After a warm, mild and generally less-than-successful November for elk hunters, many are wondering if Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is going to extend any seasons.
The answer is no…and yes.
No, FWP does not plan to extend any general big game seasons. Yes, there may be some big game damage hunts scheduled.
Mack Long, the Regional Supervisor for Region 2, says damage hunts depend on snow and private landowners. At this time there are no elk damage hunts scheduled but that could change, according to Long.
“These special hunts are dependent on snow,” he said. “If we get snow and it drives the elk to lower ground, then there is a good chance that some landowners will want some help.”
How do you know if you are eligible for a special hunt? Long says if you have a cow elk tag or an elk A-7 tag, in most cases the department will contact you by mail to gauge your interest.
He also added that they try to complete most game damage hunts by the middle of February. So my advice is to pray for a lot of snow and don’t make soup out of your cow elk tag just yet. The hunt may still be on.
Earlier this week, I called the Freezeout Lake waterfowl hotline (sorry, no pun intended) and on that recorded report, they had received six inches of snow and only a couple of patches of open water remain.
The snow geese were non-existent at the time, but the report did say they hoped the colder weather would still deliver some geese through the area. Of course, the only problem that I see if Freezeout does get some geese to fly through, they will probably just keep going if it continues to freeze up and the open water becomes ice.
The report also added that the Canada goose numbers were looking good for the area so you might want to check into a possible hunt for them. The pheasant hunting over there has been poor all year. FWP updates the report when conditions change. The number to call is 406-467-2646
Speaking of pheasant hunting, if you have been frustrated by poor hunting, you might look into going to a Pheasant Shooting Preserve. The pheasant season at shooting preserves in Montana runs through March 31. If you would like a list of those preserves call Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks at 406-444-4039.
You can also contact the non-profit Montana Gamebird Association President Jan French at 406-423-5304. It will cost you a fee, but you might decide that you and your dog deserve a successful day out in the field.
Steelhead fishing continues to be good on the Clearwater River by Orofino, Idaho. The record run that was predicted is still going strong. For current river and fishing conditions you can call Riverside Sports in Orofino at 208-476-5418.