By Gus Hammond EBS CONTRIBUTOR
A fair chase. This is the critical component when hunting for wild game in the Montana wilderness.
Hunting may feel like a hobby or reward when the task has been accomplished, but that’s not how it began. We, as humans, used to hunt not to bag a trophy to hang on the wall but because that’s what our ancestors had to do to survive. It’s become part of the culture in some areas of the country and most on Montana.
But while many people are invested in this idea of the harvest, there’s only one correct way to do it.
Rifle season for antelope started on Oct. 8, so take an orange vest when you go on your evening stroll for the next couple of months. Regular rifle season begins on Oct. 22; this is a big time of year for Big Sky.
“About one in four hunters that purchased a general elk license in Montana is likely to harvest an elk, but you can really increase your personal odds if you put some time in the field both before and after the hunt,” said Brian Wakeling, the game management bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
There you have it; those are the odds of successfully harvesting an elk during the regular season.
While this is all exciting news, precautionary actions always need to be taken when hunting. A fair chase is the most crucial part of hunting. A fair chase asks the question: Does the animal have an opportunity to escape? It begs the question of ethics when hunting. For example, it wouldn’t be fair or ethical to see an antelope from the truck, hop out, and shoot. But not only is it unethical—it’s also illegal.
“One of the things I like to remind hunters of that touches on ethics is their behavior on Facebook or on the road home,” Wakeling said. “We all like to share photos of our hunts with our friends, but think about whether the photo you are about to share is in good taste.”
Regular rifle season doesn’t begin for another couple weeks. Still, there are many differences when comparing hunting for different species. The strategies are different when hunting an antelope compared to an elk. Nonetheless, the goal is the same. It’s all about the stalk of the animal. When stalking an antelope, you may consider the factors of distance when shooting, wind speed, and many other variables. Compared to hunting an elk, you may consider the elements of weather, snow tracks or even noise. Every hunt has a story to tell.
Hunting season has begun. Stay safe, stay ethical and enjoy the harvest.