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MT Mulie Unit 291-50

Old 07-29-2006, 07:15 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: The Motor City
Posts: 23
Default MT Mulie Unit 291-50

Hi,

I am planning a 1st time trip to MT. I drew the Elk/Deer tag, and just found out that I drew special unit 291-50 for deer.

Can anyone tell me anyting about this unit? Any comments or suggestions are welcome. Thanks.
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Old 08-08-2006, 01:19 PM
  #2  
Typical Buck
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 590
Default RE: MT Mulie Unit 291-50

(I hope this doesn't post twice, I've been having that problem.)

I live about 60 miles south of 291, but it's a little out of my normal bailiwick. I'll see what I can come up with in a real general sense. You really should call MT Fish, Wildlife, and Parks out of Missoula and try to talk to Jon Firebaugh. He's one of my go-to guys for western MT info. Try to have a list of questions, and not of the Gee tell me where I can get an easy drive-by shot at something variety and he'll probably give you more help than I can.
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:58 PM
  #3  
Typical Buck
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Default RE: MT Mulie Unit 291-50

On looking at my maps, I realized your 291 area is in the Garnet Range. I still haven't hunted it, but do know just a smidge about it as I was considering an elk hunt in there once.

Okay, the Garnet range is a rather dry affair with max elevations about 8,000 feet. You'll have lots of naturally open range at lower elevations and on south faces. It has noforest service land, but a fair amount of BLMinits upper reaches.In preparation for your hunt I would strongly recommend three steps:

1) Get hold of Helena National Forest to acquire a travel map showing road closures. Confirm with them that the Garnet Range is on the map they send you. If it's not, find out who you've got to contact to get road closure info in the Garnet Range. (HNF is the closest national forest to that area.) You'll really want to know which roads will be open to travel, and where the blocks of roadless terrain will be. In a pinch, you could worry about this when you get here, as I saw you would be coming in three days before the season opens. (By the way, there's a fire burning in that country right now, near Drummond. It probably won't directly affect you by late October, but you might ask them about it.)

2) If you take no other advice from me, do this one. In mid-Aug the Block Management books will come out. Call FWP out of Missoula and request your free copy of the book. If you didn't know, Block Management is a really neat program in MT where we take a portion of license fees and use them to lease private lands for hunting. This book will point you to five (by count from last year's book)ranches in the 291 district, totalling about 50-75 thousand acres. Access is free and is just a matter of jumping through a small hoop or two described in the Block Mgt. book.

3) Call the FWP as I suggested previously. Ask for the guy who can talke about game in 291. Use my post as a guideline for asking questions. Ask them if the elk "high/low" distribution is true. Ask them what a reasonable goal is for size of a muley buck in 291. If they give a different answer from me, by all means ignore me and listen to them.

Elk in 291: My analysis says that 291 is a solid average district for MT elk. Success rates seem to be around the state average and bull age structure is decent, with a 300 bull a decent possibility. My experience in similar country is that elk will likely be in a "high/low" posture on opening day. This means they will be mostly right down low on private land, or at the opposite extreme around the tops of the Garnet Range. (This is so because they are focused on moist vegetation, so mid-ranges are doubtful.)You'll want to choose which extreme to favor.

If you go low, you'll likely want to get a Block Management hunt set up on a ranch in the lower reaches. Just be prepared that a lot of other guys are going to be doing the same thing, and you may run into a crowd. Opening day will likely see heavy pressure on Block Management and along any open roads into the Garnet Range. After the guns start booming, the low elk herds will go into ricochet mode and hunting them by day 2 of the season will be a total crapshoot. Many elk will head high or revolve on to ranches with little or no hunting pressure.

If you go high, find a block of landthat looks goodoff the drivable roads. After opening day, those high elk will tend to congregate on north faces in the steepest, gnarliest tangles they can find.

Realistically, you will have had a good hunt if one person in your party fills an elk tag. Success rates for bulls in that area probably run under 20%.I don't think, given the time you've got, that I'd be passing up any bulls (except spikes of course, we let them grow in MT). View your elk as a meat animal to split among your party. If you shoot anything less than a really old bull you will have some wonderful meat, best in the world in my opinion.

Muleys in 291: Now right off let me say I'm not a big muley hunter. I prefer whitetails. But that's a district with some really old bucks in it because of the limited draw. FWP says on their website that ratios are 35:100:37, thats bucks:does:fawns in a spring count from a year or two back. That data implies a buck herd with overall mortality in the neighborhood of 40%, which would allow about 20% of the buck herd to be 4 1/2 years old or better. A buck in the 4 1/2 y.o. class should be 4x4in the 24" range. I would imagine that true B&C class bucks are not unheard of in there.

Your muleys hit peak rut between 10 and 15 Nov. (a full week ahead of our whitetails), so you could get into some pre-rut activity in the latter part of your hunt. I doubt you'll see much rutting activity early on, but each day should get better. I'd wager your bigger bucks will be near the top of the range when the season opens. Your probable hunting techniques will be stillhunting or spot and stalk.

If it were me, with the premium muley tag, I'd hunt big muleys right from the start, and take an elk incidentally to the muley hunt if one crosses your path. I also think I would hold out for at least a 24" 4x4, at least for the first half of your hunt. If you're really gutsy, you might even hold out for something bigger than that.At midpoint in your hunt, you'd want to do some serious soul-searching to figure out whether to keep holding out for the big one or start piling up meat. Obviously, you'll have to figure this out for yourself, it's your call not mine!

Remember to have fun, that's the important thing. Truly freeing your mind to have fun has a way of improving your hunting chances in my experience.


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Old 08-09-2006, 07:19 PM
  #4  
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: The Motor City
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Default RE: MT Mulie Unit 291-50

Dirt2,

Thanks for the long reply. I will print it an consume in detail. I already contacted the MT FWP and am on the mailing list for the block mgmt list.

I'll also call the FWP in the coming weeks and see if I can talk to someone who knows the 291 area. Perhaps your right and they can give me some help also. Lord knows we'll need it - not knowing the area. We should get there Thursday night, so we'll have 2 days to scout the best we can. Not ideal I know - but we are working stiffs and have to hold a job

My plan is to start out hunting a mulie right off, hence we'll focus on 291. If we see a good elk, we'll take him without a boubt. We already decided we'll pass on spikes and cows (if we hunt any units where we could take them).

Thanks again and let me know if you think of anything else.

We are somewhat concerned on getting out an animal after its down. What do you think our chances are of finding/hiring a local with horse to help get it out? What would be a good rate to offer for their services.

Our other thought is to go into town an buy a one wheeled deer cart and haul it out that way (but hiring a horse is prefered).

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Old 08-10-2006, 02:03 PM
  #5  
Typical Buck
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Default RE: MT Mulie Unit 291-50

I'm sorry I don't havea clue about rates for packing things out. I wind up backpacking my own game out, but that's a lot of work. (I haven't brought out a whole animal - elk, deer, or antelope -in five years or more.) If you start asking around in a local town, they'll probably be able to steer you toward someone with stock.

I do want to stress that while I've been really free with my opinions, for some reason your hunt description got me fired up, I'm not some sort of guru. Hey, it's free advice and worth every penny! Good luck.
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Old 08-10-2006, 04:48 PM
  #6  
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: The Motor City
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Default RE: MT Mulie Unit 291-50

Dirt2,

Your advice is 100% better than what we had before. The more I think about it, I come to the conclusion we must be crazy to charge off the the far side of the Country without any experience of the land! It wil be a blessing if we get even 1 animal.

Anyway thanks again. Perhaps we'll see you out there. If you see 2 lost out-of-towners that'd be us
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