Upland bird hunting began Sept. 1 and hunters along the Rocky Mountain Front, especially in riparian areas, need to be aware they are in bear country.

In recent years, grizzlies have wandered out onto the prairie away from the Front, following streams and river bottoms.

People are asking about how the dry conditions and fire danger will affect hunting seasons.  FWP is not recommending that the Fish and Wildlife Commission close hunting seasons.  “Because of widely variable conditions and different types of hunting scenarios across the state, that is a decision rightly left to an individual landowner, a block management cooperator, or a land manager.  If a private landowner or a land management agency such as the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management makes the decision to restrict or postpone hunting or other activity on their property, that is a decision we respect and accept,” said FWP Director Martha Williams.

As hunters and other recreationists enjoy late summer in Montana, fire safety will be a critical part of a safe trip.

Montana is parched. Some parts of the state have seen little rain all summer long. More than 40 active wildfires are currently listed on federal incident management website for the state of Montana. Many other, smaller fires, are being managed on a local level. And still the dry weather, heat and smoke persist.

Just the thought of wings exploding into flight across the prairie or through the pine forests is enough to get the average upland game bird hunter’s heart racing.

And fortunately, from end to end, corner to corner Montana has upland bird opportunities for the casual to the die-hard hunter.

Hunting fever starts early. It might be a few midnight dreams, or maybe you find yourself scrolling through the Cabela’s website after dinner instead of paying bills.

Pretty soon you’re thinking about hunting most of the day. Mentally going over maps instead of work-related powerpoints, pushing yourself out of bed for an early workout, not because it’s good for you, but because you need to get into hunting shape.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee recommends the use of bear spray and urges hunters to learn other bear-aware safety measures.

 

With Montana's upland game bird season opening Sept.1—and the bow hunting season set to open Sept. 2—remember that slow moving, quiet or game-calling, scented and camouflaged hunters will soon be sharing the landscape with the state's even stealthier bears that may be stalking similar prey.

It may not be an encounter one hopes for, but all hunters must be aware there is that potential.

When drought and the accompanying heat hits, attention tends to focus on withering crops, explosive wildfires and subsoil moisture.

While those drought-caused problems are obvious, creatures that spend their lives underwater and out of sight can suffer as well.

If a stream bed dries up, of course, fish don’t do well. But even before that final step, higher temperatures and reduced stream flow hurt. The Smith River south of Great Falls is a good example.