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Wardens Review Hunting Rules

Hunting - Region 6

Friday, October 31, 2008

With the 2008 big game rifle season underway, wardens with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks would like to remind hunters about some of the rules they need to follow while pursuing their sport.

One of the most common violations is shooting birds or big game animals from the road, said Warden Ryan Linder of Havre. According to state law, it is illegal to shoot on, from, or across any public roadway. This includes the highway shoulder, berm, barrow pit or right of way.

Linder said it is also illegal to hunt from any self-propelled (motorized) or drawn vehicle. Even if the vehicle is not moving, hunters must be off or out of the vehicle before shooting. The only exceptions are hunters who hold special shooting permits because of a disability.

Another problem wardens see too much of out in the field is harvested game animals that are improperly tagged and animals that no longer have evidence of species and sex attached to the carcass.

Warm weather or long transports often prompt hunters to bone out their game animal and stow the meat in coolers. That practice is encouraged because it prevents spoilage of the meat.

But many hunters forget that if wardens only have meat and bones to check, they can’t easily tell whether the carcass is a deer or antelope, much less whether it was a buck or a doe.

Many violators incorrectly believe that because they carried an either-sex tag, which allowed them to harvest any antelope or deer, they could dispose of the evidence of sex. However, state law says it is illegal to possess or transport the carcass of any big game animal without evidence of sex and species naturally attached. Montana’s hunting regulations book and Web site ( fwp.mt.gov ) clearly list what constitutes evidence of sex.

Another frequent violation involves hunters not correctly validating licenses or permits immediately after their animal is down. To properly validate any big game tag, the hunter must cut three “V” shaped notches in the tag to indicate the date of harvest. One notch must fully remove the name of the month; two notches must fully remove the two digits of the date of harvest. Then the tag must be securely attached to the carcass.

Other common hunting violations include:

  • baiting or using artificial lights to hunt game animals or birds;
  • failing to obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property;
  • wasting parts of a game animal that are suitable for food;
  • taking game from the wrong hunting district;
  • using someone else’s tag on a game animal you killed, or tagging a game animal that someone else killed; and
  • taking game without a license or the proper permit.

Linder urged hunters take the time to review Montana’s hunting rules and regulations to ensure they act within the law. Having that knowledge also helps hunters recognize when others are violating the law.  

Hunters, anglers and members of the general public are encouraged to call the toll-free,  1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668) number to report property vandalism, trespass or wildlife violations, violations in Montana State Parks or on any other lands. TIP-MONT callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.