Game Range Ramblin's
Game Range Articles
by Mike Thompson,
FW&P wildlife biologist,
writing for the Pathfinder
August 30, 2001
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana
by Mike Thompson
This coming Saturday, September 1, Chris Lorentz begins his first hunting season in the Blackfoot-Clearwater area. And, he's already fielding questions about what you can and can't do on the Game Range.
You know Chris. He's our new Blackfoot River Recreation Manager, filling in behind Woody Baxter, who promoted to Glasgow. (Promoted? Well, I already did that story.)
I've been impressed with Chris' volunteer spirit as an energetic member of our Adopt-A-Highway litter crew for Highway 83 (MM2-MM4). And, even though his position with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Seeley Lake has nothing in particular to do with the Game Range, I'm pleased to see that he's helping people find their way around.
His most common question of late that prompted him to email me has to do with the Boyd Loop Road. That's the road that takes off from Highway 83 at a point opposite Salmon Lake Campground and loops around the highest country on the Game Range. You can circle back to Highway 83 without retracing very much of your route, or you can exit the loop and drive across the Game Range to its headquarters at Cottonwood Creek.
That is, you'll be able to do so on September 1. It's been closed to motorized vehicles all summer, partly to provide security off adjacent ranches to a few flatland grizzly bears. But, with the opening of archery hunting season on Saturday, the gates to the Boyd Loop Road will swing open as well.
If you haven't already noticed, the junction of this road with Highway 83 has been reconstructed over the past year. The old Highway approach was a contrary bugger, angling sharply uphill across from the Salmon Lake Day-Use Area. It was a bad accident waiting to happen, especially for logging trucks trying to enter Highway 83 with a load of logs from Plum Creek land on top.
The new approach is in an entirely different location, a few hundred yards north of the old one. It peels off perpendicular to the Highway, with a good sight distance in both directions. Shortly after the turn-off, the road bears sharply to the south and begins climbing. A new, silver-colored gate was installed at the lower end of the grade. If none of this sounds familiar as you're looking for the west end of the Boyd Mountain loop road, you probably ought to turn around and try a different road. (There are a couple to choose from in this immediate area.)
And, what might you be doing on this or any of the other open roads on the Game Range?
Hunting comes to mind. It often surprises people to learn that the Game Range is open for archery hunting from September 1 through October 12. (Check your regulations under Hunting District 282.) It's only from October 13 through November 10 that a special license issued in the statewide drawing is required to hunt deer and/or elk on the Game Range. Hunting District 282 closes to all elk and deer hunting after November 10, and the Game Range closes to all entry at the same time.
So, are there elk on the Game Range in archery season?
Well, the answer to this question might explain why hunting regulations are so liberal during archery season. Yes, elk are almost always present on the Game Range in September, but almost always in low numbersmaybe 50 or so. Most will not migrate from the National Forest and Bob Marshall Wilderness until November.
However, the Game Range can be a great place to hunt white-tailed deer in archery season, and there are usually some mule deer bucks around as well. Where? Oh, that's why they call it "hunting."
Saturday is also a big day for area bird hunters, with the opening of mountain grouse season. As with archery hunting, the Game Range is a sometimes-overlooked place that is open to grouse hunting through November 10. You'll find blue grouse and ruffed grouse in just enough abundance to keep your interest up.
We do have maps of the open and closed roads on the Game Range, with regulations printed for your reference. If you'd like a copy, give me a call at 542-5500.
In the meantime, please welcome Chris Lorentz to our area, if you haven't already. It looks to me like we struck gold again in the position of the Blackfoot River Recreation Manager.
And, this week's article will teach him to always read the Pathfinder.