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Region 1 sterilized by predators
Northwestern Montana used to be an absolute Whitetail Paradise. When I moved here in 96 97 it was not uncommon to see four or five bucks a day and when the rut hit you would often see 10 or more. We used to average seeing at least 15 Deer a Day. If you are diligent you could pretty much shoot 150 inch Buck every year. Last year I hunted 11 days in saw one 3 point buck! My wife and I saw only about Four deer a day between the two of us. We used to occasionally see elk and moose but no more sadly. Fishing game claims hard Winters are the cause but the Predator numbers don't lie Rumor Has we have up to a thousand mountain lions and the roughly 300 wolves! Mount I don't know what's your head comes up for the amount of game it takes to feed such a huge number of predators but my head tells me it must be somewheres around 50,000 deer alone! I'm not saying that the wolf is solely responsible but he is obviously the straw that broke the camel's back we all need to be as vocal as we can to try and get fishing game to do something about this! We had the greatest public land Whitetail hunting in the country Fair elk and mule deer hunting and some great moose hunting now we have pretty much the worst of everything. Would like to hear what others have to say
There is meeting at the Red Lion inn, in Kalispell at 6:30 tomorrow, Western Montana Wildlife alert meeting.
FWP has said lion numbers are extremely high and the wolf numbers extremely lower.
Yes I heard somewhere there's 1500 lions in Northwestern Montana that's a crazy number considering the fact that a lion will kill approximately 50 deer a year.
I would love to kill mountain lions but I'm not paying 3-5k to do it.............It's a sad deal like the vast Selway to look over the most beautiful country that's carrying such a small amount of deer, elk and moose.
1,500 mountain lions in NW Montana? Whoo boy! I must be hunting the wrong area... :) Seven toms killed in my unit this year so far. Been trying to put my tag on the last one on the quota.
Lion numbers have been the same for several decades. Two hard winters in a row and poor fawn recruitment are the biggest factors in our deer decline.
It seems lion hunters are the most protective of lions with limited quotas. So wolves are bad but lions are ok? Something doesnt sound right with that message.
You can't argue the fact the game numbers are incredibly low. Need to manage those predators, including black bears which aren't listed in your post. Lions are incredibly hard on deer tho.
We houndsmen or lion hunters are very protective of the lion, yes we are. The lions here in Montana would be gone if it weren't for our hard work. The number 1500 is not even close here in region 1 more like 500-600. We are out there on the roads in the winter, remember we are elk and deer hunters also. I would like everyone to remember even when we had the biggest population of lions in Montana from the mid 80's to middle 90's we still had great ungulate populations. When the wolf entered the picture that changed everything. Most of all it changed the lions hunting habits, right now the cats eat a little and run. We are not seeing kittens like we use too either. This is wolf problem and the people that want the wolf. Work with us, not against us, we are bowhunters also.
What Terry said; we're all hunters, just different quarry species and means of take
"Two hard winters in a row and poor fawn recruitment are the biggest factors in our deer decline."
I am not buying this one, I didn't consider the last couple of winters as hard winters. I also am not buying the ticks and parasites are killing our moose.
"Lion numbers have been the same for several decades"
This one I will buy I believe the numbers for lions change very little.
But things are changing. I blame the wolf in my area of region 1. I am seeing wolves, which is an indicator that the population is growing and they are looking for new space to hunt that the were not hunting before. This has greatly reduced the number of moose in my area, I still see moose, but I see cows without calves, and young bulls. There are very few elk in my area, so I have not witnessed a change in that area. I do see the change in deer. I still see lots of deer, but they become very scarce when wolves are present. I live where the deer summer but move out with the first foot of snow, therefore I have not seen a great decline in numbers, but I do see them moving around more to avoid wolves. I, would make the conjecture that lions are moving with the deer also, to follow the food source. I have not seen as many lion tracks this winter (I drive about 20 miles of remote road to get where I am going, a couple of times a week). I am just not seeing as many tracks, I usually see a couple of lion hunters pulled over and tracks where they have turned the dogs out. This year "all" the lion hunters I have seen were driving and still had dogs with them. I don't claim there are less lions, they have just moved with the deer to avoid the wolves.
Last spring I had a terrible year antler hunting, I could not find antlers to save my hide. I blame it on the wolves moving the deer to a new location. I think the deer are on the move more, trying to stay one step ahead of the wolves. I think the lions are with them.
My opinion, formulated from lots of time in one area of region 1.
side note: I have heard of 1 wolf shot and 3 trapped in the vicinity (10 miles) of where I have been seeing them. Therefore I am optimistic that wolves will have less affect on the deer next year.
Terry- I'm with ya 100%. Hope my post didn't come off any other way.
I would like to shed some light for in state and out of state hunters who are considering region one. I attended the latest meeting with the FWP for public comment on Region 1 deer populations and attended a meeting on current wolf issues sponsored by several groups here in Kalispell MT. The FWP was showing graphs with a CLEAR decline in deer numbers and still insisted that the deer in general were in good shape?!? Here is part of an email I received from the current biologist for Libby Troy area after requesting that Unit 100 should have no either sex and a trial for antler restrictions for the unit. (see below) Some how the FWP justifies current deer numbers with in my opinion poor scientific methods and blatantly throws out deer numbers after peak wolf populations in 2006-2007. Anything prior is just non existent and they do not manage for that expecting locals to go along with their red herring. Laster year I put in 13 full days and 5 days in the tree stand on public lands in units 100 and 130. I saw a total of 25 whitetails and 6 bucks all under three years old and at peak rut. It was my worst season to date. I am in the works right now to tag along with my brother in law in Canada. I feel sickened that I don't feel that its worth buying an OTC tag anymore.
Tonya Chilton-Radandt- "In general, we use 3 main pieces of information to help us set seasons: Recruitment data from surveys, harvest data, and information from the public. You may be pleased to hear that our survey information suggests that recruitment is fine in HD 100. Our recruitment data goes back to 1996, and we use the same methods every year: All surveys are conducted at approximately the same time every spring – following green-up, they are completed from a truck, following the same routes every year, and always within 2-3 hours of dusk. Because HD 100 is such a large district, I survey the same 4 locations in HD 100 every year, whereas I survey 3 locations in HD 103 and HD 104. During our surveys, we count both the total number of deer, as well as the ratio of fawns per 100 adults. In HD 100, our lowest recruitment levels occurred in 1997, with 17 fawns per 100 adult white-tailed deer (WTD). Recruitment in 2008 was also low (19 fawns: 100 adults), so we have been climbing out of the 2007-08 winter. However, in 2014 we hit an all-time-high of 70 fawns: 100 adults, and have remained nearly at or above our long term average (35 fawns: 100 adult WTD) since then. We also have harvest information for HD 100 going back to 1995, from the hunter call-back surveys (a method that gives us the most accurate harvest method for our budget - and includes more consistent information than our smaller sampling of hunters via check stations). Harvest generally mirrors population trends, meaning that when harvest is high, population numbers tend to be high as well. Since 2007, we’ve harvested between 808 and 979 WTD bucks, and the harvest appears to have increased slightly. Since 2013, we have been nearly at, or above, our long-term average (N = 844 bucks harvested). Similar to the Kalispell meeting where you met Jessy, we also had a public meeting in Libby last month. In that meeting, I presented this information for HD 100, 103, and 104, and took some questions, and the folks there seemed in agreement with what we are seeing. Given all of this information, and what I’ve seen on the ground in the Yaak, I dont feel justified in making any major changes to the HDs in northwest Montana this year. I believe that things appear OK in HD 100, and our area in general, despite the last 2 severe winters. Although this may seem surprising, it is likely due to a number of factors: Deer went into the winters in good shape following wetfalls with ample forage, most winter weather didn’t start until later in December, and winter temperatures weren’t extreme enough over long periods to have major effects on deer in our country. After spending the last winter handling mule deer (to put collarson them for research) in the Fisher River, I was pleasantly surprised at their high fat reserves from December all the way through February. Certainly, and as Jessy mentions below, winter severity is the major factor driving WTD populations here, but thankfully temperatures haven’t been as severe as they could be the past few winters. Since winter remains a critical period, and things can always change, and look forward to my spring surveys every year.
I would agree with you RockyMountainHunter. Last season was the absolute worst. Other than the 1st 2 weeks of archery in the breaks. I hunted every day from the beginning of archery til the end of rifle in regions 100, 101 or 109. I saw 1 mature buck that I would consider a shooter. 6 years ago the FWP were bragging about how many bucks were harvested. It was a good year, but the only problem is that 80% of them were 2-3 year old deer. No wonder I only saw 1 shooter this year. I really wish I could choose which district got to spend my money on that I use to purchase tags. I am tired of my money going to the recovery of predators.
Region1 is by far and away the in the worst shape it has ever been due to mis- managed predators. I am truly saddened having watched over the years northwest Montana just become a haven for predators and Mis-managed game by the Moose Marshalls... my boys will Never get to enjoy Region 1 like I did growing up and it’s suoernsad to think about... and to add region 1 will only get worse...
I'm sure the introduction of wolves has made a difference, but I don't come across wolves anywhere near as much as I did 5 or 10 years ago. I do see a lot more black bears. However, I think the predator who's numbers have really increased is humans. I've been hunting in region one for almost 40 years and there has been a huge change in the number of humans hunting. Back in the 80's if you took a day off work to hunt mid week, you might not even see another person all day. Nowadays, it doesn't matter when you hunt, there are people everywhere. There are long lines of trucks heading west of Kalispell before light every morning during hunting season. Also, I fail to see how FWP can estimate how many animals are killed as it seems most people don't even bother to stop at the check stations anymore.
Winter of 96-97 was one of the worst there was in NW Montana. There was a lot of winter kill following that winter. Not sure which areas had more game after that winter than we have now.
Many of the HD in region 1 are at objectives set by Elk working groups and influenced by agricultural concerns as is the law.
According to this data, Whitetails in region 1 are at all time highs.
FWP deer page has a continued slow growth for Whitetail however it only goes from 2011-2018. The chart I saw at the R1 deer meeting paints a different picture since it has deer harvest numbers from the 90s and 80s as well. HUGE difference in population before during and after wolf introduction. Harsh winters take there toll for sure but with wolves and cats it's has caused a major collapse. I cannot see more hunters as the problems because Hunter numbers are decreasing in general across the U.S. I think what people are seeing is hunters working harder to find game and going deeper into public land plus the poor forest management is constricting hunters into fewer pockets of suitable whitetail habitat.
Seeley Lake area used to have major hunting articles written about the numbers and trophy whitetails folks could shoot and hunting migration routes. People I know that have hunted that area for decades say it's nowhere near what it was in the 1980's.
ROUGHCOUNTRY is right about the Swan Seeley, Trophy potential is non existent now and the Flathead, Kootenai National used to rank top in the nation for trophy whitetail. If you go to the Montana Boon and Crockett record books R1 is no longer producing mature deer and elk. In general the whole state is doing poorly except on private lands where outfitters are producing alfalfa for antler growth and herding elk back onto private ranches. The outfitting industry is lucrative at 10k for a trophy elk. That's why landlocked public lands stay locked. Of course not all outfitters by any means do this but there is a lot and is why we have abundance of elk in the east. Soon as the shooting starts you don't find elk on public land but in the hay fields on the ranch next door. Then once the outfitters are done with the season they allow the shoulder season for the public. What joke that is, I called once to a ranch near White Sulphur and they told me that if I want access for a cow elk I had to rent out there cabin. I told them I could not afford it and they hung up on me!?! Hunting Montana in general is just terrible. A little off topic but I needed to rant lol.
If that is the case better stop killing does and cows. We control what we kill. I know there are quite a few lion haters and wolf haters still killing the girls. If you want big bulls and bucks you cant be killing the cows and does. Eric
"If that is the case better stop killing does and cows. We control what we kill. I know there are quite a few lion haters and wolf haters still killing the girls. If you want big bulls and bucks you cant be killing the cows and does. Eric"
If you want Big Bulls, and Big Bucks, you can't go around killing the little bulls and little bucks. You can take cows and does though. Of course that is if your just below Biologic carrying capacity.
I go out for one day and find 4-6 wolves howling and a grizzly track in the Upper Swan.
I go out for one day and find 4-6 wolves howling and a grizzly track in the Upper Swan.
Predators out number deer in elk tracks in the Swan Valley. Sad when you see more wolf and grizzly bear prints then deer and elk. Talk about poor management by the FWP!
Grizzly 3-5 days old.
Grizzly 3-5 days old.
Not sure how to turn the photos sorry. The above picture is wolf tracks they have been running all the old logging roads. The grizzly picture was in the dark and melted so hard to see but a young boar grizzly was on the same road.
Maybe I'm a little too overly sensitive with my word-parsing, but when the FWP categorizes the most recent grizz incidents as "human-caused", I see it as an attempt to shift the problem from their (and the USFWS) lack of population management and put the blame on the people who use the woods. Hopefully you folks who live there will call them out on this.
"FWP and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are also investigating two other human-caused grizzly bear mortalities that happened last week in the West Yellowstone area. The inter-agency investigation is still ongoing, and details of those incidents will be released as they become available. "
I have dedicated all my time to hunting wolves this season here in Western Montana. If I go elk hunting I have to go East. Up here in Western Montana the Moose are gone, Elk are few and far between and the deer have all moved to town. And the predators are not far behind them. The picture is from the 2nd day of rifle season. It looked like 15-20 wolves had ran down the road in front of me. This same area in the past was a spot that would have held a lot of Moose. Not a single track other than the wolf. If anyone wants some good Wolf sounds PM me and I will send them to you.
"human-caused" grizzly bear mortality is a scientific way of describing it's death, not a way of shifting blame.
Good god man, go and stir the pot on some other forum.....
^You may want to think a little more broadly before you comment. If the FWP/USF&W does not regulate the population (Grizz, wolf, cat, etc) and the mortality (or attacks) rises with the population...is that "human-caused", "management-caused" or would you prefer to scientifically categorize it as a "non-factor"? If the moose, elk and deer populations are decreasing from predators or over-hunting as noted above by several people....what is the cause or who is to blame? In the world of govt-speak....you can often see where things are going by the particular words used....or not used.
I may need to join nwmomtana14. Buy wolf tags only and let Fish Wildlife and Parks grow broke.and let them stew on their poor management policies. Better odds killing a wolf in region one then a trophy whitetail. Lol
I know some guys hunting the Seeley Lake area and the report is sloooow. Not sure if weather related or predator related.
This grizzly track was near Condon just north of Seeley. That's two griz two separate hunts 20 miles apartin two weekends. The place is crawling with them. The weather was crap but still seeing more predator tracks then deer and elk. :( Deer numbers seem stable in he Olney area but the game stations are showing an influx of hunters as their hunting spots are drying up and everyone is hitting the areas that are not down in numbers.
I've hunted western Montana since 1983. Less now all the time. Seeley Lake area, Lincoln, Libby, SW corner. You will find changing spots of good hunting from year to year, but it is a mere shadow of what it once was. There have always been coyotes and lions and black bear and Griz. But now more than ever. Now add in the wolf. End of story. Thankfully I have good friends on the eastern side where I now spend most of my time.
Here's the check station results for region 1. About the same as usual, maybe less hunters in some areas.
Yep, 0.3% success rates on elk, nothing to see here.
That's not 3%, that is 3/10 of one percent. One elk for every 300 hunters.
Has anyone been out wolf hunting this winter in Region 1? Any luck?
I have relatives in that area and was thinking of heading out in January to try to kill one... or a few. I heard the weather has been warm and some of the grizzlies are still active. For you guys that call in the area, have you ever encountered a grizzly while calling wolves. Last year in December, when I was out there calling for wolves, it made me a little nervous because it was warmer than normal and the bears had not fully hibernated for the year yet. Luckily, I did not call in a bear...
Jeck66, I'm not saying it's impossible, but it is highly unlikely to run into a grizzly bear in Dec/Jan. In November they are sometimes still around, but I've never seen sign of them after that. Shoots-straight, as far as FWP's statistics on hunter numbers and success rates goes, I would say that they mean little anymore. It used to be that all hunters stopped at the check stations, now from what I can see, most of them drive right by. It's funny to watch during hunting season how hundreds of pickups drive past the check station in the hour after dark on weekends, and the weekend after hunting season hardly any vehicles are driving past in the hour after dark. I don't know if they are selling more licenses than they used to, but people are spending a lot more days hunting.
Irish, they only man the check stations in many areas now on weekends. They are meaningless IMO. I feel that if they truly want the real data they would use mandatory check. Right now those I've talked with about that in the department are not in favor.
Anyone killing any wolves this year in Region 1?
Yes, friend of mine shot a dandy gray, almost silver. Another friend and his son each got nice wolves. If you're interested, best be a hiker. They've been going way back in and up. Heavy snow up higher elev's.
I am heading out to Region 1 in the end of December to try calling in another wolf. I will be hunting the Eureka to Whitefish to Libby triange area. Any info or tips would be greatly appreciated. Also, i would appreciate if you would pm me any sightings or good areas to look for wolves and I will see if I can call one in again! I was out in the area in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, I did call in a 103 lb male and was able to shoot him. In 2018, I had one back in the trees growling, barking, and howling at me... but he wouldnt give me a look at him. Any help leading up to my hunt would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Montana needs to open the season on lions and wolves year round no limits for ,a couple yrs screw the hound hunters , I agree with another poster this lions are ok but wolves are bad is bullshit lions kill just as many animals as wolves but it gets blamed on wolves . I haven't heard of a wolf killing a human in Montana yet but I know for a fact there has been several humans killed by mountain lions