Where are the bulls?

Filling The Freezer With Elk: Captain’s Column
By Matt Schauer

Posted: November 29, 2012

Last Sunday, the big game deer and elk season came to a close in Montana and I am happy to say that I am not elk-less. I was fortunate to shoot a cow the last week of the season. This happened after many days of walking in the woods.

Since the beginning of archery hunting season, my sole purpose was to fill my freezer. So after seeing cow elk after cow elk within rifle shooting range in the areas that I was hunting, and not being able to shoot because the regulations called for brow-tine bulls only, I decided to head for a hunting area where I could harvest a cow elk with my general elk license.

My 23 year old nephew, Michael Frost, joined me for a couple of days of elk hunting and I am glad he did. It was a good decision. I bagged the elk a little over two miles from the truck, so his young strong arms and legs came in handy when it came to hauling the elk back to the truck. Michael passed up an easy shot at a cow elk while hunting with me, but he did end up getting a 5 point bull elk by Ennis, last Friday afternoon.

The weather played a big part in making this year’s hunting season a bit challenging for many hunters. The reports that I received, from hunters and area wild game processor, indicated the success rate was good during the opening weekend in October, but was off during the middle of the season and then picked up a bit at the end. Most wild game processors were down from last year.

“We had a good day today (Monday) but for the season the game count probably ended up being the same as last year,” added Brad from H and H Meats in Missoula. “We took a few more elk and a few less deer this year.”

Ted Meinzen, from Lolo Locker, had this to say about his business during hunting season. “The archery season and opening of rifle were strong and then tapered off in the middle of the season.”

Meinzen said his overall game count was slightly down this year, with the elk count being strong at the start, but tapering off toward the end and his deer count was up a little.

Jeff Kuntz, of Superior Meats, told me his business was down from a year ago. “Deer and elk were down a little from a year ago but all year long we seemed to receive animals on a consistent basis.”

The last weekend at Superior Meats however was good. “Last Saturday was big so that really helped the last week compared to a year ago,” Kuntz said.

Even though the elk harvest numbers are down at many of the Montana hunting check stations, Ron Aashiem from FWP stated this in an e-mail concerning a possible elk hunting season extension, “the general season will not be extended, we may have some management hunts or game damage opportunities in some areas. Folks that potentially would participate would have needed to apply to be on a roster last July.”

-Captain