Montana Harvest Reporting

R.K.

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Jan 24, 2017
Messages
373
Location
MT
Got my Montana elk survey phone call yesterday, so it's time to dig up this horse's corpse and grab the ol' beating sticks.

I've lived and hunted in multiple states where same day harvest reporting is mandatory for big game species- 10:00 p.m. cut off, otherwise possession of animal is illegal. I know that's not feasible in Montana due to the remoteness and style of hunting, but in my limited time here it seems that there is strong opposition, bordering on hatred, of anything resembling change or progress- especially when it comes to technology or wildlife. And it's absolutely stupid- it actively hinders improvement of the resource based on the thought that it will lead to lost opportunity to hunt (however accurate or inaccurate that belief may be).

Montana currently calls a certain number of people to get harvest results. They can't possibly call everyone, and not everyone will answer- so there's already a gap where they have to extrapolate. Each phone call takes time, which they have to pay the caller for. Then they have to manually enter the data, which also takes time. And I can't believe for one second that this system is accurate IN THE SLIGHTEST.

As was mentioned before, I have no idea why they don't turn to mandatory harvest reporting with the online applications- lock out the account from applying for/purchasing new licenses until the survey is complete. Hell, the HIP for migratory licenses is doing exactly this, and it's already in place- would be easy enough to copy the format.

I feel that the "reports are too late" is a cop-out- you really think they'll have all the data accurately reported in the next two days? That's a joke. Maybe you could incentivize early reporting to help with this.

What I envision is a prompt when you log in to fill out your harvest reports- a drop down with several columns under each tag, with a column each for:

- Unit hunted- have a reference map link to help.
---Also have the option of "did not hunt" listed here to skip the rest of the survey
- Archery days hunted in that unit
- Rifle days hunted in that unit
- Harvested animal on that tag- None, Buck, Cow/Doe, Yearling
- Size/age of animal
- Public or private

Could even have "date harvested", if you wanted. Have FWP staff possibly make follow-up calls based on any discrepancies, such as 4-pt does or a buck on an antlerless tag.

The first few years, have all the hunter check stations record tag numbers, then compare to online reporting to the field check information to determine accuracy. You would also have to do one or two years of the current method for comparison sake.

I'm not saying this is the silver bullet, but in my simple engineer's mind, it is a shift towards better data that would help PROPERLY manage the resource, instead of listening to lobbying groups that may or may not have the public interest at heart.

All I know is that what we have currently is an embarrassment, and we have a responsibility to the resource, and those who use it, to do better.
 

SAJ-99

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Jan 5, 2019
Messages
1,690
Location
Montana
I'm not saying this is the silver bullet, but in my simple engineer's mind, it is a shift towards better data that would help PROPERLY manage the resource, instead of listening to lobbying groups that may or may not have the public interest at heart.
I’m not against more accurate harvest data and certainly think they could put it online. That said, harvest is more important to hunters than wildlife mangers. A bad winter could kill more animals than all hunters the previous season. That is why they do late winter and spring counts. What matters is how many are alive, not how many that were killed the previous year. Even harvest from year to year is highly dependent on weather. Nature is very dynamic so just having one piece of more accurate data doesn’t help as much as want it to.

I do agree I would like to see changes in management, like targeted Bull/cow ratios for elk. However, my wish would be for better counts on the front end. Harvest is more a measurement of output - like if a change is working to reduce populations.
 

Big Sky Guy

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Dec 10, 2018
Messages
199
Coming from Ohio, it took me a couple seasons to get used to “tagging” without “checking” animals in Montana. It felt illegal since I’d tagged AND checked all my harvests in Ohio. Honestly it still doesn’t feel right but I’ve gotten used to it. In 6 seasons I’ve harvested 8 elk in Montana and I think FWP only knows about 2 of them. I don’t think they know about any of the 3 mule deer I’ve harvested, maybe they know about 1. I work 1st shift and am always called during the work day. I think I’ve done the survey twice and that’s just because I got a call on a Saturday. Also I remember getting a call in 2016? for deer around December or so and I hadn’t shot one but I had shot a cow elk. They didn’t ask about the elk and so at the end I was like do you want to know about my elk? She said they were waiting until the shoulder season concluded to conduct elk surveys. They called me back when I wasn’t available and never found out about the elk 🤷🏼‍♂️.

So, yea I agree, just from my experience I am very skeptical of the harvest data.
 

BenInMT

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Joined
Feb 14, 2021
Messages
93
Location
Western Montana
I have a burner phone and I use it to call people who I know are really successful hunters and pretend to be a survey taker. You’d be amazed at the level of detail hunters will give regarding exact drainage where they took big animals. Who needs OnX when you can call a guy who shoots a big bull every year and have him tell you his spot?
 

shrapnel

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Aug 27, 2015
Messages
867
The reason the Ohio Fish and Game doesn’t call for elk data is they don’t have elk. The same goes for Georgia and antelope harvest numbers. You could easily find about 45 states that don’t have anything more than a couple species to hunt and they all want to come to Montana, then complain about how Montana runs their program.

Somehow Montana has survived all the poor management policies and non residents still come to take advantage of this mismanagement. The seasons are too long, the land is too inaccessible, the landowners are selfish and a small department in a huge state with a diverse fish and game population needs to do more.

I have hunted and fished Montana my entire life. I have accessed both private and public land and had great success every year for over 50 years. I can find a big bull elk if I want to hunt hard enough and the same goes for every species we have in Montana. If you tour the taxidermy shops while you are here you will see that somehow people keep killing big animals in spite of all the complaints.

No matter what is done, someone will be dissatisfied. The continual criticism, although may have some merit, does get old. When all you out of state hunters solve all your problems first, then maybe you can contribute here.

I have lived here my entire life, seen 10s of thousands of out of state people come here because of the beauty and outdoor opportunities that Montana provides and it never fails that many of these immigrants want to change what they came here to enjoy.
 

Big Sky Guy

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Dec 10, 2018
Messages
199
The reason the Ohio Fish and Game doesn’t call for elk data is they don’t have elk. The same goes for Georgia and antelope harvest numbers. You could easily find about 45 states that don’t have anything more than a couple species to hunt and they all want to come to Montana, then complain about how Montana runs their program.

Somehow Montana has survived all the poor management policies and non residents still come to take advantage of this mismanagement. The seasons are too long, the land is too inaccessible, the landowners are selfish and a small department in a huge state with a diverse fish and game population needs to do more.

I have hunted and fished Montana my entire life. I have accessed both private and public land and had great success every year for over 50 years. I can find a big bull elk if I want to hunt hard enough and the same goes for every species we have in Montana. If you tour the taxidermy shops while you are here you will see that somehow people keep killing big animals in spite of all the complaints.

No matter what is done, someone will be dissatisfied. The continual criticism, although may have some merit, does get old. When all you out of state hunters solve all your problems first, then maybe you can contribute here.

I have lived here my entire life, seen 10s of thousands of out of state people come here because of the beauty and outdoor opportunities that Montana provides and it never fails that many of these immigrants want to change what they came here to enjoy.
You are so fortunate to have been born and lived in such a great state! Thanks for welcoming us out of staters!
 

Gerald Martin

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Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Messages
5,806
The reason the Ohio Fish and Game doesn’t call for elk data is they don’t have elk. The same goes for Georgia and antelope harvest numbers. You could easily find about 45 states that don’t have anything more than a couple species to hunt and they all want to come to Montana, then complain about how Montana runs their program.

Somehow Montana has survived all the poor management policies and non residents still come to take advantage of this mismanagement. The seasons are too long, the land is too inaccessible, the landowners are selfish and a small department in a huge state with a diverse fish and game population needs to do more.

I have hunted and fished Montana my entire life. I have accessed both private and public land and had great success every year for over 50 years. I can find a big bull elk if I want to hunt hard enough and the same goes for every species we have in Montana. If you tour the taxidermy shops while you are here you will see that somehow people keep killing big animals in spite of all the complaints.

No matter what is done, someone will be dissatisfied. The continual criticism, although may have some merit, does get old. When all you out of state hunters solve all your problems first, then maybe you can contribute here.

I have lived here my entire life, seen 10s of thousands of out of state people come here because of the beauty and outdoor opportunities that Montana provides and it never fails that many of these immigrants want to change what they came here to enjoy.
Out of all the inefficiency in the world, Montana’s inefficiency is the only inefficiency that is sufficient to be efficient. We are the only state that knows how to mismanage so well that it’s actually good management. If anyone who comes here has an idea about how to mismanage better, they can go back where they came from.

Unless you buy a big ranch and shut it off from public hunting. Then we’ll pass legislation to reward your efforts to help MT mismanage more.
 

KB_WalkingInTheWoods

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Joined
Jul 12, 2018
Messages
319
Location
Bozemen, Montana
To be honest this is not that big of an ask. Need a database table, build a new page on their myfwp website that allows you to input data, connect the two, Bam. There is a lot that goes on in between that but hopefully ya'll get the point.
 

shoots-straight

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Oct 6, 2005
Messages
6,266
Location
Bitterroot Valley
The reason the Ohio Fish and Game doesn’t call for elk data is they don’t have elk. The same goes for Georgia and antelope harvest numbers. You could easily find about 45 states that don’t have anything more than a couple species to hunt and they all want to come to Montana, then complain about how Montana runs their program.

Somehow Montana has survived all the poor management policies and non residents still come to take advantage of this mismanagement. The seasons are too long, the land is too inaccessible, the landowners are selfish and a small department in a huge state with a diverse fish and game population needs to do more.

I have hunted and fished Montana my entire life. I have accessed both private and public land and had great success every year for over 50 years. I can find a big bull elk if I want to hunt hard enough and the same goes for every species we have in Montana. If you tour the taxidermy shops while you are here you will see that somehow people keep killing big animals in spite of all the complaints.

No matter what is done, someone will be dissatisfied. The continual criticism, although may have some merit, does get old. When all you out of state hunters solve all your problems first, then maybe you can contribute here.

I have lived here my entire life, seen 10s of thousands of out of state people come here because of the beauty and outdoor opportunities that Montana provides and it never fails that many of these immigrants want to change what they came here to enjoy.
Anyone that has hunted this state for their whole lives knows that the quality of Hunt, the game, and the access to the lands have declined greatly and exponentially as time has drifted forward. I think change is going to happen very quickly and not in a good way.
 

Nemont

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Oct 22, 2003
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4,298
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Glasgow, Montana
To be honest this is not that big of an ask. Need a database table, build a new page on their myfwp website that allows you to input data, connect the two, Bam. There is a lot that goes on in between that but hopefully ya'll get the point.
The entire State Government of Montana is run on two servers which first began service as TRS-80's. You never want a Montana State Government agency to attempt to add functionality to anything without first considering that it will take 2 years and be over budget by 100%

Nemont
 

jsb

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Joined
Oct 9, 2018
Messages
31
Location
Helena, MT
Not sure how relevant this is but this year I got an email from MT FWP telling me they had somehow messed up the report of where I shot my whitetail buck (which I subsequently had tested for CWD at one of their testing sites). They wanted to know the location because they'd lost it. They sent me a link to a map, and all I had to do was click on the map where I shot the deer and hit "submit." Point being it seems like they already have some technology in place for online reporting, they're just not using it.
 

SAJ-99

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Jan 5, 2019
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Montana
Oh, Ok never mind!
I don’t think that was my point, but ok.
We always think the past was better because our minds remember the positive memories and eliminate the negative ones (most of them). Change is inevitable. The post is about harvest data. Yes it could be a LOT better-easier and more accurate. Not sure it would change anything. People would still complain. More hunters on less open space. Not even a pandemic seems to have fixed that.
 

SAJ-99

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Jan 5, 2019
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Montana
I'm just gonna say that Missouri & Illinois are not "most states" in this regard.
The hunting opportunities in Illinois and Missouri have gotten better? I’m going to bet some people might disagree. There are parts of Illinois I used to hunt that are subdivisions now.
 

R.K.

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Jan 24, 2017
Messages
373
Location
MT
The hunting opportunities in Illinois and Missouri have gotten better? I’m going to bet some people might disagree. There are parts of Illinois I used to hunt that are subdivisions now.
I'm not disagreeing with that observation, as I've seen the same. But publicly accessible hunting for "big game" (deer & turkeys) seems to have improved. The private land hunting has definitely taken a major hit, with changes to agricultural practices decimating habitat, especially in corn country, as well as leases vacuuming up a lot of remaining prime areas. Quail seem to be damn near endangered these days where I grew up, there are no seasonal wetlands left in the river bottoms to hold waterfowl in the area, and even rabbits are hard to come by. But MAN are there some deer.

BUT- the access to public lands, as well as the amount, seems to have improved for deer & turkey. Those game numbers are a lot higher than they used to be 40 years ago, tags easier to draw (Illinois lottery), etc. That's what I was talking about- I probably should have clarified.
 

BZNHNTR

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Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Messages
32
It does seem archaic but I think SAJ-99 has a good point, we want to nerd out over some harvest stats, managers just want to know what’s still alive in the spring.
MT is mismanaged if you want it to be a trophy state, I’m glad it’s an opportunity state though. Would I change some things (like ending mule deer season earlier), of course, but in the end I want to live in an opportunity state and travel to trophy states when draws provide.
 
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