Montana on the Upswing?

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
 

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.
 

onpoint

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I'm, "oversimplifying it", yet, "it would not be difficult to make changes...."

Then get some go getters together and go ATTEMPT to get it done, unless it's not that simple or is more difficult than you just stated????..........
 

BuzzH

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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 that's a somewhat fair question, that I think you largely answered with your other post in this thread.

Showing up in person, personal meetings with biologists, don't mean jack chit. Drawing dead into a made hand...just like you said in your post. The last phone call I had with the region 2 wildlife biologist was the most antagonistic phone call I've ever been a part of. One question about a proposed doe season and the fur was flying. Same guy was a complete smart ass at the Bonner check station when he was too lazy to get a jaw spreader to age a deer. I chalked it up to being a frustrated biologist that knows their work if for show, best case, as they aren't allowed to practice real biology.

Its so much different here in Wyoming...I've casually mentioned things to our biologists here, small stuff more of a whine than a real problem, and I get phone calls back asking how to fix the problem. I get phone calls from biologists here asking me to show up to meetings to help them make important changes. The biologists seem to have the support from the Directors office when they adjust seasons, increase/decrease quotas, etc. You know, practice biology using science.

IMO, when you have an Agency like the MTFWP that is in total lock-down mode internally, nothing anyone can say or do is going to change that.

I've fought that battle for a long, long time...driven all over the State, personal meetings, you name it, I've probably tried it. Combine that with a vast majority of the current crop of hunters not knowing any different to what could be, complacency, and a bunch of old farts that just don't have the desire to continue the fight???

Maybe this really is as good as it gets.
 
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Elk247

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I hear all the time that Hunter numbers are on the decline. I do see it at home here in Southern Minnesota around where I mostly hunt that is primarily private ground. Not near the pressure like it once was. Now step on to a piece of public ground and it is worse now than it ever has been. Seems to be the case in every state I hunt in.
 

Randy11

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The last phone call I had with the region 2 wildlife biologist was the most antagonistic phone call I've ever been a part of. One question about a proposed doe season and the fur was flying. Same guy was a complete smart ass at the Bonner check station when he was too lazy to get a jaw spreader to age a deer. I chalked it up to being a frustrated biologist that knows their work if for show, best case, as they aren't allowed to practice real biology.
I talked with maybe 6-7 people this year who had similar interactions with said biologist, and that was my experience also. The dude is not building a good reputation for himself.
 

Randy11

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I agree with a lot of the points made here, and I want to throw out yet another angle on this: I don't think most units in Montana have the trophy potential of units in other western states. The only Montana hunting districts where a trophy tag can offer you a good opportunity at a 180"+ buck are hunting districts 261, 262, and 270--all units touching each other in the Bitterroot. I'm saying this because everyone already knows it.

Very limited hunting districts like 300, 312, 324, and 652 don't produce the big boys, and a 160 inch deer is a nice one. I'd even argue that 300 and 312 are pitiful even with trophy management. Sure, the occasional 180" buck turns up, but I feel like I have just as good of a chance of killing a big boy in a general unit as I would in these limited units. That's not because of age structure, it is because the deer don't have the potential to become really big, in general. What these hunts do offer is an opportunity to look over a lot more mature deer and to hunt without competition. I also don't think there is anything wrong with the overall deer population in eastern Montana. The age structure is generally on the young side, however. I do agree that the population is way down on the western side of the state and something should be done about it. With that said, there are some older deer on the west side in some of the more remote units if you are willing to work for one.
Going off of Boone and Crockett records, only 5 of the top 50 typicals, and 1 of the top 50 nontypicals killed in Montana have come from Ravalli County, and that's with 20 years of the most restrictive buck harvest in the state.

I've spent a ton of time in those units, and still the biggest bucks I've seen in my life were in other parts of the state. Every year I hear of some absolute whoppers coming out of the other units you mentioned. Look at Griztrax's thread. Lots of mature bucks in Ravalli County, but not many of any real size.
 

onpoint

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".......a vast majority of the current crop of hunters not knowing any different to what could be, complacency, and a bunch of old farts that just don't have the desire to continue the fight...... Maybe this is really is as good as it gets".

Maybe. No Tony Schoonens and no/not enough "go getters" to walk with and support one, anyways, left in this Montana. Screw it. Sure am glad I have hunted for 44 years, worked for Montana sportsmen/women for 31, and saw Montana when it was better- cuz there's no hope no more.

Those of you on this site, with young up and coming hunters, look 'em in the eye and tell 'em "you get what you get, nothing I could do about it".

Think I'll go hunt some public land roosters with my 12 year old wire faced girl and appreciate what's left of this no hope place............................
 

BuzzH

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I talked with maybe 6-7 people this year who had similar interactions with said biologist, and that was my experience also. The dude is not building a good reputation for himself.
Another fun fact, in the 39 years I've been going through the Bonner check station, I've NEVER seen it closed on a weekend at 7 pm...until this year. My brother and I decided to haul some deer home and they were buttoned up and the last FWP truck pulling out of the check station at...exactly 7:03 pm.
 
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