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BAKKEN

HUNTING GUIDE Montana Deer Hunting North Dakota Deer Hunting Richland County Game Warden Williston Game Warden Poachers Antelope Montana Hunting Dates North Dakota Hunting Dates Pheasant Season Pronghorn Season Upland Bird Hunting Transporting Horse Fire Tips Blue Tongue

Special supplement to the SIDNEY HERALD WILLISTON HERALD PLAINS REPORTER Autumn 2013

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Hunting

Fall 2013

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Submitted Submitted

Steve Harris, Sidney, with his 2011 mule deer buck.

Parker Dean had good luck on the last day of the hunting season last year.

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Hunting

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Fall 2013

3

Various deer hunting opportunities in montana this year From montana FWP

Submitted

Sheyanne Janeway with her first deer, a nice 4X4 mule. 20 percent below average, but mule deer numbers are starting to rebound in most areas. Buck ratios are also slightly below average with fewer older-age-class bucks due to winter mortality of older bucks in 2010-11. Doe licenses in most areas remain

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similar to 2012 and still well below levels prior to the winter of 2010-11. White-tailed deer numbers in the Milk River Valley east of Malta to Nashua and in the Missouri River bottomlands below Fort Peck Dam were heavily

impacted by an EHD outbreak in 2011. In those areas, numbers remain well below the longterm average, but are starting to rebound. In the Malta area, numbers are slightly below average this year. An EHD outbreak has been confirmed this summer west of Harlem in the western portion of the region, so whitetail numbers will be significantly lower in this area. In the northeastern corner, numbers are near average in prairie habitats but are still down in the Missouri River bottoms from the 2011 EHD outbreak. Region 7 — Southeastern Montana Mule deer numbers are still more than 32 percent below the long term average due to the severe winter of 2010-11 that resulted in significant winterkill of adults and fawns. Overwinter survival last year was high, and fawn recruitment this spring — up to 53 yearlings per 100 adults — increased relative to the previous year. That good news, however, was dampened by reduced fawning rates due to

nutritional stress in does after the extreme winter of 2010-11. Drought conditions the summer of 2012 continued to impact deer nutrition, but forage and precipitation levels have been exceptional so far in 2013. Trend area surveys indicate that mule deer populations are up 11 percent from 2012 and deer populations are expected to continue a gradual climb. Hunters may have better opportunity in the southern portion of the region. White-tailed deer populations are currently 7 percent below the 10-year average. The reduction in white-tailed deer numbers, however, is not all bad. Wildlife biologists note whitetail numbers prior to the EHD outbreak in 2012 were too high and fewer deer on the landscape will allow habitat to recover along with deer numbers. Forage and precipitation levels have been exceptional so far in 2013. White-tailed deer can recover relatively rapidly from declines, and with double the fawn recruitment rates of last spring, it appears this process has already begun.

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This season deer hunters in Montana will find another a mix of hunting opportunities across the state when the general season opens Oct. 26. On the upside, FWP wildlife biologists are reporting better fawn production and survival in many areas. Like other big game hunting, a nice cold front with plenty of snow should lead to some good hunting this season. On the downside, reports of another spotty outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease — a fatal virus in deer that is caused by biting insects — are coming in from across Montana. Even if you didn’t draw a special permit this year, remember Montana offers numerous opportunities to hunt for deer with just a general hunting license. Here’s a regional rundown on what deer hunters can expect this season. Region 6 — Northeastern Montana Effects on mule deer from the winter of 2010-11 are still being seen with regional numbers


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Fall 2013

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North Dakota’s hunting units below management goals It is good to periodically stop and glance back at where we’ve been, and take a long look at where we’re going. With a series of relatively mild winters from 1998 through 2008, the Game and Fish Department struggled to keep deer numbers within the tolerance levels of landowners. Since 2004, when the first statewide management goals were set in all units, antlerless license numbers were systematically and steadily increased. In 2010, deer management goals were re-evaluated and updated for each hunting unit in the state. The statewide goal at that time was set for the next five years at 124,800 deer licenses. Starting in November 2008 and running through April 2011, North Dakota hosted three “real winters” characterized by early and persistent snow cover, coupled with cold temperatures. The department continued to aggressively issue antlerless deer licenses, finally reaching management goals for most of the state by spring 2011. During fall 2011, a severe epizootic hemorrhagic disease outbreak killed a significant number of white-tailed deer in the western portion of the state. Winter 2012 was moderate in much of the state, followed by another hard winter in 2013 throughout the Red River

Valley and northern tier hunting units along the Canadian border. Recent years have brought dramatic changes for wildlife habitat throughout the state, including loss of CRP, wetland drainage, habitat fragmentation, removal of tree rows and abandoned farmsteads. As such, Game and Fish allocated 59,500 licenses for the 2013 deer hunting season, 5,800 fewer than 2012 and the lowest number since 1983. Hunters can receive only one license for the gun season. After a significant reduction in gun licenses in 2012, harvest and survey data revealed that deer populations are still below management objectives in most units. Statewide hunter success in 2012 was 63 percent, which was better than 2011 (52 percent), but still lower than the goal of 70 percent. Winter aerial surveys showed that deer were down from 2011 levels in units 3A1, 1, 2K1, 2K2, 2C, 2D and 2B. Although deer are still below the management objective in 2A, 2F1 and 2F2, winter aerial surveys showed that numbers were slightly above levels recorded in 2011 (2F1 and 2F2) or 2012 (2A). Deer numbers overall remain below objectives due to prolonged effects of severe winters during 2008-10, which not

Submitted

Justin Fisketjon, Williston, N.D., with his 2010 North Dakota archery buck. only increased adult mortality, but also reduced fawn production. The extreme winter conditions followed nearly a decade of aggressive deer management that featured large numbers of antlerless licenses in most units. Winter 2012-13 was severe in the northern and eastern portions of the state, which will slow population recovery in those areas. Further loss of high quality deer habitat statewide will also limit potential for population recovery. Currently, all hunting units in the state are below management goals set in 2010, except in 3E2, 3F1, 3F2 and 4F. Fewer licenses in 2013 is necessary to allow deer populations to increase toward management goals. Deer hunting opportunities in 2013 include: • Total licenses available for the 2013 regular season are 59,500, 5,800 fewer than 2012. Antlered licenses were reduced by 1,850 and antlerless licenses

were reduced by 3,950. • Increased white-tailed buck licenses by 550 in the southwestern portion of the state due to improved hunter success rate. • A total of 1,166 muzzleloader licenses are available in 2013, 583 antlered and 583 antlerless white-tailed deer licenses, a reduction of 116 muzzleloader licenses from 2012. • A total of 180 nonresident any-deer archery licenses are available for 2013, 502 fewer than in 2012. The number of nonresident any-deer archery licenses will further decline to 172 in 2014. All resident and nonresident deer archery licenses will be issued via electronic means only, through the Department’s Bismarck office, Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov; by calling 800-4066409; or at license vendors participating in the Game and Fish online licensing system.

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Fall 2013

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Sidney High School grad new game warden for richland County By Ashley hArris Sidney Herald

Sidney has a new game warden, but he is no stranger to Sidney. Ryan Karren, who is a 2001 graduate from Sidney High School, took over as game warden in June. After high school, Karren attended Brigham Young University in Utah with a goal of becoming a game warden. When asked why, Karren said, “I love being outside, love hunting and I love Montana. The combination kinda goes together.” Following graduation, Karren worked as a game warden for a couple years in Utah before returning to Montana. Karren’s journey back home started with him taking a position as a game warden in Miles City. During his time in Miles City, Karren was recognized for a number of achievements including an award from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in October 2012 for his work solving poaching cases.

Karren now serves as game warden for Richland County as well as parts of surrounding counties. The 2013 hunting season has begun, and Karren has a number of concerns. His main concerns address the influx of hunters in the area. He urges hunters to be extra mindful of their location and what is beyond their target as there will be many people out hunting. Also a big concern for Karren is the number of hunters that won’t be particularly familiar with the regulations. He says, “Make sure you read through the regulations prior to going out hunting.” Many regulations that are legal in other states may not be legal here. Karren highlighted the fact that feeding and baiting of wildlife is illegal in the state of Montana. This includes dumping piles of apples, protein and salt blocks, corn, etc., which Karren has seen happening lately. The regulations are all on

the Fish, Wildlife and Parks website at www.fwp.mt.gov or at the locations where licenses can be purchased. One regulation people may not be aware of concerns littering. If caught littering, an individual can lose their privileges to hunt, fish, trap and use public lands. Karren says, “If you see it, report it.” With technology today, snap a picture and get a hold of Karren. With the amount of people that may not know the regulations, chances are somebody will not be following them. If wildlife violations, littering, etc are seen or heard about please call 1-800-TIP-MONT with as much information as possible. Although a warden’s job is to protect the resources and wildlife, they aren’t always at the right place at the right time. If you witness something that needs to be addressed, give Karren a call. Karren says, “I have an open door (phone) and people can call me anytime with con-

Submitted

Ryan Karren enjoys the outdoors, hunting and Montana. cerns and questions. I may not answer right away because my coverage out in the hills is limited, but I do return messages.” Even though his job is to enforce the law, Karren says

the best part of the job is “chatting with people that enjoy the outdoors.” Karren can be reached at 406853-7272.

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Fall 2013

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Updike in second year as Williston’s game warden By Ashley hArris Sidney Herald

Williston’s game warden, Brian Updike, took the position Oct. 1 of 2012. Being a Beach, N.D., native, Updike is fairly familiar with the area. Updike enjoys the outdoors and pursued that by working for the National Park Service in resource enforcement. After four years, he went to Minot State University to receive his criminal justice degree. Following graduation, he worked as a police officer with the Minot Police Department. Updike enjoyed working for the police department but says his “desire is more toward resource protection.” Updike now covers Williams and Divide counties as the district’s game warden.

The 2013 hunting season is in full swing now and archery hunters are on the hunt. With a new season comes new concerns and regulations. All hunters, even veterans, should look over the regulations before going out to hunt as things may change. Updike said the only real change in the regulations this year is the waterfowl possession limits. The major concern at hand is the number of poaching cases that Updike is seeing. Game wardens from

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numerous states have contacted Updike to inform him that some of their top individuals being investigated for poaching have relocated to the Bakken area. Updike asks people that if they see anything suspicious, such as anyone in areas that are not normally inhabited at night, that they contact him. Most of the issues Updike is seeing are seasonal, year-round issues. Updike stated that out of 100 tickets, probably 45-50 of them are for not having a license. Along the same lines, there is an issue with non-residents purchasing resident licenses although they are not legally North Dakota residents. North Dakota regulations state that in order to claim residency for hunting purposes an individual must live primarily in North Dakota for a minimum of six months. Subsequently, individuals can only claim residency in one state. There have been a lot of illegally taken animals over the last year, which Updike is working diligently to cut down. What he can’t control, is the increase of people in the area. Updike urges hunters to beware of their surroundings with the numbers of people out recreating. Updike urges hunters that if they see “anything suspicious, don’t be afraid to let us know.” Updike can be reached at 701-770-0082. Violations can also be reported by calling the Report All Poachers hotline at 1-800-472-2121.

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Fall 2013

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Programs in place to protect natural resources, people By Ashley hArris Sidney Herald

Montana’s Tip Mont program and North Dakota’s RAP (Report All Poaching) Program are almost identical, besides being a state apart. Montana’s Fish Wildlife and Parks and North Dakota Game and Fish run these programs with a very similar approach of giving individuals the opportunity to anonymously report violations they see while out recreating. These programs are in place to help protect the natural resources as well as the people who enjoy them. Laws are set for this purpose, but when violations happen it

seriously affects the fish, wildlife and state parks. Some violations may seem small but could have a very devastating effect on the wildlife. Littering for example, although it seems harm-

less to some, could potentially poison or suffocate fish, wildlife or even plant life. The plastic rings that hold bottles and cans together, plastic bags and fishing line are a few of the common pieces of garbage that

can have rather drastic effects on wildlife. Violations that effect wildlife are what these programs are hoping to have reported. Poaching, the illegal harvesting of an ani-

mal, is one of the major infractions. Obviously, when an individual is harvesting or catching animals illegally, it is going to have a huge impact on the population. Closely related is exceeding bag limits. As previously stated, the laws are set to help protect the resources. In this situation, the bag limits are set to prevent destruction or depletion of animal populations. Other violations that can be reported include, but are not limited to the following: hunting or fishing out of season, trespassing, vehicles in restricted areas and theft or destruction of natural resources. If you see any of these violations while out

recreating, do your part and report them. Reporting them is a simple step, as the operator will be trained in what to ask you. It is best that you observe and gather as much information as you can prior to calling. Helpful information would include the date, time and location of the violation. Also valuable would be a vehicle description, description of the person(s) involved, details of violation, witnesses and physical evidence. As with any description, just saying “it was a red truck with a gun rack” may not help but noticing a unique characteristic such as a broken tail light, dent or a bumper sticker

would lead investigators closer to solving a case. These programs are very similar to Crimestoppers, as they offer a reward to those that provide valuable information. Both programs offer of up to

$1,000 depending on the nature and seriousness of the crime reported, as well as the outcome. To report violations either call 1-800-TIP-Mont (1-800-847-6668) for Montana or 1-800-472-2121 for North Dakota.

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Submitted

Brandon Combs shows the success he experienced elk hunting this season.

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Fall 2013

9

Antelope population sluggish in Montana’s Region Seven

‘Although populations remain below longterm average, I’m definitely seeing more antelope on the ground.’ Melissa Foster Glendive area biologist weather conditions and disease outbreaks,” Wildlife biologist Dean Waltee said. “For example, a bluetongue outbreak in 2008 reduced populations in the northwest portion of the region by 33 percent. Before populations could recover severe spring and winter conditions beginning in the spring of 2009 and continuing until the fall of 2011 reduced region wide populations by 76 percent.” The 2013 increase was the first observed since harsh weather conditions subsided during the fall of 2011. “Similar declines were observed following the

severe winters of 1978 and 1979,” Waltee said. “In 1980, biologists observed densities similar to what were observed over the past two years. Those populations recovered to average or above average densities by 1984 or 1985.” Waltee added, “We are seeing increased numbers of adult bucks and does, which was expected given recent mild winter conditions and reduced harvest opportunity. In 2012, 3,100 antelope licenses were issued region wide; an 87 percent reduction from 2009 when 13,000 eithersex and 10,000 doe-fawn licenses were issued.” Of a total harvest of 1643 antelope in 2012, only 250 doe antelope were harvested region wide. “We were about as restrictive as possible with doe harvest last season,” Waltee said. Antelope license quotas will remain at 3,000 either-sex and 100 doe-fawn for the 2013 season. In localized areas, biologists are seeing reduced fawn production and survival rates. Waltee noted, “It’s definitely something to keep a close eye on but at this point, I’m not overly concerned. I suspect extremely dry conditions last summer had an impact on this year’s fawn production and survival of last year’s fawns to yearlings. Region wide yearling recruitment increased relative to 2012 and having more yearling (non fawn-producing) does in the population causes the fawn-to-doe ratio to decrease. Given exceptional precipitation this summer and barring severe conditions this win-

Submitted

Photo taken by Steve Harris, Sidney. ter, I expect to see fawnto-doe ratios and yearling recruitment improve next year. I also expect to see continued population growth” Wildlife biologist Bernie Hildebrand suspects that a bluetongue outbreak in 2008 and the severe winter of 2010-11 have rendered a significant proportion of the doe population in northwestern Region 7 (HD 700 and 701) barren. “I was seeing large groups of does with few or no fawns,” said Hildebrand. “That’s not normal.” Using annual production and recruitment data, Hildebrand estimates that 35 percent of adult does in northwestern Region 7 are no longer producing fawns.

“Fawnto-doe ratios are expected to increase as that barren segment is harvested or dies out and is replaced by younger more productive does, but it’s going to take a couple of years” said

Hildebrand. Antelope population status varied across the region and so will hunting opportunities. “The highest antelope density was observed near Alzada,” Waltee said. “I observed about 70 bucks per 100 does in southern Carter County (705), and fawn production was great in the area with more than 90 fawns per 100 does on average. Yearling recruitment was below average in central Carter County but was the best observed in 10 years in southern Carter County. I suspect last year’s drought reduced recruitment in the central portion of the county where more marginal habitats are present.” Waltee observed

similar increases across Powder River County (southern Hunting District 704). “Populations are rebounding nicely in the southern portion of the region,” Waltee said. “I recommend hunters come to this part of the region to hunt antelope this fall. Hunter success rates measured at the Broadus Check Station have equaled 72 percent each of the past two years. I expect similar rates this year” Waltee said. Glendive area biologist Melissa Foster observed healthy increases across 703 and the northern portion of 705, with populations doubling on two trend areas and increasing by 60 percent on a third. “Although populations remain below longterm average, I’m definitely seeing more antelope on the ground,” Foster said “I’m seeing good fawn production in adult does, but our fawn-to-doe numbers seem low because there are a lot of yearlings in the population. I expect to see production increase next year when all of those yearlings produce their first fawns.” Hunters should expect to find more antelope in the eastern portion of the region than they have over the past couple of years. There is certainly

opportunity to hunt antelope but sportsmen who are unfamiliar with the area should be aware that it is not our most productive antelope country. “We don’t have the big expanses of sagebrush habitat that sustain antelope during winter like elsewhere in the region.” Populations in the northwestern portion of the region (HDs 700 and 701), which were impacted by a bluetongue outbreak in 2008 and most severely impacted by the 2010-11 winter remain in the toughest condition. “Although populations are increasing some, counts remain 75 percent below long-term average and are the lowest I have observed in more than 30 years,” Hildebrand said. “There remains a large percentage of does that aren’t producing fawns. That will slow recovery across the area. There still are antelope and the buckto-doe ratio (55:100) is near long-term average, but more productive hunting will be found as you progress south in Region 7.” Those interested in learning more about antelope populations or hunting opportunities in Region 7 should contact the regional office at 406234-0900.

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Recent surveys across Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) Region 7 indicate that antelope populations are recovering but remain well below long-term averages. Wildlife Biologists completed seven population trend surveys across the region and observed 1,855 antelope — 21 percent more than in 2012. Even with a 21 percent increase, the 2013 trend count was 50 percent below long-term average and 66 percent below the 10-year peak count that occurred in 2006. “Antelope populations in the region are heavily influenced by annual

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Hunting

Fall 2013

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Hunting season dates Montana SeaSon DateS

Antelope • 900: Aug. 15-Nov. 10 • Archery: Sept. 7-Oct. 11 • General: Oct. 12-Nov. 10 Bighorn Sheep • Archery: Sept. 5-Sept. 14 • General: Sept. 15-Dec. 1 Bison: Nov. 15-Feb. 15, 2014 Black Bear • Archery: Sept. 7-Sept. 14 • Fall: Sept. 15-Dec. 1 Deer & Elk • Archery: Sept. 7-Oct. 20 • Youth-Deer Only: Oct. 17 -18 • General: Oct. 26-Dec. 1 Backcountry (HDs 150, 151, 280, 316) • Archery: Sept. 7-Sept. 14 • General: Sept. 15-Dec. 1 Moose • General: Sept. 15-Dec. 1 Mountain Goat • General: Sept. 15-Dec. 1 Mountain Lion • Archery: Sept. 7-Oct. 20 • Fall: Oct. 26 -Dec. 1 • Winter: Dec. 1-April 14, 2014 Wolf • Archery: Sept. 7-Sept. 14 • General: Sept. 15-March 15, 2014 • Trapping: Dec. 15-Feb. 28, 2014

Turkey: Sept. 1- Jan 1 Pheasant: Oct. 12 – Jan. 1

north Dakota SeaSon DateS

Deer *Archery: Aug. 30 – Jan. 5 *Youth: Sept. 20 – Sept. 29 *General: Nov. 8 – Nov. 24 *Muzzleloader: Nov. 29 – Dec. 15 Wild Turkey: Oct. 12 – Jan. 5 Elk *Region E2: Oct. 4 – Dec. 31 *Region E5: Sept. 6 – Dec. 31 Sharp-tailed Grouse: Sept. 14 – Jan. 5 Ruffed Grouse: Sept. 14 – Jan. 5 Pheasants *Regular season: Oct. 12 – Jan. 5 *Delayed opener: Oct. 19 – Jan. 5 Big Horn Sheep *Archery: Oct. 18 – Nov. 7 *Regular: Oct. 25 – Nov. 7 Moose *Archery: Sept. 6 – Sept. 29 *Regular: Oct. 11 – Nov. 3 Duck *Resident: Sept. 21 – Dec. 1 *Non-resident: Sept. 28 – Dec. 1 Geese *Resident: Sept. 21 – Dec. 21 *Non-resident: Sept. 28 – Dec. 21

Submitted

Ashley Harris, Sidney, with her 2012 mule deer buck.

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11

Fall 2013

Game and Fish summarizes pheasant brood data for north dakota From North Dakota Game & Fish

North Dakota’s roadside pheasant survey conducted in late July and August indicates total birds, number of broods and average brood size are all down statewide from 2012. Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the survey shows total pheasants are down 30 percent from last year. In addition, brood observations were down 29 percent, and the average brood size was down 10 percent. The final summary is based on 253 survey runs made along 101 brood routes across North Dakota. “Poor production this spring resulted in fewer young birds added to the popu-

lation and a lower fall population in all areas of the state,” Kohn said. Noteworthy factors cited for the decrease in brood numbers, according to Kohn, were continued land use changes in the prime pheasant range, including removal of Conservation Reserve Program acres, grasslands converted to croplands and small grain fields converted to row crops; and continuous wet spring weather. “Earlier this summer we thought it was possible that nesting season was delayed enough to avoid an influence from the cold, wet spring,” Kohn said, “but it now appears that wasn’t the case.” Kohn said even though statistics reveal bird numbers are down statewide,

there will still be local areas with good pheasant populations. Statistics from southwestern North Dakota indicate the number of birds observed was down 25 percent from 2012, and the number of broods was down 22 percent. Observers counted 15 broods and 126 birds per 100 survey miles. The average brood size was 5.8. Results from the southeast show birds are down 43 percent from last year, and the number of broods down 42 percent. Observers counted five broods and 49 birds per 100 miles. The average brood size was 5.9. Statistics from the northwest indicated pheasants are down 39 percent from last year, with broods down 32 percent.

Observers recorded six broods and 48 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 5.5. The northeast district, generally containing secondary pheasant habitat with much of it lacking good winter cover, showed one brood and seven birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 4.7. Number of birds observed was down 35 percent, and the number of broods recorded was down 33 percent. The 2013 regular pheasant season opens Oct. 12 and continues through Jan. 5, 2014. The two-day youth pheasant hunting weekend, when legally licensed residents and nonresidents ages 15 and younger can hunt statewide, is set for Oct. 5-6.

officials announce pronghorn population increases in North Dakota North Dakota’s pronghorn population is finally growing after five years of steady decline. However, Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department, said numbers are still below population objectives and not high enough to warrant a hunting season. Therefore, the Game and Fish Department is recommending

season and a mild winter across much of our pronghorn range, which led to high adult and fawn survival,” Stillings said. This year, Stillings mentioned, fawn production was average to below average in all management regions. He said another mild to average winter in 2013 should encourage future population

the pronghorn hunting season remain closed in 2013. Recent survey results indicate the statewide population is 5,400 pronghorn, 49 percent higher than last year, but still 62 percent below 2008, the last year a hunting season was held. “We expected to see a population increase due to another year without a hunting

growth, but challenges remain with pronghorn habitat in the west. The aerial survey is flown in late June/early July after young-of-the-year are born and visible. Five airplanes covered more than 11,000 square miles of aerial transects within pronghorn habitat.

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Hunting

Sidney Herald | WilliSton Herald | PlainS rePorter

Fall 2013

13

Montana upland game bird hunting season should be just below average All things considered — from last summer’s drought to this spring’s floods — 2013 should still shape up to be near to just below average in Montana for upland game bird hunters. Here’s run down on the status of Montana’s top upland game birds.

Gray (HunGarian) PartridGe

• While no formal surveys are conducted for huns in Montana, various observations along with weather and habitat conditions suggest huns will be average to below average this season. Observations in Regions 3 and 6 suggest average numbers. Observations from Region 5 suggest numbers will be below average and lower than last year.

PHeasants

• The real bright spot is in northeastern Montana’s Region 6, where pheasant numbers continue to improve and are well above long term averages. In this

area, spring “crow counts” — where wildlife biologists travel specific routes to count and record the “crows” of cock pheasants to determine the size of the population — were 15 percent above the long term average. Also, consider southeastern Montana where spring crow counts in Region 7, were 40 percent below the all time high counts last year, but still 5 to 25 percent above the long term average. In northwestern Montana, favorable weather in Region 1 resulted in above average counts on the Ninepipe Wildlife Management Area. Region 3 reported average counts for southwestern Montana. In Region 5, in the Billings area, pheasant crow counts varied and were near average to well below long-term averages. Overall, Region 5 expects a slight improvement in pheasant numbers over last year.

saGe Grouse

• Statewide, male attendance at leks averaged 14.9

males per lek which is 48 percent below long-term averages, and down from 19.2 males per lek last year. The drop is likely a function of extreme drought conditions during 2012 which led to low brood survival. The drop in abundance was somewhat uniformly distributed across sage grouse range in Montana. Consequently, hunters can expect numbers to be near average to well below average in all regions. Excellent brood rearing conditions may mitigate the declines to some extent.

sHarP-tailed Grouse

• Region 3 reported average to below average numbers. Lek surveys and other observations in Region 6 indicate sharptail numbers will be average to slightly below average across the region. General observations from Region 5 similarly suggest below average numbers.

Montana hunters will have to work hard to bag antelope this season Even as populations begin a slow rebound, hunters in Montana will have to work hard to bag an antelope again this season in many areas. Montana’s antelope archery season will close Oct. 11 and the general rifle season for antelope will run Oct. 12-Nov. 10. Here’s a regional rundown on what antelope hunters can expect this year.

Region 6—Northeastern Montana All hunting districts will again see low license numbers because of lingering impacts from the recent severe winters. Overall, populations are lower than longterm averages, and fawn production also remains below average in most areas. Decreased harvest quotas are expected to persist for at least several more years as

pronghorn populations recover. Region 7—Southeastern Montana Antelope populations are recovering but remain well below long term averages. While there is a promising 21 percent increase from 2012, it’s still 50 percent below long term average and 66 percent below the 10 year peak count that occurred in 2006. Populations are

rebounding nicely in the southern portion of the region, but seem to be struggling in the northern portion. Hunter success rates measured at the Broadus Check Station have equaled 72 percent each of the past two years and similar rates are expected again this year. FWP recommends that hunters head to the southern portion of the region to hunt.

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Hunting

Fall 2013

Sidney Herald | WilliSton Herald | PlainS rePorter

Make sure your warming fire is dead out this hunting season Hunting season is a very exciting time for many Montanans, as well as out-of-state visitors who come to hunt in Montana. As you prepare for your hunting trip, make sure you have plenty of water to put your warming fire out completely. Vegetation is dry and wildland fires can still occur. Do your part to ensure you do not start a wildland fire. Before you head outdoors know the below items. 1. Are warming fires allowed in the area you are hunting? Visit www.firerestrictions.us to find out. 2. It is best to keep your fire small and manageable, no larger than three feet in diameter. 3. Make certain you have an adequate

Everything you need for these results!

clear zone above and around your fire, a four foot area cleared for every one foot of flame height. 4. Never leave your warming fire unattended. 5. Drown your fire with plenty of water and stir. Dirt is useful in putting out a fire. 6. Ensure it is cold to the touch before leaving. If you are exploring the forests, rangelands, and back country in vehicles you must stay on established roads and trails and avoid driving over dry grass and brush that could be ignited by hot exhaust systems. Have a safe, fun, and successful hunting season.

Hunters reminded to get horses inspected The Montana Department of Livestock is reminding hunters that horses are required to have a brand inspection before crossing county lines. According to Montana Code 81-3-211 (2), it is “unlawful to remove or cause to be removed… any livestock…unless the livestock have been inspected for brands by a state stock inspector or deputy state stock inspector and a certificate of the inspection has been issued…for the purpose of the transportation.” “It’s a pretty common violation during hunting season,” said Paul Johnson, Montana Department of Livestock district inspector for

Cascade, Lewis & Clark and Teton counties. “Producers move livestock all the time and are generally pretty familiar with transportation require-

ments, but sometimes hunters just don’t know.” Not knowing could cost you $135, Johnson said, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised to see MDOL inspectors at popular trailheads, check stations

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and other places where hunters congregate. Johnson recommends that hunters get their horses inspected in advance of their planned departure. “The inspection is good for a year of movement, or you can get a lifetime, so there’s no good reason to wait until the last minute,” he said. A map of brand inspectors by county can be found on the department’s web site; annual and lifetime inspections can also be issued at livestock markets (marked in blue on the map). If you need an inspector but don’t have access to the web, call 406-444-9431 and officials will track one down for you. XNLV111675

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Fall 2013

Blue tongue bigger issue in north dakota than Montana this year Many times when a hunter hears the term “Blue Tongue” they can picture a deer carcass lying dead along the banks of a creek or stream. One tiny bug, also known as a biting gnat, causes this often-fatal disease. The first discovered cases of Blue Tongue were in New Jersey and Michigan in 1955. Although many cases prior to this had the same symptoms and very well could have been Blue Tongue, these were the first confirmed cases. Over the years it has been observed that this disease mainly affects whitetail deer, while occasionally infecting mule deer, elk and pronghorn antelope. All information shows that humans cannot contract the disease. Blue Tongue typically does not cause alarm unless it has been a dry summer, as the biting gnats live and breed in stagnant water. Outbreaks typically occur in the late summer

after a dry spell. Although the first frost will kill off all the gnats, the damage has already been done. It all starts with a bite from one tiny bug. Once infected, animals come down with a fever, which causes them to frequent the same waters where they were originally bitten. As they return to the area and get bit more, the virus becomes more potent causing even more symptoms. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, no fear of humans, excessive salivation, extreme weakness, unwillingness to rise, sore eyes, lameness and bleeding or swelling of the head, neck or tongue. Some deer may die within one to three days, while others may suffer for weeks or months. An even smaller few may make it and be disabled for months. Such disabilities are emaciation, lesions, ulcers and swollen. Many deer that survive the disease could have chronic issues. While sick with the

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Blue Tongue mainly affects whitetail deer, while occasionally infecting mule deer, elk and pronghorn antelope. virus, the growth of hooves may be interrupted which may cause splitting, peeling or even breaking. Ulcers, lesions and scarring may remain following the disease as well. During an outbreak, it is estimated that between 30-50 percent of the population will die off, which can drastically af-

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fect hunting outcomes. It takes an area quite a while to recover from such an outbreak, such as the outbreak in the area in 2011. Locally, Blue Tongue was not an issue this year, but southwestern North Dakota and north central Montana have confirmed outbreaks this season.

During seasons of outbreak, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and North Dakota Game and Fish request that when you happen upon a dead deer that you report it. There is not currently a way of preventing Blue Tongue or treating it. Hopefully with studies being done, there will be one day.

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Fall 2013

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Hunting Montana Deer Hunting North Dakota Deer Hunting Richland County & Williston Game Warden Montana & North Dakota Hunting Dates

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