Caribou Gear

Montana FWP makes seismic shift in elk permits

rogerthat

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Let them do it...honestly the sooner rock bottom is hit, the sooner even the dimmest of dim bulbs will take notice and start turning out to advocate.

In the meantime kill every elk and deer you can (legally)...that's what they want.

Take your friends and family along too...no survivors. Turn Montana into the wasteland/biological desert they want.
I don't think the "burn it down" method is going to work. Every year there is an army of hunters coming in that are happy with the new "low" water mark. It takes quite a few years of experience to draw upon to really see how far we have fallen. How many new posters show up telling us we are all a bunch of whiners and we need to tighten the boots and push farther. Its all become quite comical to me. Trust me I feel how you feel, I just think the most likely scenario is we continue to go down the toilet but the vast majority of hunters either don't really care or don't even realize it.
 

Gerald Martin

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Rock bottom will only ever be achieved on public land.

The private landowners driving these policies couldn’t care less about what happens on public. In fact they welcome rock bottom on public because it ensures their private land sanctuaries because even more valuable.
 

Carnage2011

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Does anyone have any ideas why the people of Montana (not all, but most) don't care at all about quality elk hunting and an older age class, and many of the other states do? If these proposals were in AZ, NV, or UT there would be a riot. I'm not saying UT has the best model, but their residents do want to see older age class bulls/bucks around. AZ does a damn good job of having quality hunts and still provides good opportunity with late season hunts and OTC archery tags. I guess I just don't understand why MT seems to have such a different feel to it. Is it just due to the fact that it's always been about opportunity and long seasons?
 

GLA-FLA

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@BuzzH:

I share your frustration.. had the opportunity to hunt WY this year after pulling off a Hail Mary on the non-resident random draw.. to put it diplomatically the experience in WY vs. MT was not comparable.

Couldn’t help but make me ponder MT’s potential under something that vaguely resembled management?

While our deer have always been marginal, we had incredible elk opportunity.. now it seems our elk are living on borrowed time as well.

I’ll sincerely hope that the new management plan provides an avenue to get us back on the tracks!
 

shoots-straight

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Maybe I've read and watched to many Marvel Comics? I'm hoping that at the very last moment we get the cavalry to charge down upon the bad guys and win the day.

So just a short story for those that have a moment.

Not so long ago, (actually just before our first wolf season) there was a group of people that were trying to rewrite our States Wolf plan at the Legislative level.

Knowing that this change would null and void the work done by the Simpson-Tester rider, many of us rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

This legislation had already passed out of the Senate and was on the third reading in the House. (There was a good chance the Governor would Veto but no guarantee).

We (TJones and I) had the ear of one person from the party of majority before that vote took place. After many hours on the phone, explaining what would take place after such a change , He went to the House floor and carried the day. Changed enough votes from the majority to kill that bad bill. Idaho and Montana ended up with a wolf season by just a few votes in the Montana House of Representatives. Wyoming was left out in the cold because they had changed the original plan, They waited years later to have their first season because of it.

Don't underestimate what a small number of people can accomplish. I understand how frustrating this might be, and the mountain in front of us.

I believe there are still hero's in our midst that will show up and thwart this, mistaken direction in Wildlife management, we are witnessing.
 

Big Fin

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I had Director Worsech on my podcast yesterday. An hour and forty-five minutes.

The idea was to give him and open mic to explain the rationale behind the process, behind the new proposals we have, the way in which social science is balanced with wildlife science, and answer a set of questions I had prepared and sent to his Communications Director.

We are working hard to get that turned around by Monday.

The important take away I think most will hear is that the Department views this as the Commissions purview. The Departments feels there are so many elk in some of these places that there is a rather wide swath of options that will still fall within the "based on science" boundaries and as such, the Commission is the final arbiter of where this will go.

We can agree/disagree with that, but I have come away with the distinct impression that the Department is laying this on the lap of the Commission and they are the folks who will carry the responsibility for the outcome, whether positive or negative.

So with that, please, take the time to email the Commissioners at the emails listed below. There is no deadline on comments to the Commissioners. The deadline you heard of as January 21 was for comments to the Department for accumulation and presentation to the Commissioners.


I have met with two Commissioners and a phone call with a third Commissioner. They are getting inundated, which is great to hear. Between now the their vote on February 4th is the time to give even more comments. Please do that. Right now, our only option is the Commission. We need to comment to them. Apathy is not an option at that time.

Anyone who knows a Commissioner personally needs to call or try to get time in front of them. You will make a huge difference by making the case.
 

BuzzH

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Does anyone have any ideas why the people of Montana (not all, but most) don't care at all about quality elk hunting and an older age class, and many of the other states do? If these proposals were in AZ, NV, or UT there would be a riot. I'm not saying UT has the best model, but their residents do want to see older age class bulls/bucks around. AZ does a damn good job of having quality hunts and still provides good opportunity with late season hunts and OTC archery tags. I guess I just don't understand why MT seems to have such a different feel to it. Is it just due to the fact that it's always been about opportunity and long seasons?
Yes, I believe its 100% due to long seasons as well as the FWP just pushing that agenda for my entire life...opportunity.

Way back when the FWP did an attitude survey and what they got from that lop-sided sorry excuse of a leading survey was that Montana hunters ONLY cared about opportunity. Further their take-away was that Montana hunters didn't care at all about quality anything.

That's been their back-up and go-to ever since, that "Montana hunters only care about opportunity".

They've provided that.

At first it wasn't a big deal, the size of Montana allowed hunters to jump from one area to the next as the game was shot out. NW Montana hunters traveled to the SW. Hunters from all over moved East to hunt mule deer when they were wiped out of Western Montana...and so on and so forth.

Then it was allowing more antlerless harvest...remember "cow week" in mid November in places in NW Montana? Remember the OTC deer b-tags in Western Montana? The multiple b-tags all across the State? Adding youth deer seasons? Saturday opener? Youth can blast what they want season long in most areas? Muzzleloader season? Shoulder seasons?

That satisfied the vast majority of hunters in Montana.

I'm not going to let the various hook and bullet groups slide, they bought right into it. Don't believe me, ask yourself why, in the actual "f" there is still a multiple deer b tag in the river bottoms near Missoula for archery hunters. There isn't squat for deer now, compared to when I hunted there in high school through the time I left Montana in 2000. Yet, when the FWP proposed to limit b-tags, the MBA threw an absolute fit. Go drive by the Kona Ranch and tell me how many deer you see, or on Kelly Island, etc. Not hardly ANY. Not a fraction of what there was in the past. Guess what, still allowed multiple antlerless tags there, even after blue-tongue hit them hard.

Many groups also endorsed the shoulder seasons, and many of the people that "allegedly" don't agree with shoulder seasons, happily, and greedily participate every chance they get.

The hunters in Montana are also complicit in this mess to a certain degree. As long as they could kill something, somewhere, they gave a huge pass to what was blatant mismanagement, or more to the point NO MANAGEMENT.

Not many Montana hunters have a conscience...even as a NR that could/can pick up a NR elk tag via adding it to my Native license for $200...I drew a line a long time ago. I refuse to participate in hunting elk in Montana any more because to do so, is only telling the MTFWP, Commission, etc. that what they're doing is acceptable. And its not...

The last few elk I killed in Montana was feeling akin to shooting the last buffalo. I KNEW that killing those elk, while perfectly legal, was the wrong thing to do. Killing even one bull was impacting the area I hunted significantly, do doubt, no question. There is no justifiable reason biologically, ethically, or morally to kill elk where I've hunted most of my elk in Montana. We aren't killing the surplus, we're killing off what little is left.

I won't hunt elk in a state that has no semblance of a management plan...won't do it. There are no minimum bull to cow ratio's, no cow/calf requirements, and miserable herd objectives that are about to become even more miserable by combining huge geographic areas.

So, like I've stated before, I wrote a letter to the FWP Director, Commission, and Governors office with a photo copy of my last elk tag I filled explaining exactly why I would no longer be participating in the failed elk mismanagement in Montana via killing off what little was left.

I've not purchased an elk tag since...and from the lack of response I received back, apparently they flat didn't, and still don't care about Montana hunters OR elk.

I'll hunt elk in places where they are actually managed...which is any other State than Montana...and yes Ben, that includes Utah.

The fact remains in my mind, that Montana hunters are not selfless enough to do what it's going to take to turn the train wreck around. I just don't believe the average MT Resident hunter there has the stomach for it. Its even worse now with the recent population boom...those types truly believe everything is just fine with elk, and its simply not.

Wasted potential is staggering...glad I live in Wyoming.

Good luck to the small handful continuing to try, in particular the guys in the RCFWA who actually had the stones to make the FWP somewhat comply/manage, while most of the rest folded like a cheap lawn chairs.
 

rogerthat

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The important take away I think most will hear is that the Department views this as the Commissions purview. The Departments feels there are so many elk in some of these places that there is a rather wide swath of options that will still fall within the "based on science" boundaries and as such, the Commission is the final arbiter of where this will go.
Who is "the Department"? Did "the Department" talk to their regional staff about the wide swath of options that still fall within "based on science"? Director Worsech can spin this however he wants but if he really was interested in proposals "based on science" the baseline proposals would have come from "the scientists" justifications that they put together not on something "the Department" whipped up. To leave this all to the commissioners when the baseline wasn't from the scientists is absolutely beyond unbelievable. Are the commissioners the experts in the field? I am an engineer. This would be akin to consulting me on how to build something and than saying "Thanks for the input, but I got some different ideas! I am going to let my 12 year old son whip up a set of plans"
 

Big Fin

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Who is "the Department"? Did "the Department" talk to their regional staff about the wide swath of options that still fall within "based on science"? Director Worsech can spin this however he wants but if he really was interested in proposals "based on science" the baseline proposals would have come from "the scientists" justifications that they put together not on something "the Department" whipped up. To leave this all to the commissioners when the baseline wasn't from the scientists is absolutely beyond unbelievable. Are the commissioners the experts in the field? I am an engineer. This would be akin to consulting me on how to build something and than saying "Thanks for the input, but I got some different ideas! I am going to let my 12 year old son whip up a set of plans"
Final word of what is the "Department position" is that which comes from the Director.
 

Gerald Martin

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Final word of what is the "Department position" is that which comes from the Director.
Or we could summarize it with something like this.
“ I made executive decisions intended to appease the people who financially supported my boss but now that the fan is slinging my **** everywhere I am going to drop these turds in the commission’s lap and let them take the heat for whatever effects my decisions have.”
 

Spartan_Eric

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Or we could summarize it with something like this.
“ I made executive decisions intended to appease the people who financially supported my boss but now that the fan is slinging my **** everywhere I am going to drop these turds in the commission’s lap and let them take the heat for whatever effects my decisions have.”
Yes, a total abdication of leadership from the MT FWP Director after a failed attempt at leadership.
 

neffa3

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I had Director Worsech on my podcast yesterday. An hour and forty-five minutes.

The idea was to give him and open mic to explain the rationale behind the process, behind the new proposals we have, the way in which social science is balanced with wildlife science, and answer a set of questions I had prepared and sent to his Communications Director.

We are working hard to get that turned around by Monday.

The important take away I think most will hear is that the Department views this as the Commissions purview. The Departments feels there are so many elk in some of these places that there is a rather wide swath of options that will still fall within the "based on science" boundaries and as such, the Commission is the final arbiter of where this will go.

We can agree/disagree with that, but I have come away with the distinct impression that the Department is laying this on the lap of the Commission and they are the folks who will carry the responsibility for the outcome, whether positive or negative.

So with that, please, take the time to email the Commissioners at the emails listed below. There is no deadline on comments to the Commissioners. The deadline you heard of as January 21 was for comments to the Department for accumulation and presentation to the Commissioners.


I have met with two Commissioners and a phone call with a third Commissioner. They are getting inundated, which is great to hear. Between now the their vote on February 4th is the time to give even more comments. Please do that. Right now, our only option is the Commission. We need to comment to them. Apathy is not an option at that time.

Anyone who knows a Commissioner personally needs to call or try to get time in front of them. You will make a huge difference by making the case.
I assume you wouldn't be putting out the podcast if you didn't think it was beneficial in terms of countering his claims? Were you able to press him on any issues? I get that you can't make a name of throwing people under the bus or no one will want to come on your podcast, but I also wouldn't want it to be just a promotion for the dept's proposals.
 

Sioux33

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After researching some WY units, MT's polar opposite approach to elk management is just laughable. I pulled a couple excerpts from their biologist reports below:

"Higher quotas in previous years coincided with decreased hunter success, increased hunter crowding, and decreased overall hunter satisfaction. The proposed Type 1 licenses best addresses hunter satisfaction and opportunity."

"Managers are working with a variety of landowners to develop strategies to increase elk harvest on private lands. At this time, we do not feel an increase in license quotas will result in a corresponding meaningful increase in harvest."


Here in MT, we're talking about literally blowing the top off units by going to unlimited permits, based off decades old, ridiculously low objectives. Why can't we just admit, like WY does above, that increased tags aren't the answer and actually focus on the real problem, access?
 

Gerald Martin

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After researching some WY units, MT's polar opposite approach to elk management is just laughable. I pulled a couple excerpts from their biologist reports below:

"Higher quotas in previous years coincided with decreased hunter success, increased hunter crowding, and decreased overall hunter satisfaction. The proposed Type 1 licenses best addresses hunter satisfaction and opportunity."

"Managers are working with a variety of landowners to develop strategies to increase elk harvest on private lands. At this time, we do not feel an increase in license quotas will result in a corresponding meaningful increase in harvest."


Here in MT, we're talking about literally blowing the top off units by going to unlimited permits, based off decades old, ridiculously low objectives. Why can't we just admit, like WY does above, that increased tags aren't the answer and actually focus on the real problem, access?
Because you would be trying to solve conflicts. Don’t confuse your good motivation with the motivation of those who benefit from continuing conflict.
 

Gerald Martin

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Sure sounds like Hank is trying to put some distance between his ideas and his position as Director.
 

TheTone

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Sure sounds like Hank is trying to put some distance between his ideas and his position as Director.
Seriously passing the buck especially with the way Randy frames the podcast. Makes you think of the governor is wanting to further purge the commission?
 

Ben Lamb

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After researching some WY units, MT's polar opposite approach to elk management is just laughable. I pulled a couple excerpts from their biologist reports below:

"Higher quotas in previous years coincided with decreased hunter success, increased hunter crowding, and decreased overall hunter satisfaction. The proposed Type 1 licenses best addresses hunter satisfaction and opportunity."

"Managers are working with a variety of landowners to develop strategies to increase elk harvest on private lands. At this time, we do not feel an increase in license quotas will result in a corresponding meaningful increase in harvest."


Here in MT, we're talking about literally blowing the top off units by going to unlimited permits, based off decades old, ridiculously low objectives. Why can't we just admit, like WY does above, that increased tags aren't the answer and actually focus on the real problem, access?

Because the wildlife division and the director's office are operating under the misguided notion that their hammer drill is the only solution to installing hand planed dovetail joints
 

BuzzH

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After researching some WY units, MT's polar opposite approach to elk management is just laughable. I pulled a couple excerpts from their biologist reports below:

"Higher quotas in previous years coincided with decreased hunter success, increased hunter crowding, and decreased overall hunter satisfaction. The proposed Type 1 licenses best addresses hunter satisfaction and opportunity."

"Managers are working with a variety of landowners to develop strategies to increase elk harvest on private lands. At this time, we do not feel an increase in license quotas will result in a corresponding meaningful increase in harvest."


Here in MT, we're talking about literally blowing the top off units by going to unlimited permits, based off decades old, ridiculously low objectives. Why can't we just admit, like WY does above, that increased tags aren't the answer and actually focus on the real problem, access?
Our landowners are different here in Wyoming as well.

They don't lose their minds if elk are over-objective, are very tolerant of wildlife, and in general supportive of the GF. The GF Director just a couple days ago made a public comment that he has instructed his biologists to manage based on science and that is exactly what they do. Is there differences in opinion on some things? Yes. Are decisions always perfect? No. Is there still some level of disagreement at times? Yes. However, at least there is management of elk via bull to cow ratio's, cow/calf recruitment, reasonable season lengths to accomplish goals and keep elk on public, reasonable population objectives, recreational VS Special management, etc.

Also, our AccessYes program blows the doors off MT's Block Management by a huge margin.

Truly feel blessed to have the level of involvement and cooperation with Wyoming Landowners, GF, and Sportsmen here. Tough to find much to complain about.

Its pretty amazing the difference a border makes in elk management...total 180 from Montana and it shows in success rates, access, and herd quality and quantity.
 

Ben Lamb

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Our landowners are different here in Wyoming as well.

They don't lose their minds if elk are over-objective, are very tolerant of wildlife, and in general supportive of the GF. The GF Director just a couple days ago made a public comment that he has instructed his biologists to manage based on science and that is exactly what they do. Is there differences in opinion on some things? Yes. Are decisions always perfect? No. Is there still some level of disagreement at times? Yes. However, at least there is management of elk via bull to cow ratio's, cow/calf recruitment, reasonable season lengths to accomplish goals and keep elk on public, reasonable population objectives, recreational VS Special management, etc.

Also, our AccessYes program blows the doors off MT's Block Management by a huge margin.

Truly feel blessed to have the level of involvement and cooperation with Wyoming Landowners, GF, and Sportsmen here. Tough to find much to complain about.

Its pretty amazing the difference a border makes in elk management...total 180 from Montana and it shows in success rates, access, and herd quality and quantity.

1.) Wyoming has 23 feedgrounds that keep elk off of private land (and cause big issues elsewhere)

2.) Wyoming has a crop damage program that gives a few million each year out for damage.

3.) Wyoming's payments on predator losses is larger than MT's.

4.) Wyoming is 50% public land

5.) WGFD doesn't have to answer to legislators in order to spend their own money.

So let's not forget those issues too, when we talk about who is doing what and why there aren't as many conflicts in some states. Probably most importantly, Wyoming Game & Fish' Budget is out o the hand of lawmakers and is approved only by their commission. Most of the politics in MT wildlife stem from the agencies fear of having their budget messed with if they don't kow-tow to the electeds.

On top of all of that is that WY doesn't have a political class that gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to stoke the conflict for partisan reasons.
 

Big Fin

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I assume you wouldn't be putting out the podcast if you didn't think it was beneficial in terms of countering his claims? Were you able to press him on any issues? I get that you can't make a name of throwing people under the bus or no one will want to come on your podcast, but I also wouldn't want it to be just a promotion for the dept's proposals.
I feel it will be beneficial to let people hear what the Director has to say, how he answers or doesn't answer certain questions, what he focuses on and what he gives little attention to.

He knows where I stand on the issues. The Commissioners know where I stand on issues. The goal is for the Department's leader to say how they look at it and let the audience, a group I feel is very smart and tuned in, listen for themselves.

Every time I've had a policy maker on the podcast I get the comments that I should done this or should have done that. The job is not for me to convince him/her that my perspectives are correct. The benefit comes in a policy maker stating what they believe, how they feel the topic should be managed, and have a conversation in a manner that allows the audience to judge if the person is sincere and honest, or if they are not. Conversation allows that to happen, arguing does not.

I think people will quickly pick up on our differences in opinion where the Director feels the responsibility to manage elk wherever the elk are located. I do not. I make it clear that Montana hunters are not beholden to billionaire non-residents who don't want to be part of solutions. If I was the Director, maybe I would look at it differently, so I wanted him to give his thoughts on that. I doubt I would ever care about a billionaire non-resident who bought a big elk ranch and then found out he needed to draw a tag to hunt his ranch; even if the non-resident billionaire and his legal cadre were breathing down my neck, as could happen to the Department or the Governor.

I want discussion, and hopefully answers, as to what we have learned from past failures and hear why some of those failures are being "doubled down" on in these new proposals. Maybe I'm missing something.

I want to talk about how the Department has lost the trust of hunters and this would be a chance to regain that. The process we just went through only eroded that further, so I want the Director to tell why he thinks it will rebuild trust.

I want people to know that commenting is important and this is the chance to do that. He agreed. The proof will come when the Commission votes on the 4th and if the overwhelming comments against most of these proposals are given consideration. That decision will likely be the pivot point where trust is restored or lost completely.

I want people to discuss what are problems we should be concerned about, elk management, and what problems we can do nothing about, such as "neighbor problems" created when new billionaire ranch owners come in and create a headache for everyone and feel no responsibility or accountability to be a good neighbor. I want to hear why the Department feels they have an obligation to solve that "neighbor problem" when they know they don't have the authority or tools to do so.

Smart folks like the Hunt Talk and podcast audiences can determine more from what isn't said than by what is said. You folks are some of the most astute advocates in the hunting space. Nothing is going to get past all of you. It doesn't require me being confrontational to assist smart minds like all of you to interpret what is being said or not said, what is focused on or what is deflected, what is glossed over and what is covered in detail.

So yeah, I think it will be valuable to the engaged and educated listener. The person who just wants to rant or has a driven personal motivation will think I was too lenient or too harsh. About where I want to be with the core of our audience.

As a side note, Hunt Talk is known as the critical-thinking crowd where you better have your ducks in a row if you are spouting off on policy, science, access, land issues, etc. I think that is why this forum has a 30:1 lurker to user ratio, a stat way higher than other forums. The experts here, many who have to operate under alias because of their professional positions, are at the top of the pyramid on many of these topics. That can be intimidating to some. It is why so many policy makers or their staffs follow Hunt Talk threads as lurkers.

That is the audience we have worked to cultivate. This audience doesn't hesitate to tell me where the "bear chits in the buckwheat" and I think that makes our platforms and message better, even if at times it gives me a big gut ache. I expect this audience to demand the same of any of our policy maker guests, in this case the FWP Director.
 
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