Friday, November 28, 2014

Upland Theatre...

"A friend of mine used to say that bird hunting, for him, had three requisites: Game, on land that was ample and healthy enough to support it. A dog in synchrony with its master and the birds. And a gun that gave pleasure both to shoot and to behold"....Charles Fergus, The Upland Equation; A Modern Bird-Hunter"s Code.

To my way of thinkin' Gale's shot about says it all, eh?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Whitetail Doe Hunting...A Slam Dunk...Yeah, Right!

I've been hunting deer the past few afternoons. More to the point I've been trying to punch a whitetail doe tag before the season ends Sunday. In case you wondered,  this neck of woods, southwest Montana, whitetail deer are as common as black cows. Truth is most farmers and ranchers probably feed way more whitetails. Or as Terry put it that first afternoon and I had no reason to doubt otherwise, "this'll be a slam dunk,"

So as we staked out a chunk of ranch land bordered by the sort of brushy habitat whitetails love--stream-carved willow and cottonwood thickets the only questions we harbored were how far and who would score first--not that it mattered. I can't imagine a single less competitive hunting scenario than two good friends out to punch whitetail doe tags.

Now it is four hours later, between us we have seen just a single doe--out there maybe 400 yards and running full bore. I don't know about you but we have not intention of shooting running does, 400 yards or 40 yards...You know its meat we're after and to us means a single well-aimed shot or nothing.

Two days ago, I parked the truck, once again figuring " a slam dunk." A hundred yards or so into it, I spy a single deer slinking through high grass and thick brush. Alas, upon further review, turns out a buck. A really good buck, which upon even further review, sports five long tines atop a really heavy and wide frame--at least a 150 buck maybe bigger. Yes, I punched my buck tag weeks ago. No dice.

As the light falls and another day is about to end. Again I have not seen any deer other than the big buck. Then, just as I am about to call it good, a doe, and a handsome, mature doe, just the sort I've been looking, prances to the edge of field, well within range. Stops. Turns just so and...Just as I place the cross-hairs on the point of her shoulder (my favorite shot) and start to slo-o-owly squeeze the trigger. You guessed it...Bam! She takes off running, full tilt. The reason for her flight? Yep. Ol' Mr. Big who else? So off they go...And then here they come...And the chase goes on until...Now it is really dark and despite how entertaining, high time I call 'er good.

So I get up to leave, turn and...Come face to face with a dozen does and fawns staring me down, not 50 yards away...Imagine.

Next time out. Same time and place. Right out the gate I literally almost step on him...And that is the last deer I see until just before quitting time when...Here he comes again...Nose to ground, obviously hot on the trail. Absorbed as he is somehow fails to scent or see me sitting there against a big cottonwood.

Oblivious, he passes by no more than 20 yards away, disappears into the willows beyond. With legal shooting time closing fast, I get up and quietly walk the edge of the willow thicket to a narrow opening...And there he is...and so too is a whole passel does and fawns...And, of course, just like that the lead doe busts me...Oh well, game over, at least for now...Stay tuned.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

This Is Hunting?

Thomas D. Mangelsen photo

Witnesses say hunters in Grand Teton National Park drove a herd of elk from a no-hunt zone and toward an awaiting firing line Wednesday.

Wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen — long an opponent of the park hunt — said hunter behavior Wednesday was as egregious as he’s seen.

By Mangelsen’s account, around 11 a.m. a person pushed a herd of about 100 elk out of an area off limits to hunters near Kelly. Once the herd was on the move, chaos ensued, he said.

“All the sudden somebody shot and they just opened fire on them,” Mangelsen said. “It’s really poor sportsmanship — it was illegal and it was just a display of totally barbaric hunting.”

The photographer estimated that 30 people were involved in the drive, that 25 shots were fired and that eight to 10 elk were killed.

Teton park officials did not corroborate many of the details described by Mangelsen and others, but said some hunters were ticketed Wednesday.

Two hunters shot and killed bull elk Tuesday in the park, where harvest is restricted to cows and calves. The elk were confiscated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

One of those hunters was also cited for shooting at a running herd, she said.

Rules unique to the park hunt prohibit firing more than one shot at a group of running animals.

It’s legal for hunters to drive elk out of areas where hunting is prohibited in the park.

Mangelsen said some were firing from the road, which is illegal. Photos he provided show hunters with rifles and shooting sticks setting up on the roadside.

Jeff Soulliere, another local photographer, said the display left him speechless.
“It absolutely was a mess,” Soulliere said. “This is a national park, and you’ve got tourists on the road right next to hunters.

...courtesy Jackson Hole Daily

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Montanan's Dig Road-kill...

...no surprise there, eh? I mean folks been eatin' and drinkin' forever at Holly's Road Kill Saloon, in McLeod.

According to an article in the Billings Gazette, Montana’s new Roadkill Salvage bill has been a success during its first year in place. So far in 2014, more than 800 permits have been issued that have allowed drivers or those finding road-kill animals to salvage more than 550 whitetail deer, nearly 150 mule deer, 120 elk and 33 moose.

“Under the new law, free permits can be downloaded from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ website. They can also be issued by officers, such as the Montana Highway Patrol, who respond to wildlife-vehicle collisions.

“We’ve made it pretty painless for folks to get online and do this,” said Jim Kropp, FWP’s chief of law enforcement.

Although the agency had initially opposed the measure, Kropp said the program seems to be reasonably problem-free.

“There was a lot of concern at first about how we were going to get our arms around this,” Kropp said. “We canvassed a lot of other states who had similar programs. No new programs are ever without problems, but we’re happy with where we’re at now.”

Sounds to me like a win-win program, but I’d like to know: How many of you would stop to pick up—and later eat—fresh road kill?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Serial Poachers: Stealing Our Game...

Three men convicted of state hunting violations in Nevada now face trial on federal charges stemming from a poaching ring that saw untold numbers of deer, antelope, birds and other wildlife killed illegally across Nevada, game officials said on Monday.

Authorities uncovered the poaching ring after one of the defendants posted a photograph on Facebook of two deer he shot and killed out of season last June, said Cameron Waithman, who led the Nevada Wildlife Department investigation of the case.

The ensuing probe found that Adrian Acevedo-Hernandez, 36, Jose Luis Montufar-Canales, 31, and J. Nemias Reyes Marin, 31, had been illegally killing and butchering animals across the state and bragging about the kills online since early 2013, Waithman said.

The men, described by Waithman as "serial wildlife killers," were convicted in a state court of misdemeanor hunting violations earlier this year. In July they were indicted by a federal grand jury in Las Vegas on felony firearms offenses and criminal charges under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The three men, who resided in Las Vegas but are suspected of having entered the United States illegally, remain in federal custody awaiting trial, Waithman said.

Search warrants executed at a residence occupied by one of the men uncovered large caches of deer meat, deer parts, butchering tools, weapons and ammunition. The evidence there led investigators to broaden their probe to unsolved poaching cases that stretched from Nevada's northern border with Idaho to its southeastern intersection with Arizona, he said.

Waithman said the men were engaged in an extreme version of what conservation officers call "thrill kills," indiscriminate killing of wildlife for excitement rather than for food.
"These are people who, for whatever reason, don't want to shoot at paper targets anymore and go out and kill stuff for fun," he said.

Nevada game wardens will never be able to fully tally all the wildlife illegally killed by the poaching ring, said Edwin Lyngar, a spokesman for the state wildlife agency.
"They just sort of shot at everything that moved," he said.

Their quarry included upland game birds, protected migratory songbirds and deer and antelope whose carcasses were left to rot, Lyngar said.

...Courtesy Reuters;Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Steve Gorman and Eric Walsh.

Canyon Ferry Elk Slaughter...


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bird Hunting Montana Style...

Clockwise from top left; CRP=great upland bird habitat; Huns and wheat go hand in hand; ditto High Plains and leanin' outhouses; full moon risin', cocktail time; wild Montana rooster; and a sharpie in hand. Like no sense askin' what's for dinner mama...

For the past week or so Gale, Annie the wirehair and your intrepid reporter, have been hunting sharptails, Huns and to a lesser extent, pheasants in the vast farm- and ranch-lands northeast of Great Falls. Major wheat growing country, thanks to the many farmers for enrolling in Montana's Block Management Program, hunter access is excellent.

While most of the land is planted in wheat and other crops there are large parcels enrolled  in the Conservation Reserve Program. CRP provides upland birds and other wildlife, including both whitetail and mule deer, excellent nesting and brood rearing habitat, as well as, protection from predators; thus the hunting is also excellent. Except for a couple BMAs which were obviously mainly deer habitat we found more than enough birds to keep us old folks grinnin' and Annie...Well Annie found herself immersed in so much bird scent she hardly knew which trail to start first.

And yes except for one day of relative calm, we were plagued by the ever-present gale (no pun intended) force winds, often strong enough to make walking difficult; poor Annie, not one to complain, though obviously during the worst of it trying to ferret out a scent trail did make things interesting . One night the roaring, howling wind made sleep impossible (at least for the ol' boy) but then what would hunting the High Plains be without,..you know, the roaring, howling, screaming GD WIND!

Anyway, a fun time in a fun place; on way home we were already planning our next attack...Imagine.