Montana on the Upswing?

8andcounting

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Wife’s grandpa got this off his place in the Crazies back in the 80s. Now you are lucky to see a 18” wide 4x4 there. Pounding away on mule deer through the rut needs to become a draw or end the season before the rut IMO
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Hell of a buck and I agree with everything you’ve said related to mule deer management or lack there off . But just a question cuz I honestly don’t know the answer as a NR . Didn’t the Montana deer season extend over the rut in the 80s ? And couldn’t guys shoot 2 bucks up until the late 80s ? So what has changed ? More hunting pressure ? Less habitat ? Honest questions, like I said I agree with you I just don’t know the history of Montana hunting like you guys do . Thanks !
 

timmy

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People can afford to do it the technology is there and our Bozeman friends bless your heart have made the info readily available.
 

MTTW

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When I was about 12 I went hunting up the head of the Sheilds River in the Crazies. We saw a couple of hundred deer over a weekend. In a weekend now you would be lucky to see a single mule deer. Talking early 1970s.
 

brockel

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Hell of a buck and I agree with everything you’ve said related to mule deer management or lack there off . But just a question cuz I honestly don’t know the answer as a NR . Didn’t the Montana deer season extend over the rut in the 80s ? And couldn’t guys shoot 2 bucks up until the late 80s ? So what has changed ? More hunting pressure ? Less habitat ? Honest questions, like I said I agree with you I just don’t know the history of Montana hunting like you guys do . Thanks !
Besides mule deer being on the decline across the west id say more hunting pressure is another big factor for Montana. It wasn’t that long ago that there was left over non resident deer licenses leftover. Montana’s population is always growing and a % of that new population is hunters. More private land being closed off to hunters only pushes more hunters to public land chunks. So public land deer get pounded

GPS chips and OnX maps on your phone make it easier than ever to find places to hunt and to know exactly where you are. No more intimidation of having to read a map in an area you’ve never been before. I think that is a lot of the reasoning for sold out licenses
 

timmy

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Besides mule deer being on the decline across the west id say more hunting pressure is another big factor for Montana. It wasn’t that long ago that there was left over non resident deer licenses leftover. Montana’s population is always growing and a % of that new population is hunters. More private land being closed off to hunters only pushes more hunters to public land chunks. So public land deer get pounded

GPS chips and OnX maps on your phone make it easier than ever to find places to hunt and to know exactly where you are. No more intimidation of having to read a map in an area you’ve never been before. I think that is a lot of the reasoning for sold out licenses
You said it better than i did
 

antlerradar

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Hell of a buck and I agree with everything you’ve said related to mule deer management or lack there off . But just a question cuz I honestly don’t know the answer as a NR . Didn’t the Montana deer season extend over the rut in the 80s ? And couldn’t guys shoot 2 bucks up until the late 80s ? So what has changed ? More hunting pressure ? Less habitat ? Honest questions, like I said I agree with you I just don’t know the history of Montana hunting like you guys do . Thanks !
Rut hunt yes, 2 bucks ended in the 70's in SE MT
Things that have changed since the 80's
11,000 region wide doe tags
access to private land is much more difficult
Elk, no longer do we have five weeks of hunting pressure and a few archers in the field. Now there are lots of hunters in the field from the first part of September to after Thanksgiving. Add in youth season, an extra day of rifle season and hundreds of hunters looking to fill a cow tag is it any wonder why deer have over time vacated public land for sanctuaries on private.
hunters have better transportation and technology
hunting in western Montana has declined or went to limited draw.
hunters are more likely to be looking for both venison and antlers than in the past when venison was the primary concern. Many hunters are passing on 20, 30 even close to 100 bucks a year. My bet is that a 5 year old 135 inch 3 by 4 is often getting a pass but that 170 inch 3 year old is never. In short we are now more than ever targeting the bucks in the top half of the antler growth potential bell curve and that is a sure way to grow few truly big deer.
 
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Nameless Range

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To the OP, is it possible that the perception that Montana is on the upswing is a result of social media and a bias from it?

More people who hunt are on social media every year. It’s growing all the time. This larger sample size results in more big bucks being put out there, those big bucks get more likes than little bucks, and the algorithms push those big buck posts to the top of your feeds.

I’m not disagreeing with you either, but it’s a theory. Every time I open Facebook, I see very large bucks shot in Montana. I follow probably half a dozen Montana centric hunting pages, and I have noticed an uptick as well. Every time I refresh the FB there’s a new pile of photos on my feed for gandering. I think it does a strange thing to the attitudes of weak-minded hunters.

There’s all sorts of other factors that maybe figure in too - the wet summer we had, conditions this fall, etc.
 

brockel

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To the OP, is it possible that the perception that Montana is on the upswing is a result of social media and a bias from it?

More people who hunt are on social media every year. It’s growing all the time. This larger sample size results in more big bucks being put out there, those big bucks get more likes than little bucks, and the algorithms push those big buck posts to the top of your feeds.

I’m not disagreeing with you either, but it’s a theory. Every time I open Facebook, I see very large bucks shot in Montana. I follow probably half a dozen Montana centric hunting pages, and I have noticed an uptick as well. Every time I refresh the FB there’s a new pile of photos on my feed for gandering. I think it does a strange thing to the attitudes of weak-minded hunters.

There’s all sorts of other factors that maybe figure in too - the wet summer we had, conditions this fall, etc.
I think social media has a lot to do with it. Hell there’s a 340” bull behind every tree if I went off what I see on Facebook
 

MTTW

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Western MT has about a half dozen problems with Mule Deer. Zero of these problems is going to be addressed. I have decided to accept it.

Eastern MT doesn't have a mule deer problem, they have a hunter problem. This problem will get worse not better.

If management does not give a shit if the mule deer population decreases every year in the west, why would they care if someone in the east picks over several bucks and can't find a 170 buck?

If I sound cynical it may have to do with the fact that I just spent about 20 days hunting and never saw a 165 buck and I have been practicing finding them for 45 years. If history is a teacher, it is all down hill from here.

If someone had said that last sentence to me 25 years ago, I would have thought they were nuts. The last 25 years are in the books now, a slow steady decline.
So smile :) this is as good as it gets.
 
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300stw

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for me laser rangefinders have made a huge difference is success rates for ever person I know, 1st shot misses on those 300yd plus bucks have drastically went down, and the onyx type programs have really made out of the way places very attractive to people,

I remember as a kid ( lets say 1980) the number of bucks seen but not harvested by me and friends and friends of family, at the time we hunted in 3 or 4 states per year, honestly looking back we seen b@c type bucks in Idaho and Colorado every year but killing them,, judging distances,,,,, I remember shooting 19 times at a nontypical buck in Idaho, standing on my ind 2 legs, no rest nothing, never made him flinch , later years in the same spot the fartheset the buck was 615 yards, I was shooting a worn out 7mm mauser but didn't know the difference at the time,,, technology,,,,
 

Sytes

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Interesting media article released today quoting fwp and some brush stroke impressions for the higher success rate this year.

 

Bambistew

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Besides mule deer being on the decline across the west id say more hunting pressure is another big factor for Montana. It wasn’t that long ago that there was left over non resident deer licenses leftover. Montana’s population is always growing and a % of that new population is hunters. More private land being closed off to hunters only pushes more hunters to public land chunks. So public land deer get pounded

GPS chips and OnX maps on your phone make it easier than ever to find places to hunt and to know exactly where you are. No more intimidation of having to read a map in an area you’ve never been before. I think that is a lot of the reasoning for sold out licenses
Deer licenses sold out for decades. Draw odds were about 15%. The left overs a few years backa were an anomaly due to the economy and the state nearly tripling the cost of a tag.

There is no hope for MT changing. The Agg industry will make sure of it.
 

tjones

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“We’re exceeding in whitetail numbers and we’re also exceeding in whitetail buck numbers quite dramatically,” said Fish, Wildlife and Parks Kalispell area wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane.
There are a few reasons why FWP says numbers differ from last year.
Doe is a large part of the harvest and this year most were eliminated.



Interesting spin

All but eliminate doe hunting then tout the increase buck harvest? The guy that would have killed a doe hunted till he found a buck, real simple version of monkey math.
 

Falcon75

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Yup I am from ohio and didnt want to pay the high license cost. But I have been think more about a nice mule deer lately and so this post has got me thinking. Hunt elk in archery and come back in November for deer. Now to find a spot with no grizzly. Wife will crap about two trips. And I was going to contribute to point creep and use my 20 Colorado points on elk this year. Dad is 70 and we need to burn them soon.
 

SnowyMountaineer

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Haven't I heard BF and Lawnboy talk about how the bucks in the Bridgers aren't nearly what they used to be, and those a LE now not general, what's happening on those units?
If you look at aerial images of development on winter and transitional range from the 1970's to current--either side of the mountains really, but particularly Springhill etc.--it tells a substantial part of the story IMO.
 
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onpoint

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As this discussion expands and lingers, I find myself wondering how guys like John Gibson, Tony Schoonen, and Joe Gutkoski (to name a few Montana giants) ever were able to steel up and take the bull by the horns.
They did not have a bunch of social media, internet warriors and heroes, and other recent "I'm mad as hell and can't figure out what to do about it" tools all of us on the interweb possess.
They just stepped up to the plate. Example - Montana's stream access was not an easy row to hoe. They had to use phones, cars, personal appearances, the mail, personal time, Balls:oops:

Not anywhere near as easy as banging out one's frustration on a keyboard and getting "likes"..............
 

MTGomer

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I have a couple friends of the family and family members that in total have around 6 real big deer on their walls, atleast 3 of which are over 200” that all came from within 40 miles of downtown Missoula.
None of these were killed later than 1980. Something has changed but I doubt it’s the genetics. Does every deer have the potential to hit 200? Of course not, but we’d see more of them if more than what is probably a single digit percentage of bucks made it to maturity.
 

huntin24/7

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As this discussion expands and lingers, I find myself wondering how guys like John Gibson, Tony Schoonen, and Joe Gutkoski (to name a few Montana giants) ever were able to steel up and take the bull by the horns.
They did not have a bunch of social media, internet warriors and heroes, and other recent "I'm mad as hell and can't figure out what to do about it" tools all of us on the interweb possess.
They just stepped up to the plate. Example - Montana's stream access was not an easy row to hoe. They had to use phones, cars, personal appearances, the mail, personal time, Balls:oops:

Not anywhere near as easy as banging out one's frustration on a keyboard and getting "likes"..............
I think you’re over simplifying this a bit if you don’t think there are hunters already trying this. You have a combination of FWP management that have their heels dug in that change and adapting to the current times is not an option. You also have a lot of hunters, maybe the majority, that feel anything short of a 5 week rut hunt is not enough opportunity to kill their buck. Sure it’s fun and convenient to be able to hunt the current season, but it’s not reasonable. Regardless of your feelings on trophy hunting, it would not be difficult to make changes as far as season structure and tag allocation that allows more bucks to get to an older age class and also provide opportunity to everyone else willing to put forth any effort to fill their tags and freezer.
 

timmy

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Montana CWD management plan targets older age class bucks good luck trying to get them to do anything to increase age class. Only change that will happen will be for the worse.
 
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