Sunday Oct. 23, the opening of General hunting rifle season for deer and elk, proved to be one of the nicest fall days that I could remember.
The weatherman didn’t leave many surprises with his forecast for opening day. It was just plain nice after the fog burned off in western Montana. Hunters waiting for a little more inclimate weather probably stayed home and got some things done around the house so when the weather turns colder and more moisture hits the area in the form of rain or snow they will undoubtedly be ready to go.
I called around to the wildgame processors in the area to get an idea of what they were seeing from their customers. Surprisingly we saw a double in the amount of elk this year on opening day as compared to last year?, said John Peterson from H and H Wildgame Processors in Missoula.
One day however does not a season make. The number of deer that we took in was up a little from last year I would say around 20%?, reported Peterson. The nice weather might have been a factor according to Peterson why they received so many more elk than last year. We stayed open and received animals until 10pm Sunday night, I think the hunters wanted to make sure they got their elk cooled down and didn’t have it spoil?.
Ted Meinzen owner from Lolo Meat Locker went hunting himself on Sunday Morning so he wasn’t open until afternoon. We didn’t receive that many animals yesterday but today (Monday) it has been steady?. Jerry Stroot from Superior Meats also said things were pretty slow opening day but Monday hunters were coming in. We received a few cow elk but it was down from last year, the whitetail deer coming in was about the same as last year?.
Most every one I talk to that went out thought the dry conditions attributed to their lack of success. Last year we received about 10 inches of snow in the higher elevations on opening weekend, those conditions lead to a pretty good animal count at most hunters checking station in the area. Unfortunately that snowfall was about the only noticeable amount of precipitation that Western Montana received for the rest of the hunting season in 2004. Lets hope that this year we get a normal November to help with the harvest of the abundant elk and deer populations that we have in Montana. Also it is Time to fall back this Sunday morning remember to turn your clocks back one hour.
Fall Mack days came to an end last Saturday on Flathead Lake. Tim Shattuck from Kalispell who caught 71 lake trout won the $2000 grand prize. Dave Sparks of Thompson Falls won $1500 for his effort of catching 91 trout. The lottery based derby saw over 140 anglers compete for over $10,000 cash and prizes. Brandt Hamernick from Missoula finished with 199 lake trout entered falling just short of the 220 possible contest limit. Stacey Ross from Kalispell an hour and half before the contest ended took the largest lake trout caught. The fish weighed 24.3 pounds and had a length of 41 inches. Cindy Bras from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, one of the derby organizers, reported that the number of anglers almost doubled from last years Fall Mack Days. For the final results of 2005 Fall Mack Days log onto www.mackdays.com