I recently learned that the Montana Legislature made some devious moves in the waning hours of the 2021 session adopting hunting provisions that were unsuccessful during earlier public hearings — namely the allotment of 3,000 nonresident bull elk licenses to outfitters for 2021 and additional preference points for future seasons.
As a nonresident hunter in Montana since 1978, I felt a deep betrayal for myself and Montanans. I couldn’t believe that the Legislature prioritized wealthy non-residents over Montanans. Seems like a slap in the face to Montanans who want to carry on family hunting traditions that are passed from generation to generation. These folks are finding it harder to find places to hunt as access is denied to both private and public lands. With this set-aside of outfitter allotted licenses, this will only get worse.
Raised in northeastern California with prime mule deer hunting, I experienced losing our family hunting traditions in the 1980s as a legislative committee reduced licenses for the public while setting aside licenses for local landowners to sell. These landowner licenses also came with extended hunting seasons. Soon it became almost impossible to draw a license and much of the Fish & Wildlife’s budget and time was spent managing the landowner hunts. HB637 — the tip of the iceberg. I love hunting in Montana, but fear it's headed down the same path that I experienced in California. Montanans, please fight for your hunting heritage; save the last best place!