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Montana Sheep hunt is on !
AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE IN AUGUST
Commission Approves Hunting License Sales for Tendoy Bighorn Sheep
Last Thursday, Montana’s Fish & Wildlife Commission approved the sale of over-the-counter bighorn sheep hunting licenses for the Tendoy Mountains as part of an effort to depopulate a chronically diseased herd.
The either-sex bighorn licenses – valid for hunting district 315 (Tendoy Mtns) – will be available for purchase for a two week period beginning August 3. The licenses will cost $125 for residents and $750 for nonresidents. The archery-only season will run from September 5 through September 14, while the general season will run September 15 through November 29. The goal of the hunt is to remove the entire population of bighorn sheep, which has struggled with disease issues since 1993. Once this removal is complete, a new disease-free group of sheep will be transplanted into the area.
Hunters interested in purchasing a bighorn sheep license for the Tendoys should note the following:
•Hunters successfully harvesting a ram or lamb (of either sex) as part of this hunt will have to wait seven years before applying for another bighorn license; •Hunters that have harvested a ram in the previous six years cannot take a ram or lamb in this hunt; •Harvested rams must be brought to FWP to be checked (rams of ½-curl or larger will receive an identifying plug by FWP in one of the horns); •All hunters harvesting any sheep in this district must call the Harvest Reporting Line at 1-877-FWP-WILD (877-397-9453) within 48 hours of the kill; •FWP will contact license holders and request their help in collecting biological samples from harvested bighorns to assess herd health; •Hunting District 315 boundaries were shrunk in 2015 and no longer include the Beaverhead Mountains south of Pass Creek; •There may be high concentrations of hunters in this area especially around season opening and closing dates.
FWP Area Biologist Craig Fager estimates the Tendoy herd at approximately 30 to 40 sheep with approximately four to six adult rams.
“There has been significant interest in this hunting opportunity both from residents and nonresidents,” said Fager. “We anticipate the majority of bighorns will be harvested pretty quickly; however, this is a new form of sheep management in Montana and there is a chance that some sheep will survive into October and November. Hunters should recognize that opportunity will diminish as the fall progresses. I encourage individuals that are interested in this unique opportunity to assess their own ability to scout the area prior to the season.”
Bighorn sheep in the Tendoys have experienced two pneumonia die-offs in the last 25 years. The population has been augmented three times since 1997, but the population has not rebounded because disease is likely being carried by some of the surviving sheep.
Fager confirms it make take up to two years to remove all the members of the current Tendoy bighorn sheep herd. Any not taken by hunters will be removed by FWP. Once depopulation is complete, about 50 bighorns from healthy populations will used to restock the area.
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Wow! Sounds like a great opportunity for folks to experience a hunt that would otherwise take years to draw. Thanks for the info Dan.
There is even an archery only hunt. Way better chance than one of the unlimited areas The sheep will be in a way smaller area. than any of the unlimited areas.
Kinda sad for the sheep herd and all the years of trying to have a healthy herd.
Thanks for the update
Good luck, Robb
Is there a cap on the number of OTC licenses? I can see this being a circus of people if not. Maybe I will be one of them. :)
This has CF of ridiculous proportions written all over it.
OK Nick, are you referring to a Clint Eastwood movie when you reference CF:) My question is whether the sheep are edible or not due to being diseased.
As much as I want to hunt sheep someday, this sounds like a circus that I will probably avoid if tags are unlimited. Good opportunity for those who don't mind the crowds, though.
Get your cotton candy here! I wonder
Domestic sheep all have the same bacteria as normal flora so if it's safe to eat them, then I assume the wild ones are ok too.
When I first heard about this, I considered it for a second ONLY if there was an archery only season as this seems like a great way to get shot in the back.
But I think Nick's right. This is going to be an absolute CF. You can't stalk animals in open country if 50 guys are doing it. I could see myself just ending up frustrated by idiots or in a fight with idiots.
Might be fun to sit on a high point and watch..Yep I agree on the CF part!
I have one more year to wait. So I'm out. If I could get a tag I would go a week to 10 days before the bow season starts and find me a sheep. And camp on them. The Most of the sheep will be in Big sheep canyon. its steep and rough. When I gun hunt opens it will be a zoo.
i would go shoot a ewe at this point i will never draw a MT ram tag
why restock a area prone for contact with domestic . It might be best to leave a area void of sheep
Good point city.
If I was a resident and could camp out on the sheep and know exactly where they were on opening day I would do this. But with only 4-6 mature rams and no limit on tags.....I think it would be a long drive and a short camping trip for me.
Any chance that the army will drive some out of the area and spread the pneumonia to other areas? Rams from other areas end up with these tags on them? CF?
I am seriously considering this.
Why is it that after 14 years , and maximum points , I still have little chance of drawing a Montana sheep tag?
But, after 14 years , and one less than maximum points , I was getting close to a guaranteed tag in the Wyoming sheep draw ?
I know there are less tags available in Montana , but jeesh , 14 years with max points and no hope in sight?
"I would go a week to 10 days before the bow season starts and find me a sheep. And camp on them."...I'm guessing that since this strategy makes the most sense, there will be multiple parties camping on the same sheep. It'll really get ugly when someone's been camping on them for a week and some dudes pull up a day before and does the same thing. I don't think "I was here first" is going to cut it on this hunt.
I just hope LE will be up there to help keep things in order, or at the very least Dana White is there to sell tix to the event.
It took me 46 years To draw my tag.
" 4-6 adult rams "
can we calculate how many hunters there'll be?
can you imagine 100 hunters chasing each available ram?
Hey Bill...throw your name in the hat and report the hunt as a "semi-live" hunt on here and take us all along :)
Sounds to me like about as miserable a hunt as I can imagine. Sure, sheep are cool, but what kind of hunt is this going to be with multiple guys on every ram. Showing up 10 days early won't do one bit of good when there are a hundred other guys doing the same thing. It sounds like a recipe for some good fist fights, though.
Good luck to those who attempt it! For a lucky few, it will be a great opportunity to get a sheep.
Muche hit the nail on the head, one big CF. Good luck to anyone attempting the hunt.
This is not a shoot them from the truck hunt you will hike your ass off. Its not for anyone that is not in tip top shape, With bowhunters getting first crack at them . I have hunted that area for years. Were the sheep hang there are no roads are trails.
I would definitely do this hunt if I wasn't going to Alaska a week later.It would be my only shot at a sheep hunt that's doable for me.If its tough to get back in there like Dan says, I think it would be a decent bowhunt.I wouldn't go in rifle season though.Probably will get crazy but I'm from Pa and know all about crazy amounts of hunters in small areas.You could easily make a plan to use the other hunters to your benefit I would think.Thats how I deer hunt here on public.Figure out where they like to go when bumped ahead of time I hope someone on here tries and makes it semi-live so we can see what it was like;bad timing for me
I am avoiding this hunt at all costs.
I've been putting in for sheep for 33 years with no luck but this is not how I want to get a sheep.
That's only my opinion but this is going to be a SS deluxe and not something I choose to take part in.
The only sure thing in this hunt is that the state of MT is going to make a bunch of money selling tags.
Bill Obeid asked: "Why is it that after 14 years , and maximum points, I still have little chance of drawing a Montana sheep tag?"
In the most recent statistics posted (2014) Montana shared 5.7% of their ram tags with NR's. It's a random draw with weight given for bonus point status. Over 7000 NR's applied, and 7 ram tags were given, for average odds of roughly 1000:1. Since no one is allowed to apply for a bonus point only, every single applicant is in the draw, severely impacting draw odds.
In Wyoming, they share 20% of their ram tags with NR's. In 2015 there were 48 ram permits issued to NR's. Although there are about 11000 NR sheep point holders in Wyoming, only a small portion of them apply for a hunt. WY allows you to buy a point but not participate in the draw. This dramatically improves draw odds. In 2015, less than 2300 NR's applied for a ram tag. And lastly, in WY preference is given to max point holders, meaning some NR are guaranteed to draw based on point status.
As far as this sheep extermination hunt...sounds like a good opportunity for a bow hunter who wants to give DIY sheep hunting a try.
Am I understanding correctly, that you don't have to use your BP's to get a license?
Guesses as to how many tags get sold? It's a two week sale period starting Aug 3. Nonresidents must fork over $750 up front in that period and likely have vacation and fall plans set by now. News might not even reach most. For $125, a lot of locals will surely give it a go, and some will give it good scouting time. News will be out in Montana information channels.
Surely 2000 hunters minimum, maybe 500 of which are nonresidents?
I would buy one if I were planning to hunt in Montana and accommodate my schedule to hunt this.... Won't do a special trip.
That sounds like a free for all! I'd probably jump at it if I could get vacation time
We had an unlimited tag sale for nanny ibex tags here in New Mexico a couple of years ago (Any weapon).
G&F thought they might sell a couple hundred tags. Instead they sold well over ONE THOUSAND.
The hunt was an utter fiasco/CF/SNAFU/pick your term.
State made way more $ than anticipated, but 2-3x the planned number were killed (not to mention animals not recovered). Everyone referred to the hunt as "the war zone" there was so much gunfire. Amazing nobody got shot.
The fact that there is a bow season first "might" help reduce the pressure on this MT sheep hunt, but I'd all but guarantee there will be plenty of people to mess up stalk after stalk. There will also be plenty of people slinging arrows 100+ yards because who cares if you wound one when they are all going to be killed anyway!
Ultimately the rifle hunters will come in and wipe out the remaining sheep just as planned.
The odds of killing a ram will be slim to none. But I guess you'd be able to say "I had a chance to hunt bighorn".
If you guys had ever set foot in the area you would think different. If you see another hunter in the bow hunt time I would be shocked. The gun hunt will be a different ball game. And with your tag you can do both hunts. And some one is going to kill some sheep.
I am willing to bowhunt and happy to tag a nanny. It is good news they are remote, that helps. I also suspect few bowhunters will be willing to tag a nanny and thus will be looking higher for the rams and the nanny pressure will be "less".
Smarba I agree 100% - but I want to hunt sheep.
I'm thinking about going for a week at the start of the archery. I have the time and it may be interesting and entertaining as well.
It'll be good if it is really possible to stalk some sheep without getting screwed up by other hunters.
Don I don't think they are giving out goat tags too. Just sheep.
I've been wrong before though.
Im sure some gun guys will be trying there hand at the bow .
Billies! Nannies! Lambs! Rams! Ewes! Kids!! It's gonna be a zoo for sure!!
heck im going to open hotdog stand up there with cold beer !!!!
Yikes opening day is Saturday - of labor day weekend.
Bigdan how far are the sheep from roads? If these sheep are 3 miles plus I am very seriously considering going, if they are roadside - ouch. I love backpacking and I will bowhunt and take an ewe so it could potentially not be a disaster. Plus I could keep my points.
If I had it to do over I would have drawn an ewe tag 10-15 years ago. Now it is tough to sacrifice my points.
DonVathome, you do not have to sacrifice your bonus points to draw a ewe tag. You have the option to "not participate" in the bonus point system when you apply for a ewe tag. Thus you will not benefit of using your points, and your chances go down, but you are at least still in the drawing. Also you will not earn a point if you are unsuccessful in the drawing. Keep in mind that you can only do this for two consecutive years, and must participate in the 3rd year or you will loose your accumulated points.
I hope that clears up any confusion.
Your chance at drawing any sheep tag in Montana is dam slim. If your a Nr you have no chance with out max points. I have 4 sheep points and did not apply this year so next year I will have my 4 points going after an ES Tag.
Having driven past there along I-15 many times, it never looked much like Grizzly Bear country.
I never realized it is such a high number Grizzly bear area...
I guess it makes sense as it is right along the Idaho/Montana border and that area is swamped with Grizz and Grizz warning signs---
That opening week dates I am already committed in Wyo bow elk camp----
That 2nd week would work as most all the tourist would be gone from Labor Day wknd week...
Good luck, Robb
Joel, thanks, I found in 2015 regs this:
"All “base” bonus points accumulate over time until you obtain a license/permit or you fail to participate in the bonus point system for that species. Bonus points are lost if they are not used for 2 consecutive years."
It is my understanding that if you draw any tag as your 1st choice you loose your points?
"If your a Nr you have no chance with out max points."
Not true. That implies a preference point system, rather than the bonus point system MT uses. I believe only 1 successful NR ram applicant in 2014 had max points.
Griz in 315 no way . Nothing for them to eat
They could eat me in early September. Probably a pile of others too.
No only one, They have never did anything like this before.
The information I got was that there are only five or six rams left in this herd, it has never really produced much trophy quality. It will surely be a fiasco, I live about 75 miles from the area. I do think its good the FG is trying something new, sportsman might as well harvest them, I am not sure if there are any domestic sheep close to this herd. It doesn't seem to matter though, sheep seem to experience die offs where domestic sheep aren't present. I think we need to be more aggressive with our harvest and keep the numbers down, maybe this would prevent some of the die offs.
Don, to help clarify a little more. If you do not check the box to participate in the bonus point system, but still draw your first choice permit/tag, then you will NOT loose your accumulated points. If you choose to participate, and draw as your first choice, then yes you loose you points, because they were used to help in the drawing. If you happen to draw your second choice, then you will not loose any, but actually gain one because you were unsuccessful with your first choice. As an example, I have 10 bonus points for deer, and have been applying for a very hard to get tag. If I wanted to next year, I could apply for a mule deer buck tag in one of the unlimited permit areas. These areas require you to make them your first and only choice. So I would apply next year 2016, but make sure NOT to participate in the bonus point system. Then the following year 2017, I could go back to applying for the hard to get tag and "participate" using my 10 bonus points I previously earned.
The Ewe sheep tags are the same way. But keep in mind that your draw odds, if not using bonus points, are not great. Residents with 0 points were about 25% ave in the Missouri breaks, and Non-residents were slightly less than that.
Aroshtr- unless there's a few units with different regulations than the rest, you can draw unlimited deer tags on a second or third choice.
Well stated aroshtr---as it has been that way for years.
I drew 482 Ewe last year---
Good luck, Robb
I think its sad the herd has to be wiped out , its great hunters get a chance to hunt sheep but sad for the sheep.
Question will all these sheep die from the disease will any survive ? And if they survived would they not build there immunity towards this.
Mans history was plagued with all kinds of lethal disease but yet man found a way to survive.
And with all the money in the sheep world is anybody doing research for possible vaccine ?
city hunter, to vaccine wild animals is perhaps not a so good idea....only NYC men need to be vaccined ....especially when they go to hunt in quebec!!!:-)
city hunter: to vaccine wild animals is perhaps not a so good idea...they are wild...only men, especially if they are from NYC must be vaccined...and especially when they try to go to hunt caribou in quebec...:)
Randy, now that I think about it you are correct about the unlimited deer tags. I have never applied for one so not really up to speed on them. A better example might be for a guy that has elk bonus points but wants to bowhunt in the breaks for elk one season, he could apply for that without loosing his bonus points.
city- This herd has been struggling for years, all these sheep have not all died, but def have low lamb recruitment, etc. So the plan is to eliminate all the current sheep in the unit, then transplant healthy sheep to create a new herd.
Research has been going on for years to find cures for wild sheep, but it is extremely challenging and difficult. Jim in PA or Kyle could explain more.
In the past a herd like this in any of the western states would have been annihilated by sharpshooters and all wasted. At least w/ trying this new approach some hunters will be able to hunt Bighorns! Yes very few will shoot a ram, but 5-6 guys will. And the other hunters can tag out w/ a ewe or lamb.
Yes this could end up being quite a scene once the gun season opens.
So the rifle hunt for sheep opens the same day as the bow elk/deer hunt...
That should be interesting----
Good luck, Robb
City, the money that WSF, their chapters and other similar organizations such as Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society, Wild Sheep Soceity of BC, Texas Bighorns, Fraternity Of Desert Bighorn, Nevada Bighorns and more( you get the idea) have spent on research is staggering. Washington State Univesity is a very big player in the research along with many others. While everyone is looking for the "Silver Bullet" they have not found it yet. Until they do separation seems to be the answer.
Having a discussion the other day with a friend the subject of this hunt came up. It is great that hunters will get to do this vs Fish and Game personnel but the question was raised "why not limit Hunter numbers and spread it out a little bit. With absolutely no knowledge of this my guess would be they want these sheep gone as quick as possible. Will it be a circus, maybe but maybe not.
When we all talk about the Sheep Show and how much we all enjoy it, keep in mind that is a means to an end. The real work of the WSF is CONSERVATION. That includes finding a solution to problems exactly like what we are talking about here. If you have any interest at all you should be a member, we could use all the help we can get.
The archery-only season will run from September 5 through September 14, while the general season will run September 15 through November 29.
Is anyone planning to participate in this hunt? I have been training 6 days a week and shooting, still debating it.
I am the same as you DonV. Still kicking it around, I'm training hard, but I have an elk hunt in September too so it's not like it will be wasted if I don't go for sheep. The people I have talked to out there are disappointed with how the G&F are handling this, they think it's gonna be a cluster buck all the way around without capping the tags and/or limiting the hunters somehow. But hey, for $750 (N/R) and a 12 hour drive I could be sheep hunting! Too bad there are probably 5,000 other guys saying the same thing.
Are tags available online? Website is down cannot buy any licenses online right now.
Working now and the tag is for sale...............
man I wish I could go!
Wonder if they would tell a person how many they sold in a few days ?
I am going to call and wait until last minute and try to find out how many sold to help make up my mind.
Great idea Don!...if they will tell you.
I'll play...........besides, the money goes for a good cause and I get to explore a new area........
I decided against this hunt, good luck to anyone going. I here there is a ton of interest and a half dozen or more guys scouting every day.
I passed on this too...So how many bowsite guys are going on this hunt?
I'm in. Going solo, 14 hour drive, would be happy with a Ewe. Trying to scout and get info online before I go. Feeling at a severe disadvantage against the local guys that are already out scouting and have sheep located. I just hope guys are respectful and this doesn't turn into a big fight, probably why I don't have much intereset in "fighting" for one of the rams. Anxiously nervous for what lies ahead.......
I did some scouting this weekend and some hiking........saw some sign but didn't see any sheep with all the smoke. Apparently, the folks scouting continually have even pushed some of the "easy" ewes back off the main road. I'm sure it will crowded. Bigdan was right, it's a HUGE area and there will be plenty of areas for the guy/gal willing to hike.
Here's a main slide next to the main road and a frequent ewe hang out. I'm sure there will be an "extraction" team of hunters on this spot opening morning..........I'm going elsewhere.
Here's three antelope bucks chasing each other around on the way over Saturday.....
Good luck to those of you that are going....keep us posted as you can!
Lots of big talk pre-hunt...any post-hunt reports? Did anyone actually hunt? Anything???
Well, THAT was interesting! Yuck....no thanks!
They recently shot a 160ish ram (10 days ago. Biggest one yet