Thursday, December 8, 2011

2012 Is Going To Be A Very Interesting Year In Montana!

Montanans have grown pretty darn sick and tired of the way things are these days. The economy sucks...providing for a family is now nearly impossible...the federal government now runs this state...too many elected officials have sold out the Montana way of life...wolves and other predators are now quickly destroying the past 75 to 100 years of sound wildlife conservation...state agencies no longer serve the citizens of the state...and good paying jobs are nonexistent. Heck, it's even hard to find a poor paying job these days!

But, we keep on hearing the same old election promises...the same as during prior election years. You know, all about bringing in more industry and better paying jobs. (We've gone the other way...closing down employers and sending the jobs out of state.) Then there are the same ol' promises of better education...and all we've gotten is more involvement by the federal government...and bigger spending by school districts. Let's face it, despite all the promises of those in office now...and during the election years before...they have done little to really provide a better life for Montana residents. If anything, those who work, live and play in Montana have continually lost ground for the past 10 to 15 years.

Well, there's a new contender for the office of Governor, and he's bringing to the table a new platform, the likes of which the residents of this state have not seen before, or at least not in most of their lifetimes. That candidate is Robert Fanning, of Pray, MT. Here are some of his key campaign issues...

*Stop the federal land grab in this state...

*Return federally occupied lands to Montana to tap natural resources...

*Stop the feds from turning Montana into a police state...

*Take total control of the wolf and other predator problems...

*Enforce the MT and U.S. Constitutions...

*Enforce the 10th Amendment to secure sovereign state rights...

*Stop Obamacare in Montana...

*Return education to local/state control...

*Slam the door on Agenda 21...

And these are just some of the campaign issues Bob Fanning feels are, right now, of most importance to those who call Montana home. The two accompanying photos above share other issues, other problems that he feels needs to be resolved in order for this state to rebound, and to get back on its feet. Soon, many Montana residents will find these hanging on their door knobs.

Toby Bridges

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Favored Places Never Forgotten...

While searching through my photo files for a particular image to use as an illustration for an article on my LOBO WATCH website, I came across the photo above - and it brought a smile to my face.

I shot the photo in early November 2009. Christy and I had camped for several days along Monture Creek, just north of the small town of Ovando, MT. It was the second weekend of the general rifle deer and elk season, and our goal was to put a big doe or two in the freezer. After a couple of days in camp, we had at least a dozen, or more, different Canada jays adopt us...especially right after we had finished a meal. And they definitely weren't bashful.

One morning, as I sat with my feet close to the fire, enjoying a hot cup of coffee while sitting in the 30-degree mountain of the jays litterally landed on the top of my cap, and stayed there for several minutes. Too bad Christy didn't get that photo. She had to head back to Missoula for the day and evening, to return the next morning.

She had taken our three dogs back with her, which meant there wasn't any dog food out for these birds to rob, so any time I fixed something to eat...I immediately had company. I came in from my morning hunt at around 10 a.m., and enjoyed a combo breakfast-lunch (I don't use the word brunch) of sausage and scrambled eggs. I had plenty left over, and set the skillet away from the fire to cool. Ten minutes later, the birds realized it was for them. One or two at a time, they would fly down and grab a beak full of the eggs. It was an entertaining show. I had a front row seat, less than five feet away. In fact, when I snapped this photo, I was only about three feet from this pair of jays.

I was still snapping photos when Christy came pulling into camp. With the dogs back running around, the birds stayed close, but did not land in camp the rest of that day. As we had hoped, Christy filled her tag with a really big doe, taking the deer only about 100 yards from camp. I heard her shoot, and returned to get it field dressed and spread to drain. As the deer cooled in a light snow, we broke camp, then loaded everything up and headed for home.

As we pulled out of the camp site, I saw several birds drop down to the ground to pick up a few pieces of dog food where I had fed the dogs earlier. It had been a nice four-day break from the hustle and bustle of Missoula, a very busy city of about 70,000 people. While still small by most standards, it is the second largest city in the state. Fortunately, when it's time to get out of town for a few days, we can be into the mountains in just 15 or 20 minutes. The Monture Creek area where I took the above photo in the Fall of 2009 is barely an hour's drive from home. For several years, it was one of our most frequented camping areas, and this photo brought back some great memories.



Through 2008 and 2009, we most likely spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 weekends camping along Monture Creek. I work at home - and Christy works three days a week (Tuesday through Thursday) with Missoula County Animal Control. That allows us to camp Thursday evening through Monday morning when we want to camp that long, especially during the big game hunting seasons.

Our dogs love the area, and the long walks I take them on back along Forest Service roads, old logging roads, or a snowmobile trail that cuts through the area. On most evening walks in '08 and '09, it was common to see 20 to 30 deer, a moose now and then, and once they moved down from the higher elevation a handful of elk on occasion. Not any more.

Along with the good memories surrounding the above photo of those two Canada jays is also the realization of why we have not camped there at all in more than a year. There is no game to see any longer. The wolves began moving into that area in 2008, and by fall 2009 they were well established, with 5 or 6 recognized packs. Likewise, the impact they were making on other wildlife populations was immeditely realized.

Several weeks after hunting with Christy there in early November 2009, I headed back over to see if I could take a buck during the rut. I camped alone for several days, and even with a light 4 to 5 inch snow on the ground, and still hunting along the same trails where I would see 20 to 30 deer on any previous afternoon hunt...I failed to cut a single fresh deer track. In fact, the only tracks I saw during two full days of still hunting were a dozen or so wolf tracks, and one set of mountain lion tracks. Then, following a fresh 4 to 5 inch snowfall one day near the end of the 2010 deer season, I left home before daylight, drove over to the area and spent the entire day walking those trails and slowly driving along back country gravel roads...looking for deer tracks. And by day's end, covering a full 6 or 7 miles of trails and closed Forest Service roads on foot, plus driving at least 25 miles of snow covered roads (without any other vehicle traffic), I saw a grand total of 7 sets of deer tracks...five of which were being followed by wolf tracks, and one by the tracks of a mountain lion.

Just a few weekends before writing this, I took my two trail companions, my dogs Bob and Tully, for a long 15+ mile walk up a mountain trail and into the Bob Marshall Wilderness area, then back out. I was scouting for a possible early season rifle hunt for elk, deer, bear, mountain lion, and wolf. In all of that hiking and scouting, I saw one set of deer tracks. And that was it.

To read a report on the loss of wildlife in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, go to the following link...

It is good that I do have some great memories of this area as well..."The Bob" is dead...and I may never go there again. - Toby Bridges

Monday, August 29, 2011

Taken Any Illegal Photos Lately?

The Above Photos Are Just A Few Of Thousands I Have Shot Here In Montana Over The Past 3 Or 4 Years - ON FEDERALLY OWNED PUBLIC LANDS. Are you aware that if I use these photos to illustrate the outdoor articles I write, I am technically in violation of the law...since I did not have the required Forest Service "Photography Permit" - which runs $150 per day! Just having these photos "published" here is likely a violation of that USFS regulation. And if any of you shoot a photo on federal lands, which is good enough to be publish, and too could be in violation of the law.

Following is an e-mailed letter sent to the USFS "Filming and Photography" offices this morning.

"Dear U.S. Forest Service;

I have heard of stupid federal regulations, but having to have a "filming" or "photography" permit on federal lands really takes the cake.

My guess is that this requirement has just made law breakers out of some 3,000 or 4,000 outdoor writers, photographers and editors - who have spent many days of hunting, fishing, camping and hiking in National Forests, or Heaven designated "Wilderness Areas". Since I was a young boy, 12 or 13, I have spent a great deal of my time reading the outdoor magazines, i.e. OUTDOOR LIFE, FIELD & STREAM, SPORTS AFIELD, etc. - and now I have to wonder if I have wrongly admired "law breakers" by envying the photos of them with a big bull elk they took up in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area...or with a huge brown trout caught along the "Miracle Mile" in Wyoming...or a dandy pronghorn taken on federally owned public lands anywhere here in the West. I have taken many such photos over the years - many of which have been published in major outdoor magazines - such as AMERICAN HUNTER, Petersen's HUNTING, and FUR-FISH-GAME.

Let me ask, what constitutes "commercial"?

Let's say, one of the millions of federal land users takes a photograph that turns out to be "outstanding"... enters it into a photo competition, gains recognition for the photo, and eventually a publisher buys the rights to that photo to illustrate an article...or for the cover of a magazine or book...or just does a limited edition print for home/office the photographer suddenly in violation of federal requirements?

Technically, if a photograph is published, in any way or is being used "commercially" - whether the photographer was paid for it or not.

Well, that would make a few million others in this country law breakers as well. Facebook is a commercial venture, and rest assured there are many, many illegal images published on the millions of pages making up that social network - taken on federal lands...without a photography permit.

Attached are several photos which would likely be considered commercial as well - since they have been widely used. I have them published right now on my LOBO WATCH website, and on one or more of the several blogs I also host. Sure, they are either U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service... National Park Service...or U.S. Forest Service photos. Were "Photography" permits issued for shooting these...or do these federal agencies feel they are above the law...and don't need no stinking permit???

I'm also attaching a photo I took on National Forest (Wilderness) land...without a permit...which has also been published. Did I break the law?

I would certainly love to hear back from you in regards to this extremely vague and widely unkown issue. There is a large and quickly growing contingent of photographers and videographers who are ready to take this on."

Toby Bridges

I shared this letter with a number of old friends in the outdoor media business, and heard back from one which was leaving this week to film a show for his Sportsman Channel program...and he assured me he would be hunting on state lands - claiming that the $1,000 a day permit to shoot the show on federal lands was just too cost prohibitive. He also stated that the extremely high USFS permit costs for large scale movie production is definitely the primary reason why so much of today's movie filming is done in Canada...and not in the U.S. More jobs pushed out of this country...due to stupid federal regulations!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Contemplating The Day...And The Art Of Realizing The Truth...

An Hour Alone In The Morning, With A Fresh Pot Of Campfire Coffee And A Warming Wood Fire Is A Great Way To Start The Day...And To Sort Out The Truth From All The Falsehoods That Fill Our Lives And To Contemplate The Lies Which Are Now Destroying The Outdoorsman's Way Of Life

I seriously doubt if the great outdoor journalists of the past could even begin to fathom the attack that has been launched against the sporting life. Magazine and book authors such as Zane Grey, Ernest Hemingway, Jack O'Connor, Corey Ford and Ed Zern would very likely find it extremely hard to swallow how the shooting and hunting industry, without much of a fight at all, has allowed the anti-hunting movement to move in and take over wildlife management in this country...and to destroy hunting opportunities.

Organizations like the Defenders of Wildlife...the Sierra Club...the Center for Biological Diversity...the Alliance for the Wild Rockies...and more than a dozen others have done it pretty much without investing a single dollar in wildlife conservation programs or projects. Instead, they've invested their financial efforts in keeping wildlife issues tied up in federal court - not for the sake of saving wildlife, but to put an end to hunting, and to cash in on the hundreds of millions dished out annually by our extremely abused federal justice system's "Equal Access to Justice Act", which reimburses these organizations for extremely padded legal expenses.

When challenged to become more involved in the fight against all of this, shooting and hunting industry corporation c.e.o.'s and upper management presidents and vice presidents, and division managers, all too often respond that they are strong financial supporters of the National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Mule Deer Foundation, or some other or another national pro-hunting conservation organization. And they are quick to point out that "their money" is also going to fight the anti-hunting movement.

Personally, I find that a bit of a cop-out.

Why aren't iconic retailers like Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's...or major arms producers like Ruger and Browning...or ammunition suppliers such as Federal and Winchester...or camouflage clothiers Mossy Oak or Realtree...or optic makers Leupold and Bushnell...or game call producers like Primos or Knight & Hale...compound bow manufacturers like Mathews and PSE...or any company that derives its sales, or a large part of its sales, from shooting and hunting products doing more, much more, to openly fight issues that are now destroying hunting?

Why are they not collectively throwing up a barrier that the anti-hunting forces cannot scale, cannot breach? Just who is it they are afraid they will piss off if they take a company stand that says..."Bass Pro Shops (or whoever) Stands Behind Wolf Control 100-Percent!" Or, "Put An End To The Wildlands Project Before It Puts An End To The Outdoor Way Of Life!" Or maybe, "Here Are Those Who Want To Take Hunting Away From You...The Sierra Club, Humane Society Of The United States, The Center For Biological Diversity, Defenders Of Wildlife, Earth Guardians...."

Perhaps the lackluster efforts of the shooting and hunting industry to go nose-to-nose with the anti-hunting forces in this country stems from the fact that those who head major outdoor product corporations, or who are in upper management, are too far removed from areas that are already severely impacted. And that these same people simply have not seen the damage, and have not spent enough time alone to truly contemplate who our enemies are...and how to wage war against them. In short, they have not sat alone in front of an early morning campfire, staring into the bright red bed of coals as the fire keeps the coffee warm, while they sip on hot and strong campfire brew.

LOBO WATCH CHALLENGE...The Campfire Coffee Summit

Dear Shooting & Hunting Industry;

Over the years, I have gotten to know personally many of you who do head up "our" industry. I've become dismayed at how most of the companies in this industry will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote new products, new ideas - in a very visual way, but tend to make great effort to avoid being aligned with anything that may be considered controversial. What has disappointed me, and the vast majority of the sportsmen I am now associated with, is how most every company in this industry has failed to openly take on the forces that want to put an end to our way of life. Or, if your company has provided financial support to national and state organizations to fight anti-hunting efforts, how it has been kept a secret, as if you are ashamed to be associated with taking care of the wolf problem, stopping the big land grab known as Agenda 21, or challenging the claims constantly being made by anti-hunting groups.

What you need, is to see the damage first hand. To ride or hike into some the most beautiful elk country that can be found anywhere in the Northern Rockies...and to see how void it is of life. Maybe to fish a high mountain lake where one could once see 3...4...5 moose on just about any evening...and see nothing...not even a moose track. To ease through country where it was once common to see a hundred or more deer a day...and catch a glimpse of maybe 5 or 6 whitetails flashing through the timber, if you are lucky. To spend time with ranchers who have already thrown in the towel...or are about to...thanks to livestock losses to wolves...and grazing permit losses to the efforts of Wildlands Network radicals. To meet outfitters and lodge owners who are seeing their livelihood and their life's work going down the drain. To see firsthand how many sporting goods stores have been so negatively impacted by the loss of hunting opportunities here in the Northern Rockies...and how many other businesses have been similarly impacted.

You, as an industry leader, need to come to western Montana - and spend a few days in wolf country.

What I would like to see is 25 to 30 shooting & hunting industry leaders to fly into Missoula, MT for a three-night stay. Arrive mid day, have a late afternoon reception so those who do not know one another can meet. Have dinner together...then spend the evening with 300 or so sportsmen, ranchers, outfitters, guides, loggers, veterinarians, local politicians, business owners, conservation group members, rural residents, and others who have been negatively impacted by the anti-hunting efforts.

A microphone will allow these people to share their feelings, their experiences, their concerns, and their losses with you...the shooting and hunting industry they rely on to provide the products they industry they would like to see more active in fighting the problems we now face. While wolves will surely dominate the comments made, there are other issues, such as the Wildlands Network/Agenda 21 project, public land closures, high grizzly densities, and others that are sure to be addressed -and which in one way or another affects the shooting and hunting industry.

The next morning, two of you will be paired, and teamed up with a Montana or Idaho hunter, outfitter, guide, rancher, cowboy or land owner to spend the day in various different areas in the Bitterroot Mountains, the Sapphire Mountains, the Garnet Mountains, the Cabinet Mountains, in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Scapegoat Wilderness, or maybe even the Rattlesnake Wilderness that borders the city limits of Missoula - where each of you will spend the night tent camping alone.

Your camp will already be there, in wolf and bear country, with everything you need - a camp gun (or bring your own), tent, cot, sleeping bag, firewood, grub for dinner and breakfast the next morning...and most importantly, a granite coffee pot and coffee, so you can sit and stare into that fire and contemplate everything you heard the evening before from those impacted by wolves, grizzly bears, unreasonable state and federal restrictions, and the loss of hunting opportunities.

The following evening would be a parting dinner, to share what you would be taking home with you from the experience to see what's happening here now, and which will spread across the rest of the country if we cannot contain the damage here. Are you ready for a douse of the see and hear what you have been insulated witness the damage our enemies have already inflicted on the past 75 to 100 years of wildlife and habitat conservation?

I wish I had been able to pull such an endeavor together a year or so ago. The fall hunting seasons are now upon us, and I know that shooting and hunting industry people will soon scatter like a covey of quail in pursuit of their favorite game. So, I will start planning all of this for mid June 2012, a beautiful time in the Northern Rockies, with cool nights that make for great sleeping in a tent - and the warmth of a campfire and a hot cup of coffee is ever so welcomed as day breaks in the morning.

Toby Bridges

Monday, July 25, 2011


It is kind of funny how the staunch environmental groups continually point a finger at sportsmen, ranchers and concerned rural residents who want Congress to do something to allow each and every state to have the right to control wolf numbers, and cry their lungs out... "Wolf Management Should Be Based On Science...Not Congressional Legislation!!!"

Then, without any reservation whatsoever, these same groups, these same radical pro-wolf organizations turn around and get their way through the courts.

What's worse...controlling wolf numbers and wolf destruction of wildlife and livestock legislatively...or relying on one biased judge in Missoula, MT to rule in favor of those who support expanded wolf numbers and greater destruction of the past 75 years of wildlife conservation?

Let's take a look at some of the so-called "science" the pro-wolf folks believe in so feverishly...

In a nutshell: The indigenous Gray or Timber Wolf (Canis lupus irremotus) was listed as endangered in 1973. Then, in 1978, the entire species of Grey Wolf (including Canis lupus irremotus) were all lumped into a single classification as Canis lupus and listed as endangered in 1978. This meant that even though certain subspecies of gray wolves never existed in the lower 48...they were listed as endangered there.

In 1982, the ESA of 1973 was amended to allow the introduction of experimental populations under the protection of the Endangered Species Act and because all subspecies of gray wolf were listed as endangered, it meant that any subspecies could be translocated and protected under the ESA, even if that subspecies never existed in the relocation area.

In 1994/95,the Canadian MacKenzie Valley Gray Wolf (Canis lupus occidentallis),the largest and most aggressive subspecies of the Grey Wolf, was brought in and released in Yellowstone and Idaho. What was left of the indigenous and truly endangered Canis lupus irremotus has most likely been replaced by the transplanted Canis lupus occidentallis.

This larger, more aggressive, subspecies has multiplied exponentially under protection of the ESA and is currently decimating ungulate populations as well as domestic livestock herds in the Northwest.

Now, that's really some SOUND SCIENCE...isn't it? I guess that would mean that all caribou are ALSO the same...that all pronghorn are the same...that all whitetail deer are the same. So, if suddenly all the Quebec-Labrador caribou of eastern Canada died off, the problem could be fixed by simply transplanting a few thousand Barren Ground caribou from Alaska...Or, the endangered Sonoran pronghorn could be rescued by simply trucking a few thousand Wyoming pronghorn down to Mexico...and dwindling Florida Keys whitetail populations could be easily supplemented by the release of a few thousand of their bigger relatives from Iowa and Illinois. Right? If a wolf is a wolf...then why wouldn't a caribou be a caribou...or a pronghorn be a pronghorn...or a white-tailed deer be a white-tailed deer?

Science is Science...Right?

Who are the wildlife "scientists" behind such idiotic thinking?

It's easy to find the answers to that one. First, just find yourself a copy of the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan. One of the off-base "wolf experts" that helped author that assemblage of theories and lies was none other than Dr. Bob Ream, who heads wildlife studies at the University of Montana. Next, run yourself down a copy of the 1994 Environmental Impact Statement filed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...and read some of the phony projections and predictions made by the experts who spun that yarn...including none other than Mr. Ed Bangs, who has headed the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project since it was kicked off. Plus we have a number of "wildlife biologists" and "wildlife managers" working within Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game who are proving to be just as dim witted when it comes to "scientifically" recognizing what wolves truly are...the damage they deal...the diseases they carry and spread...and which these "professionals" try to count using their fingers and toes. Then, to make matters worse, when it comes to managing or controlling wolf numbers, one extremely science deficient U.S. District judge in Missoula, MT tends to make all the calls...all the decisions of what's allowed...what's not.

And his rulings are based on nothing more than legal technicalities, all of which have resulted in the tremendous loss of big game resources, hunting opportunities, and a very damaged livestock industry.


Toby Bridges

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grant County, Oregon: The Solution To Tyranny

Has The U.S. Forest Service Locked You Out Of Favored Sections Of Public Land...Has That Agency Enacted Overly Stringent Rules & Regulations That Make It Impossible To Enjoy Publicly Owned Forests...Have USFS "Law Enforcement" Taken On A Gestapo Attitude & Disposition? The Following Is About One County In Oregon That's Said "Enough Is Enough!"

By Former Sheriff Richard Mack

On June 14, 2011, “We The People” of Grant County, Oregon, gathered together in the Union High School Gymnasium to support their Sheriff. The reason they did so, was to listen to me give my presentation on the power of sheriffs and the duty they have to uphold and defend the Constitution. But more important than coming to hear me, these good people came to express their appreciation for their sheriff. You see, their Sheriff, Glenn Palmer, actually believes it's his job to keep his Oath of Office! He actually believes that protecting the people from the enforcement of stupid laws and out of control government officials is his responsibility. So much so that he has put himself on the line, subjected himself to the scrutiny and ridicule of the mainstream establishment, as he courageously stands against the U S Forest Service! Yes, Grant County, OR, a small county of not even 7,000 people and 5,000 square miles, has set the example for the entire country as to how we restore freedom in America! A Sheriff doing his job, keeping his oath, and with the support of the people, standing together for liberty.

This did not happen overnight. The people have long endured abusive regulations by the Forest Service. The sheriff has been been working to have the USFS curtail their whimsical enforcement for years. Lately, it has fallen on deaf ears. So he was forced to take stronger action. Finally, he wrote the Forest Service a letter. Here is the letter in its entirety:

Teresa Raaf, Supervisor
Malheur National Forest
Patterson Bridge Road
John Day, Oregon 97845

Ms. Raaf, March 31, 2011

Regarding the pending cooperative policing agreement between the US Forest Service and the Grant County Sheriff, I am advising you in writing that I will not be signing the agreement. I do not believe that it is in the best interest of the people I serve or the Grant County Sheriff’s Office to continue with the agreement.

There are several issues that I will bring to your attention that at this point I will not go into detail about.

The issues include, but are not limited to, how US Forest Service LEO’s treated citizens of this county in October and November of 2010, Travel Management Plan, illegal road closures, grazing, logging, wood permits, prescribed burns, unemployment and other socio-economic issues this community faces today. There is a general mistrust of the federal government by the people of this County, State and Nation.

You are aware that I had sent at least two requests to the US Forest Service asking for information that pertains to where the US Forest Service gets its Constitutional authority to have law enforcement officers within Grant County.

One response that I have received in writing is that their authority is given through the Cooperative Policing Agreement that this agency has signed in the past. Upon asking for clarification and a second request, the response was that I needed to check with my District Attorney. Neither response in my opinion is adequate.

Under Article 1 Section 8 of the United States Constitution, the federal government is limited in its powers and authority. Your jurisdiction as I see it is limited in nature to the Federal Building in John Day.

Within the confines of Grant County, Oregon, the duties and responsibility of law enforcement will rest with the County Sheriff and his designees.


Glenn E. Palmer
Sheriff for Grant County

So, here we have a small-town sheriff standing against the Federal Government on behalf of his citizens. You know, the people the sheriff actually promised in solemn oath to protect and defend? Well, this Sheriff meant it. He takes his oath seriously and intends to keep his word. He has been ridiculed and sharply assailed for his stance. The local newspaper has been part of this criticism and some other local officials who would never have the courage to do such a thing, certainly have the courage to complain about Palmer. One such coward actually criticized the sheriff, not because he was wrong, but because his stance could cost the county federal funds! In other words, don't stand for what's right, do not try to keep your oath, become a political prostitute and grab the federal money! Is this not the political correctness of the day? Don't do whatever it takes to keep your oath of office, do whatever it takes to bring in the money! Thank goodness there are those with the honor and integrity to stay out of the corrupt mainstream.

There is one other fantastic part of this entire situation. The people have taken it upon themselves to stand with their sheriff. The newspaper, The Blue Mountain Eagle, has on its June 1, 2011 issue, a full-page ad with approximately 600 names on it from citizens of Grant County. The ad has as its headline: SUPPORT OUR SHERIFF. Then the subtitle reads: The following citizens stand behind our County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, his oath of office and the constitutions. This is an example to all Americans, to all leaders of this great country, a small county in eastern Oregon just demonstrated how we preserve our Constitutional Republic; we have sheriffs, who keep their oaths, who stand for liberty, and then you have the people, yes, how the entire Constitution starts, We The People, stand with their Sheriff!

I am honored to have seen all this in person, to have shaken the hand of this good Sheriff and his good wife, and to meet the people of this great county. I spoke to this crowd and in the middle of my presentation I announced proudly that it was an amazing experience to be in a place in America where the County Sheriff actually has the courage to just do his job! The crowd of about 500 went wild with applause, standing and cheering for several moments.

This is the answer, this is the solution. Grant County and Sheriff Palmer have shown us the way! As sheriffs and other local leaders stand for freedom, we take America back county by county and state by state! And of course, don't forget the key ingredient, “We The People.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The WILDLANDS PROJECT - Forcing You Off The Land & Into The City...






Here's A Quick Look At The BIG PLAN...The WILDLANDS PROJECT!


If the United Nations and radical environmental groups, such as the Center for Biological Diversity, have their way, this is what America will look like before the end of the next 50 years. And the plan is not very human friendly. This is a look at what the country has in store once it has been segmented and carved up to achieve the greatest land grab of modern times - the Wildlands Project.

Note all the RED shaded areas on this map. Those will become wilderness or wild areas, and all of those RED veins connecting everything like a huge spider web will be wild corridors doing exactly that...connecting all of those wild areas where major predators will enjoy the opportunity to mingle, party down, have great big ol' sexual orgies...and maintain genetic connectivity. In all, more than 50-percent of this country will be transformed into such wild areas, with all progress of the past several centuries (roads, power lines, bridges, and cities) destroyed and removed. Where will the people all go? Well, the ultimate goal of the radical environmental organizations and a few demented individuals, such as billionaire loud mouth Ted Turner, is for the human population to dwindle...and dwindle quickly...say by about 75- or 80-percent over the course of the next century. The remaining population will be herded into cities known as "safe zones"...well away from the sacred wild lands.

As idiotic as this may all sound, it is the goal of the United Nation's Agenda 21 to actually achieve all of this...and to reduce the human role in life on this ol' Earth.

Educate yourself immediately...and begin to fight back. The "Elect Anyone Except Jon Tester and Max Baucus" sign above can be found along a state highway near Great Falls, MT - and shows that some of the citizens of this state are beginning to identify the root of this problem - elected officials who are in sync with the Wildlands Project agenda. While both Senators Tester and Baucus are constantly on television boasting about bringing good paying jobs to this state, these two officials have done far more to shut down the economy in Montana - mainly through the loss of many forest and mining (natural resources) job opportunities. Tester's wilderness legislation is just another step toward achieving moving people off the land and into the city.

Two great places to gain more knowledge of this fiasco can be found at the following links.

You'll quickly realize that all of the legal wrangling to keep wolves and grizzly bears under the protection of the Endangered Species Act has been just an early Wildlands Project building block to eliminate why people want to live close to the land. Likewise, the manner in which the federal government continues to allow groups like Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and several dozen other so-called "environmental" organizations to scam the Equal Access to Justice Act out of hundreds of millions of dollars annually is using your tax dollars to fund a project which will kick many people off of their lands. There is so much money involved (appx. $5-BILLION over the past decade) that many residents now suspect that many overly environmental friendly politicians and perhaps even a few federal judges are also enjoying some of the ill-gotten spoils.

To keep up on all of this, visit the following two websites regularly...

Toby Bridges
Missoula, MT

Saturday, May 28, 2011



Following Is A LOBO WATCH Editorial Release That Was Written Last October...And Published Here By Popular Demand

By Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH

If it looks like garbage...smells like garbage...and leaves a nasty taste in your mouth like garbage - then it must be garbage. And that pretty much describes the "Wolf Stew" also known as the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project. From the day this project first had heat hit the bottom of the cauldron, it was destined to be little more than a foul smelling witches brew, thanks mostly to simply having way too many chefs.

Without a sufficient base, or stock, a wild array of wolf experts, wildlife biologists, conservationists, smug academic geniuses, environmental organizations, one very abused justice system, unqualified wildlife managers, legal wranglers, a broken Endangered Species Act, naive residents, over ambitious politicians, a crooked federal agency, a far removed public, an egotistical judge, and a way too out of touch hunting industry have thrown in a ton of this, hundreds of pounds of that, an overly generous dash of ego, a pinch of manipulated science, way too much greed, and not nearly enough common sense or forethought. The resulting stew has become so rank that it is now getting tougher to shove this gruel down the throats of those who now have to live with the stench. Here is a look at some of the chefs who have turned this "Wolf Stew" into a bona fide disaster.

Posthumously, good ol' Walt Disney can be credited with the base, or stock, for this poorly mixed concoction.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, Disney produced a large number of fictitious wildlife films, making wildlife more humanlike to a naive public starving for more shows about wild animals. Wolves, mountain lions and bears were always some of his favored subjects, and he and his crew bent over more than backwards to make them look like the All American Family - with a daddy, a mommy, and a kid or two. What this film maker presented was far from the real life of his wildlife subjects. When it came to major predators, like wolves, Disney failed to show what they do most - hunt. And that all wolves consume is meat. To bring home the bacon for the kids, mommy and daddy wolf had to kill, and kill a lot, of other wildlife. Walt Disney's lack of honesty when portraying these apex predators left America with a very false image of the wolf, which his films presented as a kind, caring, loving, warm and sociable animal. In short, his portrayal of the wolf provided a very bland, tasteless base or stock for the "Wolf Stew" project that lay ahead.

Then, through the 1970s and 1980s along came a number of social changes in America, and many of Walt Disney's brain washed young followers became young adults - some moving into the world of academics...some becoming more involved with ecology, to save the World from themselves. And during this period, the Endangered Species Act was established to protect endangered and threatened wildlife species. Which, in itself, is not a bad thing. However, the manner in which it became manipulated has been extremely bad, especially in the way some academic geniuses have used it to force wolves back into ecosystems that have benefited greatly from their absence.

Enter - the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project of the 1990s. The goal, to bring wolves back into the Greater Yellowstone Area, and all along the Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana. And to bring this project (a.k.a. "stew") to a boil, a panel of "wolf experts" was assembled to write the recipe for the mix. In a manner of speaking, these were the "sous-chefs" of the wolf kitchen in which they conceived the "plan" (a.k.a. "recipe") for "Wolf Stew". This was the team of under chefs , headed by lead sous-chef Dr. Robert Ream, also the head of wildlife studies at the University of Montana, that determined the mix, the timing, the amounts, the substitutions, and everything else to be thrown into the wolf pot.

So, who has been the chef de cuisine, or executive chef, of this wildlife version of "Hell's Kitchen" ?

That would probably be U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Ed Bangs, who has been head of the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project since its inception. And he has been the head pot stirrer all along, doing some major substitution of ingredients along the way.

Two of the ingredients that really sour this "Wolf Stew" have been the lack of official funding and the manner in which the key ingredient, wolves, were brought into the U.S. When Congress failed to authorize funding for the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project, it kind of looked like USFWS would have to shut down the stove. That is, until the agency discovered another source for the millions of dollars needed to keep their kitchen open - they simply robbed the pantry of another kitchen, known as the Pitman-Robertson funds. The money accumulated in this till came from the excise taxes collected annually on firearms, ammunition, fishing tackle, archery gear, and other hunting and fishing products. (In 2009 alone, those funds amounted to more than $700-million.) This money has been earmarked to be used exclusively for wildlife habitat and fisheries improvements.

Through the early to late 1990s, USFWS illegally helped itself to as much as $60-million dollars from Pitman-Robertson monies to fund a number of unauthorized projects - one of them the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project. And, if that isn't enough to leave a bad taste in mouths of Americans, especially the sportsmen who provided the money, how they spent that money taints the "Wolf Stew" even more.

Executive chef Ed Bangs seems to have ignored the claims of residents in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming - that pockets of native wolves (Canis lupus erremotus) still existed - and turned to north-central Alberta, Canada to bring in a more robust and more aggressive substitute wolf (Canis lupus occidentallis). Bangs and the Department of the Interior ignored that this would be a violation of the Endangered Species Act. Likewise, USFWS failed to file their own mandatory Form 3-177, which would have documented the origin of the wolves, and the true number of those ingredients thrown into the pot. Without that mandatory documentation, there's no real way to put a true cost on this questionable brew, or how USFWS spent the stolen money.

Adding to the cost of this simmering slop bucket, more than a dozen environmental organizations, such as the Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity, have managed to keep wolf management tied up in federal court - and hunters from reducing wolf numbers back closer to the recovery goals established for the "Wolf Stew" plan. That goal was reached seven or eight years ago. Still, these groups fight any attempt to control wolf numbers. Not so much for any real conservation purposes, but so they can push for a meatier mix, with tens of thousands of wolves from coast to coast.

Well, that and for the money.

These organizations have used the wolf as a "cash cow", milking wolf litigation for tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, through a derailed act known as the Equal Access to Justice Act. This very abused federal program allows these "not for profit" organizations to file for reimbursement of their legal costs to keep environmental issues, including wolves, bogged down in court. They've also learned how to generously claim some extremely exaggerated legal expenses. During a six-year period spanning the mid 2000's, dozens of such organizations and groups filed more than 1,500 such lawsuits, mostly against the U.S. government - for which they were rewarded $4.7-billion in reimbursement and restitution. And as hard as "Wolf Stew" may be to continue swallowing, it has become an extremely expensive dish.

One individual who tends to love the smell and taste of this noxious blend of lies and deceit is U.S. District Court judge Donald Molloy, of Missoula, MT. And the environmental groups keep his palate salivating with the ongoing environmental and wolf cases that flow through his courtroom like a well orchestrated never ending evening dinner service. He seems to relish the fact that, despite that the cost of this "Wolf Stew" has been largely funded with money that USFWS literally embezzled...or that the USFWS Environmental Impact Statement and the Northern Rockies "Wolf Stew" recipe that were concocted by very pro-wolf researchers are both rife with misleading and false claims...or that Canadian wolves were illegally brought across the border...and that wolves are now destroying decades of wildlife conservation efforts...this wolf scowl faced federal judge repeatedly decides in favor of those who are plucking U.S. taxpayers of every dollar they can haul back to their lair.

The manner in which Molloy ignores all of the illegal ingredients which have made "Wolf Stew" toxic now has many wondering if he receives a generous tip for the manner in which he chooses to serve "his" justice. Many sportsmen in the Northern Rockies now refer to him as "King Molloy", mostly because of the rich taste he has acquired for power.

These same sportsmen have now also lost their taste for how state wildlife agencies in Montana and Idaho have too willingly allowed USFWS and the environmental groups to freely toss whatever they want into the stew pot. The heaping amount of lies dished out by MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the ID Department of Fish and Game, in their attempts to hide the true number of wolves in these two states, plus to down play the degree of devastation wolves are dealing big game herds, has made it hard for sportsmen in these two states to swallow anything these agencies now serve. Many hunters now feel these agencies no longer serve them, and they are now beginning to throw their rotten garbage back at them.

The longer the heat is applied to this pot of stinking "Wolf Stew", and the more wolf issues continue to decay, the more dangerous the situation becomes. As wolves traverse great distances every day and night, they season the landscape with millions of Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm eggs, increasing the chances of human residents and recreationalists of contracting cystic hydatid disease - or any of more than 30 other diseases wolves carry and spread. During any given 24-hour period, a wolf can cover between 30 and 50 miles of their territory. And any pet that gets in their way stands to end up on the menu...and as big game populations continue to dwindle, humans could as well.

Perhaps it is time to dump the "Wolf Stew" cauldron, and go back to the wildlife conservation recipe that was working all too well - before so many inexperienced wolf chefs jumped in to write their own chapters in introducing a non-native and non-endangered predator into the Northern Rockies. No matter how much well intending greenie wildlife biologists try to write a tasteful recipe for the wolves to fit in with other wildlife populations and a ranching community, wolves only see elk, deer, moose, other wildlife, and livestock as a food source. And it is the wolf's insatiable hunger and lust for killing that continues to spoil any chance of us ever reaching an acceptable balance between wolves and all other living things.

Toby Bridges

About The Photo - This USFWS/NPS photo shows Yellowstone National Park biologists Doug Smith (squatting at left) and two others as they prepare to release non-native Canadian wolves into the Yellowstone the name of a "natural balance". Since the first of those non-indigenous wolves were released in 1995, the area has lost 80-percent of its elk population and more than 90-percent of the moose.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You Might Want to Think Twice About Visiting Montana This Summer!

Before making the move to Montana almost four years ago, it was the beauty of the mountains, wide valleys, fast running clear streams, wooded ridges and back country lakes that had drawn me here again and again, year after year. Right at the top of all the natural draws which kept me returning was an abundance of wildlife. On any given day in the western half of this huge state, I could possibly see elk, mule deer, buffalo, whitetails, mountain goats, pronghorns, black bear, bighorn sheep, and Shiras moose - with the occasional chance of spotting a mountain lion, grizzly, wolf, or possibly even a wolverine.

Being an avid hunter, it was the diversity of hunting opportunities that finally helped me to decide that Montana is where I wanted to live the rest of my life. Well, that and one very sweet Montana gal with which I had fallen in love. She loves the outdoors every bit as much as I do. And we get out as often as we can, camping just about every weekend during good weather...and often even when it's not so good.

With this said, the title of this piece might make you wonder, "What has changed?"

Unfortunately, a whole lot. And that change began back during the 1970s and 1980s, with the introduction of the non-native Canadian gray wolf into the Northern Rockies. Now, you are probably saying to yourself, "But the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project did not begin until the release of the first wolves in 1995."

But, did it really? There are growing suspicions, and evidence, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, without any authorization whatsoever, released small "experimental" populations of Canadian trapped wolves into remote areas of Montana, Idaho and into Yellowstone National Parks itself in northwest Wyoming. And there is also a growing feeling that those efforts were aided by wildlife studies academics with the University of Montana. Of course, such unauthorized release of wolves is illegal, and that's exactly why USFWS and U of M environmentalists covertly made those transplants in their zeal to re-establish wolves in the Northern Rockies.

The subsequent transplant of wolves, under the auspices of an "authorizied" and "approved scientific based" wolf recovery project was merely a facade to hide the earlier unauthorized transplants and slowly growing wolf populations. Overzealous UM wildlife academics hailed the earlier pockets of illegally transplanted wolves as "discovered" remnants of native wolves, or as wolves which had walked down to Montana from Canada on their own.

According to who is making the claim, there are now somewhere between 1,700 to nearly 5,000 wolves inhabiting the Northern Rockies. The lower number being claimed by those who lied outright about when and where this project got its start or where wolves were released...those who never did document the true number of Canadian wolves dumped into Montana, Idaho and the northwestern corner of Wyoming...or how they literally stole between $45- and $60-million from sportsmen provided excise dollars to, in part, illegally fund the Wolf Recovery Project in the Northern Rockies. The higher population figure of 4,000 to 5,000 wolves is now being claimed by the sportsmen who have seen many elk herds destroyed by as much as 80-percent by uncontrolled (and unknown) wolf numbers, and by livestock producers who have seen a four- or five-fold increase in wolf depredation of cattle and sheep over the past four or five years.

But, that's not what is being written about here. Remember, this is about why anyone looking to visit Montana, or Idaho for that matter, just might want to consider going somewhere else.

If seeing abundant wildlife is what draws you to the Northern Rockies, be warned that the sightings have gotten mighty thin - even in what was once America's wildlife wonderland...Yellowstone National Park. Before the release of those non-native, and certainly non-endangered, Canadian wolves, into the Greater Yellowston Area, the northern Yellowstone elk herd numbered right at 19,000 elk. Due to ever growing wolf numbers, extremely inadequate (more like non-existent) wolf control, and escalating depredation of that herd by wolves, the 2011 count for this herd has dropped precipitously to just 4,400 elk. And the number will drop even more dramatically this coming year, thanks to another elk calf crop that will be right at "0", and elk that are growing dangerously old without the recruitment of young-of-the-year. In 1995, the average age of this herd was 4 to 5 years. Today, the average age is 9 to 10 years, and these elk are reaching an age where reproduction becomes impossible.

The same is happening with elk, moose, deer and other big game populations up and down the northern Rocky Mountain chain.

As wildlife populations plummet, wolves are turning more and more to domestic stock - cattle, sheep, llamas, horses, and especially pet and working ranch dogs. When game becomes scarce in an area, wolves will feed on just about whatever they can run down and kill. And they don't even worry about the killing part. As often as not, they will pull down an animal and eat on it while it is alive - then leave it to die a lingering death. (These are not the wolves Walt Disney sold you, are they?)

If camping is in your plans, should you still decide to come and enjoy the beautiful scenery and fishing, be advised that you might want to bring along some armament. The best would be a good 12-gauge pump-action or semi-autoloading shot gun loaded with "00" buckshot loads - and keep it loaded and handy at all times when in camp, and especially if taking a walk with the family and pet dog or dogs. As much as it may mentally scar young children to see dad or mom shoot one or more of those sweet, loving and cuddly wolves that are hell-bent on eating the family dog, or heaven forbid, to attack a small child that may have fallen, and crying in distress, you have to think about the consequences of not taking a shot or several shots.

Still, even that is not the biggest danger. Wolves are known carriers and spreaders of more than 30 infectious diseases, including rabies, mange, and trichinosis. Perhaps the most dangerous to all other living things is hydatid disease. This is caused by the Echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm that has been carried by more than 60-percent of all wolves examined in the Northern Rockies - through the eggs of this parasite which are spread widely by the scat (feces) wolves leave behind everywhere they travel. It is not uncommon for each wolf to cover 30 to 40 miles every 24-hour period, spreading hundreds of millions, if not billions, of those eggs EVERY DAY.

The Echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm eggs are microscopic, and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Being that small, they can become airborne with just a gentle breeze - and widely spread by the stiff mountain breezes that are common for western Montana and northern Idaho. Likewise, the eggs can easily be transported by all the free flowing streams of this region. When breathed in or ingested by big game or livestock when grazing, or drinking, the eggs collect in the lungs, liver, blood stream and even the brain, where they can cause puss filled cysts. And once deposited into the ecosystem, these eggs are resilient enough to withstand a variety of climatic changes for a period of several months.

These eggs can also be passed on to humans who would drink right out of a mountain stream, or possibly breath them in when the eggs are airborne. However, the most common transfer of Echinococcosis granulosus eggs to humans likely occurs when people love on their pets, which likely collected the eggs in their hair or fur while frolicking in the wilds also frequented by wolves. Dogs especially will roll in the feces (scat) deposited by other canines, and wolves are canines the same as dogs. We all enjoy loving on our pet dogs, but that may have to be curtailed when you live in or camp and hike where there are wolves. If you allow your dog to lick you on the face, you greatly increase the chances of breathng in or ingesting the eggs of this tapeworm - which could lead to contracting cystic hydatid disease, and forming the cysts in your lungs...on your liver...and possibly on the brain. The latter can be fatal unless the cysts are surgically removed.

It should be noted that your dog can also become infected by the Echinococcosis granulosus tapeworm, especially if it is allowed to eat on the internal organ offal left behind when a hunter "field dresses" an elk, deer or moose that may have been riddled with hydatid cysts - or the remains of such left from a wolf kill. So, if you are contemplating spending some time in the "Great Outdoors" of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, or anywhere else there is a thriving wolf population, make sure that little "Fluffy" has all of its inoculations up to date, as if shipping the dog off to war - because in a way you are taking them into a war zone!

But then, you're also headed into the same battle.

Montana and the other "wolf states" of this country appreciate and rely on out of state tourism, and enjoy sharing their outdoors. Unfortunately, thanks to an infestation of wolves which radical green driven groups, like the Center for Biological Diversity and the Defenders of Wildlife, have fought to allow the populations of which to grow to troublesome numbers, there are now physical and health dangers to take into consideration - for both your family and your pets. Likewise, wolves are quickly pulling down big game numbers, and seeing wildlife has become more and more challenging.

If your goal is to see a wolf, then your chances have increased greatly. But, you have to work at that. Wolves are very secretive animals, running mostly at night...while you're snuggled in your sleeping bag, with your pet curled up against you, inside your tent. Just be sure to keep that buckshot loaded 12-gauge and a good bright flashlight within easy reach...just in case wolves rush in. Or...should a grizzly decide to pay you a visit. Did you know that within Montana's prime grizzly habitat and range, the density of the big bears is greater than across all of Alaska? Or that, with more than 1,000 of the big bears in that range, the number of human maulings and deaths have increased every year?

Again, this is primarily due to the fact that the so-called environmental groups have fought management of the bears, which no longer have any fear of humans. But, that's an entirely different story. -

Toby Bridges

About The Photo Above: Our neighbor, Lisa, loves to fish...and so does her pre-school aged daughter Laynie. I snapped this photo of the two fishing for Arctic Grayling on a high Montana mountain lake during the Memorial Day weekend in 2009. The area is one of the harder hit areas now being devastated by an uncontrolled wolf population...and when fishing here I now insure that I either have my .44 Magnum strapped on...or my "00" buckshot loaded 12-gauge real close at hand.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Old Tree Stand

During a December trip back to the Midwest in 2009, to visit family and friends, I slipped away from everyone early one morning for a walk down through the oak covered woods I had known as a boy. My destination was a series of cultivated crop fields which ran alongside a sizeable Illinois creek. I was curious to see if there were any remnants of an old wooden treestand I had built 46 years earlier.

It had been my first real deer hunting stand, built when I was 14 years old. I had located it along a wooded ditch line that separated two of those fields, offering a corridor of cover for whitetails to follow back and forth from the hardwood covered ridges to heavy creek-bottom brush. And that year, I took my first bow-killed deer and my first antlered muzzleloader buck out of that stand. During the 20 years that followed, I had taken another dozen or so deer from the 2'x4' wooden platform that sat about 10-feet off the ground. It was great to see the two heavy oak two-by-sixes still spanning the gap between a pair of black oak trees.

I sat on a nearby log and fondly remembered the young button buck I had arrowed with a bow my favorite Uncle had given me for my birthday...and the eight-ponter (4x4) buck I had downed with the .45 caliber muzzleloader I had worked so hard and saved two real monster whitetail bucks taken when I was in my late 20s. It had been 25 years since I had last layed eyes upon the stand, and I left the area filled with great memories, knowing that I would probably never again return to the spot.

The stand in the photo at right is not that stand, but another stand I came across while whitetail hunting 60 miles from where I now live in Missoula, Montana. That hunt was during the first week of November 2009. I was hunting a several hundred acre tract of private creek-bottom land that was surrounded on all sides by National Forest. I had gotten permission to hunt the property when I stopped to help an elderly man in his 80s wrestling with tight fitting lug nuts on his pickup as he tried to change a flat tire. Between us, we got them off and the spare on. He asked if I was hunting, and I said yes. He then offered to let me hunt his place, which consisted of about a hundred acres of timber and about an equal amount of hayfields and pasture. I had not seen much deer sign where I had been hunting a few miles away, so I took him up on the offer - figuring that the deer may be coming to the hayfields. The previous year, I had hunted the public land adjacent to this tract of private property, right along a great little trout stream.

Most any morning, I would see 15 to 20 deer. Anyway, I saw that many deer every morning early the first week of the season. And the great thing was, I never saw another hunter in the woods. The general firearm season here in Montana is 5 weeks long. So, I held off hunting again until the end of the second week, then headed back. I figured the rut would be kicking in, and the deer would be on the move even more. Plus, by then there was a light 4 to 5 inches of snow on the ground.

I was hunting alone for a few days, and once I had camp pitched, with my short and fast handling .54 caliber Green Mountain "Brush Rifle" slung over my shoulder, I figured I'd spend the entire afternoon still hunting back along the far end of one hayfield, actually hunting a thick stand of aspens on the public side of the line...then work over to a treestand I already had in place...and spend the last hour or so of daylight watching that end of the field. It was during that slow saunter through the deer woods that I came across this old stand.

The snow on the ground was fresh. In fact, I had driven through falling snow the entire trip over. Here and there, I could see deer tracks that had been made early that morning or the previous day, then filled in with snow. I also noticed other tracks, which I had never seen in the area before - wolf tracks...some fresh.

In the past, I had never hunted this area without jumping a half-dozen or more deer during any walk into the area. Following an old snowmobile trail from where I camped, back into an area that bordered a swampy brush thicket, I never cut one fresh deer track in more than a mile of walking...but wolf tracks were everywhere. Most times, when I eased through the aspen patch during earlier scouting trips or hunts, I'd see a moose or two. Not this afternoon. I didn't even see a moose track.

By the time I reached my portable tree stand, I still had not seen a single fresh deer track. I finished out the day 15 feet off the ground, at the edge of a 50 acre hay field, where deer generally fed almost every evening. Not this evening. Nothing moved. In the very dim last light of day, I climbed down and as I started my walk back to camp, taking a short-cut across the open field, wolves began to howl on a high knob about a half-mile behind where I'd spent the afternoon hunting. And they continued to howl on through early evening as I cooked dinner over the campfire.

I had a small heater in my well ventilated tent, plus a propane lantern. After dinner, I read a little, then shut down the heater, crawled into a hefty sleeping bag, and threw a heavy comforter on top. It was going to be a cold night, with temperatures getting down to about 8-degrees, but I knew I'd stay warm with the thick foam mattress under me and all the insulation on top. Come early morning, I could have the heater going in a few minutes and warm the tent before sliding out of the sleeping bag.

Knowing there were wolves in the area, I had slipped my old Browning A5 shotgun out of the truck, and had it stoked up with "00" buckshot loads. And about two in the morning, I was glad that I had. Wolves had surrounded the camp, and howled for more than an hour. Some sounded less than 75 yards from the tent, and my guess was that the pack consisted of 7 or 8 wolves. It was very comforting having that semi-auto 12 gauge laying next to me through the night. When they finally stopped howling, I fell right back asleep. Then, about a half hour before daybreak, when I got the heater and lantern going, several started barking at the illuminated tent...and I knew they were no more than 50 yards away. I got dressed, then waited for daylight before unzipping the tent and stepping out - 12 gauge in hand.

The woods were very open, and I could see 100 to 150 yards in just about any direction. No wolves were in sight, but when I walked around camp, still carrying the shotgun, it became very evident that wolves had come very close during the night. Some tracks were less than 20 yards from the tent.

I slipped on my required blaze orange vest, shouldered the custom .54 in line muzzleloader, built on a Knight DISC Extreme action, and headed for the knob where I had heard the wolves howling the evening before. (There was a valid 2009 wolf tag in my pocket.) I followed a closed Forest Service road that went to the knob, and while heading down a long open grade, a big black wolf shot across the roadway. I got over to a pine quickly and took a leaning rest. Three more wolves stepped out onto the road cut, and I yelled. They all stopped and looked back in my direction. I guessed the distance at about 175 yards...held for the top of the back of the biggest wolf, then eased back on the trigger...and the heavy 400-grain Harvester Muzzleloading "Hard Cast" bullet flew right under that wolf...and in a flash they were gone. I discovered that due to the huge size of those wolves, I had misjudged the distance by at least 50 yards, and there was just too much drop for such a heavy bullet.

I'd covered about two miles that morning, and still had not cut a fresh deer, elk or moose track. I did find the remains of a wolf-killed adult doe and her fawn, and not much was left. The kills looked to be about a week old. What the wolves had not already killed in this area, they had apparently pushed somewhere else. The game normally found in the area was completely gone. In three days of hunting, I failed to see one single live deer.

I went back for a couple of days this past season (November 2010), after a fresh 5-inch snow fall, just to see if I could find any fresh deer or elk tracks. The snow had quit falling the evening before I got there, so I knew any tracks I found would be just hours old. That first day, I walked at least 5 or 6 miles, and drove another 15 or so on mountain backroads. And did the same thing on the following day. In all, covering some 35 to 40 miles on foot or driving very slowly, in two days I saw a grand total of 7 sets of deer tracks...and each time those tracks were being followed by two or three sets of wolf tracks. I saw absolutely no elk moose tracks.

On the way out, I stopped by the elderly landowners place to see if he'd been seeing anything in his hayfields. He sadly reported that he had not seen a deer in weeks...nor an elk in months. He then shared that 10 to 12 years ago, he had between 30 and 40 elk that wintered every year on his place, but since the wolves had moved into his area 6 or 7 years ago, none have wintered there again. He also said that just ten years ago, his hayfields often had 40 to 50 deer in them just about every evening. However, he could now count on two hands the most he had seen in the fields at any one time during this past season.

I then asked him about the wooden treestand in the photo above. He said that he had built the stand about 25 years ago, and hunted out of it for about 10 or 12 years. He then showed me a half-dozen very nice whitetail racks and two exceptional 6x6 elk racks he had taken from that stand. He shared, "Back in those days, you could have killed a buck just about any evening. There were days when I would see five or six good bucks within easy range...but back then I would hunt for a particular really good buck...and if I didn't see him, I just wouldn't fill my tag. I feel we'll never see those days again."

Wolves have changed the Montana landscape. As this is written, Congress has authorized management hunts in Montana and Idaho for 2011. But with the low (187) quota that MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks is recommending, there will not be any "control" of wolf numbers. At best, that quota is no more than 11- to 12-percent of the current wolf population (pre 2011 pup birthing)...and by the time that season (fall) opens, there will be at least 1,600 to 1,650 wolves in Montana...and another spring's calf crop will be once again destroyed by wolves. Even if the quota is this time next year, with the 2012 wolf pup crop, there will still be 100 to 150 more wolves than at the end of the 2011 hunt...and still fewer elk, moose and deer.

More on this issue can be found on the LOBO WATCH website, at .

Toby Bridges