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Thread: Cow Creek Work Party and Strip Closure Information

  1. #1
    SJ's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Cow Creek Work Party and Strip Closure Information

    Folks, the RAF received this report from the Scott Newpower and the Montana Pilots Association regarding some work they did at Cow Creek (MT) recently:

    Everybody,

    As you may have known there was some damage done at Cow Creek over the years. There were some tracks made in the runway by vehicles that over time got worse with rain and melting snow. The MPA, RAF and BLM have partnered together and have erected a fence at the airstrip with the goal of eliminating this type of damage. Signs are also up to educate the public.
    Last month the strip got graded and the ruts have been removed. The strip is now in good shape but due to the grading and lack of grass it will be soft and thus vulnerable to damage. For that reason we are working with the BLM and are going to have the strip NOTAM'd closed. Expect the strip to be closed until mid summer 2016 or until it is determined that landing on the strip won't cause damage. As soon as the weather gets nice this spring we will help to get the runway seeded and then it's up to mother nature.

    Scott
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    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
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  2. #2
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    In November of 2002 my wife and I and our 12 year old son made a hunting trip to the Cow Creek area to look for mule deer. Some friends and I had been flying the area that summer and that part of the Missouri Breaks looked like a good place to return in the fall for some deer hunting.

    Our son Adam was old enough to hunt and this would be his first time to deer hunt and be able to shoot. He'd tagged along on plenty of other hunts but not with a deer tag in his pocket.

    I told Sally that I thought setting up our camper near the east end of the Cow Creek airstrip would make a good base camp and that we could plan our day hunts from there. We made the drive from western Montana to this north central part of the state and made our camp.

    November weather in Montana can change quickly and this year was no different. When we arrived in the Breaks it was in the 50's but the forecast was for a change to the teens and twenties in the next couple of days. With the camper though that was not a problem. Not a problem until I discovered that first evening that we had a propane issue and the furnace, hot water heater and refrigerator wouldn't work. Looking things over I determined that the regulator on the propane tank had gone bad. Without a replacement we'd be without those creature comforts.

    Even then there was some spotty cell phone coverage in that area and the Cow Creek strip had some of the better reception. So what to do other than call a friend and see if he could deliver a new one by air? I gave John McKenna a call and told him about the situation and the part we needed. John was happy to help. He rounded up the part we needed in Bozeman and about mid-morning the next day, in dropped John in his Cessna 185 with exactly what we needed. I think he had a fresh morning newspaper too.

    This all came to mind again this week while my wife and I were sitting in the living room enjoying a fire in the fireplace and looking at our Christmas tree. She looked around the room and commented on her mule deer mount on the wall and what a fun hunt that had been. Then she reminded me of being saved from the cold by John and his 185.

    That next morning, back on the deer hunt, I stepped out of the camper and started glassing for deer shortly after daylight while Sally and Adam finished getting ready to go. I got their attention when I said I'd spotted a nice buck a half mile away. On one of the timbered ridges leading up to the Cow Creek airstrip I found a decent 4- point buck feeding in an open area. We made a plan to sneak out there directly from camp and were soon working our way down the ridge he was on. More often than not, hunts like this seem not to work out as planned. But this time it did and before long we were close to the buck, the first time we'd seen him again since leaving the higher ground. Sally kneeled and took aim with her custom 7mm-08 and the buck dropped where he stood.


    Sally with the nice mule deer buck that we spotted from the west end of the airstrip.

    The next day Adam and I took bucks too although not that close to camp.

    Though it was nice to be able to drive to the east end of the airstrip and set up camp, the closure of that area to vehicles makes good sense and I'm in favor of it. The ruts were getting pretty bad and this should take care of that problem. And I heard from one of the guys involved that the strip has actually already been seeded. Better in the fall than spring to get an early start on germination.

    I thought others might like to read about one of our fond memories of the Cow Creek airstrip.
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    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp

  3. #3
    mvivion's Avatar
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    It was great to learn that the strip has been graded and re-seeded. It only takes one pickup or plane to really make a mess when those strips are wet. And, when wet, you don't want to be anywhere in the Breaks that requires you to move uphill to get home...... There was a 172 up to its knees in the Cow Creek strip a while back as I recall.

    Anyway, good on the gang to get er done! And, I hope folks will honor the request to stay off the strip till mid summer next summer to protect all that hard work.

    Dan, nice story. Glad you were able to order parts by "air mail"..... Nice buck. That country is wonderful--anyone who hasn't been there should check out the Upper Missouri Breaks. Several strips besides Cow Creek, and Winifred is right next door.

    MTV

  4. #4
    Ursa Major's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion View Post
    And, when wet, you don't want to be anywhere in the Breaks that requires you to move uphill to get home......
    MTV
    I've got some good memories of hunting the Breaks when I was in high school. Some not so good memories of trying to get home through wet gumbo. That's when I discovered that 4 wheel drive only got you stuck deeper.
    Mike

  5. #5
    spinner2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion View Post
    It was great to learn that the strip has been graded and re-seeded. It only takes one pickup or plane to really make a mess when those strips are wet. And, when wet, you don't want to be anywhere in the Breaks that requires you to move uphill to get home...... There was a 172 up to its knees in the Cow Creek strip a while back as I recall.
    MTV




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    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp

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