Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 Big Game Season Ends

Sunday November 25, the sun set on another Montana big game season. As always each season has its own character. I can say this is one of the warmer ones I can remember in the last ten years. Some years its freezing cold at the beginning with fresh snows only to be melted off by brutal chinooks the last two weeks of the season. This year was definitely a mixed bag here in southwest Montana. We only got one-what I would call good-cold snap that really got the game moving. The snow was a foot deep in my back yard only to be melted bare by last week. However during that cold snap things turned out really good for some friends of mine. Two got their elk and one got a very respectable whitetail. The last day of the season was perfect weather-cold, a gentle falling snow, a long day's hike in good country, and me getting stuck way out in the middle of nowhere after dark. Thank God for Hi-Lifts and Chains! Til next year.

Now that general big game is over there are still some weapons restricted areas running seasons into January for antlerless whitetail, check the regs and get at it while you can if you still need meat in the freezer. We also still have a good chunk of waterfowl and upland bird season to get after. The coyote pelts are going to be at their prime from now until mid February. So there is no excuse to be cooped up inside.

As for my friends-Ty(first bull!), Doug and son Cody(first head of big game ever!), and veteran Brian(Nice Buck!)-Congradts gentlemen!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Second Season

It seems like it was yesterday that we were digging out our bird vests, complaining about the heat and smoke from western forest fires.  The dogs were heavier then, also sporting more feathering on their hocks and tails.  We were mostly hunting blue grouse in September, on the mountain ridges that are now covered with snow.
We moved downhill for a few weeks of pheasant season, combined with the occasional Hun and sharptail outing. I also chased sage grouse one day with a friend from the Deep South, who was shocked at the size of the big bombers.
Then, to the dogs' dismay, the 20 and 28 gauges were moved to the back of the gun safe for a few weeks.  Antelope, deer and elk hunting took up valuable time during the precious autumn, but the thrill of the big game chase is pretty special too, when you consider the speed of the prairie pronghorn and the alertness of majestic mountain elk.
Now, the only barriers to keeping the dogs out of the field are weather and work.  I don't mind hunting in snow and cold,  but sometimes the icy roads are the real problem.  Hunting pressure is virtually nothing now, the pheasants are in the heaviest cover and Huns are full-grown and handsome.  Hunting in December is as sporty as it gets. Some days, the gun never is fired, when the roosters decide to run and the sharptail and partridge flush wild. There aren't a lot of easy birds, but that isn't the concern.  Those of us with dogs know that their lives are short and every day hunting during the second season, is a gift.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Out and About with Hunting GPS Maps

As I write this it appears the weather forecast is turning in our favor. A few flakes have started to fall and temps should dip into the single digits soon. Maybe it will get the game moving-just in time for the rut. The last two weeks have been..well...weird, in terms of weather. Usually by this time the Schnee's pacs are laced up and the wools are shedding knee to waist-deep snow up high. Just this week I'm wearing jeans and light hikers and it's the third week of general season. I guess I should appreciate it for what it is.

On another note, I've been making good use of my Hunting GPS maps app in the Garmin. My first season with it, I've been intentionally taking it to places where you have to mind which side of the fence you're on and often times the fence isnt even good enough to keep you in line-that is the boundary line is a good 200 feet away from the fence. Not a problem with this new software though. In addition to having high resolution topo features it shows color coded land ownership data along with the name of the property owner. As we all know there are great public areas that butt up to private land and sometimes its a sliver at that. With this you can narrow down to within mere feet exactly where the boundaries are. If you haven't heard of this software check it out at

Good hunting!