We’ve been considering a upland hunt to NE MT, including possibly the Fort Peck Res. Have heard rumors of extremely low bird numbers and even possibly an emergency season-close. Does anyone have any more specific information regarding these areas??? Thanks so much.
I read in either this board or another from a MT resident in the NE area, that it was very poor looking. A friend and I are trying to plan a hunt and we'd like to hunt the NE area as well, but the outlook is likely going to discourage us and we may end up elsewhere. If you dig around in the MT state websites, you can find maps and reports of vegetation and land conditions from farmers, ranchers, etc. It looks bad.
I located some of the information again.
I looked at the Montana Drought Impacts map and then the "crop and range conditions" tab. Nothing good reported.
Last year was dismal, no young birds. Worst I've seen since the down year after the winter of 96-97. Ran into groups that never got a bird. They've had a better spring this year, but also some bad hail. It took several years to come back after that bad winter, but since then they have lost around 60% of the crp. Not real promising, but I hope better than last year.
It was tough up there last year. It takes you a while to learn block management , how to call landowners etc... The area around circle was scorched earth. We did best in central mt on private and around Glendive. Very slim though per mile walked.
I put my gun away last fall after 1st field I pheasant hunted, I did target grouse and huns, but did not shoot at one pheasant last year, first time since I was 10 I did not harvest a pheasant. There are more this fall then last, but the area I hunt is probably down 75% from 2 years ago. The state of Montana releases birds the week of pheasant opener at certain block areas, so you will see people say they "saw birds". So if you don't mind shooting pen raised pheasants and fighting the other 4 rigs at block management sites...have at it. Myself, I will target huns and grouse, and not shoot a rooster again this fall. Also, the fire danger is again high in certain areas of the state, some restrictions in place, will only get worse unless we get rains or snows.
I don't want to discourage , but if you have realistic expectations, you are likely to be LESS disappointed.
I talk to lots of bird hunters thru my PF chapter, for which I volunteer.
I hear huns are really , really down, I spent 5 days in the Lewistown area, and I admit I don't have the right dog, a lab. we walk 4-5 miles daily, and didn't see a single covey. Sharptails I hear thru the state are way down, but my friends are see a few birds where once they saw many....
Pheasants , I don't know, I would guess to their ability to renest , we will see smaller broods, and younger birds. Virtually all the pheasants I saw in the Lewistown area a week ago, were second hatch, almost to tell hens from roosters... That said, take your dog and go hunting, the best this for pheasants is to be hunted, and roosters killed to allow more hens to come thru to next!
When you say to more roosters to "allow hens to come thru to next",your predicating that the birds will be beyond the carrying capacity of the land. I do not see that as the primary factor in pheasant numbers here in parts of Montana. Yes, crp has been unenrolled, but there is good habitat still in many areas, however bird numbers are very poor. I believe if pheasants are to have a chance, even the roosters need to make it thru to next spring, yes, a rooster can mate with several hens, but we still have to have a few around to do so, at this time, I see so few birds, even shooting a few roosters would make a difference in breeding next spring, let alone if roosters continue to have pressure of being hunted. As hunters, there are times, even though the law permits certain things, we as responsible individuals need to stand up and do the right thing, even if it means putting aside our own self interest. When there are individuals born and raised in what was once great pheasant country, putting their guns away for the year, and yes, I have had several already tell me this after the start of dove, grouse and hun season started, they will do so, it is time for others to heed that message.
Montana has birds, you have to work for them.Ive been getting some.Lots of young birds this season, I'm letting those go.Ive gotten several 3 year old birds, a few sharp tails, and have seen 2 coveys of Huns, one had 15 birds in it.