Challenges of hunting out WestLaurie’s niece, Jessica, told Laurie we’d be getting a call from an FBI agent based in Chicago, a friend of Jessica’s husband, and that he wanted to talk to me about “hunting out West.”
By: Bernie Kuntz, The Jamestown Sun
Laurie’s niece, Jessica, told Laurie we’d be getting a call from an FBI agent based in Chicago, a friend of Jessica’s husband, and that he wanted to talk to me about “hunting out West.”
“Oh, boy,” I say to Laurie. “These people think I have a 100 places lined up to hunt, and all they need to do is contact me and I’ll give them details…delusional to be certain.”
Jessica and her husband, Hector, have visited us a couple times in Bozeman, and after viewing my trophy room they apparently believe that I am the best person in the world to ask about western hunting.
Early Sunday afternoon, I get the call from David, the FBI agent, a pleasant enough fellow who says he is 40 years old. He tells me he shot an antelope five years ago “50 miles from Laramie, Wyoming.” He is interested in hunting antelope again, and maybe mule deer, and when he learned that I have lived in Montana for the last 26 years, he decided to call me.
So I tell him that eastern Montana, where most of the pronghorn population lives in this state, suffered two bad winters, and pronghorn permits have been cut back drastically. “Have you thought about hunting in Wyoming again?” I ask. “Wyoming has about 450,000 pronghorns — more than any state — and that would be my first pick for you.”
He replies that a friend of a friend got him onto a private ranch that time, and he has lost contact with everyone. I still tell him to go with Wyoming. Look for units with lots of public land, unless you don’t mind paying a trespass fee.
“Do you have any partners who would come out with you?”
Well, no, is the answer.
“Do you have any preference or bonus points accrued in any western states?”
Again, the answer is no.
Then I tell him about Montana’s Block Management Program, where landowners get a modest daily stipend for every hunter/day someone hunts on their land. But I tell David that these places get hunted hard, and he could probably have a better mule deer hunt in a state that doesn’t have a five-week rifle season (like Montana) and that mule deer bucks get hammered pretty hard in this state. Also, the odds of his drawing a non-resident deer license in Montana are about 6-1.
Since he has no points, I suggest Colorado or maybe start applying in Wyoming and building points, but it would be best if he had a partner or two. “How are you going to pack out a mule deer carcass two or three miles from the nearest road?” (He hadn’t thought of that, but balks at the cost of an outfitter — $3,000 to $4,000.)
Just in case he changes his mind, I give him Jack and Keith Atcheson’s e-mail address and phone number in Butte, Mont. He has never heard of the Atchesons, so I tell him about Jack, Sr. establishing the booking agency several decades ago. “These guys do more hunting in five years than most guys do in their lifetimes,” I tell David. “They book hunting trips all over the world. I have used them in the past and have found them to be a good resource.”
I tell him how things have changed over the last 30 or 40 years, that you can no longer just drive out West and buy a non-resident license over-the-counter to hunt mule deer in most states. You have to enter a drawing, and this is the time of year to do it. But in many western states it requires first buying some sort of prerequisite license. And don’t expect to draw on your first attempt. You usually have to build up preference/bonus points. I remind David that he is young enough to begin building points and should do so.
When the conversation ends, I feel disappointed I didn’t have more to offer. But I had to tell him the truth, unappealing as it may be.