I shot a buck 3 days before Thanksgiving, 57 years to the day since I shot my first deer. That thought brought a flood of emotions. I can still picture that first buck bouncing through the timber into an opening, then turning broadside and stopping. You’ve got to love mule deer. There have been a lot of deer since then and this one wasn’t a whopper but I’m happy to say my heart was pounding while I waited for this one to step into the clear. I hope I never lose that thrill.
I was hunting on some Flathead Ridge Ranch property. We’ve seen some seismic shifts in land ownership the last few years in northwest Montana. Thank goodness private landowners like Mark and Robyn Jones were willing to put most of their 127,000 acre Flathead Ridge Ranch into Block Management. There are many other landowners who are willing to grant access if you do your homework. And corporate timber companies like Stimson Lumber, FH Stoltze Land and Lumber, Green Diamond Resources and Southern Pines Plantation are cooperating to provide access through Block Management and conservation easements (more on that elsewhere in this newsletter). I also hunted a lot of Block Management in the Missouri Breaks this fall. When you think about it, it’s a big leap of faith for landowners to open their lands to people toting firearms, driving vehicles and building fires. We need to thank them when we can, treat the land like our own and respect the privilege we’ve been given because the thoughtless actions of a few can make that all go away.
This was a tough year with record high temperatures and little or no snow. I’ve only heard of rutting buck activity in the last week. I hope your hunts were fun and safe, created memories with friends and family and maybe even put some venison in the freezer. As I look at a forecast for temperatures in the 50s tomorrow and my lawn greening up, I’m contemplating whether I’ll be using my lawnmower or snowblower first.
Flathead Wildlife President
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