The cold snowy weather that hunters have been waiting for finally has finally arrived.
Beginning last week and carrying into this week, snow arrived across Montana. From Kalispell to Great Falls to Wolf Point, snow fell in varied amounts.
“Some mountain ranges in the North Central part of the state received as much as two feet of snow,” said Ron Aasheim, from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks office in Helena.
With the snowy weather comes a number of hunting opportunities.
“The elk harvests were up significantly from the weekend before at the Gallatin Hunting Checking station just south of Bozeman,” said Aasheim. “The reports that we got were that the elk started to move when the cold front moved in last week and the snow just helped with that movement.”
The deer harvest has also been excellent with some indications that the rut might have already started. That would be at least a couple of weeks ahead of normal.
If you are looking for meat for the freezer, Aasheim suggests checking with your local Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks office to see if there are any surplus antlerless deer tags left in the area you normally hunt.
John Peterson, from H and H Meats, a wild game processor in Missoula, told me the first week, despite the nice weather on opening day and the first part of the week, was the best by far he has had since he has been in the business.
Antelope general rifle season closes this Sunday, Nov. 9. According to Aasheim, the antelope season this year was a good one.
“We have had reports of a lot more big bucks bagged this year than in years past,” he said. “The horns that some hunters have brought through the checking stations have really been impressive.”
One reminder for antelope hunters is that if you still hope to fill your license with a buck, pronghorn bucks start to lose their horns around this time of year. So check out the bucks carefully before you shoot.
The colder weather has also gotten the waterfowl moving siytg. “The combination of colder weather up north pushing the birds down and the some of the ponds freezing up makes it easier to spot larger flocks of northern mallards and Canada geese,” said Aasheim.
Freezeout Lake, a popular waterfowl hunting place over by Fairfield, is now frozen. Look for the rivers and warm water creeks for some good waterfowl decoy hunting as long as the cold weather stays in the area.
The Fall Mack Days fishing derby is still going on until Nov. 15. Anglers can still sign up anytime till the last day. Call 883-1902 or log onto www.mackdays.com.
As of last Monday, 620 lake trout have been turned in for the lottery drawing by 59 anglers participating. Paul Soukup from Ronan is leading the pack with 54 lake trout registered. Paul Haines from Polson isn’t far behind with 44 and Larry Ashwell from Missoula has 40 in for the drawing.
The largest lake trout caught so far is 14 pounds, 1 ounce by Scott Taylor of Polson.
The Lake Superior whitefish category has been a little slow with only 11 turned in but the fishing should start to pick up for them anyday now, according to Tracy Burland of S-K Marina.