Winter Storm Should Improve Hunting: Captain’s Column
By Matt Schauer

Posted: November 8, 2012

Mild weather in the low country apparently has not affected the elk and deer hunting as much as I thought it might this past week. The reports as you might imagine are varied, but all in all I believe the hunting success has been good for the most part across Western Montana.

Maybe Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager sums the hunting season year to date the best.

“Hunters are reporting that deer are moving, maybe in response to early rutting activity, but mild weather is taking its toll on hunter motivation and overall success, especially finding elk,” Thompson said.

I for one know what Thompson is referring to when he mentions mild weather. After returning from another unsuccessful elk hunt I noticed a golfer in a short sleeve shirt as I drove by a golf course as I headed for home.

Ideal golfing weather is not ideal elk hunting weather, but it is November and old man winter should be here soon. John Peterson from H and H meats said the first two weeks of the season were the best his wild game processing plant in Missoula has experienced in a couple of years. “We have had quite a few animals come in the past week and surprisingly a lot of elk,” said Peterson.

A couple of local hunters this past week were able to harvest a couple of real nice deer. Josh Stewart from Missoula shot a huge mule deer and had to work to get it out. “I shot this deer on top of a mountain and it was a chore to get it out,” Stewart said. The snow in the background of the picture Stewart sent me is a good indication that it must have been in a higher elevation. Also, Liza Kozak of Missoula was hunting with boyfriend Gerry Steinbrenner and they rattled in a very nice white-tail in the Blackfoot area. Kozak shot it the huge 5×5 white-tail deer with her 243. You may view both of these deer on

There is still over two weeks left in the hunting season and Montana Outdoor Radio Show elk hunting expert Shawn Plakkee had this tip to offer elk hunters.

“Pick up a U.S. Forest Service sectional map for the area that you are going to hunt and look for the places on the map where they restrict motorized vehicle travel to reduce wildlife disturbances,” Plakkee said. Some of these areas are elk wintering grounds.

“Elk are very habitual, they will go to the same wintering ground every year so when the weather gets nasty in the higher elevations the elk start to move down to lower ground,” he said.

Fire up your computer and go to Google Earth and check out the terrain. A lot of hunters complain that they don’t see elk when they are out hunting.

“If elk have been where you are hunting in the past and you don’t see them now it might just be because of the weather or time of the year,” added Plakke. “Just know that elk will be heading to their wintering grounds sooner than later.”

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