While looking through the Feb/March 2012 EHJ I, once again, saw several areas I am familiar with listed in the MT MRS. The info on these areas isn't always quite accurate, IMO. I thought I would supplement the info with my thoughts:
ELK OTC areas: I thought this info was pretty good. It is interesting that they mention the OTC hunts in Gallatin and Park counties at great opportunities at B&C bulls, however. It is true there are many entries from these counties. However most of those huge bulls were taken during migration hunts on YNP elk. Most of the Park Co. bulls weren't taken during the general season in the Wilderness, but rather during the discontinued (and fomerly awesome) Gardiner late hunt. Several big bulls were taken in 2010 in Gallatin Co. after the big snow that once again had YNP bulls migrating.
Deer OTC areas: Also pretty good info. I just hope the Crazys don't get overrun with hunters. I doubt they will, though, it is some rough country. Rosebud County does produce some book deer, but they don't come from the public land.
Mule Deer LE: Here is where things get a little bit off. I look at 261 and 270 out my window every morning. Without a doubt these are the two best limited mule deer hunts in the state.
Regarding 261-50: The "rugged back country" part of the unit does not hold most of the big deer. The big bucks are found mostly on the private foothills and access is a REAL problem, if you don't know somebody. This area has a number of large apple orchards, and the biggest bucks are often found on the orchard property.
Regarding 270-50: This unit is the best unit in the state, bar none. It is no secret. Draw odds are awefull. The MRS says this unit is on the downswing. Not so much, I spent plenty of time in this unit this year and personally saw many more deer, and bucks, than the last few years. Check station deer were also up in quality. The unit has a LOT of public land, and many of the biggest bucks are on the public land. Access is excellent, but there is some deep backcountry also.
Regarding 130-50: This part of the MRS is full of misinformation. This unit has NOT produced a B&C non-typical in the last 10 years. The MRS author is mistakenly referring to deer killed in FLATHEAD county (all of which were OTC!). These deer came from the North Fork of the Flathead, the Great Bear Wilderness, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. I believe one of those huge deer was killed by a rafting guide that guides raft trips on the Middle Fork of the Flathead . Unit 130 is in MISSOULA AND LAKE counties. The last B&C non-typical deer from Missoula county was in 1978. One thing to remember is Missoula County also includes portions of the Bob Marshall complex. The only non-typical in the MT record book (none in B&C) from Lake County was a 217 inch deer in 1998. 130 is an interesting unit. I have spent time in this unit, and I have seen some nice deer, but deer numbers are low and the terrain is VERY rugged. Hunter success with the tag is very low. It is usually 1 to 3 successfull hunters out of the 10 tags. There are few maintained trails in this unit. This would still be a fun, early, adventurous hunt for nice bucks, but I think the MRS misleads applicants regarding trophy potential. A book deer might come out of this unit, but they haven't recently.
Regarding 312-50: Trophy quality and deer numbers in this unit have been down lately, but it is still a good hunt with a chance at a good-un. Some hunters that drew this one expressed disappointment in what they found.
Many of MT's book deer have come out of OTC units.
This is my take on it. Any other MT hunters want to chime in?
Last edited by Bitterroot Bulls; 02-12-2012 at 05:36 PM.
Thnaks BB! Some very good info for sure.
I havnt read it yet but, the washington MRS in EBJ was incredibly inaccurate. Almost everything they had for elk in WA was way off.
I see you mentioned the crazies were once again recommended as a unit for nice bucks, I just talked to the biologist (karen loveless) a few days ago and she said the mule deer numbers were way down for at least the west side (315) We didnt talk about the east side at all.
I second the mis info on 130, some nice deer in the unit because of the gnarly terrain they just don't get the human pressure. I think someone out of area would be disappointed if they drew the tag. I also think that while hunting 130 it is easy to have the attention drawn to the whitetail bucks that haunt the area.
luck is when opportunity meets preparation...
No BB I think you hit the nail on the head about the MRS.
I looked at the table and saw they listed the 130-50 hunt as starting on 10/20/2012. That tag opens for any weapon on 09/15/2012. They just missed the mark on that hunt.
The problem is, it is a neat hunt that a few years ago you could give a whirl with little or no points, but the number of applicants has shot up dramatically with the "blue chip" status in Eastmans and other magazines. It seems the magazines are getting their info from each other or something. I also think people see it is near the Flathead, and assume that is where some of those giant deer came from.
I saw a guy scouting for that tag while I was bowhunting elk in there once, and he said, "Aren't there supposed to be big deer here?" He said he put in after reading in a magazine how big the deer were. I have spoken to several tagholders that were disappointed when they learned just how rugged the terrain is, and how few deer there were.
You are right about the whitetails in Seeley-Swan! They are thicker than fleas on a coyote in there, and there are some big bucks down in that valley jungle!
Do you know anything about 291 for mulies? If there is any "backcountry" in that district? I have not seen the new issue of eastmans. Did they mention it in the MRS section this year? I spent some time coyote hunting in that district yesterday and I'm thinking about putting in for that area. I used to hunt that area when I was kid and even drew a 291 tag.
Bb. Thanks for contributing this info to all of us.