A Damage Hunt

Nameless Range

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There has been a lot of discussion about damage hunts in Montana and potential changes to their structure on here recently. Over the next month I will be participating in one, and I figured I'd record the experience and process here. I will omit the specific location.

A couple months ago I threw my name in the hat on the Damage Hunt Roster. Typically I will google the words "Damage Hunt Montana" and limit the results to the previous year. I then read newspaper/whatever articles noting places where hunts took place the previous year. It can be kind of useful to increase your chances and give you an idea of whether or not the hunt will take place in the HD you throw your name at.

Once the Rosters were released I ended up 21 out of 508, which seemed pretty good. A couple weeks ago I checked and my position was 18. Even better - a sign that people were being called to hunt.

Last week I checked and saw this:

MyFWP.JPG

Sweet.

Checked my email and there was a letter telling me I had been drawn.

letter.JPG

So, this hunt takes place on 5 different ranches. No map was provided. I queried the names using Montana's parcel data, and I have a decent idea of where I will possibly be hunting. Maybe a 1000 acres total between all of the ranches combined. Some thoughts at this point:

-- I live about an hour and a half away. This hunt occurs on five ranches with four different contacts that will tell me where and when I can hunt. If I call and ask if I can hunt next Wednesday and they don't jive, it will make things more complicated. One of these ranches looks to only be 80 or so acres.

-- If you look at the letter, 100 hunters are participating and 75 were chosen from the roster. So it seems that 25 were handpicked by the participating landowners.

-- I wish a map were provided. Land ownership can be complicated, and getting my bearings from someone simply from a phone conversation could have potential issues. I am not overly familiar with the area, but that is on me.


I'm excited about this. I've never done an elk damage hunt. I plan on calling the ranchers later this week to get permission to hunt in the middle of next week. I'm sure I'll know a lot more once I speak with the landowners. I've got over a month to get it done, and I'll update this thread as I go.
 

MT_elk

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Sounds like a great opportunity. Looking forward to how it goes and the experience you have with your damage hunt. I have been on a couple in the past. Some were very good and some not so good. :)
 

RobG

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Bozeman, MT
I'm excited about this. I've never done an elk damage hunt. I plan on calling the ranchers later this week to get permission to hunt in the middle of next week. I'm sure I'll know a lot more once I speak with the landowners. I've got over a month to get it done, and I'll update this thread as I go.
You should ask what sort of hunt can you expect, and also ask the biologist. One landowner had the ten or so hunters all wait at the property line until shooting light. The elk were just milling around in the fields. At first legal light the hunters jumped in their cars and raced to get in front of the fleeing elk before jumping out and shooting them. It was ugly and we went into it not having a clue how it would unfold. The smart people stood on the sidelines until this was over then conducted a legitimate hunt. Other hunts I've helped on have been very challenging. Whatever happens, it will be more sporting than buying meat from the store.
 

RobG

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Bozeman, MT
-- I wish a map were provided. Land ownership can be complicated, and getting my bearings from someone simply from a phone conversation could have potential issues. I am not overly familiar with the area, but that is on me.
Get the OnX hunting map on your iphone, or at least put it on a gps.
 

double_a85

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Apr 30, 2014
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Roundup, MT
In my past experience on damage hunts, they will also send a letter with a map in the mail. Hopefully on your hunt they do the same thing.
 

Nameless Range

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Western Montana
Good points Rob. I really hope this hunt isn't a firing line chit-show. Theoretically it takes place over the course of a month so I hope the timeline avoids that. If it is I'll pack up and go bowhunting instead.

I have the OnX app on my phone and it is great. From what I can gather via the parcels attributes, this is the general layout of the ranches involved in the hunt (might give the location away).

As you can see, it is mostly small parcels of land, not necessarily attached and spread out.

Hopefully as double_a85 mentioned, I get a clearer map in the mail.
 

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