Well, its the tuesday morning after Thanksgiving weekend which is the traditional end of the Montana General big game season. THis year elk season has been extended because of low harvest numbers due to warm weather(not any more!!!).
This time of year, I always reflect on the season that just occured. I am always sad that the season is over for another year but also relieved as well. Over the season, dozens of new and great memories are made but there are also the reminders of what some of those out there do to tarnish out tradition of hunting.
This morning we just made it through a night that was quite cold, -5 degrees and windy. It makes me think of the game animals that we persue all season and here in Montana, that is a pretty long 5 week season. I think about what the game animals have to endure in nature going through a winter here in Montana. Not lately, our winters have not been all that bad but sitting here in a warm house waiting for my little girl to wake up is pretty cozy, as the wind howls outside in frigid temps.
I think about those individuals out there that torment more then anything the game animals all season and then if they are able to survive that, they have to make it through some very hard months.
Do not get me wrong, I am about as strong of a supporter of hunting as there is. I know there are many out there that do not hunt like we do and do things we would call unethical but I still support their right to hunt just as I have that right.
Still, when this time of the season comes, I feel good knowing that the game animals I respect so much finally get some sort of a reprieve from these people.
In my opinion, we really have no right to go into the world of the big game animals we hunt and disrupt their lives completely. That is why I favor long range hunting. It is surgical in nature, generally imposing very little if any stress on the other game animals in the area we are hunting and when down right, its about as humane as possible for the game animals we do take.
Seeing the game animals relentlessly chased by some of these "hunters" leaves a very bad taste in my mouth and when this time of year comes, I am sad the hunting season is over but I am very happy that the big game animals will get a well deserved rest from those that do not respect the game as most of us here on LRH do.
To think about what the game animals have to survive each winter just for me to get a chance to harvest an animal the following fall is a humbling thought.
I have never been one to support early season scouting. When done correctly, there is nothing really wrong with it and its not intrustive to the game animals but it is seldom done correctly. I do not see myself as having the right to intrude on these majestic animals lives any more then need be and those that chase them from late summer until they drop their antlers in the spring, I just have a hard time accepting that as it just adds stress to what is an already unbelievably stressful life.
again, not against any hunting, do not take this wrong, just makes me feel good that they game herds are now getting a well deserved rest after a long season of being chased all over hell.
Now the poaching season starts for those that just cannot control themselves. This sickens me more then anything else and there are alot of us here constantly on the look out for poachers. That is the ultimate act of disrespect to big game in my opinion. It is also not tollerated around these parts either if someone is caught. Problem is there is alot of land and not enough well meaning eyes to watch all the time.
Anyway, enough of my rant. Just some thoughts on our big game season and for one, every year when its finished, I am sad but also very happy for the game.
May sound kind of sappy but I suspect many of you feel the same.
Until the next hunt, take care!!!
Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.
I also think about the animals every time I see a big winter storm. I remember in the 80's, seeing hundreds (stopped counting after 300) of mule deer dead along the road between Price Utah and Salt Lake city due to the bad weather (soldier summit area).
Lets hope for a bearable winter for our quarry and an early spring.
If some is good and more is better, then too much is just right.
My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives
I see your point Kirby, but what the hell are the SR guys doing in Montana. Running them with there trucks?
If the hunting is conducted within the law. I don't think your typical hunter SR or long range stresses the animal to any great extent.
Sure a herd of elk may get bumped by a still hunter, but that herd bull if pressured from a challenging bull may push his herd over the next mountain to avoid competition anyway.
In the majority of Wisconsin the rifle season is 9 days long. Not much time for 650,000 hunters to fill tags. Yes those animals may feel the pinch for a week or so, but they still own the night.
On the other hand the Wolves are terrorizing them 24/7. I live in the exact center of the state and have seen 3 wolves in the township this year.
The northern forest is crawling with them. Those deer I feel sorry for.
No farm land crops to eat, sevear winters, deep snow, and wolves.
This season for, a complete month, two of us never disturbed any animals, except for that one herd, to any great extent. They grazed out into the open, were disrupted, then trotted off at their leisure, kind of.
We saw plenty of animals which were content as they went about their business. I suppose there is a new "normal" for them since the wolf reintroduction as the groups were very small and they remained very high and really spread out and seemed to stick close to thel area.
However, when the snows get high and the temps drop, they will become concentrated on those winter ranges where the predator pressure will really increase.
As I sit here with snow falling and 30mph winds but only 32* temps I wonder about that big 4X4 Muley we saw the last day of elk season. Will he survive the predator pressure? He is certainly worth the effort in anyone's book. He lit my fire more than any bull elk I saw.
I'm pretty certain that some winter time scouting can be done in that area with out disrupting things hardly at all. I may give it a try, if I don't get too comfy in my nice nest with fireplace and lotsa wood.
It was a very good season for me. Now its time to cull the yotes from the local area to increase the deer count again. I want the fawns to survive.
PS: One thing that does irritate me is the way the F&G do the winter counts. They fly low in an aircraft with an observer and get the herds running and do the count and antler size estimation. That process seems more disrupting/stressful than it really needs or should be. I can fly over them at an altitude that doesn't disturb them, take a high resolution image and do all of the counting and measuring I wish and no animals are stressed. However, I can't get into the game as one of the F&G personnel has a pilot's license and they can rent the plane and he flies it and observes himself. I guess that's a $ savings. Rant-rant-rant.;)
I may be the slowest guy on the mountain . . . . but . . . . I'm on the mountain!
I suspect your area of hunting is much different then where I hunt. Here in Montana for example, in many areas, you could spot a herd of pronghorns for example and chase them for 10 miles before crossing a fence to another section of property.
I have seen hundreds of times where a herd of pronghorns were run so hard, they simply could not run any more and just stood there. Basically giving up and letting someone take a shot at the herd.
There are alot of locals that do this but there are just as many out of state hunters doing this as well.
Same thing for the deer. Mainly mule deer. I had a good 5x5 mule deer run by me this year. He was a nice buck, 160 class. He had no idea I was even there but I watched two hunters push this buck on quads for nearly 3 miles across the open prairie. By the time he got to me, he was only 50 yards away, I was sitting at my usual ambush point. His mouth was hanging wide open and his tougne floopping around like a german shepards would. I simply let him walk even though he was probably larger then any mule deer I have shot yet in my hunting career.
The two guys drove up to the fence line of the property I was hunting, they did not have permission. They dropped the gate and as soon as I saw this, I stood up making sure they saw me. They instantly jumped on their quads and got the hell out of there, not even putting the gate back up.
I have also witnessed dozens of times hunters conducting drives in heavy river bottom brush and taking shots at flashes of deer they see running through the brush. Is this within the law, certainly, is this ethical, thats your own call, to me, its far worse then shooting at a calm animal at 1000 yards but that is my opinion.
Also, your season is 9 days old. I am taking about a season that is generally at least 35 days long, that is not counting the month of bow hunting prior to the general big game season and yes, bow hunters stress game more then most would even want you to believe.
Case in point, the missouri River breaks national park. Used to be the meca for extremely large bull elk in very good numbers. Problem was that many started to figure out that it was far to difficult to draw a rifle permit in this area but here in Montana, you can simply buy an over the counter elk tag and bow hunt in this area so the number of bow hunters exploded.
Now there are still huge elk in this area, I personally know a guy that took a 404 class bull there this year, but the numbers of big bulls and elk in general in this area are WAY down in just the past several years and it can be directly connected to the increase in bow hunters in this area.
We do not have many wolves in my area, or other major predators. Mainly extreme cold and high winds is the main killer of the big game. Generally its the very old and young that get killed, one may say thats the natural way and I would agree, but to my way of thinking, if an old or young big game animal was not chased repeatedly during the five weeks going into big game season, they would have much more energy reserves to possibly survive the winter stresses.
Your examples of the elk being stressed by their natural behaviors are certainly true. That is going to happen, if it does not, we do not get the best genetics for the next generation of elk calves. That is nature. A group of idiots working with illegal radios to chase the elk for 10 miles only adds to that stress, unnatural stress I would add. That is my point exactly, their lives are already stressful enough, I am just glad to see the time come everyyear when they get a break from us humans.
Also, do not get me wrong about close range hunting. Before I started building rifles, I hunted with handguns, SOLELY. I did this for over 10 years straight. Some were big single shot handguns but many were just traditional open sighted revolvers. Anyone that is familiar with modern archery equipment and traditional open sighted revolvers know that the modern bow will offer much better ranging ability, at least from a shootability stand point. I can put 3 arrows in 8" consistantly at 100 yards. I can not say I can do the same with a 6" barreled open sighted 45 Colt shooting offhand. Much more challanging in my opinion.
When I would hunt with handguns on the riverbottoms near my house, I would set up in ground blinds and basically blend away into the brush. I would see 15 to 50 deer a night, many of which getting with in yards of me and if the wind was right they would never know I was there.
I could do that night after night, seeing the same deer over and over for one reason, I was in their world but not making it mine. I would hunt generally 30 of the 35 days of the year waiting for that one buck I wanted to shoot. Every day seeing the same deer and eventually a wondering buck would show up as well.
Point is, if done right, the deer and elk will never change their habits. IF done wrong, which it generally is, the deer and elk are moved all over hell.
My point is simple, I just feel bad knowing the amount of stress that humans impose on these big game animals over our 9 weeks of hunting season between archery and rifle hunting.
Again, I support everyones right to hunt as they wish as long as its legal but that does not mean I feel that all legal hunting is ethical. We get the same hammer on us for long range hunting but when you get educated about both sides of the arguement. No educated person could say long range hunting is less ethical then most conventional hunters do all the time while throwing the ethical bomb at us.
Do not think for one minute that those 650,000 hunters in your state do not result in game dieing from stress even though its only for 9 days of chasing.
I just drove home from town, 15 miles away. One 5 mile section of road I counted 18 blood smears on the highway from deer being killed. All of those were killed during the last 4 days of big game season. I travel that road everyday and get to count the losses. Most were killed in the morning or evening during day light hours. Why, because the section of highway runs along some river bottom and the hunters in that area push them out. I would bet 80% of those deer that were hit were running from hunters. Most are does and this time of year, most will have been bred, so if you figure even 1/2 were bred does, thats 27 deer lost in 4 days. Part of life certainly but alot of that is caused by direct hunter contact.
Again, not anti hunter by any means, just realize the stress we put on the game even if unintended. Its dramatic to say the least and I am glad everyyear when they get a break. Interstingly enough, there has not been a deer killed on that section of road since hunting season ended. If we are conscience about the stresses we impose on the game, it will make us better hunters and better conservationists as well.
There is no group of people that have helped big game populations more then hunters but some of us still do alot of harm when that is really not needed in order to fill our tags, quite the opposite is true in fact.
Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.
I can see where you're coming from, but honestly, I think you're just gettin' a little too soft in your old age. Game Animals are getting chased and stressed year round by something or other and it's been that way since there have been game animals. Whether it's yotes', lions, or Texans doesn't really matter a whole lot. Now I think personally they ought to just outlaw any motorized vehicles off the roads during all biggame seasons, and that'd put an end to the inbreds chasing em' on their atv's and blowin' everybody else's hunts. And those guys are the only ones that I can see really stressin' deer and elk out.