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There hasn't been much news about I-161, yet, but if supporters manage to get it on the ballot, watch out. This ballot initiative could reverse the trend of declining hunting access to private land, but it also could have a profound impact on Montana's outfitting and tourism industries. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) sets aside "not more than an average of" 5,500 nonresident deer and elk and 2,300 deer-only "outfitter sponsored guaranteed licenses" for nonresident hunters. To be eligible for licenses, according to the FWP, nonresident hunters must first contract for the services of a licensed Montana outfitter and "must conduct all sponsored license hunting with the outfitter."

Montana Outfitter-Sponsored Big Game Licenses in the Crosshairs

There hasn’t been much news about I-161, yet, but if supporters manage to get it on the ballot, watch out. This ballot initiative could reverse the trend of declining hunting access to private land, but it also could have a profound impact on Montana’s outfitting and tourism industries.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) sets aside “not more than an average of” 5,500 nonresident deer and elk and 2,300 deer-only “outfitter sponsored guaranteed licenses” for nonresident hunters. To be eligible for licenses, according to the FWP, nonresident hunters must first contract for the services of a licensed Montana outfitter and “must conduct all sponsored license hunting with the outfitter.”

FWP also sells 11,500 nonresident deer and elk combination licenses to the general public, whether or not hunters hire outfitters, but this is a random drawing. Hence no guarantee of getting a license or getting it in the desired hunting district.

In 1995, the Montana legislature created these special permits to help big game outfitters and nonresidents plan ahead for their fall big game hunts, but some hunters, both resident and nonresidents, see it as giving preference to wealthy out-of-state hunters.

Outfitters have also started leasing hunting rights to large ranches for the exclusive use of their clients, and some hunters believe these set-aside licenses have worsened this pay-to-play trend and the loss of public hunting access to private land.

Now, Montana sportsman have decided to do something about it, and after failed attempts to change the current system administratively and through the legislature, they are taking their cause to the people.

The Montana Secretary of State has approved I-161 and supporters are currently gathering signatures. They need 24,430 qualified signatures from 34 legislative districts before June 18 to place in on the ballot for the November 2 general election.

“This dedicated license for the wealthy nonresident is going away,” predicts Kurt Kephart,” a Billings hunter who is fed up and now spearheading the ballot initiative process. “Just because you have money doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a hunt in Montana.”

Kephart has been emailing signature forms and organizing hunters to help him gather the signatures. He only has a few hundred signatures in the bag so far, but he said he is getting strong support from hunters and is confident I-161 will be on the ballot on November 2.

“Montana sportsman understand it,” Kephart told NewWest.Net, “but the non-hunting public needs a little more understanding on how this affects hunting access here in Montana.”

In addition to doing away with the outfitter-sponsored licenses, I-161 increases nonresident big game license fees to compensate for the loss of income. FWP uses most of the revenue from the outfitter-sponsored licenses to fund the department’s Block Management Program, a hunter access project that pays landowners to leave land open to public hunting. Currently, FWP has about 8 million acres in the Block Management.

“It (I-161) brings our fee for combination deer and elk license up to the level of Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming,” Kephart explained. “We’ve been losing about $2 million per year if we’d kept up with these states.”

Kephart said I-161 will result in a net gain for the FWP revenue of $2.2 million per year, which would be split between block management ($700,000) and habitat improvement and acquisition ($1.5 million).

FWP did a fiscal note on I-161, which verifies Kephart’s financial projections, but FWP has no official opinion on this–or any–ballot measure. “We’re prohibited from providing an opinion on initiatives once they’ve been approved by the Secretary of State,” FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim told NewWest.Net.

One basic premise of I-161 is that, without the guaranteed licenses, outfitters won’t be able to justify leasing large tracts of private land and these private ranches will once again become available for public hunting.

That’s an assumption the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA) strongly disputes.

Mac Minard, MOGA Executive Director told NewWest.Net he agrees with problem, declining public hunting access, but not with Kephart’s solution.

All I-161 would do, Minard said, would be remove much-needed stability that the outfitter-sponsored licenses give to the industry. Losing these special licenses, he said, would be a big blow to many outfitters and seriously hurt the tourism industry in Montana.

If I-161 passed, outfitters might still keep their leases and go back to how it was before they had guaranteed licenses, Minard noted, and even if they let the leases go, landowners might not open their land to public hunting.

Ranchers close their land to public hunting for a reason, he explained, often because they’re fed up with bad behavior by hunters or tired of the hassle of monitoring hunting. Leasing to an outfitter or private hunting club makes life easier for landowners.

Minard said that outfitters have between 2 and 3 million acres under lease in Montana, but private individuals and clubs have about as much land under lease. If outfitters gave up a lease, some landowners would simply lease to a private hunting club.

Minard also believes the FWP fiscal note on I-161 is “flawed” because it’s based on the assumption that all nonresident deer and elk licenses will sell at the higher prices. He recounted a recent experience in Idaho where the state raised nonresident license fees expecting to increase revenue, but actually suffered a steep decline because nonresidents didn’t buy at the higher price.

Minard and Kephart obviously see the issue differently, but they agree on one point. If I-161 gets on the ballot, the outfitting industry will strongly oppose it and the issue will be white-hot controversial, especially during this fall’s big game season.

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  1. Where do we sign?

  2. Yeah, I’m with Mitch. Can the author give some information regarding how we can get involved?

  3. Has anyone thinking of signing this petition actually thought of the un-intended consequences it will bring with it?

    Currently the outfitters are kept in check by this guaranteed license, only able to take a set number of clients per year, per outfitter. If 161 goes thru there will be no limit imposed on outfitters or their clients. This is the least of it though….how about big corporations coming in and leasing up land to hunt their employee’s on? Big hunt clubs will now be looking into leasing up Montana, because now the non-resident will be looking at a near 90% + draw (whereas before it was only 50-55% for the elk/deer combo).

    Be careful or you might get more (or less land to hunt on) than you bargain for in this deal. 161 is not all its cracked up to be.

  4. Please explain the logic of this statement from the article:

    “Outfitters have also started leasing hunting rights to large ranches for the exclusive use of their clients, and some hunters believe these set-aside licenses have worsened this pay-to-play trend and the loss of public hunting access to private land.”

    “Montana sportsman understand it,” Kephart told NewWest.Net, “but the non-hunting public needs a little more understanding on how this affects hunting access here in Montana.”

    How would I-161 change this? If a landowner wants to lease his land, he has plenty of options. I wonder if Mr. Kephart has an issue with ranchers? The additional fee paid does not go to the outfitter but to FWP and is used to purchase Block Managment (additional access for both resident and non-resident hunters). This is a very slippery slope…

  5. I’m not signing this.
    I have no love whatsoever for high-dollar outfitters and pay hunts. Yet I must respect agricultural economics and the rights of my fellow Montanans who happen to be ag producers.
    Ranchers have a right to control their property. They also have a right not to be overwhelmed with “asks” at all hours during hunting season. And it just happens that those two rights supersede the rights of sportsmen to hunt public wildlife. I recognized that a long time ago, and learned that it really helps to cultivate relationships aside from “hunting” — in short, get out there and make friends to the point where you can help each other out.
    Never mind that out of state hunters do in fact help out us locals when we gouge them on license fees. Well, at least they help the AGENCY.

  6. Very good article, Bill. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    It’s a difficult dilemma, and one that’s coming to define wildlife management and hunting in the West. How to reconcile public ownership of wildlife with private land rights? I-161 would seem to bring these issues to the fore, and I look forward to the (no doubt heated) debate.

    If the issue is one of increasing public access to private land, my own opinion is that carrots are more effective than sticks. Rather than kicking one of the legs out from under the outfitting industry (putting jobs at risk, and decreasing tourist revenue) why not provide incentives for landowners such that the value of allowing public hunting outweighs the benefits of leasing? If a landowner allows the public on his property (with all the associated damage in weed dissemination, trash cleanup, fences left open, etc.), if he or she is contributing to the public’s greater good, that contribution should be acknowledged. A few possible solutions….

    1. Landowners who allow public hunting could receive greater consideration in license draws. Especially in those areas wherein tags are tough to come by, this could be a very effective tool. In those areas wherein game populations are above management ideals, cooperating landowners could also be rewarded with tags earmarked for their own use or distribution.

    2. Landowners who allow public hunting could see their land reclassified in terms of property taxation. A lower state property tax bill for a “public hunting zone” would go a long way toward showing the public’s appreciation toward those landowners who open their property.

    3. Create a licensing system such that public hunters who are proven to be conscientious and caring of property rights are rewarded, while those who are caught trespassing or abusing their invitations are censored. I know this solution has already been discussed in various forums, and I think it’s a good idea. It would be a favor to landowners if they could tell by glancing at a license whether or not the hunter who is knocking on the door is a good citizen or not.

    Most landowners I know, if a measure of their income was taken away by an action of the state, if they felt they were being coerced into allowing public hunting — far from rolling over and allowing hunters on their property — would be much more likely to dig in their heels and say, okay then, NOBODY’S going to hunt.

    I don’t see I-161 as any sort of solution, but I do think the debate that will arise from it can only be healthy and productive.

  7. I am seeking information on where and how people can sign the initiaitve, and I’ll post it as soon as I can get it. The ballot measure supporters do not have a website, and all I currently have is Kurt Kephart’s email and phone, and I’ve asked for permission to post it. Stay tuned…..Bill

  8. Folks thinking about signing the I-161 petition should consider this:
    Kephart blames the guaranteed license on diminishing access, but offers no proof of his claim. Others have offered good comments about that charge in this forum.

    The reality is that the current system affords Montana hunters FREE access to millions of acres of prime private property, funded by nonresidents who pay a high, market-based price for the assurance of receiving a license, and landowners receive important compensation for the impacts of public hunting on their land.

    Such was the determination of the Private Lands/Public Wildlife Council, comprised of sportsmen, landowners, outfitters and representatives of the legislature, FWP Commission, and public lands. The Council began in August, 1993, with the goal to learn what each of the three major stakeholders – sportsmen, landowners, and outfitters – needed and wanted the most. Here’s what they found:
     Sportsmen wanted free access to hunt on private property;
     Landowners wanted to be acknowledged for their contribution to Montana’s wildlife (monetary compensation was a lower priority); and
     Outfitters needed the assurance that if they were able to market their services successfully, in competition with their peers, their booked, contracted clients would indeed receive a license, allowing them to fulfill the contract.

    Their recommendation, implemented into law by the 1995 Legislature, gave sportsmen what they wanted, compensated landowners for impacts of free public hunting, and gave outfitter businesses the ability to fulfill a contract. It works, folks.

    Perhaps the current system is not the perfect solution for all individuals, but it has served the state and the stakeholders well. The PL/PW continues to meet to resolve new challenges, and the Montana Legislature continues to turn back attempts to unravel the program.

    I-161 would unravel the program, based upon the effectiveness of a political campaign. This is NOT the proper venue for issues of this complexity and importance to Montana and the stakeholders. The legislative arena and FWP Commission offers a thoughtful, over-time process that seeks to understand the problem and fashion solutions that all can live with – even without total approval and acceptance.

  9. Information concerning I-161 can be found at our website. I can be reached at or by calling 406-248-7050. Thank you for your comments.

  10. Information concerning “the rest of the story” (I-161) will soon be available on a web site produced by those who understand the unintended consequences of I-161. We’ll post the URL here. Meanwhile, I’ve been part of this issue and evolving solutions since 1993 and can be reached at or by calling 406-458-6363. I appreciate the opportunity to provide some background on the current program, of which the “guaranteed license” is just one factor. Thanks for your interest.

  11. Wow!!! There are so many factors this Kurt Kephart and cohorts aren’t considering. Lets start with the fact that non resident hunters bring in much needed, even expected money to small town businesses such as local stores, motels, cafe’s, taverns etc. Not to mention they employ outfitters who in turn employ guides, and for some small town boys this is there only actual employment for the year. Then the guides spend their money in the local establishments, again supporting Montana small business. I really think Kepharts dollar figures are complete B.S. but for arguments sake let’s not say he is straight up full of sh** but rather let’s look at the fact that you can’t compare with the other states and say we are losing out on 2 million dollars. This is untrue propaganda. Okay at the current license fees if we were to take only the deer/elk combo outfitter tag which currently brings into the state of Montana $8,250,000.00 and give them to the general drawing they would then ONLY bring in $3,536,500.00 Hmmm this doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. That’s an instant loss of $4,713,500.00 to the state of Montana. And if the non resident hunters are not there to foot the states budget bill, where do you think they will look to next to make up the difference. That’s correct genius they will jack up your resident fishing and hunting license fees. Our tags are some of the cheapest in the country, but dont count on that for long if this initiative passes. How does Mr. Kurt try to compare us with Idaho? They just raised their non resident fees last year and were still under Montana’s cost and they sell over the counter, no drawing. This year they are finally above Montana’s price, who knows why they didn’t sell out last year. Also Kephart double talks by whining about being locked off private property because of outfitters and non residents, but does at least admit that he seems to know that block management is primarily funded by the outfitter sponsored tag, guess what this means private land is open for us Montana residents because of that at basically no cost to us. Man those out of staters make it rough on us don’t they. Paying so we can access land we would most likely otherwise not be allowed on. Boy the nerve of them people. Oh and the key word here is PRIVATE LAND, maybe folks over your way just don’t like you Kurt. Luckily for me I live on the west side of the state and we have hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of acres of PUBLIC LAND, and guess what? the outfitter sponsored tag is a benefit there also and opens up timber company land that would surely be closed other wise. Obviously Kurt Kephart has a personal problem with non residents and with private land owners, maybe they laughed and called him names, I say oh well for him, the facts do not support his claims so vote NO on I-161 and let’s enjoy the benefits out of state money brings to those of us born and raised in Montana.

  12. I decided to go ahead and run the numbers on the 2,300 outfitter sponsored deer tags also and if those were given to the general license drawing they would only bring the state of Montana $788,900.00 compared to the current $2,530,000.00 they fetch in the outfitter sponsored category a loss of another $1,741,100.00. So let’s see where we are now, Hmmm Kephart says we are losing out on 2.2 million dollars by keeping the outfitter sponsored tag and not putting those tags into the general drawing??? But general mathematics show that if we switched to the system Kephart would prefer, the state of Montana would actually be losing $6,454,600.00 compared to the current outfitter sponsored tag. Again I remind you the state will make that loss up some where and the most likely place will be a significant rise in the cost of your resident fishing and hunting licenses, I mean heck they’ve proven that non residents will pay astronomical fees to hunt here, why wouldn’t a resident, if forced to. My mom always said don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Think about it, it applies here. So what if some non resident is hunting on some private land, that if you actually think about it, you most likely would never have the opportunity to hunt no matter what the outcome of I-161. So what if you just don’t like non resident hunters. The fact remains that they pay the lions share for the hunting and fishing privelages we enjoy. Block management has opened a lot of private land to sportsman and it’s primary funding is from the outfitter sponsored tag. I doubt like hell Kurt Kephart is going to run around and keep all of this land open for you, maybe he will pay out of his pocket or hold bake sales, nope he is a trouble maker and if he gets his way all residents of Montana will pay. Higher resident license fees, LESS land, that is for sure.

  13. Folks are complaining about rich out-of-staters buying these licenses… well, remember where all that money is going. They are coming to Montana to throw there money around. It is not just FWP that gains the cash (for wildlife management, habitat, etc) it is local hotels, restaurants, stores, etc. I don’t think the guaranteed license is necessarily the right way to do it, but I-161 probably isn’t either.

  14. Unless there is a goal of keeping hunting and fishing affordable, sustainable, and obtainable for families of modest means it will end as we know it. The money is a sideshow distraction. The problems have solutions without selling wildlife for exclusive use by the wealthy.

  15. While I’m sympathetic to the goal of I 161–hunters here in Wyoming have scotched outfitter set aside licenses time and time again–I’m not sure that I 161 gets to the heart of the problem.

    Clearly, the most fundamental threats to conservation of land, water, and wildlife are privatization and commercialization–turning these natural resources into private property and market commodities. To try and justify privatization and commercialization as “incentives” for conservation is sheer nonsense; I learned long ago that incentives are incentives only for more incentives. Worse, these “incentives” are treated as private property rights, as ranchers now treat grazing permits as private property. Outfitters who have access to set asides also treat them as private property. That makes it harder to limit licenses to sustainable numbers.

    It seems to me that the supporters of I 161 would better spend their time and resources in putting together a well-thought out and well-written constitutional amendment initiative that structures the common law public trust into something more concrete and protective of our public natural resources.

    What do I mean by more concrete? Well, first, we give priority to conservation over use, either subsistence or commercial. When assessing use, subsistence uses trump commercial uses. All uses must be sustainable according to the best scientific and commercial information available. Second, basic rights in natural resources remain with the commons; only usufructory rights accrue to individuals. Third, citizens must have the right to protect the public trust in natural resources in court and petition the courts to enforce the fiduciary responsibilities of government officials when the latter neglect those responsibilities and seek for personal or political gain to hand public resources over to private interests.

    A public trust constitutional initiative would have far greater strategic impact on protecting public hunting, fishing, and trapping than the narrow I 161.


  16. What part of Montana’s economy is NOT dependent on money earned elsewhere? Universities? Out of state tuition and foreign student tuitions tell a different story.

    Real Estate? Come on! The whole deal is driven by people fleeing the urban diversity with all its attendant depersonalization, crime, greed, avarice and stupidity.

    Natural resource use? All I hear is those who bitch about USFS or BLM leases, the Mining Law, public land logging. Any Montana owned companies in those businesses?

    Capital and Investment money? Is Smith Barney a Montana company? GoldmanSachs? Credit Suisse? Lehman Bros? Oh, I forgot, those are companies from elsewhere who USED to invest in Montana. Now that they don’t, there is a depression.

    Transportation? sure. So when does the next Obammer Stimulus hit the State?

    Hell, even Federal taxpayers are on the hook to support local schools, government, and roads with the PILT payment bill.

    Take away the OPM, the Earned Elsewhere Money Spent in Montana, and Montana is a lot of land with damned little opportunity except to work for subsistence wages while waiting for someone, an angel, from elsewhere to show up with a good paying job.

    And Kommrad Hoskins will find you a job for a bowl of borscht and a moldy crumb of rye bread here and there.

  17. Gee Bearbait, if you actually knew what you were talking about, you’d know that the public trust involves the ancient rights of our English ancestors in natural resources and the sovereign rights and duties of the several states to protect public resources for their citizens, rights and duties formerly possessed by the English kings that passed to the American states upon Independence. Not a Marxist in sight in the history of the public trust, just a few Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Normans, and Britons. Don’t you study history?


  18. So 700 families essentially own Britain. Today. Land and estates left to successors in a “trust” that only one shall inherit the estate, and that person shall do his or her best to ensure that all is held together to be passed to the next generation. The rest live on or at the edges of that landed society, in a still feudal system that I don’t think I can find anywhere in our American legal system. No primogeniture encoded in our common law. Used to be, but not now.

    The commons worked until those using it looked out for themselves and not the political and social “communal” use of the area. The “commons” was a concept that existed, and did not work out, becoming a failed institution centuries ago. Then the Russians made a run at it, and gee, that failed, too. The last holdout, of course, is that economic engine of fear called North Korea. What a model that is for land use!!! And for the welfare of the citizenry.

    The crux of the deal is that there is no “equality” except in the abstract, as in equal opportunity. But no equality in intelligence, in dexterity, in size, is cognitive areas. No matter how you try to dole out resources, jobs, admission to Yale, boob size, athleticism, it will always be unequal. There is chance, and serendipity, but there is no equality of ownership, possession, ability, cognition, physical form, and to say that there is or should be shoots down the whole argument about diversity and appreciation of differences.

    So, the whole issue with who get what license to shoot or catch what critter will ultimately come down to who is the strongest competitor for the lottery of chance. Dollars buy “the Governor’s Tag”, which is a rich man’s game reserved for the select few who have the dough. The bullshit story is that it is good for game management. It is just a way to penalize poverty, so the states have low cost draws or lotteries for tags, as well. Income redistribution. The man with the bucks can use them to get what he or she wants. Only one can be the high bidder. Lots of multi million dollar slams out there on walls. Most every critter belonged to the state, and was on public land. Most all the gains from selling Western Governor’s tags for sheep have now gone right out the asshole of protected wolves, protected cougars, and habitat over use by the very sheep, goats, moose, elk, deer, what have you, that were to be enhanced by the big bucks from Mr. Big Bucks. And now with the world value discounted by 40% or more from 2007 values, (wall street investment banks not now included–obama is a dear, dear friend), the interest in Governor’s tags will not reach the former levels of interest for several years to come. But the minders of the public estate will get salary raises, and management costs will rise due to payroll costs, and gee, that money has to come from somewhere. So why in the hell is there a hue and cry to reduce Fish and Wildlife income? Why is penis envy and beating up on the rich such a great deal for the end result? Just how much more hunting do people think they will get? Less access, less money, less opportunity. Some deal you might get for the chance to mess up rural incomes, cultures, and public interests. The last people who screwed up an economy that bad was the Russians and the East Germans. I can’t imagine Montana hunters wanting the same result.

  19. One thing that I have not seen in these comments is, if you take away the outfitter sponsored licence you still have the same number of non-resident because those licenses convert to the drawing. This mean that there will be 7700 more non-resident hunters on block management. 5500 who now buy the B-10 and 2200 who now buy the B-11. Non-residents that buy these licences now are prohibited from hunting on block management but if this bill passes they can hunt anywhere and they can hunt all of bow season and all of rifle season. One of the early comments was watch what you wish for.

  20. You know Bearbait, you’re awful good at slathering copious words while saying nothing intelligible.

    Here’s your first economics lesson for the day. Go look up “common property resources” and do a little reading. Start with Elinor Ostrom. She just won the Nobel Prize for Economics, so she’s a good place to start. Maybe you’ll learn something useful about the commons. Til then, sayonara.


  21. If I have said it once, I have said it one hundred times. “Until the publicly accessable lands are managed, we will have a percieved access issue”.

    “Percieved”, you ask? Yes, percieved. There are over 30 million acres of public lands w/ adquate access, so says the governing agencies (Forest Service, BLM, CMR, State, ect.) Then there are nearly 9 million acres of Block Management (BMA) lands open for the public. Less than an hours drive from any major/minor city/town in Montana you can find a place to hunt for free. Access is not the issue, it just isn’t….nobody can argue the facts. So, if access is not the issue, what then is? Simple, I can sum in up in 3 words…..ACCESS TO QUALITY. Demand that the acres you can access for free be managed….in other words, you may give something up for the betterment of the resource. Do you not think it would be easier, not to mention much more profitable, to over-harvest every acre we hunt? It certainly would, but that is not in the best interest of the resource. We as outfitters/landowners attempt to manage our land for the resource. FWP manages people, and is a hunter opportunity state, nothing wrong with this, if you like to see 2 points and does. If you want more, demand it.

    I-161 is an ill concieved attempt to cripple the outfitting industry….there are those who blindly support, thinking that suddenly the roughly 6.4 million acres leased by outfitters will be opened up to the public….just for arguments sake, let’s say those acres were opened… long do you think it would take until the all the game was harvested or chased off? I give most places one week…some less. However, that is not going to happen. Landowners are not going to open up to the public, even if the last outfitter was put out of business. Now, that stated, let us move on to something else, perhaps even more disturbing…..

    Unintended Consequences….i really fear those 2 words. 161 has many of them…do not be fooled into thinking that it is a sliver bullet for the outfitting industry….in fact it may be just the reverse. It may open Pandora’s Box….there could be a world of problems coming, if it passes.

    Eric Albus, landowner/sportsman/outfitter

  22. This is a good discussion, thanks to everyone keeping a civil tone. From the vantage point of one who has been with this issue since 1991, I’d like to share some thoughts about how we got to the current program.

    It started in the 1993 Legislative session with acrimonious bills from landowners, outfitters, and sportsmen wanting something that one or both of the others couldn’t live with. You all know that when groups fight in the legislature, NO ONE gets anything – except in 1993 with the passage of HR 24 that led to the Private Lands/Public Wildlife Council.

    The Council began meeting in August, 1993, with the goal to learn what each of the three major stakeholders – sportsmen, landowners, and outfitters – needed and wanted the most. Here’s what they found:
     Sportsmen wanted free access to hunt on private property;
     Landowners wanted to be acknowledged for their contribution to Montana’s wildlife (monetary compensation was a lower priority, but necessary for weed abatement, primarily); and
     Outfitters needed the assurance that if they were able to market their services successfully, in competition with their peers, their booked, contracted clients would indeed receive a license, allowing them to fulfill the contract.

    They worked for 18 months to come up with the current program, which was passed by the 1995 Legislature.

    The guaranteed license is nothing more than a response to HR 24, which mandated the following: (1) “ensure a viable outfitting industry.” That meant fulfillment of a legal contract between outfitter and client. The Council thought good business was a good trade for a ton of money to open millions of acres of private land (currently, @ 8.3) to allow thousands of Montana hunters free access. That money brought access to lands that might otherwise be leased or open only for fees.

    Gov. Racicot called it “a minor miracle” because the PL/PW operated strictly on a consensus basis: no one got all that they wanted, but everyone could live with the result – which was HB 195, passed by the 1995 Legislature. Challenges to that program have been upheld by every Legislature since then. That’s what makes the Kephart effort so frustrating!!! He is essentially trying to unravel something that SPORTSMEN, landowners, and outfitters put together and something that has gotten high praise ever since!

    By the way, outfitters went into the PL/PW with 5,600 set-aside licenses and came out with 5,500. They gave something up in order to get what they needed: the ability to fulfill a contract.

    I would just like to ask everyone who reads this string to please not sign Kephart’s petitions. It’s a mean-spirited effort to punish all outfitters because he can no longer hunt where he wants to. Initiatives are a HORRIBLE way to settle disputes! If this goes to the ballot in November, winners and losers will be determined by the best 30-second sound bite. How stupid is that?? If you have ideas for more ways to gain free access, take it to one of the PL/PW members. The Council continues to meet and takes everyone seriously. Please don’t let I-161 force everyone into the ring, wearing boxing gloves, for Pete’s sake!

  23. I have purchased the “outfitter” license 5 times now is 7 years. I never thought that I was “rich”. I just assumed that is the way I had to do it. I love Montana, hope to return, and only wish that I had a place to hunt that would not require me to buy the expensive license.
    We plan to vacation there in July and August this year and enjoy the best trout fishing in the country.

  24. Access is a big issue, but my basic sense of fairness is offended by the current system of allotting nonresident licenses. Will we as sportsmen continue to allow reduced hunting opportunity for average sportsmen and their children for the benefit of wealthy nonresidents who can afford to buy a license every year?

    Like many of you, I have family and friends born and raised in Montana, who now live and work out of state. Under the current system, they and their kids’ opportunity to draw a license is reduced by over 1/3 before the drawing even starts. 21,600 (17,000 elk/deer combo + 4,600 deer combo) total nonresident big game hunting licenses minus the 7,800 currently guaranteed outfitter licenses (5,500 elk/deer combo + 2300 deer combo) leaving 13,800 opportunities for average sportsmen. Currently average sportsmen have a 60% chance of drawing less than 2/3s of the total nonresident licenses.

    21,600 – 7,800 = 13,800 Nonresident big game licenses available by drawing.

    These folks love to bring their kids to our camp where we share our hunting traditions and pass them on to the next generation. Eliminating the current 7,800 guaranteed licenses (2300 deer combo + the 5500 licenses mentioned by Jean Johnson) would give average sportsmen and more importantly their children an increased opportunity to hunt in their home state and pass on a hunting and conservation ethic.

    Outfitters provide a much needed service. I just don’t believe they should be subsidized by the state at the expense of less wealthy sportsmen. Outfitters are currently guaranteed a minimum of 7,800 licenses (customers). They are also free to book any of the remaining non-resident license holders. Under I-161 Outfitters would compete for customers like every other business in Montana. All nonresidents would compete for licenses on an equal basis. No other western state subsidizes Outfitters with guaranteed non-resident licenses.

    In addition to Outfitters, what I call Big Money leases quite a bit of land for hunting. According to Mac Minard, MOGA Executive Director “outfitters have between 2 and 3 million acres under lease in Montana, but private individuals and clubs have about as much land under lease.” Wealthy nonresidents who lease a ranch can easily afford to hire an outfitter or sub-lease to him in order to receive a tag every year to hunt on the land they lease. Likewise their wealthy friends can buy a tag every year. Having to enter a drawing the same as average hunters will decrease their chance to hunt every year, which may well decrease their desire to lease Montana land.

    Math is not my strong suit, however according to the story, “FWP did a fiscal note on I-161, which verifies Kephart’s financial projections.” If FWP thought they were going to lose money, we certainly would have heard about it. Under I-161, the non-resident fees for the drawing would increase enough to provide an additional $700,000 above current levels for Block Management plus an additional $1.5 million for habitat improvement and acquisition. In total, I-161 will provide $2.2 million additional dollars for access beyond the funds generated by the current guaranteed outfitter licenses.

    I strongly oppose anything that infringes on the rights of a landowner including the right to lease his property to anyone he sees fit and to control who comes on his property.

    In no way does I-161 tell any landowner what he may or may not do regarding leasing of his property. Yes it will probably make finding an outfitter willing to lease more difficult in some situations. However the landowner still has the right to lease and the right to choose whom he allows on his property. More desirable properties will still lease.

    Nonresident hunters have a major financial impact on small town economies. Under I-161 the same number of non-residents will be coming to the state spending their money. They may be staying at motels instead of outfitters camps. They may be buying more gas and groceries because they are driving instead of having the outfitter pick them up at the airport.

    In many instances, the food and beverage industries will probably see a change in where the sales occur since there will be fewer hunters staying in outfitters camps. Average hunters will be buying supplies in the local small towns rather than hauling them in from the big cities like many of the outfitters do. Local watering holes will likely see more business as well. The better outfitters and guides in a community will still be employed providing a needed service, they just won’t receive a subsidy at the expense of the general hunting public.

    Some folks are concerned about the privatization and commercialization of wildlife and other natural resources eventually destroying hunting as a sport for the common man. I-161 is a good step forward in maintaining the outstanding hunting heritage we enjoy while turning away from the privatization of hunting occurring in other states. Wildlife belongs to the public, not just the wealthy.

    Access is an issue in Montana largely because landowners, sportsmen, and agencies have generally done a good job of managing habitat and the resulting wildlife populations. Montana is a premier destination for hunting because these varied interests have historically worked together with the strong support of the sporting public.

    In the state with arguably some of the best hunting left in the country, it makes no sense to continue a public policy allowing the wealthy to buy their way to the front of the line for hunting opportunity while the average Americans are relegated to the back of the line to squabble over the scraps. The current policy will continue to erode the number of hunters and the acceptance of hunting among the non-hunting public. It will also decrease numbers of new young hunters who will continue to experience reduced opportunity to hunt in the state their parents grew up in while children of the wealthy can hunt nearly anywhere.

    No matter your position, if you are concerned about the long-term survival of our strong hunting heritage and wildlife populations in Montana, I urge you to research the all the facts and make an informed decision. The future of our grandchildren’s hunting is in our hands.

  25. Sam Milo, What’s your point exactly or do you have one? Okay you complain that you beleive the outfitter sponsored tag is set aside for what you percieve as the 7,800 wealthy individuals and that the poor folk only get a chance at 13,800 licenses. Fine that’s how you see it, but then your logic is flawed because you complain that only the wealthy can apply for those outfitter sponsored tags and in the next breath you say that you acknowledge the price of the general draw tag would go up to make up the difference in the price of the outfitter sponsored tag, essentially turning all available non resident licenses into a so called rich mans game. The very thing you complain about saying your family cannot afford to do. And I wonder how you come up with the word subsidized by the state for these outfitter sponsored tags when I am sure of the fact that an outfitter has a hard time selling these tags for the state of Montana, that’s right outfitters have to go out and do sportsmans shows and a lot of advertising, all money out of their own pockets to sell these outrageously priced tags for the state of Montana. There have been many magazine articles about the disdain non residents feel over the price of this guaranteed tag. So this brings us to the next fact, any sponsored tags not sold by March 15th are available to the general public, and they have not sold out the past few years.

    Okay you are right, Montana is the only western state to have guaranteed outfitter sponsored tags. Oh wow, big deal, other states such as Idaho have no drawing, it’s a first come first serve basis, once the quota of tags for the year is reached that’s it. Notably Idaho generally still has tags available at the start of archery season every year and did not sell out last season. Honestly this is what the initiative should be about, to totally do away with the drawing and the outfitter sponsored tags and go to a first come first serve basis, here is the quota and once they are sold that is it for the year. That would be a perfect design for all, that would be fair. But as my high school english teacher always said, life is not fair, and I highly doubt the state would ever adopt such a system, so the current system is the most fair to all parties involved.

    Why are your family members no longer working and living in the state of Montana? could it be because of Montana’s poor economy and lack of job opportunities? If so, then why would you want to take away from those that have found a way to scratch out a meager living in the state they love to live in? What of their children and the hunting traditions they pass on to them? What of the ethics outfitters pass on to their children? Outfitters are definitely under much more stringent observation than the general public. Many outfitters build their business with the intention of passing it on to their children, and many current outfitting businesses in the state of Montana have been passed down through generations. So why would you want to do anything that may jeopardize these childrens futures? And what of the children of the non resident sportsmen that want to get their children into hunting and show them the western mountains, away from the cities and so they book a hunt with an outfitter hoping to have a great hunt and start a tradition with their child, don’t those children count for anything?

    Finally, have you seen an actual verified copy of the mythical FWP fiscal note? If so does it go into detail and tell what the new much higher cost of the general drawing would be to make up the difference of the $6,454,600.00 the state would lose compared to the current system?

    The best way would definitely be a set amount of licenses to be sold at a price competive with surrounding states starting on January 1st of each year and going until they were sold out. That would be fair to all involved, but you would still lose out on some block management money. But that way your family would be able to buy their licenses at the start of the year, and so could the clientele of outfitters, everybody would be able to plan their hunts and enjoy their vacations in Montana. Why didn’t anyone think to make this the initiative, one for the greater good? Or is this someone with outfitters in their sights as they figured they are an easier target?

  26. Sam, I too take exception to the subsidized comment. There is no guaranteed living with this license, like many would have you believe. Having a “guaranteed license” is no more of a guaranteed living than having a couch on the sales floor of a furniture store, or a car in the lot of dealership. There is no subsidy, nothing even close to it.

    eric albus

  27. Ray Hill,
    Regarding the cost of a nonresident hunt, currently $1,500 for the guaranteed outfitter license is just the beginning. The hunter then has to pay the outfitter for the hunt itself. A quick online check of random outfitters just showed prices for guided elk hunts in Montana ranging from $3,200 to $14,000 per person. Bringing a child, would double the cost. Most average hunters could have a great hunt, bring the kids and still spend plenty in local communities for a whole lot less.

    It sounds like we agree on doing away with the guaranteed outfitters licenses but we may have to agree to disagree about the fairest way to distribute licenses. I still believe a drawing where everyone has the exact same odds is the fairest.

    I know Idaho has some great hunting but if limited to one state to hunt for the rest of your life would you choose Idaho? I know I would choose Montana.

    I agree we have many honorable and ethical outfitters in Montana. I believe they provide a valuable service to their customers, and communities. I also believe the better outfitters as determined by the market will still be in business and able to pass on their heritage while providing these services.

    I haven’t seen the FWP fiscal note but I see below that Jean Johnson has seen it. Maybe she could provide a link to it. I would like to see it as well.

    Regarding nonresidents who want to get their kids into the mountains and hunt with an outfitter, they have always had the right to hire an outfitter and will still have that same right. We need more folks willing to bring kids into the hills to understand how nature works. Outfitters can provide a wealth of information and help guide these youngsters in the right direction. The wealthy folks will just have to enter a drawing like everyone else.

    Jean Johnson
    We may have to agree to disagree on the definition of subsidy. What other industries in Montana get state guaranteed customers?

    I do agree things were tougher for outfitters before the guaranteed licenses but there was a vibrant outfitting community then and there will still be a vibrant outfitting community after I-161. It will look different. The more efficient and effective outfitters will still be in business. The same model still works in the states around Montana why can’t it work here again?

    Outfitter Guaranteed licenses may have been passed by the legislature but I can assure you many sportsmen, myself included opposed it vigorously on fairness grounds. It favors a small portion of the population (wealthy nonresident hunters) at the expense of average nonresident sportsmen many of whom are family and friends. In visiting with sportsmen from across the state, most agree the leasing of land for hunting, for whatever reason, grew rapidly following the passage of this legislation.

    Credit where credit is due, Block Management was part of the legislation and it does provide access for all sportsmen. Please note I-161 would significantly increase funding levels for access.

    Regarding the wisdom of the legislature in passing the above legislation in 1995; the future of hunting for my children and grandchildren is far too important to for the legislature to decide. I choose to live with the decision of the people of Montana.

    I like most Montanans always thought nonresidents were limited to 17,000 licenses each year. However this discussion caused me to do a little research. The correct number is actually 23,600 nonresident hunting licenses according to pages 4 and 5 of the 2009 hunting regulations. I don’t know when they were added or where they came from but there they are.

    There are 17,000 elk/deer combo licenses plus an additional 4,600 deer combo tags available to nonresidents. Add to this the 2,000 nonresident landowner tags which would be unaffected by I-161 and you get 23,600 nonresident licenses for 2009.

    Regarding the Fiscal notes caution about the possibility of not selling all of the licenses; my understanding is the currently guaranteed licenses are not all sold every year either.

    I had no personal knowledge of what happened in Idaho however I found this quote in an article from the Spokesman Review dated 10/24/2009 which discussed the issue you mentioned. “According to a survey distributed to about 30,000 out-of-state hunters who have purchased Idaho tags in the past, the economy, wolves and tag prices were the top concerns this year.”

    Jean I have been a Montana resident for all but the 5 years of my life that I misspent hunting in Alaska. I now know Montana is a better place for me.

    Sorry but I don’t understand the 10% discrepancy. I know nonresidents are limited to 10% of most drawings if this is what you are referring to. Also I am not familiar with the Baldwin case but I agree residents are getting a good deal. Maybe we (residents) should step up to the plate as well. I can buy an elk tag for less than a box of ‘06 shells. Bill Schneider currently has a thought provoking article on just this issue.

    Eric Albus
    You are right, the outfitter guaranteed license is not a guaranteed living. I was trying to say guaranteed licenses are essentially guaranteed customers and I apologize if I was unclear before.

    In my opinion, if I-161 passes, the following will likely occur:

    No change in the number of Nonresident licenses, still 23,600

    Increased drawing odds for average Nonresident hunters and their kids

    Change (reduce) opportunity for wealthy Nonresident hunters to the same level as the average sportsman

    Absolutely no restrictions on private landowner rights

    Provide $2.2 million more then current system for hunter access and habitat improvement

    Remove government incentive for leasing lands by outfitters or Big Money

    No guaranteed increase in hunter access beyond what the additional $2.2 million buys

    The Outfitting industry will not and should not go away.

    A big step away from the Privatization of Wildlife

  28. Every comment here is good for sure, but I can tell you if anyone is banking on private ranches currently being leased by a Outfitter to be opened up to the public, you kidding yourself, same for the comment on less Non-residents leasing ranches because of a draw license, rarely is it less than a group of 4 or 5 non-residents leasing a chunk of prime real estate, these guys will just get more in the group and pool their money together and who draws hunts. No rancher will just open the gates if this goes through, and one of the most important points missed is it is not just the Outfitter causing this, what about the landowner ?, he can say no or he can lease his place.
    Most residents I know in Montana are unaware of how many ranches in Montana are being leased to out of state groups, and Corporate groups, not to mention it is becoming more and more common for residents to lease hunting ground. So will Kephart find more support to initiate another bill later on to stop landowners from leasing their property should this bill be voted in and the pipe dream he has of all this wonderful hunting not be had???
    In regard to the block management program, Montana Outfitter sponsored tags help to pay almost 100% for this program, not just the majority, the Fish and Game throws in a mere pittance just so the Outfitters can say their clients pay for it all.
    And lastly in regards to Idaho’s failed attempt to raise money when they raised the price of their tags, allot of that can be contributed to the lack of non resident hunters wanting to hunt there any more for the lack of success from the devastating toll on game from Wolves, which Montana won’t be far behind on that and all of this will be for nothing….but that is another issue

  29. Sam Milo, you are still missing the point….the guaranteed license has nothing to do with an “essentially guaranteed customer”…. If you believe this, then you must believe that a car on a lot is also an “essentially guaranteed customer”….you write to well to not understand this concept. Having that license only guarantees me that IF (thats the key word here) I find a client willing to pay to hunt with me that he/she will be able to procure a license….nothing more…. and believe me in this economic environment it has been tough to fill hunts…. since the inception of the guaranteed license we have lost more outfitters than we have gained (hunting outfitters that is)….and we are apt to lose more again this year.

    Take away this license and we lose all stability and accountability in the outfitting industry. I currently am controlled in the number of clients I take by NCHU (net client hunting use). This is a set number I can not go over, it is kind of anti-business but its a consession we made in order to get the license. Kind of like telling a lawyer he can only have X number of clients in a year (try that one and see how far it goes). We lose the guaranteed license, and I am free from any constraints….so again I will admonish those who will listen….”be careful what you wish for”.

  30. I submitted a comment on the 16th and it wasn’t posted. Perhaps it was too long. I’ll break it up and try to post again. It answers your questions, Sam Milo.

  31. Here’s the first installment.
    Sam, thanks for the question and comments. I’ll start at the top.
    Prices of guided elk hunts: “ranging from $3,200 – $14,000…” By showing the higher amount, you are subtly enforcing the notion that outfitters only cater to wealthy nonresidents. What is the $14,000 hunt? Sounds like something spectacular – perhaps on Ted Turner’s Flying D. My point is simply that you’re not portraying an accurate picture of the average outfitter. Somewhere we have the numbers that show how many outfitters serve from 1 – 10 clients, from 11-20, and so on. I’ll look for it later. That gives a true picture of the Montana outfitters.

    As for bringing children along, that’s one downside of the market-based system, but many outfitters make special deals for family members. Also, the legislature passed a bill allowing nonres. youth (<18) to buy the general draw license for ½ price – plus the access enhancement fee. The nonres. youth can also buy a deer A tag at a reduced cost, so that helps.

    I don’t know who you are referring to with your comment about “agreeing on doing away with the guaranteed license” (surely not ME!) – and again, these are not OUTFITTER LICENSES. These guaranteed licenses go to clients who have booked. If FWP and the media had done a better job of defining this way back in 1995, so many wouldn’t be so misinformed.

  32. 2nd installment.

    Fairness in distributing licenses: It is a bit disingenuous for sportsmen to now want to be “fair” in distributing nonresident licenses! The 17,000 cap (elk combination) was implemented legislatively in 1975 and never raised. It was also made a combination license – elk AND deer – to further contain the number of hunters. At that time, there were no deer-only licenses available to nonresidents. Fair? Not hardly!

    As for the 4,600 deer combo licenses, here’s what happened. In 1986, then FWP director Jim Flynn convinced the Commission to adopt an Administrative Rule that carved 5,600 licenses out of the 17,000 for a special drawing pool for clients. Flynn (and the Commission) recognized that these were businesses and couldn’t function as successful businesses (contributing to jobs, the tax rolls, etc) if their booked clients couldn’t get a license after the contract was signed. The Montana Wildlife Federation sued on the “fairness” issue, no doubt, but dropped the suit when the 1987 Legislature passed a bill to adopt the Rule.

    Then Rep. Leo Giacometto from Alzada (a rancher) said the same thing needs to happen for deer hunters, and the same legislature established the following, all on a draw:
    2,000 B-11 licenses for clients of outfitters;
    2,000 for landowners (nonresident must hunt on sponsor’s deeded land only); and
    2,000 for general nonresidents.

    The first PL/PW increased the 2,000 for outfitter’s clients to 2,300 (B-11) in recognition of decreasing the 5,600 B-10 elk combo to 5,000, and increased to 2,300 licenses set aside for landowner sponsors. That’s where you get the 4,600.

    I don’t have a link to the fiscal note, but have it in PDF format. If you send me your email address, I’ll attach it for you. My email is

  33. 3rd installment.

    Definition of subsidy: “What other industry gets a guaranteed customer?” Well, two things: For what other industry does the government impose a hard number on the size of the market? Not even a liquor store has a cap on its inventory! Take my Ford truck analogy, for example. What if, in addition to putting the contracts into a drawing, the state also said, “Oh, by the way, we’re only going to issue 5,500 trucks, on average, over a five year period?”

    Also, in what other industry does the businessman/woman spend their own advertising dollars to market a Montana product (hunting license) to the world, but with the “permission to enter” slip priced high enough to discourage all but 5,500 potential buyers???

    Second, you even admitted that the licenses didn’t always sell out. That’s because the price is set to hold down the number of clients who actually book (or the number of folks who actually want to buy a Ford truck). SO NO GUARANTEED CUSTOMER. Only a guaranteed PASS TO COME IF the outfitters successfully markets. People just need to suspend old beliefs and open their minds to understanding what this really means. Again, let the outfitters who went out of business tell you about “guaranteed customers!” They didn’t have “guaranteed customers!”

    I remember so well whining to the first PL/PW in October 1994, as they began to adopt pieces of what would become HB 195: “But the high price will put some outfitters out of business,” I said. And member Emily Swanson (a state legislator who carried the bill) said to me, “We are not charged with saving anyone’s business. We are charged with enhancing a VIABLE industry!” She was absolutely right.

  34. 4th installment

    “Vibrant outfitting community” – well, here’s an observation from the recreation specialist in the US Forest Service about the outfitter community without stability in their business: “They’re like a rag tag bunch of gypsies going down the trail!” I’ll never forget that because when a business has no stability at all, it can’t plan ahead to replace worn out tents, mules, pickup trucks, or any of the other things that go into providing a service to the client. Boy! I wish some folks who have all the answer about the outfitting community actually OWNED an outfitter business back in the pre-1995 days!

    Sorry, Sam, but I’ve been a part of these folks since 1991 and I asked for the executive director position because an outfitter made incredible memories for 4 (Montana) men dear to my heart. I understand what it takes to make their business work and when I see an effort to hurt them, the warrior comes out and I have to speak up!

    So much of this sportsmen hostility and leased land emotion is directed at outfitters who operate on private land – either land they own or lease. BUT. I-161 will hurt the public land outfitter even more! Their clients hunt in direct competition with the public and still pay the high price of the guaranteed license. Public land outfitters are strictly, legally tied to the public land and cannot move their operation onto private land. One of Montana’s finest Forest-based outfitters was down to 3 clients a year because of wolf activity in his area. Neighboring ranchers called to offer him their land, but current law prohibited him from moving. So, that’s life in the outfitter world and we’ve never asked the legislature to change that because it would have meant outfitter expansion. We’ve honored our pledge; why won’t the public just leave us alone??

    There is just SO much of this outfitting industry that people just don’t know because they don’t live under the heavy arm of the law and Administrative Rules. But I do thank you for acknowledging them.

    As for the Idaho information, I read the reader’s comments in addition to the article.

  35. 5th installment

    Baldwin and 10% discrepancy: The Baldwin case was a US Supreme Court decision that Montana sportsmen hold as their great protector in continuing to treat nonresidents pretty harshly in terms of license prices and special permit quotas and the 17,000 + 6,600 cap. A Montana outfitter sued the state over the discrepancy between the price of the resident elk license and the nonresident elk license, arguing violations of interstate commerce. (I’m not a lawyer, but have the case on my desk.) He lost here and took the case to the Supreme Court.

    The “10%” goes to the quota on special permits set by Montana law: nonresidents can have no more than 10% of any permits issued. In a lot of cases, the number of permits is such that nonresidents don’t even get the full 10%. Oh well. Does anyone care?

    I’ve often misused the 10% as the acceptable spread between the resident and nonresident price. Truth is, Baldwin didn’t go to percentage of license quotas, but “times” the price – Baldwin sued because the nonresident elk license, which forced him to purchase a combo license allowing 1 elk and 2 deer (’75 hunting season), was 7.5 times as much as resident (evidently comparing combinations with combination) or comparing the combo (the only license available) to the resident elk, it was 25 times.

    Since then, FWP has held that a 10 times spread was acceptable overall. However, as the price for nonresidents continues to outpace the price for residents, FWP knows that Montana treads on thin ice relative to Baldwin. That case was heard in 1977 and decided in 1978. Several of the points are no longer are relevant: for example, the Court found that Montana sportsmen fund wildlife with their tax dollars. NO longer true! No general fund money (tax dollars) funds FWP; nonresidents fund about 67-70% of the FWP budget. Baldwin was not referring to Pitman/Robinson tax dollars.

    There was concern in 1995 that the high, fluid, market-based price of the guaranteed license would tip Montana over the top and break the ice. The saving grace was the fact that the nonresident had a CHOICE: the general draw license (elk combo) that was then $475. It’s now $628 + $10 (access enhancement fee; residents pay 2) and $5 drawing fee. .

    The Kephart initiative raises the elk combo by 43% of the current price and the deer combo by 61% of the current price. So a resident pays $20 for an elk license and the nonresident will pay $897. Hmmmm… That’s a bit more than 10 times, wouldn’t you say? How about 44.9 times! (not counting aef and drawing fee)

    My point is simply that Kephart doesn’t understand the history of how Montana got to its current program. And he doesn’t understand the precariousness of the boat he is rocking. He is operating out of an emotional place where reason, logic, facts, and truth are incidental at best. I believe that making law from the narrow confines of I-161 would be a horrible mistake and one that Montana sportsmen would have to live with for the next 20 years!

    I-161 means ALL nonresident elk and deer combo licenses are priced beyond the safety of the Baldwin case. That’s thin ice. Very, very thin ice.

  36. the rest . .

    As for increasing the price of the resident licenses, MOGA has always supported the theory that nonresidents should pay more. But the governor has said (2005 session) that he would not allow any more increases in the price of resident hunting and fishing licenses under his watch. That means the increase can’t come up until the 2013 session. Too late. According to a good source, the FWP Parks division runs out of money in ’13 and the Wildlife division runs out in ’14. Revenue generation always lags the session – if the increase bill even passes – by a year.

    Further, in 1995, MOGA pledged that it would NEVER go to the legislature with any issue that sportsmen would find contentious, such as increasing the overall cap, or taking on the 10% quota law. MOGA would no NOTHING that did not come through the consensus-based Private Lands/Public Wildlife Council, and we never have. If passed, I-161 renders the PL/PW powerless and negates the MOGA pledge. Is that really where anyone wants to go, outfitters included??

    The Montana Stockgrowers Association passed a resolution at their winter convention that finds the initiative process inappropriate for deciding FWP matters. Folks who think it’ll feel good to sign the petition need to read between the lines and think hard about the unintended consequences of the issue even getting on the ballot.

    If I-161 gets enough signatures to get on the ballat, national organizations will line up to sue the state over the price discrepency – and while they are at it, might just as well take on the 17,000 cap, too. I’m dead serious here, folks. If I-161 should pass on Nov. 2, you can expect a law suit and FWP will be stuck with funding the defense. Yes, it will (I asked the right source) because the issue is based on FWP law. No one in my camp wants to rock the boat, but we didn’t ask for this initiative. Kephart – a single individual who couldn’t get anywhere in the legislative process – wants to write history and be a hero with sportsmen who just do not understand what the guaranteed license is. He may wish he had left matters to the PL/PW.

    Whew! Didn’t mean to be so long-winded, but I have 19 years of my life dedicated to this industry and not because it was my “job” – they were and are my work. Big difference.

  37. Jean,

    Your clients are good honest hardworking people trying to make a living. They employ you to present their side of the story and ignore the other side. As Paul Harvey so aptly said, “this is the rest of the story”.

    The current situation favors money over the rights of the common man. Many sportsmen disagree with what we see as favoritism for outfitters and we feel disenfranchised by the state sanctioned sale of wildlife to the highest bidders. I-161 is a reasonable option to remove what we consider incentives for outfitters and big money to lease land. At the same time I-161 will significantly increasing funding for public access. I-161 reinforces the notion that Wildlife belongs to “the people” not to the people with the most money.

    According to Mac Minard from your organization, Big Money interests lease about the same acreage as outfitters. I haven’t heard any proposals from you to address what outfitters say is half the problem. I-161 does address this issue.

    We want a fair shake from the state for a fair chance to enjoy the public’s wildlife resources. We recognize the rights of outfitters but will no longer allow their clients to buy their way to the head of the line. The future of hunting for our kids and grandkids is best served when wildlife is managed for the public rather than for the wealthy. Shame on us if we continue to allow the Privatization of Wildlife for the benefit of the few.

    Sam Milo

  38. Well, “Sam Milo” (if that is your real name)….. I-161 will do just the opposite of that. It will allow big interests from out of state to lease land, on account of the draw odds increasing in their favor. If you think that there is a percieved access issue now….just wait.

    As I have stated earlier…this is specifically a management issue….. Remember, Montana is an “opportunity state”, being managed for maximum hunter days and max. harvest(I am not saying this is right or wrong, it is what it is). If you do not like this, then demand that the state manage “our wildlife” biologically. Right now the only ones managing for quality are a handful of landowners/outfitters and leasing residents.

    Now, let’s look at this in a different light….just for the sake of arguement…let’s take every landowner, outfitter, and private acre out of the equation, open it up to free public access…how long til every buck/bull was gone in back of a pickup? I give it 3-4 days max….and I am not off or wrong on this….what will be the next course of action, who will we blame after the game is all gone?

    Maybe if those of us who manage for an older age class of bucks/bulls would overharvest and have our ground look like a parking lot we would not be having this issue…..boy, have we been stupid.
    Eric Albus, landowner/sportsman/outfitter

  39. Greedy, self serving, call them what you want. Did any of the public land hunters ever think that the private ownerships have areas they hunt and areas they never hunt? The private guys understand refuge, and having places where animals can go that man cannot. That way they hold animals all year, and all through hunting seasons. And those refuge areas most likely accumulate animals driven off public lands, as well. The real issue is that there is opportunity because of the private lands, not in spite of them.

    A State Game Management agency will sell its soul to keep operating. They will sell the tag to kill the last of whatever, just to keep the revenue flowing. The hardest thing to do is to rein in the public resource managers whose budgets are determined by the revenue they produce. Bureaucracies are that way. Just how they work. Biology as political science. The initiative is wrong headed and will have all the unintended consequences one would expect.

  40. By the way, “Sam”, I-161 does nothing to address leasing by “other interests”. It will acutally benefit them, increasing their draw odds from roughly 55% (elk/deer) to 95+%, and from 15% (deer only draw) to approx. 50%, by my calculations. Is this what you would rather see? 17,000 folks competing for private acreage.

    Saddened, and still disgusted,
    eric albus, landowner/sportsman/outfitter

  41. Hi Sam. I appreciate your comments about my people being hardworking and honest, but you’re really wrong thinking that we ignore the other side. If that were true, we’d show up at every legislative session with our hand out. In 1995, MOGA made a pledge that we’d live and die by the Private Lands/Public Wildlife Council and that we would not ask for anything that would make sportsmen angry. Heck, we could have asked to raise that 35-year old cap on the 17,000 nonresident elk license years ago! We don’t ignore the other side.

    I’ve been advocating for years that the Montana Stockgrowers Assn., working with a group like the Montana Wildlife Federation, set up a program whereby their members vouch for the hunters that they know so that those hunters can go anywhere in the state and hunt on private land that is currently shut off to “strangers.” I’ve been advocating a program from the grass roots [sportsmen-landowners] UP. What we get is from the top down in FWP’s Stewardship program. I think the FWP program may very well work (it’s brand new; look at their web site). I just think we ALSO need to keep working to develop other avenues for people like you to make relationships with landowners. It’s a fact, Sam, that since I went to work for MOGA in 1991, I heard over and over and over how the landowner called the outfitter: “Please take this off my hands! I don’t want to be bothered any more! I want ONE person responsible so that I can do my farming/ranching!” In some cases, the outfitter doesn’t even operate on the land; it just allows the landowner to tell the knocking public, “Sorry, I’ve leased to an outfitter.”

    Don’t you think it’s odd that your folks talk about being “fair” to the nonresident and not wanting to “favor” people with money and then turn around and support an initiative that increases nonresident hunting licenses by 43% and 61% in one fell swoop??? How is that FAIR? It’s not a valid argument, Sam. It’s a smoke screen for the real reason for I-161: if you can somehow bust down the outfitters, he won’t have the money to lease land, and you’ll be able to access it for free! That is such a pipe dream! NO ONE is talking about what the LANDOWNER wants and needs! Instead of putting so much effort into trying to damage your neighbor, why not spend some time reaching out to landowners? Develop relationships. Prove that you’re a good hunter, trustworthy and able to remember which gates to leave open and which to close. I was in a meeting this am with a fellow who said he has @ a million private acres to hunt on and he doesn’t go through an outfitter. He gets out and drives in the summer and fall, developing relationships. Talk about a happy camper!

    I-161 is a vindictive effort to hurt people. All you have to do is listen to Kephart talk about how outfitters have ruined hunting for Montanans and you know this effort is driven by emotion and the desire for revenge. Law based upon revenge is bad law.

  42. Eric,

    I-161 in no way tells any landowner who they can allow on their property to hunt or where they can hunt or what age animals they can shoot. Those decisions belong to the landowner. Always have, always will. I suspect many folks with money to lease ranches for hunting would prefer a guaranteed license every year as opposed to taking their chance in a drawing. They may move to another state. Currently they can work through an outfitter for guaranteed tags.

    Not everyone wants or needs to hunt for large bull or bucks. Try telling my daughter her first deer (a 2-pt) is not a trophy. I have killed more cows than bulls over the years but now generally hunt for cows. They are easier to get out (sometimes) and generally better eating. A yearling dry cow is hard to beat. I wouldn’t pass up a big old 6-pt however if legal. Trophy hunter or freezer hunter or somewhere in between, there is room for everyone out there if the playing field is level.


    Regarding refuges, I-161 puts no restrictions on what landowners can do. There are big problems with abuse of the refuge argument. There are landowners/outfitters that sell trophy hunts and work hard to keep the elk on the leased property and away from public lands. Once their their paying clients have shot their big bulls however, they want the elk off their grass. Then it becomes the state’s problem. The state can increase cow tags to satisfy the landowners but no matter how many cow tags are issued, few if any additional cows are killed because they are unavailable to the public during the season. Sportsmen are stuck footing the bill to fence their haystacks and haze these elk etc. Frequently neighboring landowners who allow public hunting are then impacted by these same elk that were unavailable during the season.

    Our legislature in their infinite wisdom required FWP to get within population objectives for each hunting district within a short time. In areas with reasonable public access to elk, sportsmen demonstrated they can get the job done. In areas with large private holdings that are leased or otherwise closed to public hunting (think refuges), it is much more difficult if not impossible. One option would be to allow only antlerless hunting until populations are reduced to objectives. This would protect mature bulls as well.

    Many people gripe about the poor job FWP does but not many of them are in any hurry to move to a different state for better hunting. In general we have some of best hunting anywhere in the country because of the long term cooperation of all parties.


    You keep mentioning 17,000 nonresident elk licenses that MOGA agreed not to seek an increase in but please remember there are an additional 6,600 non-resident deer licenses for a total of 23,600 nonresident licenses. I don’t know if MOGA members supported these additional licenses and don’t care. While I have a different perspective on some of your points, I fully support getting landowners and sportsmen working together. The current situation must be improved. Block management should be updated. Other creative options to improve the rural economy including agriculture in Montana while improving landowner/sportsmen relations should be considered as long as they don’t impinge on private land rights or try to privatize wildlife.

    Historically, Sportsmen and Landowners working with the state are the people responsible for the outstanding wildlife resource we have in the Montana. If people want to see how we came from almost no wildlife in Montana to where we now have something worth fighting over, I recommend a copy of the movie or book “Back from the Brink”. Nowhere in the process of rebuilding our wildlife populations was there any intent for privatization.

    One point I will object strongly to is the intent to hurt people. I suspect pain was not the intent of the original Outfitter Guaranteed licenses either. Unfortunately the Outfitter Guaranteed licenses caused great harm to many average sportsmen who have since suffered reduced opportunity. It also favors the wealthy nonresident over the average sportsmen, both resident and nonresident. It has likely reduced the recruitment of new hunters into our ranks as well since their parents are finding access more difficult. I believe these inequalities go against every principal of fairness this country was founded upon.

    I-161 seeks to level the playing field not punish people.

    Sam Milo

  43. “sam”….give me break….

    The guaranteed license “reduced hunter recruitement”?? Did it cause global warming as well?

    Nowhere, in any statement, orally or written, have I ever said that 161 tells a landowner what, who, or where they could do, as you suggested I did in your last post.

    161 is an attempt to emasculate the outfitting industry, pure and simple. Nothing more, nothing less.

    You write to well to not understand “unintended consequences”. If 161 were to pass and (by my figures) we have a 95+% draw rate if it does…you will be looking at 23,600 potential leasors and/or hunters on publically accessable lands. Think about that one for a minute…..7800 more folks looking for a place to hunt.

    Can your favorite public hunting spot withstand that much more pressure? Another 7800 non-resident sportsmen…all vying for an already over pressured resource?

    Or we could look at it like this, 7800 non-resident hunters who used to utilize the services of an outfitter… all looking to lease their own little hunting paradise… for thought.

    Why am I the only one who looks at the problem for what it truely is. It is not access that is the issue….it is “access to quality”.

    Still Disgusted………and Sad,
    eric albus, landowner/sportsman/outfitter

  44. Sam, under the provisions of I-161 a non-resident tag would be 897.00, under current outfitter sponsored tags the price is 995.00, are you telling me that 98 bucks is the difference between “wealthy” out of state hunters and the common man?

  45. Actually Al, last year the VPL was $1500, and for 2010 it goes down to $1250. You can verify that on the FW&P;’s web. I think the $995 tag was the deer only.

  46. Kephart says that if I-161 passes, outfitting will be like all other businesses. If that’s the case, then he wouldn’t mind living with the following scenario:

    Mr. Kephart spent the winter marketing new roofs throughout the Billings area. By spring, he had signed contracts, with deposits, to roof 32 homes. Because the government stipulates that only so many roofs may be sold in a given year, all Mr. Kephart’s contracts went into a lottery. He drew 8 clients. He returned deposits to 24 clients and was unable to replace his ailing pickup truck.

  47. Al,

    In addition to the $1250 license, he must engage an outfitter. A small online sample showed outfitted elk hunts range from $3,000 to $14,000. The actual cost for an outfitter guaranteed hunt starts at over $4,000 and goes up from there.


    I am not aware of any other states that provide guaranteed roofing jobs for contractors.


  48. Sam, you continuously bring up the $14,000 hunt although I suspect you know it’s a hunt on the Flying D. Of the roughly 400 outfitters licensed to hunt, here’s how many have clients using the VPL: 121 have from 1 – 10; 60 have from 11 – 20- < 40 have from 21 - 30; @ 20 have from 31 - 40; @ 80 didn't have any. So when you disparage these folks, you're talking about your neighbors. Are you aware of any other state that puts a strict limit on the market for ANY business? The truth is this: Back in the 1970s, outfitters were called Montana's ambassadors because the tourism industry wasn’t organized as it is today. The state recognized that outfitting was part of the fabric of Montana, our heritage and history. The state also recognized that outfitting is a business and an industry and (after 1975) that imposing a strict limit on the industry put these business people OUTSIDE the realm of a free market system, possibly interferring with interstate commerce, which is defined by the US Constitution. The state recognized a compelling interest to give these business people an edge and endorsed the set-aside, both in the courts and the legislature. That’s the fact, Sam. Yes, I know the wildlife "belong" to the public. Actually, the wildlife belongs to itself. The state is granted the authority to manage wildlife for its public. Since when were 400 mom and pop businesses and their (mostly) nonresident clients defined as non-publics? I wasn't aware that Montana provided guaranteed roofing jobs for contractors, either. I though Kephart's business was based on his ability to market and provide the services stipulated by the contract, in competition with other roofers in the state. Silly me!

  49. Good point Jean!

    “sam”…you keep throwing out the best elk hunt on the most elite property….8-10 hunts on the “D”…and you continue to use them as examples…sad….

    sam….the license is no different than having a couch on a showroom floor, or a car on a lot. Would it be fair to furniture stores to have to put a potential client in for a “drawing” for the couch they want to buy?

    still disgusted,
    eric albus, landowner/sportsman/outfitter

  50. Eric and Jean,

    You make excellent arguments that guaranteed licenses are great for outfitters and wealthy nonresidents. I am not hearing much concern for average sportsmen in your comments. I have 3 questions for you:

    You have explained how outfitters benefit from the current situation, now please explain how the average sportsmen benefits more from the current situation than he would if I-161 passes?

    Why should rich people get preference over average sportsmen for nonresident licenses?

    Outfitters in surrounding states seem to be doing fine without guaranteed licenses; why is Montana different?


  51. Sam,

    I will assume that if you want the truth that you can handle the truth.

    I have a basketball game to go to, but will answer you when I get back, later this evening.


  52. Sam,

    Unintended consequences of 161. I can not believe that anyone would come up with such an ill thought out plan. Passage of 161 is kind of like opening Pandora’s Box. In fact I think it should be referred to as Pandora’s Initiative. Here is what can and will happen.

    1. 161 eliminates guide requirements for the outfitter or guide to accompany the client, provide guiding services and advise the client on fish and game regulations. The outfitter will no longer have to report to FWP who hunted where and what game (if any) was taken. In other words it would really free up how we can do business….but as a wise old outfitter once told me…it is not just about what is good for you and your business….when I was younger I really did not like to hear this….but as I have aged I see he was right. It must be a win/win deal. If you look at the history of the guaranteed license and Block Mangement Program there was give and take, and a check and balance system installed. Outfitters clients received the “guaranteed license” and all the business confining rules with it, and the resident hunter got Block Management, which my clients help pay for but can not hunt(unless 161 passes).

    2. 161 will raise the price of the non-resident license high enough that most of the “joe-sixpack” non-residents will look at other states. By my figures we will have a draw rate of over 95% (good for me). My clients have been paying $995-1500 for their license, now the price will be reduced by roughly half…hmm, maybe the hunt price just went up, or on account of a less expensive license I can book more hunters. Remember, expenses are down also, we are no longer required to have a guide for the hunter either…do the math.

    3. There also is an issue of 7800 non-residents that have been confined hunting for a week w/ an outfitter. Before they would hunt their 5-6 days and go home, because by law they were unable to hunt w/out an outfitter/guide directing them. Now they can come out, hunt for a week with an outfitter, and if unsuccessful stay on their own for another week or two. Can your favorite spot withstand more pressure?

    Again, think about the unintended consequences, there will not be any great “opening of gates” or magical access happen, just more pressure on areas already accessable.

    I caution those who would blindly support 161, think about what I have laid out.
    Eric Albus, 4th generation landowner/sportsman/outfitter

  53. Sam, the average sportsman benefits more from the current program than he will if I-161 passes in several ways:

    The current program funds Block Management in a more predictable manner than I-161. Currently, the high-priced license buys PREDICABILITY: the buyer can make plans, put in for vacation, count on a contract being fulfilled. That’s a major marketing point for the VPL. Under the draw, that attractive certainty is gone. The prices go up by 43% and 61% and the resulting sticker shock will turn people off. It’ll either be too much money or too great an insult [Montanans don’t want them here]. Either way, I-161 jeopardizes the stability of funding for the BM program.

    Under the current program, @ 5,500 elk/deer hunters and @ 2,300 deer hunters are contained and strictly controlled by the sponsoring outfitters within his/her area of operation. Although the LAW allows guided hunting on BM, FWP regional supervisors get to prohibit the activity – and they do. They will not be able to prohibit @ 7,800 nonresident who are no longer tied so tightly to the outfitter is I-161 passes. I think this current system is a major benefit to Montana hunters.

    I-161 provides leasing money to those nonresidents who have hunted here before, know the landowner and the country, and will not have to go through and with an outfitter. Essentially, the cost of the outfitter’s service can be spent on a lease. It’s already happening although there’s no way to measure the extent because only outfitters have to report [by section, township and range] the land on which they operate or even travel.

    It’s a pure smokescreen for supporters of I-161 to wring their hands over the poor nonresident who must be wealthy in order to buy a VPL. If resident hunters cared so much, they would not support I-161 with its 43% and 61% increases PLUS an annual increase based upon an URBAN cost of living formula, which is said to average 1.95% increase for the following three years. (Fiscal note).

    The people who buy the VPL choose to buy it because of its advantages. People who are “wealthy” often get that way because of thrift. Maybe they have less money in nonsense so that they have more for the things that count: guaranteed hunt in Montana. It’s really none of the resident hunter’s business who buys the VPL and why he/she buys it and you all should give up caring unless you want to put action behind the caring. Oppose I-161 and let 11,500 nonresident choose whether they want certainty (with all the requirements) or uncertainty at $628 with freedom to hunt when, where and with whom they please. $628 is better than $897 for the same thing. Make sense?

  54. Jean,

    I will respond to your questions paragraph by paragraph.

    “The current program funds Block Management in a more predictable manner than I-161. Currently, the high-priced license buys PREDICABILITY: the buyer can make plans, put in for vacation, count on a contract being fulfilled. That’s a major marketing point for the VPL. Under the draw, that attractive certainty is gone. The prices go up by 43% and 61% and the resulting sticker shock will turn people off. It’ll either be too much money or too great an insult [Montanans don’t want them here]. Either way, I-161 jeopardizes the stability of funding for the BM program.”

    Jean, I still agree with you, the current system is good for outfitters and clients wealthy enough to afford an outfitted hunt. However, I am concerned about improving the opportunity for my family and friends now living out of state to draw a license and raising the PREDICTABILITY of their hunt not subsidizing your industry. The proposed $897 combination elk tag is $180 less than a comparable license in Wyoming and $270 less than in Idaho. Explain again how a cheaper license will chase your nonresident customers away.

    Sam Milo

  55. Jean, You said

    “Under the current program, @ 5,500 elk/deer hunters and @2,300 deer hunters are contained and strictly controlled by the sponsoring outfitters within his/her area of operation. Although the LAW allows guided hunting on BM, FWP regional supervisors get to prohibit the activity – and they do. They will not be able to prohibit @ 7,800 nonresident who are no longer tied so tightly to the outfitter is I-161 passes. I think this current system is a major benefit to Montana hunters.”

    Jean, you must not have much confidence in the ability of your outfitters to market their services to nonresidents if, as you claim, 7,800 nonresidents will be turned loose to chase the locals off block management. As you well know, under I-161, your outfitters will still have 23,600 nonresidents to market their services to as well as all the residents in Montana who buy a license. FWP may in some areas prohibit outfitting but it sure isn’t working where I and many other sportsmen hunt. Some of your employers are quite rude about locals infringing on their territory including on block management. Reading posts here and elsewhere, this is becoming quite a problem.

  56. Jean, you said,

    “It’s a pure smokescreen for supporters of I-161 to wring their hands over the poor nonresident who must be wealthy in order to buy a VPL. If resident hunters cared so much, they would not support I-161 with its 43% and 61% increases PLUS an annual increase based upon an URBAN cost of living formula, which is said to average 1.95% increase for the following three years. (Fiscal note)”


    You keep conveniently forgetting the $3,000 to $14,000 in addition to the $1,250 license fee. $897 is less than 25% of the cheapest possible hunt under the guaranteed outfitter license and a whole bunch less than the $15,250 for the high end hunts. If my brother wants to bring a couple kids to hunt on the cheapest hunt available, it will be $9,000 for the outfitter alone in addition to the license fees. If he comes to our camp, it will be $2,700 plus some locally purchased groceries.

  57. Jean, you said

    “The people who buy the VPL choose to buy it because of its advantages. People who are “wealthy” often get that way because of thrift. Maybe they have less money in nonsense so that they have more for the things that count: guaranteed hunt in Montana..

    Thank you for making my point. I agree fully, the outfitter guaranteed license is a huge advantage. It is a government subsidy of outfitters and it allows wealthy people to buy their way to the front of the line at the expense of average sportsmen. In my opinion, when money defines who gets to hunt, we are talking about the “Privatization of Wildlife”.

    Then you said

    “$628 is better than $897 for the same thing. Make sense?”

    No it doesn’t make sense. Try $628 for a 60 % chance versus $897 for a 95% chance according to Eric Albus on his post on 1-17-10. And please remember the wealthy are still getting your 100% PREDICTABILITY with the first crack without I-161.

  58. Jean, I skipped this paragraph, sorry.

    “I-161 provides leasing money to those nonresidents who have hunted here before, know the landowner and the country, and will not have to go through and with an outfitter. Essentially, the cost of the outfitter’s service can be spent on a lease. It’s already happening although there’s no way to measure the extent because only outfitters have to report [by section, township and range] the land on which they operate or even travel.”

    Many of these people come to Montana because of the guaranteed license. Let them take their chances in the drawing process rather than buying their way to the front of the line. Without the guaranteed license, many of these folks will look elsewhere to hunt rather than coming to Montana when they aren’t guaranteed a license.

  59. Jean, I can’t believe you said

    “It’s really none of the resident hunter’s business who buys the VPL and why he/she buys it and you all should give up caring unless you want to put action behind the caring.”

    I don’t give a rat’s a** who buys an outfitter guaranteed license. And don’t tell me to give up caring about the future of hunting in Montana. I and many other sportsmen are fed up with this type of arrogance from outfitters. The wildlife in Montana belongs to all the people, not just to your outfitters or to your wealthy clients. Sportsmen have subsidized your industry for 15 years. This subsidy has cost many resident hunters access. It has cost average nonresident hunters, many of them family and friends, a greatly reduced opportunity to even draw a tag.

    I-161 will remove a government subsidy, reduce “privatization of wildlife”, increase funding for access and restore basic fairness to the process.

    Sam Milo

  60. Sam

    Please learn to do your math. A deer and elk tag plus the hunting license in Idaho cost $873.25 now, and they are over the counter first come first serve, any one can buy them including residents of Idaho and non residents can purchase a second tag if they wish. Also you may want to note that since they made this price increase they haven’t been able to sell all of their tags. Here’s a side note, did you read about the old boy down by Hamilton getting busted for illegal outfitting? Running a bunch of clients through and telling them if they ran into any one to tell them they were family members? How about the quote from the District Judge telling him that he hoped this sent a loud and clear message back to his friends and family in Michigan that Montana’s wildlife wasn’t for the taking? The Judge hammered him, as he should have. The point is that under the current system there is a much better check and balance system and it is a bit easier for the wardens to catch these crooks. And yes they are thieves and no different than those that rob the convenience store. The wardens in that area stated that the game population took a drastic hit, declining significantly from his illegal operations.
    True not every one is out there outfitting without a license, but with the economy the way it is, the door is already ajar for illegal outfitters and I-161 may just shove it wide open.
    Of course this is just another possible consequence and I am not 100% sure why I even brought it up as I still believe that the only truly fair way to distribute Montana’s licenses would be to copy Idaho and go on a first come first served basis, selling them over the counter.
    And a little off the subject, but if you want to talk about unfair, how about Montana not letting any Non residents buy a fur bearers license? And on that note are any of you keeping an eye on the group called Footloose Montana? They are based in Florence and are trying to get I-160 through to ban all trapping in the state of Montana except for scientific and propagation purposes. This even includes predatory animals, coyotes, skunks etc as well as upland game birds, migratory birds, non game wildlife. Mice maybe??? Anyhow let’s not all get so into bickering about this license and miss out on an anti hunting group trying to take away our right to trap and getting their foot in the door to limit other hunting as well.
    I just want to bring that to everyones attention.

  61. Sam, regarding the “cheaper license scaring clients away:” It has much more to do with the ability to plan, Sam. These folks are paying for certainty. For busy people, certainty is worth the extra money. As for the license being cheaper than WY or ID, it is STILL a 43% JUMP PLUS an increase each year by an urban cost of living, projected to be on average 1.95%. Sam, to a nonresident who already has reason to believe Montana sportsmen don’t want them here, it looks like more evidence!

    Opportunity for your out of state family: The PL/PW understood that desire and created the Come Home to Hunt program that was passed in the last legislative session. Those are licenses set aside for family and must be hunted with family, just as the VPL must be hunted with the sponsoring outfitter.

    Sam, you need to ask some outfitters whether it is easier to market a service when fulfillment of that service is based on certainty or the luck of the draw. The difference may show up in having to attend more (or different) sport shows, which draws down the balance sheet, or more magazine ads – it’s all a business decision.

    As for being rude, well, lots of folks could use a week at charm school – including resident hunters. Push, push back, push, push back. We ALL need to take a breath sometimes!

    I just lost my last four paragraphs into cyberspace! and will post this before it disappears! I’ll have to come back to this when I cool off. I’m on a laptop out in Washington and this happened to me with another article..

  62. Sam, Sam, Sam, you keep bringing up the $14,000 hunt and you know it’s on the Flying D. You also know it’s not typical of the average outfitter. Why not drop that already, unless you’re subtly trying to stoke the fire of resentment towards outfitters.

    As for your brother bringing two kids along to hunt with you: Under current law, that would cost $628 x 3 = 1884 + 45 (fees) = 1929. Under I-161, that same Come Home to Hunt license would cost $895 x 3 = 2685 + 45 (fees) = 2730. PLUS an annual increase of 1.95%. How does that work for you?

    Subsidy. Well, Sam, you and will never agree here, so I ask that you just consider this point: In 1975, the government imposed a hard limit on the industry’s market (17,000/the 6,000 deer combos came in 1987). The government understood that such a limit took the industry (an historical, traditional industry that decades ago was called Montana’s earliest ambassadors) and every business within the industry out of the free market environment and slid it into arena unlike any other business where contract fulfillment was dependant upon the luck of the draw. Then consider that the government recognized that the State had a compelling interest in providing as much stability to that business/industry as the public sentiment would allow (17,000), recognized that the State had an interest in the quality of the industry (since it fronted for tourism) so that it could rise above the description of “a bunch of rag-tag gypsies going down the trail,” and determined to give it an edge (1987), which has been upheld by the Court and every legislature since then. That edge was turned into a VPL by the PL/PW as a result of 18-months working under a consensus process by the three stakeholders. It was a compromise and covenant that all could LIVE with and it became law via HB 195 in the 1995 Legislative session. It’s been supported by every legislature since then, Sam. 150 elected legislators who represent voters across Montana. How is that offensive to you all?

    You can call it a subsidy, Sam; legal people call it recognizing the State’s compelling interest.

    I don’t understand what you mean by comparing drawing odds under I-161 and then saying“the wealthy are still getting your 100% PREDICICTABILTY with the first crack without I-161.”

    So, now you think without the guaranteed license (VPL) many will go to some other state. How does that work for picking up the slack for BM under I-161?

    Sam, you’re not the kind of person who would deliberately insult me. I would no more tell you to give up caring for the wildlife than use 4-letter words in a comment string. The thought that you and others can stop caring for the wildlife couldn’t enter my mind, let alone be posted in a comment. I said to give up caring for the nonresident HUNTER unless you want to put the caring into action – like supporting a bill to give them more than UP TO 10% of the special permits, many of which are for wildlife on public lands. (Lots of states have more than 10%, Sam.) You were not referring to wildlife; you were referring to the nonresident hunter. I’m not an arrogant person, Sam, and I-161 will not bring you what you want and need. As for “privatization of wildlife,” is that why Kephart had a big picture of a deer behind a chain link fence at the Bozeman sport show with the caption “End privatization of wildlife” – how fair was that??

    Come on, Sam, let’s get back on the high road. I apologize if you took my comments wrong. I enjoy our discussions and I’m sorry you are angry at me.

  63. Do you think the rich non-residents won’t apply for those licenses, provided within I-161? If you think you can’t compete with the outfitters on leaseing ranches, just wait! Groups of these non-residents will go together and will lease all of the good ranches.

  64. BRB

    They already are. Some of them just sublease to an outfitter and buy the guaranteed licenses allowing them and their buddies to come and hunt every year. I-161 requires them to enter a drawing like everyone else. They won’t draw every year and that uncertainty makes leasing less desirable.

    Currently outfitter guaranteed tags provide outfitters a state funded incentive. Some outfitters use this subsidy to lease land. No other state offers such a subsidy and their outfitters are still in business. Montana outfitters must not be proud of this fact as you won’t see it mentioned on their website.

    Outfitter brag about block management and how outfitter guaranteed licenses provide stable funding. Check their anti-161 website. I guarantee you won’t see the following facts from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.

    Outfitters undersold the quota more often than not. 8 of 14 years there was a deficit in the Block Management budget because outfitters didn’t sell their 5,500 guaranteed tags. Between 2006 and 2009 the decline was significantly more than 1,900 licenses. This is more than a 30% decline in the last 3 years.

    They also don’t mention how this lack of funding and instability in the block management program allows outfitters to lease land without competition from the state.

    If we don’t change the current situation, the trend of outfitters leasing land for hunting will continue to increase.

    Outfitter guaranteed licenses also divide nonresident hunters into two classes. Average hunters like most of who hunt on our own and those wealthy enough to pay extra for the license and then pay the outfitter an additional $3,200 on up to $14,000 for the guaranteed tag.

    This leaves the average hunter who enters a drawing with a 60% chance for elk. Their odds on deer are only 20%. Outfitter guaranteed licenses give the wealthy a 100% chance to hunt the public’s wildlife while providing outfitters incentive to lease land.

    Montana nonresident tags are priced well below comparable big game licenses in surrounding states. I-161 proposes increasing nonresidents license fees to a level comparable to these surrounding states. You won’t see any mention this loss of revenue due to this price inequity on the anti-161 website either.

    The current system of providing a subsidy to outfitters allows them to lease additional land which directly reduces hunting opportunity for 200,000 Montana hunters.

    I-161 is an attempt by avid hunters concerned about the future of our sport to level the playing field.

  65. Non Resident hunting is not a working man’s diversion today. The license fees are high, the tag fees are high, and there is the cost of fuel to drive or fly to hunt in another state. There are little or no opportunities for scouting or in some instances, knowledge that the USFS will have the road open or obliterated, the camp ground closed or open. The empirical knowledge needed to have a successful hunt is against the blue collar working stiff from out of state, and it is particularly difficult now that incomes are so reduced, and unemployment so high.

    But, you don’t solve any problems by putting financial stress on outfitters in tough times. That is a very Washington DC type of stratergismic ploy. If ever there was a time where we need rich people spending money locally, it is now. The whole of New West Montana’s economic growth fueled by money earned elsewhere and spent in Montana needs particular attention, especially now. You gots to dance wit da gal what brung ya.

  66. Sam, you won’t see the mention of “state-funded subsidy” on the website because there IS NO subsidy! We’ve argued about this before. I have to think you don’t understand how this process works. The outfitter goes to the sport show and competes with row after row of his peers from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Africa, Russia and Canada. When he has successfully booked a client, signed a contract (a legal document) and taken a deposit, that CLIENT gets a signed certificate that accompanies the client’s application to FWP for a license. The fact that the client paid the high (market-based) price AND contracted with an outfitter gets the CLIENT a guaranteed license. Where is the subsidy?

    In what other Montana business does fulfillment of a legal contract get subjected to the luck of the draw? If you want outfitting in Montana to be on the same footing as other states, why not pick Colorado and allow the nonresident to buy his elk license over the counter? Or if you want to be more “fair” to nonresidents, let’s take the cap off the 17,000 B-10s and 2,300 B-11. Agreed? Let’s you and me go to the next legislative session with a bill that treats nonresidents more equitably.

    Your statement about the outfitter-sponsored license (variable-priced license) is a classic example of failure to understand the complexities of this license and how we can say it provides a “stable funding source for Block Management.” Let’s see if I can set you straight. 87-1-268 establishes the process by which the price is set to sell a target number of licenses AVERAGED OVER A 5-YEAR PERIOD. The FWP Commission sets the price and target each year with the goal of hitting the whole target (5,500 x 5 = 27,500 and 2,300 x 5 = 11,500) over the run of the time block.

    In the first 5-year block (1996-2000), the B-10 hit the target (27,500) at 100.24% and the B-11 hit the target (11,500) at 102.53%.

    In the second 5-year block (2001-2005), the B-10 hit the target at 100.62% and the B-11 at 100.20%

    The third block (2006-2010) ends this year, but we won’t have final sales figures until early September.

    I suspect you got your figures from the number of licenses sold by March 15 – the deadline to apply for the drawing license. What you don’t understand is that any VPL not sold by March 15 remain available to the industry until the first of September. If there are STILL unsold licenses (which happened only 2 times in 14 years), they “become” general draw licenses at the lower price and are offered to waiting lists. As long as the license is sold as a VPL, BM gets its cut; any sold later as draw licenses goes into FWP license account.

    If you really look at how this incredibly powerful and complicated process has worked the way the legislature intended for the last 14 years, you might feel differently about throwing it out. Also, there wasn’t a funding deficit in the BM budget. The fact is, every two years, the Legislature grants spending authority for the BM program and that’s the amount they can spend. Period.

    Based upon a better understanding of the facts, the rest of your arguments should go away, but you might hang onto support for I-161. We’ve had some long discussions about the reality of this issue, but nothing seems to change. You don’t want a level playing field – whatever that is! It’s just easier to blow up a small group than it is to commit to understanding the issue. Or acknowledging that the landowner will manage his private property exactly as he/she wants to.

    If you are serious about facts, let me know and I’ll share the results of a Colorado State University survey of 3,000 Montana landowners who responded to questions like: “What is the ONE SYSTEM that best represents how you manage hunting access on your land?”

    If you have any facts upon which to base the following statement, you should contact FPW law enforcement at 444-2452: “Some of them just sublease to an outfitter and buy the guaranteed licenses allowing them and their buddies to come and hunt every year.”

  67. Get the Facts Right

    There is so much misinformation being spewed by the proponents of Kephart I 161. In many cases I think the folks honestly do not know that they have the facts wrong. Yet their statements might influence others who do not know differently.

    For example in a comment posted today Sam Milo states:

    “Outfitters undersold the quota more often than not. 8 of 14 years there was a deficit in the Block Management budget because outfitters didn’t sell their 5,500 guaranteed tags. Between 2006 and 2009 the decline was significantly more than 1,900 licenses. This is more than a 30% decline in the last 3 years.

    They also don’t mention how this lack of funding and instability in the block management program allows outfitters to lease land without competition from the state.”

    This statement is an outstanding example of bad information being presented by someone who may be well intentioned but is misinformed.

    Sam suggests that the sale of the Outfitter Sponsored license undersells more than it over sells and that in some way that translates into a rollercoaster ride for the block management program. Nothing could be more incorrect or demonstrate more completely why something as complex as this license system should not be done by Initiative.

    By law, the B-10 Outfitter Sponsored licenses are to be priced each year such that total sales achieve 27,500 during a five-year period (that is an average of 5,500 per year). Price of the license varies between years and the prices are manipulated to attempt to hit the five-year target of 27,500. In some years the prices are higher and in some years the price are lower. All adjustments are made with the end goal of selling 27,500 in a five year interval.

    As you can imagine it is a difficult task to set the price such that sales are on target at the end of the interval. Over the last 14 year the following facts emerge:

    ”¢ From 1996 to 2000 the number of B10 Outfitter Sponsored licenses sold was 27,565, slightly over (less than ¼ of a percentage point) the five year target of 27,500.

    Ӣ From 2001 to 2005 there were 27,670 licenses sold (over by 6 tenths of one percentage point).

    Ӣ From 2006 to 2009 there were 21,968 with a target of 22,000. Off by 0.15 percent.

    Ӣ The average deviation from the desired level of sales and the actual level of sales has been 0.2% or 2 tenths of a percentage point.

    The obvious conclusion is that this system provides an incredibly stable funding source for Block Management.

    Kephart I-161 will increase non-resident fees by as much as 61% for deer is outrageous and will certainly decrease demand and thereby jeopardize a long standing and stable source of funding for Block Management.

    Sam’s comment is full of this kind of misinformation. Passionate as supporters are about I-161 the inescapable truth is that I 161 will jeopardize funding for Block Management, remove important controls in Title 87 and will only serve to divide landowners and sportsmen more.

    Kephart I -161 is a bad for all Montanans.

  68. Sam,

    From my research, your statements are far from factual. I might suggest you contact FWP and request exact numbers on the Block Management program – good luck with that as it is some kind of state secret. However, at least 90% is funded via non-residents with 80+% from the OSL program. None of this noise really matters if the elk popultions continue to decline due to mismanagement. Which begs the question: what is the true motivation of I-161? It is conceivable that since private land is managed by both landownders and outfitters for quality, this is simply a poor attempt at forcing access to those who have done their jobs. In addition, with the reintroduction and protection of predators, the hunters in western Montana have now journeyed east to find game. This has created more pressure on Block Management – an endless circle that sees no relief from I-161. Makes more sense for the FWP, PLPW and others to find a table and get to work.

  69. When I saw your responses and started my reply, I finally realized we are looking at the situation from different perspectives. You are approaching this as a business situation while I am coming at it from a sportsman’s perspective. As representatives of outfitters, you are rightly representing their business interests. They are in business to make a living as they have every right to do.

    I look at things from the perspective of a hunter. I love to hunt. I spend my money for hunting. I have brothers, nephews and a niece living out of state that would someday enjoy returning to hunt in our camp. Old hunting buddies live out of state as well. While I can see the benefits to outfitters, I don’t believe it is fair to watch wealthy folks buy guaranteed licenses to hunt the public’s wildlife while our friends and family have to enter a drawing.

    To illustrate the current situation, here are two examples I have personally encountered.

    Last season two brothers from the Midwest brought various nephews and sons ranging in age from Junior High to probably 35 years old for a two week hunt. On the way out they crowded into two overloaded pickups with their gear, eating meals and buying gas along the way and spending one night in a motel somewhere in Eastern Montana.

    They pitched their tents next to our camp in an obscure drainage in Western Montana. That bothered me until I met them. Great guys with a long tradition of hunting in Wisconsin, they got up early, hunted hard and stayed out till after dark and had a great time. They had some success and they all pitched in to get the game out of the hills.

    While in camp, they purchased gas, groceries, and a number of meals locally. The game was dropped off at a local processing shop and the bull they killed went to a Montana taxidermist. The kids had a wonderful time and were talking about coming back out when they could draw licenses again, probably in two years.

    Contrast this experience with the guy I met three years ago in the exercise room at motel in Bozeman. While visiting his son who was attending MSU, he was considering buying a section of land for hunting. He had also purchased a lease on over 16,000 acres in central Montana for hunting the previous year.

    He was frustrated with the drawing process for nonresidents because he and his son hadn’t drawn. He wasn’t sure he would renew the lease and if he did, he was considering hiring an outfitter for the coming season so he and his son and friends could hunt on his leased property. He also mentioned maybe looking in Wyoming for a place to lease instead because he thought he could get tags down there.

    Two nonresident families, one thankful they were lucky enough to draw tags, the other expecting the right to buy a nonresident license simply because they could afford to lease a big chunk of Montana.

  70. sam,

    “You don’t believe its fair to watch wealthy folks buy guaranteed license to hunt the publics wildlife”.

    But its o.k. for the guy who can barely afford a trip to Montana “to hunt the publics wildlife”?

    You should come into my camp, or any other outfitters camp in the state, and tell the guys hunting with us that they are “wealthy folks”. I know a lot of guys who work right here in Montana who earn far more than some of the guys who hunt with me. It is not just “wealthy folks”.

    One thing I have learned over the years is this, “its difficult to argue w/ and idealog”. You view things so very differently than what I do that it is senseless to argue facts and figures. Your perception is your reality, while my reality is facts and figures.

    Let’s both step out of all our perceptions for a minute. I will look at this situation from a sportsman/hunters perception only…and I want you to do the same.

    If we look at the land we (the unwashed masses) do not have access to what do we see? We see land we want/demand access to….why? Because it has what we covet….quality. We only covet what we can see. Now we have to wonder, “why does this land have the quality we want/covet?” Could it be on account of better stewardship of the resource? Could it be that the folks in charge of this land put the resource first, and the hunter second? If the accessable lands were managed in a similar way there would be no coveting, “we must MAKE what we have as good as what they have”….. but this is how a conservative thinks.

    Liberals think just the opposite……”we must TAKE what they have and make it equal”.

    eric albus

  71. toolelk,

    You are correct, nonresidents provide the lions share of funding.

    The information about license sales may be available online but it has eluded me. I traveled to Helena and picked the information up. It was dated in September 2009, I forget the exact date. I realize there are probably many cancellations so I used the numbers for net licenses sold.

    Just to clarify, I-161 forces no access on anyone. It does seek to remove a state provided incentive to outfitters helping them lease lands. It also proposes a significant increase in funding for public access above the current system, including providing funds outside of Block Management that can lease access to public lands currently blocked by outfitter leased land.

    It will also provide a much more stable funding source for block management than the current wildly fluctuating system.


  72. Eric,

    If you were actually a conservative, you would refuse to take the outfitter guaranteed license subsidy and use your own money to lease land.


  73. Mac,

    The issue is the stability of funding levels for block management.

    You said “From 2006 to 2009 there were 21,968 with a target of 22,000. Off by 0.15 percent.”

    Does this mean funding levels for Block Management in 2009 were within .15% of the funding available in 2006? If not, what were the actual amounts available in each of the years in question?



  74. Sam,

    If you call Alan Charles at 444-3798, he can tell you all about the funds for Block Management as he administers that program – and facilitates the PL/PW, too – how much comes in each year; how much is spent; how much is reserved.

    I think you’ll find that there is always surplus funds in the BM program and all is subject to the legislature granting spending authority. The BM budget is handled much like the state budget: project revenue – grant spending authority – realize revenue – spend – project revenue – grant spending authority – realize revenue – spend.

    Instead of dedicating your efforts to proving up Kephart’s claims of more money for BM, you should – without bias – commit to getting at the truth. The better question should be this: Does I-161 EARMARK money for Block Management, or does I-161 have the effect of stating “legislative intent?” I would ask Mac Minard to follow up with this and clarify my statement. Mac’s a budget man and knows more about this part of the issue than anyone outside FWP’s budget office. In my opinion.

  75. Sam, you said this: “. . . including providing funds outside of Block Management that can lease access to public lands currently blocked by outfitter leased land.” The PL/PW offered the Come Home to Hunt program and the 2009 Legislature voted it in. That’s a source of funds for acquiring access to public lands. Ironically, the PL/PW and Legislature were committed to seeing that those former Montanans (like your relatives) could get those licenses at the general draw price: $628 and $328 – or $897 and $527 under I-161 – UP by 43% and 61%.

    Don’t forget that the landowner makes his or her own management decisions and always will – despite Kephart’s “good” intentions.

  76. sam,

    The definition of subsidy is : 1. Monetary assistance granted by a government to a person or group in support of an enterprise regarded as being in the public interest.

    2. Financial assistance given by one person or government to another.

    I fail to see where anyone could even come up with the idea that an outfitter is subsidized….explain that to me.

    If you would like to know who is subsidized I can tell you….It is the resident sportsmen, non-resident sportsman, and the Dept. of FWP.

  77. sam, i am…well i am not, but I am waiting for a response…
    are the outfitters subsidized????? and how am I using someone else’s money to lease ranches??? I am rather confused by the idea that someone else should be issuing my landowners 1099 forms….my accountant must be confused too…

  78. Eric,

    Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Long week. Regarding your claim Outfitter Sponsored Licenses (OSLs) are not a subsidy, I offer the following.

    Only Montana offers OSLs among states I checked in this region. Montana also has by far the cheapest general nonresident prices in this region for comparable licenses. Outfitters in other states have somehow persisted in spite of no guaranteed licenses and much higher nonresident fees.

    Given two exactly equal years except no OSLs in the 2nd year, your subsidy would be difference between the number of hunters you had signed up on the day after the deadline for each of the years.

    As an example, I see on your website you charge a $1,000 deposit for all hunts. I notice your Powder River deer hunts are sold out a couple years in advance. With OSLs you know that for every 10 nonresident deer hunters you will collect $10,000 up front then collect the balance by the start of the hunt.

    Additionally, you and your bank (if you borrow money) have a good idea how much additional income you will generate, in some instances at least 2 years in advance. No other business in Montana receives that level of certainty from the government. If you are a smart business man, and I assume you are, you will lease enough high quality properties to provide your clients with a very high success rate year after year.

    The 2nd year, without the OSL subsidy, your hunters will have to enter the same drawing as every other nonresident deer hunter. The current odds for a deer combination license in the drawing are 20%. Add the currently guaranteed licenses to the kitty and your client’s odds will go up a bit but you will be very lucky indeed if 50% of your interested clients draw.

    At a bare minimum, the state of Montana has been subsidizing your nonresident deer hunter income by at least 50% every year. –


  79. sam, i am….confused….

    This is my 3rd attempt to respond…..but none show up this is the last time.

    In short, there is no way, shape, or form a subsidy for the outfitter. The state subsidizing my income by 50%…that statement is ludicrous. (personally I would rather they pay for half my advertising expense for a year)

    I am off 25-30% this year, and I have several friends who are 40-60% off in numbers this year…. where is our subsidy? Its simple, there ain’t one.

    If 161 were passed and we go to a drawing again…its simple. I just overbook every week and hope to not overdraw…if I do overdraw, I will just have to find places to put them.

  80. Sam,

    At soley THEIR expense, while executive director of MOGA, I traveled to Colorado and Wyoming to discuss how Montana was able to support its outfitting industry and look for ways they could have the same kind of BUSINESS stability we enjoy. They didn’t have the kind of BLock Management program that we have here, either – at least for the first ten years. I remember both Pat Graham and Jeff Hagener (former FWP directors) commenting on how their peers envied Montana’s system.

  81. sam, you am,

    It finally clicked this morning, the backward way you look at things……maybe I thought out loud in the mirror, and I could see it…
    I would be taking deposits on hunts 2-3 years in advance REGARDLESS of the license situtation….I have done so with guys who apply for the lottery, and then will either refund their deposit, or hold it until they do draw…..most opt for me to hold it until they draw…

    Perhaps you can see that there is no subsidy….if not, think out loud into your mirror, mirror, upon the wall.

  82. To Sign Inititiative I-161
    Signing the Online Petition

    1. Share this information with friends that are resident Montana hunters.
    2. Go to
    3. Print Signature Gathering Information
    4. Print I-161 petition final certified 11.13.09
    5. Print Affidavit of Petition Signature Gatherer 11.04.09
    6. After signatures are gathered, take the petition and the affidavit to a notary.
    7. Fill out and sign the affidavit in front of the notary. (This is usually a free service provided by your bank)
    8. Take both the signed petition and the affidavit to your county elections office.

  83. With all the false information out there about 161, most folks do not even know what they are signing. I have even heard thru the grapevine of folks having their names REMOVED from the petition….once aware of all the unintended consequences…couple this with the fact that Kephart has to HIRE signature gathering….and the fact that he will not respond to my standing offer of a public debate on the merits of his poorly formed ballot intiative…..

    We must all work together to solve the problem at hand…which is no quality on accessable lands. Sportsmen for Wildlife(SFW)….this is where the future of Montana’s hunting may be. The Utah SFW changed management in their state….they now have quality….Montana needs to be next.


  84. There is no need for any further “public debate” on the merits of I161. It may not solve the access issue as it relates to private lands, but it will send a message to the outfitting industry and to our state officials that changes need to be made.

    If anti-I161 groups can stand the heat, their members should cowboy up and sign the petition themselves – get the matter in front of the voters and let Democracy run its course.

    SIGN BALLOT Initiative I-161
    Problem – Current law provides hunting outfitters approximately 5,500 “nonresident outfitter-sponsored big game combination licenses” each year – guaranteed issue. There is no drawing for outfitter clients. All who apply automatically receive the license. The remaining 11,500 nonresident big game combination licenses are put into a drawing, giving those who apply a 60% chance for success. Why should outfitter clients be given a 100% guaranteed license while all other nonresidents only receive a 60% chance to draw?

    I-161 Solution – With this change in law, all nonresidents will have an equal chance to draw a license. Outfitter clients receive no special privileges. Everyone is treated the same.

    Problem – Of the 4,600 “nonresident deer combination licenses”, outfitters receive half – an average quota of 2,300 licenses with 100% guaranteed issue. Again, there is no drawing for their clients. Conversely, 11,500 regular nonresidents apply for the other 2,300 available nonresident deer combination licenses. Their chance of drawing is a paltry 20%. Why should outfitter clients receive a 100% guarantee from the state of Montana while average Joe’s receive a 20% chance?

    I-161 Solution – Again, no special privileges to outfitter clients. Treat every nonresident equally. Demand democracy instead of plutocracy!

    Problem – Currently, most of the money generated to fund Block Management comes from the outfitter-sponsored license. This tends to make Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks somewhat dependant upon the outfitting industry, creating a relationship that is unethical, given that FWP is the trustee of our wildlife.

    I-161 Solution – A change requiring all nonresidents to fund Block Management through nonresident general licenses severs the relationship that exists between the outfitting industry and Montana FWP.

    Problem – The Montana State Legislature set the license fee for nonresident big game combination licenses at $643. Neighboring states offer elk and deer licenses for substantially more – Idaho ($873.25), Wyoming ($917.00), Colorado $872.00). Without adequate funding Montana FWP is handcuffed, unable to provide additional habitat and access improvements.

    I-161 Solution – Within the framework of I-161, the Montana nonresident big game combination license is priced at $897.00. The nonresident deer combination license is priced at $527.00. Both licenses include an automatic inflation rider, freeing legislators from spending valuable time and taxpayer dollars on a redundant issue. The initiative also has a positive fiscal note, projecting an additional 2.2 million dollars annually over the next four years for improved hunter access and habitat acquisition.

    As a former BLM employee in Eastern Montana I personally saw ranchers working as guides post public access routes as private and block access to large tracts (sections) of public lands for their exclusive use using their smaller tracts of deeded land and state land leases in front of those federal lands.
    Nobody went to jail for knowingly blocking public lands but they should have. AFAIK, the violators weren’t even reprimanded or fined.

    IMHO access to public land tracts of (1) section in size and greater that is blocked will ultimately have to be mandated as a requirement by law. After all, isn’t denying access to our public lands a “taking” without compensation in a legal framework.

    Glenn Ferren Superior Montana

  85. Glenn,

    You make some good points….but

    Problem:Montana raises the price of the license and we have a significant undersell (like Idaho experienced when they raised their non-res. license fees)

    Solution: ???

    Problem: There is not much quality on accessable lands.(this is the real issue, and 161 does nothing to address this)

    Solution: Hold FWP’s feet to the fire and demand Biological Management of big game.

    If wildlife were managed biologically there would be no access issue….there are over 30 million acres of publically accessable lands(with adequate access, so says the governing agencies) and nearly 9 million acres of Block Management….there can be no ACCESS ISSUE. (outfitters are leaseing 6.3 million acres)…no access issue….it is about Access to Quality. period, end of discussion.

    I do have a question for you….If your house were blocking access for me to get into the post office would you like me walking thru your living room to do so? I could do this at any hour of the day or night, leave the door open and the lights on, get my mail, walk back through your house (easier now that I left the door open and lights on) and go about my merry way…..this is what you pave the way for when you begin to “mandate access”. Never give up a right, for you will never live long enough to get it back”.

    eric albus, landowner/sportsman/outfitter

  86. >>Problem:Montana raises the price of the license and we have a significant undersell (like Idaho experienced when they raised their non-res. license fees)

    Montana routinely has more applicants than licenses for the out-of-state draw, whereas the outfitter set-aside doesn’t always sell all their licenses.

    >>Problem: There is not much quality on accessable lands.(this is the real issue, and 161 does nothing to address this)

    I’ve found quality on public lands for a long time…15″ antelope, 25″+ wide mule deer, good 5×5 bull elk, etc. You just have to be willing to go farther and hunt harder and be willing to put it on your back to take it out, or on a horse. (I’m 54, 5’8″, and have had a hernia for the past 5 years – and I still pack elk on my back, and more than once I’ve thrown an antelope over my shoulders and got bloody.)

    I’m for biological mgmt – as in introduction of say mule deer breeding stock from the utah gene pool or such.
    Block Management is not about game management – its about hunter management.
    My numbers are off I guess – used to be that outfitters leased (8) million acres and block mgmt had (8) million…most of (BM) which from my experience was overhunted and often under populated with game.
    Access is an issue – period…but you can do what I do and hunt public lands (blm/usfs) or you can figure out how to hunt the boundary of private property. Some of the best hunting to be found is in the rough country sitting behind a ranchers fields, all you have to do is find a legal route into it. Animals may feed in the fields but they seek cover after.

    Rather silly of me to plant my house between you and the post office, so yes, being said silly I would have to give you access to your post office. The point that you miss is that because you may sit in front of thousands of acres of public lands – YOU as an individual have no more rights to those lands than I do. But some do begin to assume singular ownership of our shared property.

  87. Glenn,

    It’s way past time to give up on at least two of your constant arguments: “Why should outfitters’ clients get a guarantee and others have to draw?” and the outfitter sponsored license creates an “unhealthy relationship between FWP and the industry.”

    First, it’s the revenue, silly. That was the deal: high price to fund block management in exchange for guaranteed license. And don’t forget, along with the high price the buyer also has to forego any hunting on his own. It’s the guided trip and be gone. Period. THAT”S THE TRADE-OFF FOR THE GUARANTEE.

    That revenue funded 100% of the BM program for several years until the legislature passed a bill allowing sportsmen to kick in $2/year – not to forget the doubling of the nonresident upland game bird license with half going to BM.

    As for the unhealthy relationship, that’s so much hockum, it’s just plain silly! All you have to do is go to the FWP Commission meetings – where decisions are made – and see how the outfitting industry fares, compared to sportsmen! Give us a break here! You are just parroting something Kephart came up with way back in December. It makes no sense.

    Give it up, Glenn! Just stick with the truth and say you believe that if you can get outfitters out of the way, you’ll have access to all the private property you want. It’s still private property and the landowner will still make his/her own decisions, so good luck with that.

    I-161 is bad news because it was based on anger, emotion, and the mean-spirited targeting of about 400 of Montana’s tourism businesses. Jeez! That’s why it’s not attracting a real grassroots following.

  88. Hello Jean,

    Me thinks thou protest too much!
    Let the voters decide the issue.

    As for the come and go aspect of the guided hunt – I’ve never had an issue with out of state hunters, some of my relatives used to come over from WA and hunt. And when I meet an out of stater that has gotten a tag from the drawing, they are often out in the woods like I am, hunting, and not driving down the road and looking out the window for an easy shot like some of the locals. At that point I’ll even give ’em tips on some spots that may help ’em locate game.

    I am one of the last people you will see on someone’s private property…way too many better places that have fewer footprints.

    If I161 succeeds or not…look at it as a wake up call ….Montana Outfitters and Guides need to do some work to improve their image esp. on the East side. It starts with simply being civil.

  89. Glenn,

    “Let the voters decide the issue.” Wow, novel idea! Just exactly how wildlife issues should be decided – now we don’t need FWP. Might as well throw out private property rights while you are at it.

    “I am one of the last people you will see on someone’s private property…way too many better places that have fewer footprints.” So, what’s the problem?

    I think you are painting Montana Outfitters and Guides with one very big, broad brush. Maybe you should check out:

    Seems more than civil to me…

  90. No, Glenn, I don’t protest too much; I just get immensley frustrated at reading the same tired old arguments that aren’t backed up by facts.

    So now it just comes down to launching a citizen’s initiative process just to send the Montana Outfitters and Guides Assn a message. Evidently you’ve never been on the receiving end of an anti-___ citizen’s initiative or you wouldn’t have such a cavalier attitude toward what’s gone on the last 6 months. We had one in 1998 [we prevailed, by the way] and it was the ugliest, bridge-burning, resentment-causing experience I’ve ever had in my professional life.

    There may be some outfitters in Eastern Montana who need a brush up on good manners, but the majority do not, yet I-161 harms all equally, including the outfitters who pack into the Bob. How does that make sense? How is that fair? And how to you expect attitudes to change on our side when we get whacked with a process that turns people’s lives inside out for 6 months? Why not just pick up the damn phone and call the Montana Board of Outfitters at 406.841.2370, or even the MOGA office at 449.3578 and COMPLAIN about a specific outfitter? Wouldn’t that be the more honest approach?

  91. I think it is fair to say the outfitters are scared to death of an open and honest debate on the issues and facts. They are trying desparately to prevent I-161 from providing an additional 2.2 million dollars per year for public access and from treating everyone equally in a drawing. The truth is it will remove a state subsidy for an industry that is commercializing our wildlife.

    I-161 will also raise non-resident fees from the lowest in the 10 western states with elk and deer to the 9th lowest for comparable license.

    MOGA brags about how these guaranteed license are a stable funding source for Block Management but they don’t tell you about the huge drop in revenue last year. Way over $600,000 less in 2009 than the previous year form just the elk tags. Since they couldn’t sell enough licenses last year they dropped the price by $250 each for 2010. Even if they can sell as many as last year, we will see at least another $500,000 decline below last year’s drop. The deer license revenues are seeing the same kind of decreases.

    I believe the abuse of outfitter sponsored licenses by outfitters is fairly common. See this story from the Great Falls Tribune dated May 22nd about a non-resident who bought a ranch and then leased to an outfitter.

    The outfitter hired the landowner to guide and he promptly used the guarranteed licenses to bring his cronies out to hunt using illegal and despicable tactics including baiting. If they had to draw for their licenses like the rest of the citizens, it would reduce the likelyhood of this type of abuse.

    A great many non-residents purchase a ranch in Montana and use this same tactic of leasing to an outfitter to get guaranteed licenses. Often outfitters encourage their clients to apply for the drawing then if they don’t draw, they can purchase a guaranteed license. This tactic reduces the odds for the people in the drawing.

    Plus, these outfitters are being subsidized by the state and can afford to pay obscene amounts of money for these leases. If paid to a non-resident landowner, this money leaves Montana instead of being spent locally.

    At the April Skyline Sportsmen’s meeting in Butte, an outfitter from Jefferson County whose headquarters are just outside Whitehall, bragged about “writing a check for $100,000” to their landowner for their lease. He also bragged about contributing to the local economy by buying his groceries in Butte.

    Unfortunately for his local Whitehall economy, he is going to the nearest big city instead of shopping at home. I wonder what he tells his neighbors and the local grocer about his financial contributions to the local economy. I suspect a lot of other outfitters do their shopping in the big city rather than the local small town.

    I have been working for I-161 for some time and would like to share a few of the tactics outfitters are using. Since at least early April, they have been passing out thousands of handouts full of inaccuracies and outright lies.

    For instance they changed the wording and intent of the initiative and then told numerous sportsmen’s groups and many others at gunshows, and sports shows across the state that I-161 did not require the money raised be spent for access. In fact the actual language specifies it can “only” be used for hunting access. They have been asked to correct this several times but still refuse.

    Recently, Jean Johnson, the outfitters lobbyist claimed it was an “honest mistake” and promised us MOGA would issue an apology. We are still waiting Jean.

    MOGA has been harrassing and intimidating our signature gathers across the state including including the school elections in Butte. Several of our signature gatherers have been threatened, never in from of anyone. Two single moms helping us in Butte were in tears because of the abuse they were receiving from the male outfitters. Curiously these big tough men didn’t try the same tactics when our guys replaced the ladies.

    When you try to move away from them, they continually follow you to harras the people you try to speak with. I would duck into the Civic Center and come out a different door to speak with folks without interference. Finally they assigned a lady to follow me everywhere. Once she was following me so closely that she almost went into the men’s room with me. She had a startled look on her face when she realized where I was headed. Sure enough, she was waiting when I came out.

    Before the School elections in Butte, the outfitters were telling us where we could and couldn’t stand and what we could and couldn’t do. One outfitter got so mad when we ignored them and started gathering signature that he challenged me ‘to step outside and settle this.” This same bully scared one of our ladies bad enough she called 911.

    Then there was the Outfitter who saw the name of a sporting goods store on the shirt of a guy signing my petition and threatened to tell his boss the guy was signing. He really got mad after a few more folks ignored his ranting and signed. He started saying “I can’t believe how stupid people are” Folks started moving away from him as he was a pretty big guy and getting mad.

    Speaking of lies, Montana Board of Outfitters own statistics show outfitters lease 6.1 million acres of private land in Montana. If your read this story above, Mac Minard, the executive director of MOGA claims outfitters only lease between 2 and 3 million acres in Montana. He made a similar claim in the Butte newspaper in Feb and at sportsmens organizations across the state.

    When I asked why he lied to the journalists in front of his outfitter buddies at a gunshow in Missoula, he denied having made these statements and backed away from me when I kept asking. He was later heard to tell his outfitter buddies that he must have been misquoted. The Butte reporter checked his notes and found no mistake.

    While outfitters admit to leasing 6.1 million acres of private land, they don’t mention the millions of acres of public land they block access to.

    Eric Albus is pretty busy defending the current law and how great it is for the public but Eric, how much public land do you block access to with your leases?

    I sincerely hope we can get I-161 on the ballot because I am looking forward to a healthy debate on the facts and issues. I want to see outfitters try to defend all the misinformation and outright lies they are telling and I want to shine a little light on the abuses of guaranteed licenses for outfitter customers.

    Sam Milodragovich

  92. well sam, I have a hard time believing that Mac would lie about anything. I know him and he holds himself to a very high standard, so mis-quoted…perhaps, lieing…No.

    I will readily allow as there are a few acres of BLM that are inaccessable through our own private land, and a few sections of BLM on a couple leases. It is up to my landowners and me whether or not access is allowed through their/our private land…..much like it should be up to you whether or not you would allow me to walk through your living room to access the post office. Once access is forced, where do we stop? Never give up a freedom or right, as you will not live long enough to see it come back.

    You know what sam? I have personally e-mailed Mr. Kephart to ask for a public debate…and I recieved no answer… When Rob Arnaud debated Jim Posewitz on 161 in Bozeman, all Jim could say is “we don’t really know” (when asked about what 161 would really do)… this really something you want to hang your hat on? We don’t know….as for the antics with the signature gathering folks, well I don’t really hold with that, but I also know some folks who signed the petition….and they were out and out lied to about what they were signing…. so don’t throw rocks when the house you live in is made of glass.

  93. WOW lots of discussion going on here! Well just got out of the hills with some Idaho bear clients, had a great hunt!! I am extremely surprised that someone that is so FOR I 161 would be advertising skull cleaning at the LOCAL meat shop that my clients and a lot of other nonresidents and residents hunters support. Trying to capitalize on non residents and resident hunters and thinking I 161 is a good thing? Not sure about that Glenn. You sayproblems in the east but you live in the west, reminds me of “WELL when I lived in WA or CA thats how we did it” I 161 will affect the whole state and maybe there is a better way to go about the problems that they are facing in the east. PL/PW ? Wish everyone on here a great Memorial Weekend!
    Jason Cataldo

  94. Good to see that you are working Jason and Thanks! for the business plug. No spring bear yet, took some good pics though.
    Baiting (Idaho) would make a diff here for sure, but our bear population has been allowed to “mature” by not doing so.

    Already done an 18″ + and another one on the way to feed the beetles.

    Glenn Ferren Cabin City

  95. Sam

    You are the one on here that’s been ranting all winter long without once showing any facts to back your claims and your numbers have been way off. And you haven’t even been able to stick to your original argument. And now your last name is longer. Hmmmmm????? whatever I’m sure you are a ferry fine feller, but I think your full of it with your made up accusations on outfitters, prolly party to the anti trapping initiative also. Whatever keep up the good work, you’re good for a laugh and at convincing people to vote against your little scam. Thanks

  96. Sam,

    I will still stand by my statement, Minard is not a liar, until I have definitive proof otherwise.

    To your question. With what happened in the Missouri Breaks w/ the outfitter/landowners, I think the got just what they deserved. Actually they should have been fined a lot more, but a $50k hit in the pocket book probably got their attention. I also think they should lose hunting priviledges for life in Montana.

    As to your “stable funding” comments, Block Management has had a surplus to work with, and on the years the VPL undersells, the surplus from the previous years oversells keep funding stabilized.

    As to the draw odds, if 161 were to pass, I have run a couple programs and w/ the increase in license fees, the elk/deer draw would be roughly 95-110%, the deer license 45-50% (the 110% indicates an undersell, very likely in this economy). High odds draw and a license that is a lot LESS EXPENSIVE (for my clients, compared to the VPL)….plus now I can send them on their own to hunt elk in western Mt, on public land, after their deer hunt is over…great selling point for me…but bad for resident hunters and for whats left of the elk in Mt…. which brings us again back to the point I have belabored so much….IT’S ABOUT ACCESS TO QUALITY…which 161 does not address…at all…

    I still fail to see any subsidy, but again it may be the way you look at things, which is backward to how I see them and how they really are. There is no subsidy…period. The VPL is no more a subsidy than a couch on a show room floor, or a car on a lot.

    Myself, and Rob Arnaud (I will throw him under the bus with me) would love to have debated Kephart publically about 161, but he would not even dignify my challenge w/ a response. Whether or not he makes the ballot, I would still come to Billings and debate the issue, and perhaps have a floor to bring up the Sportsmen for Wildlife movement that has started up. Look into Utah’s SFW and what they have done for their state.

    eric albus, landowner/sportsman/outfitter

  97. Sam, me thinks you protest too much and have reduced any salient discussion into personal attacks and school girl rants. As the above poster mentioned, I-161 has nothing to do with access. In addition, you continually mention “we” – what exactly have you done for wildlife? The fact is the private land is often managed for quality wildlife and you want access. I might suggest you turn your energy (but leave the whining out) to the real issue – complete mismangement of our resources by the agencies entrusted with this responsibility.

  98. Sam, I didn’t admit to any lies because there weren’t any “lies.” A misunderstanding came out of a conversation with Sue Daly at FWP and no one corrected it with specificity until May (?). You need to understand that when you get into a campaign like this, things move way too quickly to get everything done that should be done. I’m sure you’ve had the same experience on your own side of the aisle. And no one is preventing me from speaking up. I wrote to the PikeMasters and will do the same for the Kalispell group as soon as I can work it into my life and another business.

    Sam, if you were ever on the receiving end of an anti-you initiative you would have a better sense of the outfitters’ response to I-161. You are not only threatening their livelihood, but their way of life. Don’t expect us to stand by while your signature gatherers tell the prospective signer anything under the sun just to get a signature! The line I like best was “Sign this petition and you’ll eliminate leasing in the Swan River Valley.” Huh?

    Kephart has done precious little to see that his campaign and his organization has understood the issue, understood the laws/rules governing the initiative process, understood the Montana Constitutional requirements! If you’re going to engage a process that Montanans hold dear, you have an ethical responsibility to understand the rules of engagement. Instead, I-161 supporters have repeatedly broken the law across the state – all in the name of gaining access! This isn’t the way to gain access; this is doing NOTHING for the Montana hunter.

    If Kephart had directed this anti-leasing initiative at the gate-keepers and decision-makers (landowners) the public would have buried you all by now. Instead, you take your revenge out on a very small group of honest business men and women (98%) and expect to do well. Why in the world have so many groups and individuals come out in opposition to I-161 if it represented a grassroots effort? And if our campaign was based on lies, wouldn’t some of those groups or individuals found us out long ago? This isn’t grassroots, Sam, because you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    As for the funding remarks, Eric has answered more clearly and concisely than I would so I let it go. I think I’m done with this comment string. Nothing changes.

  99. Jean, you may be right…perhaps I am wasting energy typing…nothing seems to change.

    Toolelk, you bring up a great point….Sam, what have you or Mr. Kephart done for the wildlife in Montana????? Mr. T-elk, that is a great question…and one that deserves answering.

  100. Bill Schneider

    FYI, I have taken down Sam Milo’s 6-1-2010 comment because of the personal attacks it contained, and I’ve emailed Sam to say that he is welcome to re-post this information minus the personal attacks. I realize I-161 is a controversial subject, but like all others, we strive for a civil discourse in our comment sections….Bill Schneider

  101. The one thing I have not read in any of the pro comments for I-160,
    have any of the supporters went to a Rancher with the expectation of receiving a warm welcome and asked him what he will do or feel if the Outfitter tags are taken away ??…..I have personally asked well over a dozen ranchers of whom 3/4 lease their land right now, to both Outfitters and private parties, they all said the same thing, if they are taking the licenses from Outfitters, it is like stealing money from them and they will lock up their land and not allow any hunting to the public….see it isn’t just the Outfitter it is the “LANDOWNER” you are affecting,, it is a liberal cry baby bill and a pipe dream if they think all of this choice private hunting ground will be magically appearing for their pleasure.

  102. I forgot to mention while talking to Kephart in Great Falls, something wasn’t right, when push came to shove, oh ya, he is from Pennsylvania, wonder if he came out here to Montana on a guided hunt maybe, another out of state, and a PA transplant no less wanting to change Montana and have it his way, I told him and argued that he had no clue what he was doing not just to Montana families and business’s but that I was there years ago when each Outfitter was not regulated to how many hunters he could guide, and ya know what, I saw lots of ranchers leasing hunting back then also, if a outfitter is regulated to 25 hunters today, with out the Outfitter tag, he will book or attempt to book 100 hunters and maybe get 50, was about the way it was back then and there were more Outfitters I believe.

  103. Coleman, you are absolutely right. If 161 passes hang on, the leasing is about to begin.

    One of the biggest reasons for little to no expansion in the outfitting industry the last 7-8 years is on account of the variable priced license(VPL). Part of the reason for the decrease in outfitter numbers is the set-aside license….selling a hunt, coupled w/ the high priced license is not easy (in spite of all the idiotic claims of “a guaranteed living”). The system we have right now has worked to control expansion in the outfitting industry, which was one of the trade offs of the VPL….

    Now we have guys “buying their way to the ballot box” without a clue as to the regulations or history of the VPL. What you pointed out in your post above is 100% dead on…. when I start booking hunters I will book every one who wants to hunt…no longer limited by NCHU (net client hunting use)….the sky is now the limit.

    Eric Albus, landowner/sportsman/outfitter

  104. Eric,
    Over the weekend I was talking to a friend of mine who is a outfitter, he told me there are still tons of left over Outfitter tags, I have seen in several Ag classifieds ranchers advertising for leasing of hunting rights. My friend told me this has been a very difficult year for many Outfitters with the economy, he pointed out to me, and forgive me if my numbers are not spot on, there are 5,500 Outfitter tags right now ? if I-161 goes through that will throw or could place 5,500 non-resident hunters out in the open to compete with residents and other non-residents on public and private property. I seems to me if Kephart and his supporters had any common sense he would realize there could be a huge surge in non-residents now going around and hunting on public property and also leasing property, so what is the real agenda and purpose of this bill ? I think it is just to mess with some folks and not really think of the true consequences. I do know there will be some non residents not applying for any increase in the non resident tag, so I am thinking that there will be a shortfall on the money for the block management program contrary to what supporters think. My friend also told me that while he was talking to Kephart, he admitted he was against the Backcountry Outfitters as well, he is just plain anti outfitter and told him he was to be sacrificed once this bill passes………

  105. Does anyone else think there is more behind this than meets the eye? Where did the money come from to pay the signature gatherers? What about the admitted fraud? Why would someone take the time to write in names from a phonebook if not paid by the signature? With obvious budget shortages, how will FWP fund block management and other programs without the non-resident licenses? What about the federal matching monies? Pittman-Robertson monies?? Unintended consequences? There might be more to this story….

  106. Good question, Toolelk. As for the $ to hire paid sig. gatherers, financial reports filed at the Commissioner of Political Practices office show that Kephart has “loaned” the effort @ $33,000. He had one fund raiser last winter but names and numbers of contributors were not listed. After than, he had a loan and a contribution from Mike Klunder of Laurel, contributions from TWO others and he funded the rest himself – as a loan. Wonder who has promised to repay those loans if I-161 gained ballot access?

    Some grassroots effort, wouldn’t you say?

    Here’s a thought: Back in 1986, the FWP Commission created a set-aside pool of licenses (5,600 elk/deer combo) for outfitter’s clients. Worked the same way as the OSL, but without the strict requirements to control the client and it was still a draw. (The OSL is guaranteed, but the target is 5,500 and 2,300, to average out over a five year period so there can be an oversell one year, an undersell the next: over five years the average has to hit the target.)

    Montana Wildlife Federation sued over the set-aside, but lost in court. Then the 1987 Legislature established the set-aside in law, and added 2,000 deer combo licenses. The MWF has been opposed to the set-aside concept ever since. There were two MWF members on the original Private Lands/Public Wildlife Council that created the OSL so at that time (1995) MWF “supported” the guaranteed license. However, some members of the MWF have never given up their opposition, nor cared enough to see that tradeoffs occurred on BOTH sides. The outfitters had to accept net client hunter use, which are permission slips to book a hunter/species; no NCHU for moose (for example), no possibility of booking a moose hunter. Ten NCHU for elk: no more than 10 elk hunters. Outfitters accepted having to control their client. Nonresident clients gave up the right to hunt anywhere else after the guided service and had to pay the high price, but got (essentially) the ability to know they would get a license. Sportsmen “gave up” their angst over the set-aside/guaranteed licenses but gained FREE access to Block Management, funded by someone else (now, THAT’s a subsidy!) – access to > 8 million acres of private land. Residents didn’t start supporting BM for several years and then it only cost them $2 a year. Nonguided nonresidents pay $10 and can hunt on BM.

    Well, 15 years into a program that works for all parties, here comes Kephart admitting I-161 wouldn’t get sportsmen any more access, but they needed to “make a point.” It absolutely blows my mind that one very small (but obviously well-hidden) group can wreck havoc with people’s lives and businesses to MAKE A POINT. To answer your question, I suspect the old die-hards in the MWF are behind Kephart, but wonder why they haven’t put any money into the effort so others would know who they are. I would like to know why Kephart is only LOANING the effort his money and WHO will be paying it off. Anyone care to comment?

    This whole thing stinks to high heaven and the real danger is that despite fraudulent activities from beginning to end (documented at the Sec. of State’s office) I-161 gets on the ballot. In other words, bad behavior gets rewarded in the initiative process.