2013 Hunting Season

On December 1, 2013, the Deer and Elk Hunting season officially closed here in Montana. Initially there had been some rumors of a damage hunt due to low numbers of animals taken, but the season ended with no official extensions.

It looks like over most of Montana the number of deer obtained during this hunting season was down. Elk was about the same. In Regions 1 and 2 (in Northwestern and western Montana) the numbers of deer were equal or above last year’s take. Here in the eastern and central regions of Montana, the deer were hit hard by the EHD virus spread by biting midges, so fewer deer were seen.

EHD (Epizootic hemorrhagic disease) is seldom seen in Montana so it’s affects are more noticeable. In the southern states, the disease is more common and it’s thought that the deer have developed immunity to it. Although EHD can also infect Mule Deer and Pronghorn Antelopes, there aren’t as many fatalities noted. Numbers indicate that typically 25-50% of the existing deer population is affected. Since our whitetail deer populations were at or near record high numbers, this disease is very noticeable.

The virus is spread by biting midges, also called sand flies and no-see-ums, mainly in the late summer and early fall. These insects reproduce in mud and standing water. Our hot summer lowered water levels and created more muddy areas, better breeding grounds for these insects. The first frost kills the midges but not the larvae, which burrow into the ground. It will be interesting to see if next year there is another episode of the EHD virus.

Hunters may have come across deer that have exhibited symptoms of this disease. The disease causes extensive hemorrhaging, including the oral and nasal tissues. The deer may have excessive salivation, nasal discharge, respiratory difficulties, tender hooves, an arched back, and fever. Some animals have had such a high fever that they have been near or even immersed in fresh water, supposedly attempting to regulate their high temperatures. Hunters have reported finding dead whitetail deer in or near ponds and even floating in rivers.

Humans are not affected by EHD even if they handle the infected deer, eat the infected meat, or are bitten by the midges. However, it’s not recommended to eat any meat from an infected animal, since they may have also acquired other infections which may be harmful.

Let’s hope that there truly was only a 25-50% decimation in the whitetailed deer in Region 4 and that next year the deer hunting is back up to normal levels.

 

Hope you had a great hunting season wherever you are. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy, prosperous New Year with many more great hunts to come!

 

(Information for this blog came from Montana FWP website, Wikipedia, Great Falls Tribune, Missoula’s MT Standard, and Billings Gazette newspapers).

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The Right to Bear Arms

Recent discussions of gun control has resulted in many people purchasing a gun, just to have one. Some people have purposely bought an Automatic Rifle (AR) just because they may be discontinued. Hunters don’t take AR out into the field. We may take a handgun as well as our rifles or shotguns in case of bear, but we don’t have a need for an AR.

Now that everyone is buying guns, they are also buying ammunition. It’s getting harder and harder to find shells for shotguns, rifles, and handguns. We’re hoping that before hunting season that the supply of ammunition is ample.

Although we’re glad that many people have bought guns and shown the government that we do NOT want this constitutional right taken away, we’re a little frustrated too. Now we also have to contend with a shortage of ammunition from people stockpiling or just buying a case of shells to go with the gun in their safe that may never get used to hunt.

Out here in Montana, as well as other parts of the country, there are a lot of hunters. By hunters we don’t mean someone who owns a gun that sits in a safe and only gets used on the firing range. By hunters we don’t mean people that once a year hire a guide to take them to a game preserve and help them bag a trophy for their wall (although that is a specific form of hunting). By hunters we mean our neighbors or the farmer and his wife down the road that all go to hunting camp during hunting season and hike in the mountains (or in some places sit in a deer stand) and shoot Deer (both whitetail and mule deer up here) and Elk and then butcher them and process the meat and use it to feed the family. We may also get an elk or deer with antlers for the wall, but we use the meat from the bulls as well as the cows. Most of us know all the hunting regs of which type of animal we can shoot and where the boundaries are. We respect landowners rights and ask permission before hunting on their land. If our neighbor doesn’t get an animal and we have extra, many times we will share ours.

Many people in cities around the United States have never been out on a farm or lived in the country or even eaten deer or elk meat. They don’t understand what hunting is truly about. Deer and Elk meat are both very lean and high in protein. Many of the hunters here in Montana (and also in other parts of the country) butcher their own animals and either process the meat themselves or take it to a wild game processor. We feel that hunting your own meat is more humane than some of the other meat processing methods that are out there. Don’t get us wrong, we also eat beef, pork, turkey, chicken, etc. We just may raise and butcher our own rather than purchasing through a slaughterhouse. We have the privilege of  having enough land to be able to raise our own animals. Hunting season is a special time around here. It’s a time when families will go together out to the woods and hunt for food that will last through the winter, just as it’s been done for hundreds of years in this countryKen with Cow Elk 2012.

While we try to respect the rights of animal activists around the country, we ask that they try to respect our rights to hunt wild animals and eat what we catch. We are grateful to all the American citizens who have recently bought a gun to express the view that is is our RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS as stated in the Constitution.

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Coyote Hunt

Planning a coyote hunt for the 14th, 15th or the 16th. It would be great to call in some nice coyote’s and have a great hunt with good friends.

 

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I saw quite a few elk all of which were cows and calves, the one bull I saw was a spike, no brow tines no shooting. I did get a nice 5×5 mule deer with a 22 inch spread, weighed in at 250 lbs after field dressed. I also did get my whitetail doe.

5x5 Mule Deer Buck

5x5 Mule Deer Buck

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Elk Hunting

I am headed to elk camp for five days the snow has been flying in the mountains. The temp is in the mid teens, which should make for a great hunt.

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SNOW!!!

Finally snow in the mountains and in the plains! That means there will be Elk moving this weekend. I’m headed to the mountains to get that big bull. Don’t know if you’ve ever had elk meat, but it’s some of the most tender tasting meat, especially the backstraps. If you’re headed out hunting, good luck to you. Be careful and hunt safely.

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Hunting in Montana this weekend.

Plan to head to the mountains this weekend and see whats moving. There’s a little snow on the mountains now. Hoping  for more this weekend. If we get more snow this weekend, the Elk hunting should be good. How is  the hunting in you area?

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