Montana elk hunters around Yellowstone Park have a generally successful season

Madison Valley most successful.  Number of deer killed down slightly-

Elk hunters successful in 2010. Bozeman Chronicle. By Daniel Person.

In addition hunting was good in Northwestern Montana. Here’s the story. Ideal conditions close hunt season. By JIM MAN. The Daily Inter Lake Daily.

Weather helps western Montana hunters close out big game season. Missoulian.

All the articles say it was the great weather for bringing the elk down where they could be more easily found.  However, I thought wolves had nearly destroyed the elk herds.  I guess good weather can actually perform a resurrection (or show what bullshit the wolves-have-killed-everything is).



, , , , ,




  1. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    The outspoken outfitters whose camps are straight east of Yellowstone in the headwaters of Sunlight and Crandall in northwest Wyoming are whining a different tale…no elk — due to wolves , they say , but not true in both cases— and not enough clientele hunters — due to limited quota licenses being hard to get , they say , which has some truth to it thanks to Wyo G&F’s unbalanced hunting management thereabouts for the last three decades, especially since the Fires of ’88 altered everything.

    Frankly , I believe they only have themselves to blame, and this was years in the making. They are unrealistic in expecting a bountiful supply of elk and especially trophy bulls, year after year after year, and the money to just keep rolling in. Actually , ‘unrealistic’ is too kind a term here.

    But since good reliable data on hunter days and actual elk harvest is more conjecture than not since the game check stations were phased out , how would we know ?

    They choose instead to blame wolves and blame brucellosis and blame anything, including sunspot activity, instead of the unworkable business model that is modern outfitting in northwest Wyoming.

    I did a Google Earth photomap last year showing the locations of all the licensed outfitter backcountry camps in the Shoshone National Forest ( north half ) and a good portion of the Upper Yellowstone and Thorofare camps in the Bridger-Teton NF. That brings to the fore the argument that we may in fact have too many outfitters and the dilution and intense assymetric hunting pressure that goes with that when overlaid on the cadre of private citizen nonoutiftted hunters using the same areas.

    The northwest Wyoming outfitters worst enemy is other outfitters, I’ve concluded. They only unite around wolves and whiskey

  2. mikepost Avatar

    Ralph, I am no enemy of the wolf but over 17,000 hunters took 158 elk? Thats not success by any stretch of the imagination. In wolfless (we think, so far) Colorado the success rate is 25-30% for elk hunters. That would be 5,100 elk for 17,000 hunters. I dont say that those stats make or break the wolf argument but numbers are numbers and seizing upon any scrap of info and massaging it to support wolf introduction (or denigrate the opposition) can be counter productive.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      It was pointed out in one of these articles that the figures are based on the number of deer and elk that went through check stations, and so the actual number taken was much higher.

      1. Save bears Avatar

        We will know better after the phone survey that is done next month, I know the articles are saying it was successful, but I can say compared to previous years, the numbers are down quite a bit..

      2. Save bears Avatar

        I will add, I expect to see quite a bit lower numbers around Yellowstone, but other areas of the state are down quite a bit as well. The numbers in NW Montana are only a shadow of what they have been in the past..

      3. SAP Avatar

        SB –

        I am concerned about the phone survey of hunter harvest. First, there’s a huge problem as people go to cell phones and drop their land lines. Long-time hunters whose data are in the Automated Licensing System may not be updating their contact info, leaving FWP with only disconnected landlines to try. So, built-in non-response bias may be growing year by year.

        Second, there may be some ideologically-motivated (anti-wolf, anti-government) skew in these surveys that we won’t be able to account for. There are people who won’t answer questions at all. There will be some number of people who will falsely claim 30 days of hunting and zero game harvested, so they can skew statistics to make it look like the wolves ate all the game. And, those people probably don’t run their game through check stations if they can help it.

        If you don’t have antlers and legs sticking out of your truck bed, you can pretty much drive on by the check station; if it’s dark, you can count on driving by regardless.

      4. Save bears Avatar


        Yes, that is surly a will get no argument from me on that, I just happen to trust the system a bit more than many folks do.

        I will still be interested in the final number to plug into my study on success trends over the last 20 years…and believe me, I know nothing is 100% in these types of systems..

        I tracked this same information in another state while in school so it has become something I just do every year..

      5. SAP Avatar

        I think the phone number problem is somewhat solvable: just change the ALS so that it prompts for a phone number update before completing the license transaction. That doesn’t guarantee that everyone will supply a valid phone number, but I’d think most people would.

        The ideological bias is a lot trickier. I think it would take additional surveys by a different entity altogether.

      6. Elk275 Avatar

        Everytime one applies for a special license, the applicant has to fill in there current phone number. Each year when the basic license is renewed the applicant is ask if there are any changes from the previous year.

        I feel that within 48 hours of kill a hunter has to log on and report his/her kill, time, date, sex and location. Or it could be done with a cell or push button phone.

  3. jon Avatar

    Not everyone went home happy.
    FWP warden Lou Royce said he and other wardens handed out a number of citations over the past week.
    “We were real busy over the last two weeks because of the weather,” Royce said. “It brought a lot of animals down where people could see them. People started doing things they shouldn’t do.”
    On Saturday, Royce cited a man who was hunting with his 13-year-old son after they apparently shot into a herd of cow elk just off the French Basin Road.
    Royce said he had to dispatch a wounded cow that had its back leg shot off.
    “We were pretty sure there were some other wounded elk in that group, but we couldn’t identify them,” he said. “We saw blood in some of the tracks.”
    The problem is people see a group of elk and they start shooting. If the elk doesn’t drop immediately, they keep shooting, he said.
    “They don’t even realize they are shooting at a different elk,” Royce said. “Elk can take a lot of punishment before they go down.”

    This does not seem like ethical hunting to me.

    1. SAP Avatar

      Ah, yes, but according to the insane ideologues of the anti-wolf crowd, this kind of behavior is either

      a) a normal, acceptable part of elk hunting


      b) the work of anti-hunting agents provocateur sent afield by George Soros to do things like this to be make REAL hunters look bad.

  4. Sal_N Avatar

    Save Bears

    I talked to a game warden on November 21 in Livingston, he told me that north of the park they were having their best season on a long time. on the way home drove through the Madision valley and at dark the check station had twelve cars lined up.
    I drove to Mammoth hot springs two days in a row Wed and Thus and they were busy and cars with horse trailers were abundant between the canyon and the airport. Thursday night we spent an hour with two outfitters from Bozeman who told us also this was the best year in Park county in a while (over five years).
    We also saw three cows and two bull elk dead on the side of the road on the highway 84 between four corners and when you reach the Madison river.
    I would say we counted about one third of all pick ups had either an elk or a dear in them. That was between the Idaho border and Ennis only.
    this is not scientific at all, but our observation from being in Livingston for this past week.
    we also did see many dozens of elk in those two days either in town (Gardiner) or around the old NP loop.
    One bull elk was eating someone’s greens between the Super 8 and the gas station.
    No elk were seen in Mammoth, only below in the Gardiner area and between Gardiner and where you cross the yellowstone on 89 North.

    1. Save bears Avatar

      Thanks Sal,

      I am still going to wait and see after they do the phone surveys, I think it will be very telling, I worked a couple of the check points this year in NW and yes there were people with animals, but the counts were down from a few years ago when I worked them. I do know the early snows, did play into what we saw this year

    2. Save bears Avatar

      And believe me, I am not saying anything negative or positive, I am just interested in seeing the final numbers this year…

  5. Kayla Avatar

    This past fall I had some conversations with some personnel that are National Forest Rangers in the Teton Wilderness for the Bridger-Teton NF. They told me that in their travels in the wilderness in the hunting season this past fall, that the numbers of private hunting parties were wayyy down. In a late September trip when the hunting season is in full swing, they only met and saw 3 private hunting parties. This is way way down from what it used to be. I heard this was confirmed by others that were in this wilderness at this time.

    Now as for the Outfitters here in the Teton Wilderness, many of them that have been outfitting for the last some years is now selling out it seems. John Winters the outfitter around Two Ocean Pass is selling his outfitting business. John Henry Lee has sold out his business. Ron Dubee (sp.?) who is around Upper Mountain Creek has sold his business. And others are also getting out of the business. It might be because of the wolf or who knows what. But a change is afoot with lots of these outfitters who have been operating the last some years in this Upper Yellowstone Thorofare Absaroka Country.

    Personally I might have some disagreements with some of these outfitters but in my years and years of hiking back in this country, these outfitters have always at least treated me decent and have given me some good meals at times.

    Just for whatever it is worth. Have a Good Day!

    1. skyrim Avatar

      There is something about running into a lone pretty lady in the wilderness that brings out the best in guys. Something again about running into one that has a vast knowledge of the backcountry as you do. Perhaps in most cases, more knowledge than any of them. (No disrespect intended.)
      I’ve asked this before but; are you considering writing a book on your adventures in the Teton Wilderness?

      1. Kayla Avatar

        Skyrim, Yes I am considering in writing a book on my
        adventures thru the years back in the wilderness. But at
        other times as I see all the craziness in this modern day
        world, just running back into the deep wilds and just
        wander about and live.

  6. Sal_N Avatar

    Save Bears

    No worries, I understand.

    The sad part for us was to see all the dead elk on the side of the road on the bear trap highway.

  7. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I have spent the last 3 weeks in Jackson, Wyoming. There is an “Elk Reduction Hunt” presently going on in Grand Teton National Park and parts of the National Elk Refuge.
    The hunters mostly drive around hoping for an elk to make the mistake of coming close enough to the road to get itself killed. I think they issued about 600 permits and are expecting a 30% success rate.
    On Sunday, I watched these so-called hunters chase 4 bull elk out of the cow only area by driving a pickup down a side road and turning them across the road into an area open for bulls. Two of the bulls were shot and killed and a third one knocked down. It got up twice and the hunters were pusuing it when I left.
    I photographed one of them,a large 6×7 bull, shortly before he was killed, while he was still in the cow area. You can see his photo and my comments on my blog:
    Thousands of elk have made it to the Elk Refuge here ouside of Jackson, where they are still being hunted with short-range weapons.

  8. Cindy Avatar

    Larry – we took family out on the Kelly Loop Road on Saturday and I was just not up to date on the activities going down along that road. WOW. Truck after truck (all with out of town plates) scoping from the road. I think I may have seen that white pickup. I also saw a small herd of Elk right across from the campground entrance, being run pretty hard. Are these Elk on their migration route to the Refuge?

  9. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    The heavy snow has made the elk move early this year. They come out of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as well as from the surrounding mountains to winter on the refuge. This makes them very vulnerable to this so-called hunt. When the elk cross a boundary line into a hunting(shooting) area there are often a dozen or more hunters shooting into the herd.
    One morning, there were about 300 elk that crossed near the Teton Point Veiwing Area. I think that at least 200 shots were fired, resulting in 6 elk being killed and a similar number wounded. The wounded elk crossed back into a closed area and the wolves that I saw in that area will get blamed for killing them.
    Calling this a “hunt” is an insult to every hunter that believes in fair chase.

    1. skyrim Avatar

      Thanks for your information here Larry. It seems that the wolves are sluffing off on their thinning duties in the area. Would there be a need for a “reduction hunt” if the canines were doing the natural job that they are beig accused of doing so efficiently? The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing in Wyoming. That’s for damn sure!

  10. Cindy Avatar

    I didn’t realize the way the Reduction Program was designed. Trapped during migration, headed to free food which they are conditioned to receive, then hunted from vehicles along the road – all within a National Park and and Elk Refuge. And at the same time you have hordes of hunters screaming, not enough Elk in the mountains to support the outfitters because wolves have taken them out.
    Amazing. Guess I better pay more attention to my own backyard on these wildlife issues.

  11. Cindy Avatar

    Of course I meant “trapped” by roads and people, along their route to the refuge, not literally trapped:)

  12. SEAK Mossback Avatar
    SEAK Mossback

    Snowfall and movement of elk out of the park is absolutely huge to success around Gardiner where there are few “resident” elk to be hunted outside the park. So, I’m not sure what one year of hunter statistics says about the population, other than it is still possible to have good hunting success when conditions are right. The winter aerial survey count would be the much more reliable indicator of the northern herd.

    During my one experience with the Gardiner late hunt in the 1970s, there were flock-shooting fools who couldn’t have connected with an elk under normal hunting conditions in 20 years. There was a group of government observers (USFS, NPS, MTFWP) gathered by the highway at the airport watching 7 large bulls, including a clearly wounded (limping) one, walking up the slope when a permittee pulled up with a couple of buddies. As the guy rested his rifle and aimed, the game warden pointed to the wounded one and implored him to “shoot that one”. However, another elk slumped at the shot and limped out of sight. The warden howled, cursed, slammed his hat on the ground and tore off in his truck — probably to escape the danger of getting physical with the guy. It was painful to watch their incompetence in following it up, with the excited permittee at one point aiming his chambered rifle right at his two cohorts who ran screaming down the mountain. I would have to say there are too many elk when hunters like that are successful.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan