Petersen's Bowhunting magazine is an incredible archery hunting resource that not only provides a look at these sleeper state opportunities, but they also supply readers with honest reviews of gear and a lot of great "how-to" advice. Christian Berg is the Editor of Petersen's Bowhunting magazine and he joins The Revolution this week, fresh off of a Montana whitetail hunt where he walked away with a nice 8-point buck. When it comes to sleeper states, he'll make the case for taking on a western whitetail hunt in Montana.
When it comes to whitetail hunting, there aren't too many untapped resources left across the country. Nearly every nook and cranny has been explored and virtually every secret honey hole has been discovered. However, Christian says that Montana may be as close as you can get to cashing in on that untapped resource by targeting some of the river bottoms in the West. Even better, this Montana hunt provides whitetail fanatics the ability to do a DIY hunt on public land with good odds of success. Christian says he began this process by drawing a Montana elk tag this year. Because he would be traveling nearly 1,800-miles from his home state of Pennsylvania to Montana, he wanted to make the trip worth it and decided to also put in for a big game combo license which gives the hunter a deer tag as well. Arriving several days before his elk hunt was slated to begin, Christian says he spent a few days hunting whitetails all by himself. DIY hunting is all about the research put in ahead to time to put yourself in the best position possible to find animals and that's exactly what he did. Christian says that Montana runs a great Block Management Program which is a cooperative program between private landowners and FWP to make private land accessible to the public for hunting activities. He says hunters can use this resource to their advantage by getting on the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks website in order to access maps and contact information for every Block Management Area in the state. Hunters can scout these areas and plan their hunts accordingly. He recommends looking for tracts of prairie land in the eastern part of Montana that have some creek or river flowing through them, places that also have a little bit of timber. It's in these areas where you can find a lot of whitetails. Isolating land with creek and river bottoms could be one of the biggest keys to successfully hunting whitetail in Montana. Christian says although the whitetails can go anywhere, they largely seem to stick to the creek bottoms which effectively concentrates the animals nicely for hunters. In his most recent hunt, Christian notes that he saw up to 30 deer in bow range at every sit and with those kinds of numbers, it's just a matter of time before you'll get a shot opportunity at a good buck.
Whitetail body and rack size varies across the country and Christian says that size is the function of several things like genetics, nutrition, habitat quality and possibly the biggest factor of all, age. In his home state of Pennsylvania, Christian says that there are great genetics and habitat, however age holds the state back from producing really large deer. Because there are so many hunters in Pennsylvania, it's hard to get bucks to older age classes, he says. On the other hand, in Montana age isn't as much of an issue because there are fewer people and more limited hunting pressure. For that reason, bucks can mature to older ages in the West, but they lack the quality habitat and nutrition that is available further east in big soybean and corn production states. Montana has decent habitat, he says, but you just won't find whitetails growing to the same size you do in the midwest. Top end whitetails in Montana will generally be in the 150 to 160-inch range and although the trophy potential isn't as great as it may be in the heart of the midwest, Christian says Montana more than makes up for it in sheer numbers of whitetails. If you are looking for a hunt where you are not looking for a new world record buck, you're happy with a 130 to 150 class buck and you want to be able to see slews of deer, Montana is a tremendous area for that quest.
Be sure to listen in as Christian Berg, Editor of Petersen's Bowhunting magazine joins The Revolution this week to talk Montana whitetail hunting and much more.