Public Lands Ranch: SE Montana with no photos!

Mtnhunter1

Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2018
Messages
76
Location
Big Sky Country-The Last Best Place
First things first!

Introductions are in order as this is my very first post on this forum. I have been a resident of “The Big Sky Country” from birth. I am an Outdoors-man that was raised in the NW part of this great state. I now reside, since the late 80’s, in SC Montana. I am not a hobbyist hunter. Hunting is part of who I am and I am one of those “LIVE-to-HUNT” kind of guys. Although I have been reading the posts on this forum for a long time now, I have never felt the need to post anything. I created an account here earlier this year to help out a HUNT-TALKER that posted an elk permit application question. That particular elk permit question was answered before I could write my response. So here I am, posting for the first time.

My wife loves to hunt the eastern part of the state, easier country to hike, plenty of critters with amazing sunsets. Deer and Antelope are usually what we are after with long hikes into our public lands as our means of hunting. We are not road hunters, our bows or rifles stay cased until our packs go on our backs and we head out. I will say that every critter taken in the last few decades or so, deer or antelope have come back to the truck in pieces on our backs. This is my type of hunting and has served us well over the years. This type of hunting is changing and changing very fast and that is the reason for this post.

My wife and I just returned from an eight day adventure in the SE part of the state and ran into hunters in every single, “far from the road”, spot that we usually hunt. Most the hunters that we talked to were very nice folks. All the hunters were very excited to be hunting this state’s “public back-country” lands. All these hunters were really getting after it, hunting hard and covering as much country as possible. The larger tracts of public had multiple groups hiking in and bi-vi camping deep in, not knowing that where they camped was the critters core living room area of that piece of ground. All these hunters, every single one, were from out-of-state! For some, this was their first trip to Montana or their very first hunt “Out-West”, others had hunted here over many years. Some of these hunters only had a week to hunt. Others were “ALL-IN” and planned to stay through to the end of the season or until they finally filled their tags with a trophy Montana buck. All of these hunters, every single one, mentioned this forum and Big Fin. Mystery Ranch packs, Kenetrec boots, hiking poles and Howa alpine rifles seemed to be the gear of choice for most. My how this forum, other internet forums, hunting mags, hunting channels, OnX maps and the hunting industry in general has changed the hunting of our public lands! The message of hunting our “Public Lands Ranch” has worked! The message of getting into the “Back-country”, away from the roads, has worked!

This, my first post here on Hunt-Talk, is not a rant against nonresident hunters. It’s not a rant against anyone willing to put boots on the ground and enjoy our public lands. I hope that the guy from southern Wyoming finds his Montana whitetail buck and his buddy from North Carolina finally tags his first mule deer buck. I hope that the two young-guns from Minnesota find their trophy bucks along with the hunters from Washington, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon and Wisconsin that we able to talk to. I’m sorry and apologize to the group of hunters from Vermont who I called the game warden on. I lost my cool and didn’t figure that you were legal with 23 mule deer laying on the ground whole and not skinned at your camp. The warden said that all your deer were legally tagged and that you would be taking them to a meat processor soon. This post is my views on what is happening to our public land hunting. Things will have to change here in Montana. Seasons will have to be adjusted. The tag numbers and the issuing of B-tags will have to be adjusted for private vs public lands. Otherwise our “Public Lands Ranch” may become devoid of wildlife after the first few weeks of the hunting season. I wonder just how long it will take for the generations of game animals to have the born instinct to migrate to the private, from the public, once the fall season closes in?

I should also note, in eight days of hunting, we saw zero resident Montana hunters, not a one! Seems like, as usual, the local resident hunters are waiting for “The Rut”. So here’s a heads up to all of the local resident Montana rut hunters out there, your personal, secret, back away from the road hunting area? Well it has already been hunted hard! The nonresident hunters have beaten you to the punch and have hit it hard!

Thanks for reading my LONG-WINDED first post! Good luck to ALL and I hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable hunting season.

Mtnhunter
 

timmy

Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2016
Messages
73
23 deer? That’s impressive saw a group of North Dakotans earlier with 12 muley does I thought that was a haul!
 

ajricketts

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Joined
Sep 19, 2016
Messages
188
Location
South Florida
Welcome. It shows just how far reaching Randy's audience is! Edited to say: Maybe some western guys need to plan some eastern whitetail hunts, lol.
 

Mtnhunter1

Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2018
Messages
76
Location
Big Sky Country-The Last Best Place
Laugh’n-out-Loud!

Yes, “Neffa3”, followed that post when the wife & I got a hotel room one evening in order to take a shower and wash the grime off. Brutal! Actually, truth-be-told, that post is the reason why I decided to write this post. Litmus test, so to speak, to see just how many hunters would actually read what I wrote. 200+ readers in roughly two hours on a Friday afternoon……thanks Big Fin!

Back to my reloading room I go. New 6.5x55 BJAI needs a bit more playing around with!

Mtnhunter
 

GearJunky

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2014
Messages
112
Great first post... interesting observation. I also went out hunting yesterday in Montana and only ran across 3 other hunting parties. One from California and two from Wisconsin. I expected to see a lot more people, but was really surprised to see the ones i did find were out of state parties.
 

dirtclod Az.

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Joined
Jan 24, 2018
Messages
741
Most of the "on Your Own Adventures" in Az.are on your ATV adventures.Roads or not they ride right up the washes and creekbeds,rules be damned.:cool:
 

efw

New member
Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
397
Location
West Coast, Michigan
Good first post thanks for that.

I visited Montana for the first time this past month trout fishing with my son and found it just stunning country!

That having been said, I’ve heard for years that Montana’s habit of allowing deer hunters to harass mulies during the rut was a severe impediment to healthy herds.

Buzz made a great point... THE POINT... in the other thread, and the OP here eluded to it, that game & fish needs to retool their management practices for this new situation. Question is, with tag prices where they’re at and part of people’s willingness to pay it due to hunting mulies in the rut, whether that is economically feasible?

Gorgeous state guys. I can’t wait to get back out there; most likely to chase black bear in the springtime. Maybe whitetails... the area my son & I were in had TONS.

Anyway good thread thanks for starting it and welcome,

Efw
 

elkduds

Active member
Joined
Jan 22, 2016
Messages
1,129
Location
CO Springs.
3 stages of this cancer:
1. It sucks. Misery, complaining.
2. You accept, adapt, overcome.
3. It gets worse.


Condolences from one who knows,

Colorado
 

timmy

Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2016
Messages
73
7 muley doe tags and a general either sex tag that encompasses the whole rut. When did Colorado do that?
 

Pagosa

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Joined
Nov 13, 2011
Messages
867
Location
Montana
Welcome to the forum. I agree with you. Hunted SE Montana on a draw elk tag, do not have any intention of every going back. Hunted for 5 days and another 3 days, 90% of the elk we seen we on private. And a good portion of the bucks were using a both private/public but were less than 2.5 years old. Just too many roads, and not enough areas to escape on public land. The game is plentiful on private parcels though.
 

Mtnhunter1

Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2018
Messages
76
Location
Big Sky Country-The Last Best Place
This post was started to reflect the fact that Randy’s, among others, message points of “On Your Own Adventures”, has resonated! The message of, “These are our public lands, here’s how to hunt them and ANYONE can do it” has sparked the confidence to partake in the adventure of hunting OUR PUBLIC LANDS RANCH! This message has been successful, online articles, pod-casts, web forum threads, magazine articles and TV hunting episodes have been saved and studied by the masses. The hunting industry has picked this message up and has run with it! We now have ultra-lite everything that is designed just for this DIY message. We, as hunters, have been schooled and now have the knowledge. We now have the gear including maps on our phones! This message has sparked the burning desire to experience our own DIY adventure. The nonresident hunters that my wife and I came across during our hunt, as stated, were all in with this DIY message. They were ON THEIR OWN ADVENTURE and were very excited about the prospects that maybe found over the next ridge. Even though it frustrated me to be running into these hunters, in our usual far-from-the-roads spots, I have to respect them! They had just as much right to be there as my wife and I did. After all, we were all on OUR PUBLIC LANDS.

I wonder if Randy and others realize what their message, combined with our Montana liberal season and available tags, will do to the hunting on OUR PUBLIC LANDS RANCH. I feel that Montana FWPs will soon have to realize that managing the state’s public wildlife on our public lands has to be changed to reflect the increased pressure that the DIY message has created. I am also aware that this added pressure is not just a Montana problem. Take a look at the “Point-Creep” that has occurred in the last decade, for both resident and nonresident, in the other Public Land Ranch states.

Above, “neffa3”, placed a link to a recent thread on this forum. As I stated above, that thread was the catalyst to push me into writing this post. I read the frustration and angst posted from many of the resident Montana hunters. In that thread there are many good thoughts. I recommend that everyone read post #130 written by “MTTW” and post #138 written by “BUZZH”. Both of these posts are very well written and are SPOT ON!!!!

As I stated in my intro, I grew up in NW Montana with two distinct classes of hunters. These two classes of hunters were made up of, my guessing here, 80% road hunters and 20% backcountry hunters. The 80% class of hunters would never hunt further away from the road than they would not be able to drag their harvested animal back to the truck. The 20% class of hunters used horses to get into the back country and these hunters used their stock for packing in the wall tents, stoves, etc. to their hunting area. Their stock was also used to pack their harvested critters back out of the backcountry. I grew up as a member of the 20% with my summers spent cutting and clearing pack trails into the back country. One downside with the 20% back country horse hunters was that if you couldn’t get horses in to the country IT DIDN’T GET HUNTED! I learned this at age 12, the first year that I could legally hunt. I was a 12 year old kid just chomping at the bit to shoot something and my Dad, Grandpa and I tied up our horses and hiked up a ridge in order to glass for elk from a rock outcropping above our camp. As a kid, and with no elk sighted, I got fidgety and decided to hike to the top of the ridge above our rock point glassing spot. Armed with only my crappy hand-me-down old binos I topped the ridge and peered over the other side. There, directly below me, were three bull elk feeding at the bottom of a very steep rock slide. Two of these bulls were raghorn young bulls with the other being a GIANT 7x7. I flew down the ridge to gather up my hunting mentors so that we could shoot these three bulls! Reaching the rock point, and after I got scolded for rolling rocks, I filled my two hunting heroes in on the bulls that I saw just over the ridge. We all topped the ridge to find the bulls still feeding at the bottom of the slide. I being 12 had learned EVERTHING about hunting and critters from my two hunting partners. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy but that we could definitely get within easy rifle range and down at least one of these bulls. I was secretly hoping that my hunting mentors would allow me to shoot THE BIG ONE! Long story made short, we never even went after those bulls! My Grandpa’s last statement, just before we left the bulls and hiked back down to the horses, was seared into my memory. His statement was this: ”We can’t get horses into that canyon! Those bulls know where they are safe! If you killed one in there, you’d have to eat it there!” To say that I was an extremely disappointed kid that day would be an understatement. Three years later, at age 15, I killed my first bull elk with a bow in that same canyon. Two days of packing meat with an old Boy Scout’s pack frame and I had the horns and meat back to the truck. The astonishment on both my Dad and Grandpa’s faces was priceless! 40 years have passed since that day, as have both of my hunting mentors, but not a year goes by without my Grandpa’s words ringing through my head. Usually his words come to me as I am looking into some god-awful hell hole and I always tell him, “Sorry Grandpa, I’ve come this far. Might as well see what critters are hiding down there!”

As I stated above in my opening introduction, this type of hunting has served me well over the years. This type of hunting has gotten me away from the general hunting pressure. This type of hunting is now what is being peddled and being implemented by the masses. SE Montana is a unique place with the blocks of public land, big and small. But the hunting has changed even in the few decades that I’ve been poking around that part of the state. With most of the private lands now closed to hunting, either leased up by the Outfitting industry or just closed, coupled with the added hunting pressure and available tags allotted by our FWP, things will need to be changed! With the general hunting public, residents and nonresidents, learning and now confident with the DIY-GET-AWAY-FROM-THE-ROADS hunting methods, those rarely accessed areas are now seeing hunting pressure each and every day of the season. This only can have two outcomes. The first is that the critter on the public gets tagged and removed from the public lands. The second is that the critters get pushed to seek out refuse on the inaccessible private lands, again getting removed from the public lands! I can see, in the near future, that the public hunts will be taking place along the fence lines, with the public waiting for the critters to jump the fence. That’s not the hunting experience that I would be interested in and hoping that others would agree.

Mtnhunter
 

RedFall

New member
Joined
Mar 24, 2018
Messages
55
Location
NE Wisco
Really well written posts. I'm from Wisconsin, I hunted on a private land lease with my buddy in 2015, I had a blast, so in 2016 my brother and I went to Wyoming on public land, and I enjoyed that even more. Now we're building points and making plans for the next few years(took the last couple off due to babies and our business). I fully understand your perception and dare I say, frustration. I admit that what we're doing to you guys(residents of the west) wouldn't be appreciated by me if the script was flipped. Anyways, great thread, and look forward to reading more replies.
 

3855WIN

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Joined
Jul 17, 2014
Messages
703
Location
Mississippi
The reality is that non-resident hunters are a major funding source for fish and game departments. It’s certaimly a balancing act to attract NRs for funding, while still providing opportunities for residents. The issue is further complicated when Federal lands are part of the equation. The NR is an American citizen, owning just as much of the federal land as the resident.
 
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