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Some tips for hunting private land
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

MILES CITY - Those of us who live and recreate in eastern Montana understand the value of hunting and fishing opportunities on private land.

The land ownership in eastern Montana is a combination of federal, state, county and private. This mixed land base is mostly private (about 75 percent is privately owned) and frequently holds agricultural ground.

It doesn't take an expert to understand that private land is critical for the outdoorsmen in eastern Montana and to Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Access to private land is an important tool for FWP in its effort to reach wildlife management harvest quotas.

Harvest goals are set to maintain the populations at long-term sustainable levels in balance with the habitat and landowner tolerance. The harvest quotas are based on results from the spring, summer and fall trend surveys, past data, history of hunter success and knowledge of the resource. The data results in a harvest quota recommendation from the regional offices to the FWP Commission for approval. The public comments on the proposals before recommendations are made to the commission.

Access to private land requires permission from the landowner. A few simple rules can help make the permission process easier for you and the landowner.

• If you ask for access and it's denied be respectful to the landowner.

• Plan ahead and phone the landowner in advance at a reasonable time.

• Be polite and be ready to give the landowner all the information they may need. If they complete permission slips, have your vehicle license number and description handy, have your date-of-birth and ALS number at your fingertips.

• Make sure the landowner knows when you will be there and how many will be in the party. It may be an unwelcome surprise if you show up with four hunters in a party when the landowner thought you were the only one coming.

• Ask about the ranch hunting rules. Is the ranch managed as walk-in only, are the two-track trails available for vehicle use, are there designated parking areas, are there pastures that are closed to hunting, can you drive on the two-tracks to retrieve downed game you have moved to the closest road?

• Is there any off-road vehicle use allowed for game retrieval?

These are questions that should be answered before the hunt begins. A self-imposed limit on vehicle use is a good way to avoid resource damage and strained relations with a landowner.

Park in a safe area that won't start a fire, out of the landowner's way and hunt on foot. When your hunt is done, stop and show your appreciation to the landowner.

Future access to private land depends on our behavior. It is and will always be a privilege to recreate on private land. It is up to us as hunters and anglers to ensure the opportunity we are granted today, is available to others tomorrow.

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

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