Montana on the Upswing?

shoots-straight

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This has turned into a pure bitch session with blame on FWP and hunters from Washington, and all with a hint of “everyone else is doing it so I have to too”. You can always spend $15 on the permit and eat the tag soup before the season starts in the name of age class improvement.
Thanks for your meaningful comments. I know that I'm dummer for reading it, and even less than knowledgeable for responding.
 

MTTW

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This has turned into a pure bitch session with blame on FWP and hunters from Washington, and all with a hint of “everyone else is doing it so I have to too”. You can always spend $15 on the permit and eat the tag soup before the season starts in the name of age class improvement.

I could wear myself completely out responding to that brilliant post, but I won't. I will keep it short.


Washington has zero to do with the Mule deer problem in MT.
I don't give 1 shit what everyone else does, if it is legal.
Damn right it is a bitch session with blame on MTFWP.
Everyone who ever reads this can eat their tag and it will make zero difference in the age class of mule deer in MT.
 

bigsky2

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money to implement one. If people are dead set on five weeks of deer hunting, move the start date up to October 10th so hunters aren't continually pounding deer in the rut. There are very few exceptions where rifle hunting elk in the rut is allowed, yet it's expected as a God given right for mule deer. I don't understand it. What do you think elk hunting would look like if we shot the shit out of elk for five weeks a year during the middle of the rut?
I've always thought moving the season dates up would be a good compromise with the people that would throw a fit about shortening the season. Even better would be to move the dates up one week and shorten the season by a week. That would still leave you with a 4 week season, which is plenty of time to fill a deer tag, and it would eliminate two weeks of rut hunting.

I actually e-mailed all the FWP regional advisory members and the MT Mule Deer Foundation chapter presidents about trying to push for something like this. Most of the MDF chapter presidents were for it but the guy in Bozeman was adamant that things say the same because we can't reduce opportunity.
 
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Randy11

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If Montana started the mule deer season a week earlier and ended it the first full week of November giving 3 weeks for mule deer and continued like normal for whitetail I wonder how that would help the mule deer numbers? Still gives the people their liberal deer season and gives the mule deer a break through the rut. Just spitballing ideas
If they shorten the mule deer season but leave it open to whitetail in November, our mountain whitetail west of the divide would be decimated. The only way I would be on board with something like that would be if they made you choose your species pre-season, and not have the ability to hunt mule deer in October in Eastern MT, then whitetail in November in Western Montana.
 

MTGomer

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I would like to see all general rifle hunting for mule deer, in every unit put on a limited draw. Something like Oct 15-Oct 31 or Nov 5.
And eliminate OTC for mule deer does on public land.
Would make mule deer hunting worth the $600 tag.
 

brockel

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If they shorten the mule deer season but leave it open to whitetail in November, our mountain whitetail west of the divide would be decimated. The only way I would be on board with something like that would be if they made you choose your species pre-season, and not have the ability to hunt mule deer in October in Eastern MT, then whitetail in November in Western Montana.
You think you’d see that many more people out west hunting whitetail? I’m not saying a tag for each.
 

Randy11

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You think you’d see that many more people out west hunting whitetail? I’m not saying a tag for each.
Yeah, I do. One of the only things keeping our whitetail hunting sustainable is the fact that so many of our local hunters go East instead. With our high population and easy access to whitetail, it would transfer a ton of harvest from your Eastern mule deer to Western whitetail. I could see lots of guys hunting early over there, not killing a buck, then going out on the weekends around here in November and whacking a whitetail.
 

timmy

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You think you’d see that many more people out west hunting whitetail? I’m not saying a tag for each.
No. People would still come to eastern Montana to hunt their whitetails maybe more western Montana guys would hunt whitetails locally but it wouldn’t add a bunch of destination hunters.
 

timmy

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That idea didn’t work how about we make it bow only in November! That will certainly make everyone happy. 😉 Nothing is going to change most the people on this post agree we need to change something but nobody is going to agree on what. Furthermore the general public and fish and game aren’t receptive to change and then there is cwd. Deer hunting on public is going to suck for the foreseeable future.
 

brockel

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That idea didn’t work how about we make it bow only in November! That will certainly make everyone happy. 😉 Nothing is going to change most the people on this post agree we need to change something but nobody is going to agree on what. Furthermore the general public and fish and game aren’t receptive to change and then there is cwd. Deer hunting on public is going to suck for the foreseeable future.
I agree there will be no change that happens. I just enjoy debating
 

SAJ-99

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My post was supposed to be cynical. I am dumber for following the last 10 pages of this thing. It started off with a legit question and turned into a demonstration of the general lack of understanding of the complexity of the situation. We all know that Montana is an opportunity state, and that isn't going to change, and that the legislators are in the pockets of landowners and outfitters (which means it is about the $$$). We also know that mule deer pops have declined in many areas, and many other states, for reasons not fully understood by biologists. Those are the facts. People creating their own narratives that FWP is to blame and the individuals in the organization are simply after the $$$ (a ridiculous concept at its core), lacks intellectual objectivity. I do admit that politics plays a huge part of any and every problem in this state (and all others) and that "crazy" is in ample supply in Helena, but let's now blame all FWP employees for you not shooting a 180in mule deer. I'm sure that if FWP was given freedom on changing the rules, the rules would be different, but people would still be unhappy.
And I ate my tags this year, but I don't chastise anyone who chose not to on an average buck because they could.
 

SAJ-99

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I'm sure you're wrong.
Wouldn't be the first time. You might be correct if in my hypothetical the decision making structure didn't change (top-down) , but if it was more democratic it would. The number of things FWP is balancing is incredible. The group is already understaffed and the complaints come from every stakeholder. Most here say we shoot too many, landowner/ranchers say we shoot too few. $$$ wins that battle because legislators drive the decision rather than the scientists. Hunters need to find a way to consolidate $$$ and eliminate fragmentation. But that would require groups to agree on prioritization of the problems. I really think hunters/anglers/etc have the greatest collective power but fail to make a commensurate amount of progress in effectuating change because of this fragmentation.

The latest stats show MT had 227k total license holders. Non-residents accounted for 70% of the $39m in total revenue. This is pretty standard and hy MT has to maintain itself as an opportunity state. In 1989 (randomly selected), the state had 256k license holders and NR accounted for 76% of the rev. Numbers shift a little but tend to stay in that range. I agree resident fees should go up, but that causes quite a kerfuffle every time some floats the idea. I would also guess that the quality of opportunity has decreased. Landowners are less likely to let you hunt if you knock on the door, for various reasons. There are a lot of moving pieces for FWP. Criticism is easy when we are sitting at the keyboard.
 

MT_elk

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Totally agree with BuckRut. There are a few areas where the population seems to be increasing, but the quality is still not there.
 

BuzzH

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Wouldn't be the first time. You might be correct if in my hypothetical the decision making structure didn't change (top-down) , but if it was more democratic it would. The number of things FWP is balancing is incredible. The group is already understaffed and the complaints come from every stakeholder. Most here say we shoot too many, landowner/ranchers say we shoot too few. $$$ wins that battle because legislators drive the decision rather than the scientists. Hunters need to find a way to consolidate $$$ and eliminate fragmentation. But that would require groups to agree on prioritization of the problems. I really think hunters/anglers/etc have the greatest collective power but fail to make a commensurate amount of progress in effectuating change because of this fragmentation.

The latest stats show MT had 227k total license holders. Non-residents accounted for 70% of the $39m in total revenue. This is pretty standard and hy MT has to maintain itself as an opportunity state. In 1989 (randomly selected), the state had 256k license holders and NR accounted for 76% of the rev. Numbers shift a little but tend to stay in that range. I agree resident fees should go up, but that causes quite a kerfuffle every time some floats the idea. I would also guess that the quality of opportunity has decreased. Landowners are less likely to let you hunt if you knock on the door, for various reasons. There are a lot of moving pieces for FWP. Criticism is easy when we are sitting at the keyboard.
I used to defend the department too...right up until the time I starting to think about the changes they make and those they are resistant to and why.

Some things they changed without even batting an eye:

1. Allow youth to kill cow elk and doe deer in a vast majority of units all season long.
2. Lengthen the general season by opening on Saturday VS. the traditional Sunday opener
3. Issue scads of doe tags, including OTC whitetail B-tags good for region 2 (one archery, one general, and one through the draw).
4. Reduce lion quotas by 85-90% in most of regions 1 and 2.
5. Allow a handful of mule deer doe tags in region 7.
6. Allow for elk b-tags, even though nearly all the comments received were in opposition.
7. Allow elk shoulder seasons and didn't even follow what they agree to...again, most hunters opposed them.
8. Allow 10 year olds to hunt deer without even taking hunters safety (I think this was legislatively done).

Some of the things they don't change.

1. They fly the Bob Marshall and see 202 elk, low single digit bull to cow ratio's...no change.
2. Fly unit 202 in Montana...see 8 elk, no change from current season.
3. Mule deer in the absolute shit in Western Montana...no change from current season.
4. Flying the same routes during classifications and counts because we have to be consistent...never mind that land patterns change, elk use changes.
5. They didn't have lengthen upland bird season by a month.

How in the hell do you expect any hunter that thinks about things for 2 seconds to defend the actions, and inactions of the FWP? The way you talk, they just simply don't have the ability to manage seasons, practice biology, etc. THEY DO, and they CHOOSE to not change anything and use every lame excuse under the sun to defend it.

Then I think of what hunting was like when I was 12, is it better or worse?...with the exception of turkeys, lions, and wolves its worse across the board.

I don't think I could shoot a limit of grouse in a week where I used to limit out shooting them with a .22 offhand when I was 12. The first years I applied for goats in the 'root 75 tags, good for the entire west side, 1 goat tag now. The FWP defied the science and goat management that has been available the whole time and shot the snot out of them. Less moose permits, less sheep permits.

I'm having an impossible time defending a department that has made thing drastically worse in my lifetime...and the only changes they want to make is if it increases killing animals and increasing opportunity. They are NOT powerless to make changes, changes that should have been made decades ago. Their inaction and complete lack of changing anything is 100% why we're here.
 

Ben Lamb

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@Ben Lamb or any in the know, what came of this budget request?


We got the position in the budget. Not sure if FWP has hired anyone yet, but they will be moving forward with planning in 2020, at least that's my understanding. It's going to be incredibly important for Montana resident hunters to get involved in this, and stay involved. Montana Wildlife Federation is gearing up to put significant time and energy into deer & elk. They're the only group I know of who will have staff working on this issue in a significant fashion. Haven't heard from other groups yet, but assume that RMEF chapter leaders & MDF folks will be heavily involved as well. The Bowhunter groups are gearing up too. I've seen some good stuff from forum members (Looking at you, @shoots-straight), too about this.

I do know that there are rumblings among some legislators and special interests that if some of the races go one way or another, we're going to see more attacks on Breaks permits, attempts to bring in ranching for wildlife, legislatively mandating shoulder seasons, provide more landower preference, etc. While that's primarily focused on elk, deer are going to be in the CWD/landowner tolerance crosshair as well.
 

EYJONAS!

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I used to defend the department too...right up until the time I starting to think about the changes they make and those they are resistant to and why.

Some things they changed without even batting an eye:

1. Allow youth to kill cow elk and doe deer in a vast majority of units all season long.
2. Lengthen the general season by opening on Saturday VS. the traditional Sunday opener
3. Issue scads of doe tags, including OTC whitetail B-tags good for region 2 (one archery, one general, and one through the draw).
4. Reduce lion quotas by 85-90% in most of regions 1 and 2.
5. Allow a handful of mule deer doe tags in region 7.
6. Allow for elk b-tags, even though nearly all the comments received were in opposition.
7. Allow elk shoulder seasons and didn't even follow what they agree to...again, most hunters opposed them.
8. Allow 10 year olds to hunt deer without even taking hunters safety (I think this was legislatively done).

Some of the things they don't change.

1. They fly the Bob Marshall and see 202 elk, low single digit bull to cow ratio's...no change.
2. Fly unit 202 in Montana...see 8 elk, no change from current season.
3. Mule deer in the absolute shit in Western Montana...no change from current season.
4. Flying the same routes during classifications and counts because we have to be consistent...never mind that land patterns change, elk use changes.
5. They didn't have lengthen upland bird season by a month.

How in the hell do you expect any hunter that thinks about things for 2 seconds to defend the actions, and inactions of the FWP? The way you talk, they just simply don't have the ability to manage seasons, practice biology, etc. THEY DO, and they CHOOSE to not change anything and use every lame excuse under the sun to defend it.

Then I think of what hunting was like when I was 12, is it better or worse?...with the exception of turkeys, lions, and wolves its worse across the board.

I don't think I could shoot a limit of grouse in a week where I used to limit out shooting them with a .22 offhand when I was 12. The first years I applied for goats in the 'root 75 tags, good for the entire west side, 1 goat tag now. The FWP defied the science and goat management that has been available the whole time and shot the snot out of them. Less moose permits, less sheep permits.

I'm having an impossible time defending a department that has made thing drastically worse in my lifetime...and the only changes they want to make is if it increases killing animals and increasing opportunity. They are NOT powerless to make changes, changes that should have been made decades ago. Their inaction and complete lack of changing anything is 100% why we're here.
download (1).jpeg
 

bushman13

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The decline in hunter numbers does seem to be widespread. I will offer a counter point to argue it's not all doom and gloom however. In Georgia the total number of resident hunters is actually considerably up, but the total number of hunters is trending down because of non-resident license slumps.

The state Department of Natural Resources reports that last year it licensed nearly 400,000 hunters (2015). Six years earlier, in 2009, it had issued slightly more than 273,000 permits. That’s a jump of roughly one-third. And it includes a growing number of women: about 28,000 licenses were issued to female hunters last year.


The deer hunting in Georgia has always been monetized. The herd is 1.5 million and the seasons are 3-4 months long. Bag limits are extremely liberal. I think the lesson other states could learn is: Don't let Agg set your thresholds. People will hunt during times of abundance and the resource is sustainable.



I agree with this. Hunting back East has taken on whole flavor. Own land, grow deer ect ect ... guys don’t blink in their enclosed muddy tree house blinds because they are scared they will push “their” deer to some neighbor that they don’t even know. I think most of our problems on multiple fronts seems from how we have monetized hunting and wildlife.
 
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