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I-161 would have consequences

2010-10-19T00:03:00Z I-161 would have consequencesIndependent Record Helena Independent Record
October 19, 2010 12:03 am  • 

Montana is different from other states. For many, two factors — the remarkable amount of open space and abundant wildlife — are key elements that separate where we live from so many other places.

Montana has a strong hunting tradition and has long had the reputation as being a state where hunters, resident and nonresident alike, could gain free access to quality hunting. But as Montana has grown in recent decades, hunting access to private land has gotten more difficult to obtain, for a variety of reasons.

With the opening of big-game season less than a week away, access is a white-hot topic, stoked in part by Initiative 161, a proposal that takes aim at hunting access and the fees that nonresident hunters pay to pursue big game in Big Sky Country.

On its face, the initiative appears to strike a blow against the trend toward leased land and more out-of-state hunters. But closer inspection reveals plenty of questions about the measure and possible unintended consequences.

The initiative has two major components. One would abolish outfitter-sponsored hunting licenses, scrapping a system in place since 1987. Proponents say these licenses drive outfitters to seek exclusive leases with private landowners, allowing only their paying clients to hunt on that land. Backers say all nonresident hunters should obtain licenses through the lottery system currently used by nonresidents who don’t hire outfitters.

There are currently 5,500 outfitter-sponsored licenses available each year, some of which go unsold. The lottery licenses typically sell out. The change would not increase the total number of licenses available to out-of-state hunters.

Opponents, which as you might suspect include the state’s hunting outfitters and some landowner groups, say the guaranteed licenses eliminate a great deal of uncertainty in their business, one they say is an important cog in the state’s larger tourism industry. The change could do serious economic damage to outfitters and jeopardize livelihoods, they say.

The second big component of I-161 would significantly raise nonresident hunting license fees. In one case, the fee would climb from $628 to $897 for a popular nonresident big-game combination license. Money from nonresident licenses currently is used to help fund the successful Block Management program, which pays landowners to allow hunting access. Proponents say the initiative, due to the increased license fees, would provide more money for Block Management and habitat improvement programs.

Opponents say the fee increase could drive away nonresident hunters and actually reduce funding for the Block Management program.

Both sides make valid points in regards to Initiative 161. But in reality, it’s very difficult for voters or anybody else to predict what the actual outcome of the initiative will be. There is no guarantee that scrapping the outfitter-sponsored licenses will increase hunter access to private land. And it’s fair to point out that outfitters are not the only people who lease land in Montana for hunting. Individuals, both from Montana and other states, pay for exclusive hunting privileges and will continue to do so, regardless of the initiative vote.

It’s also fair to note that Montana had a healthy outfitting industry before the licenses were set aside. By any measure, the guaranteed licenses represent a pretty sweet deal (some see it as a direct subsidy) for outfitters, especially when many Montana hunters are required to seek special permits via a lottery to hunt in many areas.

Will increasing nonresident hunting license fees drive away out-of-state hunters? Nobody really knows. Given the uncertain state of the economy, it seems reasonable to expect fewer nonresident hunters, even without any fee increases.

I-161 raises interesting questions about the future course of hunting in Montana. That’s a topic of great interest to many Montanans and one worthy of extensive public study and deliberation. Unfortunately, a voter initiative doesn’t allow for the scrutiny this topic deserves. For that reason, the Independent Record editorial board opposes I-161.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(24) Comments

  1. stonebuck
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    stonebuck - November 01, 2010 5:03 pm
    Leave the outfitters and guides alone. you never pass laws like this one unless the individual ends up getting hurt more than anyone.
  2. concerned1
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    concerned1 - October 26, 2010 10:41 am
    Workingclass - The requirements you speak of for public land outfitters are obviously the "federal requirements" for opperating a business on Federal lands. I-161 will not change those federal requirements. But tell me, and the rest of us, how often does a public lands outfitter not fill his quota of hunters? Since you and I are obviously taliking about separate entities here, i.e., public vs. private land outfitters, it's obvious that we are both more knowledable about the entity we are speaking about. You public land and myself, private land.

    I'm sure that a savy public land outfitter will be able to work within the system to protect his interest in the end. because I truely believe that it's like I said earlier, if a successful non-resident prefers to have a public lands/wilderness style hunt and they don't have their own equipment, they will continue to seek out a public lands outfitter for the service. I'm certain that there will always be a "market" for that "experience" you speak of.

    Shoot straight this fall.

  3. concerned1
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    concerned1 - October 26, 2010 10:28 am
    2buck2 I'm curious? You stated, "Why on earth should I be concerned with the recreational needs of hunters when they clearly aren't concerned with mine." But you didn't state what your "needs" are. Care to give us all a few more details about "your needs?"
  4. helenros
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    helenros - October 25, 2010 11:10 am
    Hunting has increasingly become a pay-to-play game. When I was 12, my family had access to a great little piece of elk territory. The following year, the landowner leased it to an outfitter, who closed it off to everyone but his wealthy clients. Block management has alleviated this issue slightly, however, I have taken my son hunting every weekend of season for over two years and he has yet to harvest a deer, let alone an elk. We fume as we drive past fields full of deer standing behind NO HUNTING signs. Have driven up to houses which have "Don't even ask," posted in the windows. How is a moderate-income working mom supposed to get her kid in front of a legal animal? I'm voting FOR I-161!!
  5. 2buck2
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    2buck2 - October 23, 2010 8:53 am
    gferren just summed it up best with his "all men are created equal" hooey. As long as they share your interests you mean. Why on earth should I be concerned with the recreational needs of hunters when they clearly aren't concerned with mine. I would like to see hunting outlawed period. Not because I think hunters are bad (just the redneck ones) but because they have become such a political army that only cares about their own agenda and to heck with their fellow Montanans. What burns me the most is they sit here and cry out for support on their rights but do everything they can to trample mine. I will be voting against 161.
  6. gferren
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    gferren - October 22, 2010 10:06 pm
    The Declaration of Independence:
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,”

    But with HB 195, the 1995 Republican controlled Montana Legislature decided that some men are more equal than others and one Montana business deserves special treatment. In a good intentioned, but misguided move (some say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions), the Legislature created the Outfitter Set-aside Licenses (OSL) to provide funding for the Hunter Management Program recommended by the Private Lands/Public Wildlife (PLPW) committee. Rather than call it a Hunter Management Program as it is defined to be, Block Management was likely considered the more politically acceptable term as Americans and more particularly Montanans don’t like to be “managed”. The effect of HB 195 was to create a cash cow for Montana Outfitters, numbering over 1,000 in 2005 according to stop161. Making for outfitters a ready and waiting client list of non-residents with a pocket full of money who are more than willing to pay-to-play, to pay not only for tags but for exclusive access.

    While looking over the current Voter Information Pamphlet, I wondered who the opponents doing the rebuttal against I-161 were. State Senator Jim Peterson is a Republican from Buffalo, MT, State Representative Mike Milburn is a Republican from Cascade, MT, Mac Minard is the Executive Director of the Montana Outfitter and Guides Association (MOGA), and Brett Todd is on the 2010 MOGA Executive Board as President – Elect and an outfitter working out of Big Timber (Klazy3 Outfitters).

    In Montana the Outfitting Industry existed prior to 1995 without the OSL and will likely continue its business existence upon passage of I-161. Their dire predictions of lost revenue, if it occurs, will be more likely attributed to our ever growing wolf problem and that effect on (declining) game populations rather than as a result of the loss of their OSL cash cow.

    HB 195 missed the point which was not how can we deal with private land interests, but how we can increase access to our public lands increasingly blocked by private land interests. In an effort to compromise, large amounts of money were introduced into the equation, further complicating but not solving the access issue. Should a private land holder, with personal access to multiple sections, in some cases several square miles, of state and federal lands (public lands) in their ranch leases, that are blocked to public access by deeded acres at entry points, opt for the $12,000 that Hunter Management would pay or take the more lucrative option of charging sums like a $10,000 exclusive access fee for a group of (4) hunters to harvest an illegal elk as we saw in West Central Montana a few years ago? Only two such groups of hunters would put him $8,000 ahead of the BMP (Block Mgmt Program).

    Lets not be fooled by the claims of the anti I-161 crowd, those are only tears falling for a cash-cow and not the sky falling after all. Let’s show that in Montana we do believe all men are created equal and declare Montana’s independence from the OSL by Voting for I-161. And then we can get to work on another important issue, controlling an out-of-control wolf population and restoring our new Endangered Species the Montana Deer and Elk populations.
    Vote Yes on I-161
  7. roi_ratt
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    roi_ratt - October 22, 2010 3:14 am
    Outfitters have destroyed the game in Eastern Montana. These professional hunters who do most of the hunting for their clientele have targeted "trophy bucks" for so many years that the genetic population of white tail deer with large antlers no longer exists.

    Outfitters leased out the neighboring ranches to my family's small farm. They pay the neighbors handsome bonus sums for each animal harvested there - more if it was a "trophy buck". We hunt for subsistance on our land and it's not open to the public or outfitters. The deer congregate there because we do not over-hunt them.

    Outfitters have trespassed on my family's ranch, cut fence and rode their ATVs through there to scare the deer back out of the safe haven that used to exist before their unlawful behavior. They tore up the soil with the ATVs and left no deer for my family to hunt on our own property.

    When they take their inexperienced clientele hunting, it is practically a warzone along the riverbottom with gunshots going off everywhere. I personally observed - from a position of cover - while an outfitter led group fired off a volley of wild shots in all directions running a buck back an forth until one of them finally got a hit. Did you know bullets snap when they fly past your head?

    Wreckless, lawless, irresponsible, profit driven behavior garunteed unfairly by the state.

    I didn't make the decision to vote YES on 161 - the Outfitters made it for me.
  8. workingclass
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    workingclass - October 20, 2010 8:31 pm
    Public land outfitters can have FIFTEEN people in camp at a time. Must have at least 3 to one guide ratio (required by board of outfitters) so usually there are 6 to 9 hunters in camp and the rest are crew. So if they try to overbook to fill their camp and everyone draws, they have a big problem. If they don't over book and underdraw a bigger problem yet, because you see there are Forest Service fees due by June and they are BIG, Horses to feed all year long whether they are working or not. So yes, this will be much more devastating to the public land outfitter as a guy does not book a hunt that last 7 to 10 days at the last minute and get time off when they don't even know if they will draw. Can't just book a 400 pound guy (kills horses to carry large people) for 3 days.....many camps take a full day to get to. So you are weakining the public guy much more than the private guy.....who just won't pay his lease until he gets his deposit.....Forest Service does not wait for permit fees, nor to landowners pasturing large herds of horses. So I see you making it harder for public land outfitters and not hurting private land outfitters, after all they probably have more game to hunt and the public land outfitter is selling the experience rather than the KILL. If the public land outfitter is honest he will rarely do better than 50% success if even that and not that many trophies, also don't charge near what the private land guy charges so much tighter margin for error. And again how do you think you are leveling the field by raising the price for ALL NON RES hunters? Yes ABSURD and there is no guarantee from the state to fill hunts. The Outfitter would have no reason to advertise if this was true.......just an emotional button pushed by Kephart and his hired felons to get people to sign the petition!
  9. concerned1
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    concerned1 - October 20, 2010 2:39 pm
    Well "Working class" I guess I'll start with you and this comment that you made first, "guaranteed clientle is absurd and you know it."

    You had better do your home work on this issue before spouting off about things you obviously know little to nothing about. Any outfitter could sell, i.e., sign, as many out of state hunters as they could drum up, up to the limit of their respective NCU's. If the industry was able to over sell the 5500 GSL one year they FWP would up the cost of that license the next year to try to "knock back" the number of these licenses that were sold the next year in an attempt to maintain an "Average" of 5500 GSL licenses over a 5-year period.

    So technically the outfitting industry could leaglly sell more than 5500 GSL licenses in a year and they would be completely legal doing so. If an individual outfitter wanted to sell more of the GSL for his own use he had to first ask for and be granted an increase in his NCU's. The only way to do that, was to prove that he had enough land, i.e.,leases and public permits, to safely provide a hunt for those additional hunters.

    So YES, those GSL were there for their use if they could sell them, thereby GUARNTEEING a non-resident a hunting license. These non-residents were those who could afford to pay what ever the license cost and then come on out hunting without any worry. The other's, the working class hunters if you will, they had to take their chances in the lottery because they either couldn't afford the cost of the GSL or they just preferred to go it alone without an outfitter. Historicallym there has always been more applicants than licenses available for this non-resident license pool.

    Outfitters will still be able to market their services, but now all non-residents will be on an even playing field no matter how many zeros they have in their bank account.

    Regarding those of you who are coming to the defense of the public lands outfitter, I don't forsee this effecting their business at all. No one who wants to hunt one of Montana's wilderness areas is likely to do so without hiring a public lands outfitter, or without having their own stock and tack to make it happen. So if that is the type of hunt a non-resident prefers to have, after drawing a license and they don't have their own equipment, they will continue to seek out a public lands outfitter.

  10. workingclass
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    workingclass - October 20, 2010 12:10 pm
    Sorry for my last is the problem. All Outfitters are being lumped together....when any live being gets backed into a corner, it is going to come at you with a vegance. We should all be trying to work together to solve the problem. How about going to the ranching community and working out a plan that suits their needs instead of demanding. I know there are some issues such as private land outfitters that have hazed game to keep them on the land they are fact there are some ranchers that do that too. It is doubt about it and that should be addressed, but strong arming the ranching and outfitting industry will not work. I believe in landowners rights. Instead of fighting about this we should all be working together, and spend all of this time and energy after that working on the wolf problem. There isn't going to be any game to worry about if we spend all of this time fighting over this and not working all of the other big issues too.
  11. workingclass
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    workingclass - October 20, 2010 10:48 am
    remember.....all of those "rich SOB's" that go with PUBLIC LAND outfitters may now be looking for the same EASY hunt you are in the same area, so enjoy all of your new competition. You are going to have alot of it for all of the new gates being flung open by Kephart and his cronies.
    And don't forget, many will still book with the Outfitters, but if they don't have any luck (which happens in the WILDERNESS (you know those real hunts I was talking about) they can come out and arm wrestle you for all this wonderful new access.....have a good hunting season this year because just like you probably voted for Obama.....change is coming, you just don't know WHAT kind of change it will be. Happy drive by shooting on that ranch you fix fence on you big stud.
  12. ionesixoneisabadidea
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    ionesixoneisabadidea - October 19, 2010 9:13 pm
  13. ionesixoneisabadidea
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    ionesixoneisabadidea - October 19, 2010 9:11 pm
    This letter is for those "concerned" about the passing of I-161...Please become very concerned because if this initiative happens to fall through the collander holes on November 2nd; those of you voting for it will make many new, un-guided, out-of-state hunter friends-next hunting season. Remember, the "Guaranteed License" is a guarantee to you that the non-residents coming,going and hunting Montana lands are GUIDED. If you vote to abolish this rigid, regulated license; you are choosing to hunt with many fat-pocketed out of staters that will be out hunting on their own and maybe on the private land that many of you cannot afford to hunt! Those "dudes" will be spending their monies on private land trespass fees because those will still be GUARANTEED! No guarantees this will enhance or permit more in state hunting and it surely will not promise Montanaians that land owners will open their gates. Remember, though outfitters may be a "pain in your side", they are the ones that keep those hunters on task and legal in the hunting industry. Hopefully, you can still afford your in state elk and deer license, too?
    Happy hunting in the future!
  14. workingclass
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    workingclass - October 19, 2010 8:27 pm
    ps concerned1
    again guaranteed clientle is absurd and you know it. Why would outfitters go to sportshows to promote hunts if the state is sending all the clients to them that they need?
    Oh, and I like and Kephart is making this not be a rich mans sport
    how does raising the draw tag for all fix that??????
  15. workingclass
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    workingclass - October 19, 2010 8:21 pm
    Again, you are talking about private land, more than half of these horrible people you are talking about are PUBLIC LAND case you don't understand what that means that they operate and land that is open to all. Oh, but maybe just maybe you are one of those "sportsmen" that wants to drive by a ranch, see a big rack and DRIVE to your "hunting" spot, pull the trigger, load up the carcass and DRIVE away.
    PUBLIC LAND Outfitters, may take one of those "dreaded" out of staters as far as 24 miles in on horseback into you know those areas called the wilderness where "real" hunting happens and any animal you are lucky enough to bag is a geniune tropy no matter how big because it was a real HUNT.....not a drive by shooting.!!!!! I hope if you have have the guts to go on a real hunt you don't get in a bind going through the wilderness and need something from one of those horrible outfitters. Won't you fell like the biggest pile ever!!!!!!! I happen to know how many backcountry outfitters have offered a warm dry place to sleep to someone stagger through their camp or put a shoe on a horse who lost one. Or gave a 5 year old kid a ride out 24 miles because he had an ear ache and could not hike out....for free.....oh and how about all those trails that have been should thank the outfitter in the area as the forest service has little funding for that. Don't talk like you are a sportman, because a sportsman has millions of public land acres to hunt.....just put on your hiking boots and work for it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. Schedule F
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    Schedule F - October 19, 2010 8:01 pm
    IMO This is another sentiment driven initiative that may break business. Mr. Kephart has given resident hunters a swing at outfitters and that's what they will probably do, and small town main street may suffer the consequences.

    To a person, resident hunters I've spoken with, tell me I-161 gives resident hunters more private land to hunt on. If you read it, It does NOT, but their voting FOR it because they think it does.

    It's largely about money.

    With a maximum payment of $12,000 per cooperator Montana's Block Management Program can't compete with private money, even if the I-161 proposed change in the non-resident license prices generates the maximum projected funding.

    The key word in Block Management is "block". FWP has had trouble putting together large tracts(blocks) of land (several ranches together) to really make it work in our area. I am involved in one that is 5-6000 acres in good country with a lot of game and it is just not big enough to guarantee a high number of successful hunts because game can escape from the area too easily. This BMA (Block Management Area) was initially substantially larger(still not 20,000 acres) but resident hunter behavior reduced the number of ranches involved.

    For the program to really work well, in my opinion BMAs should be 20,000 acres and up.

    Passage of I-161 may, if everything sells, generate some additional capital for the FWP to throw at the program but they still have to get over the "This ranch is sick of resident hunters" hurdle.

    Public hunting can be a real pain in the butt for ranchers where as leasing to hunt clubs, outfitters, or use of direct access fees is much less of a headache and pays much better.
    And the money definitely has a lot to do with it. It doesn't take much of an economist to figure out the margin in ranching is slim so ranchers make it where they can.

    Then comes the argument "The wildlife belongs to the public"
    and that is absolutely correct. But who feeds most of the public's wildlife in this state, cares for the public's wildlife, puts up with the public's wildlife the year round, and generally is the steward of the "public's wildlife.

    The Rancher.
  17. Bojangles
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    Bojangles - October 19, 2010 7:21 pm
    In actuality, I bet this bill (when passed) will do little except return fairness, equity and right ethics back to hunting in MT. That is worth a vote in and of itself.

    The increases to licenses is overdue - we need more funds for Block Management to compete at all with outfitters who pay 70 cents to a dollar to lock up private lands (AND ALL PUBLIC LAND CHECKERBOARDED WITHIN!). It also provides money that will fund permanent conservation which is a win no matter what side of this debate you fall to.

    I'm voting for I-161. It just makes sense.
  18. ionesixoneisabadidea
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    ionesixoneisabadidea - October 19, 2010 7:03 pm
    Sisyphus---YOU ARE CORRECT! Those out of state hunters that we (MT OUTFITTERS) will not be "reserving a spot" for; hence this horrible, misleading Initiative happens to win on Nov. 2nd, will go elsewhere! Leaving Montana with less tourism dollars spent in the state.

    WORKING CLASS---Thank you for obviously understanding that the Montana Outfitters are included in the working class and yes they are SPORTSMEN! They do WORK for a living. In fact, my guess is that many of them work harder than most people. Rarely are outfitter hours from 9-5! But, they ARE tougher than the rest of the working world; maybe smarter too. They get paid to round up clients, take them hunting and fishing (on public and some private land) and ask for a wage! Many of the outfitters/sportsment known to me work quite hard for the living they live. How dare they? Unfortunately, if I-161 passes, they will have to work that much harder to ensure that they have more out-of-state hunters for next season to help themselves as well as the small communities they live in to continue prospering. Thank you for your support and for the big NO on I-161!

    INDEPENDENT--That Initiative 161 IS A BAD IDEA!

    CONCERNED 1---It is important that you become more concerned very quickly. If I-161 makes it through the collander on November 2nd get ready and set to be rubbing elbows with more and more out of state hunters that are roaming the country unguided and with thick, fat pockets! Yikes. Remember, those outfitters using those "Guaranteed Tags" guarantee that the hunter they sold those tags to, will be guided. With everybody on a draw basis, you ought to make many brand new friends! Enjoy! Or better yet vote NO for I-161 and spare yourself and your uninformed friends that don't know any better. Do you honestly think that a private land owner is going to open up his/her land to you or rather to some out of state folk that has some dollars in hand? Just consider all of the above and your future in hunting with many guests to the state--GUIDED OR UNGUIDED. I strongly advise anyone concerned about a sportsmen's relationship to an outfitter-to become a paid SPORTSMAN for a season...truly only the tough survive!

  19. concerned1
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    concerned1 - October 19, 2010 4:16 pm
    Imamontanan. Wow. Imamontanan too. So now that we are on an even footing, let me begin.

    "And for the record - outfitters are sportsmen..." A "sportsman" doesn't profit from his or her passion monetarily, a business man does. When a sportsman hangs out his shingle as an outfitter he stops being the former, and starts being the latter because he's then doing it for a profit! Outfitters are profiteers with a statutorially mandated guaranteed clintel; which will change here shortly.

    Outfitters will do and have done whatever is necessary to muscle out ordinary sportman in the name of money, i.e., leases, hunter harassment, road closures, etc. They have made the bed that they currently lie in. I suspect that you'll say that this is just another unsubstaniated claim? Well just google articles on I-161 and look at the readers comments. Then you tell me whether this claim is unsubstaniated or not.

    No where in my original post did I say the passage of I-161 will result in more animals or lands to hunt. Re-read it if you need to. You speak as someone who has exclusive rights to recreate where there are few. Well the rest of us do not have that luxury.

    My "type of Sportsman" you say?! Well my type of sportsman took a weekend out of my summer to travel several hundred miles to help a landowner fix a mile of fence. This landowner and I have enjoyed a 12+ year relationship because I respect her wishes and the parameters under which she expects me to hunt. I do not take the "privilege" of hunting on her ranch lightly, and I am willing to go the extra mile to further cultivate our relationship. Oh, and by the way, this ranch IS in block management.

    Again, my "type of Sportsman" you say?! My type of sportsman parks respectfully at the gate and walks miles a day for something I am extremely passionate about. So to you "imamontanan", I say that you know nothing about My "type of Sportsman".

  20. imamontanan
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    imamontanan - October 19, 2010 3:38 pm
    Concerned1 - the previous commentators/posters know very little about the drive behind this effort or about the desire of sportsmen to hunt year in and year out?

    Why? Because they don't agree with you?

    And for the record - outfitters are sportsmen, too. It's how they got started in their businesses - they are intelligent and driven enough to make a decent living at what they love to do.

    161 will not give you any more animals or land to hunt "year in and year out."

    "I-161 WILL level the playing field between us sportsman and the outfitting "industry" in Montana again. It became painfully obvious that the outfitters have had the upper hand for far to long and that it WAS adveresly affecting the recreational activities of every outdoor person in this state."

    These kind of unsubstantiated and blanket statements show just how uninformed you are. It certainly does not affect "every outdoor person in this state."

    I'm a horseman, a hunter, a swimmer, a hiker, a fisherman, a rafter, and an amateur photographer, to name a few.

    Outfitters certainly do not adversely affect the recreational activities of this outdoor person.

    The landowners that are/were used and abused by your type of "sportsman" and are against this heavy handed tactic are not going to be any more likely to welcome your type of "sportsman" IF 161 passes. They don't roll over that easily - they'll just dig in a little deeper.
  21. concerned1
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    concerned1 - October 19, 2010 1:34 pm
    The previous posters/commentors on this subject obviously know very little about the drive behind this effort or about the desire of sportsman to hunt year in and year out.

    I-161 WILL level the playing field between us sportsman and the outfitting "industry" in Montana again. It became painfully obvious that the outfitters have had the upper hand for far to long and that it WAS adveresly affecting the recreational activities of every outdoor person in this state.

    Now, without knowing in advance how much money they (outfitters) will have available to to lease up land, they will be forced to be much more cognizant about how much land they try to lease up. Thereby, making them much more conscentious about the risk of over spending in this area and not being able to recoupe their initial investment.

    On the other side of that token, rich out-of-staters and even in-staters for that matter, won't be so hip about leasing up ground if they know that there is a risk that maybe they won't draw a license to come and hunt afterwards. Why invest in anything, i.e., a lease, if there isn't a guarantee that you'll be able to use it in the end.

    Sportsman will still come to Montana and Hunt because they're sportsman. It's in their genetic mak up to pursue their passion year after year. Call me a sportsman and someone who has alreadt voted FOR I-161. I did so for my hunting future, and my families hunting future.

  22. Independent
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    Independent - October 19, 2010 9:42 am
    161 is simply a bad idea.
  23. workingclass
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    workingclass - October 19, 2010 7:58 am
    Thanks for the honest story about I-161. The "sweet" deal for Outfitters is one line that drives me crazy as there is not "Outfitter welfare". Outfitters compete for business just like everyone else, all they are asking is fot the ability to serve their client. There is NO SUCH THING AS GARUANTEED INCOME from the stae!!! I feel I-161 will backfire as it will not hurt the private land Outfitter near as much as the backcountry as it is hard to over book hunts when you are limited to how many people you can have in camp each week. The private land guys will over book and still be full every year. Public land Outfitters have been hanging by a string since 2008 due to huge fire seasons in 2007 and a poor economy. So the initiative will not open more land than before. If a rancher can't lease out his land he is not going to throw open the gates. It is more likely bits and pieces of the place will be sold off and likely to buyers from out of state who don't even believe in hunting and close the ground down completely!!! I believe in private land rights and that there is plenty of public ground in this amazing state for all hunters. The initiative will devestate many small towns as that is all we have is tourism and ranching.
  24. Sisyphus
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    Sisyphus - October 19, 2010 6:50 am
    Non-resident visitors pump many millions of dollars into the Montana economy each year. If 161 passes, the media will portray Montana as a xenophobic State that does not want tourism. People will go elsewhere.

    Imagine if other States treated Montanans this way. Imagine if you tried to reserve a room at Disneyland for your family and the person there said "State law will not allow me to reserve a room for you here. If you want to put your name in the hat, we draw a few names once a year and allow those few to come visit us."

    What would you tell the person making the reservations?

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
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