Monday, November 30, 2009

A River Runs Through It

In our family there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in Western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.

Thus begins the book that would become a blockbuster movie that would forever change the sport of fly fishing...Good or bad remains of course open for debate and a discourse I for one have a strong opinion--but since no one will listen anyway and not withstanding anything I say will not change things one iota, I will leave it go and just say that the book is among my all time favorites and if...if you haven't yet, trust me you are as they say missin' it big time. Besides a great story line the book is filled with wonderful passages:

Poets talk about spots of time but it is really the fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone. I shall remember that son of a bitch forever.

Eventually all things merge into one and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.

See what I mean.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Morons Murder Moose

As if moose don't have enough problems these days dodging the growing blood-thirsty gray wolf population, poaching continues to gnaw away at what FWP officials say an alarming rate.

Recently a second trophy-class bull moose was discovered shot and left to rot along the Jefferson River south of Cardwell, less than a mile from where a bull moose of similar size met the same fate.

Justin Gibson, Boulder-Whitehall area game warden said he’s not sure if the two poaching incidents are related, but he’s investigating the possibility. The first was found on Oct. 28, and #2, whose antlers spread a whopping 48-inches, appears to have been shot two weeks later.

Gibson said the first bull apparently was shot from the road; the second near the river.

Two of three or four bulls often sighted in the area, landowners, hunters and fishermen reported how "thrilling it was to just to see and watch them.

A Whitehall resident is donating a $1,500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the poacher, and coupled with the state’s reward of up to $1,000, that’s up to $2,500 a person is eligible to receive.

People with information are encouraged to call Gibson at 406-439-4017 or 1-800-TIP-MONT (847-6668). Callers can remain anonymous.

Poaching is a growing problem in Montana. In the 1990s FWP typically investigated about 20 cases per year,double that in recent years. Poaching occurs statewide and year-round, with poachers taking some of Montana’s biggest and best.

Here in the Dillon area several moose were poached along Blacktail Deer Creek causing the irate Matador Ranch manager to permanently remove the entire creek bottom from Block Management...Once one of the best places around to kill a trophy whitetail...thanks to the actions of these morons now all hunters can do is watch and drool...Ya done good guys I hope you're proud.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Montana's Block Management Program

Block Management is a program whereby landowners are paid for allowing John Q. Hunter free hunting access. With over 1200 landowners and over 8 million acres enrolled Block Management no other state is even close. While Block Management Areas (BMAs) afford hunters free access there are no guarantees...to maximize success you need to not only do the homework but formulating specific game plans for individual blocks pays big dividends. In other words the more you know prior to the hunt the better your odds of success. For instance is the better habitat away from the fence where just about every other hunter will likely start. If so is there a better way to access those off-the-beaten-path hotspots. Will there be anything left to hunt after the opening day onslaught? Or are you better off waiting until later when things quiet down and whatever game species is likely to drift back to pre-season haunts? If there is access to a BMA from other than main roads those are almost always the best option. Many enrollees are hunters too and some are willing to point hunters to the best spots within their holdings. Talking to the landowner face to face is also the best way to establish long term relationships. We have found striking up a conversation often leads to invitations to hunt holdings not included in the BMA itself. And for the price of a little friendly chat you just might find yourself getting standing invitation to return "anytime." How good is that, eh? Anyway regardless what game species there is a BMA out there...all you gotta do is find it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Milk River Wildlife Management Area

This a shot of the Milk River Wildlife Management Area near Hinsdale. The line of cottonwoods in the background delineates the Milk River. The Milk is one of Montana's longest and least known (to anglers) rivers, born on the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains on the Blackfeet Nation it swings north into Alberta then back into Montana where it eventually joins the Missouri River below Fort Peck Dam west of Wolf Point...a run of about 730 miles.

The Milk is popular throughout its length with local anglers but you won't find many anglers from outside the region. Pike, smallmouth bass, sauger, walleye and catfish are the most sought after gamefish, but the Milk holds many surprises. Fort Peck Reservoir, while not technically a part of the Milk River system boasts something like 50 gamefish and provides primo fishing for trophy pike, smallmouth bass and walleye to name just three of the most sought after.

Deer and upland bird hunters, however, paint a different picture. Known far and wide as a world class whitetail hotspot, hunters from all over arrive each fall hoping to slay the "buck of a lifetime." And while upland bird hunting pales somewhat nonetheless the Milk River corridor is certainly no secret...especially amongst rooster lovers. While much of the Milk flows through private land there are many WMAs, as well as Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) and several National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) scattered throughout provide decent to sometimes primo rooster hunting opportunities. In addition Montana's popular Block Management Program has a strong presence all along the river free to hunters for the asking. By the way, many WPAs and most BMAs are open to hunting whitetails and other game species, including waterfowl.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Great Places Montana

We published Great Places (Wilderness Adventures Press) last spring. Subtitled A Recreational Guide to Montana's Public Lands and Historical Places for Birding, Hiking, Photography, Fishing, Hunting and Camping, our intention was/is to inform readers of the many and varied recreational opportunities to be found the length and breadth of Big Sky Country. For whatever reasons the publisher chose to emphasize Birding and to a lesser extent hiking, camping and photography, while de-emphazing hunting and fishing. So be it but...since the book came out we have made it point to re-visit many of the spots depicted in the book with emphasis on hunting, upland bird hunting especially, and fishing...

Since we already knew pretty much what to expect--that is many of the Great Places are also great hunting and fishing spots--there is not much news for us. But since some of you might not know what to expect, as this blog evolves I'll do my best to fill you on the high points.