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Montana Report and Question


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Opening weekend of pheasant can be a zoo.  I can typically find somewhere to hunt that I'm not being ran over or shot at but it can be combat hunting in some areas.

 

I saw more nonresidents last year than I have in the past.  In addition to that, every Montanan that owns a shotgun and doesn't have an antelope tag seems to be a pheasant hunter on opening weekend, dog or not.  Everyone else is hunting antelope.  I would be hunting both but didn't draw an antelope tag this year and would like to raise hell about it but no one cares. :)

 

Afterwards, pressure drops significantly but there are still enough folks hunting that I can't always hunt my first pick.  While nowhere near as crowded, I did see more folks pheasant hunting late season last year than I had in the past.

 

I keep hearing this "planted bird" talk and have to wonder where these planted birds are.  Minus a few young birds in early season, the birds I've been hunting are wild as heck and give my dogs fits with their antics.  If they are planted, I'm not sure I can kill a wild one.

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The legislature passed a law mandating a program to release pheasants on various game management areas to enhance young hunters chances at success. There is/was (not sure if it's still ongoing) a rele

I always try to leave before the pheasant opener. More hunters, different demographic.

Where did you say you were parked???

The legislature passed a law mandating a program to release pheasants on various game management areas to enhance young hunters chances at success. There is/was (not sure if it's still ongoing) a release program that pays people to raise and release pheasants. So there are areas that have pheasants released by a farmer/rancher or anyone who thinks pheasants will thrive if they just release more of them. But most pheasants in most areas are plenty feral, there by their own wits.

 

Is there not some other state that hunters from everywhere could drool over?

 

The pressure might seem light compared to wherever some one came from. It does not make it seem lighter to resident hunters. The area I hunt on the opener is a zoo, but I refuse to cede the hunting to others when I've hunted the area for thirty plus years. I could not begin to count the number of times out of state hunters shoe horn their way into an area I'm hunting, when they know full well, someone is hunting it. It's not like you can hide a hunting rig out here. 

 

Sharptail hunters tend to hunt in smaller groups, pheasant hunters bring out the entire battalion. Overall, I can welcome the sharptail hunters. The pheasant hunters...meh.

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Don Steese
10 hours ago, Tim Frazier said:

In November last year I saw zero bird hunters    Of course the week before it was -9.  

My buddy took a photo of his car thermometer on the first morning of pheasant season here in Montana some years ago. +9 degrees on the first weekend of October.  Other years you could hunt in shirtsleeves!

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I've been polite to everyone that I run into, but sometimes you shake your head and have to wonder.  I was signed in on a smallish block management with a dog on the ground. There is a small patch of cover next to the road then pasture and a creek with cover.  I had just killed one rooster in the patch by the road and flushed some other birds towards the creek when a guy pulls up to the sign in box that is between me and the rest of the cover.  He sees me coming and says/asks. "You weren't going to hunt this side were you?". 

 

I should have stated the obvious and said of course I'm planning to hunt it dumb..., but I said "go ahead" and went somewhere else.

 

 

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I've had that and more.

 

A friend and I were hunting a state section, years ago. It is a section of wheat with a swale running thru it on the diagonal. We were hunting the diagonal west to east and were close to half way thru it. A group of hunters started in from the opposite end. They greeted us with shot sprinkling all over us as they shot at birds.

 

It's been years since I have hunted that spot. A group of a dozen or so from Minnesota get there early and do their maneuvers. I am reasonably certain it includes some of the same hunters who sprinkled us that year.

 

I have told more than one group that in Montana, you can't hunt the road ditches. Although recently, I leave them be and let them take their chances that a warden doesn't see them. 

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I was up last year,  I hate the idea of a big army spread out like they’re looking for a lost body. I hunt by myself mostly. Me my wife and a dog. Last year the spots I hunted weren’t crowded at all. I saw a lot of antelope hunters, I saw bird hunters at hotels but I didn’t run into many out in the field. I’m planning on being up this year for pheasant season. From what I’m hearing I’m not expecting it to be as good as last year but I’m gonna give it a try. 

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Thanks for the replies guys!  Been at it for ruffs last couple days.  At the vet now for a porcupine incident!  Couple tough ones I couldn’t get out. 
 

As some others responding have mentioned, I’ve never heard of MT stocking birds.   
 

My guess was that after the first 9 days things settle down and most of the replies seem to verify that. I hunt alone or with a partner and only 1 dog on the ground at a time. Doesn’t take much to keep me happy.   I should have clarified in the original post that opening weekend is never in my plans wherever I go. 
 

 

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Sorry to hear about some of the bad behavior. I know how it feels to have a larger group try to muscle you out when your there first. I’ve never noticed a resident or nonresident pattern to that kind of stuff unless one or the other was super-predominant as far as percentage of other hunters. 

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On 9/28/2021 at 2:49 PM, 406dn said:

The legislature passed a law mandating a program to release pheasants on various game management areas to enhance young hunters chances at success. There is/was (not sure if it's still ongoing) a release program that pays people to raise and release pheasants. So there are areas that have pheasants released by a farmer/rancher or anyone who thinks pheasants will thrive if they just release more of them. But most pheasants in most areas are plenty feral, there by their own wits.

 

Is there not some other state that hunters from everywhere could drool over?

 

The pressure might seem light compared to wherever some one came from. It does not make it seem lighter to resident hunters. The area I hunt on the opener is a zoo, but I refuse to cede the hunting to others when I've hunted the area for thirty plus years. I could not begin to count the number of times out of state hunters shoe horn their way into an area I'm hunting, when they know full well, someone is hunting it. It's not like you can hide a hunting rig out here. 

 

Sharptail hunters tend to hunt in smaller groups, pheasant hunters bring out the entire battalion. Overall, I can welcome the sharptail hunters. The pheasant hunters...meh.

Dave, this is exactly why I hunt early season and usually leave the day before the pheasant opener and head to NE Oregon/SE Washington. 'Course I'm a sharp-tail hunter and do not wish to be lumped in with that other demographic.

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Don Steese
4 hours ago, Westok said:

I was up last year,  I hate the idea of a big army spread out like they’re looking for a lost body. I hunt by myself mostly. Me my wife and a dog. Last year the spots I hunted weren’t crowded at all. I saw a lot of antelope hunters, I saw bird hunters at hotels but I didn’t run into many out in the field. I’m planning on being up this year for pheasant season. From what I’m hearing I’m not expecting it to be as good as last year but I’m gonna give it a try. 

Depending on where you are I think you may be pleasantly surprised at the phez numbers. Over the years I've experienced the same. Hunters in motels and campgrounds but seldom any in the field. Only exception would be opening weekend of phez season.

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Alaskan Swamp Collie
9 hours ago, 406dn said:

I've had that and more.

 

A friend and I were hunting a state section, years ago. It is a section of wheat with a swale running thru it on the diagonal. We were hunting the diagonal west to east and were close to half way thru it. A group of hunters started in from the opposite end. They greeted us with shot sprinkling all over us as they shot at birds.

 

It's been years since I have hunted that spot. A group of a dozen or so from Minnesota get there early and do their maneuvers. I am reasonably certain it includes some of the same hunters who sprinkled us that year.

 

I have told more than one group that in Montana, you can't hunt the road ditches. Although recently, I leave them be and let them take their chances that a warden doesn't see them. 

I've found in MT that if I see Minnesota plates I go to the next county. Sorry to generalize, but I have heard others say the saME.

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On 9/28/2021 at 6:02 PM, Don Steese said:

My buddy took a photo of his car thermometer on the first morning of pheasant season here in Montana some years ago. +9 degrees on the first weekend of October.  Other years you could hunt in shirtsleeves!

RayB and I hunted Montana several years ago and I don’t remember seeing even one bird hunter in the field during 6-7 days. My truck did get hit in the drivers side window by what must have been an almost dead .30 caliber round that only smashed the window. No injuries.  The weather was absolutely awful, every day it snowed or sleeted or hailed or rained. Sometimes all 4 in one afternoon.  The temperature never got above 28 degrees, the roads were treacherous. One morning we had a whiteout for half an hour or so. Could not see 10 feet. We froze our butts off and finally left the first Monday of pheasant season, temperature 24 degrees and raining. We didnot stop until half way thru Nebraska where it had warmed up.  
 

So y’all can have my Montana hunting, thank you all. 🤠

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Don Steese
3 minutes ago, quailguy said:

RayB and I hunted Montana several years ago and I don’t remember seeing even one bird hunter in the field during 6-7 days. My truck did get hit in the drivers side window by what must have been an almost dead .30 caliber round that only smashed the window. No injuries.  The weather was absolutely awful, every day it snowed or sleeted or hailed or rained. Sometimes all 4 in one afternoon.  The temperature never got above 28 degrees, the roads were treacherous. One morning we had a whiteout for half an hour or so. Could not see 10 feet. We froze our butts off and finally left the first Monday of pheasant season, temperature 24 degrees and raining. We didnot stop until half way thru Nebraska where it had warmed up.  
 

So y’all can have my Montana hunting, thank you all. 🤠

Then I guess Judy and I will have to eat the 20 pound prime rib we bought just because we thought you were coming. Not to mention the whole lobsters we were having shipped in by reefer truck. Don't know what we'll do with the Magnum bottle of Makers Mark either, since I've given up on the stuff?? Weather's been beautiful too; actually too warm. But I can understand why you'd want to stay in bird rich Pennsylvania!🤣

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Alaskan Swamp Collie
1 hour ago, Don Steese said:

Then I guess Judy and I will have to eat the 20 pound prime rib we bought just because we thought you were coming. Not to mention the whole lobsters we were having shipped in by reefer truck. Don't know what we'll do with the Magnum bottle of Makers Mark either, since I've given up on the stuff?? Weather's been beautiful too; actually too warm. But I can understand why you'd want to stay in bird rich Pennsylvania!🤣

If you are willing to adopt Cindy and me we plan to be there around the first of Nov.

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8 hours ago, Don Steese said:

Then I guess Judy and I will have to eat the 20 pound prime rib we bought just because we thought you were coming. Not to mention the whole lobsters we were having shipped in by reefer truck. Don't know what we'll do with the Magnum bottle of Makers Mark either, since I've given up on the stuff?? Weather's been beautiful too; actually too warm. But I can understand why you'd want to stay in bird rich Pennsylvania!🤣

Damn right; the local chicken farm is all mine!

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