Public hunter access to private lands in the Bitterroot Valley and throughout Montana is greatly influenced by landowners. Hunter behavior influences their attitudes and perceptions and whether they perceive hunters as an asset or an impediment to their farming or ranching operations. Long-time farmers and ranchers welcomed hunters to their properties as part of the Montana tradition. Many of our private landowners still hold these values, but times are changing and access to private lands declines each year. So why is hunting access to private lands in Montana so important to the public hunter? First, 71% of the land in Montana is privately owned. Second, establishing a friendship or positive relationship with a landowner is an integral step in gaining long-term hunting access to private lands. Third, private lands support a wealth of the huntable species of wildlife in Montana. The need for a program such as this has been growing significantly over the past decade in Montana as public access to private lands becomes more and more difficult.
The Primary objectives of the Bitterroot Valley Hunter Enhancement Program are to increase and improve participant’s:
- shooting skills
- hunting ethics
- skills and knowledge related to understanding and appreciating the physical and economic challenges of farming and ranching in today’s world.
Program participants experience in-class and live-fire field exercises instructed by seasoned professionals. Participants gain skills and knowledge requested by Montana landowners who want to provide access for hunters willing to raise the bar on field skills, proficiency and hunter ethics.
Program creators developed a curriculum taught over a two-day period and include in-class and field experiences in hunter ethics, landowner relations, shooting skills, techniques and ethics related to removing harvested big game from the field. One full day will be devoted to hunter ethics and landowner relations, including a panel discussion with area landowners and or ranch managers. A second day will include marksmanship training and field qualification taught by a firearms expert at the MPG Ranch rifle range.
We will select class participants through a formal application process which includes questions related to hunting experience, ethics, landowner relations and an essay question which encourages creative thinking and problem solving on the part of the applicant.
The first 2-day course is June 12th and 13th, 2021. Cost is $350.
For those interested in participating in this program, please go to the “contact us” portion of the website, fill in the appropriate information with a message in 100 words or less; describe how this program can help you achieve the goals above. Possible help with scholarships may be available. You will be contacted with further information.