The customary mantra for those of us who have who have spent much time in search of powder to ski in the semi-arid mountains of Montana is, “Pray for snow!” Consequently, I never thought I’d catch myself chanting, “Pray for Snow Drought,” but after reading the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department’s “2012 elk hunting outlook,” a late winter is what I’m praying for—for the elk’s sake. You’ll see what I mean as you read their outlook (and pay no attention to their glib use of depersonalizing words like “harvest” or “hunting opportunities” for the senseless murder of noble beings like elk—psychopaths can’t help themselves):
“There are elk in Montana’s hills and if the big sky drops some snow hunters could be in for a banner season in many areas.
“’Most hunters are going to find elk populations in good physical shape and will benefit from liberal hunting opportunities,’ said Quentin Kujala, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ wildlife sections coordinator in Helena. ‘If the weather cooperates, and if hunters do their homework and line up access early where it’s needed, we’d expect very good harvest numbers by season’s end in late November.’
“Montana’s general, five-week long, elk hunting season opens Oct. 20.
“Kujala noted that cold and snowy conditions should lead to elk hunting success, while mild weather usually spells lower elk harvests, despite additional elk-hunting permits and more liberal seasons. ‘We’re all hoping the weather tips to hunters’ favor this fall,’ Kujala said.”
All? Not me! Not the elk! Sorry, Mr. Kujala, those of us who care about elk are praying that Montana’s current drought conditions last well into November.
Checking their regional population rundown, it’s clear that—despite the occasional natural wolf predation that sportsmen are quick to freak out over—elk are doing pretty well in the state. According to Montana FWP, “Biologists say elk numbers are at or above management objectives in most hunting districts.” “…the milder winter of 2011-2012 led to good calf recruitment…” “Elk populations are healthy and growing. Elk populations are solid.” and “The biggest challenge for hunters continues to be finding access.”
Whether it’s wolves competing for “their” elk “harvests” or a few darned private land owners who won’t let hunters kill animals on their properties, it seems like hunters and their game department lackeys always have something to bitch about.