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Montana Outdoors Magazine Writing Guidelines

The following information is for freelance writers who wish to submit queries to Montana Outdoors.

Magazine overview

Montana Outdoors is a bi-monthly magazine published by a state agency. Montana Outdoors is not a house organ. For one thing, most of the magazine's budget comes from subscribers, so we have an obligation to provide them with objective information. For another, many "official" government magazines are generally viewed by readers—the few who bother to read them—as biased and boring. And third, our readers are interested in various points of view—even those that challenge the orthodoxy of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Our editorial bent is one of skepticism and curiosity, and we rely on a wide range of sources in our reporting.

Montana Outdoors has a diverse readership, including residents and nonresidents, people who hunt and fish and those who don't, die-hard outdoor recreationists, and weekend hikers. What all our readers have in common is a general interest in the outdoor recreation and fish and wildlife management and conservation. Keep this in mind as you are crafting your query. Montana Outdoors is most similar in content and tone to National Wildlife.

Roughly 50,000 people subscribe to Montana Outdoors, about half of them from out of state. The magazine began publication in 1971.

General Requirements

  • We publish no poetry, fiction, or other creative writing, and only the occasional first-person essay, and usually only by established, nationally recognized authors.
  • We never publish "my first time" hunting, fishing, camping, seeing a grizzly bear, or similar stories unless as an anecdotal introduction to a more comprehensive examination of a topic. Also, we never run tributes to friends or family members.
  • How-to articles are fine if the writer has personal expertise or interviews experts in the field.
  • We publish many articles on natural history and are constantly on the lookout for new ones. See back issues for examples.
  • We like journalism. Pitch us articles about Montana's major conservation issues, important research projects, or management activities. Thorough research and accuracy are critical, as is objectivity. Note that particularly contenious issues such as wolf management, bison reintroductions, bull trout on Flathead Lake, and the like are written in-house and are not assigned to freelancers.
  • We look for novel angles on traditional subjects or new reporting on research projects, investigative studies, or recreational trends not known to our readers.
  • Almost all articles in Montana Outdoors receive some editing for clarity and accuracy. If you are not comfortable having your work edited, please do not submit a query.


Before sending a query, please search the Montana Outdoors archives to see if we have already published something like what you propose. If so, the odds of us accepting your proposal are slim and you should consider a different topic, one we haven't covered in the past seven or fewer years.

Please send us a brief written query before you write the article or essay you have in mind. We rarely buy finished written material without seeing a query beforehand.

A good query summarizes the proposed article in a sentence or two. We'd also like to know:

  • How this issue affects the lives of our readers (why they should care)
  • How Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is involved (we rarely run stories that don't have something to do with our agency)
  • The sources you might consult

Email the query to the editor, Tom Dickson, at



Montana Outdoors usually buys first North American serial rights and (for a small additional amount) the right to post to the magazine website and archives. Payment varies according to article length, research difficulty, and author experience. We pay on acceptance.