Improved Hunter/Landowner Relations–How Hunters Can Address 12 Landowner Concerns Related To Public Hunting Access
The Private Land/Public Wildlife Council, a group of 15 citizens including hunters, landowners, outfitters, legislators, and an FWP Commissioner appointed by Governor Schweitzer to make recommendations regarding hunting and fishing access issues, has identified the top twelve concerns among landowners related to public hunting access and how hunters could address those concerns.
“For some hunters, these concerns and solutions may seem intuitive,” said PL/PW chairman Land Tawney. “For others, the concerns and solutions may identify something new. Our hope is that this effort may help make the 2008 hunting season an enjoyable experience for all Montana landowners and hunters.”
The PL/PW Council is also seeking comment on five draft recommendations for public comment. Information, can be obtained via FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov. Click “Hunting.” Then click “Hunting Access,” and “PL/PW Council“, or call 406- 444-3798.
Here are the council’s top 12 landowner concerns and solutions for hunters:
1) Bad timing for permission requests
Most landowners prefer to be contacted by phone or in person between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. If possible, hunters should establish the preferred time with the prospective landowner prior to season.
Simply following the rule “if you brought it in, make certain you bring it out” will take care of this concern. Where hunters sometimes stumble is with things that appear to be unimportant. Visible discarded toilet paper is a prime example of an overlooked eyesore for the landowner. Also, be your brother’s keeper and take out any litter that may have been left by others.
There is a time and place for everything. Drinking while in the field is not one of them. Good decisions are made by clear minds.
4) Driving on soft wet roads
Keep in mind that the ruts created by hunters during wet periods remain long after the hunter is gone. Making the responsible decision to return another day when the roads have dried out is a huge step in the right direction. Most landowners will not hesitate to give you permission for a later date in return for you being conscientious about not wanting to damage a road. Remember, a rutted ranch road is a constant “negative” reminder to all who travel it after the hunting season.
5 ) Driving off designated roads
Be clear about landowner expectations. This is especially true for off-road vehicles. Do not travel off designated roads unless permission has been specifically granted to do so.
6) Random shooting
If plinking and plunking are in your plans for the day, make sure you discuss those intentions with the landowner and secure the necessary permission.
7) Game handling.
Most landowners understand the proper field care of harvested animals. Make sure your methods are effective and respectful. Leaving the hide on an animal in 80-degree weather, or field dressing an animal at an access gate, leaves a lasting poor impression.
8) Not respecting the permission agreement .
Discuss any requested changes prior to implementing them. One example would be getting permission for two hunters, but showing up with four. Another would be agreeing to hunt only a specific species or sex and then harvesting something outside of that agreement.
9) Hunting outside of designated area
Clearly understand the boundaries of your area. A negative confrontation with the landowner is almost guaranteed if you are found outside of those boundaries.
10) Game retrieval
Talk with the landowner about this issue. Be clear about what is acceptable and what is not. Refrain from asking the landowner to help. Keep in mind this is your hunt, not the landowner’s. The intent is to impact the landowner’s daily routines as little as possible.
Shooting near livestock is a risk that landowners cannot afford. A stray bullet or ricochet can leave serious results. Give livestock a wide berth and always make sure of the target and beyond. Be sure there is minimal interaction between hunting dogs and livestock. Hunting dogs pursuing or otherwise bothering livestock will most certainly result in the landowner asking you to leave (and probably not come back).
Unless specifically instructed otherwise, leave gates as they are found. A gate found open is probably in that position for a reason. If unsure, mention it to the landowner.
Montana has a long heritage of landowners sharing their private lands with public hunters. The PL/PW Council’s goal in identifying key landowner concerns related to public hunting access, and providing ways for hunters to address those concerns, is to encourage and promote good hunter/landowner relations and help maintain Montana’s hunting heritage and traditions.