With the close of big game hunting season near at hand, hunters who haven't filled their tags are feeling the pressure. What to do? When a new hunting strategy seems called for-it's time to check the regulations again and make sure your new plan doesn't violate any hunting regulations or state land and private land access laws.
Here are some quick tips. If you switch districts, are you certain the license you hold is still legal? For example, in some districts in southwestern Montana no special permit is required to take an antlered mule deer buck-in other adjacent districts a special permit is required and could only be obtained last June in the spring drawing.
If you do hold the special deer permit for taking an antlered mule deer buck with a Deer A license, you are restricted to taking that one mule deer buck, and only in the district specified on the permit.
Also, if hunting a new area means you will need access to private land, don't forget you need the landowner's permission. To help hunters learn who owns land in an area where they want to hunt, FWP has developed a "Directory of Montana Maps." This is a directory of land ownership maps and county, state and federal agency offices where these maps are available. Identifying land ownership is a necessary part of hunting in Montana.
To help hunters in talking with private landowners about access, FWP developed Access Courtesy Cards. These pocket-sized booklets are a handy way to exchange information with landowners who provide access. And finally, a hunter switching hunting areas needs to keep state lands access laws in mind. Big game hunters need to purchase a State Lands Recreational Use License, if they plan to hunt on accessible State School Trust Lands.
Motor vehicle use on accessible state lands is restricted to federal, state and dedicated county roads or to other roads designated as open by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. This restriction applies even if the road or the state land it crosses is not posted. Maps showing designated roads are posted at DNRC, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service offices. Informational brochures on state land-use rules are available from these offices and all FWP offices.
Finally, Montana law requires that recreational users of state land must have permission from a private landowner before entering private property adjacent to the state land. There is no requirement that the private landowner post notice, and ouch! the fine is $50 to $500 and/or six months in jail.
With the pressure on, hunters should take the time to check hunting regulations and state and private lands laws to ensure their new hunting strategy gets them into the big game and keeps them out of any potential problems.
Map directories and Access Courtesy Cards are available at all FWP regional offices or the Helena headquarters, or can be requested by writing to FWP, Field Services, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT, 59620-0701, or by calling (406) 444-2602.