Thankful for it All: Captain’s Column (11.26.15)
By angelamontana

Posted: November 26, 2015

Today is Thanksgiving and I am very thankful to live where I do and do what I do for a living. The freedom to enjoy the great Montana outdoors should never go unappreciated. This is a state that offers so much for the outdoor enthusiast to do. Fishing opportunities in Montana are second to none as far as I am concerned. Fly fisher folks enjoy fishing all across the West Central part of the state all the while taking in breath taking scenery as they cast their flies to unsuspecting trout. I don’t know but it seems to me that it would probably take a year of daily boat launching’s to fish all the lakes and reservoirs we have available to us. There are not to many states in the union where you have the chance to catch a bass, trout, northern pike, whitefish, lake trout, yellow perch, walleye, and kokanee salmon while fishing from shore or in a boat. Heck I even caught a chinook salmon this year trolling at the face of the dam on Fort Peck Reservoir. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks states there are presently 85 species of fish in 21 different families known to be in Montana waters. If you are an angler then that is a lot to be thankful for today.

Hunters in Montana enjoy one of the longest Big Game rifle seasons for deer and elk anywhere. Hunting success has seemed to pick up this year for many Montana hunters. The elk harvest is up in most of the hunting regions so far, with only a few days left in the hunting season. The elk numbers are coming back which might be the main reason more hunters will have an elk in their freezer. This year for the first time FWP is experimenting with an elk shoulder season in 5 Montana hunting districts. The shoulder-season hunts, aimed at reducing elk populations in some areas, are pilot projects.   The elk shoulder-seasons in hunting districts 445, 446, 449, and 452 will begin on Nov. 30, 2015 and end on Feb. 15, 2016. The shoulder-season in hunting district 410 will begin Jan. 1, 2016 and end Feb. 15, 2016. All hunts are for antlerless elk only. “We’ve been pleased and encouraged with the response from landowners and hunters,” said Jeff Hagener, FWP director in Helena. “A number of landowners will be working with FWP to define and provide access to take good advantage of this additional harvest opportunity authorized by the commission. We need that cooperation and we’ll need hunters to be respectful and capable guests on private land.” The fact that these hunts will take place on private land hopefully will help improve landowner and hunter relationships for hunting access during our general hunting season.

Along with the elk populations, mule and whitetail deer populations are also on the rise and hunter’s success is also better this year because of it. Many of the hunting check stations are showing increased harvests numbers for whitetail while mule deer numbers vary depending on the check station.

As we all know the general deer and elk hunting season ends this Sunday a half hour after sunset. So while you are hunting these final few days take a moment and give thanks for all Montana has to offer and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

(Written by the Captain – aka Mark Ward)