In August I took a drive one morning to see what was around for deer (mostly in the North Blaine Block Mgt. Unit, which is a combination of private and public land). There were deer everywhere. Between Mule deer and whitetail I'm sure I saw well over 300 deer. I took the same drive the last day of deer season just for the fun of it and I saw 23 mule deer (all does and fawns except for one little buck I tooted the horn at to try to save his life!!). I saw no whitetails.
I don't know what the answer is, but it has to be looked at. The vast majority of vehicles I see are from western Montana and out of state. We are getting a ton of hunters from Washington State around here, and I see several from Idaho and Minnesota.....doesn't really matter where they are from. To clarify, I'm absolutely not against non-resident hunters or people from the west coming to hunt, but there has to be a way to reduce the pressure.
Block mgt. is a real catch 22. I'm sure the landowners love it. They don't have to deal with people calling or knocking on the door and the get a check from the F&G every year. I completely understand why they like it. I'm guessing non-residents and hunters from western Montana like it....despite how poor the hunting is on Block Mgt., at least they know they'll have a place to take a hike if nothing else. Every local hunter I've talked to despises block mgt. The hunters I know around here are knocking on more doors trying to get permission from landowners not in block mgt, which is putting more pressure on them.
I don't know what the answer is. Maybe the state needs to allocate non-resident licenses by region... divide up the tags allocated to non-residents and divide them by 7 and when they apply for a license require that they apply for a specific region. That may or may not help, but it wouldn't do anything to reduce the pressure from hunters who come over from the western part of the state.
I'm going to talk to a friend of mine who is on the F&G board and voice my concerns. The quality of the hunting around here has declined and will continue to decline if something doesn't change.
Alot of areas get beat up pretty bad.......some family members hunted a community spot in northeast montana and counted over 250 mule deer does on a cold day during the rut and virtually no bucks around. They WERE there but had been obliterated by every Tom, Dick and Harry over the course of a month long high power rifle season shooting anything with horns. We're talking two-track roads that looked more like county roads:(
We can sit her and complain about it or we can try to do something... I'm going to voice my opinion with the F&G and our board member. I'm not sure what else I can do, but I'm going to be brainstorming. Hopefully others here might have some ideas. It's not about keeping non-residents and people from other parts of Montana away....it's about figuring out how to relieve the pressure so that everyone has quality hunting to the greatest extent possible.
And there's this to think about it..... This is a bowhunting site, but the bird hunters, rifle hunters, etc. certainly impact bowhunting. When hunters are whacking anything and everything with antlers it definitely affects the quality of bowhunting, and when pheasant hunters are hammering the creek bottoms and river bottoms, big game will most certainly react to the pressure....