Another year’s big game general rifle season came to a close last Sunday. That always prompts a phone call to my buddy Rich Gensch from Buckhorn Taxidermy in Missoula.
Gensch has been mounting animals and fish for the past 20 plus years and it’s always a joy to talk to him about his successful customers. I am sure every taxidermist in western Montana has a few stories to tell about this past year, just like Gensch.
“It was a better year for antelope than deer and elk,” according to Gensch. “In fact, Mike Lumsden of Missoula brought in an antelope that should score 86 and make it past the minimum of 83 required to make the Boone and Crockett record book.”
Lumsden’s antelope had horns that measured only 15 1/2 inches tall, but the horns had great mass and measured 7 1/4 inches around each base.
“The elk season didn’t really kick off for me until about mid-season,” added Gensch. “The largest bull elk that came in was shot by Gary Dreyer of Missoula and it scored 340.”
Gensch said his count was actually up for mule and white-tailed deer to be mounted but there weren’t the monsters he has seen in the past few years. Anglers, on the other hand, brought in a couple of nice catch-and-release pictures of steelhead and salmon this fall.
Tina Kinzel of Stevensville caught one of those fall kings that can be found down on the Clearwater River in Idaho. The fish came in at 44 1/2 inches long. A picture was snapped, then the fish was released.
Gensch thinks by the looks of the picture that the salmon would weigh in close to 40 pounds.
Missoula angler Rich Winter also caught-and-released a wild steelhead this past October on the Clearwater. Gensch thinks the fish would weigh around 23 pounds with the measurements that were taken by Winter. The fish was 42 inches long and 20 inches around.
According to the rules of the fishery, both fish had to be turned back anyway, but it was nice to hear the anglers were able to get the fish eventually on their wall.
The year is almost up for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers across the state. The 20 banquets held this past year in Montana went off very well, according to Al Christopherson of Helena, the Montana volunteer state co-chair.
Montana statewide volunteers will have a year-end meeting in Helena on Dec. 6-7.
Now, with nearly 9,000 members in Montana and over 4,000 attending the 20 banquets, the foundation is poised for another good year in 2003. The first banquet for next year will be in Polson in late January.
If you want to attend the National Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Camp in Reno, Nev., from Feb. 27 to March 1, you can call 1-800-CALL ELK.