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If I Can Do It, I Know You Can - Confessions Of A Technology Adverse Outdoorsman
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Friday, April 18, 2003

I only tolerate computers. I know. It’s crazy in today’s world. But there it is.

Imagine my misgivings when I learned FWP was committed to the technological gymnastics necessary to automate licensing and to eventually sell licenses over the Internet.  I’m not even a fan of email, and now a part of my job is to explain to other hunters and anglers the benefits of buying their licenses over the Internet.

I braced for the first step last year when FWP began using its new Automated Licensing System. As distrustful as I am of technology, I was prepared for the worst. Instead, license providers and our customers for hunting, fishing and State Parks Passports sailed through the change with humor, tolerance, a few bruises and amazing flexibility.  I still admire their willingness to pitch in and bear up through the change.

Over the course of the year, more than 1.3 million licenses were sold using the new system.  Nearly 80,000 licenses alone were processed in the three days before big game hunting season opened in 2002. 

Now it’s time for the next step—license sales over the Internet.  Technology adverse hunters and anglers, like me, have the choice of buying our licenses from a license provider, FWP office, or to use the Internet. So I could avoid the whole thing, if I wanted to. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I should at least give it a try.

The instructions are fairly straightforward. Hunting and fishing licenses and State Parks Passports are available online with a MasterCard or Visa credit card. The license fee and a convenience fee of $1.25 plus 2 percent of the total transaction is charged to the credit card. Residents need a conservation license first, which must be purchased in person at any Fish, Wildlife & Parks license provider. To prove residency, online users need either a Montana Drivers Licenses or a Montana Photo ID card issued by the state Motor Vehicle Division.

I went, unaccompanied, to fwp.state.mt.us, clicked on the online licensing icon and followed the instructions. Since I had my licenses, I decided to purchase my daughter’s fishing license on line.

Actually, I felt a little let down. It was easy. A temporary license printed out immediately. I was informed a durable, permanent version would arrive at my home in 10 days. I could have taken my daughter out fishing that evening with the temporary license.

Licenses that double as carcass tags, such as deer, elk and black bear, can’t be printed from home, but it only takes about 10 days to receive them in the mail.

And there is more, hunters interested in applying for Moose, Sheep and Goat permits prior to the May 1 deadline can now do that through the new automated licensing system. No mailing in an application, you simply fill out the info and take it to an FWP regional headquarters where the information will be entered and then sent electronically to Helena.

I’m thinking more people than I thought may buy licenses over the Internet. For starters, if I can do it, basically anyone can. And, it was fast and simple.