VOL. 38 #2 WINTER 2010
inside this issue: Officer & Regional Reports Two for the Gipper Scimming the Cream Austinâ€™s Bull
Atcheson Taxidermy has accummulated over 125 years expertise, and are highly recommended by the Smithsonian and the National Taxidermy Association.
BOWHUNTER â€” 2 WWW.MTBA.ORG
Regional onal R Representatives epre p esent e tatives a Region 1
PO Box 219, Libby, MT 59923................................................406-293-2900 email@example.com 3160 Airport Road, Kalispel, MT 59901 ................................406-261-4456 firstname.lastname@example.org
Al Kelly Paul Martin
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
Jason Widaman Paul Roush II
Billy Lewis Lucas Zemlicka
Region 4 Region 5 Region 6
Cliff Garness Ernie McKenzie
Billings, MT......................................................................... 406-690-7110 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
Region 7 Region 8
Missoula, MT ........................................................................406-799-9939 firstname.lastname@example.org 5106 Mainview Dr., Missoula, MT 59803..................................406-544-2169 email@example.com 703 N. Yellowstone, Livingston MT 59407.............................406-220-1837 firstname.lastname@example.org 26 Sheridan Ave., Bozeman MT 59718 . ...............................406-580-9560 email@example.com Great Falls, MT ....................................................................406-788-9009 firstname.lastname@example.org
Colstrip, MT ......................................................................406-748 3077 email@example.com
AT LARGE DIRECTORS
EVEN YEARS Cory C. Benge Brendan Burns Pete Iacavazzi Levi Johnson Steve Kamps Roger Peffer Steve Schindler Steve Sukut
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
ODD YEARS Adam Barker Denver Bryan
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
Ray Gross Mark Seacat
355 Antelope Dr., Dillon, MT 59725 – Ray_gross@bresnan.net.......................................406-683-2046 Bozeman, MT – email@example.com .......................................................................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 SPRING ISSUE, DEADLINE, January 15 SUMMER ISSUE, DEADLINE, April 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.
MEMBERSHIP INQUIRIES 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 6
Jason Tounsley 1ST VICE PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
8 9 10 13 20 23 24 27 30 31
Jenn Schneider LEGISLATIVE REPORT – Joelle Selk TWO FOR THE GIPPER – Don Thomas REGIONAL NEWS SKIMMING THE CREAM – Steve Sukut BULLETIN BOARD AUSTIN’S BULL – Rex Rogers BOWHUNTERS TALK BACK BUSINESS MEMBERS
Another election has come and gone and Montana voters passed Initiative 161. Being somewhat of a ‘populist issue’ I can’t say that I was surprised. Many resident hunters have grown weary of losing access to long-time hunting grounds and felt, rightfully or not, that outfitter leasing of private lands to supply out-of-state hunting clients was a major reason. Whether this proves to be the case remains to be seen but the pot has been stirred and only time will tell. Wolves remain on the endangered species list as ‘our side’ continues to grind towards the only viable solution that I believe the majority of Montanans want…..state management of this resident wildlife species. The ‘so-called-environmentalists’ may have won the most recent court battle but I still take heart and believe that they’re unwillingness to agree to a rational compromise is going to lead them to eventually lose the war. I also believe that hunters need to continue to relay that we’re happy (or okay with) having wolves back but we NEED TO MANAGE THEM. Saying “Killem all!” just feeds the other side’s mantra and doesn’t advance our case. Along the lines of compromise, I’ve heard secondhand that a few MBA members have complained that the ‘new magazine’ has too much advertising and is focused on high tech gear and trophy animals. Personally, I don’t see it when I look at other magazines or through our last two issues and see more ads for traditional archery equipment as well as many hunting articles written by traditional archers. I know these ads are saving the MBA and its members a lot of money. And when last I looked, nobody was twisting anyone’s arm to view the ads.
Billy & Shana Lewis of Livingston, MT with a great pair of whitetail bucks, taken with their Stykbows and less than 100 yards apart on the very last day of the 2009 General Season. Proof postive that it is definately way better to be lucky than good!! Photo by Billy Lewis
he archery season in Montana may be over but the general hunting season is still going strong and I know many bowhunters who are busy chasing rutting whitetail and mulie bucks. On the elk front, I passed up what would have been my first-ever archery shot at a five point bull on a ranch I was hunting because I’d seen two herd bulls about the day before. I never heard or saw another elk in the two remaining days of hunting and my hunting buddies insinuated that I was ‘not quite right in the head.’ About all I could say at the time was, “I always wondered what tag soup tasted like.” Alas, there’s always next year.
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Putting the MBA magazine together is time-consuming and I want to thank the many MBA regional reps and board members for their contributions. I’d particularly like to thank Don Thomas, Steve Sukut and Rex Rogers for their editorial contributions. I wish more MBA members would contribute to either the magazine or the organization. If you have an opinion feel free to speak out and/or send me a letter-to-the-editor to publish. Everybody is ‘too busy’ these days but choosing to step up and help out versus whining about something that isn’t ideal in your eyes really doesn’t help a thing. The MBA is working on addressing a current shortcoming of keeping track of members and their mailing addresses. Until we get this worked out, please don’t hesitate to contact Jenn if you’re not receiving your MBA magazine or e-mails. Along the lines of communications, the MBA has a Facebook fan page located at: www.facebook.com/pages/MontanaBowhunters-Association/162772349875 This social media outlet is a good a platform for MBA members to easily communicate online. Check it out.
WHY EVERY MONTANA BOWHUNTER SHOULD CONSIDER JOINING THE MONTANA BOWHUNTERS ASSOCIATION • The MBA is the organization the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks consults on bowhunting issues that affect Montana bowhunters. • Montana has the best bowhunting seasons of any of the western states. We are continually working to keep these. • The MBA is active in the Legislature to protect and fight for our hunting and bowhunting seasons and rights. • The MBA produces a quarterly magazine informing you of local, state, and national bowhunting issues and events, and publishing great stories and pictures. • THE MBA NEEDS MEMBER NUMBERS AND YOUR YEARLY DUES TO CONTINUE TO PROTECT WHAT YOU ENJOY EVERY YEAR. ISN’T WHAT YOU ENJOY EVERY FALL WORTH $25 A YEAR TO PROTECT?
Worked to get the first archery season started in Montana. Along the way, we’ve increased the seasons to what you enjoy today.
Worked to establish archery bear, lion and sheep seasons.
Worked to establish archery antelope 900 tag and August 15th opener.
Worked to establish archery only areas and hunting districts.
Proposed a special archery wolf season and endorsed the highest quota of wolf harvest possible.
Actively protects hunting & bowhunting seasons in the Legislature year after year.
Defended our archery seasons against the “Crossbows & Muzzleloaders” threats throughout the years.
Created the Modified Archer’s permit that now allows those with handicaps to use modified archery equipment to hunt; which kept any need for crossbows out of Montana and defended our archery seasons against other crossbow threats throughout the years.
Re-established the archery season after it was left off the regulations one year.
Actively works with FWP to protect archery seasons, our resources, and expand archery opportunity in Montana year after year.
Photos by Denver Bryan / Images on the Wildside
What the MBA has done for you?
What can you do for the bowhunting in Montana? Join the MBA at www.mtba.org to preserve, promote and protect bowhunting.
had to leave the evening before he finally connected; a mid afternoon text of the buck lying on the ground the next day was all I needed to drop my tool bag, grab my pack, and drive the three hours to take photos, pack meat, and celebrate. I was also reminded what this sport is supposed to be about. As we pulled into a favorite hunting spot on the first day of a three day hunt I asked another friend what she was looking for in an antelope buck. Coming off of what had been her best season to date I was expecting her to give an arbitrary score or measurement, or an answer something along the lines of “one a little bigger than last year” but I should have known better, with nothing but straight faced sincerity she answered “I’m just looking for a good shot.” Less than an hour later she made a great shot on a good buck and you could tell by the look on her face and the excitement in her voice that that was all she was looking for.
t has been another great hunting season for me and the few good friends I hunt with. I had the good fortune to cut my tags on a great antelope buck and my second best elk so far. I have already had a couple opportunities on mule deer bucks better than any I have taken before, neither time did it shake out, but with the rut right around the corner I am excited to see what November has in store. I was lucky enough to spend time in camp with a long time friend and hunting buddy as he patiently played a four day cat and mouse game with a truly large Montana mule deer. The stories he came back to camp with morning and evening were better than anything on the outdoor channel. And although I
Every animal taken between the three of us this year was on publicly accessible land, on hunts any reasonably motivated hunter can put together by him or herself. No matter how you look at it whether it be the quality of animals, quantity of animals, or just the enjoyment of the opportunities we have here in Montana it would be hard to argue that we don’t have it pretty good here, maybe even better than anywhere else. So when I hear the arguments that something needs to be changed here in Montana because all of the good hunting access has been leased up by Outfitters or Non-residents I have a hard time buying into that line of thought. Are there changes that could be made in this state to improve opportunities and access? Probably. But the Sportsmen of Montana need to be careful that we don’t lose what we have in a rush to cut someone else out of the equation. With the passage of I-161 I hope those of you who voted for it were right and that it does increase revenue to the Block management program, creating more public access. And I hope that I was wrong and it will not lead to more hunter days in the field by non-residents, or create more competition on public lands. Only time will tell now. Mostly, I just hope that next year I can say my season was better than the one before, no matter how it is measured.
First Vice PRESIDENT’S message I
“MBA – What Have You Done For Me Lately?”
n my never-ending quest to make my articles educational and entertaining, I’m retooling the 1st VP report. In past issues, I’ve tended to focus on limited topics. I believe the membership can be better served with a wider view of the issues we’re tracking and taking action on throughout the year. “What have you done for me lately?” sounds a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I want to illustrate that we’re always feverishly working on multiple issues even when we don’t appear to be breaking a sweat.
WOLF RELISTING UPDATE: The MBA has attended planning meetings with FWP and our congressmen to determine best approaches to counter the relisting. On August 5, Jason, Jesse, Steve Kamps, and I attended a meeting with FWP. The group consisted of representatives from the Department, the Commission, and sportsmen, landowner, and stockmen groups. We reviewed various strategies for responding to the injunction, the Department of the Interior, and the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The group selected a multi-pronged approach which included several direct actions by FWP. A “conservation hunt” permit application was submitted on September 14 requesting a targeted hunt. That request was denied by USFWS. An appeal was filed on October 1 with the Ninth Circuit court, seeking to overturn the ESA ruling. That action is pending. The FWP Commission granted approval for the Department to develop a 10(j) proposal to lethally remove wolves from the West Fork of the Bitterroot to mediate impacts to the elk population. That proposal is being developed with input from public comment, and the final proposal will be presented to the Commission on November 18. We submitted a letter of support for the 10(j) proposal. Finally, FWP is exploring the possibility of a Cooperative Agreement with USFWS which would give greater
BOWHUNTER — 6 WWW.MTBA.ORG
latitude to the state for wolf management under the Act. In addition to these actions, our congressmen are drafting legislation to remove a portion of the distinct population segment from protection or to entirely exempt the Montana/Idaho wolf population from the Endangered Species Act. The text of Senate bill 3864 is available at: http://www. opencongress.org/bill/111-s3864/text. Representative Rehberg is supporting House Resolution 6028, which has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
UPPER BITTERROOT ELK PROJECT: The MBA recently donated $1000 towards an MWF study to determine the level of impact wolves have on Bitterroot herds. The study will track cow and calf elk with GPS and radio collars to track their movements and establish cause of death when it occurs. Thanks to all members who contributed to this donation.
I-161: MBA choose a neutral stance on this initiative. We provided pro and con arguments in our last issue. The outcome of this initiative is included in the Legislative report.
LEGISLATION LC 0175: The Legislative committee is monitoring bill drafts of interest for the upcoming session. LC0175, introduced by Sen. John Brenden, R-Scobey, could redirect as much as $34.7 million from FWP’s licensing account to the general fund while forfeiting an additional $18 million in matching federal money. We will track and kill this bill with the support of other MT sportsmen groups. I’ve listed other bill drafts of note in the legislative report. MOUNTAIN GOAT REINTRODUCTION TO THE WHITEFISH RANGE EA: The Board has submitted a letter of support for this project. Fifteen mountain goats will be moved from the Crazy Mountains to Stryker Peak in the Whitefish Range.
FWP ELK BRUCELLOSIS STUDY: MBA is monitoring a study which aims to capture and track 500 female elk over the next five years to track brucellosis spread. The ramifications of this are huge, as the Department of Livestock could deem elk a threat to the cattle industry, much as they are doing now with bison.
ARCHERY-ONLY ANTELOPE, DEER, ELK, SHEEP, BEAR AND LION SEASONS: Yes, I realize some of our archery-only seasons have been around awhile, but that doesn’t mean we should take them for granted! Through our collective efforts, we continue to expand archery-only opportunities – this year with bear and lion seasons. Enjoy, and remind all the bowhunters you know to thank the MBA! Now, here’s the entertaining part of my article. Earlier this fall, on my way home from work at 1am in the morning, I had a brief “Twilight Zone” experience. I was driving into the canyon where I live and after a few miles I rounded the curve a half mile from my house. As my headlights swept around the curve they illuminated what looked like a huge, crouching figure with shiny eyes on the side of the road. I slowed down, squinted and tried to engage my rummy mental gears to make sense of what I was seeing. For a second or two, the primitive portion of my “prey” brain fought with higher order thoughts and I flashed between “Gorilla??” to “Oh, don’t be ridiculous,” at least twice in as many seconds. Finally, the roly-poly brute swung broadside switched into high gear and made haste for safer territory. I shook my head, chuckled the rest of the way home and counted myself fortunate to live in a place where black bear encounters are sometimes enchanted.
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
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 Rex Rogers • Paul Roush II
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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
Who are you choosing for SECRETARY/ TREASIRER’S your auto body repair work? O
FINAL AD COMING
Jenn and Chris Schneider
ne of the things I’ve always loved about living in Montana is getting to see the seasons change. Obviously, fall is one of my favorites, not only because of archery season but football games, chilly mornings and now I get to celebrate my son’s birthday. In T minus 12 years, he’ll enjoy one of those same things about fall……hunting. Watching the outdoors adapt to the changing weather seemed emotionally significant to me this year. We saw something big happen yesterday with the passing of 161. Although I personally voted against it, I know many members saw this as a victory. The MBA thought long and hard about whether or not to take a stand on one side of this issue or the other. Personal feelings aside, I hope everyone feels they spoke out or did everything they thought they could to see their goals accomplished. From this side of the organization it’s hard to see an issue tear people apart when we’ve worked so hard to accomplish so much for our common passion. My message is this; things will always be changing, we will always have to adapt and if you don’t like what’s happening…..GET INVOLVED. We need more active members to help on committees and take the load off of a busy few. As you prepare for the convention think about what you give your free time to. Is it family? Hunting? Watching television? Getting pedicures? Bugging Jason Tounsley about wolves? Could you switch one of those out for helping protect the archery season you’ve come to know and love? If you can, please contact me and I would be glad to get you hooked up with one of our many ongoing projects, even if it’s just counting beans with me! Hope you had a great fall…
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LEGISLATIVE REPORT By Joelle Selk
he election season produced many interesting outcomes, not the least of which was the passage of Initiative 161, which will abolish outfitter-guaranteed tags. Under the new regulations the 5,500 outfitter-sponsored big game licenses will be issued as 5,500 additional general nonresident big game licenses. The nonresident big game combination license fee will increase from $628 to $897 and the nonresident deer combination license fee will increase from $328 to $527. A share of the proceeds from these nonresident hunting license fees will be allocated to provide hunting access and preserve and restore habitat. Certainly, we hope this change will increase revenues for FWP as it proposes. Publicly accessible land should be one of our highest priorities, and one which we must continue to foster and protect. It’s time to turn our sights to the legislative session. As usual, there are quite a number of bills which may threaten our hunting opportunities, and I’ve placed these on our initial watchlist, included in this issue. Our Legislative Committee collaborates each session with other sportsmen groups to ensure our heritage is kept intact. You’ll see from the list that this year we’ll be just as busy as previous sessionsa. I’ll be issuing updates throughout the session to keep you apprised and will be asking you to submit comments and testify at hearings if you’re able.
2011 Legislative Session – Bill Drafts LC0012
(C) Draft On Hold
(C) Draft On Hold
(C) Draft On Hold
(C) Draft On Hold
(C) Draft Request Received (C) Draft in Legal Review (C) Draft in Legal Review
(C) Draft Request Received
(C) Draft Request Received (C) Draft On Hold
(C) Draft On Hold
Chas Vincent Llew Jones
(C) Draft On Hold (C) Draft On Hold
Environmental Quality Council
(C) Draft Request Received (C) Draft Request Received C) Draft in Legal (Review
Environmental Quality Council
(C) Draft Request Received
(C) Draft Request Received (C) Draft Request Received
09/20/2010 protection 0/06/2010
Amend constitution for Montana sportsman’s heritage amendment Expand the bison management plan to include other wildlife Revise residency requirements for hunting Prohibit harassment of sports men who purchase hunting licenses Reorganize, recodify, and revise fish and game criminal statutes FWP to bear cost of removing road kill from highways Revise deposit of fish and wildlife fines, restitution, damages Provide for reversion of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks funds to general fund Revise laws governing bison Transfer land management activities on FWP controlled land to DNRC Revise laws related to state management of wolves Revise wolf policy Generally revise use of fish and wildlife licensing revenues Generally revise fish and wildlife laws Generally revise livestock laws Resolution urging federal legislation removing wolf from Endangered Species list Exempt certain proceeds of state parks from deposit in FWP real property trust Provide for bison livestock Provide for monitoring of wolf 1diseases
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, the last day of deer season, I sat in a favorite stand below the house until dark. When the last shooting light finally drained from the western sky and brought the deer season to a close, I trudged up the hill and went to work in preparation for the opening morning of lion season, organizing my pack, locating winter survival gear, and loading chains and the dog box into the back of the truck. Finally, I set the alarm for 3 AM and tumbled into bed to dream of tracks and lions and try to forget about rutting whitetails for another year.
transformation from deer to cougar took place with remarkable speed that year. Despite a great season in Montana that included a big tom turkey, a 6-point bull elk and a nice antelope, I hadn’t killed a whitetail, largely because of the time I’d spent helping my wife Lori try to fill her bighorn sheep tag.
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I awoke to find a welcome skiff of fresh snow carpeting the ground outside the door, the first I’d seen in weeks. Nature seemed to be making amends for my unfilled deer tag, since tracking conditions couldn’t have been better. The hounds greeted me enthusiastically at the kennel, as if they knew their time had finally come, while Rocky, my eager young Lab, howled plaintively when he realized I actually meant to leave him behind. As I wound down the hill toward town to meet hunting partners John “Rosey” Roseland and Mike Bentler, a wide, heavy 5-point whitetail materialized from the falling snow and headed across the draw toward the stand I’d sat the previous night. I hadn’t seen that buck all year. I mentally tipped my hat to him for surviving another season and hoped we’d meet again. An hour later, the lights of town lay far behind. Plainly visible beyond the headlights, Jupiter glowed like a beacon in the darkness, urging us forward into the hills. As we entered cat country at last, I began to relax and let the dots and dashes of the tracks filtering past play across my retinas. Like spotting bonefish on a saltwater flat, identifying lion tracks takes place at a nearly subliminal level, and my skills felt rusty after the long layoff since the end of the previous season. I wanted a fresh track for reasons that went well beyond the usual excitement of opening day, the opening day of anything. Mike had hosted us during a fantastic week of whitetail hunting at his Iowa home, and Rosey and I, who have taken our own share of cougars, were eager to express our appreciation for his hospitality. Mike had spent a week hunting with us the year before, only to be undone by a frustrating series of lion chases that somehow fizzled in the end. In terms of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, we’d set new standards for the sport. Mike is too philosophical a bowhunter to care, but he deserved
an honest lion as much as anyone we’d ever hunted with and we badly wanted him to get one, in the special way you sometimes want things for your family and friends even more than you want them for yourself. Then there was the matter of the dogs. The previous years had not been kind to our kennels. Axle and Charlie were gone, and Moose had retired to the rug in front of the stove at Rosey’s house. At one point the year before, we’d been down to his Harley and my Beau, two youngsters with lots of potential but not much else. Then disaster shuffled the deck. Our old friend Larry Schweitzer experienced a bout of chest pain while chasing cats. Despite an absolutely clean health history, one thing led to another. A few days after his last cat hunt, he underwent cardiac surgery and a few days after that he was dead. Once the shock settled, his widow Kathy asked Rosey and me to take his two young walkers, Zeke and Little Joe, and treat them as Larry would have wanted. By reputation, Joe barked and Zeke didn’t, and since I live in the country where yapping hounds don’t matter much (not that Lori always agrees), Little Joe went home with me. A bad experience with a walker years before had left me with a preference for blue ticks and black and tans, but out of respect for Larry I meant to make this new canine relationship work. I’ve learned over the years that whether the quarry is lions or pheasants, the process (if not the bag) goes better if you take time to get to know your hunting dogs and treat them as friends. Little Joe proved easy enough to like, and a summer’s worth of training left me happy with his place in the kennel and confident in his ability at the tree, if a bit uncertain about his nose. All we needed was a few good cougars to help sort out the rest. Our kind of hunter, Mike was more interested in the beauty of the mountains in winter and the excitement of the chase than skull sizes, and he made it clear that he’d be happy to take any mature cougar. Rosey and I appreciated his enthusiasm, since our young pack desperately needed the experience of a quick chase. When the first set of round tracks flashed by in the half-light, I stood on the brakes and we all piled out eagerly. The track belonged to a mature female by our reckoning, which was not a problem, but the fluff it contained confirmed that it had been left early the previous night, which was. After a brief discussion, we decided to forge on in search of something fresher.
and disappointment. “I can’t believe you drove 1200 miles to help us train our bonehead dogs,” I apologized to Mike as we churned through the snow on top of the worst looking set of tracks imaginable. But as in all outdoor endeavors, there is no substitute for a positive attitude in the face of adversity. Sometimes a breakdown like this spells the end of the day (or the end of the week, for that matter), but all four dogs eventually circled back and let us catch them. After a brief but intense discussion of their evil ways, we led them back uphill on their leashes and cut the track again. This time we walked it out for half a mile until the dogs were straining wildly against their leashes in anticipation. Those who have known the pleasure of leading leashed hounds through thick cover and steep terrain will know how our rumps felt by the time we finally decided to let them run the track again. Oh, well; all bruises heal eventually. The dogs seemed to know they had one chance for redemption and they made the most of it. An hour later, we stood beneath a towering ponderosa with all four dogs treeing strongly, and Mike had his cat. Those who dismiss cougar hunting as too easy might have had a case if they’d seen nothing but the hour before the actual shot.
We left the hills several hours later without finding what we sought, planning to check a couple of lowland crossings on the way home. As I drove through the sunlit landscape, something caught my attention in the snow beside the county road. The message passed straight from my eye to my brake foot without ever passing through my brain, a silent testimonial to years of tracking experience. I wasn’t even sure what I’d seen at first, but as I backed down the road, the story became clear. A lion had crossed the road in the middle of a jumbled deer trail, and the track hadn’t been there on our way in. At this point, the county road ran through private ranch property where we had not obtained permission to hunt, and I didn’t relish wasting hours trying to run down the landowner. Then Rosey remembered that a mutual friend had recently purchased a piece of ground down the road that bordered the large BLM tract the lion had headed toward. From the top of the hill, I contacted him by phone and obtained his enthusiastic permission to set off from his place. This may be the only time in my life I’ve actually found a cell phone useful. An hour later, we were hiking side hill through the big woods on public property in search of the track. The cat could have done any number of things, but we felt confident we’d likely cut the track again between the road and the ridge top. By the time we finally did, I felt myself sweating pleasantly from the exertion despite the chill. We introduced Harley and Joe to the track, and when they set off up the hill in full cry we released the other two dogs and stood back quietly to listen.
But now you know the rest of the story… continued on page 12
I immediately disliked what I heard: too much disorganization, not enough focus. Rosey and Mike set off on the cat track while I followed the dogs. Several hundred yards of tracking confirmed our worst suspicions, as they stood on a solitary cat track while I followed a riot of canine footprints behind running deer. For a houndsman, this situation represents genuine disaster. As we chugged uphill after the wayward dogs, I could feel the outrage in Rosey’s voice while my own reaction tended toward embarrassment Denver Bryan/ Images on the Wildside
Rosey and I had taken the entire first week of lion season off from work, and Mike isn’t the kind of hunter who gets lazy just because he’s filled his own tag. So the following morning, the alarm exploded at 3 AM all over again… By unstated agreement, I was due at the plate. Rosey and I have hunted together for decades without ever having to discuss – let alone argue – such matters. I hadn’t killed a cat personally in seven years, despite treeing dozens. Some of those cats fell to friends who had never hunted lions before and the rest lived to hunt again, beneficiaries of our enthusiasm for catch-andrelease cougar hunting. During that time period, Rosey had killed two good toms. I’d been there for one of them and had provided a crucial bit of intelligence for the second. Now my time had come around again, and after countless long miles focused on the chase rather than the kill, I felt ready to string my own bow and take a cat. But not just any cat. In contrast to Mike, I enjoy abundant opportunity to hunt mountain lions and could almost certainly fill a lion tag every year. Under such circumstances, selectivity makes sense for reasons that have nothing to do with skull measurements, or steaks, for that matter. Waiting for a good tom heightens the challenge and prolongs a process I happen to love. And with a whole season ahead of us, I didn’t feel like ending matters prematurely. And that explains our reaction to the first two sets of tracks we cut that morning. We found them all on public land and both looked fresh enough to chase, but after following them out under the canopy and studying their toe pads in the crisp layer of new snow, we just couldn’t make either of them look as if it belonged to a tom. Once again, we headed down out of the mountains mid-morning to check an area we never reached the day before. As we crossed the corner of an old friend’s ranch, my foot was halfway to the brake when Rosey’s shout filled the cab and we slid to a stop in a clatter of coffee cups. This time, the track looked plenty big enough, but it appeared to have been left early the night before. Studying the terrain below us in the direction the cat had taken, we saw an even set of tracks crossing an open field a mile away, and through Mike’s binoculars we convinced ourselves they belonged to our lion.
BOWHUNTER — 12 WWW.MTBA.ORG
The tracks headed toward a thick, timbered basin on a ranch whose owners I did not know. With the sun beating down relentlessly upon the remains of the track, we drove through the hills toward the ranch house while I tried to make myself look presentable, not always an easy task as those who know me recognize. Finally, I pulled a wool cap down over my unkempt hair, strode bravely up the steps to the front door and introduced myself to the ranch wife, hoping I’d once done some member of her family a favor in the local hospital. “You want to hunt lions?” she asked when I stated our predicament, and I braced myself for the worst. “We’ve been waiting five years for someone to show up and do something about those cats!” A few minutes later, we had written permission to hunt the place all season and directions through a series of pastures to the ridge we wanted to reach. “And don’t forget to come back this spring and kill the bear living up there!” she said in parting. Some days it really does pay to get out of bed in the morning. We planned to run the two–track along the ridge and hope the cat had traveled all the way through the basin. If we didn’t cut his track, we’d split up and work our way down through the timber until we found it, and hope we made contact before we ran out of light, snow or both. But three miles above the ranch house, we spotted a huge, fluffy set of tracks ahead and Rosey had Harley and Joe out of the dog box before the motor stopped running. By the time I had my pack on, we could hear the sound of the dogs barking treed in the timber on the far side of the ridge. But lion chases seldom turn out as simple as they first appear. Despite the dogs’ enthusiasm, the first tree looked barren as a telephone pole. After leashing the dogs, we set out in a series of widening circles until we saw fresh, bounding cat tracks headed back across the ridge. When we released the dogs again, our ears soon lost the sound of the chase to the sigh of the freshening wind, and we set off after the track through a nasty tangle of thorn brush in the bottom of the basin.
. . . lion chases seldom turn out as simple as they first appear.
BB/ Images on the Wildside
Denver Bryan/ Images on the Wildside
continued from page 11
continued on page 28
BB/ Images on the Wildside
regional NEWS Paul Martin
Region 1 F
AL KELLY PAUL MARTIN
riends, Another bow season is history. I hope everyone had a good one. I say that even after having visited with many a bowhunter on the current state of hunting in our neck of the woods. You know what they say, “no use crying over spilled milk.” Despite the fact that I heard many more negative comments than positive ones, I try to remain hopeful that somehow we can turn things around and take control of our game herds back from the low-life vermin who have hijacked them for wolf feed. If you are one of the many who are sickened and concerned by what is happening to our game herds, then make yourself heard and communicate with your elected officials. Let your Fish and Game department know how you feel. Attend the meetings and be counted. Help grow our numbers in the MBA. If you have family or friends who are also concerned about this issue then encourage them to sign up. If we have more voices, we have a louder voice. My fear is that someday we will look back upon this time and realize that we should have done more to protect the future of bowhunting. It’s easy to become complacent and think that things will never change but change is happening now and it’s up to us as bowhunters to direct that change. Now is the time for action. If you have been putting off getting involved because you’re waiting for someone else to take care of it then it’s time to step up and be active in working for what you love about this country and bowhunting. As the saying goes, “put up or shut up.” Get involved or don’t whine about what happens to our bowhunting opportunities. Still thankful that “wolves don’t eat fish”,
he Annual MBA Convention will be held in Kalispell on March 25th, 26th and 27th at the Outlaw Inn just off Hwy. 93 on the south end of town. We secured a great room price of $49 per night for people attending the convention. As usual, we will have a trophy scoring contest along with both a photo contest and an elk bugling competition. Glacier Fur Tannery will hold a caping seminar and Al Kelly will have a target range onhand for kids to shoot. Rod Kelly will have his bow collection on display and elk bugling champion Rocky Jacobson will demonstrate calling techniques. Region 1 head biologist Jim Williams will give a presentation on “Migrations in Montana.” There will be raffles and auctions with the following partial list of prizes:
print all of his accomplishments so 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. Jack 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. Jack became the first bowhunter to take all four species of North American Sheep in 1985. He also killed a Pope and Young World Record Alaskan Brown Bear in 1985 which remained #1 until 2005. Mr. Frost by way of his involvement and accomplishments is truly an archery icon and is one of the best reasons to attend the 2011 MBA convention in Kalispell. MBA members, not-yet-members and shouldbe members, please go to the first page of this newsletter to see who your regional representative is to contact if you’re interested in making a donation or getting information on how to participate. Updates on the convention will be posted on the MBA website.
• A South African hunt by Matlabas Game Hunters. • A balck bear hunt by Kutawagan Outfitters. • A six day Alberta moose hunt in by Silver Fox Outfitters. This hunt must be used in 2011 and includes everything except the $800 moose license and the $25 archery stamp. • A five day Illinois whitetail hunt donated by Riverbottom Bucks and sponsored by MBA board member Cory Benge.
• An unguided three day hunt with lodging donated by Heart of Texas Bowhunting. This hunt must take place on Dec. 17, 18 and 19 of 2011. The hunter may take one mature buck, one doe, one hen turkey and all the hogs and varmints they might wish for. Note: BRING LOTS OF ARROWS. Oh yes, I’ve saved the best for last. Mr. Jack Frost from Anchorage, Alaska will be our quest speaker. Mr. Frost has a very impressive resume. He asked me not to
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Region 2 Region 3 A
JASON WIDAMAN PAUL ROUSH II
s I write this another archery season is wrapping up. It sounds like there were some successful hunters here in western Montana despite low elk numbers in some areas. I had a couple great hunts in Wyoming and Montana and I was fortunate enough to punch a few tags. Every year we benefit from having such a long archery season. It gives us the flexibility to scout new areas and to learn from our mistakes and become better hunters. We are rewarded from the years of hard work the MBA has put in fighting for our long archery season. I’d like to thank the Bitterroot Elk Working Group (BEWG) for your diligent work on trying to do whatever you can to save our elk herds in the Bitterroot. I was able to attend the last meeting and met the members of this group. They are a diverse group with one common goal; save the elk we have left and restore the numbers as quick as possible. I have my finger cross hoping the bighorn sheep lambs survive this winter. We had good lamb number in spring and summer but the fall is the critical time of year when lambs begin to die after a pneumonia breakout. 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 region2mbarep@ yahoo.com. I hope everyone is having a good hunting season and send me some pictures and stories of your hunts. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Jason Widaman Jason Widaman
BILLY LEWIS LUCAS ZEMLICKA
was able to attend one of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service public comment meetings regarding proposed changes to the Charles M Russell National Wildlife Refuge in late September. For those of you who spend time hunting or doing any other type of recreating in the Charles M Russell National Wildlife Refuge I suggest you take a look at the proposed Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The CCP is a 15 year plan that will provide guidance and management direction for the refuge including habitat conservation and wildlife dependant recreation such as hunting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has developed four draft alternatives for the CMR, alternatives A, B, C and D. ALTERNATIVE A : No action. Little change to managing existing wildlife populations and habitat ALTERNATIVE B : Wildlife and Habitat emphasis. The Service will manage to emphasize the abundance of wildlife populations using (1) balanced natural ecological processes such as fire and herbivore (grazing) by wild ungulates, and (2) responsible synthetic methods such as farming practices or tree planting. Wildlife-dependent public uses would be encouraged, and economic uses would be limited when they compete for habitat resources. ALTERNATIVE C : Public and Economic use emphasis: The service will manage to emphasize and promote the maximum, compatible, wildlife-dependent public use and economic uses while protecting wildlife populations and habitats to the extent possible. Damaging effects on wildlife habitats would be minimized while using a variety of management tools to enhance and diversify public and economic opportunities. ALTERNATIVE D: Ecological Processes Emphasis: The service will use natural dynamic ecological processes and management activities in a balanced, responsible manner to restore and maintain the biological diversity, biological integrity, and environmental health of the refuge. Once natural processes were restored, a more passive approach (less human assistance) would be favored. There would be quality wildlife-dependent public uses and experiences. Economic uses would be limited when they were injurious to ecological processes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working on this plan since 2007 and are hoping to have it completed in 2012. For more information, visit: http://www.fws.gov/ cmr/planning or call: (303) 236-4317 or (406) 538-8706. Be sure to send in your photos and stories from this falls hunting season. We can always use photos and stories for the magazine. As always if you have any questions or comments feel free to shoot me an e-mail or give me a call.
Lucas Zemlicka (406) 721-5857
BOWHUNTER — 14 WWW.MTBA.ORG
2302 MCDONALD AVE. • MISSOULA, MT 59801-7305
CHARLES CULVER President
hile another hunting season comes to a close, election day had Montanans voting for I-161 and putting all of the guaranteed outfitter tags back into the general non-resident draw. We will see in the coming months and years how this plays out as well as the affects, good or bad, it has upon Montana residents. The annual MBA Banquet is being held in Kalispell this year on March 25th, 26th and 27th at the Outlaw Inn with guest speaker Jack Frost. If anyone has any donations, please get in touch with myself or Paul Martin. A board meeting is scheduled for December 4th in Bozeman, so if any Region 4 members have anything they would like me to discuss with the board, please let me know.
Please remember to send in photos and stories for publication. Each publication we are looking for stories long or short, so write about your experiences and email them to me at obession_archery@ yahoo.com. Good luck hunting,
DON STEIN MARK WEBER
t doesn’t seem possible that it’s time for a regional report again but the editor’s friendly reminder says it’s so. Our beloved bow season is behind us and while mine was completely unsuccessfully in terms of game bagged, it was one of my best yet. The season opener was interrupted by my brother’s unexpected death and funeral. When I finally made it into the field, I hunted an area I hadn’t been in for years. My favorite place was inaccessible due to the constant rain. Five minutes from my truck I walked into two bulls that weren’t expecting me any more than I was expecting them. I just wasn’t in “hunt mode” yet and they stopped on a ridge at 90 yards to see what ‘noise in the rain’ had bothered them. I could do nothing but watch them in awe as they walked away.
Region 5 ERNIE MCKENZIE
I could have been disgusted at blowing the only opportunity I would have for the season. However, instead I took the time to let it sink in how fortunate I was. Life is good.
ell shoot, bow seasons are “mostly over” even though some of us are still packin bows with our orange on. I saw some incredible critters go down to arrows this year, but nothing wearing horns stood still long enough for me to let the wind out of it. Yet.
I’m still new to deadlines and the concept of writing about the present which will be the past when you read this report. With this in mind I’ll try to look forward. By now the elections are over and we are working toward the legislative session. Issues like I-161 have been decided and the effects will now be studied. New bills affecting many aspects of our bow hunting heritage will be introduced and debated by our elected officials. The wolf issue will continue to rage.
I’ve been asking around town here quite a bit, trying to find another MBA representative for Region 5. If you have any interest or know someone who would do a good job, get in touch with me or Jason. We need someone who is enthusiastic about bowhunting, who is a member of the MBA and has some time on their hands that they are willing to spend pushing our cause. A few hours a week spent discussing hot topics and sending emails or making phone calls can be expected. Each representative is a member of at least one “committee” within the organization. It’s these committees that help the officers run the MBA successfully, and where you as a representative will spend the majority of your time. Well, the convention is coming up in a couple months and I’m sure the Kalispell crew will do a great job as usual. Look forward to seeing some of you up there!
We all have a stake in these issues and I ask that you take your part in it seriously. Please take the time to talk to your local legislators and voice your opinions. Wildlife bills can be easily followed on the MTFWP website. Better yet, stay in touch with your regional MBA rep. Our job is to represent your views. We can only do that if we know what they are. I hope your season has gone well so far and that you’ve enjoy any open hunting that remains. Winter is a great time to join league shooting or take the time to introduce a youth or adult to archery. Stay warm and shoot straight.
Mark Weber continued on page 16
continued from page 15
o local members have come foward with tales and/or trophies so I will report on my hunting camp. Chuck Carrell, my hunting buddy from Cat Creek harvested a nice 6x6 that rough B&C scored 366. Chuck followed this bull around all summer and fall until he finally got a standing broadside shot at forty yards. When we arrived at our camping spot the gate was hard to open due to an old rotted juniper fence posts. A few days later we drove to Winnett to get ice and bought two fence posts at the general store. When we got back to camp Pete Paulsen and Cory Fox dug up the old fence posts and planted the new ones while Big Ed Paulsen, Pete’s cousin, and I went about one and a half miles to the old Gilfeather homestead to scrounge up some barbed wire. Ed being a rancher always has fencing tools and staples in his toolbox. We had the fence and gate repaired with a gate stick in short order. Our host, who has his land in block management, won’t find out about the gate improvements until he moves his cattle but he will know who cared about him and his operation and we will hopefully be welcomed back. You too can make a difference.
BOWHUNTER — 16 WWW.MTBA.ORG
Region 7 REX ROGERS
e’ve had some successful bowhunters from Region 7 so far this year. Emily Blake started us out with an antelope buck and a well-placed arrow. Jerry McPherson took another fine bull elk this year. My son Austin Rogers took a nice six point bull elk by bugling it to within 8 yards. I took a nice five point bull the day after Austin left camp and had the joy of packing it out all by myself. It feels good to get in good shape again. Scott Walter took a nice mulie. Deer numbers seem to be down here in Region 7 but hunting hard is fun. Still time, tags and rut left to enjoy. Kudos to Rick Miller for the work PLPW has done to come up with the first plan to deal with concentrated wildlife issues.
At Large I
DIRECTORS ADAM BARKER
t is the first week of November and we’re in the heart of Montana’s general big game hunting season. Some tags are already punched while others still have yet to be filled. Like every year, it seems fall is never coming and then you wake up one day and you’re scrambling to get everything ready for opening day. Then, before you’re ready to see it leave, the season is done and gone. If you feel the same way living here put yourself in the shoes of a hunter in most other western states; 7-10 day seasons, depending upon where you live and most likely only every few years, depending on the species! I can’t imagine having to wait two, three or maybe even five years to archery hunt bull elk. That is unacceptable to me and I’m not only grateful to be here but grateful that I can raise my kids here. Locally, pre-season Region 4 numbers looked good for antelope, fair for deer and great for elk. Quality, which is always tough to measure, would get the same grades respectively when averaging the entire region. I was fortunate enough to draw a very tough limited permit in another region, so I can’t give any first hand testimony on R4 success. Since the close of the archery-only season, I have talked to a number of active MBA members in R4 whose overall report for elk was encouraging. There were decent harvests in the Belts, Highwoods and Breaks --- with above average hunting on the Front. Keep in mind that this assessment is coming from only a limited number of sources. However, they do spend large amounts of time in the field and have been very accurate historically. We’ll need to wait to get the official numbers from FWP but I would suspect that archers had a solid year. In the areas I scouted the weather produced some great conditions. Lots of water with cool temps kept things green well into September. I’m hoping that the moisture trend continues through winter to get some good snowpack. A mule deer is in my future, so I’m hoping that the snow keeps coming and saves me a few miles of hiking to get to them. Please continue to follow the wolf circus, as frustrating as it is, and give comments whenever possible. The results of I-161 are in and I’m not all that surprised by it passing, However, I am very surprised at the spread. I thought it would come down to a handful of votes but it passed solidly with around a 25K vote margin. This was a very contentious issue amongst Montana sportsmen. Just as the wolf issue has brought hunters together for a common goal, I-161 has divided many of us. Nobody knows what this means for the future. My guess is that if NR tags sell out next year it will be considered a success. If they don’t – look for some sort of challenge to come in the next legislative session. Money talks and if it’s not flowing into the state like the supporters hoped – something new will be on the horizon. Looking at the bigger picture, I’m hoping this isn’t the beginning of managing wildlife using this process. Time is running short, so finish strong.
he bow season has come to an end and it was a ton of fun. Opening day I was elk hunting and thought I was going to stick an elk and later in the day a bear... but both those critters had other ideas. Such is hunting. I was so happy to be able to hunt bear with my bow at the start of the season and am thankful for the MBA’s efforts to get this new season passed by the commission. I saw elk, deer, bear and antelope during the season and managed to arrow a nice whitetail doe. I gained access to 750 acres just 15 minutes from my home and took the deer on my third evening out. I encourage all of you to knock on doors and ask for hunting access. You might be surprised at the number of landowners who say yes. Game numbers across Region 4 have been variable. Although whitetail numbers seem to be okay, mulie populations are down in many areas and the number of doe tags was reduced or eliminated in many GMU’s. In other GMU’s mule deer seem to be doing fine. Some antelope populations are down but in other areas they’re doing well. The wolf issue is going to be quite a court battle and wolves are obviously wreaking havoc in some areas. Montana FWP, the Commission and some politicians appear to be trying to make some headway but the court decision that took away the responsible management of these animals in Montana was appalling. Hopefully, this can be corrected in the near future. Regional meeting have been happening across the state and it is important that you try to attend them whenever you can. We need your insight into archery opportunities across the state. Be sure to contact your
directors about issues important to you. On another note, we plan on having a booth at the sports show in Great Falls this winter. We will need some volunteers to help man this booth. Please give me a call is you are willing to help with this project. Thanks in advance,
s I write this report, archery season is over for 2010 and the general big game season is about ready to start. The wolf issue is still up in the air at this time. While our wolf season was cancelled this year, I know Montana FWP is doing all they can to reinstitute it so we can ‘manage’ our wolf population. I sure wish I had a crystal ball. We do need to control the wolf population for it is having a severe impact on a lot of our game herds. This effect is moving many hunters out of some of there traditional hunting spots and crowding them into other areas. At present, Montana is the only state left out of the original three states participating in the wolf recovery program with the Feds. Wyoming has never really gotten onboard and has caused some extra problems for Montana and Idaho. Recently, Idaho has said enough is enough and the governor has issued a memorandum to all Idaho’s Fish and Game employee’s not to take part in the wolf recovery program. The wardens are not to be involved in investigating any wolf mortalities be they natural or otherwise. If you get a chance to participate in an elk management plan meeting in your area please attend and voice your support for more reasonable elk numbers in all areas. Some of the elk districts in Montana are being managed for elk populations that could be considerably higher. I was watching a political talk show the other day and they had a clip of a JFK speech where he made the famous speech about “ask not what your country can do for you , but ask what you can do for your country” This rang a bell with me and we can apply this idea to the MBA. What can you do for the MBA? The MBA has done a lot for bowhunters of Montana over the years and we still are the frontline defending our seasons from all sorts of infringements. All of this has been accomplished by bowhunters who step up and take part. Everyone doesn’t have to step up and be an MBA regional rep although we can use some more. However, everyone can step up and take part in area discussions of local or statewide issues. The MBA is a grassroots organization that works best when bowhunters get involved and let the rest of the state know that we are bowhunters who are passionate about our sport and we’re not going to lay down and let anyone run over us.
continued on page 18
DIRECTORS continued from page 17
t’s November 2nd as I sit here at my laptop. I’m actually in Iowa staying with my friend Brian Wessel. I’m hunting whitetails just across the state line over on the Missouri side. So far the whitetails have done a good job at making a fool out of me but tomorrows another day and I’ll keep at it. My Montana elk season was tough. I didn’t draw the tag I normally do and was relegated to hunting some unfamiliar country. I spent a week over in the “Big Hole” country around Wisdom and Jackson. The elk were few and far between as were the deer and moose. While enjoying a cup of coffee and a plate of pancakes one morning I asked a few local ‘good ole boys’, “What happened to all the animals over here?” Well you could have heard the proverbial pin drop as the words left my mouth. One big old rancher set his coffee down and stated loudly, “WOLVES. Wolves happened to all our game!” As the waitress poured me yet another cup of Joe, I sat and listened as a few of the locals chimed in. By the time I’d finished my 3rd cup of coffee I’d spent 30 minutes hearing rancher after rancher tell his and her tale of woe...or more aptly stated “Tale of Wolves.” It appears that the wolves have really done their damage on the elk, moose and deer of that area. In fact, I learned that several of the local ranches have actually closed all hunting due to lack of elk. Ranches like the famed “Hirshey Ranch” no longer open their gates to out of town hunters. They simply had to shut them because as they said....”we don’t have enough elk to go around anymore.” When I asked what is being done about it...the ‘pin dropped again.’ “Nothing,” said one fella! He went on to say and I quote: “Seems a bunch of liberals who have never been on a ranch in their lives are making decisions on my livelihood and our state!” Well, I don’t know what is being done but I can tell you a lot of Montanans in one little cafe are ready to take up arms and solve their own problem. As I left that cafe I couldn’t help but wonder where we go from here? One thing is for certain, the wolves are an unwelcome animal in this part of “our” state. Judging by the great lack of elk I saw, I’m with the locals. Wolves are a problem and its time Montana and “Montanans” solve this problem. As I walked back to my truck I saw a bumper sticker on an old weathered Dodge Ram that read, “Wolves, smoke a pack today.” Well, wolves aside I enjoyed my time in the Big Hole; beautiful country and great people, even if there are few elk and lots of wolves Have a great season!
hope you all got out and enjoyed our great archery seasons we have here in Montana. This year we had our first ever mountain lion archery only season. If you had a tag in your pocket and came across one of these stealthy critters during archery season, you had a chance to harvest them one on one, predator against predator, with a bow. Some folks didn’t realize here in western Montana, where most hunting districts are now under a permit system for lions for the winter season (with dogs), that you can still purchase a lion tag over the counter and hunt lions during the archery only season and the rifle season (fall season without dogs). Twenty percent of the number of permits or quota for each lion hunting district can be harvested during the archery and rifle season without dogs. Whatever is harvested during this season without dogs does not change the quota or permits that are available during the winter season with dogs. It’s just another opportunity we have here in Montana that we can take advantage of during our archery season while we are out hunting other animals anyway. I’d like to congratulate life MBA member Jim Loughran, who I’m told was the first bowhunter to harvest a lion this year during the first ever mountain lion archery season. It sounds like Jim was able to turn the tables on a lion when he discovered the lion stalking him. Thanks in part to the work of the MBA and our dedicated membership, Jim, with a lion tag in his pocket, was able to take advantage of this new opportunity and with stick and string became the predator rather than the prey. Many of you have been hearing more and more about wolves and their impacts to our wildlife populations and our hunting, or worse yet, you’ve been experiencing the impacts yourselves. The effects are profound and undisputable. As of this writing, we still do not have a wolf season. This is going to take some time to get worked out folks. And the MBA will be there every step of the way to get things back on track. I too, like most of you, want to get these exploding wolf populations taken care of now, not 6 months from now, or a year or two from now. However, I remain optimistic that the sportsmen of Montana and our Fish, Wildlife, and Parks will prevail and we’ll turn this train wreck around and bring a balance to Montana. Keep your heads up, keep a positive attitude, and do everything you can to be involved and be heard. Stay tuned as this one is not over by a long shot. We also had the pleasure of enjoying our first archery only bear season this year. You can now shoot a bear with a bow on the first day of archery season, rather than having to wait until the 15th of September (in most areas) like it was before the MBA worked to get this archery only season started. I know quite a few bowhunters were able to take advantage of this new season or at least had the tag just in case the opportunity presented itself. Congratulations to all. I’m already looking forward to next season.
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The MBA will be active again this winter with the Legislative Session. We’ll be looking out for the interests of our membership and the bowhunters of Montana. If we contact you this winter with important legislation, please take a few minutes to let the Legislators know what’s important to you. Your well spoken voice has more of an impact than many of you might think.
or most Montana Bowhunters the 2010 season is all but over. Most of us are just now realizing how fast it passed. Every year the season seems to go by just a little faster than the one before and every year I ask myself the same question. “Where in the world did the time go?!” I did put a LOT of time on the Montana “hill” this fall and just recently returned from my annual Illinois whitetail hunt where I spent 16 days hunting and guiding. In the last issue I touched upon MBA membership input and how important it was for board members to hear from you the MBA members. We need your input and ideas. We need to know what you want us to fight for. Again, I will remind you that the MBA board exists to protect the bowhunting rights of all Montana bowhunters. The more input we have from you the better off we will be. Sound off and let’s try and fix those things that need fixing. Initiative -161? Some are elated at I-161 passing while some are up in arms about it. One thing is for sure and that is I-161 will likely bring about some change. But isn’t life often about change anyway? For me I could see the pro and con from both sides of this issue and this surely won’t be the last ballot initiative that Montana sportsmen and women face. Other topics are on the horizon….land access, leasing, population objectives, season dates, bag limits, etc….. and the best thing we can do is fight for what we believe in and then accept the outcome. Wolves. Don’t get me started. WE all need to continue to make our feelings and opinions known about the wolf issue. If you don’t know the stats, do some research and then email me or another MBA board members with your thoughts. There are now more than three times the number of wolves roaming outside of Yellowstone National Park than were originally called for. How do we solve this problem? We’d like to hear your thoughts. Change. This was a buzz word we heard over and over again back when our nation was debating and deciding upon our next president. Did we get change for the better or worse? That’s for you to decide but one thing is for certain; change occurred and change continues for Montana bowhunters… …i.e. I-161 passed, our wolf season was cancelled and some Cory Benge of our big game populations continue to decline. New hunting equipment is being introduced, land is being sold, traded and access to it is being closed to sportsman, season dates are changing, hunting units are being closed and the list goes on and on. So get involved and make an effort to help make a change for the better.
e’re keeping busy as ever. The citizens of our fine state voted to eliminate the Outfitter Sponsored License. I sure that we will see another proposed system very soon. I know that the MBA took a neutral stance on this and that irritated some people on both sides of the issue. I wish we could have taken a definite stance as well but I’ve seen so many things like this divide the MBA and cost us so many members that I was actually relieved that we rode the fence and went with the “education route”. No matter how the vote in CI -161 went, bowhunters in Montana will always need a strong and active voice, and the MBA cannot afford to lose any members. In fact, we need as many as we can get. Go sign somebody up. The wolf problem came home for many Region 6 bowhunters this past archery season. Like many, I’ve taken a “it sucks to be you” attitude when it came to the wolves decimating the big game herds in the Rockies. I felt bad that the bowhunters in western Montana were seeing their deer, elk and moose disappear but since I didn’t have wolves in my backyard, I wasn’t all that excited about it. Well, the immediate result of no game in some western regions of Montana leads to these hunters coming to eastern Montana. And since elk permits are limited over here, that means more competition for the permits. I’ve never seen so many out of area hunters. So, you eastern Montana bowhunters who have been lackadaisical about this issue, weigh in and support all efforts to control the wolves in Montana. Educate yourselves about the problem and do all you can to help solve it. This is a huge issue and it affects us all. Start thinking about attending the MBA Convention in Kalispell this year. Paul Martin is working hard to make this a historic event!
John Erickson/ Images on the Wildside
Skimming the Cream
By Steve Sukut
he blanket of snow had thawed, frozen, been snowed upon and thawed again, and was now as crunchy and noisy as walking on broken glass. I was being as sneaky as I could be, but the lack of a meaningful cover wind and the tendency of sound to resonate across a snow field made my planned “stealthy approach” a joke. I could see white tails waving 150 yards ahead of me long before I had reached where I‘d planned to go.
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These whitetail deer had been hunted hard for almost four months, and they knew the drill. I was hunting the late season damage hunt, and that meant hunting pressured whitetails on private land, land that had allowed hunting throughout both the archery and the “general” or rifle season. Whitetail deer that survive both the five week archery season and the five week rifle season get smart, or wind up on the meat pole. It was mid-January, and I’ll admit that I was approaching burnout when it came to antlerless whitetails. I always try to help out the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and the landowners in regards to game management, so in September I had walked into the regional office and bought every over-the-counter antlerless whitetail tag I could. With three more tags still available for the late season, I walked out with a thinner wallet and six tags in my hand. I had a fleeting thought that I might be in over my head. The problem, and the reason that the FWP was so generous, was that the carrying capacity of the deer range was less than the numbers of deer roaming around. And the reason for that was also black and white… five years of comparatively easy winters, coupled with big game sanctuaries sprinkled generously throughout the area, had almost dictated a whitetail population explosion. As the amount of posted and outfitted lands increased, the number of sanctuaries that a game animal could go to avoid unguided hunters also increased. Homesteads and farms where I had grown up hunting deer
Tim Irwin/ Images on the Wildside
were now either being leased up by outfitters and out-of-area hunters, or owned outright by them, and access was limited in the extreme. Places where 50 to 100 deer should have been killed were only seeing 3 or 4 taken. The result was unhealthy numbers of whitetail deer, and I felt a strong sense of duty to take as many as I could. As hunters, we are the answer to over-populations of game, and as far as I’m concerned, we all share that responsibility. Not everybody feels that way, of course. I know some very smart people who won’t hunt any game during the late seasons because they feel that the animals have enough on their plate just surviving the winter. The last thing they need is to be pushed and spooked all over the woods, expending calories. This is a valid concern. I remember feeling very guilty one trip several years ago, when a herd of deer were sprinting away from where I had entered the woods to pick up a downed doe. It was right at zero degrees, the snow was close to knee deep, and I could tell that the fleeing deer were working very hard, just to run away.
Denver Bryan/ Images on the Wildside
“Bowhunting in different seasons has its special challenges, and Montana is renowned for having wildly different weather extremes.”
The weather this year wasn’t nearly as bad, but my feelings were still ambivalent. For one thing, what do you do with the meat from a half-dozen or more whitetail deer, especially when you live in cattle country, have a half a beef in the freezer, and had also managed to take an elk that fall? For another, it’s tough to effectively hunt mature whitetail bucks when you’re tempted to take a doe every time you turn around. By the end of the archery and regular seasons, I had blown chances on two really nice bucks by taking a doe right in front of them. That was educational, especially for the bucks. Also, there is a human nature tendency to not help when problems arise as a result of greed. A great deal of the overpopulation problem was occurring due to the outfitting industry wanting a great big bunch of deer to show their clients. That the deer they protected all fall eat the neighboring farms out of house and home after the hunting seasons has yet to occur to them, I guess. I put those thoughts aside, and let concern for the overall health of the whitetail herd prevail. As far as the freezer meat went, I did pretty well when it came to donating game to most anybody who wanted some. We don’t have a “Hunters Helping the Hungry” type program in this area, but I work with folks who love sausage, and once the word got out, I didn’t have too much trouble giving a deer away. I would bone it out, trim off most of the fat, and it would go like the proverbial hotcake. Bowhunting in different seasons has its special challenges, and Montana is renowned for having wildly different weather extremes. My friend Peter Iacavazzi had came over and hunted with me during the archery season, early in September. It was sweltering hot, and despite having to swat mosquitoes and wipe sweat out of his eyes every few seconds, he made a good shot on a sleek doe, which was easily found. We decided to continue hunting with a couple of one-on-one pushes, so after gutting the deer we left it in the shade and hunted until almost dark. When we got back to the doe, the first thing we had to do was scrape several piles of maggot eggs off the carcass. Eeeeewww! The meat had cooled down just fine, but we still decided that the best thing to do was to skin and quarter the animal and get the meat in a cooler, ASAP. Later in the season, when it’s cold, there are other considerations. There are no bugs, but the deer still need to be skinned right away or the hide will freeze to the carcass, making the skinning process a real pain. Low temperatures and wind can combine to make the wind chills dangerous. The snow and lack of leaves require different camouflage, and your clothing has to be warm without being bulky. Many bowhunters switch to bows of lighter draw weight, because you can actually get too stiff and frozen up to draw the same bow you used in warmer weather. Each weather situation makes each hunt a unique experience, and I enjoy them all. Even after four months of bowhunting whitetails, I still couldn’t wait to get out to the woods. It is a lot of work, however, and by the middle of January I had taken and processed my seventh antlerless whitetail. I was getting a little tired of taking deer for other people, and I wanted one for myself.
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So, back to the hunt…even though there were whitetails running all over the place, I decided to stick to the game plan. I was supposed to slip in to a bottleneck in the river bottom woods and take an elevated stand where escaping whitetails would hopefully move. My hunting partner Rick Traeger was to openly walk across the field, enter the woods along the river and zigzag his way towards me. It was a technique that had worked in the past with a high percentage of success, and I felt that all I had to do was pick the right escape route and shoot straight. Quite a few deer had taken off as a result of my trying to sneak into the bottleneck, but I was hoping that maybe a few had held in the deep cover. It was a calculated gamble that paid off. I could see Rick entering the woods, wearing the blaze orange vest that was required in hunting seasons when rifles were allowed, and it wasn’t more than a few minutes before I detected the dark shapes of deer heading my way. Unfortunately most of them veered off 75 yards away from me to run across the field, but it was a good opportunity to assess the overall heath of the animals, and I could tell that so far, these critters were wintering well on Farmer Brown’s haystacks. I watched an additional 20 head of whitetails run across the field, sent an arrow over the back of a fat, trotting doe, and had the time of my life. Now it was Rick’s turn. After we had discussed the amount of deer and the wind direction, Rick opted to take a stand not far from where he had originally started the push to me. I looped far to the north, trudging through shin-deep snow on my way to the next large patch of river bottom cover. Normally, one has to watch the clock and give the stander plenty of time to slip in to the target area, choose a tree and set up a treestand. A half hour is considered the minimum, but if you’re the guy finding, setting up, and hunting out of the treestand, 30 minutes goes by like a shot. Many times I’ve pulled up my bow just as the deer started showing up. Thirty minutes was more than enough in this case because it took me 45 minutes just to fight my way to where the push was to start, with each step a progressive test of my cardiovascular fitness. The crusty, noisy snow fought me the entire route, but the deer tracks I saw made it all worthwhile. I had deer moving ahead of me; moving towards Rick. I was within 100 yards of him and was watching deer moving through the snow when I caught the familiar sound of a bowshot. When I found his stand site, I could see his big smile and the hand he was holding out, thumb up. We found the doe 50 yards from Rick’s stand, the result of intimate knowledge of deer behavior and excellent shot placement. For me, the taking of a game animal can result in a certain easing of tension. There is always a sense of satisfaction and celebration
Photo by Steve Sukut
Skimming the Cream
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when an animal is cleanly taken. When one is out for a day of trying to reduce the deer population, however, there is a small amount of pressure to succeed in harvest. While the close encounters with game bowhunters experience are always a measure of one kind of success, the taking of one is a total measure of another kind. After finding Ricks’ deer and getting it back to the pickup, we stopped and smelled the roses, so to speak. It was a bright, sunny day, in the mid twenties temperature-wise, and the wind was light but steady. It was an honest, consistent wind, the kind that bowhunters pray for when they get up in the morning. The sun was starting to go down, and was highlighting the tops of the cottonwoods. Magpies, amazingly enough, had already found the gut pile and were feasting, hollering to all that this was their day, too. Life was good. There was two hours of sunlight left, and Rick was determined to take advantage of it. We moved to another area that we knew well, and I took a stand deep in a heavily wooded spot. The river had frozen solid in December, which provided me an access that I didn’t have during the archery and rifle seasons. I was able to follow a trail across the river and set up a tree stand close to an established travel route, easily apparent from the tracks in the snow. Even so, the most of the whitetails passed too far away for an effective shot until Rick was almost on top of me. Then a big doe opted to head for the river crossing, and passed by at seven yards. I picked my spot, and my recurve sent a razor sharp Woodsman to exactly the place I wanted it to go. The blood trail was copious, and short. The feeling of satisfaction was total. The philosophical, political, and scientific reasoning’s behind game management were moot. We had hunted. We would eat. Author Steve Sukut
B U L L E T I N B OA R D Pinedale, Wyoming Mule Deer Decline
MBA Members Cookbook We need recipes for the first edition of the MBA Members Cookbook. Some of my favorite recipes have come from those homemade compilation cookbooks that you buy from various church organizations, schools and clubs. The recipes are ‘tried and true’ and are always family favorites! We hope this cookbook will be a good fund raiser along with a fun way to share stories, your favorite recipes and a photo or two. At the Billings banquet this past spring I was fortunate to meet some great cooks who shared their passion for food with me. We had a great time and I was given several tasty looking recipes and I’m excited to get some more. I would like to get this cookbook together by the time the annual MBA convention in Kalispell comes around in March but I’ll need help from all of the members to get enough recipes. Please email me your favorite recipes and a favorite hunting photo if you can to firstname.lastname@example.org. The recipes can be anything you would like to share but wild game versions would be fantastic since hopefully we’ll all have a freezer full by the time the book is published. Also, if anyone else would like to help out in putting this together please let me know for I would welcome your assistance. Great hunting and good cooking! Marci Yamasaki Peckinpaugh
Mule deer numbers on one of the nation’s most abundant gas fields have fallen to their lowest level in at least nine years, but federal officials are not yet resorting to reduced drilling. Instead, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is looking at ways to improve winter habitat for mule deer on the Pinedale Anticline in western Wyoming. A recent report estimates there were 60 percent fewer wintering mule deer on part of the anticline in 2009 compared with 2001, and 28 percent fewer mule deer in 2009 compared with 2005. Shane DeForest with the BLM in Pinedale says the agency is studying a variety of ways to help mule deer short of slowing industry activity. The Pinedale Anticline is the nation’s third-ranked gas field for proven reserves.
MBA Fall Photo Contest The MBA is having a fall photography contest. Send us your favorite archery hunting images this fall with your biggest smiles and most creative poses and you could win BIG. The only stipulation is that there must be an obvious MBA logo in the photograph….i.e. a hat, a shirt, a sticker, etc. You can enter as many photos as you want and all photos submitted can be used in the MBA magazine or online. There are two categories for this contest: Adult and Youth. You are a youth member if you are 18 year or younger when the image was taken. Photos will be judged by the design company that does the layout for the MBA quarterly magazine, so unless you work there, you can enter! All entries must be received by December 15th. You can e-mail them to mtba@mtba. org or mail the actual photographs to: MBA, PO Box 23611, Billings, MT, 59104. The prize for the adult category winner is a Mystery Ranch backpack donated by Mystery Ranch. The prize for the youth category is a spotting scope donated by Jenn Schneider and Cookie Koch. Be sure to check our online store at www.mtba.org for some new merchandise to spice up those photos and your wardrobe.
ly Loses a Archery SadFather Founding peacefully pioneer, passed away
and archery er, 98, author, bowyer ildren and dog, Pepp Glenn St. Charles, short illness. His ch his a er ith aft W 10 ol. 20 ho , Sc 19 r igh embe from West Seattle H dy at his home on Sept n graduated in 1930 in 1949 in Norman en ny Gl pa m e. sid Co y his er ch by Ar s st were ter we un rth wh No bo e l th fu a hand n opened years. He is one of ington and the rest wife Margaret, Glen 50 er ov r fo ess sin bu Wash Park. They were in ng archery for big game hunting in ung d The Pope and Yo s mizi de iti un leg fo th n wi en Gl ed , dit 61 cre 19 wa e In H n. ’s. tio 50 iza 19 e an Org s in th of the United State Bowhunting Big Game Record Keeping ’s ca Club, North Ameri er y Hall of Fame in 1991. ch inducted into the Ar
MBA Winter Regional Meeting Schedule: Region1 - Al Kelly will send out a meeting notification. Region 2 - The Missoula meeting will be held on Friday, March 4th at 6pm at Montana FWP’s Region 2 office located on Spurgin Road in Missoula. Contact is Paul Roush. Region 2 - The Bitterroot meeting will be on Wednesday, December 1st at 6:30pm 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 4 - Contact is Cliff Garness. Region 5 - Will be at 6:30pm at the Billings Rod and Gun Club on March 14th. Contact is Ernie McKenzie. 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. Region 7 - Will be held at the Colstrip Gun Club in Colstrip on December 20th at 6:30pm. Contact is Rex Rogers. Region 8 - TBA – Joelle will send out a meeting notification. * Regional rep contact info/phone no’s can be found on page one of this magazine.
Denver Bryan/ Images on the Wildside
by Rex Rogers
September 18, 2010 found my son Austin and me eight days into another great Montana elk hunt. I have learned not to set how long an elk hunt will last ahead of time. I try and just stay out until I kill an elk and this approach increases my success considerably.
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This year had been typical with elk bugling at the start of the season then tapering off as bluebird weather set in for the second week. We had put a lot of miles on our horses and boots getting all in good shape. I continued to explore areas that held elk in the past but was only able to dependably get into elk in one area so we planned to hunt there on Austin’s last day before he had to return to high school. Elk used to be found through out the Gallatin National Forest where we’ve hunted for years. However, since the boom in wolf numbers, elk in the region now seem to be concentrated and fewer in number. Looking over my twenty four years of hunting journals shows the changes this area has experienced.
Elk used to be found through out the Gallatin National Forest where we’ve hunted for years. We were up at 4:30 am and performed our morning routine like a well-oiled machine; coffee on, horses fed in nose bags with saddles going on all three. We were running two riding horses and one pack horse. The pack horse carried panniers with all we needed to stay out from main camp for two days…..i.e. tent, stove, sleeping bags and meat packing gear. We left camp around 5 am and were well up the mountain before any hint of dawn. I pointed out to Austin a well worn grizzly trail coming into a meadow. You could see the trail shining in the moonlight from some distance as it was a foot wide with grass packed waxy smooth from travel. Bears in this country make keeping a clean camp and prompt meat packing a must. Shooting light found us at the elevation we wanted to hunt and a bull bugling just 50 yards ahead in the dog hair timber. We hastily tied up the horses and put our archery gear together. Austin uses a Bear takedown recurve and I have a Tomahawk two piece takedown longbow. We’ve been through this drill many times and the bows and catquivers come out of their bags and go together as easy as most would put on their jackets. The bull came within 35 yards of the horses before moving on and we gave chase. While hurrying to close the distance on him we got caught in a very small opening as the bull looked back from a rise 100 yards ahead of us. Busted! Austin and I “discussed” what to do next, and me being the dad, I won out to get on the horses and advance until we got back in the elk instead of chasing them afoot. We mounted our horses and rode up the ridge. We soon bumped a spike bull and cow but just rode on. In the corpses of whitebark pine that crowned the ridge we ran into a nice bull 60 yards ahead of us but luckily he never looked our direction. Austin backed his horse out of the way and I ducked out of sight with my horse and the pack horse. Again we put our bows together and moved in on the herd bull with several satellite bulls around. We eased to within 50 yards and called with no success. The elk herd was very busy with bulls popping in and out of the timber like fleeting minnows. They moved down what would best be described as a thickly timbered cliff and we stayed with them for most of an hour. Each time we made it to within 50 yards of a bull in the timber he would go quiet. I assumed the satellite bulls knew where they fit into the pecking order already and did not want another lesson. Austin suggested we split up and each work a different bull. I agreed although this is not something we normally do in grizz country. Austin chose the herd bull as he was very vocal and I moved on up the valley. I continued to bugle to the herd bull as I left so Austin could use the answering bugles to guide his stalk. As Austin topped the timbered cliff he came out between the herd bull and his cows. The cows moved down a finger of thick timber to his left while the bull stayed above him. Austin tried to advance to a shooting lane alongside the cow trails but he couldn’t get there before the bull appeared. Seeing the bull coming thru the timber from 25 yards he tried to improve his shooting lanes each time the bull went behind a tree. Austin soon saw that it ‘wasn’t going to happen’ without a nudge and the nudge came in the form of courage to bugle to a bull only 20 yards away! I heard Austin’s bugle from a quarter mile away but did not understand it’s significance. The bull hearing a
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Denver Bryan/ Images on the Wildside
continued from page 21 bugle from point blank took it for a satellite bull that had yet to learn his lesson and he turned and came down through the timber. At 10 yards the bull entered an opening in the timber the size of an office cubicle still quartering toward Austin. At 8 yards Austin drew, focused on the spot he had been following since he could first see the bull and released. The arrow made good penetration and the bull was gone in a crash.
He just looked up and said “I got one.”
At 4 pm we took up the trail with little blood. Tracking was complicated by many other elk tracks of similar size. This is a common situation when shooting an animal out of a herd. We followed mostly running foot prints with a little blood every now and then for 150 yards. We lost the track a couple times but Austin straightened it out. Eventually the track took a hard right turn and there lay his bull. The bull had died soon after being hit but waiting was good insurance.
Denver Bryan/ Images on the Wildside
When I met Austin at the horses he was eating food out of the saddle bags like a teenager. He just looked up and said “I got one.” After holding a blunt arrow to a horse to describe the hit we decided to give the bull six hours to be sure he had expired as it was less than perfect hit. The wait was made easier knowing that Austin was using a internal-footed carbon arrow tipped by a 190 grain Grizzly El Grande that was shaving sharp. This 900 grain arrow had penetrated up to its feathers.
Austin had been through most of this before but he’d never sorted through the ‘final steps’ until now. We used a small rope hoist to position the elk as well as lift and place each quarter into a game bag as it was separated. I removed the front shoulder and then boned the ribs, loins and neck meat out to save pack weight. This gave us four bags weighing about 90 pounds apiece. The nicest walk in the mountains is leading horses laden with elk meat back to camp. I killed my 14th bull, a nice five pointer, a couple days later on September 20th. However, 2010 was the year of my son Austin’s first bull. And I wish him many more.
Author Rex Rogers
BOWHUNTER — 26 WWW.MTBA.ORG
talk back M
Montana has its majestic mountains and rivers for sure. It is a great place to live especially if you desire to trout fish or hunt big game. However, much has changed since Lewis and Clark first visited our state over 200 years ago. Gone is the west slope cutthroat, our state fish, from the main waters of the Missouri River. Wild bison, despite their enormous herds, have completely disappeared as a free range huntable species. Bighorn sheep have decreased to less than 30% of their numbers and are restricted to 10% of their original range or “source habitat.” There was a time when bighorns were the most populous big game species in many areas with herds in the thousands along major mountain fronts. There were likely between one and two million bighorn sheep in America. In fact, one group of native Indians, the Sheep Eaters of the Yellowstone Park area, followed the bighorns as their major source of food and clothing. This northern Yellowstone herd was fortunate to spend most of its lifetime in Yellowstone Park’s protected high mountains where the ravages of European settlers had little effect on their well-being and survival. Today, this herd remains viable and native in its source habitat. After early American settlers appeared with their domestic stock and hunting pressure, most of the other herds of bighorn sheep in the Rocky Mountains were much less fortunate. In fact, only a small number of Montana’s bighorn herds have over 150 animals which is the lower limit for a herd to survive the ravages of major natural threats. These threats can be a combination of climate change, starvation, new predator introduction and disease. Many native bighorn herds have completely vanished. It is probable that most of the missing populations of bighorn sheep herds were decimated by disease from domestic sheep or goats and not over hunting. Rocky Mountain Bighorns, Desert Bighorns, Dall and Stone sheep are true mountain sheep with genetic origins from Siberia and Asia. Natural selection has produced animals which are able to survive extremely harsh winter or summer weather and flourish in a marginally fertile mountain landscape without a genetic breeding influence from man. Whereas, domestic sheep are basically European origin where selection was focused by man for traits of wool and meat quality, disease resistance, overcrowding tolerance and the ability to be easily managed as a flock animal. Mixing these two vastly different types of sheep, Asian origin course haired, wild mountain sheep and soft wool domestic European stock spells disaster only for the wild mountain sheep. One bighorn sheep can contract a slowly fatal domestic sheep infection from a single brief interaction with a domestic sheep. Then, the domino effect can begin if the infected bighorn returns to the wild sheep herd. It then starts passing on the fatal infection. Frequently, a large percentage of the bighorn herd will become infected and many will die. Surviving females will have severely decreased reproductive ability. Meanwhile, the domestic sheep are doing fine, totally unaware of the disaster they have unleashed. This past winter produced severe bighorn die-offs in Montana and other western states from pneumonia. The domino effect of infection transfer is likely the major reason for the recent massive bighorn demise as when early settlers entered the West. Despite these huge bighorn sheep die-offs, the Montana FWP has not demanded repayment or indemnity from the domestic stock producers or others for the costs of lost bighorn sheep or the transplant costs. If you crashed into a parked FWP truck, you could be sure that the state of Montana would sue you to replace their damaged truck. Currently BLM and US Forest Service public land grazing rates for animal monthly units (AMU) are priced far below the comparable private land rate for domestic sheep grazing fees. Thus, in effect, these low rates are subsidized and create an income loss for our government. Some call this welfare ranching. In reality, our tax dollars are maintaining a federal land grazing system which decreases
the range of a native species on its public land source habitat and increases the spread of disease to that wild native species on public land. The National Wildlife Federation did Montana hunters a great favor when they bought out the last remaining domestic sheep grazing leases in the Beartooth- Absorkee Range to forever protect bighorns immediately north of Yellowstone Park In the Gravelly Mountains of the Beaverhead National Forest, there is a large, rugged mountain named Bighorn Mountain. Bighorn Mountain is as good as any place on earth to produce wild mountain sheep. However, bighorn sheep have been absent from this “source habitat “for over 50 years because the presence of nearby domestic sheep allotments prevents Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) from returning wild bighorns to this pristine wilderness source habitat and increasing hunting opportunity for many. In fact, big game biologists realize that domestic sheep disease transmission is the key factor in bighorn survival in the West and that a restricted bighorn range causes the sheep to pick up parasites that they previously shed in an earlier season. This past June, the US Forest Service was legally forced by conservation activists to issue a major policy statement concerning bighorn sheep in the Payette National Forest. This heavily researched US Forest Service official response said that 60% of the Payette Forest was unsuitable for domestic sheep grazing due to the risk of disease spread to bighorn sheep in that public forest area. Likely, other conservation groups such as Western Watershed Project will demand similar reviews of other federal forests and failing such review will go to federal court to expand or protect wild bighorn populations. The Greenhorn Mountain bighorn sheep restoration project in the Beaverhead National Forest has not gone well. There are only about 35 bighorns remaining of the 85 bighorns which were transplanted in this small of the Beaverhead. In getting the local domestic sheep producers to allow wild bighorn sheep re-introduction, several conservation groups, FWP and US Forest Service conceded to a stacked Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement in which the domestic grazers can block new transplants in the Greenhorns or nearby and can kill bighorns on federal public land if they come near their domestic sheep or exit the Greenhorn range. It appears that this kind of restrictive MOU will not allow bighorns to thrive. Perhaps, this MOU should be terminated with the remaining bighorns relocated again into a friendly, safe area. These domestic grazers manage 14,000 plus domestic sheep with only a few alien sheepherders on site full time. With so little supervision, it seems to reason that some of these under-watched domestic sheep will stray into wilderness areas where they could transmit infection to wild bighorns. Bighorn sheep are a major money producer for Montana FWP as the Governor’s tag sales have raised over four million dollars since this program was started. Expensive non-resident bighorn tag sales are another large money maker. The sales of the bighorn lottery “supertag” licenses raise markedly more money than the moose or goat tags. These “supertags” sell well nationwide because Montana bighorns have outstanding genetics and frequently make Boone and Crocket book status. Unfortunately, for years Montana FWP has shipped out of state any extra bighorns instead of finding suitable places in Montana to restock our empty bighorn source habitat. Reasons for this are the public land domestic sheep grazing issue, welfare ranching and domestic sheep disease crossover risk. It seems appropriate to restore bighorns to their habitats in Montana as a first priority instead of shipping excess bighorns to another state. Sadly, some of our shipped Montana sheep ended up in Utah where they contracted domestic sheep infection and many died. Certainly, we do need safer places for our wild bighorns in Montana. This won’t happen without multi-group cooperation between hunters, conservationists and domestic sheep producers. Each interest group needs to be flexible enough to listen to the other’s opinion and be willing to give a little. It is safe to say most of the hunting groups do not want to end all public land domestic sheep grazing but they do want to have wild bighorns in the wildest and most remote lands of our public national forests. Many hunters feel discouragement regarding the slim possibility of ever drawing a bighorn sheep ram tag. Hopefully, hunters in the future can work to increase bighorn numbers in Montana and other areas thoughout the West.
Dr. William Mealer / MBA member in Bozeman, Montana
continued from page 12
Author Don Thomas
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My face and hands were soon scratched and bleeding, but when the sound of dogs at the tree rose to greet us once more, I knew they had the cat. With the promise of the chase’s end ahead, I forged ahead through the brush and soon found myself staring up through a canopy of pine boughs at a long, tawny form surrounded by a corona of dappled light. Years ago, I carried my longbow in my hands when I hunted cougar, but I found myself in too many situations where I needed both hands to climb or catch dogs. I then went to a two-piece takedown longbow in my pack, but that tended to snag in heavy brush. For the past several years, I’ve carried a three-piece takedown recurve lion hunting. Buried out of the way in my pack, this option works splendidly on the trail in rough country, but I hadn’t had to assemble it quickly in quite some time. And nothing makes an argument for simple bow design like a nervous cat in a tree. As I fumbled with the Allen wrench and Mike and Rosey threw together a pair of our takedown wooden arrows, the lion grew increasingly nervous. “He’s going to bail!” Rosey shouted as I tightened the last bolt, and then a shower of snow hit me as the tom exploded from the branches overhead. Suddenly, our uncharacteristically easy chase didn’t look so easy anymore. But at this point, the dogs weren’t going to be denied. The cat lead us through another mile of thorn and rocks before he treed again, but this time I reached the towering ponderosa with my bow strung and ready. Making a clean shot on a lion in a tree can be more difficult than it sounds, as a lot of our friends have learned the hard way, but when the bottom of the cat’s chest appeared through a window in the branches directly overhead, I drew quickly and sent a shaft through it. My second arrow proved totally unnecessary. The big tom was dead before he hit the ground, and not even the work of skinning the hide and boning the meat and getting everything back up the hill before dark could compromise our exhilaration. I field a lot of questions about hunting cougars with dogs, many from people – including bowhunters I respect – who clearly have reservations, almost always without ever having experienced a lion hunt themselves. Granted, the first week of last year’s season – two days hunting, two chases, two dead cats – made it look easy. But that’s the condensed version. Among other things, I’ve left out countless miles without a track, long trips down through cliffs in the dark, the way your hands feel when you’re skinning a cat at 25-below, high-centered rigs and hours of work with a scoop shovel, the heartache of lost hounds and several tons of dog food. Until you’ve known all that, you haven’t really known lion hunting. Larry Schweitzer knew all that. He understood the magic of hound music and the odd serenity of the high country in winter. When I finally rolled back into my own driveway at the end of our second long day in the field, I hung the lion’s hide and hindquarters in the garage and tended to the dogs. I spent some extra time with Little Joe, scratching his ears a bit longer than necessary and offering him a second piece of jerky, our traditional reward to the hounds at the end of an especially demanding day. Larry would have understood all that too, and it made me realize how much I missed him.
Our Mission Is Simple: To provide a forum for the hardcore sportsman to tell his or her hunting tale. We will accomplish this by providing high quality photos, Real fair chase stories from Real hunters, and up to date hunting information. The word “trophy” is a relative term. One hunter’s biggest animal ever taken might not make another hunter’s wall. We at REAL HUNTING realize this and are committed to giving every hunter the opportunity to have their story told. This magazine is the culmination of several years of hard work by a group of dedicated sportsman. After seeing the hunting industry become increasingly commercialized and unreal, we made a pact: To create a forum for the hardcore, “real hunter” to tell his or her hunting tale.
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DAVID CRONK with a great whitey buck in velvet. ROGER PEFFER filling the freezer and looking forward to backstraps on the barbie.
BILL FARRIS (Big Sky Archery in Bozeman) downed this beautiful bull elk in September.
MARK RENNER of BeTheDecoy with ‘proof of life’ that there’s more than one way to skin a speedgoat.
JESSICA MCKENZIE (Ernie’s daughter) of Billings enjoys a close encounter out on the range.
BRIAN WAGAR with a nice mule deer buck that he took in southwest Montana in September. Thirteen year old COLTON GAVNE with his first big game animal, a whitetail that anyone would be proud of.
FRED SICHTING of Libby with another good Breaks bull.
DON DAVIDSON is still ‘gettin it done’ with a nice whitetail buck that he took this fall.
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