• A wolverine circles the bait at one of the 60 stations placed on the Bitterroot National Forest by biologist Andrea Shortsleeve and her crew. Courtesy image

    Bitterroot critter cam captures elusive wolverine

    Here’s a cool Montana story focused on a study about wolverines – an animal biologists know little about.

    As Ravalli Republic reporter Perry Backus tell us in his story, biologist believe several wolverines were caught on motion-activated cameras set up by biologists who attracted the animals with a carcass.

    Images of wolverines were captured at eight different sites. They also captured fur that will allow them to identify and study the wolverines more thoroughly.

    The smell of rotting meat didn’t just attract wolverines.

    For the last two winters, that’s just what Bitterroot National Forest wildlife biologist Andrea Shortsleeve has done in an attempt to better understand the habits of forest predators on the prowl.

    A fox climbs a tree to take a bite from a bait station used to monitor predators by Bitterroot National Forest biologists last winter. Courtesy image

    A fox climbs a tree to take a bite from a bait station used to monitor predators by Bitterroot National Forest biologists last winter. Courtesy image

    Last winter, the photographs taken on 60 different bait sites offered a glimpse into the lives of bobcat, marten, fox, mountain lion and even a trio of squabbling eagles in the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains.

    The main focus of the study was the most secretive predator of all.

    No one knows for sure just how many wolverines there are on the Bitterroot National Forest. Before Shortsleeve and her crew began setting their motion-sensitive trail cameras up to document critters drawn to the smell of rotting meat, no one even knew where they ventured.

    See the enter slideshow of images here.

    - Jenna

    • 1452362_1522822421312432_1684741520762559876_n

      A frozen Fresno Reservoir, by Kelly Sullivan

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      Hoarfrost near Shepherd, by Jullie Powell +

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      A cabin near Big Sheep Creek, by Travis Scott

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      September Snow in Glacier National Park, by Lori Gunter

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      New lights on Missoula's footbridge, by Mike Williams

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      Snowy Mission Mountains, by Kelly Sullivan

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      Turkeys near Libby, By Catherine Dotson

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      A frozen Flathead River, by Robin K Ha'o

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      Mountain grouse, by Soda Butte Lodge

    A snowy slideshow: Winter arrives in Montana

    It’s hard to beat the winter scenes Montana produces as we move deeper into winter.

    And lucky for us, our Facebook friends have been out and about capturing the beauty. Here’s a few examples of the images they’ve captured.

    Thanks to everyone who shared photos on our Facebook page. Have photos of Montana you’d like to share? Email them, along with a short description and photographer information to editor@montanamagazine.com.

    Enjoy!

    Jenna

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    Remember these? A year’s worth of covers from 2004

    In honor of Throwback Thursday, we went back 10 years into Montana Magazine’s history and found all the covers from 2004.

    Cover images include several snowy scenics, one tough looking cougar, and a celebration of the Crow Fair.  Take a look and see if you remember any of these beautiful covers. And stay tuned for a new cover unveiling here soon – we’ve already started working on our first issue of 2015.

    Enjoy!

    Jenna

  • Chief Plenty Coups. Courtesy of Chief Plenty Coups State Park

    Chief Plenty Coups: A diplomat in difficult times

    We told you about the plethora of stories that the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center is collecting as it continues to recognize inductees, which range from everything from a women’s basketball team to a Kentucky Derby champion horse.

    We share the story of the hall of fame and introduced readers to several inductees inside our Nov/Dec issue. One is Chief Plenty Coups, a man who was considered both a great cowboy and diplomat.

    2008 inductee: Aleek-chea-ahoosh, Chief Plenty Coups:

    By Cathy Melin Moser

    Of all the great American Indian chiefs who struggled in the era of white settlement, only one achieved lasting peace with white men and retained his people’s homeland in perpetuity. He was Aleek-chea-ahoosh, born in 1848 near present-day Billings. His name meant, prophetically, Many Achievements. White men knew him as Plenty Coups.

    Chief Plenty Coups. Photo courtesy of Chief Plenty Coups State Park

    Chief Plenty Coups. Photo courtesy of Chief Plenty Coups State Park

    At age 28, he became chief of the Mountain Crows.

    Chief Plenty Coups concluded that the Crows must follow the white man’s ways if they were to survive. He traveled to Washington, D.C., multiple times where he impressed officials. Thanks to Plenty Coups, they realized, at least in part, the complex problems confronting the Crows.

    Chief Plenty Coups was promised material aid, teachers and agriculture instructors, as well as a permanent reservation in the Crow lands of southern Montana.

    Within his lifetime, Chief Plenty Coups was revered for placing diplomacy and cooperation above force of arms. His diplomatic skills helped his people transition from a nomadic lifestyle to settled agriculturalists confined to a reservation.

    Despite having secured a peaceful existence for his people, Chief Plenty Coups acknowledged, “When the buffalo went away, the hearts of my people fell to the ground, and they could not lift them up again.” 

    Want to learn more?  You can visit Chief Plenty Coups State Park outside Billings.

    Jenna 

  • Courtesy of the Missoulian

    Montana prepping for 2014 Brawl of the Wild

    Whose your pick to win the 2014 Brawl of the Wild?  Not like you need an explainer, but that’s when the MSU Bobcats play the UM Grizzlies in what is for many the most anticipated football game of the year. It will kickoff at 3:15 p.m. in Missoula on Saturday.

    Who’s going to win? It’s anybody’s game.

    There’s a lot riding on a win for the Griz, as Missoulian reporter Bill Speltz explains.

    As for the Cats, they’re confident they can win even without their first string quarterback.

    Either way, it’s high stakes, as the Billings Gazette reporter Greg Rachac explains.

    Even Montana elected officials are getting in on the fun.

    Congressman Steve Daines and Attorney General Tim Fox again have placed a friendly wager over the upcoming Montana–Montana State football game.

    The winner will provide the loser with a bumper sticker of the winning team, which must be placed on the loser’s personal vehicle for a month.

    If you can’t make the game Saturday, here’s a photo gallery of past Brawls to get you in the spirit.

    Jenna

  • Cactus the horse, Jack Ballad and his son Micah revel in the mountain view while transporting the meat from a cow elk to camp. Photo by Lisa Ballard

    Top 10 elk camp essentials

    Montana hunters have some of the best traditions of any group around – many of rooted in the quest to hunt elk. We gave readers a glimpse into one tradition in our Nov/Dec issue, when writer and photographer Jack Ballard gave us a look inside his family’s elk camp.

    Home Base” tells of the tradition and the memories created at the Ballard camp – which has been hosted hunters for more than 50 years.

    Ostensibly, the purpose of the elk camp is to facilitate elk hunting, the goal of which is most simply defined as killing an elk.

    But the camp likely plays a much more complex role in the lives of the hunters, at least in bivouacs with a long history, such as that which surrounds my family’s camp.

    In 2003 my uncle Tom celebrated his 50th consecutive year of hunting elk from the same camp, with the ridgepole of the cook tent fastened to the same wind-scarred lodgepole pine.

     “That old guy must really be into killing things,” a cynical soul of the nonsporting public might conclude. Such a simplistic conclusion ignores the fact that for at least the last decade before his silver anniversary, Tom spent precious little time hunting, preferring instead to hone his culinary skills in the camp kitchen and pass many precious hours reading, tinkering or surveying the broad, untrammeled view of a yonder mountain range perched on a folding metal chair outside the cook tent.

    The Ballards have created many lifetimes worth of memories at its elk camp in Montana’s southwestern wilderness where the scenery is epic and the tents are warm. The annual fall ritual that brings hunters together through stalwart tradition creates a place that, Ballard says, is more like home than most houses.

    But what makes camp so comfortable? Ballard’s top 10 elk camp essentials include:

    1) Wall tent
    2) Tent frame
    3) Tent fly
    4) Wood-burning stove
    5) Firewood
    6) Chainsaw
    7) Cots
    8) Real sleeping bags and pads
    9) Outhouse (luxury option No. 1)
    10) Elk (luxury option No. 2)

    Jenna

  • A rendering of the proposed Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame campus in Big Timber. Photo courtesy of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center

    Story keepers: Cowboy hall of fame works to preserve western past

    The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame doesn’t discriminate when it comes to accepting inductees. Not in the least.

    There have been men, women, horses and bars inducted into the hall, which aims to preserve the western culture that was for so long defined across Montana.

    We told our readers about the organization”s mission in a feature in our Nov/Dec 14 issue. Writer Cathy Moser spent some time with inductees and told some of their wild stories.

    Along with preserving the stories of inductees, the organization is working to fundraise so it can build a full “homestead campus” in Big Timber that will include an museum and heritage center. See a slideshow of renderings for the campus here.

    And if you know someone or something that personifies Montana’s western culture, the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame is accepting nominations through March, 31, 2015.

    You can nominate a candidate for induction in the 2015 class by visiting the hall of fame’s website.

    Jenna

  • Skip Erickson stands inside the World Wildlife Experience inside the Children's Museum of Northeastern Montana. Photo by Sean Heavey

    Glasgow native donates wild gift to children’s museum

    The Children’s Museum of Northeastern Montana in downtown Glasgow is a cool place to play. It’s full of books, toys and even has a treehouse.

    Now, thanks to Glasgow native Skip Erickson, it’s home to an almost unbelievable set of wildlife trophies.

    As writer Andrew McKean explains in our Nov/Dec issue, it’s hard to imagine the menagerie that Erickson has donated to the museum. The hunter, who is battling colon cancer, has donated everything from a 12-foot alligator to a wildebeest.

    It amounts to a wildlife collection – called the World Wildlife Experience – that Erickson hopes will allow area kids to be transported around the world.

    “Not everyone is going to be able to travel the world and have the experiences that I’ve had,” acknowledges Erickson. “But I hope that when a kid looks at these animals, that they are transported, even for a few minutes, from Glasgow, Montana to the Himalayas or to Central Asia or to Australia.”

    We’ve put the full story about the World Wildlife Experience online today. To say the least, it’s a heartwarming piece that captures the love Skip has for his hometown, and the passion the town shares for giving its kids a window to the bigger world.

    Jenna

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