It’s September! While flipping the calendar doesn’t mean summer’s over, you can see the end from here. If we have normal weather patterns, we can expect some unsettled weather this month as we near the Autumnal Equinox. In our mile-high mountain environment, that means we can plan on snow, either on the mountain peaks or in the valleys, depending on the whim of Mother Nature.
Hunting season is on. The upland bird season, including mountain grouse, Hungarian and chukar partridge, sharptail grouse, sage grouse, and wild turkey. Note that the pheasant season doesn’t open until October 10. Most of the upland bird seasons remain open until sunset on New Year’s Day, though the sage grouse season closes on September 30.
Some migratory bird seasons also opened on September 1. This includes mourning dove and sandhill crane, and both those seasons end on October 30. Special permits are required for sandhill cranes.
If you pay attention, you may notice that Eurasian collared doves are also present in Montana. Collared doves look similar to a mourning dove, though when flying they have a rounded tail, whereas mourning doves have a pointed tail. Collared doves have a black ring on the back of their neck. Eurasian collared doves are an invasive species and are unprotected. That means it’s open season all the time with no limits and no license required.
Archery seasons for deer, elk and antelope begin on Saturday, September 5.
The archery season for antelope closes on October 9, and for deer and elk on October 18. The general, or firearms season for antelope opens October 10 and closes November 8. The general season for deer and elk opens on October 24 and runs through November 29.
These are, of course, just some highlights of the 2020 hunting seasons. Printed regulations with all the details are available at the FWP website, or at license vendors.
September is a special time in Montana. Depending on the day, it might still be summer, but autumn weather—sometimes winter, too—is no more than a day away.
We can walk towards a prairie horizon in search of sharptails, or wander mountainsides for blue or ruffed grouse, or try to call in a bull elk, and end the day casting dry flies on a trout stream. Every day in our outdoors is full of possibilities. It’s up to us to make it happen.
Changing gears, I feel compelled to comment on an executive order and legislation proposed by President Trump.
First of all, Trump recently signed an executive order at his New Jersey golf club deferring payment of employee payroll taxes after September 1 until the end of the year. Those payroll taxes are the excise taxes that finance our Social Security programs, also known as the FICA tax.
At the same time, he said that if he were reelected, he would seek legislation to permanently eliminate the FICA tax.
I spent almost exactly one-third of the 20th Century working for the Social Security Administration. Over more than 33 years I worked to help our fellow Americans at time of need, at times of retirement, death and disability. I know intimately the importance of those federal payments to the almost 65 million men, women and children who receive Social Security payments, currently amounting to $91.6 billion dollars per month.
The Social Security Trust Funds that pay those billions of dollars each month are in trouble. This has been predicted for the last 30 years but politicians of both parties have failed to fix the revenue stream (i.e. tax rates) to balance the funds. Currently, expectations are that the funds would be exhausted by 2035, or 2034 if this year’s FICA taxes weren’t collected.
If Trump’s scheme to eliminate the FICA tax were to pass, the reserves would be exhausted in 2025 and would result in a 50% cut in payments. For an average worker retiring at age 65, this cut would mean a loss of over $10,000 per year (Projections from Center for American Progress).
Trump may be perfectly happy to bankrupt the Social Security system. He doesn’t care about the damage to our country and our fellow citizens. Think about it.