Special Olympics Montana Bull Bounty Fundraiser

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The Nile Bull Bounty is a fun event which supports Special Olympics. It will be held on October 15. To sponsor a bull, you will make a,

  • $600 donation to Yellowstone Valley Area Special Olympics (YVAR) if bull bucks cowboy off.
  • $400 donation to YVAR if cowboy rides bull for full 8 seconds.

As a sponsor, you will receive:

    • 2 tickets to October 15th rodeo performance ($70 value)
    • Invitation to pre-rodeo hospitality provided by Special Olympics (Appetizers and drinks at 5:30 pm. Rodeo begins at 7 pm.)
    • Announcement of sponsorship during the Nile rodeo when it’s your bull’s turn

The best part is all of the money raised will stay here locally to support the Yellowstone Valley athletes. The funds will cover the travel costs to the Montana Special Olympic State Games in Missoula next spring.

**If you have questions, please call Michelle Boucher, Yellowstone Valley Special Olympic Fundraising Coordinator at 406-255-5279 (work) or Andrea Huck at 696-7795.




How to Avoid Getting Bitten by a Rattlesnake


How to Avoid Getting Bitten by a Rattlesnake


It’s finally fall, and hunting seasons are either open or opening soon, hooray! With early season hunting the weather is usually still warm, and with warm weather the snakes are still active. In fact more people get bit in October than any other month. This is because of two reasons; first a lot of people are going afield hunting or fishing, second rattlesnakes den up for the winter, so they are out looking for a last meal to carry them through. On Average 7000 to 8000 people get bit from rattlesnakes in America each year, but only five people die. Most of the people who died, die either from an allergic reaction to the ante venom, or they were too far away from medical services to get help in time. So if you get bit by a rattlesnake you probably won’t die, but you might wish that you had. I had a friend get bit by a rattlesnake a few years ago. When the snake struck he jumped back, and the snake only got him with one fang. But this still but him in intensive care for week!

The best way to not get bit by a rattlesnake is stay out of snake country while the weather is still warm, kind of like you won’t get attacked by a shark if you stay out of the ocean. Although that isn’t any fun! You can also buy snake chaps or gators. These are made from polypropylene, and fangs cannot penetrate them. The drawbacks are that they are very hot, and you cannot let them give you false courage. Rattlesnakes are nothing to mess with, even when you are protected. Also you can carry a pistol, with a special kind of ammunition called snake charmers. Snake charmers are like mini shotgun shells that spray out a pattern of bird shot. They will dispatch a snake quickly, if you feel that you are being threatened. Most of the people who get bit are messing with the rattlesnake. When you see a rattlesnake the best thing to do is to let him go his way, and you go your way. Like any other dangerous animal they will leave you alone if you leave them alone.

One of the common myths about rattlesnakes is that they always rattle before they bite. This isn’t true, a survey was taken of 1000 rattlesnake victims, and only 500 of them reported hearing the snake rattle before they got bit. Snakes are ambush predators, and therefore are very hard to see. Avoid any 90 degree corners, especially around old buildings. The rattlesnakes lie in wait there for a mouse to come by. Also avoid going into very weedy or brushy places where you have a hard time seeing the ground. Carry a walking stick to clear out the brush before stepping through it. Don’t put your hands in any places that you can’t see. When you see a log step on top of it, not over it, and check out a log or stomp before you sit on it.

I grew up on a cattle ranch in South Central Montana, and I have had a few close encounters with rattlesnakes. So I am a little extra cautious, when I am out in the field. I went upland bird hunting last night, so I don’t let the fear of rattlesnakes detour me from doing what I want to do. But I am very careful, not only for me but my dogs as well. If you have a hunting dog, you may want to take them to a snake breaking clinic. You wouldn’t want to get your best buddy bitten either. I didn’t write this article to detour anybody from going out hunting this month, I just want for you to be safe.

Good Luck & Good Hunting!



Montana’s Upland Bird Season Starts Today!

The upland bird season opens across Montana on Sept. 1 with populations spotty depending on nesting and rearing success.

Heat + Dogs = Bad. It can often be 80 degrees or more in September and early October, so keep a close eye on your dog to make sure he or she doesn’t get overheated. Carry plenty of extra water in the field for the pup to drink and to give your trusty pal a good wetting down, especially about the belly and armpits, when the heat is on.

With strong hatches and chick survival over the past two years there should be plenty of upland birds like grouse and pheasants for hunters this fall.

Conditions for nesting and brood survival, however, can vary widely, so don’t be surprised to find hunting really good in one area and not so good just 50 or 100 miles away.

With that in mind, here is a little more detail on what hunters can expect:

Gray (Hungarian) partridge

While no formal surveys are conducted for Huns in Montana, weather and habitat conditions suggest they will range from slightly above to well below average this season. Observations in regions 4 and 7 suggest average numbers. In Region 6 good-sized broods have been observed, so hunters can expect Hun numbers to be solid if nesting conditions were favorable. Summer hailstorms in regions 4 and 6 likely affected bird numbers. In south-central Montana, Region 5 conditions were in flux and bird numbers in most of the region will be below average.

Mountain grouse

Mountain grouse, which includes ruffed, spruce and dusky (or blue) grouse, are fun to hunt and good to eat. The last few years have been good for these birds in northwestern, western, southwestern and parts of central Montana. Particularly in the north, biologists have been seeing lots of birds and broods. Preliminary information from Region 5 suggests that dusky grouse numbers are better than last year but still below average, and ruffed grouse will be at or slightly above average.


Montana is experiencing a large decline in CRP acreage along the northern tier of the state, which may have an impact on hunting experiences in regions 4 and 6. Based on crow counts and brood sightings in Region 6, numbers vary from below average and slightly down from last year near Havre, to average and the same as last year near Malta and Glasgow, to well above average in the northeast corner of the state.

In good pheasant habitats in central Montana — such as around Conrad and Lewistown — pheasants are “average with an optimistic outlook,” according to Region 4 wildlife manager Graham Taylor. Likewise in regions 5, 3 and 7 the season should be average and better than last year.

In northwestern Montana, brood survival appears to be good on the Ninepipe Wildlife Management Area but drought has hurt habitat so hunting conditions could be tough. Numbers in the Flathead Valley are holding steady.

Sage grouse

Sage grouse are another bright spot this year. After declining lek counts between 2008 and 2014, things have picked up, which is consistent with normal population fluctuations and is a result of favorable weather conditions for hatching and brood rearing during 2014 and 2015.

Statewide, male attendance at leks averaged 22.8 males this year, 75 percent higher than last year. Other western states also are reporting increases in lek counts for 2015. This year’s counts, however, are still 25 percent below the 30-year long-term average.

Consequently, hunters can expect numbers to be better than last year and near average in areas open to sage grouse hunting. Hunters must check the 2015 upland game bird regulations because parts of south-central, eastern and northern Montana are closed to sage grouse hunting.

 Sharp-tailed grouse

Like pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse in Region 6 have been affected by a reduction in CRP acreage, so where CRP ground no longer exists there will likely be fewer birds. In general, however, across the northern part of the state lek counts and other observations show that hunting should be good this fall.

In Region 4 things look good because the past few years have had favorable conditions for production and survival. Region 7 should be about average but spotty depending on local habitat conditions. In Region 5 numbers are likely lower than last year because of low bird populations going into this year’s nesting season.


In Region 5 the chukar harvest in 2014 was up 52 percent from 2013, which is good news. For this year, chukar numbers remain below average but have some potential for continued improvement.

It’s finally fall so get out there and go hunting!