditions are right, you jump into that great spot. CONCLUSION There are countless ways to be a successful mature buck hunter. Being a mobile hunter could be “your” way, or it could just be a part of your arsenal. If you’ve never tried hunting with a mobile setup, consider giving it a try this season.
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50 | Hunting & Fishing News
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Published on Aug 23, 2017
The complete September 2017 issue. What to Do With the Midday While Elk Hunting, Bowhunting Western Montana Whitetails, Pronghorn Lessons,...