The Scorcher in January

I made a huge mistake today. I checked theMontana Legislature website to see what bills were coming. Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss. Then I remember what happened last year when the Legislature unleashed war on Montana’s wildlife, hunters and anglers. Over 100 bills that dealt directly with wildlife issues were introduced. Most of them were detrimental to you and I, and our opportunity to hunt and fish. Bills related to wildlife outnumbered every other category including education, taxation and health care.

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Searching for West

We were down in Bozeman this Thursday for the premiere of Mark Seacat's new film,Searching for West. I've been fortunate enough to get to know Mark through some of the work he's done in promoting solid conservation efforts for Sportsmen for Montana,  the Wild Sheep Foundation and others. I knew we were in for something different.

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A Big Week

It's a big week in Montana for hunters and anglers. Archery Pronghorn opens tomorrow and two events in Bozeman and Billings are sure to provide hunters and anglers with enough entertainment to last until the rest of the seasons open (Come on upland game bird!).

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Sportsmen's Candidate Forum

The political advertising is already in full swing. You can’t turn on a tv, radio or computer without finding out how X candidate hates your mom, or YH candidate stole your dad’s retirement fund. It’s getting hard to separate the wheat from the Chaff, or the bull from the bullspit, as my grandfather used to say.

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Time to Pony Up!

I fish a lot of smaller rivers and streams in the summer, just because I like the fishing better. I also like being able to walk 3-4 miles and fish how I want to. But that access is always under assault. Whether it’s the legislature or billionaire tycoons, us everyday, blue collar Montanan’s are facing a battle that never ends.

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My Kindgom for some Elk

I've got a lot of respect for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, especially since they’ve taken on the welfare groups who takepublicly owned wildlife to fund their operations. I applaud their decision to oppose HR 1581, the anti-elk, and anti-hunter Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act.

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Fishing Photo Contest

We admit it. We've got fish on the brain. Specifically, trout fishing on the brain. We're not looking down our noses at warmwater species like Walleye or Bass, we love those too, especially when they're breaded and fried.

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Bugs!!

We’ll miss the biggest of the big bugs on this year, but that’s okay. We’re hoping we miss the big crowds as well. Salmonflies, Golden Stones and other big, nasty terrestrials are my favorite flies to use. I’ve been dreaming of a mini-vacation for a few weeks now.

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Big Shaggies

Hellgate Hunters and Anglers supports the re-establishment of wild bison in areas that can handle them. To us, that means large expanses of Public Land like the CM Russell National Wildlife Refuge, and The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

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Get Outside

We load up the truck and head out to find some decent evening hatches on one of Montana's rivers in an hour and a half.Reports are that the Mo is on fire right now w/ PMD's and Caddis.

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Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

I hunt Northern Montana a lot. I love that country. Whether it’s the limestone reefs and elk of the Rocky Mountain Front, the whitetails of the Marias and Milk rivers, or the Sheep in the Breaks, I can’t get enough of Northern Montana. I’ve never run into a terrorist, drug smuggler or human trafficker in all those years running around the Front or Breaks.

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A Pox on the Fox

When a fox gets in your henhouse, you don't just sit back and let it take your chickens. You grab the old Model 1906 Winchester and box of hollowpoints and you take care of the problem. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation did just that today

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Combat Fishing

By Commander Joel Stewart

My name is Commander Joel Stewart and I’m a proud member of the United States Navy. I’m also a native Montanan who grew up in Great Falls Montana. I’ve hunted and fished around our great state as a kid, and get home whenever I can.

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Unlocking the Gates

We've all had it happen. There’s a new gate on the old county road you and your dad used to bump along down looking for deer. Or, you look over the next rise at a piece of public land in the tens of thousands of acres, but you can’t get to it because there’s a 20 yard strip of private land keeping you off the public ground. We've all lost those easy to reach places where we could shoot on public lands. Whether it’s folks leaving their 78 Datsun or the burnt up old Maytag, or even worse; a subdivision moves in, and suddenly the new neighbors don’t like the sound of guns going off right next to their two story Colonial.

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Blame it on my Roots

The sheer mention of the approaching salmon fly hatch in Greg Tolelfson’s outdoor column Thursday morning started a Pavlov reaction deep inside my bones.  I literally started to salivate at the thought of the giant red bellied bugs.  Bugs so coveted by fish that even the most wiley trout turns into a crazed eating machine.  I had to take a three day rest period just to write my thoughts down in some coherent platform.  I’ve got the fever bad.  My affliction started at a young age.  Every summer we made the pilgrimage to the the Big Hole River in southwest Montana for a week of tossing flies to hungry trout.  It wasn’t just the river and fishing, I looked forward all year to a week of being outside and getting dirty, eating around the fire, s’mores, ghost stories, and not baths.  Every morning my father and the other dads would sneak out early for a morning float.  I never really knew why until I had kids.  I can’t ask him now, but I’m guessing the quiet mornings on the river were a much needed respite from the mayhem back at camp and a chance to catch fish.  .  Don’t get me wrong, my dad loved us (the picture attached  to this blog speaks more than a thousand words to this end) and I love my kids, but focused fishing time is just that and it should be respected, this is THE salmon fly hatch for god’s sake.  My favorite memory as a kid from my week on the Big Hole was when a big ol bug would land on the boat.  My father would snatch it up, dangle for all to see, and then plop the substantial amount of protein into his gaping mouth, just like a big ol brown trout, sans the hands.  He then would declare in a booming voice, “Fish eat em, I eat em!”  Those seeing the awkward display of caveman spirit for the first time, were shocked, even appalled, but they never ever forgot.

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The Great Fish Ambassador

Every once in awhile, a story comes across my desk that renews my faith in the human spirit: simple things done by everyday men and women.  I’m a bit biased but Montanans seems to produce these moments more often than surrounding states.  Such is the case when I read the story this morning in the Great Falls Tribune about Joel Stewart. Baghdad couldn’t be more unlike Montana.  I’ve never been but a hot dry day in the middle of summer in Eastern Montana gives me at least a taste of what it must be like. That’s why Joel’s story is so remarkable.  The simple act of stashing a fly rod, I’m guessing one that was not official issue, spawned a mini movement.  It’s a great reminder that within all of us is the opportunity to be ambassadors for our outdoor pursuits. While we all won’t be giving casting lessons at Saddam’s palace any time soon, we have the great responsibility to take advantage of teaching moments, whether to young kids just getting into the game, or old friends who are curious to know how we spend our weekends.  Together we will preserve our heritage or watch it drift away like sand in the wind in a far off land. 

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Of Watermelons and Tyranny

By Hal Herring

In a long talk with an old friend about the state of the world recently, I learned a new definition for the word “watermelon.” As in, “I used to think that anybody who cared about the environment was just a watermelon, you know, green on the outside, red on the inside. But nowadays, I’ve changed my mind.”

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Score One for the Good Guys

Saturday, April 21st, 2012 was a big day. About 300 people turned up in Choteau Montana to tell Congressman Dennis Rehberg how they felt about the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. Many of those folks were right along the Front, and a bunch came from other towns. All in all, Congressman Dennis Rehberg got an earful. Especially from hunters and anglers. Mike Menke of the Montana Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, Greg Munther from Backcoutnry Hunters and Anglers, Chris Marchion from Anaconda Sportsmen, Helena Hunters and Anglers, Montana Wildlife Federation, and on and on all testified in support of the Heritage Act. It was a thing of beauty. The Camo Coalition that comes together in support of the Front continues to grow. Saturday was evidence to that. Hunters and anglers are repeating history. Just as they did with Cecil Garland and the Scapegoat Wilderness, sportsmen and women showed up in the communities closest to the proposed legislation and were counted in favor of conserving Montana’s Crown Jewel, the Rocky Mountain Front. The testimony for the Heritage Act was overwhelming. 40 to 14. The crowd wore blue “Made in Montana” stickers to show their support, and I even saw a few of the opponents dipping into the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front’s cooler of pop and juice (and string cheese). Congressman Dennis Rehberg got an earful. What he does with that knowledge, and the understanding the Montanan’s want the Front protected, should help guide his decision. The Rocky Mountain Front has a history of Conservation going back to 1913 when the Legislature passed the act that created the Sun River Game Preserve. There is a place on the Front where I hunt. It is wild; full of wolves and bears and elk and deer. It’s like no place else on earth. It deserves to be seen as it is by others, 100 years from now. It’s time to honor the deal, and pass the act.

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Field days

“God bless America, Let’s save some it.” – Ed AbbeyThis weekend was full of activity for the Pulpit. We spent Friday at the Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel with Senator Tester, and we were up in Choteau yesterday for Congressman Rehberg’s listening session on the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. The panel discussion on Friday was lively and energetic. One topic included the issue aCongressional rider that forbade the Forest Service from implementing rules designed to eliminate conflict between wild sheep and domestic sheep. Other topics of interest included HR 4089, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, funding for the Farm Bill’s conservation title, and a host of other issues like Roadless, Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, etc. Perhaps the most lively discussion was in regards to current attempts to eliminate the public estate. Currently, public lands are under a great number of threats that would affect our ability to use them and manage them for wildlife habitat and hunting opportunity. It was great to hear the Panel defend the North American Model; lazer-like focus was placed on the need to maintain public lands, which includes cutting some trees, replacing old culverts, and making sure that the funding for the enforcement of travel plans remains high on the Senator’s priority list. The room was full of folks from across the spectrum: Outfitters, privateers, resident hunters and anglers. I even spotted someone from NRDC. Saturday found us up in Choteau with the great folks from the Montana Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and the MT chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. We were all there to support the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act that’s been introduced by Senator Baucus. Big game needs big country and the RMFHA will help ensure that the elk, deer, bighorns and mountain goats will always have their home place, the Front. Several hundred people showed up to voice their support or opposition to the bill. In all, approximately 40 people testified in support of the bill, while only 13 testified in opposition (we’re reviewing the tapes now for a final count). The crowd was split about 60/40 in support, with over 200 folks wearing “Made in Montana” stickers to show their support for the Heritage Act, and the local, homegrown process that put the bill together. I t was a good couple of days to be a hunter-conservationist in Montana. Hot damn, we love when Montanans show up and are counted! Montana’s wildlife and wild country have the support of the masses.

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National Shooting Sports Foundation's Legislator of the Year

So you know those folks who put on the biggest gun show in the world every year, the SHOT SHOW? if you don't, you should.

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Hellgate Hunters and Anglers
Our Mission is to conserve Montana's wildlife, wild places, and fair-chase hunting and fishing heritage.