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Landowner and hunter shaking hands

Hunter Education Hunter-Landowner Stewardship Project

About the Program

Hunter-Landowner Stewardship Project - Forging common ground across the Montana landscape

 

 

 

 

 

The Montana Hunter-Landowner Stewardship Project is an information program for anyone interested in promoting responsible hunter behavior and good hunter-landowner relations in Montana.

How to Complete the Program

The program is delivered through an interactive website utilizing questions, videos, and feedback as well as opportunities for you to test your knowledge on a variety of practical topics related to hunter-landowner relations and responsible hunter behavior.

 

The program is voluntary, and designed to be completed at your own pace, with the Web site enabling you to log on and off at any time, without having to repeat already completed portions. (NOTE:  No separate action other than leaving the site is required to save completed work.  Upon re-entry of the site, the first two introductory pages will appear, and the program will then begin wherever the participant previously finished. Work will only be saved for up to six weeks before being deleted if the program is not re-entered.)

 

Completion of this course may require 2 or more hours, depending upon a person's reading skills, system functions, and working pace. Upon successful completion, you'll be able to print a certificate of completion and, if you would like to keep a record on file, you may upload it to your ALS record kept by FWP. You can also receive a free cap and bumper sticker indicating your participation in the project by sending a copy of your certificate to the following address:

FWP—Landowner/Sportsman Relations

P.O. Box 200701

Helena, MT 59620-0701

 

This is phase one of a project that FWP hopes may expand over time to include other features. For now, please enjoy the program, and let us know how we might improve it.

Thanks for your interest! For feedback and questions, please contact:

  • Wildlife Division at (406) 444-2612, or by e-mail

Program Details

This program addresses 14 major topics related to hunter-landowner relations. Each topic is presented through a series of 3 pages:

  • The first page presents a series of questions designed to help the participant determine how she or he feels about the topic.  There is no "right" or "wrong" answer to these questions;
  • the second page presents information relevant to the topic, including basic rules and laws, customs and expectations, things to consider from both landowners' and hunters' points of view, and an exercise that does require a correct answer; and
  • the third page presents some ideas for tools available to hunters and landowners, facts relevant to the topic, and a video clip that presents a situational dilemma which requires the participant to provide a written answer of at least a sentence or 2.

There are 42 pages of content and the page number is listed on top of each page.

Content topics
  • Permission
  • Fair Chase
  • Livestock and Farm/Ranch Activities
  • Game Retrieval
  • What to Hunt and/or Harvest
  • Vehicle Use
  • Weeds
  • Litter
  • Fire Danger
  • Safety
  • Reporting Violations
  • Hunting with Dogs
  • Hunting Nongame Animals or Other Animals on Private Land
  • Hunting on Public Land

How to Become Certified

When you reach the Certificate of Completion screen at the end of the program, follow the printing instructions.

Note: If you make a mistake in printing, you may have to re-take the course to print your certificate.

If you are interested in keeping a completion record on file for future reference, you may do so by submitting this information to FWP's license database (ALS).

We recommend you do this since there's no other way for FWP to retrieve your record. To submit your information to ALS you must have an ALS number. If you don't currently have an ALS number, you may get information about how to get one by calling an FWP office. If you are a nonresident living outside of Montana, the only way to obtain an ALS number is through a license purchase via our Online Licensing Service.

Start the Program

Montana’s Hunting Traditions - Common Ground Shared by Hunters and Landowners

Montana has a strong hunting heritage and traditions, rooted in the state’s also longstanding agricultural heritage and traditions.

Hunting permeates our Montana lifestyles, much like the wind and the sky. Many hunters live and breathe hunting, and for them, hunting season is the peak of the year. Many landowners anticipate the annual visits from hunters, some with enthusiasm and some with trepidation. Hunting helps drive our economy. It shapes our culture. It connects generations of families, helps us understand our vast natural world, and fills our freezers.

But the future of hunting in Montana depends on the continuing cooperation between landowners and hunters. In recent years, finding a place to hunt has become increasingly difficult for some hunters. Gone are the days when a hunter could jump a covey of huns and pursue them at will, when orange paint on a fence post was rare, when a hunter was surprised when a landowner said, "No, sorry, I don't allow hunting."

In Montana, as in all of North America, wildlife belongs to no single person, but rather to all people—the public. But there's a hitch. Private individuals or businesses own two-thirds of the land in Montana. And when a hunter shows up at the door in an orange vest asking to hunt on private land, those landowners have the right to say yes or no.

Unfortunately, more of them are saying no. It might be because they've had a bad experience in the past, or because they've heard of somebody else's bad experience with hunters. They might be concerned about weeds, or road damage or livestock disturbance. Maybe they just relish their privacy. They don't have to explain.

But decreasing access may soon result in fewer people deciding to hunt, which could mean long-term problems for landowners, for wildlife, and for Montana’s hunting traditions.

Hunters provide the most viable tool to control populations of big game animals. Left unmanaged, those animals can cause extensive damage to agricultural lands and natural habitat or become so concentrated and over-populated that they become vulnerable to diseases.

Hunters allowed to use private land appreciate the privilege, and appreciate the opportunity to learn more about landowners’ contributions to the wildlife resource and Montana traditions.

Hunters and landowners traditionally have much more in common than they have as differences. Both groups share a keen interest in Montana's land and wildlife, they depend upon a healthy and sustainable landscape, and they face the challenges of working or hunting in a natural landscape.

So, where does that leave us, as hunters and as landowners? We need each other, but we often fail to understand each other.

That's what this Web site and project is designed to do, to help landowners and hunters discover how much they may have in common, to help them learn more about some of their different perspectives, and to present ideas and tools that hunters and landowners might use to identify acceptable hunter behaviors and build better relationships.

We hope you enjoy the journey.

 

Watch the Introduction Videos:

 

More effort is needed to strengthen hunter-landowner relations in Montana

Traditionally, the lives of Montana hunters and Montana landowners have followed similar cycles, often coinciding with the changing of the seasons.

In springtime, while hunters are planning their next hunts and studying hunting regulations, farmers are planting crops and livestock producers are calving or lambing.

During summer, hunters are applying for special permits and practicing their marksmanship, while farmers are tending crops and livestock producers are managing herds.

Then comes autumn, the harvest season, and hunters go afield in search of game, while farmers harvest crops and livestock producers ship young livestock to market. For many, this autumn harvest season is perhaps the most vibrant and fulfilling time of the year, when people feel most closely tied to the land and the outdoor experience.

And so the cycle begins again: the savoring of the seasons, the labor, and the harvest.  While these traditional cycles still continue, Montana is experiencing much change.

Some traditional farms and ranches are no longer managed as farms or ranches, but are now managed as recreational properties, sometimes owned by people from out-of-state.  Other traditional farms or ranches may be managed differently due to changes in economics, family generational changes, or simply owner’s preference.

Some Montana hunters are relatively new to the state, with values and traditions different from the traditional Montana hunting experience.  Many hunters, like many Montana landowners, are simply aging, and no longer able or willing to hunt the way they used to.

Urban people are more and more isolated from rural people, and with that comes a distance in social and philosophical perspectives, as well as actual physical distance, that make it increasingly difficult for people from both groups to build successful relationships.

Hunters often cite a lack of access as a major source of dissatisfaction in the field. It can be frustrating, holding a tag in your pocket while plenty of legal animals linger behind a “no trespassing” sign. Some hunters have simply quit hunting altogether.

Private landowners often say hunters have been rude, disrespectful, unsafe, illegal or unethical. Such incidents are unfortunate and usually isolated, but when they happen, they paint all hunters with a broad brush that doesn’t flatter.

But are things as bad as they sometimes seem? Perhaps not.

There are still many opportunities available for hunters and landowners to develop the kinds of relationships that result in responsible hunter behavior and hunters gaining privileged access to private land to hunt for public wildlife.

Any successful relationship relies upon common understanding, mutual respect, and appreciation for one another’s different perspectives. That is the path that lies ahead on the following pages, a path to help continue Montana hunting traditions and continued successful management of Montana’s wildlife resources, now and into the future.