Bernie Kuntz, For the Sun
You can wander into just about any small town bar in Montana and see some magnificent mounted mule deer heads, blackened by decades of cigarette smoke and age. They will be heavy-antlered deer and usually with gnarly tines and antler spreads of 25 inches or more. Invariably, they were 5-1/2 to 8-1/2 years old when they were taken in the 1940s through the mid-'60s. That age is the secret to their magnificence. For many years now Montana has had a five-week deer season, including two to three weeks during the rut, when mule deer bucks are most vulnerable.
It was a balmy October evening many years ago in Wyoming's Shirley Mountains when I heard an elk bark. And then a second elk barked. I whistled back and an elk barked again. To my front was a deep aspen grove and beyond that was a thick stand of conifers. Picking up a rock, I flung it into the aspens where it landed with a crash and rolled to the bottom of the draw.
Right now, in early August, and until the first snows fly in the mountains next month, is the finest time of the year to be in the high country. Insects...
Bernie Kuntz talks about hunting.
Someone a lot smarter than me said something to the effect that we hunters pursue our sport at the pleasure of the non-hunting public. It is unfortunate that many Montana hunters, and some landowners, haven't absorbed that message. The 2014 season was a disaster in Montana if you consider hunter ethics. "Hunters," and I use that term loosely, tried to "surround" a herd of 200 to 250 elk out on the flats outside of Townsend, about 50 miles from Helena.
(Last of two parts) John Thorp leaves me in the corner of a horse corral late in the afternoon, sitting on a folding chair and partially obstructed from view by the poles that make up the fence of the corral. I glass with my 8 X 32 Liecas and at 5:18 p.m. I see the first pair of fawns emerge from the willow jungle about 200 yards distant. During the next hour, more white-tailed deer appear from the willows, and when there are about 15 does and fawns in view, I start seeing bucks ...a spike buck, a fork-horn with very light colored antlers ... another buck that looks bigger ...
(First of two parts) A steady wind is blowing out of the southwest and I am hunkered on my folding chair in the corner of a horse corral. My walking staff is leaned up against the poles alongside my .25/06, my cane is sitting to my right. I am watching a wide meadow of tall grass this side of a jungle of willow entangled with old cottonwood trees, trying to get a shot at white-tailed deer.
This is my 2,000th column published in the Jamestown Sun, and without a lot of fanfare, I thank the Sun management for publishing my articles all these decades, and for you loyal readers for reading the column every week. You may be interested in knowing how this all started. In the early 1970s, fresh out of the Marine Corps, I was finishing up my B.A. degree in journalism and English at UND. A couple young guys who were editing the Dakota Student, the UND newspaper, knew I was an avid hunter and angler and asked if I could write a column for the paper.
“A rooster right there in the road!” We have just entered Carl’s property, I have wrestled the gate open and closed, hobbled back to the Suburban while using my diamond willow walking staff. But now, just as quickly, I exit the Suburban, shotgun in my right hand, walking staff in the left. The pheasant has disappeared into the grass in the middle of the two-track 75 yards away. I walk 20 feet and it once again appears. I freeze. The rooster moves into the grass between the two-track and the fence.
My partner, Randy and I, spot the white pickup from afar while we are hunting pronghorn antelope in western New Mexico in August, and later in the day we happen upon the truck parked on a road, the driver glassing pronghorns in the distance. In the back seats of the crew-cab pickup are an elderly man and woman, 80 and 79 respectively, we are to learn. The driver is their son, who looks to be in his mid-50s. All are life-long New Mexico residents.