HELENA — This weekend marks the start of another general firearm hunting season for deer and elk here in Montana, and if it’s your first season or your 50th checking the regulations before leaving the house is not a bad idea.
“You know, a lot of people just assume theyknow the regulations.This year is the first year with some pretty big changes to a lot of areas in the state. Hunting district boundaries have changed," Communications and Education Division Administrator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Greg Lemon told MTN. "Some of the regulations within hunting districts have changed, so it’s really important for people to brush up on the regulations before they head out. “
You preparation doesn’t end with that. There is a vast amount of public land here that we can all hunt – but where that ends and private land begins can get confusing sometimes
“When you’re hunting you have to know where you’re at, where you’re hunting. You have to know. It’s your responsibility to know as a hunter to know whether you’re on public or private land and whether you have access to that land that you’re hunting on. In Montana it’s in statute that you have to have permission to hunt on private land," said Lemon. "So you need to know where you’re at, at all times. Whatever device you use to do that, a map, your phone, and app. How ever you choose, it’s still your obligation. We have some good tools on our website. We have a Hunt Planner that has the public, private ownerships in it. It’s got all the block management areas, and block management is a great resource for hunters too.”
But if you are hunting private land this season – remember that communication with the landowner is key and a little respect goes a long way.
“So we’ll tell hunters, talk to landowners and ask them, ‘hey, thanks for letting me hunt, do you want me to keep the gates as I find them? Do you want me to close all the gates? If I shoot something off the road, can I drive to go retrieve it? If it gets cold and we’re going to be out all day can I build a fire? You know, all those sorts of questions need to be asked," said Lemon. "Because you can’t just assume that you know what the landowner’s wishes are for their land and hunting private land is a privilege.
Lemon also mentioned that bears are still out there and active, especially now as they try to pack on the final pounds before winter. So still be bear aware, practice proper firearm safety and wear that blaze orange.