Montana on the Upswing?

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.
 

BuzzH

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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............................
I look my nephews, both young up and coming hunters, in the eye and buy them NR tags in Wyoming...
 

Falcon75

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Too many damn pinecones and sap.
Isn't a 60 footer where you get the quote "Looks great. Lot of sap in here, little full". Even movies have gone down hill in last 30 years.
But in all seriousness I have stayed away from Montana because of all the posts here of mismanagement. Good point earlier about sw States ie Arizona where have quality but more limited opportunity. Sounds like reduce season length is answer. I have an another idea one cause change is hard. Leave longer earily season maybe 4 5 weeks but also have rut hunt but only 3 days and make people choose at start of season which one they will hunt.
 

huntin24/7

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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????..........
Maybe oversimplifying it is the wrong word. You’re correct on more effort being required by hunters. Hell, I know I’m guilty. I guess what I’m getting at is that even if we were somehow able to convince FWP to consider implementing changes in season structure, tag allocation, etc., they would met with huge resistance from hunters as well. I’d say the majority of deer hunters I talk to think anything less than a 5 week general season either species buck rut hunt is damn near tyranny.
 

shoots-straight

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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.
Ding, ding,ding ding! We have a winner!

I don't know Timmy, but he's hit the nail on the head here. CWD and the departments plan to manage those areas with it aren't a good scenario for our Deer herds. We can talk all we want about "Change", "Older age class deer", "Guys stepping up to the plate", or the Department not working for Montana sportsmen, are all off the board now. As this disease spreads so does our chances to bring deer back.

In reality I don't even know what I mean by bringing the deer back. Because I know that we will never see again the deer herds what I grew up with.

For now lets figure this CWD thing out, then this discussion might be relevant. Here's Montana's CWD managment plan.

Montana CWD management plan

This is from the link:
Computer simulation models have been used to explore additional options for controlling CWD. Most recently, several studies have predicted that increasing male harvest and reducing male to female sex ratios in cervids may be one of the most effective tools for reducing CWD prevalence (Jennelle et al. 2014, Potapov et al. 2016). In most study systems, male deer are 2-3 times more likely to be infected than females (Miller and Conner 2005, Heisey et al. 2010, DeVivo 2015, Samuel and Storm 2016; but see Edmunds et al. 2016), presumably due to behavioral differences, and thus targeting males may be an efficient way to reduce overall transmission. While anecdotal evidence from several jurisdictions may provide support for this hypothesis, it has yet to be tested experimentally.
Other info on CWD for Montana's web site:

Montana FWP web site on CWD

As a side note:

This might be a big Elephant to eat, but how you eat one is one bite at a time. Who's up for the first bite?
 

onpoint

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Maybe oversimplifying it is the wrong word. You’re correct on more effort being required by hunters. Hell, I know I’m guilty. I guess what I’m getting at is that even if we were somehow able to convince FWP to consider implementing changes in season structure, tag allocation, etc., they would met with huge resistance from hunters as well. I’d say the majority of deer hunters I talk to think anything less than a 5 week general season either species buck rut hunt is damn near tyranny.
For sake of this point, the folks that pushed the stream access issue were met with huge resistance. however, they believed in it and wanted it badly enough, that they took the fight (gaining support along the way) to the powers that be and let the outcome fall how it may.................

Can't lose a fight if you don't enter one. Except a fight that ends maybe in a locked thread or a banishment from an interweb forum. Maybe that's what is considered a battle these days.............
 

Trial153

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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.
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.
 

BuzzH

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Ding, ding,ding ding! We have a winner!

I don't know Timmy, but he's hit the nail on the head here. CWD and the departments plan to manage those areas with it aren't a good scenario for our Deer herds. We can talk all we want about "Change", "Older age class deer", "Guys stepping up to the plate", or the Department not working for Montana sportsmen, are all off the board now. As this disease spreads so does our chances to bring deer back.

In reality I don't even know what I mean by bringing the deer back. Because I know that we will never see again the deer herds what I grew up with.

For now lets figure this CWD thing out, then this discussion might be relevant. Here's Montana's CWD managment plan.

Montana CWD management plan

This is from the link:

Other info on CWD for Montana's web site:

Montana FWP web site on CWD

As a side note:

This might be a big Elephant to eat, but how you eat one is one bite at a time. Who's up for the first bite?
I would think the way the MTFWP manages deer now in Montana on public land would be the control set/case study for the CWD management being tried by other states. Very few older males and low buck to doe ratio's is where they're already at.

The only way they could do anything beyond what they've been doing for the last 60 years, is to completely remove deer from public land all together to stop CWD.

If they kill many more, they shouldn't have any trouble with CWD because there wont be deer around to infect.
 

golfer

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MT
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.
Do you think the difference is because in Wyoming even their wardens are required to have a science based degree? It simply states on the application if you have a law enforcement degree please do not apply. This makes me believe that they actually want to use science for both quality and quantity...just my two cents.
 

JLS

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Do you think the difference is because in Wyoming even their wardens are required to have a science based degree? It simply states on the application if you have a law enforcement degree please do not apply. This makes me believe that they actually want to use science for both quality and quantity...just my two cents.
No, because other states require something similar as well. It's a cultural thing. I've seen more than one agency that uses public meetings as a way of telling the public what they are going to get, and defending it, rather than actively listening.

In addition, you also have to remember what reality is. The majority of Montana hunters are perfectly happy going out and dumping a 2 year old buck on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Edit: That's not to say everything the public wants is a good idea Look at how often APR suggestions come up on here, even though they are proven to be a stop gap remedy at best. That said, I highly question FWP's data gathering. I don't even know why I bothered to stop at Bonner on Saturday. If that's the best representation of a state wildlife employee, you guys are screwed.
 

Sytes

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Libby meetings attended regarding CWD, now found within Moose in NW MT as well as the rise in CWD deer, is one heck of a blow to wildlife and one monster of a mountain if viewed from afar.

FWP, while molasses in motions to adapt, are heavily impacted by various budget restrictions. This, from conversations with those in R1, is the #1 hindrance that builds further molasses movement.
Those in a position to make some form of adjustments find the restrictions suck them back into the current flow.

Budget + working with the hunter fickle mob mentality = Hunter inflicted Restrictions = FWP morale issues... etc.
Heck, we can not even budget our LEO's 100% and circumvent the P&R federal funding to keep LEO's with a 40 hr pay check. Lease mileage based vehicles for FWP use... Great! This alone results in phone mitigation vs dealing with an issue in person. Too many miles used? Damn - guess I better tell them to shoot the cat next time it's on their property vs... have to keep miles up for the hours I'm permitted to actually enforce FWP laws. It's a train wreck that all focus on the conservation of our wildlife within an agency getting gutted year after year.

Raise Resident fees = not a chance in hell. Hey... Let's then raise it on NR's... The MT fickle mobs will go with that. And this just keeps fwp afloat to face State Congress pillaging / plying their opinions over the commission.

$$$. The evil and God of all things government.
 
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