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  1. #26

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    "I'm amazed Colorado or Montana, with the pressure on the mule deer herds hasn't implicated a point restriction on the deer like it does the elk in Colorado."

    Four point or better point restrictions are devastating to quality when it comes to mule deer. The reason it that four point or better shifts all of the hunting pressure to the bucks with the best potential in the herd. If you want to implement an antler point restriction with the goal of increasing quality you need to install a three point or less restriction. My bet is it would not be very popular.

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    Ya compared to other states they are poor for the most part. But are way better than an otc public land tag. I drew a LE buck tag last yr. In a middle of the pack unit. Passed 2 160 mulies and a couple 150ish bucks. Never done that on public otc

  3. #28

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    “I lost my cool and didn’t figure that you were legal with 23 mule deer laying on the ground whole and not skinned at your camp”


    Oh, that didn’t strike you as normal?
    “To me, if you don’t eat it, then it’s not a point of pride”. -Matt Rinella

  4. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Killergaurd View Post
    Ya compared to other states they are poor for the most part. But are way better than an otc public land tag. I drew a LE buck tag last yr. In a middle of the pack unit. Passed 2 160 mulies and a couple 150ish bucks. Never done that on public otc
    I can remember passing on more and better bucks in one day in the past.

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    Quote Originally Posted by antlerradar View Post
    "I'm amazed Colorado or Montana, with the pressure on the mule deer herds hasn't implicated a point restriction on the deer like it does the elk in Colorado."

    Four point or better point restrictions are devastating to quality when it comes to mule deer. The reason it that four point or better shifts all of the hunting pressure to the bucks with the best potential in the herd. If you want to implement an antler point restriction with the goal of increasing quality you need to install a three point or less restriction. My bet is it would not be very popular.
    Interesting.

  6. #31

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    I figured I would chime in on this one.

    This will be my second year hunting Eastern Montana. Last year myself and my Montana resident buddy hunted it and loved the place. He moved there 10 years ago to play football at Carroll College and never left. Since his graduation we've slowly figured out small parts of the state together as his hunting was always limited with football. He now lives to hunt and eats wild game just about every night for dinner. He's damn near drunk with blood lust and playing catch up as far as learning how to hunt. So much so that he's blind to conservation at this point in his hunting career except when I bring him back down to earth.

    I made the trip to his elk camp last weekend as I had the big game combo tag. I had already killed a 6 point bull in Wyoming which required a two day packout. So my willingness to hike into his hell holes with high winds and snow in the forecast was less than his. He went for it while I mentioned that since my hunt was short I'd shoot any legal elk if they wanted the meat since no elk tags were filled yet between him and his soon to be wife. After seeing elk but not being able to deal the deal We started to talk about our deer hunt and pre planning it. He mentioned how, "well even if we don't kill an elk we'll have 6 deer tags when we head east so we should be fine. He noticed my grimace and said "what". I mentioned "well let's try and somehow kill these does on private land." ...."why?"

    "Well if the state of Montana has their way you guys will literally be wiping out herds of animals. Especially on public land. Just because Montana sells you the licenses, doesn't mean it's in your best interest to fill them all. I understand you wanting and needing meat. That's no problem. But from a management standpoint, it's tough to imagine 2 people killing 6 deer (3 of us killing 8) in our public land hunting spot in this day and age. Especially one we worked so hard to find and didn't see another hunter out of his vehicle last year."

    Whether I'm right or if I'm wrong, that's how I feel about it. Montana needs to take a long look at their season structure in my unprofessional opinion. I think it's great that Montana hunters have the freedom to hunt these long seasons. But to have that freedom and be able to kill a staggering amount of animals each fall is enough to worry me about the longevity. Not to mention how cheap it truly is! Yes, I'm paying $700 to shoot a buck and a doe whitetail. But my buddy and his fiancé are paying less for all their deer tags combined, than I am for My doe whitetail tag! So while it is awesome, I worry about the longevity of this management plan.

    To add just a bit more, the "opinion" that an antler restriction is Devastating to a herd is bogus. Wyoming went from an "any antlered deer" regulation to "three points or better" or "four points or better". There was initially some griping from the meat hunters but now that we're a few years into this in certain parts of the state, it's amazing at the quality of game, especially in flatter, desert terrain. EVERYBODY I've talked to loves the point restriction. Even the meat hunters riding around on 4 wheelers are having a better hunt. They're having to look over the two points that are easy targets. And they are still killing deer to feed their families, only now, they're bigger bodies more mature animals. It's amazing what great things will happen when the age structure of bucks increases.
    Trent Williams

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    Quote Originally Posted by POk3s View Post
    I figured I would chime in on this one.

    This will be my second year hunting Eastern Montana. Last year myself and my Montana resident buddy hunted it and loved the place. He moved there 10 years ago to play football at Carroll College and never left. Since his graduation we've slowly figured out small parts of the state together as his hunting was always limited with football. He now lives to hunt and eats wild game just about every night for dinner. He's damn near drunk with blood lust and playing catch up as far as learning how to hunt. So much so that he's blind to conservation at this point in his hunting career except when I bring him back down to earth.

    I made the trip to his elk camp last weekend as I had the big game combo tag. I had already killed a 6 point bull in Wyoming which required a two day packout. So my willingness to hike into his hell holes with high winds and snow in the forecast was less than his. He went for it while I mentioned that since my hunt was short I'd shoot any legal elk if they wanted the meat since no elk tags were filled yet between him and his soon to be wife. After seeing elk but not being able to deal the deal We started to talk about our deer hunt and pre planning it. He mentioned how, "well even if we don't kill an elk we'll have 6 deer tags when we head east so we should be fine. He noticed my grimace and said "what". I mentioned "well let's try and somehow kill these does on private land." ...."why?"

    "Well if the state of Montana has their way you guys will literally be wiping out herds of animals. Especially on public land. Just because Montana sells you the licenses, doesn't mean it's in your best interest to fill them all. I understand you wanting and needing meat. That's no problem. But from a management standpoint, it's tough to imagine 2 people killing 6 deer (3 of us killing 8) in our public land hunting spot in this day and age. Especially one we worked so hard to find and didn't see another hunter out of his vehicle last year."

    Whether I'm right or if I'm wrong, that's how I feel about it. Montana needs to take a long look at their season structure in my unprofessional opinion. I think it's great that Montana hunters have the freedom to hunt these long seasons. But to have that freedom and be able to kill a staggering amount of animals each fall is enough to worry me about the longevity. Not to mention how cheap it truly is! Yes, I'm paying $700 to shoot a buck and a doe whitetail. But my buddy and his fiancé are paying less for all their deer tags combined, than I am for My doe whitetail tag! So while it is awesome, I worry about the longevity of this management plan.

    To add just a bit more, the "opinion" that an antler restriction is Devastating to a herd is bogus. Wyoming went from an "any antlered deer" regulation to "three points or better" or "four points or better". There was initially some griping from the meat hunters but now that we're a few years into this in certain parts of the state, it's amazing at the quality of game, especially in flatter, desert terrain. EVERYBODY I've talked to loves the point restriction. Even the meat hunters riding around on 4 wheelers are having a better hunt. They're having to look over the two points that are easy targets. And they are still killing deer to feed their families, only now, they're bigger bodies more mature animals. It's amazing what great things will happen when the age structure of bucks increases.
    Terrific post . I agree 100%

  8. #33
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    https://www.wafwa.org/Documents%20an...006%20APRs.pdf

    APR is not in any way a long term solution.
    Fear the beard....

  9. #34
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    Several observations from our analysis of APR use in Wyoming and throughout the west are summarized below:
    • APRs DO increase total buck:doe ratios; however results vary and are usually temporary.
    • APRs are very popular with the hunting public. However public understanding of the
    pros and cons appears to be limited, and is complicated by popular literature concerning
    APRs.
    • Most benefits occur in ≤ 3 years; use of APRs beyond this often appear to result in
    negative impacts to both total buck ratios and mature buck ratios. Continued long term
    use of APRs (≥3-4 years) may result in lower total male:female ratios.
    • No APR strategy produced a long-term increase in adult (mature) male:female ratios, or
    an increase in the number of adult bucks, except in a handful of cases where hunter participation declined significantly, coupled with good fawn production.
    7
    • Temporary APRs are most effective following a year of high fawn production and recruitment or when doe harvest is increased.
    • Managers have found most effective way to recover from chronically low buck:doe ratios is through a dramatic reduction in harvest pressure on males ≥2 years of age (through a conservative limited quota season or very short season length). Available data also tends to support this.
    • APRs have been shown to reduce the number and potentially the quality of mature bucks over time.
    • Long-term use of APRs may target legal bucks that have not realized their full antler growth potential while protecting bucks with low antler growth potential (i.e., hunters select against legal bucks with smaller antlers). Although not validated by research, this is a concern among wildlife professionals and the public.
    • APRs may dramatically reduce hunter participation, harvest success, and total harvest.
    • APRs increase the number of deer shot and illegally left in the field; this can be
    significant and has been documented in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Montana.
    • APRS do not increase fawn production or population size. Even in herds with single-
    digit buck:doe ratios, pregnancy rates are well over 90%. Large increases in buck ratios result in relatively few additional fawns (White et al. 2001). The extent to which relative proportions of yearling and mature bucks influence timing of conception and fawn recruitment/survival needs further evaluation.
    • Some APRs displace hunting pressure to the oldest age classes of bucks, gradually eroding that segment of the population. Others reduce recruitment to older age classes by displacing harvest pressure to yearling males.
    • APRs may decrease interest of hunters whose primary motivation is to obtain meat.
    • APRs may discourage beginning and young hunters by increasing the difficulty of
    locating and identifying legal deer.
    • Long-term use of APRs in areas with limited security/escape habitat potentially impedes maintenance of publically acceptable total and mature buck:doe ratios.
    • Empirical studies of APR regulations have not been conducted. We recommend this become a priority research topic for the WAFWA.
    • APRs should be viewed as a legitimate management tool in areas with chronically low male:female ratios provided they are applied on a time-limited basis. Managers and the public are cautioned that available data and experience suggest APRs result in no long term increase in either the proportion or number of mature bucks, or the total deer population.
    https://wgfd.wyo.gov/WGFD/media/cont...VIE0006790.pdf
    Last edited by JLS; 11-09-2018 at 12:02 PM.
    Fear the beard....

  10. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by POk3s View Post
    To add just a bit more, the "opinion" that an antler restriction is Devastating to a herd is bogus. Wyoming went from an "any antlered deer" regulation to "three points or better" or "four points or better". There was initially some griping from the meat hunters but now that we're a few years into this in certain parts of the state, it's amazing at the quality of game, especially in flatter, desert terrain. EVERYBODY I've talked to loves the point restriction. Even the meat hunters riding around on 4 wheelers are having a better hunt. They're having to look over the two points that are easy targets. And they are still killing deer to feed their families, only now, they're bigger bodies more mature animals. It's amazing what great things will happen when the age structure of bucks increases.
    So please tell me what Wyoming units are being improved by APRs? Also, it would be interesting to hear how killing only the biggest/oldest and bucks with most genetic potential helps a deer herd, much less long-term quality of a hunt.

  11. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by JLS View Post
    https://www.wafwa.org/Documents%20an...006%20APRs.pdf

    APR is not in any way a long term solution.
    While I respect their findings, I'm living in an area where "hopefully seeing a two point for the table" was the verbiage...to now people seeing, shooting, and missing mature bucks. Tales of 200" deer are being told and whether they're true or not it doesn't matter. Mature bucks are being seen whereas 7-10 years ago that wasn't the case.

    I would argue that it would be very hard to cull the heard in the wrong direction with the "3 point or better regulation currently in place. I would also argue that maybe an antler point restriction isn't best for "trophy bucks" or "growing an overall population" but it is absolutely better for allowing deer to reach maturity, and an overall better hunt.

    But if a camp of 23 deer being killed with all of them being does or immature bucks (just a guess) is what the resident Montana hunters want then that's for them to decide.
    Trent Williams

  12. #37

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    Look, you guys may very well be correct, and maybe I'm living in the "hot spot" of where this antler point restriction is working. I can't beat science. I'm just one guy with an opinion that may be wrong. The only boots on the ground FACT I have, is that the age structure and number of bucks increased since the introduction of the restriction. Long term, it may be garbage. But right now it's not and I can't help but think that if the two points were spared a year in eastern Montana, the groupings of "we couldn't find a buck over 2.5" would shrink.
    Trent Williams

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by POk3s View Post
    Look, you guys may very well be correct, and maybe I'm living in the "hot spot" of where this antler point restriction is working. I can't beat science. I'm just one guy with an opinion that may be wrong. The only boots on the ground FACT I have, is that the age structure and number of bucks increased since the introduction of the restriction. Long term, it may be garbage. But right now it's not and I can't help but think that if the two points were spared a year in eastern Montana, the groupings of "we couldn't find a buck over 2.5" would shrink.
    • APRs DO increase total buck:doe ratios; however results vary and are usually temporary.
    APRs are very popular with the hunting public. However public understanding of the
    pros and cons appears to be limited, and is complicated by popular literature concerning
    APRs.
    Most benefits occur in ≤ 3 years; use of APRs beyond this often appear to result in
    negative impacts to both total buck ratios and mature buck ratios.
    Continued long term
    use of APRs (≥3-4 years) may result in lower total male:female ratios.
    No APR strategy produced a long-term increase in adult (mature) male:female ratios, or
    an increase in the number of adult bucks, except in a handful of cases where hunter participation declined significantly, coupled with good fawn production.
    You mentioned your unit was several years into the APR regulation. I would expect you may very well see diminishing returns or a regression in the very near future.
    Fear the beard....

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    Name:  Deer Pic.jpg
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    Just Learning how to post a pic. Anway the buck above is somewhat of a legend between my brothers and I. My brother Ben Killed him on OTC Public Land. On BLM. I passed him up the year before (the sheds) prob 165. The buck no doubt had man lives. The public borderd private. which many know and understand only the kingmen can hunt. Which inturn allow some animals to mature. kinda like an LE tag. Limited hunters period. We all know, well some with common sense. MT FWP sucks at management. Its up to us to make a push for better quality hunts. could care less for myself for hunting in the future. Only care for my children's oppurtunity. wheather its LE or point restriction something must be done. Its up to us to ensure oppurtunity and quality. So guys with some pull step up. Iam no expert but will follow. Antlerradar cool you the man

  16. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by antlerradar View Post
    "I'm amazed Colorado or Montana, with the pressure on the mule deer herds hasn't implicated a point restriction on the deer like it does the elk in Colorado."

    Four point or better point restrictions are devastating to quality when it comes to mule deer. The reason it that four point or better shifts all of the hunting pressure to the bucks with the best potential in the herd. If you want to implement an antler point restriction with the goal of increasing quality you need to install a three point or less restriction. My bet is it would not be very popular.
    Colorado had point restrictions for mule deer for a long time ^ this was the effect and they dropped the rule.

  17. #42

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    [QUOTE=Killergaurd;2765080 Antlerradar cool you the man[/QUOTE]

    Killergaurd. That is a fantastic buck.
    You seem to have me at a bit of a disadvantage or you are thinking of some one else

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    Antler radar I was just being an ass. Hey something has to change. Season structure, not hunting in the rut. Antler restriction. All LE. Only way to change it is for us, the hunters to make it happen

  19. #44

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    This past weekend I decided to try out a new area that has historically held some big mature deer. I knew I would run into plenty of hunters but since its such a big chunk of public ground I was sure I could do some hiking and get away from the competition. There were more hunters than I could have imagined. It is big country and at times I would be on a glassing knob and could count up to a dozen other vehicles cruising the hills around me. The number of hunters might not have been such a problem but add the fact that they were driving along the tops of every draw and you felt like the deer didn't stand a chance. It almost makes you feel guilty about hunting deer when you see them getting that much pressure.

    Every year public land pressure seems to increase. Every year hunters are outfitted with better gear, better optics, rangefinders, rifles that can shoot farther, etc.....yet Montana's system stays the same. You can't continue to improve the efficiency of hunters without improving the resource, its just not sustainable.

    I agree that the only way to change it is for hunters to make it happen. This year some hunters in the Libby area got fed up and came up with an initiative to make one of the local deer units a limited permit area. This was against the wishes of FWP, but it somehow passed. I'm not saying making the whole state limited quota is the answer (I'd personally just like to see a shorter season), but it is encouraging that changes can happen if enough hunters decide to do something about it.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsky2 View Post
    This past weekend I decided to try out a new area that has historically held some big mature deer. I knew I would run into plenty of hunters but since its such a big chunk of public ground I was sure I could do some hiking and get away from the competition. There were more hunters than I could have imagined. It is big country and at times I would be on a glassing knob and could count up to a dozen other vehicles cruising the hills around me. The number of hunters might not have been such a problem but add the fact that they were driving along the tops of every draw and you felt like the deer didn't stand a chance. It almost makes you feel guilty about hunting deer when you see them getting that much pressure.

    Every year public land pressure seems to increase. Every year hunters are outfitted with better gear, better optics, rangefinders, rifles that can shoot farther, etc.....yet Montana's system stays the same. You can't continue to improve the efficiency of hunters without improving the resource, its just not sustainable.

    I agree that the only way to change it is for hunters to make it happen. This year some hunters in the Libby area got fed up and came up with an initiative to make one of the local deer units a limited permit area. This was against the wishes of FWP, but it somehow passed. I'm not saying making the whole state limited quota is the answer (I'd personally just like to see a shorter season), but it is encouraging that changes can happen if enough hunters decide to do something about it.
    There are so many things that could be done to improve the situation, even without going LQ or shortening the seasons.

    Until the FWP quits citing a 40 year old "study" that they did, showing that Montana hunters wanted opportunity over everything, and anything else, change will be slow to happen.

    My family and I talked a lot about this during our recent deer hunt in Montana...some of the things that would help are blaringly obvious.
    "...the world outside, which my brother and I soon discovered, was full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the farther one gets from Missoula, Montana." -Norman Maclean

    "They were still so young they hadn't learned to count the odds and to sense they might owe the universe a tragedy"
    -Norman Maclean

  21. #46

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    So what's the answer?

  22. #47

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    Quit making management decisions influenced by the management philosophy of the law of diminishing returns. The law of diminishing returns only works if there is good access to most of the game populations. There hasn't been that kind of access in close to forty years. Without good access hunters can not self regulate where they hunt and the accessible public land gets pounded year after year.

    Fewer regulations and more tags doesn't necessarily result in more opportunity. Back in the early 90's aside form a few whitetail doe tags and some sight specific mule deer doe tags the only tag available was an A tag. Buck hunting was pretty good opportunity on the public back then and there was a lot less public available. Now we have in Region 7 in addition to your A tag ,unlimited whitetail doe tags(one per person), 2000 additional whitetail doe tags valid in all of Region 7 . eleven thousand mule deer doe tags that can be used anywhere in the region, 225 ether sex elk permits good in 702,704 and 705, 3700 archery elk permits of witch many are used in Region 7, unlimited elk A tags that are good for a Cow or spike off of the Custer, 500 elk b tags good in any place in Region 7 except the Custer and 600 elk b tags valid in 702,704 and 705. It all adds up to a lot more hunting pressure. Is it any wonder that mule deer on public are taking it on the chin and those that are left are taking up refuge on private land. You just can not continue to stuff more and more hunters on to the Custer and surrounding Public land expect it not to change for the worst.
    Last edited by antlerradar; 11-13-2018 at 02:54 PM.

  23. #48
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    My SE Montana Public Land reflections for 2018.

    Well, my wife and I just returned from yet another SE Montana public lands adventure. As stated earlier in this post, this is my wife’s favorite part of Montana to hunt. With that said, it did take some time talking her into taking another trip east due to the hunting pressure in our favorite areas. Mostly, I just wanted to spend time in the field with my wife! I also wanted to do a personal audit of the number of hunters, hunting pressure and critter numbers seen on the public.

    From my prospective, here are my observations.

    #1: Hunter numbers, both resident and non-resident, had definitely increased. We came across hunters from all over this great country but only took time to talk to a few. There were multiple non-residents license plates from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington and single rigs from as far away as Maryland and Alaska. The majority of resident hunter rigs had 4, 6 and 7 county plates.

    #2: Hunting pressure, on the public was intense! Each day, we came across other hunters while out in the field. We hunted as far from the roads as you can possibly get on public ground in SE Montana and could not get away from other hunting parties. One day we had hiked to the back end of a long public piece of ground. We did this 3 ½ mile hike in the dark via headlamps and were waiting for day light on top of one of our favorite glassing knobs. We had not been there for more than 20 minutes when we heard voices directly below us. Yup, headlamp lights heading straight up to our position on the knob. The two Minnesota hunters nearly jumped out of their skins when I said, “HOWDY”, as they closed to within 25yds. They turned out to be very nice young guys who had packed in two days earlier. They had tagged a nice fat 3 ½ year old 3x4 muley buck and two muley does in their first two days and were really enjoying their Montana hunting trip. I should note that we first hunted this piece of ground about fifteen years ago. In that time we have only seen hunters in that area twice. One hunter from Bozeman in 2015 and two hunters from afar last year in 2017, yup, that’s all! As my wife and I hunted our way back to the truck we viewed another hunting party with three hunters on the ridge to the south and another lone hunter closer to the main road. During our trip back to the truck that day we hit all our usual glassing spots. We hit all our favorite critter hide-e-holes. We viewed a total of (5) mule deer before reaching the rig that day. SAD, 7-mile round trip hike on this piece of public land and we saw more hunters than deer! Driving out that evening my wife stopped counting at 300+ deer out in the private outfitted lands that parallel that piece of public.

    #3: Number of deer seen on the public was WAY down from a few weeks ago! With that said, and with the rut ramping up, most doe groups had at least one buck not far away. 1 ½ to 3 ½ year old bucks made up 99.9% of the bucks viewed out on the public grounds. These bucks also were 99.9% of the bucks we saw that were taken by hunters, along with at least a hundred does. These young bucks and does were getting hammered! We did see a total of four, “older aged mature bucks”, with only one of those being located on public ground. That one mature public ground buck? Well, my wife and I spent two hours maneuvering ourselves into her rifle range of that buck. He was bedded with his does directly across a deep drainage from us. We had run out of cover and could only see the buck’s head so we were in our usual waiting game. 1 ½ hours later two does where up feeding and another small forked horn had made his way down to the group. Then a hunter appeared on the skyline of the ridge above the deer. We watched as this hunter spotted the deer below him. My wife had a great rest over her pack and she had her cross-hairs at the top of the brush that was hiding the buck’s bedded body. I was announcing to her the other hunter’s play-by-play and telling her to hammer the buck once he started to stand. Watching the other hunter go from casually glassing the deer below him to almost panic mode once he spotted the bedded buck was quite a sight! The other hunter dropped to his belly so fast that I lost sight of him for a second. He then tried to use his bipod but could not get the angle due to the steep slope. He then crawled forward to shoot prone off of a small rock. Nope, that didn’t work either! He then struggled to remove his pack and that got the two does and forky to stare directly in his direction. Finally he maneuvered his pack into a rifle rest and shot the buck in his bed. The buck never got up so it must have been a good shot! My wife started cussing, removed the cartridge for her chamber, shouldered her pack and took off for our rig. Yes, she left me sitting there alone! I made my way over to the hunter and his buck. The hunter had been hunting the next ridge to the north and had seen the little buck top the ridge. He didn’t admit this, but after talking with him, I think that he would have shot the forky if the bigger buck hadn’t been there. So goes hunting on our PUBLIC LANDS RANCH! That hunter was really excited, so much so, he was still shacking as we talked. While I did take some photos for him with both his camera and his phone, he did not want any additional help! It was the fourth day of his very first western hunt and he wanted to experience everything by himself!

    I did a whole lot of thinking as I hiked the few miles solo back to the rig. That buck’s time was over! That buck had just plain run out of luck and hiding places! I’m guessing that the public will have less and less critters running around during the general season in the years to come. UNLESS our FWP can change their way of thinking and allocation of tags in the 700’s, this will be my wife and I’s last trip to SE Montana’s Public Lands Ranch!

    Last word, Jim, Jason or Justin, I’m hell on remembering names, “NICE BUCK”!

  24. #49

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    You exaggerate a lot.

  25. #50
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    Greenhorn,

    Don't we all?

    Think'n that I'll spend the remainder of the season in the real mountains!

    Betting that I don't see another hunter while out and about there...

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