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Mrfrch/April 1994 



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NTA 



OUTDOORS 










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^^* hen I grow up, I want 
to be a game warden. " 

How many kids have had that 
thought? Working outdoors in a 
place hke Montana, helping preserve 
our wildlife legacy — life would be 
good. 

Many people's first image of Fish, 
Wildlife &C Parks is the warden. After 
all, the first and only employee of the 
department was the state game 
warden hired in 1895. The first 
biologist would not be hired for 
nearly a half-century. 

Today's game warden is still a lot 
of things to a lot of people. On a 
typical winter day — after most have 
stopped thinking about hunting and 
before they start thinking about 
fishing — a game warden still has 



much to think about. 

A report comes in on a deer hit by 
a car. A mountain lion hunter waits 
to get his lion inspected and tagged. 
A rancher asks the warden to come 
out and do something about the 
white-tailed deer in his haystacks. 
The warden takes measurements for 
a "stack yard" and makes plans to 
bring out the fencing material next 
week. "And by the way," the rancher 
offers, "there were some poachers out 
here spotlighting along the road last 
week. Any chance you could set up 
that deer decoy?" 

Then it's off to the county 
attorney to review game violation 
cases from the past season as they get 
ready for court. Of course, there are 
tentative hunting and fishing regula- 



tions that need review on his desk at 
home and preparation for tomorrow 
night's hunter safety class. 

So, tell me again why you want to 
be a game warden? 

On his way back home the warden 
drives past horses in a pasture and his 
thoughts drift off to his horseback 
trip into the backcountry last sum- 
mer. It had rained a lot, but the rain 
wasn't so bad. And there is always 
next year.... 




Patrick J. Graham, Director 
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife 
& Parks 




Perched on his drumming log, a male ruffed 
grouse hurls a territorial challenge at 
neighboring males (see page 21). 



State of Montana 
Marc Racicot/Govemor 

Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission 

Stan Meyer /Chairman 

Jim Rector/Vice Chairman 

Elaine Allestad 

Charles Decker 

David Simpson 

Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks 

Patrick Graham/Director 

Bob Martinka/Chief of Staff Operations 

Dave Mott/ Administration and Finance 

Conservation Education Division 

Ron Aasheim/ Administrator 

Vince Yannone/ Assistant Administrator 

Montana Outdoors Staff 

Dave Books/Editor 

Bev Veneziano/Art Director 

Montana Outdoors (ISSN 0027-0016), the official publication of 
the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, is published 
bimonthly (January, March, May, July, September, and 
November). Contributions (manuscripts or illustrations) are 
welcome with the understanding that the department or the 
editor cannot be responsible for loss or damage. AU contributions 
will be published at the discretion of the editor. For subscription 
information, phone 800/678-6668 (toll-free). Subscription rates 
are $7 for one year, $12.50 for two years, and $17 for three years. 
{Please add $3 per year for Canadian subscriptions. All other 
foreign subscriptions, air mail only, are $22 for one year.) 
lndividualcopiesandbackissuescost$2each.AIthoughMoiifanfl 
Outdoors is copyrighted, permission to reprint articles is available 
by writing our office or phoning us at 406/444-2474. All 
correspondence should be addressed: Montana Outdoors. 
Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 930 West Custer Ave., P.O. 
Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620-0701. ©Montana Department of 
Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1994. All rights reserved. Indexed by 
States' Periodical Index, 1 660 Smithville Road; Havre, MT 59501 . 

Postmaster: Send address changes to Montana Outdoors, 
Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 930 West Custer Ave., P.O. 
Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620-0701. Second-class postage paid 
at Helena, MT 59620, and additional mailing offices. 



M 



ONTAN 



OUTDOORS 



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March/April 1994 
Volume 25. Number 2 



EEATURa 



2 Beyond Road's End 
by John Fraley 

The wardens and rangers who patrol Montana's backcountry are 
unanimous in their love for the work. 

9 Watchable Wildlife — Aerial Acrobat 
by Bruce Auchly 

The snipe's spectacular mating flight would be the envy of any precision 
flying team. 

14 Cruwys Hits a Triple 
by William Phippen 

Roger Cruwys' rendition of a pair of wigeons wins the 1994 state 
waterfowl stamp competition. 

17 Lands Legacy — Small but Important: The Milk River 
Wildlife Management Areas 
by William Phippen 

Two valuable wildlife areas are tucked into a curve of the Milk River east 
of Malta. 

21 Dances with Grouse 
by Dave Books 

The advent of spring transforms Montana's grouse into beautiful dancers 
and drummers. 

27 Perspectives — The Desperate Danger of Talking Turkey 
by Dan Vichoreii 

Fashions for turkey hunters have changed out in the piney woods and 
gumbo knobs. 

1^— DEPARTMENTS 1 

30 Catchall 

34 Bookshelf 

35 From the Field 

36 Readers Respond 

37 Contributors 

COVERS 

According to Bruce Auchly's profile of the common snipe (page 9), the youngsters can 
cause mom all sorts of problems. But things seem under control in Tom J. Ulrich's stunning 
cover shot of a mother snipe with young. Conrad Rovve's portrait of a strutting sage grouse 
makes an appropriate end piece for this issue of MO — see page 21 for more of Rowe's 
outstanding photography. 



IT'S LAW ENFORCEMENT at a 
different pace, taking place 
across millions of acres of Montana's 
roadless areas. Backcountry law 
officers have jobs many people envy, 
but they often travel long distances 
alone with no backup, and they ride 
regardless of the weather. 

"It's a unique way of patrolling," 
said Department of Fish, Wildlife & 
Parks (FW&P) Warden Sergeant Mack 
Long of Kalispell. "You might ride all 
day to get to a camp and find the 
hunters out. Then you usually spend a 
few hours with them when they get 
back before you head to your camp. 
That often means a lot of riding at 
night." 

More than 20 FW&P wardens have 
backcountry enforcement duties across 
the state. In addition, several U.S. 
Forest Service rangers and law enforce- 
ment officers patrol backcountry areas 
on each national forest in Montana. 

"We work closely with Forest 
Service officers in the backcountry," 
said Long. They allow us the use of 
their backcountry cabins and, in return, 
we help them with their educational 
efforts on low-impact camping, weed- 
free hay, and so on." Long added that 
joint patrols and information exchange 
are also key parts of the relationship. 

W ARRY DAVIS, FW&P 
JLd WARDEN in Augusta, is 
considered by most to be the dean of 
backcountry law enforcement. For 19 
years he worked the Scapegoat Wilder- 
ness, now a portion of the Bob 
Marshall Wilderness complex, from his 
home base in Lincoln. 

"I wouldn't want to work in a 
district without a backcountry area," he 
said. "I love getting on my horse and 
going back in the hills, and I don't care 
what the weather is like. Another plus 




2 MARCH/APRIL, mi MONTANA OUTDOORS 



p 




Warden Larry Davis 
(above) of Augusta is 
one of 20 FW&P 
wardens with 
backcountry 
enforcement duties 
across the state. 






by John Fraley 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/april iw 3 



is the people you meet. Almost all of 
them are law-abiding and they are in 
there because they love the outdoors. 
too." 

The most common violations he's 
seen include hunting outside proper 
boundaries and shooting game for 
others, or transfer of tag. "Sometimes 



and headed back down the trail early 
the next morning," he said. "Local 
residents wanted to see the man caught 
as bad as I did. Folks had told me the 
general area they were going to hunt. 
and I made a few guesses that turned 
out to be right." 

After a day-long ride to the East 




Warden Sergeant Mack Long (foreground ) on patrol In the Kalispell area. 



the younger hunters will work a 
mountain day after day while the older 
folks stay in camp. The young guys do 
the shooting and the older guys do the 
tagging." 

For Davis, the most memorable 
example of a tag transfer involved a 
husband and wife goat hunt. "In the 
mid-seventies this couple moved to 
Lincoln from Michigan and they were 
barely there six months when the wife 
drew a goat permit," he said. "That 
kind of upset the locals right off, 
because some of them had been putting 
in for years and never drew a permit. 

"Then, to top it off, the guy kept 
bragging how he was going to go get 
that goat, how he was going to shoot it 
for his wife. He even had a place in 
their new home all ready to hang the 
mount." 

Davis said that local residents kept 
him informed of the couple's hunting 
plans, and when he returned from a 
backcountry patrol in mid-September, 
he found the couple had left to go on 
their hunt that day. 

"I just repacked my gear on the spot 



Fork of the Blackfoot. Davis reached 
the outfitter camp where the couple was 
staying. The people at the camp 
weren't telling where the couple and 
their guides had gone, and would only 
say they had left on horses to parts 
unknown. Davis rode past the camp, 
found a little clearing along the creek, 
and bedded down for the night. 

"1 knew two spots where there were 
mountain goats in the area," said Davis. 
"So 1 picked one and at first light I 
headed in that direction." 

He rode up a ridge toward the 
mountaintop and began glassing. 
Almost immediately he heard shooting. 

"This guy had ridden up a steep 
hillside towards the ridge above me, 
crossed the ridge, rode down an 
avalanche chute way too steep for 
horses, hopped off his horse and began 
shooting in the air. I could see him 
clearly because he was wearing a 
yellow slicker. Finally. I figured out 
that he was shooting to herd a bunch of 
goats around a basin below me." 

Next, Davis heard another volley of 
shots. "I spotted a guy in the basin 



lying on the rimrocks, no hunter 
orange, blazing away at the goats, 
which were running right towards him. 
The goats crossed quite a distance 
beneath him and every time he shot I 
could see a little puff of dust rise up 
from the rocks. By this time Fd set up 
my spotting scope, so I had an excellent 
view of what was going on. 

"Finally the guy ran out of ammuni- 
tion, but 1 saw a woman come out of 
the timber and hand him another gun. 
He continued shooting at the goats and 
finally killed one." 

The man scrambled down a steep 
slide to reach the goat and began 
skinning it. Davis gathered his horses 
and made his way to where the others 
had tied their stock. He then walked out 
on the rimrock and began picking up 
spent cartridges. "When I saw that the 
shells were .338 magnum, I knew I had 
my man." he said. "I had talked to the 
guy and shot with him at the range in 
Lincoln, and I knew that's what he 
shot. I sat there for a while and watched 
him skin the goat out whole." 

Then, Davis walked up behind the 
woman who had handed the gun to the 
man. She had been joined by another 
woman. 

"The outfitter's wife looked at me 
and turned the color of a snowball." 
said Davis. "I just sat down on a rock 
and started passing the time of day. 1 
didn't tell them what I'd seen, but 1 
could tell they were wondering. 
Presently, we heard the lady's husband 
puffing up the hill. The guy got to 
within 30 feet of us before he saw me. 
I'd known the fellow as someone who 
talked a lot. but this time he was 
speechless. 

"The guy told his wife to get out her 
tag and put it on the hide, but 1 told her 
she would be violating the law if she 
did that. The outfitter, who had been 
the shooter herding the goats, then 
joined us. After I explained the situa- 
tion, I didn't get any argument from 
him. So we packed everything up and 
headed down the mountain. 

"It was dark by now, and the 
outfitter's wife's horse, being night- 
blind, kept running into trees, so it took 
us quite a while to make our way down 
the trail. Finally, we got back to their 



4 MARCH/APRIL 1994 MONTANA OUTDOORS 




Despite unpredictable 
weather and occasional 
hardships, the wardens 
and rangers who patrol 
beyond the road 's end 
are unanimous in their 
love for their work. 



camp. Since it was already dark. I had 
supper with them that night and slept in 
their camp. The next morning after 
breakfast, I headed out with the goat 
hide." 

Davis said that the incident made 
him a minor folk hero in Lincoln, "it 
did a lot for my reputation. The locals 
were mad because the man's wife, an 
out-of-stater. had gotten the permit, and 
doubly mad that he had bragged about 
how he'd shoot it for her. I don't know, 
if he'd been a local I may never have 
heard about it. 

"People were impressed that I was 
able to catch them in the act. I have to 
admit it was pretty lucky to just ride in 
there and be able to see the whole thing 
through a spotting scope. I think he was 
just meant to be caught." 

ANDY WUERTZ, FW&P 
I WARDEN in Gardiner, is 
responsible for the west half of the 
Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. He 
speaks for many wardens when he 
emphasizes the importance of 
backcountry enforcement. "Our 
backcountry areas are tremendous 
resources that need more protection," 
he said. "I consider it a special privi- 



lege to spend some of my time back 
there. The importance of these areas 
will only increase in the future." 

Wuertz said that almost all 
backcountry users obey wildlife laws, 
but occasionally he encounters people 
who don't. 

"I think the most unusual case I've 
worked on involved some guys from 
Arkansas. I rode into their camp with a 
Forest Service employee and we both 
felt something was wrong. First of all, 
they had brand-new, white-canvas tents 
held up by burned black tent poles, so 
right away I knew they lacked experi- 
ence, and I thought it seemed like a 
suspicious outfit. 

"And they had a huge, and I mean 
huge, fire and fire ring. I remember 
remarking to my partner that it was big 
enough to roast a pig. This was opening 
day of the backcountry hunting season, 
September fifteenth, and one of the 
guys had brought an elk into camp. 
They all acted suspicious — one guy 
wouldn't even look at me — but I 
checked everything out and couldn't 
find anything wrong." 

Later that fall an informant stopped 
at the FW&F office in Bozeman and 
asked what kind of reward he could get 



if he knew about someone taking a 
grizzly illegally. When he found out, 
the informant began to tell his story. 

"According to the informant these 
guys from Arkansas had shot a grizzly 
the day before we checked them," said 
Wuertz. The rogue guiding them saw a 
bear w alk across the meadow near their 
camp that night and told the guys to 
shoot it. which they did. When they 
reached the bear the guide told them 
he'd made a mistake — it was a grizzly, 
and shooting one carried a $10,000 fine 
and jail time. Then he gathered up his 
horses and left camp. 

"Well, of course, this spooked the 
guys from Arkansas. First they dragged 
the grizzly into the woods and piled 
brush over it, but they decided that 
wasn't good enough, and that they had 
to find a better hiding place. So they 
decided to bury it. But if they dug a 
hole they needed a reason for the fresh 
dirt, so they buried the bear in the 
middle of camp and built a huge, rock- 
lined fire pit over it." 

After hearing the informant's story, 
Wuertz headed back into the area by 
helicopter, accompanied by Warden 
Captain Bud Hubbard and Warden 
Sergeant Jim Kropp. They found the 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/april iw 5 



fire pit and dug up the grizzly carcass. 
which was partly decomposed by then. 
The men from Arlcansas received 
thousands of dollars in fines and 
probation time. During the investiga- 




Warclen Randy Wuertz, Gardiner, is 
responsible for the west half of the 
Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. 

tion, they also admitted to having shot 
the elk before the season opened, and 
for that received an additional $1,200 
fine and loss of hunting privileges. 

Despite occasional problems with 
rogues like the one above, Wuertz, like 
other wardens, has high praise for 
backcountry outfitters. "You deal with 
a lot of the same people and develop a 
close rapport with them," he said. 
"Outfitters know that the resource is 
their livelihood, and they have great 
respect for it. They are a huge asset in 
letting you know what's going on back 
there." 

ED LODGE WARDEN RICH 
'FURBER has made about 
100 trips into the Absaroka-Beartooth 
Wilderness over the past eight years. 
"It's my main push all summer long," 
he said. "And we don't always use 
horses. A lot of lakes in the Beartooths 
you have to crawl to get to." 

Furber said that wardens serve 
mainly as a deterrent in the 
backcountry, and the number of 
violations per visitor contact is very 
low. He spends most of his time 
checking anglers at mountain lakes. 



"I seldom wear a uniform when I go 
in," he said. "Usually I'll get to a lake 
and fish an hour or so while I watch the 
other people fishing. That way if 
anyone is violating the law they won't 
have time to set their fishing pole down 
or toss it into the woods." 

Once, Furber met some anglers who 
he said restored his faith in mankind. 
"We were riding up the Lake Fork Trail 
and we ran across a guy and his 
daughter. We had a nice chat, then 
introduced ourselves and the guy 
produced a fishing license. We asked 
the daughter if we could see her 
license, and the guy piped up and said 
she wasn't fishing. That seemed 
believable to us since they only had one 
pole. So we jabbed our horses in the 
ribs and took off up the trail, because 
we were running behind. 

"We'd ridden for 40 minutes and 
probably covered nearly three miles 
when we heard this sound behind us. 
Here comes the guy we'd just talked to, 
puffing hard, running to catch up to us. 
He was breathing so hard he couldn't 
talk, so we waited for what seemed like 
five minutes. Then he said, 'Guys, I 
was raised a Christian and I just can't 
lie to you. She didn't catch anything, 
but she did fish.'" 

Furber looked at his partner. "We 
just couldn't believe it. I used warden 
discretion and told him to go to Red 
Lodge and buy his daughter a nonresi- 
dent season license. It didn't surprise 
me when I checked the next day and 
found he'd bought the license as 
promised. I didn't let the guy off. If he 
hadn't bought the license I would have 
followed up on it. So ever after that 
we've called it the Christian Trail." 

People who violate usually pass 
through three stages according to 
Furber, including denial, negotiation, 
and acceptance. "Occasionally a person 
on the trail with a fishing pole will try 
to maintain that he or she wasn't 
fishing. But nobody packs a rod 20 
miles if he isn't going to use it. If they 
have a pole, they better be able to 
produce a license. Usually when you 
explain the situation to them and treat 
them with respect, they accept the 
reasons why it's important to follow 
wildlife laws." 



Furber points out that some of the 
biggest challenges and rewards come 
from working with horses in the 
backcountry. "You have to know what 
you're doing, and even then you'll have 
your moments," he said. "If you take a 
person and horses and put them in the 
backcountry more than four times, that 
person is going to have a horse run off. 
Anyone who says this isn't so doesn't 
know what he's talking about." 

Furber' s most memorable horse 
incident involved Peaches, a horse he 
obtained from another backcountry 
warden, Floyd Thomas. "Peaches was 
always the hardest horse to catch." said 
Furber. "He was always the one who 
started trouble with the other horses. 

"Once, we took a group of biologists 
into Jordan Lake. The next morning we 
let the horses out to eat some horse 
cake. I was in the tent and when I 
looked out the horses looked fine, so I 
ducked back in to have a second cup of 
cocoa. The next time I looked out, no 
horses. 

"That first day we covered 30 miles 
on foot looking for them. It kept 
running through my mind how I'd 
explain to the captain how Peaches 
died. 

"Four more guys came in to help us 
find the horses. We looked and looked 
for four days before we finally found 
them. No one really gave me a bad time 
until we found the horses. Then it 
came." 

But Furber got his revenge. "We 
determined that, as usual. Peaches had 
led the escape. But the joke was finally 
on him. A few years later we traded 
him for a mule. I don't know what 
happened to Peaches, but I can hope." 

^mpPARDEN MIKE QUINN of 
w^r Bigfork adds that horses 
can pose a danger, particularly for 
outfitted hunters, who usually are not 
experienced riders. 

"I ran into one guy this year in the 
Bob Marshall Wilderness who'd had a 
terrible spill. He was a big guy, at least 
300 pounds, and he was unsteady in the 
saddle. He had fallen off his horse a 
few days earlier and landed squarely on 
his face. He had two black eyes, cuts on 
his nose and forehead, and he was 



6 MARCH/APRli. iw MONTANA OUTDOORS 



missing two teeth. But he'd come all 
the way out here from the Southeast, 
and he wasn't going to let his injuries 
keep him from having a good time. He 
was a memorable character in his bib 
overalls and Peter Pan hat with a 
feather garnish." 

Another hunter Quinn saw in the 
Bob Marshall this year had a more 
serious accident. "I ran into this guy 
just 10 days after his accident. He'd 
fallen hard from the saddle and landed 
on his face. They had to ride him out 
and get a life-flight to Missoula, where 
he underwent extensive plastic surgery. 
The doctor must have done a good job, 
because you could hardly tell. Not only 
did this guy ride back in, he had just 
shot the biggest bull in camp. He'd 
been looking forward to the hunt for 
years and nothing was going to keep 
him from enjoying it." 

ORDON ASH, THE LEAD 
'wilderness ranger for 
the Spotted Bear District of the 
Flathead National Forest, has worked 
extensively in the Bob Marshall 
Wilderness complex for 14 years. Ash 
emphasizes the positive cooperation 
between Forest Service rangers and 
FW&P wardens. 

"During the six-month field season I 
work with FW&P wardens regularly, 
up to ten percent of my time," he said. 
"This is essential because of the size of 
the area and the shared responsibilities 
of the agencies for the wilderness 
resources. It's been exciting to see this 
relationship grow stronger and sU"onger." 

The way Ash sees it, education is 
the key to effective enforcement. "I 
view law enforcement as just a stricter 
sense of education, and it works with 
most people. Sometimes, though, you 
need to set examples, especially when 
people do something flagrant like litter, 
hack trees, or violate game laws. You 
need to show people there can be 
severe consequences if they do things 
the wrong way." 

The backcountry incident that stands 
out most in Ash's mind is the case of 
the infamous "Bob Burglar." Every 
backcountry law enforcement officer 
has a story about a "mountain man," 
but Ash's has to be one of the best. 




Backcountry wardens agree that the country and the people they encounter make 
this type of law enforcement highly enjoyable. 



"Another ranger and 1 met up with 
this fellow in the Youngs Creek 
drainage, just below Hahn Cabin," 
began Ash. "He gave his name as Larry 
Mikesell, which we found out later was 
an alias. It was in November and there 
was a foot of snow on the ground; we 
were surprised to see him and he was 
surprised to see us." 

The man was on foot and was 
dragging what he claimed was trapping 
gear behind him. Ash and the other 
ranger followed the man's tracks back 



to Hahn Cabin, since they were headed 
in that direction anyway. 

"When we got to the cabin we saw 
that he'd been staying there, and that 
he'd gotten hold of a key somehow," 
continued Ash. "We closed up the 
station and headed back down the trail 
to contact him and collect the key, but 
when we reached the spot where we'd 
talked to him we found he'd dived into 
the brush as soon as we were out of 
sight. 

"We began tracking him but soon 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/aprii. iw 7 



found he was using "Rat River trapper 
techniques" — a method used by 
trappers trying to elude the Mounties in 
Canada. He kept double-backtracking 
through a thick spruce bottom for about 
a mile, then ditched his gear. We found 



the camp to identify himself and turn 
himself in. Later he returned to the 
camp, found the note, grabbed his 
sleeping bag, and headed out of the 
wilderness. Two days later he contacted 
the press and told them he had spent 




U. S. Forest Sen'ice Wilderness Ranger Gordon Ash (left) confers with FW&P 
Warden Brian Sommers in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. 



out that the bag we thought had 
contained traps actually held a double- 
decker TV antenna. All his other gear 
was stolen from U.S. Forest Service 
cabins. 

"We were worried that he was 
circling us so we gave up the chase. We 
didn't know what kind of person we 
were dealing with and thought he might 
be dangerous. We filed an incident 
report when we got out of the 
backcountry, and eventually found out 
his real name." 

By early January, Forest Service 
officials had tracked down his address 
and talked to his roommate, who said 
he was in the Bob Marshall and 
wouldn't be out anytime soon. Learn- 
ing this, law enforcement officers flew 
into the wilderness by helicopter and 
saw activity at Big Prairie and Hahn 
Cabin. They landed at Hahn Cabin and 
found that the "Burglar" had just left, 
ditching his pack, snowshoes, and 
shotgun. 

"The officers followed his tracks 
through the brush but when it got dark 
they had to call off the search. The next 
day they followed his tracks and found 
a camp where he had set up a Forest 
Service tent. They left a note for him at 



five days crawling over the snow and 
almost died hiking the 20 miles out 
because the Forest Service had stolen 
his pack and snowshoes." 

Ash and another ranger went to the 
Pyramid Pass trailhead, where the 
"Burglar" had come out, and found he 
had left a snowmobile there earlier for 
his getaway. They skied into the 
backcountry on his backtrail and found 
he'd had no trouble scooting over the 
crusted snow when he came out of the 
wilderness. Also, they found a Forest 
Service sleeping bag ditched near Ross 
Creek and found that he had established 
various camps and food caches using 
stolen Forest Service gear. 

"This guy had spent Thanksgiving, 
Christmas, and New Year's at Big 
Prairie living high off the hog on 
government grub," said Ash. "We 
finally figured out the antenna deal: 
he'd been bragging about watching the 
Super Bowl at Big Prairie the year 
before, 30 miles from the nearest road. 
He must have had a little battery- 
operated TV, but we never did find it. 
Turned out he had a grub line between 
Big Prairie, Basin, and Hahn cabins, 
and he had his camps for recreating. He 
had it made." 



Evidence at Big Prairie linked the 
"Bob Burglar" to the facility. "He was 
sleeping in my bed and taking showers 
in my residence, and he stole my 
personal gear." Ash said the man 
strongly denied the charges through the 
subsequent trial, but that the evidence 
to convict him was overwhelming. "He 
was so obnoxious that his lawyers kept 
quitting. Finally he ended up represent- 
ing himself." 

His first sentence was relatively 
lenient. "He came in the next summer 
and met me at Big Prairie," said Ash. 
"He was supposed to cut wood to 
replace all he'd used and pay for all the 
food he'd eaten and things he'd taken. 
The whole thing probably would have 
cost him about $600 and would have 
been cheap for his long, all-expenses- 
paid vacation in the backcountry. It 
would have been a lot cheaper than 
having an outfitter pack him in." 

Unaccountably, the "Burglar" left 
after cutting only about one-fourth of 
the required wood, and he refused to 
pay retribution for the equipment and 
grub. "So he lost a good job as a 
flagman when the judge sent him to 
prison for six months," said Ash. 

After the man got out of prison, he 
filed suit against the Forest Service, but 
the judge dismissed it as frivolous. "He 
portrayed himself as a mountain man, 
but he never lived off the land," said 
Ash. "He just lived off our grub and 
facility network. He wasn't a mountain 
man at all; the only weight he carried 
was his antenna and miniature TV." 

(ACKCOUNTRYLAW 
► enforcement is hard 
work, but the wardens and rangers who 
patrol beyond the road's end are 
unanimous in their love for their work. 
Why? 

"Fm grinning inside the whole time 
Fm back there," said Tom Flowers, the 
FW&P warden who works the Sun 
River area. It's the country and the 
people, I guess. I enjoy it so much I'd 
do it all the time, but that wouldn't be 
good for my marriage. 

"We get constant comments from 
people about how great the job must be. 
You have to agree, because it's the best 
job in Montana." ■ 



8 MARCH/APRii 1994 MONTANA OUTDOORS 



Watchable Wildlife 












by Bruce Auchly 



V f 



I T'S A FUNNY LITTLE BIRD, 

J- this snipe, with a body and 
name of a slapstici< vaudevillian. 

Who wouldn't laugh at a creature 
that has a nose one-fifth as long as 
its body, has eyes placed far enough 
back on its head to see behind itself, 
and makes a goat-like bleating 
sound to attract the opposite sex? 

Then there's the name. The 
moniker "snipe" refers to an old 
Anglo-Saxon word for snout. Yet 
for hundreds of years it has also 
denoted a contemptible person. As 
Shakespeare wrote in Othello: 

For I mine own gained knowl- 
edge should profane 

If I should time expend with 
such a snipe. 



ROBERT E BARBER 



And let's not forget the humor 
derived by those folks who don't 
believe this bird of wet meadows and 
pastures even exists. 

Margaret Adams of Great Falls 
recalls the day she and two friends 
were driving and looking for birds. 
"We were out in the backcountry by 
Belt. There was a little slough by the 
road and we saw something tly." 

The women stopped their vehicle, 
got out and stood by the road, looking 
for what they 
were sure was 
a snipe. 
Before long, 
three fellows 
in a pickup 
drove up and 
stopped. They 
asked if the 
women 
needed help. 

"We said. 
'We're 
looking for 
snipe.'" 

With that 
the three 
rowdies 
guffawed and 
drove off. 

"I'm sure 
they thought, 
here are these 
foolish old 
women falling 
for that old 
snipe hunting 
trick," Adams 
says. 

Rest assured gentlemen, the lowly 
common snipe, subject of practical 
jokes from East Coast fraternities to 
Montana prairies, lives. No nighttime 
excursions to swamps armed with clubs 
and burlap bags, however, are neces- 
sary to see and hear the snipe in 
Montana. P.D. Skaar's Montana Bird 
Distribution lists sightings of the bird 
in every comer of the state. 

"It's very common in Montana," 
says Dave Ewer of Helena. Ewer has 
taken part in the Audubon Society's 
annual breeding bird survey every June 
for the past eight years. "They like farm 
pastures that are a little wet. Any 




WESTERN 

RANGE OF THE 

COMMON SNIPE 



BREEDING 
WINTER 



farmland that abuts a stream is a great 
place for snipe." 

Similar in appearance to its distant 
eastern cousin, the woodcock, the snipe 
is a migratory shorebird. Adult birds 
are about 1 1 inches long, including the 
bill, which averages 2.5 inches. 
Wingspread can reach 18 inches. The 
bird weighs about 3.5 ounces. Exami- 
nation of its feathered coat reveals a 
mottled mixture of browns, blacks, and 
whites, perfect for a ground-nesting 
bird. The white- 
tipped tail has a 
reddish-orange stripe 
across a black band. 

A few birds 
overwinter in 
Montana, but most 
head to warmer 
climes. "We are at 
the northern edge of 
their wintering 
range," says George 
Holton, a retired 
FW&P fisheries 
biologist and self- 
proclaimed compul- 
sive birder. When 
snipe do spend the 
winter in Montana, 
they are found along 
springs or warm 
streams that don't 
freeze, for the birds 
must continue to find 
food — worms and 
insects. Even in 
subzero tempera- 
tures, ice-free water 
will contain aquatic invertebrates, 
Holton says. "I've only seen them |in 
the winter] near water." 

But such winter habitat is marginal. 
Their preferred winter range lies south 
of a line roughly from Seattle to 
Denver, then east to Washington, D.C. 
Snipe usually concentrate in California 
and along the Gulf Coast and are found 
as far south as Brazil. 

Migration north begins in February 
and March. Montana's first birds often 
arrive during the first 10 days of 
March. Heavy spring flights don't 
begin to show up until mid-April. Like 
many migrants, snipe are at the mercy 
of the fickle spring weather. Warm and 




cold fronts can speed up or bring spring 
activity to a screeching halt, albeit 
temporarily. 

In uncooperative weather, snipe may 
arrive in an area still covered with 
snow. Then the birds concentrate, 
waiting for a warm spell. Normally, 
snipe do not move north or south in 
large flocks, like ducks or geese. They 



10 MAR(H/Ai'kM iw MONTANA OUTDOORS 




TOM J LILRICH 



are more solitary. 

Males arrive first in the spring, with 
females appearing 10 days to two 
weeks later. During the interlude, the 
males establish territories and begin 
making a weird bleating or winnowing 
sound. Often heard but rarely associ- 
ated with snipe, the eerie, haunting tone 
has been described as a pulsating 



tremolo, like a rapidly repeated 
"huhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhu." It's not a call 
but a sound created by the bird's outer 
tail feathers as it dives through the air. 
Trying to attract females, the male 
flies 100 yards or more above the 
ground, then dives at a 45-degree angle. 
The sound begins as the bird expands 
its tail and reaches speeds of 25 to 35 



Never far from water, snipe are 
common in Montana, nesting 
throughout the state. 

miles per hour. The wings play a role, 
interrupting air flow and causing the 
alternating tones that produce the 
tremulous effect. The wings also keep 
the rushing air from vibrating the tail to 



MONTANA OUTDOORS marc h^april 1904 1 1 



pieces. All this renders the bleating 
audible for hundreds of yards, but 
makes it difficult to pinpoint. 

"They're easy to hear but hard to 
see," Ewer says, "because they are so 
small and so fast." 

Throw in the fact that most of the 
bleating takes place at dawn and dusk, 
and it's understandable how ancient 
peoples thought the sound was super- 
natural. 

Besides producing the bleating 
sound, the males put on an aerial 
acrobatics show that would be the envy 
of any precision flying team. The birds 
do somersaults and fly upside down. 
Some biologists believe that fanning 
the tail in flight catches the light and 
reflects the red band near the end. To a 
female looking for a mate, it must be a 
powerful advertisement. 

ONCE A FEMALE arrives on 
the breeding ground, the 
males act like teenagers at a high 
school dance. Besides their aerial 
displays, males will crowd around her 
on the ground, strutting, bowing and 
scraping, especially if she lands near 
two or more territories. Like any self- 



respecting prom queen, she feigns 
indifference to the boys' amorous high 
jinks. Some of the males will even try 
to herd her into their territories. 

Relying on a keen eye, or some 
other genetic yardstick, the female 
eventually picks out a male. They mate, 
usually several times, and she begins to 
search for a nesting spot. Meanwhile, 
the male bird, a complete cad, will 
continue to mate with other females 
that enter his territory. 

As ground nesters near water, snipe 
face the usual assortment of predators, 
along with occasional spring floods. 
The first of these handicaps is coped 
with through good camouflage, and the 
second through a firmly built nest. The 
female first scrapes a depression in the 
ground, then molds grasses into the 
shape of a cup. She finishes by adding 
more grasses and leaves for a lining. 
The nest usually stays dry, even when 
surrounded by water in a marsh. No 
doubt the birds build their nests near 
water because that's where their 
favorite food — worms — live. 

Worms, insect larvae, spiders, and 
beetles make up the majority of the 
snipe's diet. The bird probes blindly 



with its long bill about one-half inch 
into the soil. With the sensitive tip of 
its hard but flexible bill, the snipe can 
locate food underground. When it finds 
a worm or insect, the bird raises the top 
of its bill, seizes the morsel, and pulls it 
out of the ground to swallow. 

After completion of the nest the 
female begins to lay eggs. Four is the 
most common number. Like the adult 
birds, the eggs are camouflaged: brown 
or olive and speckled with darker 
blotches. They are about the size and 
shape of a large olive. Incubation 
follows, and takes approximately 20 
days. 

I— JATCHING OCCURS over 
I _L several hours, often with 
^--^ an hour or two between eggs. 
Nesting and hatching take place from 
May through August with most eggs 
hatching in June. If a nest and eggs are 
lost early in the season the female will 
replace them. 

The first youngsters out of the egg 
provide mom with all sorts of prob- 
lems. Immediately after hatching the 
chick lays motionless and exhausted. 
Yet within an hour, the chick is dry. 



Wfiere to ^nd Snipe 



Common snipe are found practically anyplace in 
Montana that has non-alkaline water and open spaces 
during spring and summer, from low-elevation mudflats 
to beaver ponds near timberline. In the central part of the 
state snipe frequent irrigation projects, especially 
alongside open fields and meadows. In eastern Montana, 
the birds are often found near backwater areas of major 
rivers and streams and prairie potholes. 

The following locations, listed as shorebird viewing 
areas in the Montana Wildlife Viewing Guide, should 
provide opportunities for viewing snipe: 

Western Montana 

Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and Wildlife 
Management Area, south of Ronan. 

Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area, west of 
Kalispell. 

Brown's Lake, east of Ovando. 

Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area, north of 
Townsend. 

Cattail Marsh Nature Trail, north end of Clark Canyon 



Reservoir just south of Dillon. 

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, east of 
Monida. 

Centred Montana 

Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area, between 
Fairfield and Choteau. 

BR-12, northwest of Zurich. 

Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge, east of Rapelje. 

Eastlick Pond/Big Lake Waterfowl Management Area, 
west of Billings near Molt. 

tastem Montana 

Lake Mason National Wildlife Refuge, west of 
Roundup. 

Yellowtail Dam Afterbay, near Fort Smith. 

Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge, east of 
Medicine Lake. 

Fox Lake Wildlife Management Area, south of 
Lambert. 



12 MARCH/APRIL I w MONTANA OUTDOORS 




Most snipe winter south of a line extending roughly from Seattle to Denver, then east to Washington D.C. The heaviest spring 
flights appear in Montana during mid-April. 



standing up, running around the nest, 
even over mom. It's mostly legs and 
feet, what one author referred to as "a 
gangling animated powder puff." 

The female has the responsibility of 
sitting on the remaining eggs while 
trying to keep the hatched chicks under 
her partly opened wing. When only an 
egg or two remains, the male will help 
out. herding the older chicks away from 
the nest while the female stays with the 
eggs and any chicks still drying off. 

The commotion would seem to be a 
perfect predator magnet. But the chicks 
are bom with the ability hide as soon as 
their down dries. They are camouflaged 
and remain motionless when in danger. 
Adult snipe will sometimes try to lure 
intruders away from the nest; however, 
they do not have a set act like a 
killdeer, which pretends to have a 
broken wing. Snipe use a variety of 
methods to draw attention to them- 



selves, often showing off their red and 
black tail feathers, then running or 
flying away. Snipe sitting on fence 
posts usually have their chicks hidden 
nearby. 

"They would rather stay put than 
fly." Ewer says. "You can almost walk 
up on them before they fly. Their 
camouflage is incredible. They are very 
hard to see when they're standing still." 

The chicks grow fast. They double 
their weight the first week, again the 
second week of life, and once more 
during the third week. By their second 
or third week, the youngsters are flying. 
That allows the birds to begin heading 
south by mid to late summer. Fall 
migration begins in earnest in late 
August and continues steadily for the 
next two months. As in spring, weather 
plays a major role in hastening or 
delaying the birds along their migration 
path. 



Fall migrating snipe do not band 
together like waterfowl in large flocks, 
though they do head to staging areas, 
such as edges of mudflats. "They are 
pretty much solitary birds." Ewer says. 
"Occasionally, you'll put up four or 
five or six in a pasture." 

Although snipe were popular birds 
to hunt 100 years ago and in the early 
part of this century, fear of declining 
populations led the federal government 
to place a 13-year moratorium on snipe 
hunting from 1941 to 1953. When 
hunting was resumed in 1954 a 
generation gap existed that has never 
closed. A fall hunting season for snipe 
still exists in Montana, but few people 
hunt them. 

Nowadays, a snipe hunt to most 
people means a prank played on the 
unwary. Perhaps the real joke lies with 
the unbelieving. ■ 



MONTANA OUTDOORS marck/april iw 



13 



Cruwys 

Hits a Triple w 



by William Phippen 



Bozeman wildlife artist Roger Cruwys has done it 
yet again. 

When his painting of a pair of speedy wigeons 
winging over the northeastern Montana prairie was 
selected last October for reproduction as the state's 
1994 waterfowl stamp, it marked his third win in the 
annual competition. Cruwys' paintings were previ- 
ously selected for the 1987 and 1989 stamps. 

Cruwys' colorful rendition of these agile, twist- 
ing, turning fliers was chosen by a panel of four 
judges in Helena. Placing second and third, respec- 
tively, were paintings by Zee Huang of Hamilton 
and Robert Kercher of Great Falls. 

As has been the case since its inception in 1986, 
the competition was open only to Montana residents 
and all entrants had to confine their works to a 
central theme — for 1994, not more than three 
American wigeons in a prairie pothole setting. All of 
the entries were unsigned and entrants were not 
identified until all ballots had been tabulated. 

Judges for the 1994 competition were Dick Duffy, 
a Helena art dealer, Bev Veneziano, art director for 
FW&P's Montana Outdoors magazine, Jeff Herbert, 
FW&P's statewide waterfowl coordinator, and Tom 
Hinz, upland bird and small game program manager 
in FW&P's Wildlife Division. 

A full-time artist, Cruwys is a self-taught painter 

14 march;aprii i«4 MONTANA OUTDOORS 




First place — Roger Cruwys 




MONTANA OUTDOORS march/aprjl 1994 15 




Second place — Zee Huang 




whose dog portraits, striking renditions 
of game birds, and other outdoor scenes 
have earned him praise through shows in 
major art galleries, inclusion in private 
collections, and publication in popular 
sporting magazines. 

He also has been successful in state 
conservation stamp competitions other than 
Montana's. Cruwys has been a finalist in 
trout, waterfowl, or other conservation 
stamp contests in Ohio, California, Nevada, 
Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, South 
Carolina, and Oregon, and his works have 
placed in the top 10% of the federal "duck 
stamp" competition. 

Originally from upstate New York, 
Cruwys began his professional career as a 
landscape architect/designer after receiving 
his bachelor's degree from Syracuse 
University and his master's from the 
University of California. But an unrelenting 
interest in the out-of-doors and an eye for 
the natural world, particularly the wild 
creatures that inhabit it, led him to his 
present profession. 

Beginning in 1986, hunters have been 
required to possess a state waterfowl stamp 
in addition to a federal "duck stamp" to 
hunt waterfowl in Montana. The 1985 
Legislature established the stamp and 
authorized the Department of Fish, Wildlife 
& Parks to sell the stamp and market related 
items. In 1992, stamps were sold to ap- 
proximately 16,000 hunters and 8,000 
stamp collectors throughout the country. 
Funds garnered from the sale of the $5 
stamps and related artwork are used solely 
to enhance and develop Montana wetlands 
and associated upland habitat for the long- 
term benefit of waterfowl. 

Since the first state waterfowl stamp was 
sold in 1986, over $1 million has been 
raised to fund wetland enhancement 
projects Montana. In 1992, over 40 projects 
were initiated to enhance important water- 
fowl habitat. ■ 



Third place — Robert Kercher 



16 MARCHMPRiMW MONTANA OUTDOORS 



SMALL BUT IMPORTANT: 




The Milk River 
Wildlife 
Management 
Areas 

by William Phippen 



O MONTANA HUNTERS and 
others interested in the welfare of the 
state's wiidhfe, the words "wildHfe 
management area" most commonly 
conjure up images of elk and deer on 
winter range or myriad species of 
waterfowl and other aquatic birds set- 
tling into a large lake, reservoir, or 
wetland area. 

But wildlife management areas 
under the Big Sky provide far more 
than that. Many of the state's smaller 
WMAs have earned respect for the 
rich wildlife habitats they protect and 
the many species they support, if not 
their magnitude. 



MICHAEL & PATSY FRIBLEY 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/april 1994 17 



Two such areas are tucked into a curve of the meandering 
Milk River along Montana's Hi-Line. Recognized by those who 
know of their existence as the Milk River WM As, Areas "7" and 
"8" may not be well known by a majority of Montanans, but they 
represent the diversity in function that has purposefully been 
built into the state's WMA system. 

The areas, which lie approximately 20 miles northeast of 
Malta in Phillips County, were acquired along with seven other 
smaller parcels through a lease agreement with the federal 
Bureau of Reclamation in 1953. During construction of the Milk 
River Irrigation project by BuRec in the early 1950s, a number 
of area residents, including hunters, conservationists, landown- 
ers, and the local game warden, saw the wildlife habitat and 
recreational value of some 4,500 acres of lands slated for canals 
or irrigation facilities. Conversations with the then Department 
of Fish and Game subsequently led to meetings with BuRec and 
eventual lease of the properties. 

Area 7, with its 382 acres of marshlands, cottonwood/shrub 
bottoms, and adjacent uplands, is managed primarily for water- 
fowl, although white-tailed deer and ring-necked pheasants are 
also important game species. Sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian 
partridge, beaver, muskrat, and many species of songbirds are 
common there as well. 

Although most of the upland areas are native range, 20 acres 
of previously farmed land on the WMA was recently reseeded 
to a dense grass mixture benefiting nesting waterfowl, upland 
gamebirds, and other wildlife species. Stands of cottonwoods 
along the Milk River bottom provide excellent whitetail habitat 



and are popular among bowhunters. In addition, the river's 
oxbows provide important nesting habitat for Canada geese and 
several species of ducks. 

Over the years, the major developments at Area 7 have 
centered on a pond constructed years ago to rear northern pike. 
Although the pond's usefulness as a hatchery for nearby Nelson 
Reservoir has long since passed, its value as nesting and brood- 
rearing habitat for waterfowl has received increased emphasis. 

Recent improvements at the pond include: (1) installing a 
water control structure to regulate water levels and improve 
brood habitat for ducks and geese, (2) repairing 400 feet of 
existing dike by adding a gravel cap and driving in sheetpiling 
to solve a seepage problem, (3) adding a rock spillway, and (4) 
placing weirs to prevent fish, especially carp, from entering the 
pond and reducing vegetation intended as a food source for 
waterfowl. 

The dikes of three other ponds within the WMA have also 
been reworked recently and water control structures installed to 
maximize watertowl production capability. In addition, various 
types of watertowl nesting structures have been placed through- 
out the WMA. Funding for these projects has come from a 
variety of sources, including Ducks Unlimited and the state's 
duck stamp program. 

Area 8 includes 96 1 acres of upland and wetland habitats that 

Although Areas 7 and 8 are managed primarily for 
waterfowl (opposite), they provide habitat for numerous 
wildlife species. 




\'hiU'tail (i(^f— BARBARA THOMAS 



muskrat — jan i. wassink 




snow goose— MIKE logan. mallard with vowng— neal & mary jane mishler. eared grebe with young— hakk-\ encei .s, Canada geese rodney schlecht 



support a plethora of game and nongame species. Most of the 
management activity over the years has been directed toward a 
470-acre marsh that was originally so choked with cattails that 
it provided little more than winter and escape cover for pheas- 
ants and white-tailed deer. With the goal of improving habitat 
for waterfowl, a dike was constructed in 1956 to raise the water 
level in the marsh, thereby flooding and killing the cattails. 
During this process, six islands were built that, in addition to one 
natural island created by the flooding, have become favorite 
nesting sites for Canada geese, several species of ducks, and 
various shorebirds. 

A band of cattails around the marsh still provides excellent 
winter and escape cover for pheasants and whitetails. Mean- 
while, most of the marsh is a mixture of open water and scattered 
stands of cattails, just the prescription for attracting ducks and 
geese. 

Recently, Ducks Unlimited worked with FW&P on a project 



reminiscent of the 1 956 wetland project. A 2,500-foot, L-shaped 
dike was constructed around a 95-acre cattail-choked marsh so 
the water level could be raised, creating a mixture of open water 
and cattail stands. During dike construction, numerous small 
pair ponds (used by duck pairs in early spring while establishing 
territories) were created from the borrow sites and two water- 
fowl nesting islands were built in the new pond. Water control 
structures will allow managers to regulate water flow to both the 
new pond and the adjacent pair ponds. Several groundwater 
monitoring wells also were drilled to allow neighboring land- 
owners to assess any impacts of FW&P"s management of the 
area. 

Small, yet uniquely valuable. That's the best way to look at 
Areas 7 and 8. Look beyond their size and you'll see their value 
to hunters as well as those who simply enjoy viewing ducks, 
geese, deer, pheasants, and all the creatures that inhabit these 
havens for wildlife beside the Milk River. ■ 



The primary goal of the Milk River 
WMAs is to provide wetland 
habitat for wildlife, particularly 
waterfowl, as well as recreational 
opportunities. 




The Milk River Wildlife 
Management Areas 




MILK RIVER 
WILDLIFE 
MANAGEMENT 



MILK RIVER 

WILDLIFE 

MANAGEMENT 

AREAS 7 & a 



Location: In Phillips County in northeastern Montana, 
approximately 20 miles northeast of Malta. 

Size: Area 7 — 382 acres; Area 8 — 961 acres. 

Acquisition date: Leased from U.S. Bureau of Reclama- 
tion since 1953. 

Access: Take Highway 2 from Malta east to Sleeping 
Buffalo tumoff, travel about 3 miles north to Areas 7 and 8. 

Management goal: To provide riparian/wetland habi- 
tats for wildlife, particularly waterfowl, and to provide 
public recreational opportunities. 

Hunting opportunities: Hunting opportunities exist for 
waterfowl, upland birds, and deer. For safety reasons, deer 
hunters are allowed to hunt only with shotgun, muzzleloader, 
or bow and arrow. 

Fishing opportunities: Area 7 provides fishing oppor- 
tunities along roughly one mile of the Milk River. 

Wildlife viewing: White-tailed deer, upland gamebirds, 
furbearers, and numerous small mammals are present on the 
WMA year-round. Waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and a 
host of songbirds can be seen during much of the year. 



20 MARcH/APRri IW4 MONTANA OUTDOORS 




by Dave Books 




. ^^ H, SPRING. The days lengthen, the siin grows ■v^arreier, and the«oml»er cloak of 
winter gradually gives way to a riot of life and color. Montana's five species of grouse, shy and 
retiring for most of the yea^n their muted coats of brown and gray, are transformed into bold, 
beautiful creatures, dancing, strutting, hooting, and drumming in time to nature's quickening 
pulse rate. The occasion, of course, for this avian pomp and pageantry is the mating season — a 
time when males of the grouse clan put on elaborate performances to win the heart of some fair 
lady.. .or ladies, since these birds are polygamous. Perhaps, as scientists maintain, these bizarre 
rituals have to do with territoriality, social hierarchy, and natural selection. Or could surviving 
another Montana winter just make them want to dance? 



CONRAD ROUT. 




^/f^e ^rmse 



Although male sage grouse arrive on the strutting 
grounds, or leks, as early as February, courtship activity 
doesn't peak until April. For the first month or so, the leks 
are inhabited only by males, who stake out territories and 
defend them against other males. Sage grouse typically use 
the same leks year afi:er, although occasionally young males 
may try to establish a new one. More often than not these 
impromptu leks do not succeed. 

The number of males on a lek can vary widely, from a 
dozen or so to several hundred. As the males jockey for 
dominance and possession of preferred mating territories, 
fights occasionally break out. Although these altercations 
are sometimes bloody, they are rarely fatal, with van- 
quished birds retreating to less desirable strutting spots to 



await another day. 

Strutting, which begins before dawn and continues for 
an hour or two after sunrise, involves a complex sequence 
of movements and sounds in which the tail is raised and 
fanned and the esophageal sacs are inflated until they 
resemble two rubber balls bobbing on the bird's chest. 
When the trapped air in the esophagus is suddenly 
released, it produces a peculiar plopping sound. 



22 MARCHMPRii. 1994 MONTANA OUTDOORS 




Sharptails arrive on their communal dancing grounds in 
early spring, usually in March. Sharptail leks are much 
smaller than sage grouse leks, with the number of male 
birds averaging only about a dozen. Like sage grouse, 
sharptails vie for choice central territories within the lek 
and defend them vigorously. Although much territorial 



defense involves "ritual fighting" in which the birds merely 
stare each other down or make short lunges, occasionally 
two males will leap into the air and flail each other with 
claws, beaks, and wings. 

Sharptails utter a variety of clucks, cackles, squeaks, 
whines, and cooing noises during their courtship displays. 
These vocalizations, along with "flutter-jumping" (a noisy 
movement in which the bird jumps a few feet in the air 
and lands again), "tail rattling," and "dancing" — in which 
males spread their wings, raise their tail, lower their head, 
and scoot forward while stamping their feet — make the 
sharptail lek a noisy beehive of activity. On a quiet 
morning, the commotion can be heard up to a mile away. 
Like windup toys activated by remote control, the birds 
start and stop their frenzied dancing in perfect 
synchrony — one moment the lek is buzzing with life and 
motion, and the next it is eerily quiet. Then, as if in 
response to some invisible signal, the dance begins anew. 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/april iw 23 




Unlike their prairie cousins, ruffed grouse don't use leks 
in their mating display. Their repertoire consists of 
drumming and strutting. Drumming has a two-fold 
purpose: It advertises the male's presence to nearby 
females, and issues a challenge to neighboring males. 

Although ruffed grouse drum most frequently during 
the breeding season, the hollow, muffled sound may be 
heard any time of year. At the peak of the mating season, a 
grouse may drum continually for several hours at three- to 
five-minute intervals. Morning and evening are favored 
times, but drumming may take place any hour of the day 
or night. 

The drumming site may be a stump or a boulder, but 
most often it is a fallen log, large in size, usually moss- 
covered, and well along in decay. The same log is often 
used year after year by a succession of grouse; when a 
drummer is killed by a predator, his log is immediately 
occupied by another bird. Typically only one spot on the 
log is used for drumming. 



The drumming sequence, which lasts about eight 
seconds, starts slowly, picks up speed, then ends on a 
single, weak note. It is produced by the bird's rapid, 
powerful wing strokes striking the air with sufficient force 
to create a vacuum. The bird doesn't clap its wings 
together or beat them against the drumming log. 

On sighting an intruder, a drumming male raises and 
spreads his tail and erects the ebony ruffs on the side of his 
neck. Marching slowly at first toward the interloper, he 
makes a hissing sound, then rushes quickly forward, 
shaking his head and hissing loudly. 



24 MARCH/APRIL 1994 MONTANA OUTDOORS 




'^tpi^ ^rmse 



Male blue grouse begin to establish territories on lower 
mountain slopes and foothills in April, or as soon as snow 
conditions permit. They prefer ridges near the lower 
margins of tree cover, open south slopes with trees nearby, 
or narrow drainages with scattered conifer thickets. 
Displaying is typically done in openings or clearings 
with escape cover nearby; courtship is in full swing by 



early to mid-May. 

The primary display activity performed by blue grouse 
is known as "hooting," in which the male raises and 
spreads his tail and opens the feathers of his neck to expose 
raspberry-colored neck sacs surrounded by snow-white 
feathers. His swollen eye-combs change color rapidly, 
shifting from bright yellow to deep orange-red. The 
hooting sound, a low-frequency "ump-ump-ump-ump- 
ump" emanating from the air sacs, can be heard up to 100 
yards away on a still day. 

When a male blue grouse sees another grouse, he fans 
his tail like a turkey, cocks it sharply forward and, with 
head lowered and wings dragging, rushes the intruder, 
uttering a deep "whoot" note. If the intruder turns out to 
be a receptive female, the male struts around her, showing 
off his handsome plumage. Territorial males occasionally 
advertise their presence with a "flutter-jump," a short wing 
clap made while leaping a foot or so in the air. On hearing 
a wing clap, other nearby males usually respond with a 
flutter-jump of their own. 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/aprjl i«4 25 




Male spruce grouse establish their mating territories in 
fairly dense stands of conifers, choosing small openings for 
strutting and display flights. When strutting, the bird's tai 
is cocked steeply, exposing the white-tipped feathers 
underneath, and his crimson eye-combs are engorged. 

Males may emit a low-pitched hooting sound when 
females are in the vicinity, but spruce grouse are less vocal 
than blue grouse. While strutting, the male usually walks 
forward slowly, rustling, fanning, or flicking his tail 
feathers. On approaching a female, he may alternately bob 
his head up and down, tilt it to the side to expose an eye- 
comb to her view, or flick his wings. Taking several rapid 
steps toward her, he may suddenly snap his tail open with 
a swishing sound, and hiss. 

26 MARCH/APRIL 1994 MONTANA OUTDOORS 



Males attempt to drive intruding males from their 
territory by rushing at them uttering throaty hisses and, if 
necessary, attacking them with wings and beak. Male 
spruce grouse also do a version of the flutter-jump in 
which they fly vertically upward, sometimes perching in a 
tree and other times dropping back to the ground. The 
drop to the ground is accompanied by two loud wing claps. 



The Desperate 
Danger of 
TalWng Turkey 



story by Dan VichoREK 
illustrations by Dave McGee 



I 




HE INTELLECTUAL CAPACI- 
TIES of domestic turkeys are well 
known. Many the investor in livestock 
futures has been chagrined to learn that 
domestic turkeys, given the chance, 
will look straight up into the sky during 
a cloudburst, seeking the origin of 
things until they drown, a matter of 
minutes it is said. Similarly, tame 
turkeys caught in a hailstorm of 
potentially fatal proportion will stand a 
few feet outside the portals of safety 
and watch with fascination as their 
companions one by one suffer skull 
fractures and go into their death 
frenzies, until not a one is left standing. 
Given this reputation of the species, 
it stands to reason that guys who take 
up arms and go out to attempt the duly 
permitted bagging of a wild turkey 
should expect no respect. Especially 
when they come home empty-handed. 



Only those of us who have tried this 
sport are aware of the incredible guile, 
the uncanny wiles, the near supernatu- 
ral cunning of the wild turkey. 

Consider, for example, the miracu- 
lous camouflage 

C o o 

o 




that is necessary 
if an ordinary 
human is to have 
even a forlorn 
prayer of 
bringing home 
the bird. Some 
of us are old 
enough to 
remember when 
unschooled 
turkey hunters 
blundered 
pathetically 
around the piney 
woods and 



Pm^6f'^ 



gumbo knobs in Levis and flannel 
shirts with gimme hats, carrying a rusty 
old pumpgun. No more! 

Back in those days, we didn't know 
the orthodox uniform for turkey 
hunters. Then somebody brought some 
hunting magazines for reading material 
in the elk camp outhouse one year. A 
little reading quickly showed us that as 
turkey hunters we were not only 
incompetent but completely out of 
style. The shame of it. When turkey 
season rolled around again, most of us 
had been to the war surplus store and 
outfitted ourselves handsomely. The 
surplus store had gear to make invisible 
the soldiers of nearly every civilized 
and semi-civilized country in the world. 
Some of us took the East German 
option, some went Swedish, or Czech, 
and some daringly mixed their blocs, 
with pants from Yugoslavia and coats 

MONTANA OUTDOORS march/april iw 27 



from Norway or Argentina, for ex- 
ample. Some of us even bought little 
makeup compacts and painted our faces 
black and green, but not all of us could 
handle that. Others among us hid their 
pasty faces with the 
dashingly macho net 
scarves often seen 
concealing the 
identity of Middle 
Eastern terrorists on 
the evening news. 

Note for compari- 
son that seekers after 
the wiliest big game 
species in Montana, 
even the noble wapiti, 
the elusive and prized 
bighorn, the mighty- 
antlered moose, the 
legendarily 
binoculared prong- 
horn; hunters for all 
of these are required 
by law to wear 400 
square inches of 
hunter orange, lest 
they be bagged by 
other hunters. 

The fish and game 
commissioners, wise 
men that they are, 
knew that no turkey 
hunter would ever bag 
another of the same, 
and therefore dis- 
pensed with the 
hunter orange for 
Nimrods of this 

elevated category. Turkey hunters are 
advised, however, not to wear red or 
blue, those being the fighting and 
breeding colors of the fierce and 
untamed wild turkey gobbler. 

The consequences of being mistaken 
for a turkey can vary in severity, 
depending upon who or what does the 
mistaking. Ancient turkey hunting lore, 
often written with soft-nosed bullets on 
the walls of hunting lodges going back 
to before the Civil War, is full of tragic 
and comic tales about such mix-ups. 
Unfortunately these often are quite 
ungrammatical, so I will tidy them up 
a little here. 



Basically, it seems that historic 
turkey hunting mistakes fall into two 
main categories of error: mistakes by 
varmints, and mistakes by other turkey 
hunters. In both cases, the victims tend 




Pmc^® "^^ 



to be hunters who have concealed 
themselves, especially if they also have 
attempted to deceive turkeys into 
believing that other turkeys are afoot, 
keenly ready either for fighting 
or.. .well, mating. 



r.< 



'ONSIDER WHAT HAPPENED to 
U Fremont Snood in the legendary 
Snaggletooth Forest of Kentucky on 
March 30, 1887 (as translated from the 
blurry scribbling on a piece of home- 
made parchment found under the 
buttplate of a classic antique turkey 
gun). According to this fragile manu- 
script. Snood, considered in his day a 



bit of a layabout and even a no-good, 
though actually an inventor and 
contemplator of deeper questions, had 
developed, after long experimentation, 
a turkey call of such fidelity and range 
that all who heard it 
were paralyzed with 
amazement. 

Nevertheless, 
cautious workman 
that he was. Snood 
knew that field 
testing would be 
needed before his 
invention could be 
sent into the world 
to rehabilitate his 
distorted reputation 
as a useless bum. 
Accordingly, he 
betook himself to 
that gloomy 
Snaggletooth Forest 
for real world 
testing. There he 
found an overhang- 
ing gorse bush that 
fit him perfectly and 
crawled under. He 
was armed with a 
classic turkey gun. 

After a brief 
session of tuning. 
Snood began calling 
turkeys in dead 
earnest, as they say. 
Despite his best 
efforts, the woods 
remained silent. 
Woodsman that he was. Snood should 
have seen trouble coming. The woods 
normally are a noisy place, full of 
rioting dickey birds, an unruly chorus 
of ear-splitting squalling, howling, 
jabbering, and other racket signifying a 
full range of biological activity. Silence 
in the woods means the most dangerous 
animal in the forest, the bully of the 
underbrush, the top dog of the tall 
timber, is about. Actually, Snood 
probably was not worried because he 
thought he was the holder of all these 
titles himself. 

Wrong. Unknown to Snood, all the 
woodland hoodlums had been run out a 



28 MARCH/APRIL TO4 MONTANA OUTDOORS 



few weeks previous by the new king of 

the forest, a mutant wild gobbler full 

five feet tall (according to available 

estimates) with feet the size of a man's 

hand, talons curving cruelly, and a beak 

five inches long with 

razor-sharp, ivory 

edges. This was the 

beast that heard 

Snood's experimental 

call from five miles 

away. Spreading 

wings that looked like 

a total eclipse of the 

sun, this enormous 

specimen, this turkey 

dinner fit for a 

platoon, sailed with 

pterodactyl menace 

from the top of the 

tallest tree in the 

forest toward that 

distant gorse bush. 

Snood heard 
nothing as the gobbler 
glided to earth a 
hundred yards away. 
Truth to tell. Snood 
was a sort of musi- 
cian, and the pure 
pear-shaped notes of 
his turkey call 
charmed him to the 
point that his natural 
alertness was compro- 
mised. With even 
ordinary luck, he 
would have been the 
Stradivari of turkey 
call makers. 

But alas. Snood 
and all his family 
going back to the 
flood and in this 

direction down to his great-great-great 
grandson's tragic recent invention of 
the outboard-powered two-man bog 
shoes, has been without luck even 
approaching the ordinary. To shorten 
the story, that Goliath of a gobbler was 
sore in need of female companionship. 
When he heard that heartbreakingly sad 
call of a lonely hen coming from that 
gorse bush, he lost his head and 
charged into the middle of it. 



There he instantly fastened his keen 
beak onto the first thing he saw, which 
was Snood's remarkably prominent 
right ear. From that point on, things 
didn't seem quite right to the gobbler. 




Later commentators, seeking to 
further sully the reputation of the 
Snood family, said that turkey lust 
could never get the best of any armed 
man with gumption, no matter what 
dimension the 
turkey. Easy for 
them to say. Dang 
thing took a V- 
shaped slice right 
out of Snood's ear, 
and ruined a 
perfectly good 
hunting shirt. 

There is nothing 
we can do for 
Fremont Snood 
today, but to take 
him for an example, 
perhaps. He could 
serve as the patron 
saint of guys who 
disguise themselves 
to be totally 
invisible in the 
bushes and then, in 
this meat-hungry 
world, make noises 
like a turkey dinner. 
Such adventurers 
might want to 
contemplate the fate 
of Fremont Snood, 
as they consider the 
range of interesting 
experiences that 
might befall them. ■ 



but he was all worked up, had an 
investment in the task, and in the midst 
of savage and joyful gobbling, punctu- 
ated by the awful yowling of his victim, 
that giant throwback to primeval bogs 
proceeded to work an outrage upon the 
person of Fremont Snood. Of course, 
the perpetrator soon knew that he had 
made an awful mistake, broke off his 
attack and flew at top speed toward 
Tennessee. 



While this story is meant to 
tickle the funnybone, it's not 
meant to make light of the need 
for safety while hunting turkeys. 
Montana 's safety record has been 
good, but serious accidents are 
not uncommon in other parts of 
the country. Please see the 
"Catchall" (page 31} for a list of 
turkey hunting safety tips. — Editor 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/april ito 29 



Catchall 



Summer Rains Brought Floaters to Smith River in 1993 

Like trout to a salmonfly hatch, floaters flocked to 
Montana's Smith River in 1993. "We had a record number of 
floaters last year," says Doug Habermann, FW&P's Smith 
River manager. For the first time since record-keeping began 
in 1983, the annual number of floaters passed the 3,000 mark, 
totaling 3,688. The figures and Habermann's comments are 
reflected in the recently released Smith River annual report. 

The reason for the record number of floaters lies in last 
year's steady rainfall. Until late June, rain kept the Smith 
River at near-normal levels. But the rains continued through 
the traditionally dry months of late summer, falling at a 
245%-of-nonTial clip from July through September. "The 
amount of water allowed more people to float," Habermann 
says. 

Last year was the first year floaters faced a daily limit on 
the Smith; nine launches a day, with nine launches a week set 
aside for outfitters during the peak season. The peak season 
runs from late May through mid-July. Applications for the 
1994 float season are now available at all FW&P offices. 

Of the floaters in 1993, 86% were private and 12% were 
outfitted. The remaining 2% were administrative. Administra- 
tive floats ranged from 18 river ranger patrols to three law 
enforcement floats, and three trips by archaeologists studying 
prehistoric rock art in the canyon. The 18 ranger patrols was a 
record, the most on-river time ever. 

Nonresident use of the Smith constituted 17% of all 
groups. Despite a popular perception, outfitted trips did not 
account for most of the nonresident floaters, Habermann says. 
Of the 941 nonresident floaters, 412, or 44%, came as part of 
private groups that included Montana residents. Just 220 
nonresident floaters (24%) used outfitters on the Smith in 
1993. "The majority of nonresidents who floated the Smith 
came as private floaters in a group with Montana residents," 
Habermann says. 

In addition to limiting floaters, 1993 marked the first year 
floaters were required to declare campsites before launching 
on the 61-mile trip. A survey found that 10% of floaters said 
they felt crowded at their campsites during the high-use 
season. Floaters were also asked to rank the 26 campsites. 
Overall, 86% of the campsites were rated good, with 1 1% 
fair, and 3% poor. 




A record number of floaters visited the Smith in 1993. 

Copies of the Smith River annual report are available by 
contacting the FW&P Region 4 office, P.O. Box 6610, 4600 
Giant Springs Road, Great Falls, MT 59406, or by calling 
(406)454-3441. 

FW&P regulations allow nine launches a day on the Smith, 
with one launch per day reserved for outfitted use. On 
Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the high-use season (May 
21 to July 2, 1994) outfitters will be allowed two launches daily. 

Although summer water levels for the upcoming season 
are impossible to forecast, permit applications are available at 
all FW&P offices. Applicants are asked to list first, second, 
and third choices for launch dates. Applications are processed 
on a first-come, first-served basis. If any dates fill up, 
applications for those dates go into a drawing. 

"All outfitted launch dates that are not reserved by one 
week in advance will also be available to private floaters," 
Habermann says. "This allows for some last-minute opportu- 
nities." — Bruce Auchly. Region Four (Great Falls) informa- 
tion officer 



Applications for Moose, Sheep, and Goat 
Drawings Due May 1 

Licenses to hunt moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain 
goats in Montana are some of the most coveted on the 
continent. Thousands of prospective hunters submit applica- 
tions each spring with prayers they will be lucky enough to 
draw one of the few hundred licenses available for that year. 
In 1993, for example, applications for 723 moose licenses 
statewide were received from 23,690 hopeful hunters, making 



this license the hardest to obtain of all Montana hunting 
licenses. 

So it's important that hunters hoping to set their sights on 
one of these trophy big game animals this fall be aware that 
the application date for these species has been moved up 
from June 1, as it was in the past, to May 1 this year. 

The 1993 Legislature authorized the change to give 
hunters more time to plan for what may prove to be a once-in- 
a-lifetime opportunity. In fact, because licenses for these 



30 



MARCH/APRll. iw MONTANA OUTDOORS 



species will now be drawn and mailed to recipients in June 
each year, successful applicants now should have approxi- 
mately two extra months to prepare for their hunts. And 
preparation should be of the utmost importance to successful 
applicants. Not only are these licenses sought by thousands of 
people, but hunters lucky enough to draw one are not eligible 
to apply for a similar license for seven years. 

With the rule-making authority given it by the legislature, 
the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission accepted public 
comment on the proposal before making the change in 
February. Says Glenn Erickson, management bureau chief for 
FW&P's Wildlife Division in Helena, "These hunts are so 
special that we agreed it would be appropriate to give those 
who have drawn licenses a little more time to prepare. It may 
entail a little extra work on the department's part, but it seems 
worth the effort." 

Applications for the moose, sheep, and goat drawings will 
be available at license agents statewide around April 1. The 
deadline for applying for antelope, special elk. and deer B 
licenses and permits remains June 1, and to enter these 
drawings hunters will need to submit a second application. 
Regulations governing the hunting of all these species will 
appear, as they have previously, in the big game hunting 
regulations published annually by the department. Those 
regulations should be available at department license agents 
and FW&P regional offices early in April. — William Phippen, 
headquarters information officer. Conservation Education 
Division, Helena 

Turkey Hunters Should Heed Safety Tips 

With more than 15,000 hunters expected to pursue wild 
turkeys in Montana this year, it is clear that turkeys are fast 
becoming big game in the Treasure State. Wild turkeys are 
popular game in other states, but, unfortunately, in many 
states the turkey hunting season also leads the way in the total 
number of reported hunting accidents. 

Montana has been lucky. We haven't had a single accident 
report related to turkey hunting. With Montana's 1994 spring 
gobbler season open from April 9 to May 8, we hope to keep 
that record intact. However, as more hunters (there has been 
an approximate increase of 5,000 hunters since 1991) become 
interested in pursuing Montana's wily Merriam's turkey, the^ 
trends in other states seem to indicate that chances of 
hunting mishaps will also increase. 

Statistics show, much to our surprise, that veteran hunters 
are more likely to be involved in turkey hunting accidents 
than novices, and turkey hunters are more likely to be 
accidentally shot by a buddy than by an unknown hunter. 

Before you venture out to hunt a turkey this season, 
consider these safety tips: 

1. Stalking a turkey reduces hunting success and increases 
the potential for a hunting accident. The time to move into 
your turkey hunting area is at least one hour before sunrise or 
at mid-day. Hunters dressed in camo gear moving through the 
woods during shooting hours are the No. 1 victims of acci- 
dental shootings. When moving to, from, or within your 
turkey hunting area, you should wear hunter's orange. 



2. Minimal movement, not total concealment, is the key to 
hunting success. Any movement can scare away a turkey or 
cause you to be mistaken for a turkey by another hunter. 

3. Although you may think you are the only person 
hunting in an area, remember that it's sometimes hard to 
differentiate between a real turkey gobble and a hunter using 

a call. Be sure of your target and never shoot at movements or 
sounds. 

4. Hunt defensively. Find a stand in your hunting area 
where you can sit or stand against a tree, rock, or stump. 
Make sure that whatever you are leaning against is at least as 
broad as your shoulders. This will protect your back as well 
as hide you from turkeys approaching from behind. 

5. Moving, waving, or making turkey sounds to alert 
another hunter is asking for trouble. If you must get the 
attention of another hunter, remain still and cough or yell. 

6. Hunters wearing red, white, and blue clothing may be 
mistaken for a turkey. These colors should be eliminated from 
a turkey hunter's wardrobe. 

7. Always handle your firearm safely. It only takes a few 
seconds to load or unload a firearm. Having the safety on 
does not replace the need for safe firearm handling. When 
crossing obstacles, meeting other hunters or nonhunters, or 
putting your firearm in a vehicle, always unload the firearm 
and leave the action open. In Montana, loaded firearms in 
vehicles have caused more deaths than in-the-field hunting- 
related accidents. 

8. A recent study has shown that the use of turkey decoys 
does not increase hunter success, but does increase the risk of 

a hunting accident. The best advice is 
i^^^A|((lnir«^ to leave your decoy at home, but if 
you decide to use it, use a hen decoy 
and cover it with a hunter-orange 
sack when carrying it to and from 
your hunting spot. 

Hunting turkeys is a challeng- 
ing and satisfying experi- 
ence. By being 
cautious you will 
enjoy turkey 
hunting for a 
lifetime. For 
more informa- 
tion on hunter 
safety in 
Montana, 
call or visit 
your nearest 
FW&P 
office. — 
Tim Pool, 
state coordina- 
tor. Hunter Education 
Program, Conservation 
Education Division, 
Helena 




MONTANA OUTDOORS march/april 1994 3 1 



Three Montanans Receive TU Awards 

Hydrologist Gary Decker and fisheries biologist Rick 
Swanson, both Bitterroot National Forest employees, and 
fisheries biologist Chris Clancy of the Montana Department 
of Fish, Wildlife & Parks have received the Trout Unlimited 
(TU) Professional Trout Conservation Award for their work 
on Bitterroot watershed conditions and bull trout populations. 
One of TU's highest honors, the award recognizes distin- 
guished contributions in the conservation of trout and salmon 
and the enhancement of coldwater habitat. 

The Bitter Root Chapter of TU nominated Decker, 
Swanson. and Clancy based on their collaborative work that 
related watershed conditions to bull trout populations on the 
Bitterroot National Forest. In their studies. Decker developed 
a "coarse filter" to assess the conditions of a watershed, while 
Clancy and Swanson evaluated the status of bull trout 
populations. When they compared their data, they found that 
the areas Decker had identified as degraded were depleted of 
native bull trout. The degraded drainages also tended to 
contain brook trout, Clancy said. 

The nondegraded streams, conversely, tended to have few 
brook trout, as well as higher numbers of bull trout. A 
combination of sedimentation and the presence of brook trout 




Montana TU officer Marshall Bloom (left) stands with Gary 
Decker (center) and Chris Clancy, who received TU's 
Professional Trout Consenation Award. 

appears to have led to the decline of bull trout populations, 
Clancy said of the ongoing study. Decker's coarse filter 
method has been validated by Forest Service staff and is now 
used by other Region 1 forests to assess watershed conditions. 



The Big Hole Loses a Friend 

The last time I saw Phil Smith ended up being the last 
time for a lot of folks. The occasion: the June 1993 
salmontly hatch on the Big Hole River. Phil passed away in 
November of 1993. 

For years, during the hatch, a parade of anglers marched 
through the door of Phil's fly shop in Melrose to get the 
latest scoop on which combination of hide, hair, and 
feathers was working, and where. Phil, the son of an area 
outfitter, had built a national reputation as an honest and 
hard-working guide, fisherman, and teacher. He would 
suggest a color of nymph or pattern of dry fly in a way that 
made you think you were the only one to get the real inside 
track. 

Where to fish, though, was a different matter. Phil used 
his position to do a little crowd control by telling one 
group, "The flies should be at Maiden Rock," and another, 
"Yesterday, it was pretty good near Brown's Bridge." In the 
thick of the activity, he seemed most concerned that 
everyone have a quality experience with the least amount of 
pressure on the river that was such a part of him. 

An early board member of the Big Hole River Founda- 
tion, Phil worked year-round with local biologists, anglers, 
and landowners to enhance the Big Hole and the opportuni- 
ties the river provides. 

Some people are remembered for one particular event. 
Others, like Phil, are remembered for their long-term, day- 
in, day-out commitment to a place like the Big Hole River. 
For many anglers, a visit with Phil was a big part of a trip to 
the Big Hole. The friendship Phil extended to all who 
passed through his door will be sorely missed, and a great 
many anglers will take his memory with them on their 




Phil Smith (right) with friends George Grant (sitting) and 
Todd Collins along the Big Hole River. 

floats down the river. Phil would like that. 

Memorials may be sent to: The Big Hole River Founda- 
tion, P.O. Box 3894; Butte, MT 59102.— Mike Gurnett. film 
production supervisor, Conserx'ation Education Division, 
Helena 



32 MARCH/APRJL I'm MONTANA OUTDOORS 



Montana State Parks Calendar 



MARCH 

1 — 1994 License Year Begins 

Don't forget to renew your fishing license and state 
park passport. 

APRIL 

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park Open on Week- 
ends 

The park is open for public tours from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 
p.m. 
Smith River Fees Reduced 

Floater fees are half price in April ($7.50 per floater). 
15 — Winners Announced for State Park Poster Contest 

MAY 

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park Open All Week 

The park is open for public tours 7 days a week until 
September 30. 
Motorboat Testing at Lake Elmo State Park 

Opportunity for motorboat owners to test engines for 
the upcoming summer. Testing will be done the first four 
weekends in May. 
1 — Regular Smith River Fees in Effect 

Floater fees are now full price ($15.00 per floater). 
7 — Buzzard Day at Makoshika State Park 

Grand opening of the Visitor Center and fun activities 
for the whole family. 
21 — Bannack State Park Visitor Center Opens 

JUNE 

Lecture Series Begins at Bannack State Park 

Saturday night lecture series features a variety of 
historical, recreational, and natural resource topics. 
Lectures begin at 7:(X) p.m. Call 834-341 3 for a list of topics. 
4 — Family Fun Day at Lake Elmo State Park 

Free entry for all. Lots of fun for the whole family. 
23— "Peace Day" at Chief Plenty Coups State Park 

A day for all people to come together for reconciliation 
and healing of spirit. 

23-26 — Lewis and Clark Encampment at Giant Springs 
State Park 

A variety of historical activities for all ages. Live 
interpretation of the portage around Great Falls. 
26 — Roe River Day at Giant Springs State Park 

A special day of fun activities designed for children. 

JULY 

Lecture Series Begins at Lewis and Clark Caverns 
State Park 

Saturday night lecture series entitled "Exploring the 
Natural." Lectures begin at 8:00 p.m. in the campground 
amphitheater. Call 287-3541 for a list of topics. 
"Night Skies" at Frenchtown Pond State Park 

Tour the universe with the Western Montana Astronomi- 
cal Association (call 542-5500 for exact dates and details). 



4 — Fort Owen Day at Fort Owen State Park 

Ceremony and celebration to commemorate Montana's 
first permanent white settlement in 1841. 
16 — Spring Meadow Lake State Park Triathlon 

Biking, running, and swimming (call 444-4720 for 
details). 
16-17 — Bannack Days at Bannack State Park 

History comes alive in this celebration of the Montana 
frontier amid shoot-outs, weavers, candle makers, black- 
smiths, and old-time musicians. Hearty meals served at the 
Meade Hotel and a church service offered on Sunday 
morning. 
23— Kids' Day at Spring Meadow Lake State Park 

A special day of fun activities for children. 
24 — Seniors' Day at Spring Meadow Lake State Park 

A special day of fun activities for senior citizens. 
30 — Beach Games at Lake Elmo State Park 

A variety of fun and crazy sports events held on the 
beach of Lake Elmo. Activities include the keg toss, canoe 
race, football toss, ring toss, and paddleboat races. 

AUGUST 

"Night Skies" Tour Continues at Frenchtown Pond 

State Park 

Call 542-5500 for exact dates and details. 
6 — Garden City Triathlon at Frenchtown Pond State 
Park 

Swim, bicycle, and run beginning and ending at the 
park. For further information call 542-5500. 
19-20 — Dinner Theater in the Park at Makoshika State 
Park 

"Pitchfork" fondue dinner and a play in the park. A real 
treat! 

SEPTEMBER 

26-30 — Native American Awareness Week at Chief 

Plenty Coups State Park 

Activities for all ages focusing on Native American 
culture, history, and dress. 

OCTOBER 

OfT-season Camping Fees Now in Effect 

Camping fees at state parks are reduced to $4.00 per 
night with a state park passport. 
Smith River Fees Reduced 

Floater fees are half-price ($7.50 per floater). 
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park Open Only on 
Weekends 

The park is open for public tours only on weekends, 
from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except for school groups with 
reservations during weekdays). 
29 — Halloween Haunted House at Bannack State Park 

Historic ghosts walk the halls of the Meade Hotel; ghost 
stories and hot chocolate for visitors. Why do you think 
they call it a ghost town? 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/April iw 33 



Bookshelf 



TROUT FLIES: PROVEN PAT- 
TERNS, by Gary LaFontaine, 
Greycliff Publishing Co., P.O. Box 
1273, Helena, MT 59624; 1993, 260 
pages, hard cover, $39.95. 

Trout Flies describes 62 fly patterns 
developed by noted Montana angler 
and author Gary LaFontaine (other 
works include The Challenge of the 
Trout. Caddisflies. and The Dry Flies, 
New Angles). It includes black-and- 
white and color photographs of each 
pattern and detailed, illustrated instruc- 
tions for tying each one. Beyond its 
obvious appeal to avid fly tiers, the 
book contains a wealth of information 
on when and how to fish the flies and 
on fly fishing in general. LaFontaine" s 
unique approach of including excerpts 
from his fishing log addressing how he 
has used and experimented with these 
innovative patterns over the years lends 
an intimacy to the work that readers are 
sure to enjoy. 

INDIAN CREEK CHRONICLES, by 
Pete Fromm, Lyons and Burford 
Publishers, 31 West 21 Street, New 
York, NY 10010; 1993, 192 pages, 
hard cover, $21.95. 

Pete Fromm was a restless 20-year- 
old student at the University of Mon- 
tana when he decided to spend seven 
months in the Selway-Bitterroot 
Wilderness working on a salmon 
hatching job for the Idaho Department 
of Fish and Game. Why? As he would 
say later, "I'd been reading way too 
many mountain man books... .It seemed 
like an opportunity to find out about all 
this romance business. ...I didn't have a 
clue what I was getting into." Facing a 
long winter and armed with little more 
than three pairs of wool pants, 100 
pounds of potatoes, some canned 
goods, and a rifle, he left the university 
and set off to live in a canvas tent from 
October to June, 1978. The closest 
human being or viable road was 40 
miles away. The story of Fromm's 
transformation from a starry-eyed 
greenhorn to a self-reliant woodsman is 



compelling and humorous. Fromm, 
who lives in Great Falls, is also author 
of The Tall Uncut, a collection of 
outdoor stories. 

MEN OF THE OPEN RANGE & 
OTHER POEMS, by Mike Logan, 
Buglin' Bull Press, 32 S. Howie, 
Helena, MT 59601; 1993, 80 pages, 
soft cover, $7.95 plus $1.50 postage 
and handling. 

Men of the Open Range. Mike 
Logan's sixth book of verse, is a 
celebration of the way of life on the 
ranches of Montana. The skillfully 
crafted poems — sometimes humorous 
and sometimes thoughtful — accurately 
reflect the West's open spirit and 
traditions. As Mike Korn says in the 
foreword, "Mike's uncanny ability to 
use and play with meter and rhyme, 
combined with a healthy dosage of old- 
time language — words and slang — 
creates brush strokes to paint the 
story." Logan, who lives in Helena, has 
been a host and featured speaker at the 
Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, 
Nevada, and a featured poet on the 
1991 CBS John Denver Christmas 
Special, "Montana Christmas Skies." 

RECORDS OF NORTH AMERI- 
CAN BIG GAME, lOTH EDITION, 
compiled by the Boone and Crockett 
Club, Old Milwaukee Depot, 250 
Station Drive, Missoula, MT 59801- 
2753; 1993, 624 pages, hard cover, 
$49.95 plus $3 for shipping in the 
U.S. and $4 for shipping to Canada 
and foreign destinations. 

Released in December of 1993, the 
latest Boone and Crockett record book 
lists trophies taken from the 1800s to 
the present in 35 big game categories. 
Each trophy listing in each category 
contains the final score, world ranking, 
name of owner and hunter, key skull or 
rack measurements, and place and year 
of kill. Chapters include the stories of 
hunters who took new world record 
specimens of Roosevelt's elk, nontypi- 
cal Coues' whitetail. Central Canada 



barren ground caribou, nontypical 
American elk, grizzly bear, Sitka 
blacktail deer, barren ground caribou, 
and muskox, as well as detailed 
information on caring for trophies in 
the field and at home. Other chapters 
discuss the calibers of rifles used to 
take trophy big game and the number 
of trophies that were taken by bow and 
arrow. Illustrations include seven full- 
color paintings by renowned wildlife 
artist Guy Coheleach, a sketch of two 
bull moose by Hayden Lambson, and 
black-and-white photographs of 55 top- 
ranked trophies in all big game catego- 
ries. 

MAJESTY: VISIONS FROM THE 
HEART OF ELK COUNTRY, 
published by Falcon Press, P.O. Box 
1718, Helena, MT 59624, in coopera- 
tion with the Rocky Mountain Elk 
Foundation; 1993, 124 pages, hard 
cover, $29.50. 

This full-color, coffee-table book 
contains 100 spectacular photos of elk 
and elk country taken by many of 
North America's foremost wildlife 
photographers, including Montanans 
Conrad Rowe. Mike Sample, Michael 
H. Francis, Donald M. Jones, Denver 
Bryan, Alan and Sandy Carey, and Pete 
and Alice Bengeyfield. Quotations 
from noted naturalists and sportsmen — 
e.g., Teddy Roosevelt, John Madson, 
Paul Schullery, and John Muir — fit 
nicely with the photos. The Rocky 
Mountain Elk Foundation, headquar- 
tered in Missoula, directs its efforts 
toward protecting and conserving 
important elk habitat and plans to use 
royalties from the book for habitat 
enhancement or acquisition. As the 
foundation's Lance Schelvan says in 
the introduction: "We believe that 
nothing could be more important than 
taking care of what's left of the land 
around us.... We feel that elk best 
symbolize the wonderful diversity of 
the western landscape, even if we only 
hear them on dark September nights. 
So we publish this book as a celebra- 
tion of elk, and where they live." 



34 



MARCH/APKN. iw MONTANA OUTDOORS 



<ROM THE Field 



Anatomy of a Fishing Movie 



by Mike Gurnett 

Film Production Supenisor 

Consenation Education Division 

The assignment seemed simple 
enough: Make a documentar>' that 
explores the lives of three men and 
their influence on three rivers (George 
Grant, the Big Hole; Bud Lilly, the 
Madison: and Dan Bailey, the 
Yellowstone). And while you're at it, 
make the film a celebration of 
Montana's wild trout story. With a 
hasty review of my memory bank, I 
figured if I could make a film about 
anything, this should be it. After all, 
I've been launching some kind of hook 
attached to some sort of line into trout 
waters someplace in Montana all my 
life. 

So the filming began. I soon 
discovered that real-time, two-dimen- 
sional documentation of fly fishing 
holds one's interest right in there with 
watching a raft inflate. I came to the 
realization that my recollection of a 
day on the river is actually a lifetime 
blended into a few commemorative 
journeys in which all the fish are over 
18 inches, most take dries, deer imbibe 
at each riffle, eagles soar, osprey 
plummet, and family and friends wear 
eternal grins. 

The camera sees reality. After three 
weeks and 3,000 feet of film, I had 
wide shots demonstrating double-haul 
casting with 8-weight rods, medium 
shots of roll-casting with 3-weights, 
close-ups of precision-made reels, 
macro-images of delicate dry flies, and 
footage of two rather small fish being 
landed. After editing, I figured this 
would get me about 30 seconds into the 
30-minute program. Not only did I 
question how to parlay these visuals 
into a celebration, I wondered if I 
would ever work again. 

Fortunately, the time came to begin 
interviewing George, Bud, and outdoor 
writer Charles Waterman on behalf of 
the late Dan Bailey. During hours of 
recording, each spoke not of size and 




The department's new documentary explores the lives of three men and their 
influence on three Montana Rivers. 



numbers of trout, but of where trout 
live. They recalled battles, successes, 
and disappointments. With individual 
eloquence, they described what the 
rivers had done for them. The true 
celebration began to be unveiled. 

The personality of the entire project 
changed. The debates of 3-weight 
versus 8-weight, nymph versus dry, and 
who really invented a particular pattern 
ended up on the editing room floor. 
Though technique and equipment are 
interesting and important, "Three 
Men — Three Rivers" is really the story 
of why any of all that matters. The film 
celebrates the values and commitments 
shared by people who step forward in 
the interest of wild trout in quality 
waters, and in doing so, provide the rest 
of us the opportunity to step into a trout 
stream and immerse ourselves in a 
wonderful experience. Too often, we 
take that experience for granted. 

Trout fishing in Montana holds a 
particular magic — a magic that hasn't 
always been here. The total experience 
of trout fishing in Montana is the result 



of active participation, not detached 
observation, by people who really care. 
If catching fish is your sole reason for 
going to a river, then these mens' lives 
are not the story, this is not the film, 
and Montana is not the place. But if 
you are drawn to rivers for simple 
reasons that seem complex to explain, I 
hope you enjoy "Three Men — Three 
Rivers." 

"Three Men — Three Rivers" 
received two gold medals at the 
recently completed New York 
International Film and Video 
Festival — one in the "Nature and 
Wildlife" category and one in the 
"Best Camerawork" category. The 
film is available free of charge for 
screening at meetings, classes, or 
conventions. Copies of the 30- 
minute film also are available for 
sale on 16-mm film and VHS 
tape. For more information, 
contact the FW&P Film Center, 
930 West Custer Ave.; Helena, 
MT 59620-0701 (406)444-2426. 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/april i9« 35 



Readers Respoi 



Buffalo Hunt Described 

I just read the interesting article in 
the July/August 1993 issue of Montana 
Outdoors about the Uim buffalo jump. 

There was speculation as to just how 
the Indians drove the buffalo over the 
cliff. 

If you, or anyone, wants to know 
just how it was done, look up the books 
by James Willard Schultz. 

I read them in the 1920s, I can't 
remember the names of the books. 

Schultz. as a young orphan boy. was 
sent to Montana Territory to live with 
an uncle, who ran a Hudson Bay 
trading post in Blackfeet country. The 
uncle was married to a Blackfeet 
woman, the boy grew up among the 
Blackfeet and married a young woman 
of that tribe. 

One of his books describes exactly 
how a trained caller started the buffalo, 
which of course were fairly close to the 
cliffs, to follow him by mimicking a 
buffalo calf with a robe over him and 
jumping around as though in trouble 
until a buffalo cow or two trots out to 
see about this "calf" and then more of 
the herd follows until they are between 
two long rows of rocks, laid out as 
wings, with young, agile Indians hiding 
under buffalo robes behind every rock 
pile. When the herd is well within the 
rock wings the caller keeps up his act 
until he is close to the cliff, then the 
caller ducks down into a cleft in the 
rocks. Then the people rise up from the 
rock piles and wave their rocks and yell 
at the herd until at least part of the herd 
is pushed over by the ones behind. 

This is the way I remember it after 
these many years. — Paul E. 
Stephenson, Anaconda 

Education is the Key 

July/August 1993 was a good issue. 
I found all the articles interesting and 
educational. I really appreciate the 
exposure you give to the nongame 
species, which on the whole are less 
well known but just as fascinating as 
animals we hunt and fish. 

I particularly like the articles with a 
strong ecological bent, such as Dave 



Center's piece on harlequin ducks and 
Erick Greene's story on lazuli buntings. 
The article on the Elkhoms was also 
good. They all were worth reading. I 
read the magazine cover to cover every 
issue. Keep up the great work — 
education is the key to wildlife preser- 
vation. — George Wuerlluier. Livingston 

Waldie Article Superb 

Lucky me, I subscribed to Montana 
Outdoors in time to catch Scott 
Waldie's GREAT article in the Septem- 
ber/October 1993 issue entitled "Bel- 
Air on the Big Hole." I sent copies of it 
to many members of our local fly 
fishing club who fly fish in and enjoy 
Montana. Superbly written article! 

Further, I enjoy your magazine very 
much — the articles and the great 
photography. 

Keep up the good work and if you 
haven't already — please solicit Waldie 
for another article. — Bill Barnett, 
Wenatchee. Washington 

P.S. I hope you already have. 

Origin of Kootenai Falls 
Sheep Herd in Question 

As a native of Montana, I find your 
magazine most interesting. When I saw 
the picture of the bighorn sheep and the 
article on Kootenai Falls and the 
Kootenai Falls Wildlife Management 
Area in the September/October 1993 
issue, I was most interested. I was bom 
at my aunt's house in Troy, Montana, 
and lived about 10 miles below 
Kootenai Falls. 

My interest quickly turned to 
agitation as I saw the statement that the 
herd originated from a 1954-1955 
transplant. There was a transplant in the 
1950s, but this was the second trans- 
plant. My father, Lee Martin Jenson, 
worked for the U.S. Forest Service a 
number of years in the 30' s and 40' s, 
maybe before that. 

I haven't gotten the time down 
exactly, but have people working on it. 
Somewhere between 1937 and 1941 my 
father trapped and helped to transplant 
sheep into this area — the first year after 
they were transplanted he wintered 




Lee Martin Jenson. ca 1940 

with them. A big ram winter-killed and 
when dad came out in the spring he 
backpacked the sheep's head and skin 
out (see photo). The stuffed head hangs 
today at the depot in Libby, Montana. 

When dad worked for the Forest 
Service he was a shoer, packer, and 
also the closest thing to a veterinarian 
that they had. I do know he spent 
weeks trapping the sheep by Ural 
Mountain (which is gone now because 
of the Libby Dam.) Whether he had 
help I don't know. They brought the 
sheep out in individual pens, and one 
big ram fought the pen so hard he killed 
himself. 

My dad's boss's name was Leslie 
Leigh. 

I can give you the names of a few 
people who can verify that sheep were 
at Kootenai Falls before the 50's. I'll 
also let you know when and if we find 
anything in the Forest Service 
records. — Janeth L. Hilmes. Othello, 
Washington 

• Thanks for sharing the information 
about your father' s role in bighorn 
sheep transplants in the Libby area. 
We've tried, unsuccessfully, to docu- 
ment sheep transplants at Kootenai 
Falls prior tol954-1955— which 
doesn 't mean they didn 't occur, only 
that we can 'tfmd records of such 
transplants. Additional information 
would be welcome. Readers? — Editor 



36 MARCH/APRIL 1^4 MONTANA OUTDOORS 



CONTRIBUIDES^ 




Fraley 

"It's law enforcement at a different 
pace, taking place across millions of 
acres of Montana's roadless areas," 
says John Fraley in his article begin- 
ning on page 2. More than 20 FW&P 
wardens and several U.S. Forest 
Service rangers have backcountry 
enforcement duties around the state — 
duties that are strenuous and occasion- 
ally dangerous, but also highly reward- 
ing. Despite the hardships, the wardens 
and rangers who patrol "Beyond 
Road's End" are unanimous in their 
love for the work. Fraley, an FW&P 
information officer who has made more 
than 150 trips into Montana wilderness 
areas over the past 20 years for work 
and pleasure, is stationed in the 
Kalispell 
(Region 1) 
headquarters. 

A "snipe 
hunt" to most 
people may 
mean a prank 
played on the 
unwary, but not 
to knowledge- 
able birders and 
wildlife 
enthusiasts. As 
Bruce Auchly tells us in this issue's 
"Watchable Wildlife" installment, "No 




Auchh 



nighttime excursions to swamps armed 
with clubs and burlap bags are neces- 
sary to see and hear the snipe in 
Montana." These long-billed, migratory 
shorebirds are present in every comer 
of the state, and their spring mating 
flights would be the envy of any 
precision flying team. To find out more 
about snipe and where to look for them, 
turn to Auchly's article on page 9. 
Auchly is the department's information 
officer in Great Falls (Region 4). 



William 
Phippen, an 

information 
officer at 
FW&P head- 
quarters in 
Helena, tackled 
two articles for 
this issue of 
MO: a wrap-up 
of the 1994 
state waterfowl 
stamp competi- 
tion and a 
"Lands Legacy' 




Phippen 



segment on the Milk 
River Wildlife Management Areas. 
This year's winning duck stamp 
entry — a pair of wigeons winging over 
the Montana prairie, painted by Roger 
Cruwys of Bozeman — is reproduced on 
page 14. The Milk River WMAs, 
located east of Malta along the Hi-Line, 
are home to many species of waterfowl 
and upland birds, as well as white- 
tailed deer, beaver, muskrat, songbirds, 
and other nongame species (see page 
17). Leased by FW&P from the federal 
Bureau of Reclamation since 1953, 
these small but valuable areas reflect 
the diversity of function built into the 
WMA system. 

According to Helena author and 
eminent turkey historian Dan 
Vichorek, a lot of things have changed 
in the turkey woods in recent years. 
"Some of us," he says, "are old enough 
to remember when unschooled turkey 
hunters blundered pathetically around 
the piney woods and gumbo knobs in 
Levis and flannel shirts with gimme 




Vichorek 

hats, carrying a rusty old pumpgun. No 
more!" To find out how turkey hunting 
fashions have changed, and to hear the 
sad but instructive story of one Fremont 
Snood, turn to Vichorek's fanciful tale 
on page 27. When he isn't modeling 
hunting apparel for outdoor equipment 
companies or actually stalking the wily 
Merriam's turkey, Vichorek is a 
technical editor for the Department of 
Natural Resources and Conservation's 
Facility Siting Bureau in Helena. 

The clever cartoons illustrating this 
story are from the pen of Dave McGee, 
a Great Falls-based artist whose work 
frequently appears in MO. 

MO thanks the following photogra- 
phers and artists for their contributions 
to this issue: Robert E. Barber, 
Arvada, CO; Dave Bennett, Barbara 
Thomas, and Jan L. Wassink, 
Kalispell; Harry Engels and Mike 
Logan, Helena; Michael and Patsy 
Fribley, Big Timber; Donald M. 
Jones, Troy; Dave McGee, Neal and 
Mary Jane Mishler, and Rodney 
Schlecht, Great Falls; Bill McRae, 
Fairfield; Jim Oltersdorf, Hamilton; 
Conrad Rowe, Seeley Lake; and Tom 
J. Ulrich, West Glacier. Thanks also to 
the following contributors who work 
for the department: Mike Aderhold, 
Great Falls; John Fraley, Kalispell; 
and Mike Gurnett, Helena. 



MONTANA OUTDOORS march/april \<m 37 



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