Big game hunting season begins with archers


Archery enthusiasts in north-central Montana are welcome at any time to join an equally enthusiastic group of archers devoted to sharing their sport. At any time, that is, except now.

The Bear Paw Bowmen, who have their own Web site, take a hiatus from their monthly meetings at this time each year and head into the wildernesses of Montana to target big game animals. That hiatus officially begins Saturday with the opening of bowhunting season in Montana.

"We meet at 15 West the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.," club member Greg Durward said. "But no more meetings during September and October. Then we'll start back up in November."

Durward, a longtime Havre archer, said hunters should take several precautions before heading into the wilds. Among his words of caution are: "Be safe, be prepared, know your equipment and make sure you understand how your equipment works. Be sure to tune your bow up for your arrows and sharpen your broad-heads razor sharp, pick your spot and good luck."

"Picking your spot" may be the trickiest part of this hunting season, Durward said. Landowners may be reluctant to allow hunting because of fire danger.

"People are probably going to have trouble just getting out and finding places with the fire danger the way it is," he said.

Bowhunting season targets all large game, like antelope, deer and elk in the rolling hills of eastern Montana, particularly the Missouri Breaks, and mountain goats and sheep, bear, moose and elk in the mountains of western Montana.

"There aren't too many people from around here who go to the big mountains," Durward said. "Most of them go to the Breaks."

He added that hunters should do well this year provided they can find a place to hunt.

"The whitetail (deer) look pretty good this year, coming back from that disease a couple of years ago," Durward said. "The antelope look pretty good. We just need some moisture to take care of things."

Durward noted that several new regulations governing hunting have been implemented in the Breaks this year. He said he met recently with Deborah Goeb of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who is stationed at the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, and she brought him up to date on some issues.

"She told me they were going to hire four or five more game wardens," Durward said. "You'll have to have lights on the front of your boat and the back of the boat. Red and green lights on the front and a white light on the back. You have to have light jackets and stuff like that."

Nick Siebrasse, the group's Web master, listed some new rules at the top of its Web site:

"Just got back from the CMR Breaks, put up a couple of stands, and checked out some elk sign. I met the new CMR law enforcer. She told us that the CMR will no longer allow the use of screw-in tree steps. She also said that they will enforce the rules that govern the length of time a camp can stay on the refuge. Your camp can remain on CMR no longer than 14 days or they will fine you and tow your stuff to Sand Creek Administration. If you leave your camp unattended for more than 72 hours it is considered abandoned and you will be fined and you can get it towed. She was full of new rules and regs, but it was nice of her to only give me a warning for forgetting my boat sticker and registration. (It's on the boat now.) Any questions should be addressed to: Deborah A. Goeb, Law Enforcement, CMR NWR U.S. F & W, Roy Mt. 59471."

Goeb's phone number is (406) 464-5181.

Durward offered a caution for hunters on private land.

"Make sure you have permission and know where you're at, which always happens," Durward said. "You think your on someone's land and you're on someone else's."

Hunting season is a good time for hunters to introduce others to archery and the outdoors, Durward said.

"This is a good chance to take a young outdoorsman with them," he said. "This is a neat time of year. You don't have to worry about the cold and the snow. The weather is pretty agreeable."

Durward said the club's Web site serves a number of purposes. But Siebrasse won't be on hand for the season opening Saturday and won't be updating the Web site for a while, he said.

"Nick is running a camp up in Quebec. The caribou should be running soon and there's some black bear and a lot of good fishing," Durward said.

The Web site is still up and running, though, and provides hunters with access to photographs and other sites of interest to archers, including the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Montana Bowhunters Association, and Bowhunting Canada.

"People can get on (the Web site)," he said. "They can post pictures of their animals, sometimes just get a picture of someone standing along the river or the picture of a live animal. You never know what Nick will put on there. Once he gets back and gets caught up."

Club member Denny Lammerding was quick to point out that the club is a club for archers, not just hunters.

"The club and hunting are two different things," Lammerding said. "Shooting is a recreational thing; we have a lot of families that come out and shoot."

According to the Web site, the group discusses issues related to bowhunting and 3-D archery. It also hosts three 3-D shoots and family gatherings in the Bear Paw Mountains south of Havre.

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