FROM THE HORSES MOUTH!!! by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: November 20, 2023

Current, accurate, and legal information has become an important part of outdoor recreation. Regulations and laws are often sketchy, changing, or confusing. Sportsmen may not have their regulations book when afield or afloat. They do seem to always carry a cellphone, and if they have a signal, they can clarify regulations and information quickly.

The last time that Shrapnel and I were afield, we stumbled into a big flock of Prairie Chickens. These huge birds are being carefully monitored and protected. Where we were, they were in abundance. Kirk pulled out his cell phone and called the region 3 FWP office. The lady on the phone checked the regs and saw that they were only legal to hunt during the month of September in Montana. If we did not get an answer immediately, we would not have hunted them, but…

Deer and elk hunters are using every technological advantage that they can legally access. Trail Cams are one of these modern tools. These cams can send a current picture to your home computer. You can store a library of pictures, learn when they are taken, and where is a good time and place to hunt. Trail cams are not legal in every state and when and how to use them is confusing. 

I sent off an email to Region 3 FWP and did not get a email back. Instead, I was called by the local warden, from his truck, while he was working! He professionally and accurately explained the status of the law. You can use trail cams in Montana. “You can even use the ones that send current links to your computer, but you can not use them when you are in the field actively hunting.” 

Having a Hot Line to and from the FWP offices or wardens is a great way to expedite questions and issues. Technology will continue to change. Regulations are usually a step behind the new tech that could impact Fair Chase and ethical hunting and fishing. Don’t be the sport that gets ticketed for an issue that could have been prevented.

Questions relating to Corner Crossing are an issue. This rule may change but currently you can’t. In Wyoming they recently modified the rule but not in Montana. Drifting in Wyoming means no anchoring! Landowners own under the rivers too. In Montana the Stream Access law allows access to fish, but not big game hunts. Public Access is allowed on Fishing Access sites but no other islands. They may be owned by adjacent landowners or leased. Outfitters also can lease lands and access and are not required to post it. If you are confused, welcome to the club. Drones cannot be used during hunts. Radios/cellphones can be used to communicate but not aid or assist in the hunt. There are a lot of gaps in interpretations of regulations. Whew!

Many of us carry a wallet sized card of the regs and seasons in our wallets. I usually leave my wallet in the locked truck. A regulation book is also in my truck seat pocket. We used to have to carry our fishing and hunting licenses in a displayed pouch on our coats. Now a cell phone picture will do. Since the cell phone has replaced the cameras, trekkers and sportsmen always carry their cellphones for mapping, locations, and selfies. Having a quick response FWP number is a good idea.

Add your local MTFWP phone numbers into your cell phones. You may need it to report a violation, get help, or confirm questions. The responsibility to know the laws and rules is on the shoulders of the sportsmen. 

If you do not know the rules, get the answers from the Horse’s Mouth!

Montana Grant

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