First trip to Montana for Sharptail and Huns.

GWP14

New member
Just want to start out by saying I'm not looking for anyone's honey holes just looking for some advice. This trip will consist of my father age of 54, his life long bird hunting friend age of 73 that gets around better then most young guys, and myself 31. We will be coming out early September. We will be dragging a box trailer with us since we camp about anywhere. Planning on heading to the east central part of the state. Unless someone points us elsewhere. We will be bringing 6 pointing dogs with us. Do you guys hunt all of the block program or is there certain cover these birds prefer over other stuff? Any advice would be much appreciated if not we will just put our boots on the ground and get after. Thanks.
 
Lots of block management areas in Montana. The biologists are a good source of information too. They will be fairly generic. Depending on hatch it can be fantastic or a bust. Knocking on doors in Montana can be very useful. Need time to kick the DUST with a farmer. Good luck
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
Every year is different, but you may be aware there is a terrible drought happening in much of the West. I would be cognizant of that. Weather will affect things big time...MT was hugely impacted just a few years ago. At this moment none of us know where will be good, ok, or terrible. By reading your past posts over the 5 years you’ve been involved here it looks like you’ve reached out for advice on many occasions, which is fine, but each new destination carries the same realities...factor in weather, land access, bird surveys published by the state, anecdotal intel you may pick off from forums/friends, etc., and go from there. It’s a matter of miles on the tire treads and your boot treads. Obviously any game bird needs food and cover, and water/moisture. That’s about the extent of it, really. To me the fun is in the learning on the fly (no pun intended), the places explored, the people met, etc. good luck! One piece of advice—it can be hot in early September, real hot.
 
Benelli gave very useful advice. One of my mentors in hrc hunt test said” it’s all about the journey “ . I live in Montana but hunt a fair bit in no. Dakota. Many great relationships built over many years of trips!
 

remy3424

Active member
6 dogs, in September heat, the box trailer must be air-conditioned? Sounds like a blast!!! Post a report if it happens.

Just googled Billings temps in Sept, likely 70s, certainly 60s....can you keep the dogs from overheating while hunting (and yourselves)? I had concerns hunting my GSP with 50s. Late Oct temps might be more friendly, but still way warm, a good tune-up just before pheasant season.
 
6 dogs, in September heat, the box trailer must be air-conditioned? Sounds like a blast!!! Post a report if it happens.

Just googled Billings temps in Sept, likely 70s, certainly 60s....can you keep the dogs from overheating while hunting (and yourselves)? I had concerns hunting my GSP with 50s. Late Oct temps might be more friendly, but still way warm, a good tune-up just before pheasant season.
When hunting early season am often walking back to truck at 930 or so 1000am!
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
We’re out the motel door by 6 am, hunting by 6:45 or whatever...gotta make good use of that first few hours...sometimes that’s all you got!
 

remy3424

Active member
In Iowa, pheasants anyway, we can't start until 8:00AM, maybe someone was thinking you need to start early if the season opens early. Visiting SD next week...annual prairie dawg shoot! This is usually a sunrise to sunset deal, father is 84 and starting to slow down...might need to run him back to town early to mid afternoon this year. My second most favorite shooting activity.
 

Wolfchief

Active member
I've done that, it's a lot of fun! Shot the dogs near St. Francis (north of Valentine, NE) just inside SD---also up near Wall and just west of Wood, SD. Felt a little guilty at first but after the first 30 or 40 I shot, that feeling diminished...especially as the rancher was cheering us on!! Used a .222 Remington Varmint and a Winchester Model 70 heavy barrel varmint in .243 for the longer shots...would advise cleaning the bores regularly (say after every 25 shots or so) because if the copper deposits are allowed to build up, you have a hell of a time getting the bore really clean.
 

remy3424

Active member
I will taking a 17 Hornet and 3 ARs in 223 Rem, 20 Practical and 204 Ruger....all fine for ruining a dawg's day. The ARs will get the vast majority of the action. I have used from 17HMR to 25-06 on them. At least 90% of my shooting is inside 400 yards....I like hitting them, not just shooting at them.
 
I am looking to head out to Montana for my first trip there as well this fall(from Indiana). After a first trip to Kansas in 2012, I am painfully aware of what a drought year or number of years can do for a trip, especially a first trip. That said I have hopefully matured a little in 10 years and won’t be so disappointed at little action if that’s what this year brings. I have never been in big country like that and just looking forward to putting my dogs down out there. Heard last year in eastern MT and in ND was a good comeback for pheasants, sharpies and huns. On my bucket list to get into a covey of huns and have to start trying someday. Lord willing that someday will be this October. Waiting until later in season for cooler temps.
 

Westok

Member
I hunted eastern mt last year for the first time so I can’t compare it to other years. But to me it was very good. Only lacked finding some Huns to make it amazing. We saw a ton of sharps and quite a few pheasants. I’m hoping the drought doesn’t last and it stays good.
 

18 car

New member
Much of MT remains in drought condition (particularly NE Montana). I've been scouting last week and am disappointed in the numbers of birds found. A few older birds but few young.
 
Back in the drought 3or4 years ago we hunted the Hi-line like always and shot one young of the year pheasant and the rest were carry over. I suspect that this year will be the same or worse since the drought is much worse this year. Might not stop me from going but I will sure make it later in the season. Can't fight Mother Nature and she sure can be a b___ sometimes.
 

Naknekm

New member
I have talked to the Biologist in Eastern Mt and he told me that the area I usually hunt has massive problems this year with the hatch and cover. He said that there were severe rains, up to 6” during the nesting and believes that many if not most of the young birds didn’t make it. He also said that there is a lot of haying going on in the cdp fields and there were hordes of grasshoppers. He said that the hoppers had eaten most everything in sight. For example, he told me that the Buffalo Berry patches were almost without any leaves from the hoppers. He was pretty straight up and suggested that I not waste my time in the areas I usually hunt in E Montana and that he didn’t have suggestions on where the situation might be different. He suggested I track down someone in W Mt to see if I could get a better report. I don’t know if I am going to go to E Mt this year or not. Do your research!
 

Gordonskournate

New member
Just want to start out by saying I'm not looking for anyone's honey holes just looking for some advice. This trip will consist of my father age of 54, his life long bird hunting friend age of 73 that gets around better then most young guys, and myself 31. We will be coming out early September. We will be dragging a box trailer with us since we camp about anywhere. Planning on heading to the east central part of the state. Unless someone points us elsewhere. We will be bringing 6 pointing dogs with us. Do you guys hunt all of the block program or is there certain cover these birds prefer over other stuff? Any advice would be much appreciated if not we will just put our boots on the ground and get after. Thanks.
Send in for the BML books from the montana dnr. You are going in sept. So hunting sharptails and Huns they are not as effected by drought as pheasants. Grouse number one food in sept is hoppers.
For hunting advice hunt bushes and trees when it gets hot and it will get hot early sept. Look for grasshoppers and berries for grouse. Huns will be edges of crops or just about anywhere. If you are walking in anything you think a pheasant would like it’s to thick for grouse or Huns . Stay off the roads if it rains ,that gray clay is worse than a ft of snow. Bring or carry more water than you think . No humidity so you don’t sweat. You will need more water as well as the dogs.
 

Wyoguy

New member
I travel extensively in Eastern Montana and this year is reminding me of 4 years ago when things were so dry. This time of year a guy usually begins seeing pheasants. I've seen nothing this year--which is unusual. Despite a little rain recently, it's very very dry right now. I fear the hatch has really been impacted. Really too bad as things were beginning to come back. Frustrating.
 

Goosemaster

Well-known member
Look for sharptails on cricks, with berries close to the water.Grain needs to be near by, as well as Russian olive trees.
 
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