SE Montana Deer "Did I do it wrong"

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
I just got back from my very first hunt in SE Montana. We hunted a mix of BMA's and national forest in the typical well-known areas. I took a buck so am grateful but even knowing the hunting ain't what it used to be I was surprised at how few deer we saw overall. We did see a few bucks on private and a couple of dinks on public first day we were there and maybe 5 to 10 does a day thereafter. Is that normal now or do you think I was just in the wrong area at the wrong time because folks said even though it's not as good, we should still see lots of deer. When we spotted this buck I thought I'd better take the 4x2. Just trying to gage whether this is normal or if I just did it wrong as in wrong places at the wrong time?? Your feedback is appreciated.

2022 Willy buck 1.jpg
 

Rie bread

Active Member
Messages
361
looks like you did well to me. seeing deer everyday sounds alright as well. where do you normally hunt?
 

antlerradar

Active Member
Messages
696
I have hunted SE Montana since 78, Over the years I have had 100 deer days, days when I found three or more 170 bucks. Those days are gone unless there are big changes. The public land doe tags would be a good start. Sadly your experience may well be the new normal for SE Montana public land.
 

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
looks like you did well to me. seeing deer everyday sounds alright as well. where do you normally hunt?
I'm from Oregon but it was from my research of the area and people that have hunted there. Getting a buck is great but in trying to determine whether to go back is the deer numbers. I was told this area still had a lot of deer just not many good bucks but I just like seeing deer even if no big bucks.
 

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
I know of some outfitters from SE Montana that refunded their customers due to the low deer numbers. I will tell you from hunting that area for 25 years it has tanked for overall numbers. They need to stop with all the mule deer doe tags.
Thanks for the reply and your observation. Hopefully they will further limit doe tags and numbers will start to recover.
 

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
I have hunted SE Montana since 78, Over the years I have had 100 deer days, days when I found three or more 170 bucks. Those days are gone unless there are big changes. The public land doe tags would be a good start. Sadly your experience may well be the new normal for SE Montana public land.
The first part of your statement was more of what I expected. I wasn't expecting to see multiple 170 class bucks but I was expecting to see 25 to 50 deer a day and that just wasn't the case.
Thanks for the reply.
 

BridgerMT

Active Member
Messages
140
I live in SW Montana and I was in SE Montana trying to help a friend get his antelope tag filled that he had drew. We where East of Broadus,MT spoke with a game warden there, that said the BMA land we were going to hunt had been changed to a Type2 property because 1,407 hunters had went through that piece of land in 2021.The land owner asked MFWP in the off season what could be done to better control the amount of hunters, so you now must sign in everyday you hunt with the local GW and they only let 15 hunters in per day.... Are pubic lands are being destroyed and will never be the same..
 

timmy

Member
Messages
21
I live in the area and this is pretty accurate of what I have been seeing. There may be a few pockets that hold more deer but overall the deer are gone. It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen it. Business as usual for mtfwp, still sold doe tags. Unfortunately I think it will continue to get worse.
 

antlerradar

Active Member
Messages
696
I have hunted SE Montana since 78, Over the years I have had 100 deer days, days when I found three or more 170 bucks. Those days are gone unless there are big changes. The public land doe tags would be a good start. Sadly your experience may well be the new normal for SE Montana public land.
I will add that those were public land day hike hunts. You could see far more deer if you looked on private. One time I set up on a large hill overlooking miles of irrigated river bottom. Counted 300 deer from that one hill. On an evening or mourning drive through irrigated river bottom it was not uncommon to see a thousand deer if you stopped and looked the fields over with binoculars.
 

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
I live in SW Montana and I was in SE Montana trying to help a friend get his antelope tag filled that he had drew. We where East of Broadus,MT spoke with a game warden there, that said the BMA land we were going to hunt had been changed to a Type2 property because 1,407 hunters had went through that piece of land in 2021.The land owner asked MFWP in the off season what could be done to better control the amount of hunters, so you now must sign in everyday you hunt with the local GW and they only let 15 hunters in per day.... Are pubic lands are being destroyed and will never be the same..
Appreciate the response. I killed my buck on a type 2 BMA and sounds similar to the property you're talking about. Thanks.
 

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
I live in the area and this is pretty accurate of what I have been seeing. There may be a few pockets that hold more deer but overall the deer are gone. It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen it. Business as usual for mtfwp, still sold doe tags. Unfortunately I think it will continue to get worse.
Thats really unfortunate as you said. Sounds like Montana is turning into Oregon.
 

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
I will add that those were public land day hike hunts. You could see far more deer if you looked on private. One time I set up on a large hill overlooking miles of irrigated river bottom. Counted 300 deer from that one hill. On an evening or mourning drive through irrigated river bottom it was not uncommon to see a thousand deer if you stopped and looked the fields over with binoculars.
True they were day hunts on public land and one BMA. We did drive by some irrigated river bottom and saw a few more deer so you are accurate there. Sounds like over all the area is like most of the west in a declining state. Appreciate you feedback.
 

leonard

Active Member
Messages
356
Guys the deer just aren’t there in any significant quantity or quality. The MTFWP considers this the new normal. This is basically due to unlimited tags given out over an entire region and focused hunting on public lands and then combine a drought of 2021, it’s not going to recover anytime soon.
 

antlerradar

Active Member
Messages
696
Guys the deer just aren’t there in any significant quantity or quality. The MTFWP considers this the new normal. This is basically due to unlimited tags given out over an entire region and focused hunting on public lands and then combine a drought of 2021, it’s not going to recover anytime soon.
Actually I think it is ever worst than this for public land. With the difficulty of private access and the added doe and elk tags of recent years the pressure on public land is almost 12 weeks non stop. Deer on public land are being habituated to moving to private as soon as the hunters show up. Public land is never going to recover to even what there was ten years ago.
 

dragonshed

Member
Messages
75
Antlerradar, did you notice a decrease in the amount of archery hunters this year with the change in the archery special draw tags?
 

antlerradar

Active Member
Messages
696
Antlerradar, did you notice a decrease in the amount of archery hunters this year with the change in the archery special draw tags?
Maybe slightly fewer, Probably some local variation with some places getting hit harder and others not as much. Seamed to be a big push first part of the season through late September, Kind of tailed off after that.
 

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
Well dang, I'm feeling pretty fortunate to get a buck. Sorry to hear Montana is going the way of other western states with deer hunting going downhill.
 

jvgunner

Active Member
Messages
117
I have hunted SW Montana for 20 years off and on. Went back this year after a 8 year break. It was pretty rough hunting. No where near the amount of deer we used to see. It was the week before thanksgiving and very cold with snow, Rut was on but we could not turn up anything worth harvesting in 5 days of hunting. Passed on a half a dozen bucks that were mostly 4 points. The biggest about 24 wide with not much mass. The deer seem to go up & down drastically in this area over the last 20 years or so. The last couple of years drought & Ehd did a big harm to populations. Four/Five years ago the area had all kinds of deer around. This winter is not looking good for them either!
 

Homer

Long Time Member
Messages
12,791
I have hunted SW Montana for 20 years off and on. Went back this year after a 8 year break. It was pretty rough hunting. No where near the amount of deer we used to see. It was the week before thanksgiving and very cold with snow, Rut was on but we could not turn up anything worth harvesting in 5 days of hunting. Passed on a half a dozen bucks that were mostly 4 points. The biggest about 24 wide with not much mass. The deer seem to go up & down drastically in this area over the last 20 years or so. The last couple of years drought & Ehd did a big harm to populations. Four/Five years ago the area had all kinds of deer around. This winter is not looking good for them either!
Maybe someday the OP will ask about SW.....
 

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
I have hunted SW Montana for 20 years off and on. Went back this year after a 8 year break. It was pretty rough hunting. No where near the amount of deer we used to see. It was the week before thanksgiving and very cold with snow, Rut was on but we could not turn up anything worth harvesting in 5 days of hunting. Passed on a half a dozen bucks that were mostly 4 points. The biggest about 24 wide with not much mass. The deer seem to go up & down drastically in this area over the last 20 years or so. The last couple of years drought & Ehd did a big harm to populations. Four/Five years ago the area had all kinds of deer around. This winter is not looking good for them either!
jvgunner, I really appreciate your feedback and what you experienced this year. I was probably a bit early on my hunt but due my hunting partner having a tag in colorado 3rd season we went early. Thanks again.
 

ChippewaPartners

Active Member
Messages
414
In Montana, the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks crowd are beholden to state legislators, MOGA (Montana Outfitters & Guides Association) and some very large landowners. Their crowing about adaptive harvest management and referencing the benchmark long-term averages pales in comparison to what Colorado does to manage their deer herds.

In Region 7 where my ranch is located on a couple miles of the Yellowstone River, mule deer numbers are dismal. Down and trending lower. In 2020 which was just 700 days ago they issued 11,000 mule deer B tags which invariably means doe tags though they give little regard to the simple fact that half of the fawns killed are buck fawns. A year ago MT issued 5,500 B tags in Region 7 and this year only 3,000.

Deer management by the seat of your pants is what I call it.

Running a season for 6 weeks into the rut is ridiculous but what do I know about managing mule deer? The last mule deer seen on my ranch was in 2018, killed by a shooter who I confronted trespassing on my property gutting it out. The resource is suffering and what is in place today has to end. The usual call to simply "follow-the-money" is a beautiful place to start in setting seasons in Montana. Call me out, debate me, phone me up personally if you think different but you know it's true. The years of pandering to the crowds of hunters, hotel owners, cafe owners, FWP personnel, outfitters, guides, gas stations owners, the gun lobby, the archery lobby, the muzzleloader lobby, the cartridge manufacturers, and on and on and on it goes. The resource is dealing with drought to their feed, hunting pressure, disease, predators, browse, water and on and on and on.

Not certain about what a bad winter might do to the Montana herds but the proverbial good old days are here today and it is not a promising future over the short term.
 

callsalot

Active Member
Messages
612
In Montana, the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks crowd are beholden to state legislators, MOGA (Montana Outfitters & Guides Association) and some very large landowners. Their crowing about adaptive harvest management and referencing the benchmark long-term averages pales in comparison to what Colorado does to manage their deer herds.

In Region 7 where my ranch is located on a couple miles of the Yellowstone River, mule deer numbers are dismal. Down and trending lower. In 2020 which was just 700 days ago they issued 11,000 mule deer B tags which invariably means doe tags though they give little regard to the simple fact that half of the fawns killed are buck fawns. A year ago MT issued 5,500 B tags in Region 7 and this year only 3,000.

Deer management by the seat of your pants is what I call it.

Running a season for 6 weeks into the rut is ridiculous but what do I know about managing mule deer? The last mule deer seen on my ranch was in 2018, killed by a shooter who I confronted trespassing on my property gutting it out. The resource is suffering and what is in place today has to end. The usual call to simply "follow-the-money" is a beautiful place to start in setting seasons in Montana. Call me out, debate me, phone me up personally if you think different but you know it's true. The years of pandering to the crowds of hunters, hotel owners, cafe owners, FWP personnel, outfitters, guides, gas stations owners, the gun lobby, the archery lobby, the muzzleloader lobby, the cartridge manufacturers, and on and on and on it goes. The resource is dealing with drought to their feed, hunting pressure, disease, predators, browse, water and on and on and on.

Not certain about what a bad winter might do to the Montana herds but the proverbial good old days are here today and it is not a promising future over the short term.
Thanks for your analysis, I totally believe what you're saying. Oregon went through that, and the hunting is terrible here but the younger hunters know nothing else so they think it's normal. I hate to see Idaho and Montana turning into Oregon but it seems they are going down that path. Sorry to see it.
 

timmy

Member
Messages
21
In Montana, the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks crowd are beholden to state legislators, MOGA (Montana Outfitters & Guides Association) and some very large landowners. Their crowing about adaptive harvest management and referencing the benchmark long-term averages pales in comparison to what Colorado does to manage their deer herds.

In Region 7 where my ranch is located on a couple miles of the Yellowstone River, mule deer numbers are dismal. Down and trending lower. In 2020 which was just 700 days ago they issued 11,000 mule deer B tags which invariably means doe tags though they give little regard to the simple fact that half of the fawns killed are buck fawns. A year ago MT issued 5,500 B tags in Region 7 and this year only 3,000.

Deer management by the seat of your pants is what I call it.

Running a season for 6 weeks into the rut is ridiculous but what do I know about managing mule deer? The last mule deer seen on my ranch was in 2018, killed by a shooter who I confronted trespassing on my property gutting it out. The resource is suffering and what is in place today has to end. The usual call to simply "follow-the-money" is a beautiful place to start in setting seasons in Montana. Call me out, debate me, phone me up personally if you think different but you know it's true. The years of pandering to the crowds of hunters, hotel owners, cafe owners, FWP personnel, outfitters, guides, gas stations owners, the gun lobby, the archery lobby, the muzzleloader lobby, the cartridge manufacturers, and on and on and on it goes. The resource is dealing with drought to their feed, hunting pressure, disease, predators, browse, water and on and on and on.

Not certain about what a bad winter might do to the Montana herds but the proverbial good old days are here today and it is not a promising future over the short term.
Thank goodness for the landowners that are doing the managing for the fwp. If it wasn’t for landowners that want a healthy deer herd there wouldn’t be anything left in eastern Montana. Sadly from my interactions with local fwp the counts look good and business as usual will continue.
 

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