The anticipation of pursuing elk in Montana’s backcountry is enough to keep even the most seasoned hunter awake at night.
Images of calling in a bugling bull with flaring eyes and nostrils or settling the crosshairs behind the shoulder amid spitting snow makes the sweat and blisters well worth the effort. And a year’s supply of fresh elk steaks and burger isn’t bad either.
Last hunting season saw below average harvest primarily due to a warm and dry fall. Then a torrent of winter weather made access difficult in districts with so-called “shoulder seasons” which offer extended hunting for antlerless elk.
“Hunting especially for elk is weather dependent, and last year was a prime example of what happens when you have a hot and dry fall,” said John Vore, game management bureau chief with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “It’s too nice during the general season so there wasn’t much of a harvest, and then the snow and cold made it really difficult for hunters to get around.”
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Hunters did harvest a third more elk across all the shoulder hunts but still did not quite meet objectives in many districts. FWP conducts the hunt off of three-year averages, and the more than 40 districts open last season are expected to reopen this year.
Montana’s elk population is estimated at more the 176,000, ranging from the dense spruce forests of northwest Montana to the badlands of the east.
Region 3 in southwest Montana holds by far the highest populations in the state with more than 71,000 animals roaming the Big Belts, Elkhorns, Pioneers and Tobacco Roots and Gallatin/Madison and other areas.
Read full Missoulian article by TOM KUGLIN HERE.
Featured Image from goodgamehunting.com