President’s Message February 2019

Published on 02/17/19

Yes, I hunt/fish like a girl.

Try to keep up.

Well, that doesn’t refer to me but refers to women like Laura Nyberg and Sandi Vashro pictured below – spent two cold mornings to bag some turkeys.

Women Hunters

It’s no secret hunter and angler numbers nationwide are flat or declining. That’s a huge concern because hunting and fishing license dollars and excise taxes on sporting gear are used to fund fish and game management agencies. Even more concerning are the many threats faced by fish and wildlife populations. Hunters and anglers have been great advocates for wildlife, pushing awareness and pushing politicians and agencies to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife and their habitat and protect public access. The North American Wildlife Conservation Model and the recovery of fish and wildlife populations in the last century is a great success story, a movement pushed and funded by sportsmen and women. But many hunters and anglers are graying out and younger people don’t seem to be inclined to outdoor sports. And younger people definitely are not inclined to join sportsmen organizations. The collective power of groups like Flathead Wildlife, Inc. magnifies and focuses our separate voices “To preserve and enhance our hunting and fishing heritage”.

What are the solutions? We can each mentor younger people. Programs like “Hooked on Fishing” introduce youngsters to fishing and aquatic habitat at a young age. Flathead Wildlife’s own “Preserve the Tradition” youth hunting campaign is aimed at encouraging young hunters. One group that is under-represented in the outdoors is women. Montana does better than most states but there are still about 3 times as many men as women hunting and fishing. But there’s no clear reason for the disparity. Women are the fastest growing demographic sporting group across the nation and that’s a good sign. What drives women to participate, what obstacles are there, what can we all do to encourage more women to come afield? At the Membership meeting Wednesday, February 13 we will look at the status of outdoor recreation in Montana and also have some notable women hunters and anglers tell us how to encourage more women in the outdoors. And there are programs like Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) sponsored by Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Flathead Wildlife will help sponsor a BOW ice fishing workshop on February 15-16 in Kalispell. Looking for a Valentine’s gift for your sweetie? Give her a certificate to the BOW workshop. She won’t be expecting that, who says you can’t still surprise her?

I know a Methodist minister, his wife played music during his service one fine Sunday. Afterwards they went out and got a load of firewood. She shot a deer, they threw it on top of the load.

And that night she gave birth to their son.

Yes, I hunt like a girl.

Try to keep up.

The preceding comments are mine alone and don’t necessarily represent policies of FWI. Jim

President’s Message January 2019

Published on 01/08/19

President Jim Vashro 8211 turkey

The gift wrapping is long gone, the Christmas tree hauled out to the curb. Lots of good food and time spent with friends and family. Hopefully Santa listened to your hints and brought that outdoor gear you have been wishing for. But there’s still time for giving – giving back to the outdoors.

The fact you’re getting this shows at least at some point you’ve been involved with Flathead Wildlife, Inc. It’s time to renew your membership. We need you – for ideas and information, numbers and funding. In return we’ll bring you great monthly meetings, analyze and comment on resource management plans, secure public access and continue to fight to preserve your hunting, fishing and trapping tradition. We’ll be needing some new officers, think about stepping up and helping guide club policies and programs, it is rewarding.

Get a friend involved in Flathead Wildlife. They’ll learn something, meet some great people and there’s strength in numbers. FWI will be working hard during the upcoming Legislative session to bring you information on bills of importance to you and to speak on your behalf for or against bills. Flathead Wildlife, Inc. is the largest sportsman club in northwest Montana and legislators pay attention when we speak. Buy a friend a gift membership.

Get someone new involved in the outdoors. It is extremely rewarding when you see the light go on in someone’s eyes. Taking kids out is fun, helps you recapture that youthful enthusiasm. But look for older men and women also, ones who are through school and settled into a job, looking for new experiences and challenges. Those kind of people are very likely to stay with the outdoors and become advocates.

Offer some wild game to non-hunters and anglers. Show them you are serious about using the game you harvest, talk to them about the health benefits of wild game, the spiritual connection and that hunting and fishing, as part of conservation, are responsible for flourishing animal populations and protected open and wild spaces.

Get involved in a FWI project. We have a lot of projects coming up – planting shrubs for wildlife cover, kids fishing days, building bluebird nesting boxes, putting benches around fishing ponds, veterans fishing days. Give back to the resource, you’ll find a lot of satisfaction and preserve the opportunities for future generations.

We have the wealth of opportunity we enjoy because someone before us took the time to protect fish and wildlife, wildlife habitat and the access to them. Don’t just be a taker, give back. You’ll be richly rewarded many times over.

Jim Vashro

The opinions stated are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and policies of Flathead Wildlife, Inc.

Youth Hunt and Preserve the Tradition Meeting – 2018

Published on 12/20/18

December’s monthly meeting had a great turn out! Enjoy the smiles and be sure to come next year to this annual event.

President’s Message November 2018

Published on 11/13/18

President Jim Vashro

President’s Message – November, 2018

Let’s hear it for the ladies. I’m one of those lucky guys whose wife likes to hunt and fish. She doesn’t go at it the way I do, she likes to go a little slower, doesn’t need to go dawn to dark, she likes to smell the flowers, she doesn’t think being cold, wet and dirty is all that much fun and it is mostly about putting meat on the table. Our neighbors came home last weekend, the Dad and sons had seen and passed on some small bucks. The wife went out mid-day, found a nice 2 point whitetail that looked tasty and tender and happily bagged it.

My wife and I get to spend some great times together and as a result she is more understanding of all my piles of gear, the early morning departures, dragging in after dark and my insistence that I need to make this trip right now to catch the bite/moon/snow/weather… Women make up half our population but are greatly under-represented in the outdoors. But they are a fast growing segment and that is important in the face of an aging hunting population and declining numbers. Take the time to introduce someone to eating wild meat, encourage them to go along, even if only with a camera. Take it slower, pick nice days. You’ll both be happy. The other part of the female equation is does and cows. Montana has some booming big game populations right now in many districts. Daily bag limits and permits are very liberal in trying to stem population growth. I’ve been fortunate to shoot some great bucks and bulls through the years. But my household also hasn’t purchased beef for home use for more than 40 years. We like wild game and does and cows usually eat better than their male counterparts. I’m at the point where given the choice between a mediocre buck and a doe, I’ll take the doe. My first archery elk I chose a cow over a spike bull because she presented a better shot. I’ve usually shot the first legal elk I’ve seen, it just happens I’ve seen a number of bulls first. These days I’m saying I’ll choose a cow over a rag horn bull, I hope I get to test that theory. And I’ll be honest, if there’s a 6 point in a herd, all bets are off.

I had an unwelcome surprise opening morning. Three miles up a road I’ve used for 25 years there was a “Private Road, No Trespassing” sign. There’s 4 more miles of road beyond there to Forest Service. I checked, it looks like the new owner of 35 acres can close the road and shut off access to hunters to thousands of acres of Stoltze, Weyerhauser and USFS lands. I could hike around the new parcel but hiking 4 miles just to start hunting is a little daunting. It will be an even more bitter pill if the new landowner continues to drive the 4 miles of road to hunt. Flathead Wildlife is also looking at a new private gate near Olney that could potentially block a long used road. Again, the road is private and the possible closure would be legal. There are lots of those types of roads in northwest Montana that the public is happily using now. FWI will be trying to identify those and come up with access solutions before the signs and gates go up. There are some options, the Governor’s Office has a Public Lands Access Coordinator and FWI is asking him to come up here so we can explore some of the options to keep roads open including right of way purchase and easements, tax credits and explanations of landowner liability. As we detailed in the last newsletter, there are 1.5 million acres of federal public land landlocked and inaccessible in Montana and also thousands of acres of state lands you can’t reach. We’ll keep working on your behalf to continue to access the public lands we all own.

Jim Vashro

The preceding opinions are mine alone and don’t necessarily represent the polices of Flathead Wildlife, Inc.