Hunting elk last week was a challenge. At least, it was in my hunting camp.
Why? For one thing, the weather so very nice. How nice was it? Well, I probably would have been better off slinging a bag of golf clubs around my shoulder instead of the .300 Ultra Mag rifle I was toting around in hopes of bagging an elk.
I know that once the snow and cold blow in, the area I was hunting will become the winter range for a few hundred elk. But that wasn’t happening last week. This most productive place in Southwestern Montana was pretty much elk-free in the beautiful weather we enjoyed.
It was just one of those things that happen to elk hunters in Montana. Elk hunters seem to live and die with the weather. Until the onset of winter blows in, you’re searching for a few elk instead of making the most of many.
I had heard reports that elk in this part of the state were down low by the creeks and rivers. Several elk had been reported down by the rivers by anglers who have been out enjoying the nice November weather.
I’m not alone in my elk hunting misery. The harvest of elk is still down according to the hunters checking stations set up by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.
The forecast for the near future looks like we might be getting some weather that will move the elk around a little bit more. Cold weather is what I will be looking for in the next few days; snow would be a bonus, too!
Fishing reports have been excellent on the rivers around Western Montana. Local sporting good stores are having more fly-fishing anglers buy flies than they would normally at this time of the year because of the unseasonably nice weather.
Steelhead anglers say the fishing also has been pretty good in Idaho, as well.
Even the walleye anglers are reporting some better than normal fishing for this time of the year. In fact, the anglers that have not winterized their boats for the winter are having some luck.
The Missouri River has some nice walleye holes below Holter Dam. I would also suggest fishing Canyon Ferry Lake, the causeway on Hauser Lake and Holter Lake before it gets to cold and they ice over.
Georgetown Lake has slowed, according to Don Beardsley. “Pin Larson, Dave Thompson and I went up last week and it was the first time I can remember getting skunked,” Beardsley said. The ice was just starting to form on the lake so maybe the next time the fishing pick up will be for ice anglers.
Don Peters, from Lolo, recently told me that if you are a pheasant hunter and looking for birds, then you might want to head over by the Great Falls area. “We hit a few spots by the river that held quite a few sharptail and pheasants,” said Peters.
Finally, I had Scott Jens, who claims he is an “ex-Eastern Montana hunter” send in another suggestion for our Hunters Checklist.
His e-mail to me suggested that when you leave to go hunting that you tell some responsible party or leave a note as to where you will be going and when you expect to be back. Not a bad idea just in case the cell phone coverage is not good where you will be hunting and you happen to get stranded.