Hunter’s Corner: Adventures in Montana

Hunter’s Corner
Published: 7/3/2019 8:48:24 PM

I recently spent eight wonderful days in Montana. June is a perfect time to visit because Bozeman and the areas surrounding it is in the high desert or as my son would say, “the steps.” The mountain tops are still snow-capped and everything else is green. Come mid-July everything except the irrigated hay fields will be brown from lack of rain. On Father’s Day we visited both sides of the Bridger’s. Along the way we drove past the Madison River. The river was a bit high and appeared to be in need of a traffic cop owing to the number of float boats guiding fly fishermen down the river. The prime month for fly fishing on the Madison and most other Montana rivers is August.

Two animals we didn’t get to see were the black bear and wolf. They normally come out at dusk to feast on calves. We did observe an elk cow and her calf. We saw two antelope whose coats were in transition from winter to summer and looked pretty ratty. The Black Angus calves were cute and numerous.

That evening we went up to the Flying D Ranch, this is Ted Turner’s ranch. Say what you want about the “mouth of the South” he is the consummate steward of his land holdings. He has a forestry management plan for all of his holdings. This assures that mule deer will have necessary habitat to survive.

If you want to experience a trophy elk hunt on Turner’s property it will cost you $16,000. If you want to cull a bison it will cost you $6,000. It is a culling, not a hunt. You will be driven to where a bison herd is feeding. You will shoot which ever bison you want. The herd will scatter and then return circling around the fallen bison and then move on. A fork lift will then put the downed bison in the back of your truck.

On Ted’s ranch we saw lots of bison and bison calves. In addition, we saw mule deer, white-tail deer and elk. We were surprised to see so many white-tails as they normally are in lower elevations. Every spring Turner employees spread out and collect shed antlers. These sheds are sold to nationwide pet stores who sell them as dog treats.

My nephew works for the Mt. Fish Wildlife and Parks agency. He showed me a picture of a lake trout he caught through the ice this winter. It weighed 20 pounds and he caught it using a 6-pound test leader. Elk permits are issued on a lottery basis. James put in for a trophy elk zone in which over 1,000 hunters applied for one of 10 permits to be issued. He got one and was pretty excited at the prospects.

Lately, James has been working on improving pheasant habitat. Montana has a healthy pheasant population and he has been improving habitat that provides cover for pheasant chicks, winter cover and food plots that assist in getting the pheasants through the winter months.

James is also an avid reloader. We had a good chuckle over the latest wonder rifle cartridge, the 6.5 Creedmoor. In 1896 the 6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser was introduced to the shooting public. It was a smokeless powder cartridge. It became the most popular moose rife in Sweden and probably still is. When the .270 Winchester was introduced to the shooting public the date on the .270 was very close to the 6.5 x 55. In my teen years I wanted to get one but all that was available was war surplus.

Now comes the 6.5 Creedmoor which if you look closely at the 6.5 stats it is very close to the .270. I don’t remember the .270 ever being suggested as a 1,000-yard rifle. Don’t get me wrong, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a welcomed addition to the shooting community, but is the cost of the ammunition worth it? Next time you are at a retailer, check out the price of .270 ammunition compared to 6.5 Creedmoor ammo.

By the way, a friend of mine hunts with a 6.5, loves it, and has taken a monster Maine buck with it. As for me, when I am hunting in a rifle-authorized area, I will continue to use my .270.


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