The core content of the program is “landowner-driven” with significant input also coming from sportsmen and women. The program promotes hunting access on private lands and matches certificated hunters who complete the course with private landowners who seek safe, ethical, responsible and competent hunters for whom they provide access to their properties for hunting.
Montana landowners have many different experiences when allowing public hunters to access their properties for hunting or other recreational activities. These experiences range from high quality personal friendships that develop between landowner and hunter over the years to extremely negative and sometimes unsafe experiences. In some cases, these negative experiences stem from hunters who do not understand the basic ethics and responsibilities associated with hunting on private property. When a landowner allows unknown public hunters access to private property, an extremely wide range of hunter skills and behaviors can be expected. Total years of hunting experience may or may not result in more skilled or ethical hunters. For the landowner, providing hunting access can become the proverbial “box of chocolates” – you never know what you will get.
The major goal of the Montana Hunter Advancement Program is to educate and train a group of thoughtful, skilled hunters who are dedicated to their craft. Our Master Hunters will understand how their hunting activities and behaviors impact Montana farmers and ranchers, and what is required for them to become the kind of hunters whom our Montana landowners will want to welcome back to their farms and ranches. The benefits to the hunters who successfully complete this course will be managed hunting access to our partner farms and ranches, as well as a deepened knowledge and skillset that will make them more competent, successful hunters.
The curriculum includes the following topics, some of which will be taught by farmers and ranchers themselves:
- Why ranchers ranch and why farmers farm.
- The farming economy in America today in a Global Economy.
- Seasonal work flow…calving, planting, harvesting, shipping, weaning.
- Subsidies, production costs, taxes, crop insurance, cattle market, grain markets, weather, etc.
- Farm bill and how it relates to land use and wildlife.
- Grazing management and elk impact: vs value to ranch.
- Living with elk 24-7
- How to recover costs associated with wildlife damage, etc.
- Landowner panel to discuss issues which they have dealt with related to wildlife on their respective properties.
- Damage hunts and the demands upon landowner time to administer.
- Landowner perceptions of hunters.
- Impacts of hunters on landowner’s time and operation such as weeds, road maintenance, opening and closing gates, driving in seeded fields, property damage, etc.
- Impacts of wildlife on range land, agricultural crops, fences, etc.
- Landowner benefits or lack thereof related to hunting/public.
Additionally the curriculum will focus upon improving hunting skills, ethics and competency with a rifle as well as field experiences in how to field dress and remove big game from the field.
In order to assist landowners with managing the hunters who would like to hunt on their properties we will be using an online reservation program which will allow landowners to determine which days when they choose to allow hunting, as well the species which may be hunted, sex of species which may be harvested, specific ranch rules related to weeds, driving, walk in areas, etc.
The Montana Hunter Advancement Program will also provide hunter management assistance to landowners in addition to the online hunter reservation program to be provided by Huntable.
Benefits to Landowners:
- A well-trained, qualified pool of hunters to draw from when considering who to allow on their property. Currently, many landowners may not wish to allow general public hunters onto their property as they have no way of knowing the competence or ethics of those individuals.
- Opportunity to communicate with selected hunters prior to hunting so hunters will be informed of all landowner expectations, ranch rules, property boundaries, safety zones, etc.
- Ability to use an online hunter management/reservation system to minimize the “hassle factor” of dealing with hunters asking for permission via phone or in person on a daily basis.
- Landowners select the species and sex of the animals to be hunted; the time periods that hunting is allowed; the areas of the ranch where hunting is allowed; the number of hunters allowed; what, if any, roads may be used; requirements for road use such as washing vehicles prior to hunting for weed control, retrieval, etc. Landowner may still grant access to other hunters.
- Opportunity to control wildlife populations under strict guidelines in a safe environment with well-trained, respectful hunters.
- Opportunity to find competent, respectful hunters for big game damage seasons.
- Opportunity to charge an access fee for hunting on your property.
If you are a landowner who is interested in learning more about this program, or perhaps enrolling some of your property as one of the farms and ranches where our Certified Montana Master Hunters may reserve some days to hunt this fall, please contact us. Or click here to fill out the Landowner Agreement/Ranch Rules form.