More Montanans, especially families, could be enjoying the state's legendary hunting and fishing opportunities, according to Pat Graham, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "Montana's world-class recreational opportunities draw sportsmen and women from thousands of miles away," Graham says. "Yet those of us who live here will put off taking time to get out and enjoy those same opportunities as a family."
To help encourage youth and their families to get out more and experience Montana's great outdoors, the 1999 Montana Legislature created new youth pricing on some fishing and hunting licenses to begin this year. Resident youth ages 15 to 17 may purchase a Fishing License for $6.50 and resident Upland Game Bird License for $3.00 -- both about 50 percent less than the fees in previous years.
The Legislature also created a new Combination Sports License for young Montanans ages 12 to 17 for $25, about 50 percent of the fee paid for a similar license in previous years. The youth Combination Sports License allows fishing and hunting of upland game birds, deer and elk. The new fees will be in effect through Feb. 2002. Resident youth 12 to 14 years old may fish and hunt upland game and migratory game birds with only a Conservation License and resident youth under the age of 12 may fish without a license as before.
"We're hoping the price break will help get more families outdoors together," said Graham. FWP also offers an array of educational opportunities and incentives to further encourage Montana families to fish and hunt together.
Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education courses are underway or will be underway in most parts of the state this spring. These courses teach the basics of the sport in addition to safety, ethics and sportsmanship. Young trappers will have an opportunity June 23, 24 and 25 to learn about the history of trapping, as well as about trapping techniques, furbearer identification, outdoor ethics, fur handling and other important social and biological issues related to trapping. The camp is sponsored by the Montana Trappers Association, in partnership with the 4-H Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Trappers of all ages are welcome. For further information or to register, please contact Jim or Fran Buell, P.O. Box 133, Gildford, MT 59525 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Family Fishing Adventures Program encourages Montana families to make the most of the state's tremendous fishing opportunities. The Family Fishing Adventure Program, begun in 1994, is actually several initiatives in one:
The Montana Angling Youth or MAY Club
Over 3,500 children have joined the club and receive a regular newsletter filled with tips, games and information. To join the free club, send name, address and age to: MAY Club, 490 North Meridian Road, Kalispell, MT 59901.
Family Fishing and Urban Fishing Sites:
These sites are good locations for youth to get started fishing. In some cases FWP has stocked additional fish at these sites or chemically rehabilitated some of the lakes to improve fishing opportunities and increase catch rates. A list of these sites is available from the nearest FWP regional office.
Hooked On Fishing-Not On Drugs/Aquatic Education
Aquatic education is growing every year. This year over 90 teachers will participate in the program and reach nearly 2000 students. More than 559 teachers participated in other, related educational programs, and they reach 13,975 students a year. More than 12,000 new and beginning anglers participated in fishing clinics in 1999.
Free Fishing Days
FWP offers free fishing licenses to participants of courses and clinics taught by volunteer fishing instructors. The special license is usually good for a single day at a specific location and time. Free fishing licenses are also granted to students, parents, and helpers at schools sponsoring Hooked on Fishing Programs and Angler Education. To date thousands of Montanans have participated in this program.
For more information on Hunter, Bowhunter and Trapper Education call (406)-444-3188 or (406) 444-4046. For more information on Family Fishing Adventures Program call (406)-444-9736.