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Reflecting on fruitful 2008 hunting season

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Reflecting on fruitful 2008 hunting season

Montana Fish Parks and Wildlife biologist Brent Lonner inspects a mule deer behind Wayne Daniels. Lonner is checking on the age and health condition of the deer.

Photo by Wayne Daniels/

POSTED February 7, 2009 5:09 a.m.
The 2008 hunting season is coming to a close.

My son, Bill, and I had an outstanding year. We harvested seven deer, including included two nice bucks, and Bill took a nice antelope that measured 14 inches.

Now all we need to do is wait the required 60 days before having Fish and Game measure the horns to see if it qualifies for Boon and Crocket. With very good bases and good cutters, we hope it makes the grade.

The last deer we shot was on Nov. 9 on the Broken O Ranch in Augusta, Mont. Having previously hunted this section of the ranch before, we knew there was a sharp dip in the alfalfa field that could hide several animals about two thirds of the way across.

If we had not scouted the area before, we would not have known about the dip because it is not noticeable from the road. The back side of the alfalfa field comes up gradually and blends into the prairie and the field has the impression of being flat.

We parked our truck on the road and headed across the field. About halfway across, we got down on our knees and crawled to the top of the rise and found about 20 mule deer bedded down along with about 50 antelope that were feeding on the back side of the rise.

The deer were about 200 yards away, and I shot a nice doe with my 30-06. So that many of you won’t be worried about the number of does we harvested, we always check to see if there and any fawns with the does before we shoot.

After field dressing our deer, we headed into town for some lunch. On the way out, we had to stop at the Fish and Game check station and have the deer checked.

During the inspection the biologist, Brent Lonner with the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, is checking the age and health of our deer. This inspection allows Brent and the other biologists to keep track on the condition of the deer herd and the numbers taken.

The inspection allows them set the harvest numbers for next year. Over the years, my Bill and I, along with Bob Barker of Manteca, have checked a lot of deer through the inspection station in Augusta and have always found the Fish and Game agents to be very courteous and helpful.

Without the fine job they are doing, Montana would not have the quality of hunting we have.

Looking back on this year, as in the past, we try and analyze each and every hunt to see what we did or did not do. One thing that always stands out is scouting.

Along with good camouflage, scouting has to be at the top. If we had not known about the dip in the alfalfa field, we would not have harvested the deer.

Now, scouting can be firsthand, or you can check with the property owners or by looking at a topographical map. When we shot the two big bucks, we had never hunted there before so we talked to the owner and had a very good idea of where the deer would be and their movement.

As for camo, I have used just about every pattern on the market, and I have found that ASAT Camo works the best for me.

When I shot my 4x4 white tail buck, both my son and I were standing in the middle of an alfalfa field and the buck either could not or did not see us, and I think it’s because of the camo we had on.

As for the last mule deer doe I shot, she was standing with several other deer. At the sound of the shot, most of the deer ran off except for a 3x3 buck. He stood looking in our direction. We got up and walked single file toward him.

I think because of our camo and the fact that we were not sky-lighted, the buck did not perceive us as a threat and we were able to get within 70 yards before he decided something was not right and trotted off.

As most of you know, it gets very cold in Montana, so we dress for the hunt in layers. Start with something next to the skin that wicks the moisture away from your body. Next some type of fleece and then a wind breaker.

If it is raining, some type of water proof. In the cold, the body works extra to generate heat so you will need to pack on the crabs. If you are packing in check the crabs on the food you are carrying against the weight. Try and find the most crabs with the least weight.

I would be negligent if I closed out the year without saying something about the upcoming environmental impact report lawsuit filed by students at Stanford. The suit is being filed not by California residents, but by people from outside of the state.
In 1954, my dad took me trout fishing for the first time alone Highway 4 and we had a great time. In 1970, my wife and I camped at Lake Alpine and both of my boys caught their first trout. In 1981, my mother died while camping at Spicer Reservoir. In 1983, we purchased a lot and build a cabin at Cottage Springs and my grandkids caught their first trout in the South Fork of the Stanislaus River.

All of this thanks to the California Dept of Fish and Game and their trout planting program.

It would be a shame if future generations missed the same experiences we enjoyed just because of people who probably would not even know how to catch a trout and cook a trout right on the stream bank.

What about the money that will be needlessly spent? It could be put to use in a better way.

I would like to close by wishing everyone the best in the coming year, and if you should get up Montana way while hunting, give me a call and send some pictures.

You can contact me at

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