Big game hunters that have not been successful so far this season are starting to feel the anxiety that comes as the season draws to a close. There are only 11 days left in general deer and elk rifle season. Hunters must look at the positives! Yes the end is near but we still have two full weekends left and most of Western Montana is seeing snow in the higher mountains. That moisture and some colder temperatures the region is expecting in the next few days should get the elk moving. As hunters know you can’t shoot if you don’t see any big game. Last year for example, the winter weather really settled in the week of Thanksgiving, with below zero temperatures. Hunters starting to see elk and deer, and the success rate for hunters went up accordingly. Deer hunters have not had to wait for the weather to change. They are already having success with the deer rut in full swing.
I still have an elk cow tag to fill. The B tag is in Hunting District 300. This area is located northwest of the small town of Lima. The reason Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) had the drawing was to help the area ranchers control the elk that come into their fields and eat their hay. It is a unique situation and therefore calls for a different type of elk hunting. I call it Urban Elk hunting. When the elk herds arrive in the fenced pastures it can be interesting to say the least. As you might imagine when the elk arrive the hunters do too! For this reason in the past FWP usually has at least two Game Wardens patrol the area, in addition to that Beaverhead County also dispatches a Deputy Sherriff to make sure the elk excited hunters don’t go where they are not suppose to go. Some of the land owners don’t allow hunting. The elk naturally will gravitate towards those private lands. When that happens hunters will travel the roads adjacent to where the elk are and wait for them to cross into an area of FWP block management (BMA). Last year the hunter activity prompted road closures. The BMA areas that happen to surround the land that the elk are on are very popular. These BMA’s require written permission from the land owner. Last year the land one of the lands owners that signed up for BMA had over 60 hunters stop by each day to ask for written permission to hunt their land. Because of the size of the BMA parcel the land owners wanted to limit the number of hunters to 10 per day. With 60 hunters asking each day it became a difficult task to say the least. This year to get written permission on the same piece of BMA ground hunters are asked to call a toll free number set up by FWP every Thursday to reserve written permission two weeks in advance. The new system all though not perfect seems to be working. One thing is for certain if it wasn’t for it, the land owner probably would have opted out of the BMA program altogether this year.
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