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April 2019
Author: Robert Hanneman

As I am writing this Soapbox, I am gazing out of the window at the winter wonderland in my backyard in western Montana. It is the beginning of March, and I have over two feet of snow at my house. In the 19 years that I have lived in Montana, I have never seen this much snow on the ground. It has pushed the animals into the low country. Having been able to spend some time on the winter range in western Montana, I can tell you that the animals appear to be in good condition. I just hope we get some warmer weather soon. If you are planning a spring bear hunt in the northwest, it may be wise to plan a hunt a little later because of the amount of snow we have had.

If you have been watching the moisture that has fallen across the West, you probably cannot wipe the smile off your face. Most of the West is well over 100% of its average snowpack with some areas at 200% of average. The states that are most affected by moisture are the desert states like Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah. In 2018, all of these states had very poor antler growth due to the dry conditions the states experienced. This year, most of these states are all well above average, and in the desert states, moisture equals inches in horn growth. If these states continue to get moisture through April, 2019 is going to be one for the books. If you are anything like us at Huntin’ Fool, you are doing everything you can to get tags since this is shaping up to be a good year for horn growth.

December 1st through the middle of May is the busiest time in the life of a Hunt Advisor. We work long hours and are on the phone all day long. We are also writing and researching our states sections long into the night. We are so busy this time of year that we don’t have time to hunt much during the winter. I realize most of you are thinking that this is the off-season, but I am dragging myself to work when I want to be chasing lions and wolves.

Over the New Year holiday, I was able to sneak out and spend some time in the woods trying to fill my Montana mountain lion tag. I had perfect snow conditions and turned up a great lion track. I was hunting with my good friend, Ben Wohlers, and we put our dogs on the track and the race was on. After a long hike following the dogs into some big country, I found myself staring up into a tree that held the cat I had been waiting a lifetime for. On January 1st, I cut my first tag of the year. I feel fortunate to have started 2019 off with a record book cat and look forward to seeing what else 2019 has to offer. Hopefully all of us will see at least one “Successful!” next to our names in the upcoming draw results.