SW Montana nobleman locks out hunters out of his duchy because he doesn't like MT wolf policy

Big livestock operator says there are too many wolves; so bans hunters in protest-

Rancher halts public hunting. Hirschy protests wolf policy, withdraws from state program. By Nick Gevock. Montana Standard.

The Big Hole country is mostly very nice, but there ought to be a public land access program started where access for the public is condemned across the land of the local earls, barons, and dukes.







  1. Matt Avatar

    So he gave up $12,000 a year in government hunting subsidies to protest the loss of 6 cattle over multiple years (a total loss of no more than $6000 unless it was some prize bull)? Now there’s a bright businessman for you.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The reason for this is why I framed the story as being about a nobleman.

    They aren’t particularly interested in money. They are interested in maintaining their cultural status, high above we stupid peasants.

    They get plenty of involuntary tribute from us by various government subsidies.

  3. Matt Avatar

    Ralph I like your angle on calling them noblemen. It helps to set them apart and make them look dirty for doing what they do. You know, farmers back east raise cattle on private lands – land they bought and paid for. Land they pay taxes on. As a whole, the US cattle industry lobby is pretty strong. But what if there were an internal rift? What if the eastern cattlemen began resenting the western public lands welfare ranchers because of the cheap grazing subsidies? The rock-solid lobby to keep cheap public grazing rights in place could begin crumbling. It would take the right group of people to make that happen – people who eastern cattlemen trust. Just a crazy idea I guess, or maybe the beginning of a good one. I’m not sure how to make it happen.

  4. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I have hunted his property, the loss of $12,000 means nothing to him, he is one of the richer land owners in Montana, so 12K is a drop in the bucket for him, he is throwing tantrum. Unfortunately it is a loss to the hunters, that is some of the best elk country in Western Montana and he is not penalizing the FWP, he is penalizing the hunters..

  5. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    “Hirschy said he’s lost more than half a dozen cattle through the years.”

    Poor baby has lost 6+ cows through the “years”. Now he’s going to take his little ball and go home.

    Maybe he should go down to the Fish and Game office, drop to the floor and throw a tantrum

  6. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    What is really sad, when I hunted that area in ’98 for elk during bow season, my partner and I help pulled several cattle out of mud wallows that were drying up and we probably counted over 2 dozen cattle skeletons in our week of hunting…so the half dozen he has lost to wolves is nothing compared to those he looses to neglect…

  7. gline Avatar

    And those 6 were compensated for by Defenders?

  8. gline Avatar

    I like your idea Matt!

  9. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    There is no way to confirm or deny if he was compensated by Defenders, so that really does not come into the equation.

  10. JW Avatar

    This is the problem:
    “Sime said while Hirschy would like to see wolves managed like coyotes, which can be shot on sight, that would never pass muster with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.”

    People feel like they can do what they want to wildlife, in this case coyotes. It is not acceptable, in my opinion, to allow that unless any animal is a livestock killing offender.

  11. gline Avatar

    That is why I brought up the topic – he may have been, probably , but it could fit into the equation…. seems logical to me.

  12. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Even it could, if it can’t be confirmed, then is has no bearing on what is going on, it is nothing but speculation, this person is simply trying to throw his weight around and in the mean time, he is not hurting the parties he thinks he is…I hope, FWP basically tells him to go blow smoke us his own ass.

  13. Elk275 Avatar

    I do not have time to write, but read Jared Diamond’s Collapse pages 28, 29, 47 and 58. Jared used to work for Fred. Fred is not nobleman, Fred is a hard working Montana rancher who wants to kept the Big Hole free of subdivisions.

    Is Bill Gates or Steve Jobs noblemen? I would think that Ted Turner is more of a nobleman than Fred Hirschy but because he fosters and allows wolves on his property no one here calls him a nobleman.

    Fred’s 45,000 acres are his private property and he allow public trespass. Ted Turner allows no one. Ted is a Nobleman

  14. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Turner allows hunting on his property if there was hunting allowed before he purchased it, he does not allow hunting if it was not allowed when he bought it, I have hunted some of the Turner’s property as well, Fred is just being a hard ass, because he didn’t get his way, I had opportunity to meet quite a few of these players when I worked for FWP, Fred is a hard ass..

  15. gline Avatar

    Save Bears, we don’t need all of the hard facts to blog on here or lack of emotion either… this blog is good because it is a place to learn and offer good (or bad ideas), discourse, hypothesizing, conversing, brainstorming… etc etc. in a democratic way. This blog isn’t a court of law or a scientific lab. I know I lost credit the other day, but that doesn’t define me. It was a humbling experience – one that you could use at times I must say. It heals arrogance. Seems lately we could all stop the fighting- stop being patronizing, one upping each other, and just try to listen. Including myself and I’m well aware of that.

    Anyway, re: compensation: Of course he would not bring that up, and it is speculation on my part of course, however many times the compensation component is not brought up by nobleman ranchers and it should be.

  16. gline Avatar

    Save bears: yes, it is a strange form of retaliation- does bring in the PR thought… but I think he is acting like an idiot.

  17. nabeki Avatar

    This is my favorite quote from the article:

    “When I call them, they don’t do what I ask them to do anyway,” he said. “We want more people on the ground and we want the people on the ground that can shoot some wolves.” referring to MFWP.

    I guess they don’t jump as fast as his majesty would like.

    “Stupidity combined with arrogance and a huge ego will get you a long way……Chris Lowe”


  18. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    It we want to speculate, I would say, he probably would never file a claim, for one, he does not need the money, and for two, it was allow him to claim and make his statement in his true colors as he is doing right now the loss of a half dozen cattle to people like this means nothing, but as you said, it does provide a negative PR opportunity…hopefully FWP takes the 12 K and puts it into working with other ranchers who have a more open mind and understanding.

  19. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    by the way, you didn’t loose an credit with me..

  20. gline Avatar

    That is just plain stupidity then. But obviously, he did not want to participate in co existing with wolves in the first place… which leads to all the retaliation…

    Interesting to note what you said above about pulling out 2 dozen cattle skeletons in a week…

  21. gline Avatar

    Why not? (credit) I pulled a quote out and immediately pounced on it one night… woops.

  22. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Being honest with you gline, I don’t remember pouncing on you? Did I? I thought that was someone else…anyway, I guess I have forgot. If I did, it does not mean you lost anything with me, working in the biology field, I have been pounced on many times by those I converse with..

  23. Larry Zuckerman Avatar

    if you get bored some day, check out the Montana Water Court and MT DNR’s website for the Big Hole Basin (41-D) Adjudication and see how Sir Hirschy has tried to “steal” water from the Big Hole River Basin and the imperiled Montana fluvial grayling with unsubstantiated water claims that the state of MT can prove are false.

  24. Elk275 Avatar

    Save Bears

    I have killed 2 elk on the Flying D ranch a number of years ago. Truner allows the hunting of cow elk in the last week of the season — no bulls that I am aware of. They no longer have a late season. Come Sunday morning elk hunting will start in Montana and those that pay $12,000, will be allowed to hunt on the Flying “D”, the rich fat hunter with a little P, yes that is what Fred Hirschy is paid for the entire season for the general public.

    I have been told that I could hunt elk on the Snow Crest Ranch, but cows only. The Bar None Ranch is off limits. The Red Rocks ranch I don’t know about.

    In the summer of 1966 I worked on a ranch in the Big Hole, today that ranch is or was owned by Hank Williams Jr. We had dead cattle skeletons on the ranch was that from neglect. No, every cow and calf and bull was accounted for and taken care of, but cows do die. If a cow died it was a financial loss to the owner and it hurt. The ranch was all fee simple or state lease land which is held in trust by the State of Montana to support education. Every ten years the state sections are put up for bid. There was no federal reduced grazing rights.

  25. JB Avatar

    What he wants to do with his private land is his own business, end of story. I have no sympathy for him or the displaced hunters. There are plenty of places to hunt in Montana. Hell of a lot harder to find a place to hunt back east of the Miss, though we do have plenty of deer.

  26. jimbob Avatar

    Matt, as I read the story I thought the exact same thing. Genius Rancher!

  27. gline Avatar

    no it wasn’t you save bears- someone else. yes pouncing everywhere!!!

    …”There was no federal reduced grazing rights.” Hasn’t the price of federal grazing gone down? $1.35 per animal unit, or something,- I know the price has gone down…

  28. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Larry Zuckerman,

    Maybe the nobleman is really angry about the grayling, not the wolves.

  29. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Federal Grazing rights do not come into this, we are discussing private land.

    Elk, yous only about 40 years out of the loop! The only reason I know so much about this area, is because it was one of the areas we did extensive feasibility studies concerning bison, I have spent extensive time in this area when I was with FWP and I can say with 100% certainty, Fred is being a hard ass, as long as things go his way, he is great, but watch out, when you disagree with him, as this story shows, he is hurting those he claims to support.

  30. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Larry, the fishery situation in that area is a whole different set of circumstances, that is really in a mess..

  31. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Yup, I agree, it is private land, and he can do what he wants with it, unfortunately, with his stance, he is doing nothing but hurting those he said he supports, his pissing match is with the state, not the hunter and the hunter after all this time are going to be the one that suffers. Lots of land in Montana, but is seems like every single day, there are forces trying to close them off, of course, I would never expect you to feel anything for displaced hunters..

  32. jerryB Avatar

    If you think Hirschy is crying now, wait till the grayling are listed.
    That family is well known for not giving a damn about fish in the Big Hole.

    Disclosure……..I’m a NON 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th or any other generation Montanan

  33. Larry Zuckerman Avatar

    I’d say the Hirschy’s are tired of government (state and Federal and Vox populi) telling them what they can or cannot do with their property.

    Now, in the case of water, the water legally belongs to all Montanans as do the grayling, wolves, elk and deer.

    Too bad no one in Montana sees it fit to charge the nobleman an and his ruling clan for the water that they are entitled to use – free resource, no value.

    Of course, when it comes to handouts like tax breaks for conservation easements, CCAA participation with new irrigation systems, fences, wells, etc., and more and more water (whether legally entitled or not), the noblemen seem to have their hands out.

  34. Elk275 Avatar

    Save Bears

    “The only reason I know so much about this area, is because it was one of the areas we did extensive feasibility studies concerning bison”

    What type of Bison plan was the FWP planning in the Big Hole? The entire Valley floor is private property with the exceptions of a some state land and an isolated 40 acre BLM parcel. Off of the Valley floor on both sides is forest service.

  35. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    As it is mostly private land, it does not matter, I just happen to be involved in studies concerning that area.

  36. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Remember I said “Feasibility” that does not mean a sure thing, we were just looking at the various options.

  37. gline Avatar

    So was it feasible? SB

  38. Larry Zuckerman Avatar

    Bison were certainly part of the Big Hole ecosystem, even though the cattle days dominant the histories written on that place.

    I suspect the Nez Perce and Salmon-Eaters (“Lemhi Shoshone” of Sacajawa and Lewis and Clark fame) used to follow the bison migrating in and out of Yellowstone including some summer range in the Big Hole, thus the established Native American trails and Europeans that followed.

    If you get a chance, check out the large male bison skull hanging over the museum at the Nez Perce National Historical Park’s Big Hole National Battlefield (near Wisdom) on the North Fork Big Hole. Some rangers tried to tell me that bison never occurred there, but somehow they ended up with the skull, while one local ranger explained that was the skull of the last bison shot in the Big Hole. Don’t know what’s true, but I would bet bison proceeded Europeans and their love of cattle and sheep in the Big Hole.

    Feasible – not likely to ever have free-ranging bison back on these private ranches unless they become large conservation easements without fences. Not likely in Montana or elsewhere in the private West.

  39. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Nope it was not.

  40. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    No reason to suspect, I know for a fact that they did, I even own a fossilized bison skull from the big hole that has been conclusively dated at 18,000 years..it was unearthed about 2 miles from Wisdom

  41. Larry Zuckerman Avatar

    Save Bears – who and how was it dated? I found a bison skull in Kansas in Turkey Creek. It was buried in the sands of the stream where the Tallgrass Prairie meets the Shortgrass Prairie meets the Gyp Hills of Kansas-OK. After a high-water event, the stream channel shifted and exposed the skull for my discovery.

    I remember that a KS Wildlife and Parks biologist told me it was a one-year old male, I had to interject, maybe 101 years old.

    Too bad the bison history of the Big Hole is buried among the cowboy myths.


    Larry Zuckerman

  42. Ken Cole Avatar

    I have a friend who found a couple of bison skulls in the Lemhi Valley of Idaho when he was a kid. One of them hangs on his barn. There is also a “buffalo jump” just outside of Challis, Idaho.

    There were absolutely bison in the Big Hole Valley.

  43. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Carolyn Sime rejected the nobleman’s demands flat out, but you have to wonder about Montana FWP other cow and sheep royality who are not so flatly antagonistic.

  44. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    The skull I have was dated by the Smithsonian, and I have the documentation to go along with it, an the verification of test procedures…as I have said, I USED to work for FWP

  45. Don Avatar

    I think this is a great idea by not allowing hunters in to hunt. That leaves a very safe haven for the wolves with LOTS of critters there for them to eat, that would otherwise be shot by the hunters, both the game and the wolves.

  46. Johnny Avatar

    This just leaves me scratching my head. But, it doesn’t suprise me. I grew up in that part of the world, and some of the people are…. off.

  47. Don Avatar

    LOL Johnny….ya think???

  48. Johnny Avatar

    Not too often. It has a tendency to hurt, especially when matters turn to wildlife management, or anything else politically sensitive.

  49. JB Avatar

    “I’d say the Hirschy’s are tired of government (state and Federal and Vox populi) telling them what they can or cannot do with their property.”

    Probably true. However, as it is 2009, not 1809, they had better get used to it. I live in a major urban area. Trust me, various levels of government make all types of laws/rules/regulations that dictate what I can and can’t do with my property! Rural folks are far to used to getting their way. 😉

  50. Johnny Avatar

    But, you see, they are not interested in “getting used to it.” I think the dominant mindset is ANYONE who questions what they do is a “gol durned east coast greenie liberal.” Nevermind, I spent my summers in high school cowboying in the Big Hole. Nevermind the fact that the “gov’ment” that they are so fond of despising is the very reason they grew to the size they did. If you say something over and over and over, eventually you will believe it, and I really think most of these old guard big time belly achers about wild life policy really believe that what they have been told is God’s truth. So God bless the Montana/Idaho/Wyoming ranchers, and no one else. Anyway, thats enough of my rant. I have been trying to figure out in the past couple days how to deal with people, when 3/4s of what you hear out of their mouth is b/s, regarding all things, and I have been hitting my head against the wall. I think this post was most of those frustrations coming out. I’m done now, off to work.

  51. Petticoat Rebellion Avatar
    Petticoat Rebellion

    JB, your statement that there is plenty of land left for hunters reveals that you are obviously not a Montana hunter, and have no clue that some of us that hunt are feeding families. This rancher is hurting hunters, and the loss of access to 45,000 acres further restricts the already limited areas where the average hunter can go. Your statements also reveal an out of touch, elitist, sell-out perspective regarding hunters and our role in ecosystems. Humans historically played a role in North American ecosystems.

    This rancher is just having a public hissy-fit and trying to dictate wildlife management without the hard-earned credentials necessary for this job other than being a oligarchic land-owner. Oh, and who is he going to call to complain about depredation on his crops and pasture land when the elk & deer seek out his property to escape hunting pressure from surrounding areas? And who is he going to call if elk seeking refuge on his 45,000 acre “safe-zone” transmit brucellosis to his cattle? Hmmm…..?

  52. izabelam Avatar

    Maybe I don’t undersatnd, why ranchers allow to hunt elk cow not abull. Cows can have babies….
    sorry for elk knowledge ignorance. 🙂

  53. Cris Waller Avatar

    “Maybe I don’t undersatnd, why ranchers allow to hunt elk cow not abull. Cows can have babies….”

    It’s probably because elk compete with the precious cows and sheep for forage, thus the ranchers actually want to reduce their numbers.

  54. Elk275 Avatar

    Ask ted Turner. A bull elk hunt cost $12,000 and no one will pay for a cow hunt. Hunters will pay for a bull hunt but no one will pay for a cow hunt. Back in the years gone bye this was not the case.

  55. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Izabelam, it is likely to reduce the population of elk, but it could also be to let bulls mature so that they can charge people to hunt trophy bulls.

  56. izabelam Avatar

    But logically thinking..less elk cows..less elk..calfs mortality is high. Hunters complain about predation of elk. So..don’t we need more elk so hunters can hunt and wolves can eat .I think this is very bad logic..

  57. Johnny Avatar

    You can’t put logic into the equation, izabelam, there is no place for it. Now, I am going to go pack for a great day tomorrow, watching wolves in the Lamar.

  58. jt84 Avatar

    Hunters should be glad of this. With wolf pop. down and them not able to kill every game animal in sight just for the sport, maybe there will actually be something for hunters to hunt in the big hole like there used to be. I have worked in the Big Hole as a cowboy for the last few years and have with my own eyes seen 6 deer in one spot at the same time ham strung torn and dead without a piece of meat taken from their bodies. I have also come across 3 different elk with the same thing done. One of them had a dead calf by her side. I have also seen countless criples. I have whitnessed them harrassing livestock and trying to attack my own dogs with no fear of me at all. And that is only what I have seen. Stories from other ranch hands are countless. This makes me sick and it makes Fred Hirschy sick. Ya, only 6 Hirschy cows but also that amount from each of the other ranchers not counting the awefull masacres on sheep. The game population has taken a huge hit from wolves, period. Personally, I do not care for the Hirschys much or some of the other big ranchers in the big hole. I know them well and they indeed do act high and mighty. But, Fred just like you and I is a sportsman and enviromentolist. He loves watching the wildlife. He likes to see hunters enjoy the land and have great hunting trips. Though worried about them, I believe he even enjoyed seeing the wolves at first before they got out of hand. Honestly, I have been horseback working MT land all my life as has Fred Hirschy. The appreciation for the land and wildlife by people such as Fred or myself, I gaurantee can not be matched by all of you put together. Like I said, my view of the the Hirschys isn’t the best. But, he is the smartest stockman, rangeman, buisnessman as well as hardest worker that I have ever seen. Whoever calls him dumb has obviously only ran out of intelligent comments. And for those of you who say he is a cry baby. Go say that to his face. You will be the one who ends up crying. Can’t you see he is trying to protect all this. Give him a chance. Listen to someone who most likely knows more about land and wildlife than any of you. He was raised there and knows how nature is supposed to work. He knows things that can never be tought in school, books, the nature channel or weekend outings when the weather is fair. Only by experiencing it and making your living there all day, every day, every season for 50 years can you match his knowledge of land and wildlife issues. He also knows eradication of the wolf or any animal is not fair or necessary. Just much better management. Just be glad this land is still owned by a MT rancher and not some rich out of stater like so much of the other prime land in the state. Under ownership of ranchers this land will remain as it did long ago. Un- developed, natural beauty.


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Ralph Maughan