A PUBLICATION OF THE MONTANA BOWHUNTERS ASSOCIATION
VOL. 38 #1 FALL 2010
inside this issue:
Officer & Regional Reports The Log Cabin Bull Season in the Sun . . . Mad About Mulies Three Whitetail
BOWHUNTER — 2 www.mtBa.org
MBA PRESIDENT Jason Tounsley
8630 Longmeadow Dr. • Billings, MT 59106 email@example.com • 406-679-1434
1ST VICE PRESIDENT Joelle Selk 6963 York Road • Helena, MT 59602 firstname.lastname@example.org • 406-475-3023 2ND VICE PRESIDENT Jesse Nelson 407 N. Teton • Bozeman, MT 59718 email@example.com • 406-580-1952 TREASURER Jenn Schneider PO Box 23611 • Billings, MT 59104 firstname.lastname@example.org • 406-697-7668 PAST PRESIDENT Jim Gappa Billings, MT email@example.com • 406-655-8263
MAGAZINE EDITOR Denver Bryan 18 Gardner Park Drive • Bozeman, MT 59715 firstname.lastname@example.org • 406-539-9272
WEB DESIGNER Tracy Watt, Wordman, LLC email@example.com • 406-721-0754 MAGAZINE DESIGN & PUBLICATION K Design Marketing, Inc. Kimberly Kinsinger 15275 Thayer Rd. • Lolo, MT 59847 firstname.lastname@example.org • 406-273-6193
Regional onal R Representatives epre p esent e tatives a MBA
Region 2 Region 3 Region 4 Region 5 Region 6 Region 7 Region 8 EVEN YEARS Cory C. Benge Brendan Burns Pete Iacavazzi Levi Johnson Steve Kamps Roger Peffer Steve Schindler Steve Sukut ODD YEARS Adam Barker Denver Bryan Ray Gross Al Kelly Mark Seacat
PO Box 219, Libby, MT 5992................................................406-293-2900 email@example.com 3160 Airport Road, Kalispel, MT 59901 ................................406-261-4456 firstname.lastname@example.org
Al Kelly Paul Martin Jason Widaman Paul Roush II Billy Lewis Lucas Zemlicka Cliff Garness Ernie McKenzie Kris O’Bleness Don Stein Mark Weber
Missoula, MT ........................................................................406-799-9939 email@example.com 5106 Mainview Dr., Missoula, MT 59803..................................406-544-2169 firstname.lastname@example.org 703 N. Yellowstone, Livingston MT 59407.............................406-220-1837 email@example.com 26 Sheridan Ave., Bozeman MT 59718 . ...............................406-580-9560 firstname.lastname@example.org Great Falls, MT ....................................................................406-788-9009 email@example.com Billings, MT......................................................................... 406-690-7110 firstname.lastname@example.org Billings, MT ........................................................................ 406-252-5360 email@example.com 1625 Northern Heights Drive, Havre, MT 59501 ....................406-265-8099 firstname.lastname@example.org 2885 Old Highway Road,Chinook MT 59523...........................406-357-4119 email@example.com
Colstrip, MT ......................................................................406-748 3077 firstname.lastname@example.org
7005 Viscaya Rd, Helena, MT 59602....................................406-475-9512 email@example.com
AT LARGE DIRECTORS P.O. Box 10024, Bozeman, MT 59714 – firstname.lastname@example.org.......................................406-220-3337 PO Box 1056, Florence, MT 59833 – Region3mbarep@yahoo.com...................................406-223-3833 Billings, MT – email@example.com ...........................................................................406-599-5786 105 West Main, Winnett, MT 59087 – firstname.lastname@example.org.................................................406-366-2247 P.O. Box 192, Lincoln, MT 59639 – email@example.com ....................................................406-362-4907 2517 9th Ave So Great Falls, MT 59405 – firstname.lastname@example.org ........................................406-452-0911 134 Sawney Drive,Glasgow, MT 59203 – email@example.com...............................................406-228-9024 401 Skylark Rd., Glasgow, MT 59230 – firstname.lastname@example.org..........................................406-367-9359 1020 Valley View Dr., Great Falls, MT 59405 – email@example.com ................................406-461-2792 18 Gardner Park Drive, Bozeman, MT 59715 – firstname.lastname@example.org ..........................406-539-9272 355 Antelope Dr., Dillon, MT 59725 – Ray_gross@bresnan.net.......................................406-683-2046 PO Box 219, Libby, MT 59923 – email@example.com...............................................406-293-2900 Bozeman, MT – firstname.lastname@example.org .......................................................................406-570-2190
EDITORIAL COMMENTS The MBA Magazine is a quarterly publication of the MBA and is intended to inform, entertain and educate its members on happenings within the organization and to bowhunting in general.
PUBLICATIONS DATES AND DEADLINES WINTER ISSUE, DEADLINE, October 15 SPRING ISSUE, DEADLINE, January 15 Stories, photos or cartoons should be sent to Denver Bryan, 18 Gardner Park Drive, Bozeman, MT 59715 or email to Denver@denverbryan.com.
All materials are the opinion of the author unless otherwise stated, and are subject to being edited. All photos will be placed in the MBA Photo Album and can be viewed at the annual conventions. Any questions as to policies of the MBA please write the President or Vice President.
Please send new memberships or renewal memberships to MBA Treasurer, PO Box 23611 Billings, MT 59104 or call 406-697-7668 or ask any member.
from the EDITOR PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
Jason Tounsley 1ST VICE PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
Joelle Selk 2nd VICE PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
Jesse Nelson SECRETARY/TREASURER’S MESSAGE
Jenn Schneider BULLETIN BOARD INITIATIVE NO. 161 – Jason Tounsley
MBA REPORT ON INITIATIVE NO 161
9 BOWHUNTERS TALK BACK 10 Wolf Management Controversy In The Eyes Of The MBA Jason Tounsley 11 THE LOG CABIN BULL – Gary Carvajal 13 REGIONAL NEWS 20 Seasons in the Sun…
A Quest for Pronghorn – Steve Sukut
23 MAD ABOUT MULIES – Renee Ladeau 25 MEMBER GALLERY 27 THREE WHITETAIL – Don Thomas
Two bowhunters enjoy a little campfire time while deer hunting in Montana. Photo by Denver Bryan/ Images On The Wildside.
BOWHUNTER — 4 www.mtBa.org
s the saying goes, ‘The more things change the more they stay the same.’ Steve Sukut may have stepped down as editor of the MBA magazine but his replacement, yours truly, is just another bowhunter passionate about hunting in Montana who would like to give something back to our sport. Introductionwise, I’m a former wildlife biologist turned outdoor photographer some 25 years ago. After completing a Master’s degree studying whitetail deer in the Midwest, I pretty much decided that I didn’t want to spend most of the rest of my life working in a government bureaucracy where most of the jobs were to be found. Coming from a family where we’re all pretty much self-employed, a genetic defect may also have been involved here. Anyway, like many a young man whose life revolved around the outdoors, I headed West and eventually ended up in Bozeman some 22 years ago. I’m now fond of claiming that they’ll bury me in Montana someday. However, as the ‘snowbird years’ approach they might have to bring my body back here if I end up biting it in the winter after the hunting seasons close. On the topic of change, you’ll probably notice that the look of the MBA magazine has changed a bit as well. This is primarily due to a recent agreement we’ve made with our long-time designer K Design Marketing. In a nutshell, the MBA will continue to supply the editorial content of our magazine while K Design will assume all design, printing and distribution costs of the magazine in exchange for advertising revenues. This is a win/win proposition that should save the MBA a lot of money. As is often the case, there are no shortages of controversial issues in our world. Wolves have once again been relisted as an ‘endangered species.’ Suffice it to say that just about everyone acknowledges that wolves are really no longer endangered. However, that didn’t keep one side of this issue from seeking a letter-of-the-law interpretation by a single federal judge to again delay state management of a recovered wolf population. Initiative 161 is also of great interest to Montana sportsman. For more on the MBA’s position on both of these issues see President Jason Tounsley’s comments in this issue. Finally, I’d like to remind you that this is your magazine and as such I’d like to continue seeing members supply the majority of its content. So keep sending in your hunting stories and photographs. We’ve also added and would like to grow contributions to two new sections in the MBA magazine; The Bulletin Board and Bowhunters Talk Back. The Bulletin Board will be comprised of short pieces…..i.e. noteworthy news and events along with ‘items of interest’ to our members. The Bowhunters Talk Back is pretty much a letters-to-the-editor section that is your chance to spout off and/or pontificate on bowhunting and related issues. Just please don’t go too deep into the verbage. Well, that’s all for now. The best of the year is now in front of us so have fun out there and send me some words and pics.
hile summer is a pretty laid back time of year for most bowhunters, the board and members of the MBA are hard at work. Currently the Financial Committee is hard at work going over the budget and trying to find ways to save us some money. This committee is looking over every expenditure, deciding whether or not it is necessary and if so, whether or not there is a more efficient way to do it. You may or may not notice some small differences in this issue of Montana Bowhunter. This is the product of a new partnership we have forged with Kinsinger Design and Marketing; a company the MBA has been working with for years on layout and design of our magazine. There’s a lot more advertising in the magazine but we’ll be saving the MBA a ton of money as well as significantly increasing our circulation around the state. A big thank you to Denver Bryan, Steve Sukut and the magazine committee is definitely in order for doing the leg work to make this possible. Lucas Zemlicka and the Landowner/Sportsman relations committee have already set up and had one work party this year in cooperation with the RMEF and MT FWP to help a landowner who has a history of allowing public hunting access on his property. The committee is still looking for more opportunities to help out landowners who allow public access. So if you know of a landowner in need please let your area rep know. The membership committee is conducting a membership drive offering some pretty cool prizes for those who spread the word about the MBA and get people signed up, including a drawing for a hunt. Some of our members have asked how Jesse Nelson was moved to the 2nd Vice President position and Jenn Schneider was appointed to the Secretary/Treasurer position so soon after the convention without having gone through the election process as other board members were required to. Between general membership meetings and elections if a position is vacated our by-laws allow the board of directors to appoint these positions to qualified candidates by vote if we see fit. When I was elected as President that left my former position, 2nd Vice President, open and the board decided that an officer position should not go empty if possible. So when Jesse volunteered to step up from his position as region 3 rep to fill the vacant position the board voted on and appointed him to the position. As per our by-laws Jesse will need to be confirmed by the members in next year’s election. Just after the election and convention our previous Treasurer Sue Miller stepped down. With the Treasurer position left vacant I contacted all of the applicants who had applied for the position previously and offered them each an opportunity to apply for the position. The board looked over the candidate applications and chose Jenn Schneider. After being appointed to the treasurer position Jenn also volunteered to take over the duties of Secretary, a position left vacant some months earlier by Pete Iacavazzi. It may seem odd to have two positions filled by one board member but these two positions originally were one and the duties of each overlap, therefore making it somewhat more practical and efficient to combine the two.
Additionally, the legislative committee will be ramping up efforts to keep track of new or pending legislation. Whether it is something that would help or harm the bowhunting sportsman of Montana the MBA will be keeping a watchful eye.
First Vice PRESIDEnT’S message W ell, they say life is change, and that’s certainly true in the life and times of the MBA. You’ll see a different look and feel of the magazine starting this issue as we’ve adopted a new publishing methodology with KDesign, our magazine designer. We hope you like it, as it should prove to save the organization some money and offer a richer venue to advertisers. Our new editor, Denver Bryan, is guiding us through this transition smoothly and we appreciate his expertise.
On a more somber note, you’ll see we have no Region 8 report. Unfortunately, we’ve lost both of our regional reps to work commitments, and they will be sorely missed. Thankfully, they’ll still be in the wings to offer help during the Carp Safari and other such activities. So, here’s my shameless entreaty:
Please, oh, please, will the next gung-ho MBA member please step forward to assist in leading the charge in Region 8 ??
continued on page 6
FIRST VP MESSAGE
continued from page 5 See….told ya I was shameless! Here are the responsibilities of a regional rep: • Represent the membership in the area in which you live. • Be responsible for contacting members in your region with important information that requires their attention (legislative issues, FWP Commission proposals, etc), and for organizing area meetings prior to board meetings. • Attend Board meetings (three per year). • Write a short report on region wide activities for each quarterly newsletter. • Participate in Board discussions, serve on the committee of your choice, and vote on MBA policies and directives. As you can see, the position requires some commitment but typically requires just a few hours each month to maintain that commitment. I’ve been on the Board for some nine years now and I don’t think I look one year older due to the stress (ha ha). In addition to the day-to-day business activities of board membership, we sponsor fun activities like the Carp Safari and an occasional work day. These are great opportunities to rub elbows with other bowhunters and thank landowners who afford us access during hunting season. Give it some thought and drop me a line so I can send you an application for board membership – you won’t regret it!
ecently I was reminded of the original values that the MBA was based on. I had the opportunity to talk with one of the founding member of the MBA. I learned one incredible and very interesting thing during my discussion with this gentleman. In 1967, he opened the MT FWP regulations and instantly realized the archery season he enjoyed had been completely left out for that year. IT DID NOT EXIST! Not willing to except this he began calling and traveling to meet influential FWP officials. He worked on building relationships and gathering a following of like-minded bowhunters who shared his passion. In 1973, the group launched the Montana Bowhunters Association that included a small group of passionate bowhunters who truly just wanted to insure the future of their way of life. The focused and influential relationships that were built earlier continued to be beneficial in developing bowhunting in Montana. With that vision the organization not only grew in numbers but gained respect as a creditable voice. By joining the MBA each of you have already expressed your passion for the sport. Take time to contact any of the current board members with questions or concerns you may have. Attend your regional meetings and educate yourself on the issues that are facing bowhunters in Montana today. The impact one involved person can have has never been more apparent than in 1967 when Montanans were finally able to take advantage of a short but hard-earned archery season. Good luck in the field this season.
t’s hard to believe I’m already writing my report for the fall issue. There are some great and exciting changes happening in my life as well as the MBA and it all seems to just fly right by. We are expecting a baby girl at the beginning of October and I told my dad and husband they’d better figure out how to get me in a tree to hunt some whitetails before I’m preoccupied with an infant. Now that I’ve gotten familiar with the MBA Treasurer position, things are moving along just great. The Carp Shoot was a lot of fun as well as a financial success yet again. The BEAR Shoot also added quite a few new members which was such a joy to see. The board and active members who helped with these events are so greatly appreciated.
Jenn and Chris Schneider
BOWHUNTER — 6 www.mtBa.org
We are working pretty hard to make sure that we can communicate with you the quickest, cheapest and easiest ways possible. Please make sure your area reps have your correct address, phone number and especially e-mail address. When important events come up, we’d love to inform you as quick as possible and e-mail is the most effective way. Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome and shoot straight this fall.
MBA Fall Regional Meeting Schedule: Region 1 - Will meet at the Frontier Communications Bldg at 114 East 4th Street in Libby at 6:30pm on Dec 2cd. Contact is Al Kelly. Region 2 - The Missoula regional meeting will be held at 6 pm on November 30th at the Montana FWP office on Spurgin Road in Missoula. Contact is Paul Roush. Region 2 - The Bitterroot regional meeting will be held at 6:30pm on Wednesday December 1st at the Coffee Cup in Hamilton. Contact is Jason Widaman. Region3 - The Bozeman regional meeting will be held downtown at Wild Joe’s Coffee House at 7 pm on December 1st. Contact Lucas Zemlicka. Region 3 - The Livingston regional meeting will be held at Billy Lewis’s house on 730 North Yellowstone St. in Livingston at 7pm on November 30th. Contact is Billy Lewis (phone 220-1837) Region 4 - Will be held at the Black Eagle Community Center in Great Falls at 8pm on November 2cd. Contact is Cliff Garness. Region 5 - Will be held at the Billings Rod & Gun Club at 6:30pm on November 30th. Region 6 - Will be held at the Havre Elks Club in Havre on December 1st at 7pm. Contact is Don Stein. Region 7 - Will be held at the Colstrip Gun Club in Colstrip on December 20th at 6:30pm. Contact is Rex Rogers. * Regional rep contact info/phone no.s can be found on page one of this magazine.
MBA Fall Pho
BU L L E T I N B OARD MBA State Championship Shoot By Jason Widaman The 3rd annual MBA State Championship Shoot was a great success. We had excellent weather for the first time all spring and everyone was eager to shoot and do some camping. The campers and tents started to show up on Thursday night and kept rolling in throughout the weekend. This year’s shoot was our best turnout to date. We had 210 state championship shooters and added 55 new members who believe in what the MBA stands for. This tournament consists of 40-3D targets set at various distances in hunting like situations. This type of archery tournament is designed to make you a better and more proficient bowhunter. The always popular long distance shoot was held Saturday afternoon and it drew a large crowd and record number of shooters. MBA member Ben Guttormson of Bozeman won the open class that went out to 130 yards! There were lots of happy kids enjoying the two kids’ shoots on Saturday. The second day of the Bear shoot continued on Sunday with 461 participants. I’d like to thank the Five Valleys Archery Club for supporting the MBA and putting on another great event. This is one of if not the most organized shoots held in Montana. If you haven’t had a chance to attend this event you’re missing out. This shoot keeps getting better every year. It’s in a great location and there is something for all ages and ability. Put it on your calendar for next year; its Father’s Day weekend every year at Clearwater Junction.
nting images this favorite archery hu ur yo us nd Se . contest only stipulation is a fall photography uld win BIG. The co u yo d can an ses po The MBA is having creative , a sticker, etc. You st smiles and most h….i.e. a hat, a shirt e. rap lin og on ot or ph e ine th az fall with your bigge in us MBA logo in the MBA mag vio ed us ob be an n be ca t ed us m itt that there all photos subm ber if you are 18 os as you want and You are a youth mem h. ut Yo enter as many phot d an ult Ad : ories for this contest There are two categ . en tak s erly magazine, wa e ag im en the t for the MBA quart ou lay e th es year or younger wh do at pany th ber 15th. You can d by the design com received by Decem be t , us m es tri en Photos will be judge l ! Al x 23611, Billings, MT there, you can enter hs to: MBA, PO Bo rap og ot ph al tu ac so unless you work e th email@example.com or mail e-mail them to mtb by Myster y Ranch. backpack donated h nc Ra y 59104. er yst M a is and Cookie Koch. ult categor y winner by Jenn Schneider ted na do pe The prize for the ad sco g tin ot spice up those uth categor y is a sp w merchandise to ne e m so r fo The prize for the yo rg a.o w.mtb r online store at ww Be sure to check ou rdrobe. photos and your wa
May Raffle Raises Money for Archery in the Schools Program The Lewis and Clark Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation presented a $2,596.00 check to the Montana City School to purchase archery equipment for their physical education program. The funds were raised with the Chapter’s annual spring raffle where they gave away a limited access youth hunt donated by a Canyon Creek ranch owner. “This generous donation to the Montana City School will allow our National Archery in The Schools Program (NASP) to run a more efficient program beginning this fall,” said Montana City School Teacher Tyler Maxwell. “Now we can purchase a complete set of archery equipment and won’t have to borrow from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. It’s real possible we can begin competing locally and even nationally, especially if the interest continues to grow like it has been.” Montana City School teaches target archery in grades 6-8 physical education classes, reaching over 149 students each year. Maxwell says, “this program is a great way for kids to do something they may not usually get to try. It brings kids and parents together.” Maxwell is also open to the possibility of sharing this equipment with neighboring schools because “the more kids involved the better it is!” The NASP Program is growing at a phenomenal rate across the nation. In Montana it has spread from 12 pilot schools to “We are very pleased to support the school’s archery program and hope, with each year’s youth raffle sales, that these donations can increase so more schools in our area will have the opportunity to get involved in NASP, “ said Mike McFerrin who donates the hunt but is also a committee member of the mule deer chapter. To purchase tickets for this year’s youth hunt that ends on May 8 or to get more involved, contact Dennis Deaton at (406) 461-2844.
INITIATIVE NO. 161
I-161, an initiative to eliminate outfittersponsored licenses in Montana, has sparked some heated debate. Disagreement between outfitters, landowners and sportsmen was to be expected. However, what has been surprising is the amount of debate between hunters. Judging from the many comments that the board has received on I-161 from MBA members to date, our membership seems to be pretty evenly split between those supporting and those opposing this initiative. This support or opposition appears to be regional and often dependent on personal interactions with outfitters. The position of the MBA board mirrors that of our membership and views on this initiative are also split fairly evenly. While remaining civil the debate over our support or opposition of this initiative has already cost us one board member. Based on the potential damage to our organization and the lack of a clear direction from our membership the board of directors has voted to take a neutral stance on I-161, rather than choose a side and possibly lose both members and board members. The MBA will do its best in the coming weeks to bring forward both the pros and cons of this initiative (see Joelle Selk’s comments on I-161 on this page) so our members can make an informed decision in the ballot box come November.
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Florence, MT 59833-0776 (406) 777-3638
We Clean Anything Skeletal, Smelly Or Not!
BOWHUNTER — 8 www.mtBa.org
MBA Report on Initiative No. 161 As most of you know by now, Ballot Initiative No. 161 has received enough signatures to qualify for the November General Election ballot. I-161 abolishes outfitter-sponsored hunting licenses, replaces outfitter-sponsored big game licenses with general nonresident licenses, and increases nonresident license fees in order to preserve funding for hunting access and habitat. During our board meeting in March, the Board decided against taking a position on I-161, and will focus instead on educating our members in a pro-con fashion. We settled on this course based on the fact that the MBA does not have a vote in November, although our members certainly do. Our organizational responsibility is to present the pro and con positions so that our members can be as educated as possible on this issue and vote their conscience. Here’s a bit of background on outfitter-sponsored hunting licenses: Current law sets aside 5,500 non-resident big game combination licenses (out of 17,000) and 2,300 non-resident deer combination licenses (out of 4,600) exclusively for outfitters and their clients. Each of these licenses requires the non-resident book a hunt with a licensed outfitter and pay an increased license fee. No draw by lottery is required, as the outfitter is guaranteed the license. Conversely, a non-resident who does not book with an outfitter pays a lower license fee and is subject to a lottery draw. I-161 aims to remove the outfitter-sponsored licenses and allocate all of those licenses to the general non-resident draw pool. It would additionally increase the cost of all non-resident licenses, and projects a net increase in revenue. Another factor to consider in I-161 is the potential impact to the Block Management Program (BMP). The BMP currently derives its funding from non-resident license sales, the majority of which comes from outfitter set-aside licenses.
Proponents of I-161 cite the following reasons for supporting the initiative: • Provides non-residents equal opportunity to draw a license, rather than showing preference to hunters able to secure an outfitter-guaranteed license • Removes the direct financial connection between Fish, Wildlife and Parks and revenue generated by the outfitting industry • Attempts to reduce the incentive for outfitters to lease land • Attempts to reduce the potential for harboring of wildlife on private land • Attempts to reduce the potential of privatization/commercialization of wildlife • Aims to increase funding for hunting access and habitat improvement (Habitat Montana and Block Management Programs) • Does not eliminate outfitting or guiding services; any non-resident hunter may still choose to use an outfitter
Opponents of I-161 cite the following reasons for opposing the initiative:
• Attempts to regulate private businesses through an initiative process rather than the free market • Attempts to manage wildlife through an initiative process rather than broad oversight of the legislature, Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the Commission, and the Private Land Public Wildlife Council • Fails to address the issue of private land leasing by non-residents individuals or hunting clubs • Potential increase in non-resident hunter days afield and additional hunting pressure on public lands, as individuals would not be bound by an outfitter’s land use plan and schedule • Potential to lessen revenues should all non-resident licenses not be sold • Increase potential of legal action regarding inequity in resident and non-resident license fee structure • Individual landowners ultimately decide how their private lands are managed and who is allowed to hunt; removing outfitter-sponsored licenses will not change the hunting access structure on public lands One thing seems clear in reviewing the pro and con points of I-161. No one really knows for sure what the outcome will be if the initiative passes. As with any complex issue, many variables exist, and unintended consequences may result. Each MBA member must carefully weigh the risk-benefit ratio they perceive before they vote. We’ve included op-ed pieces in this issue to give members the opportunity to voice their viewpoint. We hope this pro-con article offers a concise overview of each side’s stance. If you wish to review additional viewpoints of each position, visit Kurt Kephart’s website on I-161 at www.publicwildlife.org and the Say No To I-161 website, paid for by Supporters for Preserving Montana’s Outfitting Tradition, at www.stop161.org. View full text of I-161 at: http://sos.mt.gov/elections/archives/2010s/2010/initiatives/I-161.asp
talk back M
ost bowhunters I know have witnessed a dramatic loss of hunting opportunity over the last decade, and not because of anti-hunters or habitat deterioration. The problem is declining access to hunting opportunity on private land (and public land with privately controlled access), largely as a result of the exploding commercial outfitting business. No one disputes the right of private landowners to control access to their property, but the intrusion of outfitters between landowners and Montanans of ordinary means threatens to destroy a longestablished tradition that explains why many of us live here in the first place. Current law sets aside 5,500 non-resident big game combination licenses (out of 17,000) and 2,300 non-resident deer combination licenses (out of 4,600) exclusively for outfitters and their clients. This in turn allows outfitters (many of whom don’t even live in Montana) to lease prime hunting properties for the exclusive use of their wealthy clients. Since Montana consistently ranks near the bottom of the 50 states in median income, that isn’t us. It also allows wealthy out of state interests to purchase prime Montana property, divert it from agricultural use and establish exclusive hunting reserves without having to worry about drawing non-resident big game tags. How? Just “hire” an outfitter and his set aside tags. The end result of this trend will be total Texas-style privatization of wildlife resources, and an end to a life of hunting in Montana as we know it. Citizen’s Initiative 161 addresses these inequities, primarily by doing away with outfitter set aside licenses. The total number of non-resident licenses will remain the same but outfitter clients will have to compete in the drawing without favoritism. The popular Block Management Program currently derives its funding from non-resident license sales, including a substantial amount from outfitter set-aside licenses. This has made the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (and in fairness, hunters who enjoy this program) uncomfortably and perhaps unethically beholden to the outfitting industry. I-161 addresses this issue by raising non-resident license fees across the board to $897 for the big game combination license and $527 for the deer combination license. This will allow continued funding of Block Management while freeing the program from the outfitting industry. If you feel guilty about socking it to your non-resident hunting friends, look around and see what other western states are charging for their licenses!
rowth in the outfitting industry has declined since 1996 when the Outfitter Sponsored Licenses (OSL) was conceived through legislation. This legislation was a joint effort of the Montana Sportsmen, Landowners, Outfitters and Private Lands Public Wildlife Council (PLPW) and the goal was to accomplish three major objectives. 1. Stabilize the outfitting industry. Everyone realized that the outfitting industry plays a huge role in Montana’s economy. 2. Provide Montana residents additional access to private lands. The additional revenue provided for through the sale of OSL was to go to fund the Block Management Program (BMP). 3. Control the growth of the outfitting industry…..i.e. control the tide of leasing of private lands for outfitter use. The OSL has helped to stabilize the outfitting industry because the outfitter no longer had to gamble on the draw to obtain a license for any hunter that they were able to book. The OSL did not guarantee an outfitter anything other than the opportunity to provide a license to a hunter, if and only if that outfitter could book a hunter. 2009 and 2010 are good examples of this when the outfitting industry under sold both types of OSLs. The sale of the OSL has provided for 58 million dollars of revenue for the funding of the BMP since 1996. Currently the BMP has over 8 million acres enrolled in the program. This 1995 legislation has accomplished its goal to control the growth of the outfitting industry. In 2009 there are 86 fewer active hunting outfitter licensed through the Montana Board of Outfitters. In 1998, Brad Molnar, sponsored a ballot Initiative I-136, the Sportsman Initiative, which the MBA Board supported. Here is a statement from the MBA Newsletter, Vol. 26-Fall 1998, “The guaranteed client base for outfitters has strengthened their ability to lease up private lands, 14,500 square miles of private land...”. The MBA and supporters of I-136 stated that the outfitting industry was leasing up 14,500 square miles of private property or 9,280,000 acres across Montana. The amount of private acreage that outfitter’s have in their operations has been declining since 1996, to 6,400,000 acres in 2003 and to 6,200,000 acres in 2009. This is less than 10% of all private property in Montana. So those who want you to believe that the outfitting industry is continuing to grow are sadly mistaken. Proponents of I-161 want you to believe that the OSL is the reason why the outfitting industry is exploding with the results being the loss of public access to private property. As you see from the above proof the outfitting industry is not exploding. Actually, the reason the outfitting industry has been held in check is primarily due to the OSL and the fact that outfitters are limited to 5,500 elk/deer & 2,300 deer OSLs. Furthermore, each outfitter is limited in the number of clients they can book by the Montana Board of Outfitters.
Further evidence that the outfitting industry is not growing out of control is found in the Research RMU Study #27, “Hunting Access Management on Private Lands in Montana” put out by FWP in March of 2009. According to the findings of this study outfitter plays one of the smallest roles in how a landowner manages his/her private property for hunting. The study surveyed 3,000 landowners across Montana and had a 47% return rate, it showed the following results: Of landowners that allow elk hunting on their property, 22% do not allow any hunting. However, of the ones that do allow bull elk hunting on their property: • • • • • •
62.6% Non-BM hunting without a fee involving mostly friends/family 17.5% Non-BM hunting without a fee involving mostly hunters who not friends/family 13.2% Block Management Hunting Access Program 0.6% Outfitting by the landowner 3% Outfitting by a licensed outfitter other than the landowner 0.2% Lease agreement with a non-outfitter business that markets hunts
• 1% Lease agreement with a hunter or group of hunters • 2.3% Access fees (non-lease) charged per hunter or group of hunters
The outfitting industry in Montana is essentially unregulated. I KNOW what it takes to get a guide’s license in Alaska; in comparison, Montana’s standards are a joke. The outfitters’ board is composed in such a way that commercial interests will always prevail. I-161 will help break the stranglehold the commercial outfitting industry currently enjoys over Montana’s wildlife resources.
According to the study similar trends hold true for how landowners manage the hunting of deer and antelope on their private property.
The bill isn’t perfect. It unfairly penalizes traditional outfitters operating on pubic lands, whose operations don’t interfere with anyone else’s ability to utilize the resource. If the bill passes, this flaw should be corrected.
The main question you have to ask yourself before you decide to support I-161 or not is whether or not this Initiative will open up more private property to the public for hunting? Make no doubt that is a direct attack on private property rights and Montana landowners are against I-161. The Montana Stockgrowers Association has come out against I-161. The MBA’s Mission Statement is clear that one of their major goals is to “improving landowner - bowhunter relationships”. Do you really think that supporting I-161 is going to improve these important relationships?
If you care about the future of hunting in Montana, please support this important measure.
Don Thomas - MBA Member
The landowner uses the services of an outfitter only 3% of time while fee hunting other than outfitter services makes up 3.5%. This is saying that residents and other hunting groups are leasing up more than what the outfitting industry is leasing. With this said why are the supporters of I-161 targeting a group of Montana businesses that has the least to do with how the LANDOWNER chooses to manage the hunting on their private property?
Paul Ellis - MBA Member
In The Eyes Of The MBA Dear MBA member, As you are probably aware Judge Donald Molloy has handed down his decision to re-list the gray wolf as an endangered species. The MBA is very disappointed in this decision. Aside from the fact that the 2010-2011 wolf season would have been the first season to incorporate an archery only opportunity, Judge Molloy’s decision once again takes the management of our wolf populations out of the hands of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Dept. and puts it back into the courtrooms where decisions are often made based on legal tactics and emotional arguments rather than sound biological principles. Up until now the MBA has supported any and all attempts by FWP to manage wolves. We have also financially supported studies which focus on wolf predation hoping this science would one day help win the fight in the courtroom as well as help FWP manage wolves once they are de-listed. However and from the legal aspect, there was not much we could do but wait on Judge Molloy’s verdict and hope for the best. Along the way the sportsmen of this state have played by the rules while waiting for the right decision to come down from the court system giving us the ability to manage wolves which are decimating our large ungulate herds in certain areas of the state. Meanwhile the anti-hunting and environmentalist crowd has been using the system against us and continually increasing what they see as “acceptable populations “ while the population of wolves in our state rises to an alarming level well above the numbers that we were forced to accept when these animals were re-introduced. It’s time to take the gloves off. The MBA is now working with groups like the National Rifle Association, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation, Pheasants Forever and other nationwide sportsman’s organizations along with state organizations from across the country to change the way wolves are managed. Montana’s congressional delegation has proposed to introduce legislation to put the wolf management back into the state’s hands, and they have asked for our support. We are now talking with other groups with similar views and interests to come up with a solid strategy to achieve the goal of Montana managing its own wildlife as we see fit and based on biology rather than emotion. In the coming weeks we will be sharing with you this strategy and sincerely urge you to do all you can to help us win this fight. The future of hunting in Montana depends on it. At this point in time the best thing you can do is contact our Senators and Representative listed below and insist they support legislation that allows wolves to be managed at the state level. Senator Max Baucus — firstname.lastname@example.org Senator Jon Tester — http//tester.senate.gov/Contact/ Representative Denny Rehberg — email@example.com Sincerely
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BowHUNtEr — 10 www.mtBa.org
W W W. R E A L H U N T I N G M A G . C O M
by Gary Carvajal
It happened so fast, it was over before it could sink in.
For at least twenty elk seasons
since about 1984, I have hunted elk with a bow and arrow. There were a couple of years due to job constraints, or where we were living at the time, elk hunting was not in the cards some of those years. None the less, when the fall comes around, the glazed look in my eye and short attention span is only magnified. Since we moved to Montana 1998, the pursuit of elk every fall holds a special place in my heart. There is a lifetime of memories, of close encounters, some close enough to touch, certainly to smell when I think about hunting elk. There was the time a bull was just above me, on a rock ledge on the other side of a scrub of alder, I was crouched down, arrow on the string, only eight maybe nine feet below him, his screaming bugle was deafening this close…..then he decided he needed to pee. The spray on the rocks splashed my face, pungent and rutty, better smelling than any high cost French perfume. All he had to do step forward two feet and he would be mine….. but he walked directly away, without offering a shot leaving me with ears ringing, pissed on, but not pissed off. Or the time the cow came in behind me, and sniffed the upper end of my longbow and proceeded to pull up some grass three feet from me, before walking away two, three steps then she got my scent and about caused both of us a heart attack getting out of there. The time when I had about twenty calf elk come to my cow call, to within ten yards, like kids running to the sound of the Ice Cream truck, their mothers raising all kinds of hell just over the ridge, calling their children back. Literally countless images, photographic and mental, all them the product of miles of predawn and post sundown forest and glade forays in search for elk. The pages of my hunting journal
chronicle far more elk than whitetail deer, which seems strange at times, there are deer everywhere. But elk have to be gone after, to be sought out, at least for me, the world’s worst elk hunter. There is no elk hunter who has hunted these majestic animals with a bow, who has not had their soul enriched, humbled, broken, and then when it all comes together, overwhelmed. If it were not for the elk rut each fall, life for me would not be worth living. Were it any other animal but an elk, I am not sure I could have kept up the game, the pursuit, the challenge, the chase, the cold, the rain, the heat, the thirst, the pain, the nights away from home for this long. But persistence as whomever they are that say, pays off. This fall, George Withey and another pal Ron Watt invited me to join them on an elk hunt. I could not tell anyone where we were going, and it did not make any difference, I had no idea where we were going and had not been there, so their secret is safe. All of us are of similar age, call us geezers in training, we all have to take some kind of pills and we can remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, before there were the Beatles and so forth. George has killed close to a couple dozen elk with a bow and Ron has tipped over his share, so these were guys who were more than just comfortable in the woods hunting elk with a stick and string. I was in the company of good friends and good hunters. So after about five days of us hunting together at least for part of the day, usually the first fifteen minutes of the morning, we would take off after elk we each could hear in different directions. You might think I could out run Ron, who just got a new knee, has enough screws in his other ankle to outfit a hardware store and has beaten cancer, but dang the guy is just a machine. So like the previous mornings, by about an hour before dawn I found myself alone in the woods, with the elk. Ron and George were just here a minute ago, how do they disappear like that? Oh well.
continued on page 12
The Log Cabin Bull continued from page 11 For a half hour, I tried to stay downwind as I closed to within a hundred yards of a bull before I decided to give him a cow call, it was still not daylight, but the clear sky was lightening fast. He answered back, with a gruff growl, and a chuckle, then on both flanks, left and right came two other answers, I did not know those elk were there. Faintly in the distance, behind me, I heard a fourth bull. So, we had the growler, a left wing and a right wing, and tail end Charley. The growler bull had a few cows with him, and at times I had to run as fast as I could in the dark forest of lodgepole to keep up as he rounded up his girls and headed off. Four times over the next two miles, he would answer back to my cow calls, and twice he came to fifty then to forty or so yards, seeing the decoy. But he would come no closer and I needed him half that distance. All the while, the left wing and right wing satellite bulls would flit in and out, offering only glimpses, being subservient to the growler bull, which to me looked like he might go 330, with tail end Charley behind far enough not to catch my wind. So I was like in the center of the baseball diamond, tail end Charley at second base behind me, with other bulls at first and third base, and the growler at home leading us into the wind, across bogs, meadows, lodgepole thickets and blowdowns until the sun had been up for two hours. Every couple of minutes the growler would just chuckle at the end of his deep guttural bugle, with lefty and righty keeping up, the cows with the growler answering back from time to time. Each time I would set up the decoy and get the growler to turn and come back, the left and right wing bulls would convince him to gather and go. Then we all rounded this ridge in the timber, I could see and hear the growler and a couple of his cows as they moved right past about seven or eight Angus cows in a little open grassy glade no bigger than a half acre, who did not even look up until I trotted to within about forty yards. Then the Angus cows took off sounding not like a herd of cows, no mooing at all, just thundering hooves. Lefty and Righty went nuts screaming their heads off running hard through the timber toward the sound of the thundering feet, all of them in the direction of the growler. From behind me, came the sound of more thundering hooves, I looked and here comes tail end Charley and his young girlfriend….barreling toward me full blast, their heads up, through the timber. Charley is squealing his head off too, wait for me! Wait for me! Acres and acres of black timber all around, and here I am caught in the sunlight, out of breath, sweaty and thirsty with only a fallen down old log cabin walls for cover, can I make it those
BowHUNtEr — 12 www.mtBa.org
twenty yards, before they get here? I sprinted the short distance, put an arrow on the string, pulled down my head net, and dared a peek over the ruins of the cabin wall. She is right there! She stopped at the opposite corner of the cabin, fifteen feet away, and turns her head toward me, does not like what she sees, and bolts. In only a heartbeat, Charley takes her place, stops, squeals and watches her, looks then at me, his eyes get real big, a lighter ring around the dark eye clearly visible, then he steps forward. The bow already up and ready, the arrow disappears in less than a flash. I don’t remember the conscious movement of the shot, only the visual picture of the red spot where the shaft went. The distance was no more than five or six yards. Charley took about four steps, the blood pouring out of the wound in his side as he trotted about another twenty yards when his legs gave out, in a few breaths he was dead. From the time the arrow hit him to when he collapsed, was no more than six or seven seconds. The flood of adrenalin overcame me, with a couple of deep breaths; my heart skipped a beat or two. No need to track the blood on the ground, not this time. There he was, lying in plain sight, thirty five yards away. All of the miles over the years, the close calls, the changes in the wind, the other things that have happened differently, today that all changed….the stars must have aligned. I have just killed my first bull elk with a longbow and a wood arrow. I have just killed my first elk with a bow….period. I raised my closed eyes skyward and thanked God for this gift. Turning back to the direction where it all happened, I ask myself, where is my arrow? There it is, stuck in a tree, inline with where it passed through the bull’s chest, blooded for the third time, before on two different whitetails. Tail end Charley, the Log Cabin Bull fell on an old skidder trail that I was able to back up to with the truck and load him whole. Most of the other elk I have killed with rifles required far more effort to get the animal out. Will it take another twenty or so years before I can kill another elk with a longbow? I don’t know and don’t care. I just want to be there to find out…….
Author Gary Carvajal
Region 1 F
AL KELLY PAUL MARTIN
riends, Life is good in the last best place. No two ways about it. And I for one would like to thank all of those who work to keep it that way. Thank you to each and every one of you who participate. Thanks to those who make a difference. Thanks to those who give of themselves when it would be much easier to just buy a tag, go hunting and let somebody else worry about what’s going on in our little slice of heaven. Thanks to those in the armed forces for making the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us can enjoy the freedoms we have. We actually have a lot to be thankful for here. I am extra mindful of this at present because I have had a lot of opportunity as of late to visit with folks from all over the West. One of these opportunities was at the North American Longbow Safari held here in our own neck of the woods in Lincoln County. Billy Lewis and company (Traditional Bowhunters of Montana) put on a wonderful event and a great time was had by all. It was a chance to visit with people passionate about bowhunting from all over the west. That alone was worth the price of admission. We are not the only state with wolf issues. Seems like these serious carnivores are trying to eat others out of house and home just as they are here. Funny how some of the things that irritate us know no boundaries. It is bowhunter education class next week. That is always a pick-me-up for the sportsman’s soul in us. All that unbridled enthusiasm does a man’s heart good; another commendable pastime worthy of our participation. If you have the time become an instructor and pass on some of your passion for bowhunting. It is time well spent. Adios,
Items discussed at our last regional meeting included MBA member Mike Shepard who will likely be assisting MT FWP with the transplant of bighorn sheep from Wild Horse Island to the Teakettle Mountain area in Columbia Falls, with anticipation of this area becoming an archery tag candidate in the future. The final move of the sheep is scheduled for Oct. 7th. Most of the rest of the discussion at the meeting was about wolves and grizzlies until we got onto our convention committee.
The Annual MBA Convention will be held in Kalispell, March 25th, 26th and 27th at the Outlaw Inn just off Hwy. 93 on the South end of town. We hope to get more set up on Thursday the 24th in order to get more convention in on Friday. With rooms at only $49 per night this should be a great savings for our members and quests. As usual we will be having our trophy scoring contest, a three category photo contest, elk bugling contest, a caping seminar by Glacier Fur Tannery, Al Kelly will have a target range for kids to shoot and Rod Kelly will have his bow collection on display. Elk bugling champion Rocky Jacobson will be there to demonstrate his calls. Region One’s head biologist Jim Williams will be giving a presentation on “Migrations in Montana.” There will be raffles and auctions such: 1. Matlabas Game Hunters South Africa hunt. 2. Kutawagan Outfitters black bear hunt. 3. Eric Rauhanen of Silver Fox Outfitters has donated a six day moose hunt in Alberta which includes everything except the $800 moose license and the $25 archery stamp. This hunt is to be used in 2011 and has been donated on a 50/50 basis. 4. A five day whitetail hunt in Illinois donated on a 50/50 basis by Bob Blair of Riverbottom Bucks and sponsored by board member Cory Benge. 5. Kevin Burleson of Heart of Texas Bowhunting donated one unguided 3 day hunt with lodging to shoot one mature buck, one doe, one turkey hen and all the hogs and varmints you wish. The hunt will take place Dec. 17th, 18th and 19th of 2011. Note: Kevin says BRING LOTS OF ARROWS. This is only a partial list of planned events. I’ve saved the best for last as Jack Frost from Anchorage, Alaska will be our quest speaker. Mr. Frost has a very impressive resume and
here is a very condensed summary. “Jack Frost has been bowhunting for over fifty years. He is currently the only person who has taken at least one of all 29 North American big game species AND had them all documented in the Pope and Young Record Book. He has hunted in 26 different states and on six continents. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Pope and Young Club and the National Bowhunter Education Foundation. He has written numerous magazine articles as well as a chapter in the latest Pope and Young Whitetail Record Book.” In 1985 he became the first bowhunter to take all four species of North American bighorn sheep and he also arrowed a Pope and Young world record Alaskan brown bear which remained No. 1 until 2005. In 1993 he took an Alaskan grizzly bear with no rifle backup……a glacier bear in 2005, a Kodiak bear with no rifle backup in 2006. Mr. Frost has 42 records (27 different species) in the P&Y (archery) Record Book 6th ed. 2005, six bow killed records in the Boone & Crockett (rifle) Record Book 12th edition along with 22 entries (18 different species) in the First Edition of the SCI Bowhunting Record Book. Jack has arrowed whitetail, blacktail and Sitka blacktail deer with traditional archery gear. Mr. Frost is truly an archery icon and is one of the best reasons to attend the 2011 convention in Kalispell. Members, not-yet-members and should-bemembers please go to the first page of this magazine to see who your area rep and feel free to contact them for more information on how to participate in the upcoming MBA convention. Updates on the convention will be posted on the MBA website at www. mtba.org. Everyone is greatly anticipating this year’s archery season with additional openers for mountain lion, black bear and wolf. I will be purchasing my wolf tag come August 23rd.
Paul Martin 13—Fall 2010
Region 2 Jason Widaman
Jason Widaman Paul Roush II
ummer is flying by and it’s my second favorite time of year. I enjoy the preparation almost as much as I enjoy the hunting. The great thing is we are privileged to have the longest archery season of any of the western states. With extremely low deer and elk numbers in the western part of the state we enjoy the flexibility to move around and hunt different areas. Antelope season is a few weeks old, I hope everyone has had some luck. In unit 270 they counted 87 sheep in the East Fork. They observed numerous lambs on the ground this spring and summer. Things are looking pretty good so far. Fall is the critical time of year when lambs begin to die after a pneumonia breakout. Hopefully, the cooperative efforts this past winter will have a positive impact on lamb survival. In a group effort all domestic sheep and goats were removed from the bighorn range in the East Fork. That was a big deal. Hopefully we can prevent any future contact between domestic sheep and goats and bighorns in this area. The MBA is supporting the FWP Bitterroot Wolf / Elk Study. The study involves putting GPS collars on 40 cow elk; 20 from the East Fork of the Bitterroot (HD 270) and 20 from the West Fork (HD 250). Radio location data will provide information on movement patterns, location of calving areas and interchange with adjacent herds. The 60 elk calves will receive radio collars and monitored daily for one year to determine survival and mortalities. In addition, wolves will be fitted with radio collars in the West Fork with the intent of targeting packs that are presently unmarked. The driving force behind this study is science over opinion. The results of this study could potentially have a profound impact of the future direction of the elk management and wolf management as well as the court. The study will allow FWP to set predator quotas based on science to help achieve elk objectives for the entire state not just the Bitterroot.
In the past 6 months 70 wolves have been removed from the Big Hole Valley. Now it is time to help area 250. We do have an emergency and we are desperately asking Montana FWP for help. Charlie Johnson represents the MBA in the Bitterroot Elk Working Group. We supported the working group’s following recommendations to the FWP commissioners: 1. In regards to the upcoming wolf hunt. That a sub unit be created for unit 250 with a minimum of 15 wolves to be harvested from the area. 2. That the boundary line between the Big Hole and the Bitterroot be removed. 3. That a petition be sent to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking for (emergency) help in the removal of a minimum of 15 wolves from area 250. This should be done now because we have no idea which way Judge Molloy will rule after the June 15th hearing. I’m still working on updating the Region 2 email list. If you haven’t received emails from me that means I don’t have your correct contact info. Please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck to everyone this hunting season and send me some pictures and stories of your hunts. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you,
BOWHUNTER — 14 www.mtBa.org
reetings All, By the time this reaches you, our fall archery seasons will be starting and our time of year will have arrived in earnest. Best of luck to you in all your pursuits and especially so to those of you who managed to land a “Big 3” special permit this year. The FWP special drawing fairy promised to sprinkle a little lucky dust on my application this year but apparently she was lying to me to me because all I landed was yet another refund check. Damn fairies just can’t be trusted to use their special dust responsibly I suppose. As for MBA business, your board of directors had a busy start to 2010 with both the early and late tentative sessions as well as keeping an eye on a couple of proposed ballot initiatives. The 2010 tentative session went well overall for bowhunters with the FWP Commission granting us special archery seasons for bears, wolves and mountain lions. The fate of the wolf season is presently in the hands of federal Judge Malloy in Missoula. He is expected to make his ruling soon on whether to return wolves to the Endangered Species List (which would eliminate all proposed hunting seasons in 2010) or to accept the science that shows irrefutably that wolves are fully recovered. By the time you read this the answer to this question will likely
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be known. We can only hope that our wild ungulate populations will not continue to be the victims of the “political” wildlife/predator management practices that have been shoved down our throats for several years. The ballot/citizens initiative process is nearing completion as I write this, with final signature counts trickling in daily to the Secretary of State’s office. The anti public lands trapping initiative (which the MBA strongly opposed and provided financial support to the opposition efforts of) and the elimination of outfitter guaranteed nonresident license initiative (I-161) were both quite close (as of the morning of 7-17) to making the November ballot; both in term of meeting the numbers of signatures and legislative districts required for inclusion on the ballot. As soon as we/the MBA knows if Initiative-161 is going to make the November ballot, we will let members and the public know of any official MBA position. Have a fun, ethical and fruitful hunting season but watch out for those fairies….or at least try and steal a little “lucky” dust for me. Cheers,
Region 4 T
he 2010 archery season is soon to be upon us, summer is almost over and another year I’ve received my refund checks from FWP for the Big 3. I have heard of a few folks drawing successfully from around this area but not many. Good luck to all of you who were successful this year and please send in your photos for all of us around the state to enjoy. Hopefully, by the time you read many will have been successful filling their elk, deer and antelope tags. Over Fathers Day weekend, the Five Valley’s Archery Club put on the Bear Shoot/ MBA State Championship Shoot. It was the first time I have attended the MBA Shoot and it was a fantastic turnout and a success for the MBA. Hats off to the Five Valley Archers for putting on a fantastic event for all and I hope you can all attend the event next year. The rest of the region is in full swing with an archery shoot being held almost every weekend. Please get out and support
Hard to believe another summer is nearly over and antelope season is right around the corner. From what I have seen so far it looks like we are in for some exceptional horn and antler growth this year. FWP is seeking comment on a new elk management plan for the Gravelly range. The proposal is to re-establish pre-2005 elk objective of 8000 observed elk +/- 15% (current objective is 7000 observed elk +/15%). This includes hunting districts 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327 and 330: Comments are due by 5pm on August 16th 2010. In the past there has been some confusion in the regulations regarding bow length. Prior to 2010 the regs read: The bow shall be no shorter than 28 inches. That caused a lot of confusion as to whether that meant overall length or axel to axel length. So in 2010 FWP changed the wording to: The bow shall be no shorter than 28 inches measured axle to axle. However after talking with a law enforcement officer I was informed that FWP will accept the bow as long as the overall length is at least 28 inches. Meaning measurements will be taken from either the top of the limb or the top of the cam, whichever is longer. Recurves and long bows will be measured from tip to tip.
the local clubs and tune in for the upcoming seasons. By judge’s orders, the Little Belts Mountains had some road and trail bans or restrictions lifted or lightened and a new travel map is being made to accommodate the changes. MT FWP also decided on July 8th to set the new wolf quota at 186 wolves and tags are planning to be on sale on August 23rd. Very soon we will all be in Kalispell for the 2011 MBA convention and banquet in March. It will be a good time as always and if anyone has any donations for the banquet, please get in touch with Paul Martin or myself and I will get them to Paul. If any of you have anything to bring up region or statewide, as always please let me know by sending an email to obsession_ email@example.com . We will be having a Region 4 meeting on November 2nd @ 8pm after the Archery club Meeting at the Black Eagle Community Center and I look forward
to seeing most of you there.
As always feel free to give me a call or shoot me an e-mail with any questions or concerns you may have. Good luck this fall and remember to send the MBA your hunting pictures and/or stories! We are always looking for hunting articles for the magazine so send them in.
Region 5 A
ERNIE MCKENZIE KRIS O’BLENESS
s I write this there are 32 days until the antelope season opens! Then, another 3 weeks and all the other good stuff opens up. No “special” tags for me this year but it doesn’t matter. Montana has enough general season opportunity to keep me busy. I couldn’t be happier with our bow seasons. But lets keep it that way. We need to be heard, we need more members in the MBA, we need to be more active and vocal with our commissioners and representatives. They need to know we care, that we love the bowhunting opportunities we have and we are not interested in giving them up. In region 5, Billings and surrounding areas, we probably have more bowhunters than any other region, However, we only have about 80 MBA members!!! Come on guys, sign up your buddies and bring them
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32nd Annual Convention
continued from page 15
to a regional meeting (there will be one in late fall.) Get them involved. Let them know just “being along for the ride” isn’t going to cut it. I’m going to keep this short and sweet. I want to welcome Denver Bryan as editor of his first issue of the Montana Bowhunter magazine. I’m sure he’ll take good care of our magazine. And thanks so much Mr. Sukut for all your hard work over the last umptine years. I know you were editing this magazine well before I even joined the organization. Region 5er’s…if you have any questions or concerns about bowhunting or how the MBA is conducting business, or want to help out as a representative for the MBA, please contact me!
Montana Bowhunter Association
DON STEIN MARK WEBER
’ll start with a positive note by giving a “Hats off” to Todd and the men from the Bear Paw Bowmen for the fabulous job at the two-day Barber Ranch Shoot. As always the event was a high point of the summer for my family. If you haven’t been to this shoot, you really need to give it a try! I’m sad to say I received a completely underwhelming response from Region 6 members with contact information. But not to be defeated, I’ll be sending out information to those of you with email addresses listed with the MBA as important issues arise. It would be impossible to overstate the importance of issues facing bowhunting in Montana at this time. Many of these will have direct effects on Region 6 hunting. Please send me your thoughts on the updates I will be sending. The always-anticipated fall season is just around the corner. I’d just like to remind everyone to hunt safely and keep
BOWHUNTER — 16 www.mtBa.org
hunting ethics in your thoughts when you head into the field. In particular I’d like everyone to think of how they are hunting in relation to the other bowhunters in the woods. Unfortunately, I see too many hunters tramping over other hunters in an effort to take any animal in any way possible. Yes, sometimes the woods can be crowded, but do you really need to put your stand within a stones throw distance of one that is already there? Is driving around to the other side of a coulee to get to the animal before another hunter already in pursuit really worth it? Is it necessary to camp on top of someone else and hunt a draw you know they have been hunting for days just because you heard a bugle when there are miles around with no camps? Is it worth stretching your effective range and wounding an animal? These are issues of hunting ethics in my opinion. Maybe I’m in the minority or off base. When I’ve discussed this with others that I’ve considered to be good hunters they haven’t seen a problem with hunting on top of someone else if it means they can fill their tag. That is really sad in my opinion. If getting the animal is really all that counts, we’re missing the point of being out in field in the first place. Ok, I’ll get off the soap box. It’s just that I think the “Golden Rule” applies to archery hunting as much as anything else. Hunt hard. Hunt safe. And keep the other guy in mind while you’re at it.
ummer season is upon us. Carp shooting has been spotty with a late spring and several passing storms “putting down the rise”. There was good attendance at archery shoots in Forsyth, Colstrip and Glendive…..getting bowhunters tuned in for the coming fall hunting seasons. Thank you to all those who volunteer to make these local shoots happen. Kudos to the MBA and the members that commented on creating the wolf archery season opportunity. Anyone have a wolf recipe that makes it taste like elk? Remember to support MBA dealer members and advertisers. Hope you all have a good Montana bowhunting season.
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DIRECTORS Adam Barker
’m fresh off another shattering blow to my dreams of pulling a special permit in Montana. Every year the excitement builds to a point where I’m checking the draw status on an hourly schedule for the days leading up to the results, only to get another point. What a letdown. As of today, there is still some hope of getting a good elk permit but that would do little to ease my disappointment from the first round of drawings. Although I could still be in the running for a Supertag ---- I guess that’s reason enough not to let this denial totally defeat me. Aside from the wolf circus, which this issue has been turned into, things have been fairly calm. I do acknowledge that it’s a monumental situation, not to be taken lightly, but at this point there’s nothing left to be done except to wait for Molloy’s infinite wisdom to grace us with what’s sure to be nothing less than a spectacular display or horse apples. Rest assured that the MBA voice was ever present at the meetings around the state and had solid representation in Helena for the final hearing. The archery season proposal sailed through and we were crystal clear to the commission that we supported the proposed quota of 216 wolves. Region 4 is looking great for antelope and elk in most areas and should produce some magnums for archers. Please remember to keep your cameras handy and consider writing a piece for the magazine of your conquests (or lack of). Also, keep in mind that the MBA Board of Directors is here for you so let us know your thoughts on subjects that are dear to you. Best of luck and keep your head on straight this fall. We have enough issues to deal with out there without having to defend poor decisions made by the bowhunting community.
Joelle Selk, Chair Steve Schindler • Steve Kamps Jason Tounsley • Billy Lewis Adam Barker • Jesse Nelson
Steve Kamps, Chair Joelle Selk • Steve Schindler Brendan Burns • Jason Widaman Jason Tounsley • Billy Lewis Don Stein • Adam Barker Jesse Nelson • Paul Martin • Rex Rogers
Paul Roush II, Chair Steve Sukut
Landowner/Sportsman: Lucas Zemlickas, Chair Don Stein
Ernie McKenzie, Chair Jason Tounsley • Paul Roush II
ell, time does fly and we are rounding the corner in the direction of yet another wonderful archery season here in Montana. It seems like only a few short weeks ago it was the last day of the season in the last best place. Recently, I was fortunate to become one of the new additions to the Montana Bowhunter’s Association Board of Directors. I can still here Ernie McKenzie’s voice when he said something like “You will be bombarded will facts, issues, ideas, opinions and more…are you ready” How true he was and how did I Cory Benge ever under estimate the work load the MBA board assigns itself. But more impressive is how much of this self-assigned work actually gets COMPLETED! I am amazed at how hard the board works to cultivate, build and protect our privilege to hunt here in Montana. My fellow board members work tirelessly and illustrate the ‘can do’ attitude that all of our membership should be proud of. With that being said the MBA board cannot do it alone and we need your continued support to keep our organization strong. How can you do this? The answers are easy. 1. Get involved 2. Promote your organization to other bowhunters. 3. Sell memberships 4. Ask questions 5. Contact your board members with your thoughts 6. Make suggestions. 7. Become aware of the issues that threaten bowhunting. 8. Be proud or your membership with the MBA! These are just a few of the things that we can do and I am sure that most of you can come up with even more ideas to promote and protect bowhunting. Remember, an organization is only as strong as it’s members so take a moment to pat yourselves on the back but also realize that our ‘fight’ will never be over and that protecting our bowhunting heritage takes continued efforts. Some of the issues that I feel should we should focus on include but are not limited to; wolf seasons, sheep seasons, public land use, initiatives, access, landowner / hunter relations and quotas. Now some of you might be asking yourself the question of “how do I find out about these things?” and most all of you should be saying to yourself, “ I want to know more about these things!” Good sources are…ding, ding, ding…your MBA board members. Steve Kamps, Denver Bryan, Joell Selk, Jesse Nelson, Lucas Zemlicka, Steve Sukut, Ernie Mackenzie, Paul Martin, Jason Widaman, Jason Tounsely, Jenn Schneider, Cliff Garness are just a few of the board members that come to mind…contact them and “let’em have it”
continued on page 18
Pete Iacavazzi, Chair Brendan Burns • Jason Widaman Billy Lewis • Roger Peffer
Steve Schindler, Chair Rex Rogers • Ernie McKenzie
Paul Roush II, Chair Steve Schindler • Al Kelly
Paul Martin, Chair Al Kelly • Jesse Nelson • Jason Tounsley
Denver Bryan, Chair Joelle Selk • Steve Sukut • Marvin Drake Rex Rogers • Paul Roush II
Carp Shoot: Joelle Selk, Chair Craig Marr
Al Kelly, Chair Don Stein • Paul Roush II
Public Relations Committee
Mark Seacat, Chair Jason Widaman • Cory Benge
(North American Bowhunting Coalition) Billy Lewis, Chair
DIRECTORS continued from page 17
with your questions, comments and concerns. We are your sounding board and we represent you the MBA membership. Contact us and we will listen and hopefully answer your questions or point you in the right direction. Many of our board members are well versed on these issues as well as others that affect our bowhunting. The MT fish and game is also a great place to research topic such as those I’ve listed. Well enough of that call to arms stuff and lets talk bowhunting! The wet spring has allowed the mountain vegetation to flourish and we all know what that means. Good food for the critters and that generally means big horns and big racks…..and I know most of us love big racks! Let’s all think positive and envision some great healthy animals falling to our sharp broadheads! Soon our first season will be upon us and we will be crawling through sage brush, dodging cactus and rattle snakes in hopes of getting to within range of the speed goat. I’ve got one or two picked out to make a sneak on and hopefully get within the ‘magic circle’. Then comes deer, elk, bear, lion and wolf! Hopefully, I get to punch my wolf tag and save a few elk! Yeah, I know that is a big wish but we’ll see.
t’s July as I write this and I’ve just returned from a long trip to Texas and Los Angeles. Texas was hot... and L.A. ...well I spent a lot of time on the beach so no need to feel sorry for me. Sitka Gear has me scheduled to do several seminars in August and I recently spoke in Texas as well. In all of my travels and all of my seminars, one thing is certain...every bowhunter from every state I visit is jealous. Yup, jealous of the opportunities and amazing bowhunting that we have here in the Big Sky. Most hunters ask me about elk and mule deer, especially since my seminars usually focus on them. However, recently another question has reared its head: “Peter, is it true the wolves have eaten all of Montana’s elk?” Yes, they ask that a lot. Well, I tell them “not yet” but they’re working on it. The truth depends upon who I talk to. I’m certain the wolf topic will grow ever more intense and many lines will be drawn in the proverbial sand. I’ll wait and see what becomes of this wolf mess but each fall I will have a wolf tag in my pocket. Tomorrow I head to Colorado and then back to Los Angeles. I always bring a handful of MBA newsletters with me and give them out often to fellow bow men! August is around the corner and September will soon follow. Good luck out there and remember...tonight as I write this and tomorrow as you read this...an American soldier is standing guard on foreign soil...Please pray for them and if given the chance, tell a soldier...”Thank you!” God Bless,
BOWHUNTER — 18 www.mtBa.org
e’ve seen some good changes for archery this year in working with Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The MBA has worked to establish archery only seasons for lions, wolves, and bears. You can now get out this fall and enjoy your archery only bear and lion seasons. We had also achieved getting our first archery only wolf season, but as I write, wolves have been put back on the Endangered Species List and our archery and rifle seasons may very well not happen this year. This is a huge blow to the sportsmen of Montana and to our ungulates. The MBA will be working to get our wolf season back and join with other state and national organizations to bring management of wolves back to State. Stay tuned, get involved, and do everything you can to help. Any by the way, if any of your buddies that aren’t MBA members take advantage of these new archery bear and lion opportunities, then they are taking advantage of you and the MBA that you support every year with your hard earned money. If they complain about wolves, but aren’t members of the MBA that’s actually doing something to get our wolf season back, then get them to join and help do something about it. We need the membership numbers, and we need the financial support to keep doing what we do every year. I’m preaching to the choir here. You know how important it is to support the work of the MBA and to protect bowhunting in Montana. The question is, do your buddies? Educate them. Twist their arm. Remind them of how often they blow $25 on things a lot less important to them than bowhunting. Get them to join now. Good hunting this archery season!
ain, rain, rain, man have we got the rain in eastern Montana. Of course rain or moisture in general makes this country tick but we are about at the saturation point. Good things come when we get lots of rain; good bird cover and good horn growth. Not to mention good grass and waist high spring wheat. Now for the downside, the mosquitoes are ferocious. The turkeys are starting to look over their shoulders. We had some 3 D shoots cancelled on account of all the rain but the way it works around here the rain that fell yesterday might be the last drop you see for months. It will dry out but I’m betting that sitting a waterhole for antelope is going to be tough this year. We have had some serious poaching cases solved this year by the FWP and I for one am glad these guys are looking out for us. Some of the access issues we had last year seem to have been solved or at least at the time I write this. The first time I heard the phrase ‘unintended consequences’ was at one of the MBA banquets and Allan Charles, block management specialist for MT FWP, was talking about the unlimited archery antelope tag and the unintended consequence from the outfitting industry leasing up ranches for their unlimited NR cliental. Now it seems we hear it everyday. Unintended consequence is a graceful word but it generally means something was not thought out very well in the beginning. There are things that pop up and we can’t think of everything for sure but long and serious debate over issues do bring out all the little details that might otherwise be overlooked.
If you have any issues with any of the proposals that may come forth, PLEASE express your opinion to your MBA area rep. You never know what tidbit of info will put a puzzle together or bring some information to light that might get overlooked. Being involved in the process just might stop an unintended consequence. By the time the fall MBA magazine comes out we’ll know about our permits. Moose, sheep and goat are out now and I don’t know of anybody who drew yet but somebody is pretty happy right now. By the time this magazine hits your desk we should have a ruling on the wolf issue. Hopefully good judgment and common sense will prevail.
kay bowhunters, here we go! By the time you read these words, the antelope archery season will be two weeks old. I’m sure that several of us will have made good use of our ground blinds or stalking capabilities and put a nice pronghorn on the ground. They are such a beautiful animal. I missed the convention this year but I couldn’t help notice that in the convention photos there were many mounted antelope bucks that our members brought for the wildlife display. There are very few things prettier than a pronghorn antelope on the wall. This is the best time of year; our time of year. Every time it rolls around I’m reminded of that old Robert W. Service poem, The Men That Don’t Fit In. Steve Sukut
There’s a race of men that don’t fit in, A race that can’t stay still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and they rove the flood, And they climb the mountain’s crest; Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don’t know how to rest. Sounds like your typical hard-core bowhunter, doesn’t it? Every fall, it seems I meet more of these young, wildly strong and healthy bowhunters who just simply loom larger than life. These are the men about whom legends are made…their bowhunting feats make them heroes. And yet…I’m asking that each of you look up and read the rest of Robert Service’s poem. It is well worth the read and you’ll find that the overall message is that the guys who do anything so hard, at the cost of all else, lose in the grand scheme of things, because they’ve missed out on many other really important things. Balance your hunting with your family my friends. You only have your children for a couple of decades and your spouse is never to be taken for granted. There will always be another hunt, another early morning treestand sit or another stalk. You’ve only got one family and they are not always going to be there when you get home. Holy Crap, that’s depressing stuff! I guess I just want to say that if you play your cards right you can have both. You can have it all. And that’s what I want this fall… a nice pronghorn, a good deer, hopefully an elk and a great big Canadian moose. AND I want to come home from my 10 day Ontario moose hunt and find my wife and kids happy and healthy. That’s not asking too much, is it? I don’t think so. Good luck!!
Steve Sukut (406) 721-5857
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Story and Photos by Steve Sukut
The early morning sky was black as I parked my pickup and started the mile-long hike to my blind. I rattled and clanked as I walked… the gear I was carrying didn’t make for a silent sneak, which is why I was going in so early. I had forgotten my folding chair when I had set up the blind next to a well used waterhole the day before, so it, my camera and all my usual bowhunting equipment, plus the stuff I needed for a planned 12 to 15 hour sit, made for a noisy pack. I had discovered this particular stock watering pond several years before. I had been trying to stalk close to a herd of moving pronghorn antelope when they suddenly disappeared down a deep draw on the Montana prairie. Crawling around the side of a knoll, I found them busily drinking their fill, the does all tanking up while the buck was on the lookout for any competition for his harem. He didn’t see any other pronghorn bucks, but he spotted me easily enough. That was the end of that hunt, but I’ve hunted in pop-up blinds next to this hidden pond several times since then. I’ve found that when hunting pronghorn antelope with a bow and arrow, there are several “seasons” within the usual antelope archery season, which in Montana runs August 15 to the second Sunday in October. The first season starts at opening day, and lasts until the end of the first week in September. The dog days of summer are the times where I’ve had my best luck sitting in blinds over watering holes, because the weather is generally very hot and very dry. Find a place where the antelope water frequently, and sooner or later they will return to it. I’ve heard of a placing a blind in the morning and taking a pronghorn from it that afternoon, but that is unusual, I believe. I like to let them get used to the blind for a few days before hunting it. Stalking into the blind quietly in the dark seems to work best, and hopefully you’ll be able to set it up downwind of where the tracks indicate the most watering activity. After you get in the blind, it is simply a waiting game. The second season is the time during the antelope rut, which peaks around midSeptember. Using a decoy of some kind during the two middle weeks of September can produce some of the most thrilling bowhunting action you’ll ever see. Watching a mature, territorial pronghorn buck sprint at you as hard as he can is a sight you won’t soon forget! It pays to keep out of sight for as long as possible before exposing your decoy. If the antelope sees your vehicle, sees you walking, or if you skyline yourself, you’re usually wasting your time trying to coax a mature buck within bow range. What works for me is to park my vehicle below the crest of a hill and walk up to it with my binoculars. I’ll scope out the area ahead of me before I move through it. If I see a pronghorn buck that looks feisty, I’ll figure out a way to slip up on him, hopefully closing within 200 yards before raising up the antelope decoy. After the rut, waterhole hunts in blinds again get the nod, depending on the weather. Late September- early October can
BowHUNtEr — 20 www.mtBa.org
still be very hot and dry on the plains, and a patient sit over a waterhole is still effective. Of course, anytime the antelope archery season is open is spot and stalk season. This is a very exciting method of hunting pronghorns, and works well if you’re in good shape for hiking and crawling through sagebrush and cactus, and also if you’re able to make slightly longer shots. Forty to fifty yards is not an uncommon distance for a bow shot on the prairie, because of the lack of cover. You’ll have many opportunities at longer shots, but these should be avoided because the chance of the animal moving is great, and also the typically strong winds can really affect arrow flight. If a bowhunter is patient, one can usually utilize breaks in the terrain to close the distance to within 40 yards, and make an ethical shot. Traditional bowhunters, with their ingrained and required discipline and patience, often get opportunities much closer than that. I was breaking one of my own rules and hunting a blind the day after I set it up. I had spent several fruitless days at a waterhole several miles away, and after checking the sign around this pond, I had decided that it was being visited often enough that I could forego my normal four to seven day waiting period. It was still dark when I arrived, so I was all ready and waiting for action at pink light, when the morning choir welcomed the sun. From virtually every compass point, coyotes started yipping, yowling, and serenading each other. One could easily distinguish between the pups of the year and the old dogs, and it sounded like the population was doing just fine, thank you. Coyotes in the western states are so persecuted that I sometimes think they are headed for extermination, but they always hold their own. Song dogs like to salute the sunrise, and I hope and pray that they do it forever. I’ve often heard that pronghorns don’t worry too much about scent, and that while bowhunters have to be conscious of scent issues, one can often get away with antelope moving downwind. Don’t believe it! The first antelope I saw that morning, a medium-sized buck, took one look at the blind and promptly moved downwind of it. Smelling me through my scent containment suit, he jittered around for a few minutes, then left. Darn it! I knew I was gambling by hunting the blind so soon, but this particular buck knew exactly what to do when he saw the brand new suspicious lump, that being go downwind and smell it. I had learned all this before, the hard way, but had opted to take a chance. So much for disregarding the pronghorn survival instincts and nose! While it is true that pronghorns use their large, eight-power eyeballs to great effect on the wide open prairie, they also know what danger smells like, and don’t you forget it.
This pattern repeated itself twice more that morning, so I left after just 7 hours in the blind. I figured that I’d wait a week and then try again, after the pronghorns had hopefully become accustomed to the new addition to their waterhole. During my time in the blind, I spent time taking photos, writing in my journal, reading a novel that was just a little too interesting because a herd of antelope got very close before I noticed them, and trying not to melt into the prairie. The temperature skyrocketed as soon as the sun came up, and inside the pop-up blind I felt like a pop-tart in a toaster. Late summer in Montana can be brutally hot. This makes hunting over a waterhole effective because antelope have to drink, but miserable as far as comfort is concerned. A week later, the weather forecast was hot, and the wind direction from the pond to my blind, so anticipation ran high as I felt my way in. The coyote wake-up call was again on time, and antelope started wandering by soon after sun up. Unfortunately, the rest of the pattern remained true also… the pronghorns either watered on the extreme far edge of the pond or wind checked my blind before coming in. None of the scent eliminating processes I tried seemed to work… not one animal went downwind of me without getting very nervous. I still don’t know what I was doing wrong. Like most bowhunters these days, I’ve watched many antelope being taken over waterholes on television hunting programs, where it looks almost easy. Perhaps I was using cheaper and therefore non-effective scent suits and scent elimination chemicals. Maybe scent elimination gear fools more hunters than they do the hunted. Regardless, I fooled no one. Unless an animal came straight in to water, it caught my apparently offensive and stinky human odor. Time spent in the outdoors is never wasted, however, and I enjoyed this trip and several subsequent trips to my hidden waterhole blind the next two weeks. Plenty of drinking water, good reading material, my camera, and my journal all combined to make the long days fly by. Before I knew it, it was mid-September, and the antelope rut was kicking in. I had been seeing some good pronghorn bucks from my blind, so I saw no reason to venture too far from the same area to try decoying one. One morning after work, I dove into some camouflage and took to the hills, aiming to decoy a mature antelope into bow range. I’ve been decoying antelope for years, and I have several decoys in my arsenal. The one I’m most familiar with and have used most is a plastic, double-sided silhouette made by Flambeau, called the Commandolope. I don’t know if they are still available, but
the eyes-forward design seemed to challenge dominate pronghorn bucks, and I’ve done very well with it. It, like the popular Mel Dutton and Montana Antelope Decoy, is held up by a stake that you have to drive into the ground, and sometimes, after a hot August and September, you may as well try to drive it into asphalt. I’ve had the decoy fall over more than once, always at the worst possible time. If you’re hunting with a partner, it’s no problem, because he‘ll hold it up, but hunting alone is tough. I’ve learned to be careful not to raise the decoy into a pronghorn’s vision unless I have a place to stick the metal stake, which was usually right through the middle of the nearest sagebrush. Roots and branches were a lot easier to shove a stake than sun-baked prairie cement! I was excited to try the decoy I had recently acquired. I was the editor of the Montana Bowhunters Association’s quarterly magazine at the time, and I had sold advertisement space to a small business named Heads Up Decoys (www.headsupdecoy.com), out of Kansas. I figured that we should support the businesses that support us, so I bought one of their antelope decoys. It was a photo-image on a foldable frame, and although it was designed to be hand-held, it didn’t take me long to figure out a way to attach it to the stabilizer hole of my Martin compound. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about shoving the decoy stake in the baked earth, and I could hunt solo. Thanks to the amazingly busy life of the 21st century, I didn’t even leave town until noon. I made my way out to antelope country, leaving the blacktop and weaving my way down first gravel, then dirt roads. I parked my pickup just below the crest of the first hill I came to, and walked up to glass. I picked out a lone antelope immediately, and could tell right away that it was distracted…something was bothering it. Closer inspection showed a coyote was hassling the antelope buck, and also that the buck was large enough to require more scrutiny on my part. The coyote wasn’t doing much more than irritating the pronghorn, but that distraction was enough for me to drive my pickup to top of the hill so that I could put my spotting scope on the little drama. The ‘yote was just being a pain, and I could tell that the antelope, while mature, wasn’t quite what I wanted. Still, I had a brand new decoy to try out, so I backed off the crest of the hill and took a long hike around the gentle rise in front of me. I discovered a narrow cut in the prairie that took me within 300 yards of the buck, but I still wanted to get closer before I showed the decoy. There was no real cover, so I got down on my 52 year-old belly, and went to work. I’ve always been surprised at how well my body responds to the demands I give it. Again, in spite of the time spent being a couch potato, I was able to crawl to a little fold in the prairie, and after relocating the buck, I slowly raised the decoy, my bow attached.
continued on page 22
Season in the Sun . . . contined from page 21 Nothing happened. Not only did the buck not see me, but the gusty crosswinds made it almost impossible to hold my bow/decoy steady. But that soon worked to my advantage, because nothing is more noticeable than movement. My wildly gyrating decoy caught the attention of the buck, and he wasted no time. In less time than it takes to tell about it, he was 50 yards away and closing fast. I came to full draw, and held it when he crested a small hill 30 yards away. But he was head on, so there was no shot. I was having a helluva time keeping my sights on him anyway due to the 30 mph crosswind, so it was almost a relief when he turned and simply walked out of my life. When I had a little more hill between me and the buck, I scuttled to the top of the little prairie ripple and displayed the decoy once more. I was surprised at how much he didn’t seem to care about the interloper in his area. Then I noticed that he wasn’t even looking in my direction. I looked over my shoulder and saw a good, wide pronghorn buck flying across the prairie, heading towards the antelope in front of me. I spun around, and displayed my decoy as largely as I could. It felt weird, shoving my compound up and waving it around, but it felt right. It worked. The wide-horned buck ran by the buck I’d just decoyed, gracing him with barely a glance. He turned, and ran right to me. He stopped broadside at somewhere around 35 yards, and I released. Thanks to the crosswind, I lost sight of my arrow, which is something I’ve worked very hard to keep from happening. But he hunched up, and then sprinted, which normally indicates a good hit. I then saw blood on his chest, and I knew it was over. He made the top of the hill, and went down.
BowHUNtEr — 22 www.mtBa.org
I was already on my knees… I threw my head back, raised my hands and my bow to the sky and let out a primeval, but silent, roar. If I’d had given voice to that roar, it probably would have carried to Canada, but to bellow it out would have been rude, somehow. I had just taken something’s life…I must show it respect. I thanked Christ. I thanked my wife, my kids, and my health. When I ran out of things to thank, I powered up my cell phone and called a couple friends, and shared, in excruciating detail, my experience. I celebrated the clean kill, the mature buck, the addition of some tasty back straps to my freezer, and the conclusion to my Seasons in the Sun. I had spent a total of one hour and 40 minutes decoying antelope. After the many hours and days I had spent in my blind, you would think that I’d give up waterhole blind hunting forever, and concentrate on just hunting during the rut. That isn’t going to happen. Decoying pronghorns is far from a guaranteed shot opportunity. I had simply stumbled over an antelope buck in the mood to fight. Also, why would I cheat myself of hours of mental peace and communion with nature just for a chance at a quick kill? 21st century life is a busy hassle, and when we have an excuse to escape it, we’d better take it, every chance we have. The moment of truth is why we hunt… the quiet times are what make us whole.
Author Steve Sukut
By R enee Ladeau
We left Friday after work for our favorite public mule deer hunting spot, full of anticipation for a weekend hunt. This was my second year bow hunting and I was hunting with MBA member Kiley Jons. I just love to get outdoors and am always eager to learn. I was lucky enough to get a small whitetail buck the year before but I also had lots of failed attempts while either hunting from a blind or doing some spot-and-stalk. I went out with friends many times last year and was reminded every time that it often takes many attempts before one even has a chance to draw their bow. So, needless to say I was excited to get out and have a chance to practice those skills again. Up early the next morning we made our way to one of our spotting sites by daybreak. We found some bucks up and feeding but kept glassing. A bit later we spotted a group of does feeding and I was able to successfully sneak in on one and fill my doe tag! It is so exhilarating to get close to an animal and watch my arrow hit its mark. I might even have done a bit of a dance before getting it cleaned. Quite a bit of satisfaction in it all. Our afternoon hunt didn’t turn up anything that we were able to work but we were seeing animals. The next morning under cold and cloudy skies we went to a different location to glass. Again we saw some bucks but no opportunities. By late morning it was still only 25 degrees and started to snow lightly. All of a sudden, in the same spot that I had been looking, I spotted a buck that looked like a nice 4x4 from a distance. I had not seen this buck before. My whispers raised an octave when I announced my find. I had decided the second I saw this buck that I was going after him. Thank goodness the levelheaded, more experienced hunter with me (Kyley) insisted that I slow down and make a plan. It did appear that the buck was hunkered down due to the weather but I wanted to hurry. I did not want to miss this chance. The deer was bedded down by a small cottonwood tree at the base of a 5-6 foot bank facing our direction. While watching him we checked the wind, lay of the landscape and came up with a plan. There was a meadow directly in front of the buck but it appeared to be too far across with little available cover to attempt a stalk. The best approach was to back out and go clear around a big knob to the southeast with the wind in our faces. After checking landmarks
around the buck, we took off in that direction. While we made our way along many thoughts ran through my head. Was I going to be able to locate the buck from a different vantage point? How close was I going to be able to get before he bolted? No matter how it played out, I was looking forward to seeing just how close I could get to the object of my desire. After coming around the knob we stopped to regroup and glass to make sure that we hadn’t been heard or seen by other eyes. We found the landmark that I was looking for and double-checked the wind. It was still in my face. The next part of the stalk was more challenging for there was an open meadow that we had to cross. This field had nothing more than a few small bushes and some grass for cover. Finally, we were about 100 yards from the cottonwood tree and bank edge where I had last seen the bedded buck. The ground was covered with about 1-2 inches of crusty snow and extremely noisy when walking. Leaving my pack behind and taking my last words of advice and encouragement, I picked a line and crept forward as quietly as possible. After about 30 yards it became obvious that for me to get any closer without being heard I was going to have to shed my boots. Leaving them behind, I continued forward slowly. My eyes alternated between the spot where I thought the buck was and the ground for my next step; hoping the entire time that the wind was not going to change directions. Although stealthier without boots, the heat from my feet was causing the snow to melt enough that is was sticking to my wool socks. I had to shake a little snow off after every couple of steps in order to not lose my footing. It was like walking in gumbo! Closer I crept….occasionally pausing to range the target tree where I hoped my buck was still bedded near. My heart raced as I neared to within 40 yards of the tree! Not being exactly sure what to do next, I remembered a recent hunting story I had heard where a friend described drawing his bow on his target before seeing it. Although a bit panicked because I could not see the buck and sure that he was gone, I drew back on my bow and continued to creep forward. My mind was screaming, “This is a silly exercise in futility. He is gone!” I couldn’t believe it until I saw the tips of his rack turning in the grass! My buck was still there! He stood up from his bed and turned perfectly broadside to look at me. Time slowed as I found my anchor point and settled my 35 yard pin
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Neal Jacobson traveled to Alaska to take this monster bull moose. Diann Martin tagging her bull elk from last year.
Jay Roberson with a beautiful Montana whitetail.
Steve Tylinski with a nice bull he took after a short day of work Nikki and Sierra Dockter showing how some girls like to have fun...with a nice whitetail doe.
Nate Peckinpaugh of Bozeman with a antelope buck to be proud of.
Kimberly Blaskowski with her first Montana whitetail buck. Brian Rayner getting it done with traditional archery equipment.
Robbie Dockter with a nice mountain lion from last winter. He just tries to keep up with the girls in the family.
John Eriksson/Images On The Wildside
by E. Donnall Thomas Jr.
Doe on the Ground I argue from time to time with friends vaguely disdainful of my enthusiasm for hunting deer from tree stands, most of whom, I note with interest, haven’t had much experience with whitetails. Of course I love to spot and stalk, just as I love the mental discipline of still-hunting. But I also love my November tree stand time, for reasons that have little if anything to do with the advantages this hunting method allegedly confers upon the hunter. Climbing into a tree separates me from the busyness of the modern world just like climbing into the cockpit of a Super Cub, and every time I head upward into a stand I remember St. Exupery’s classic invocation of flight: “…to slip the surly bonds of earth and touch the face of God.” Nonetheless, I have to admit that my skeptical friends have a point. Deer taken from the ground always feel, if not downright better, at least a little more satisfying than those taken from above, more or less the same way trout taken on dry flies feel more satisfying than those taken on nymphs. In that spirit, I rather arbitrarily committed myself to filling last year’s whitetail doe tag by stalking. The chance arose under strange circumstances in mid-October, during the last week of Montana’s bow season. The four-week gap between the end of serious elk hunting and the onset of the whitetail rut ordinarily provides me with an oddly relaxing interlude from the bow. While I’ll occasionally take off in search of a fall turkey or head to the mountains to glass for bears, mid-October is far more likely to find me taking photographs of our gorgeous fall scenery, working my way through the last good hatches of the year on our local spring creek, or working the Labs on pheasants. But that time of year also represents an excellent opportunity to fill doe tags. And last year, I was in the mood. My season got off to a good start when I killed a Sitka blacktail buck near our second home in southeast Alaska, but I spent most of September hunting moose up north without taking a shot. By the time I returned home, the accumulated demands of work kept me out of the field until I finally had to concede that for the first time in years I was going to finish the bow season without killing either an elk or an antelope. In a word, I was hungry, and so was my freezer.
BowHUNtEr — 26 www.mtBa.org
I left the office midday and came home to have lunch and formulate a plan for the afternoon. While eating on the deck and fighting off some unwanted affection from the Labs, I noticed a group of whitetail does and fawns feeding in the alfalfa field below the house. As I munched and studied the deer, I realized that the steep embankment at the edge of the field offered a potential approach to a bow range position downwind. After memorizing a few landmarks, I headed to the garage for my bow with no apologies to my canine company. Sorry, dogs. As I started to reach for one of my usual hunting shirts, I reconsidered. I’d recently written a controversial – and largely misinterpreted – editorial about camouflage. In fact, I have nothing against camo, but the whole process had made me think. If I meant to do this the hard way, why not include my dress? And so I finally began the stalk in the same clothes I’d just worn home from the office. Thirty minutes later, I eased cautiously up the bank using a strip of tall grass for cover until I identified the brown outline of a deer’s back just beyond bow range. I knew there should be at least a half dozen deer somewhere in front of me and I didn’t want to commit myself until I’d accounted for them all. That took another fifteen minutes, at which point the hard part became keeping track of the does and fawns shuffling about as if someone were dealing a game of Three-Card Monte. I finally focused my attention on one mature doe as she moved into bow range, and when her head went down to feed, I rose to one knee, drew, picked a spot and released. My initial impression was that the arrow had struck a bit far back, but I noted abundant blood on both flanks as she whirled and ran. In fact, the broadhead had severed her aorta at the level of the diaphragm, and she went down in less than seventy yards.
Fire Control Center In early November, I headed back to Alaska to hunt the blacktail rut. Another interesting Alaska adventure to be sure, but the rainforest bucks proved almost exclusively nocturnal and I left without taking a shot. By the time I returned home, the whitetail rut was in full progress, and once again, I felt hungry.
But this time around, my eagerness to launch a killing arrow felt tempered by powerful forces of restraint. In Montana, we only get one buck tag per year, and the one in my pocket represented my last opportunity to put something on the wall that season. With the ten best days of deer hunting yet to come, I meant to spend it wisely. When Lori reported seeing nothing big around the house during my absence, I began hunting a new area with longtime hunting partner John Roseland. Rosey knew the place well, and I sincerely appreciated the generosity he’d shown by sharing it with me. After a day of scouting, I headed for a stand beside a scrape line at the edge of a heavily used alfalfa field and prepared to slip the surly bonds of earth once more. The same storm system that had dumped a foot of snow on us up north had followed me all the way home like a puppy. While I appreciated the tracking snow, I couldn’t say the same for the bitter cold, and after two quiet hours in the stand the little tree that held it was vibrating in time with my shivering. But experienced whitetail hunters learn not to quit early during the rut. As the sun kissed the horizon, the field began to fill with does, followed by a trio of amorous bucks: an ambitious spike, a mediumsized 4-point and a spindly 4x5. As they circuited the field, each eventually investigated the scrape line and offered a shot that I never seriously considered taking. Too little, too soon; something like that. The following morning I spotted a high, heavy 4-point that really caught my eye. As much as I like to see that elusive fifth point on whitetail bucks, this deer was just too striking to ignore. At the end of our morning hunt, I backtracked him to the far side of the field and set up a ground blind downwind of a well-used trail that didn’t have a single tree beside it. That night, a different contingent of bucks arrived to harass the does feeding in the field. The best of the lot – another medium-sized 4-point – eventually offered me a ten-yard broadside shot. Although I still felt no urge to kill the deer, I was delighted to note how completely he ignored my blind. Then, at the tail end of shooting light, I saw another blocky form enter the field, and my glasses quickly confirmed that it was the buck I was after. In typical whitetail fashion, he’d chosen a totally different approach route. Intermittently feeding and investigating does, he worked his way in my direction at agonizingly slow speed. Eventually, he wound up broadside at a distance I later paced off at 27 yards, but with light failing, I declined the shot. Right deer, wrong situation. Was I ever going to fill that tag? I had to wonder. But from a team perspective, the night hardly passed uneventfully. Rosey returned after dark and reported that he’d shot a nice buck at last light. He’d taken the deer at a steep downward angle, and because of some uncertainty about the hit, we decided to leave the trail for the following morning. Those concerns proved unfounded, as we quickly located the fallen 6x6, the victim of a well-placed arrow through the chest. That afternoon, I watched a very nice mule deer walk right under a stand we’d recently moved to the end of a narrow, brushy draw that led down out of the hills toward the fields below. With the high, heavy whitetail forgotten, I headed there early the following afternoon and settled in for a long, patient wait. A spring-fed creek bisects the property, and with most of the local ponds locked in ice by the cold weather, ducks had flocked to it in droves. Although the stand was well away from the water, it lay right in the approach path to the birds’ favorite bend in the creek. All afternoon, waves of mallards hurtled past with their wings set, often right at eye level. I love watching waterfowl even when I’m not hunting them, and although I knew I was supposed to be concentrating on deer, I just couldn’t take my eyes off the ducks. Hence the sinking feeling when the unmistakable urrrp of a rutting whitetail buck caught me with my eyes trained overhead. With open terrain all around, I knew the deer had to be somewhere in the thick line of brush below me, and after some careful scrutiny I recognized
the flash of antler tines twenty yards away. But I also knew the buck wouldn’t have made a tending grunt without a doe nearby, and after shifting my weight as carefully as possible, I finally spotted her right beneath my tree. Although I hadn’t fully evaluated the buck yet, I knew I’d better consider him A-tag material until proven otherwise, and slowly oozed into position to shoot if he followed the doe. For long moments, nothing moved. Finally, the doe minced her way up the bank and into the open. When the buck kept pace, I saw that he was basically a respectable 4-point with double eye-guards. That’s when everything changed. Suddenly and inexplicably, the fire control center hidden deep inside my brain flashed a new message: Kill This Deer! I stopped worrying about antlers completely. Although well within bow range, the buck still stood screened by too much brush to allow a shot. I knew my knees were shaking, and not from the cold. While some veterans haughtily dismiss buck fever as a beginner’s problem, I hope I never stop experiencing it, for that kind of excitement only confirms that I’ve done something right. All for naught, though, unless I can deliver that perfect arrow, and for a moment the buck looked like he meant to deny me the opportunity. When he finally followed the doe up the bank, he paused offering nothing but hindquarters at fifteen yards. But then, slowly and miraculously, he turned broadside and brought his near front leg forward as if accepting a dare. That did it: the arrow whistled through his chest and stuck in the frozen bank behind him. Even though I knew it was unnecessary, I reflexively recorded landmarks as he tore off downhill toward the creek. An instant later, he went down in a pile barely sixty yards away.
Happy Thanksgiving With seven days of deer season left and no buck tag to my name, I admit that I began the week with a heavy heart. I actually went to work for two days without juggling my schedule in order to be out of the office early enough to hunt. I still had one mule deer doe tag left, but my heart wasn’t in it. When some free time rolled around on Wednesday afternoon, I went duck hunting, much to the delight of Rocky, my promising young yellow Lab. But I’d somehow reckoned without Lori. She’d lost a bit of her bowhunting momentum earlier in the year, probably because of all the close calls we’d had with her sheep tag the previous season. After chasing giant bighorns for a solid month, anything that followed was bound to be anti-climatic, and I’d let her set the pace of her own recovery. When she killed a doe near the house earlier, I thought I saw a glimmer of her old enthusiasm, but even with all the bucks rutting nearby, I still didn’t feel I should push her to hunt. And with kids coming home for the holidays, she was in full domestic mode anyway, organizing a huge Thanksgiving feast for family and friends. But shortly after noon, with the turkey in the oven and pots bubbling all over the stove, she asked if I’d take over in the kitchen for a few hours while she went hunting. I let her know it would be my pleasure. I didn’t offer much advice, even though I’d hunted turkeys around the place that morning – successfully, as events turned out. I’d seen some promising sign in the coulee right below the house, which turned out to be where she chose to sit anyway. Great minds think alike, or something like that. As she marched out the door with her recurve in her hand, I wished her the best and turned my attention to the meal in progress. An hour later, I was surprised to see her back at the door again. She doesn’t like sitting in bitter weather, but the day was pleasant and I’d expected her to enjoy herself in solitude all afternoon. Suddenly, a light went on in my head.
continued on page 28
Three Whitetails continued from page 27
“Do you have a blood trail?” I asked as the Labs rose from their spot in front of the stove to greet her. “Not exactly,” she replied. “How can you ‘not exactly’ have a blood trail?” I wondered aloud. “Is that like being ‘not exactly’ pregnant?” Her only answer was a smile. “What did you shoot?” I finally asked. “You’ll just have to come and see,” she said. She obviously wasn’t going to answer any more questions. I took the dog box out of the back of the truck and we drove down the hill. Forty yards below her stand lay a perfectly symmetrical 5x5 whitetail buck. She insisted on doing the field dressing chores, and while she worked and I pulled on legs, she told the story. Shortly after climbing into the stand – an old favorite from which I’ve killed numerous deer over the years – she spotted a lone doe in the bottom of the coulee. Shortly thereafter, two bucks appeared on her trail. With nothing to Photo by Don Thomas lose, she’d given her rattling antlers a crack, at which point the 5-point tore up the hill, hit a scrape ten yards below the stand, and walked right under her. She’d wisely waited to take the buck going away, although it still offered a steep, tricky angle. Nonetheless, she’d put the broadhead right on the money, severing the buck’s spine, and followed up quickly with another arrow through the chest. Happy Thanksgiving indeed. Conclusions? Few lessons from the outdoors are absolute, but it’s always tempting to try… I’m really not opposed to camouflage, despite the general misinterpretation of an earlier editorial on the subject. Nor am I opposed to hunting from tree stands. But the essential element of becoming a bowhunter remains voluntary restriction upon means of take in the field. No reason that should stop just because you’ve picked up a bow, even a traditional one. In many ways, I enjoyed killing this year’s doe more than this year’s buck. I still can’t define all the intangibles that go into making any game animal a trophy, whatever that means. I suppose I fall in the middle of a broad spectrum, with hunters happy to shoot the first legal deer they see on one side and hunters who won’t consider shooting anything that doesn’t meet some arbitrary minimum measurement on the other. More power to both camps. I find the definition of a trophy similar to the definition of art: it may be difficult to articulate, but I know it when I see it. And when my fire control center begins to flash, the debate is over. Finally, few experiences in the outdoors rival the satisfaction of sharing in the accomplishments of others: kids, spouses, family, friends. Because bowhunting demands so much individual effort in order to be successful, we all tend to forget that lesson from time to time. I received a timely reminder this season, for I honestly enjoyed Lori’s whitetail more than either of my own. Deer season has truly ended as I write. As usual, the best buck I saw all year showed up at the house the last weekend of the season, when I could do nothing but watch. We’re about to leave for a week of waterfowling with my parents back in Washington, and as soon as we return it will be time to rig the truck for lion hunting. In fact, no matter what the calendar says, seasons never really end. You may not be able to shoot, but you can always observe, reflect and learn… and I know no greater reward in the field.
Mad About Mulies
continued from page 23 behind his shoulder. I tried to shoot just as I had done a thousand times before on my block target, and an instant later my arrow found its mark. I heard that unmistakable sound of an arrow hitting home. An instant later the buck jumped, bucked and spun… heading around the front of the knob that we had just come around! To my surprise 20 yards to the left, another buck jumped up and ran off across the meadow. He was a nice looking deer as well. My attention back on the buck I had shot, I could see my arrow hanging and flopping from where he was hit. A flash of panic crossed my mind as I immediately worried if I had gotten enough penetration. However, I had seen a lot of blood. Then the buck seemed to stumble in his haste to escape and he disappeared out of sight. I heard Kiley behind me say, “that was a good shot,” but I was not really sure what to think at that point. I was still in shock. I made my way back to my boots and collected my pack. We gave the buck some time and then slowly made our way back around the backside of the knob until we came out the other end. We hoped to find him with the bino’s before going back and picking up the blood trail. We started looking and it was not long before we spotted what appeared to be his hind end all piled up. Only then did I fell like I could start celebrating! I could barely believe what had just happened. I stalked and shot that buck! I was so excited! When we finally came up to the buck I picked up his head and started counting points! A heavy 6x7 mulie! No way! When I first saw the buck I thought he was maybe a nice 4x4. Surprised too, Kiley was kicking himself for underestimating its size. I was so pumped that I could hardly stop stumbling over my words. Grins, hoots and hollers, and high fives went on for some time. After wrangling that big buck around for pictures we caped him out and then packed everything off to the truck. Every time I looked at my buck I just kept shaking my head. No way was he that big! He greenscored out at 178 5/8. What an experience. I’m definitely hooked on bow hunting now and can’t wait to get out there again this fall. Regardless of what I might have the opportunity to harvest, just being out there and doing it is worth it all. Because you just never know.
Author Don Thomas
- Longtime MBA member Don Thomas’s 17 outdoor books are available through the website www. donthomasbooks.com.
BowHUNtEr — 28 www.mtBa.org
Author Renee Ladeau
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