Do it well in advance. Ive found ranchers to be much more receptive in mid-summer than they are a week before the season opens. In my experience, during the lunch hour is a good time to call, preferably after about 12:30 when theyre hopefully through eating. A lot of ranch families eat their big meal at noon, and its generally a low-stress time of the day. If the answer is "no or their place is leased to an outfitter, be gracious about. Trust me, complaining will get you nowhere.
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Its rare for them to be listed in the phone book as such, which sonakshi presents a problem as far as contacting them to request permission for hunting access. The gis lists a mailing address, but phrases personally i think a phone call is far more effective. Fortunately, with another phone call you can find out who the people are behind a business name. Call the business Services division of the montana secretary of States office,. All businesses registered in Montana are required to list their agents, officers (for a corporation and members (for a llc). Thats public information, and the folks at Business Services will pass it along to you, after which its usually a simple matter of an online phone number search to find out "who youre gonna call". A couple of notes; the folks at the business Services office handle a staggering number of calls requesting this information, reportedly 200-400 per day (I'd assume very few of those pertain to hunting access). Three employees handle all those calls, so if they sound a little harried give em a break. This information should be available online in the not too distant future, to the immense relief of the three people fielding all the calls currently. When it is, well pass along an update. . (you can now do a business Entity search online here.) Also, use some common sense when calling ranchers to ask for hunting permission.
That takes you to a page with a map of the state, by county, in the upper left frame. Choose your county, click on it, and a map of the county, by township, appears in the lower left frame. At this point, i find its handy to have a regular paper map such as the blm smes handy to refer to for township and section numbers. Once youve determined which township youre looking for, click on it, and a larger map of it appears in the main frame. You can then choose a number of options, including what type of parcel info you want, as well as what features you want on the map, such as hydro (streams lakes roads, section numbers, hunting districts, and more. Choose your options, click on a particular section or parcel, and viola, a detailed map appears and a table under it lists not only the landowner but also everything else you could possibly want to know about the parcel, except where the big bucks hang. Its beyond cool, its completely amazing, and better yet, once completed itll always be up to date. When owl ownership of a parcel changes, as soon as its recorded at the courthouse, the database will automatically be updated. One thing youll find, though, is that a lot of landowners are businesses; corporations or llcs.
So, aside from just asking around (which is a good way to get lied to, as well as tip people off about your hunting intentions about the only way to find out was to go to the Clerk and Recorders office in the county courthouse. Needless to say, this is vastly inconvenient, even if you live in the area, and totally impractical if you dont. That has recently changed, though, and now you can research land ownership on-line anytime you choose, thanks to the. Montana gis (Geographic Information System) Cadastral Mapping Projec. This is a public/private sector partnership to create, yardage maintain, and disseminate a digital land ownership database of the entire state. Its a work in progress, but a lot of the state is already entered, and with a few mouse clicks, you can find out who owns a particular parcel. The website can be used a number of different ways, but since youre most likely looking for an unknown owner of a parcel, go to the "Maps" button and click on "parcels, by map".
But, as the saying goes, the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, and maybe youve seen a huge buck that hangs out on private property thats not enrolled in Block management. Thats not too unusual; there are more people interested in enrolling their places in the program than there are funds available. As mentioned previously, a lot of good hunting ranches are leased by outfitters, but for reasons as diverse as the ranchers themselves, some people just dont like the idea of leasing out the hunting rights on their place. For one, in most cases it means their own family cant even hunt there anymore, which is a little hard to swallow for a lot of folks. So, just because a place isnt in Block management, dont automatically assume you cant hunt there. The problem is finding out who owns a particular piece of ground. As previously mentioned, some counties have land ownership maps which theyll send you, but a lot of counties dont, and accuracy can be suspect unless the map has been recently updated.
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The numbers are: Region 1- kalispell, region 2- missoula, region 3- bozeman. Region 4- Great Falls, region 5- billings, region 6- Glasgow. Region 7- miles City, theyll send you the Block management guide for the region, which lists all the enrolled properties. Then you need to contact the fwp office again and request maps and contact information for the places youre interested. In most cases, youre limited to three sets of maps per request.
Along with the maps, youll receive the rules pertaining to that ranch. These vary from place to place; some offer unlimited hunting with just a revolution daily sign-in, while others restrict access to only a certain number of hunters or parties per day. Vehicle access also varies; most restrict vehicle use to established roads, but some are walk-in only. Personally, i look for larger places that are walk-in only, although weve also had good luck, particularly antelope hunting, on ranches that were open to vehicle use on established roads. Between public and Block management lands, you can find enough places to hunt to occupy yourself for a lifetime.
If youre hunting in the western part of the state, youll most likely be hunting Forest Service land, and will want the Travel Plan for the particular National Forest youre hunting, and in most cases also the usgs 1:24,000 topographical maps. For Forest Service maps, contact the. Forest Service regional Office in Missoula. The usgs maps are available at many sporting good stores, or directly from usgs map Sales in Denver,. If youre interested in finding sources for maps, (and if youre a serious hunter you need to be an excellent publication is the "Directory of Montana maps" put out by the montana dept. Of Fish, wildlife, and Parks, available from the helena fwp headquarters.
In addition to contact information for the aforementioned Federal agencies, it has phone numbers and addresses for each county Clerk and Recorder. Many counties have land ownership maps available, although Id warn that in the more populated counties its difficult to keep these maps up to date. After ive checked out the public land hunting possibilities, the next step is to research the Block management properties in the area. Block management is a program administered by fwp that pays landowners to open their lands to public hunting. This is a tremendous program that has opened up nearly 8 million acres to public access, and provides some great hunting opportunities. It still requires some research, though, in most cases you cant just show up and expect to hunt that day. Its administered by the regional fwp headquarters, and youll need to contact the one for the area youre interested in (obviously, you can contact them all if you desire).
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The rag maps are clearly the best, but they are only offered in a few areas; in the missouri Breaks/Jordan area online and around Billings. So, youll mostly be using the sme maps. These show the section numbers, topographical contours (usually on 100 or 200 foot intervals and roads, which greatly facilitates finding your way to publicly accessible lands. Note; not all the roads shown on the sme maps are public, although if you compare with the delorme maps you can usually determine which ones are public roads. As a rule of thumb, it its graded or maintained its probably a public county road. In my experience, the blm maps generally show more public land in an area than the delorme maps do, mainly because they show the bankhead-Jones Land Use lands, legs which are tracts that were unsuccessfully homesteaded in the early 1900s, and forfeited back to the government. Of course, the foregoing discussion pertains mostly to eastern Montana.
Usually, section 36 in each township is State owned, although there are exceptions. Obviously, you will need a map to locate these State parcels. One letter of the handiest, which also shows blm and Forest Service lands, is the montana Atlas and gazetteer, available. While the gazetteer is a must, the maps are on a 1:250,000 scale and so lack enough detail for most serious hunting use; not only topographical detail but also section numbers, etc. So, the next step is to order blm maps for the area in question. First, youll need the index, which along with the individual maps is available from the blm state Office in Billings. With the index in hand, you can decide which of the 1:100,000 scale maps you want. These come in a few different configurations, the surface management Edition (SME) maps, the sme minerals Edition, and the recreational Access guide (RAG) maps.
blue strikes me as borderline unacceptable behavior, and is certainly not the best way to gain access to that property. Nobody enjoys rejection, and i employ the "show up and ask" technique very infrequently. So, the first thing I do is look for places where i dont have to ask permission at all. Even in areas that are predominantly private property, you might be surprised at the amount of public land. In Montana, at least one section (a square mile, 640 acres and often more, out of each township (36 sections) is State-owned land. The state land is leased by private individuals, usually area ranchers, for grazing or crop production, but if you have a state lands Access Permit, available anywhere hunting and fishing licenses are sold, you can hunt there. There are some restrictions; camping is prohibited, for one. Regulations are explained in a booklet that comes with the permit, and i advise reading them. You cant cross private property to reach State land, but the vast bulk is accessible via county roads, and I havent personally found much that was inaccessible.
On a lot of ranches that have superior hunting, unless you were well connected you werent too likely to paper have access even before outfitter leasing became commonplace. Especially given the dismal state of the agricultural economy, if the ranchers see decent income potential from hunting, theyre likely to work at conserving or improving wildlife habitat on their places. The game doesnt always stay on a particular ranch, and a little map study may reveal some excellent hunting opportunities on adjacent public land, or unleased private property. Getting back on topic, though, even in eastern Montana a minimal amount of research will uncover more hunting opportunities than you could cover in several lifetimes. Thats what this article is about; how to go about finding a place to hunt, particularly on private land. A couple of the methods, such as utilizing the Block management Program, are fairly obvious and will come as no big news to those familiar with Montana hunting. Even if youre already familiar with some of this stuff, read on, though. Weve recently become aware of a land ownership research tool thats just too cool to believe, one that can put you in touch with the owners of nearly any property in the state. First, though, a bit about the sequence i personally use when looking for somewhere to hunt.
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Cant recall the number of times ive heard somebody complain "theres nowhere summary to go hunting anymore". Usually, im able to resist the temptation to tell them "youre not looking very hard but thats about the size. If theyre talking about western Montana, where were blessed with a tremendous amount of public land, their argument holds no water whatsoever and they just need to get off the barstool or out of the truck and cover some country. If theyre talking about eastern Montana, where much of the best deer and antelope hunting takes place, their argument may have slightly more merit, but theyre still deluding themselves if they think theres nowhere to hunt. A lot of people are quite upset about the amount of private land thats been leased by outfitters in that part of the state during recent years, and no longer accessible to the public. Thats certainly a thorny issue; one that ive got mixed emotions about. Naturally, i hate to see land closed off to the public as much as anybody, but I think issuing a blanket condemnation of all outfitters is a little simplistic.