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Veteran Hunter’s Take on MT Elk Season

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 By Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT, Contact
October 22, 2010

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Another weekend on tap, and another chance for hunters to get their elk in Montana. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation predicts the state elk hunter "success rate" will hit 22 percent this season - Montana has the second-highest number of elk in the country, next to Colorado.

Veteran elk hunter and former federal wolf recovery coordinator Carter Niemeyer says success rates are much higher for those who take the time to hunt using more traditional methods, which means parking the ATV and hiking away from roads and trails.

"If a hunter is willing to get out and walk and hunt, like a sportsman should, the opportunities are tremendous and unlimited."

While elk numbers in most of the state are at or above targets, elk herds have declined in a few areas. Wolves get much of the blame, but Niemeyer claims that that "blame game" obscures the good news about most Montana elk herds.

"To pick a couple of hunting units in Montana where elk numbers have declined - you still can't paintbrush the entire state."

Niemeyer says it's disheartening to hear hunters say that when they heard a wolf howl, they left the area because they assumed the wolves were taking the elk.

"It has become an exaggerated, embellished perception by many hunters that somehow wolves are an excuse to fail in hunting."

Instead, Niemeyer points out, the sounds of wolves should be an incentive to stick around because wolves hang around where there are elk.

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