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MT Licensing System - Burn it down? How to Improve it?

MTTW

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You guys are worried about a few extra NR, yet have management for less than 10 bucks/bulls per 100 females, but it's them NR. :D Reaidents can't seem to kill off all the does/cows so let the NR. MT game management needs a reset, it's not just the licensing system.

It's the same old story. Who gets to kill what and who is most "deserving." It's always about some sort of class being better than the rest. Be it "natives" who are "5the generation" or someone who has lived there for 10+ years, or some landowner. Nothing is going to change in MT. It's only getting worse, and the reset button is well past ever being viable they're in way too deep.

Getting rid of a few thousand NR isn't going to fix anything, especially when your elk are over objective. 😉
This is basically the way I see it. I don't believe that any of Randy's proposals will effect me or the game that I hunt in the least. I am not saying that they are not worth pursuing, just that I care more about the game than I care who gets to kill it. Aside from changing the season timing and structure, or going limited entry, I don't see myself ever feeling the effects of any of these proposals.

Additionally I would add that my public land hunting doesn't suck. Far from it. Game numbers on public land suck.
 

Ben Lamb

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You guys are worried about a few extra NR, yet have management for less than 10 bucks/bulls per 100 females, but it's them NR. :D Reaidents can't seem to kill off all the does/cows so let the NR. MT game management needs a reset, it's not just the licensing system.

It's the same old story. Who gets to kill what and who is most "deserving." It's always about some sort of class being better than the rest. Be it "natives" who are "5the generation" or someone who has lived there for 10+ years, or some landowner. Nothing is going to change in MT. It's only getting worse, and the reset button is well past ever being viable they're in way too deep.

Getting rid of a few thousand NR isn't going to fix anything, especially when your elk are over objective. 😉

I've had this conversation a lot. There's truth to it, but it's all connected.

MT went through the process of eliminating all of the set-aside stuff in 2015 through the licensing council set up by SB 140. They did a great job getting rid of a lot of this stuff, but since then the college kids give-away, the native hunt, etc, all create the creep in the NR issue.

That's intentional to increase the availably of the B10 for other, paying clients and remove the competition from a few of the slob DIY hunters who want to come back to MT to hunt with family.

Point creep, special carve-outs, etc are all part of the effort to increase the NR side of the equation so that more money can be made from more clients getting drawn rather than a straight, competitive draw for a limited number of licenses (17K). There's a concerted effort every session to carve a little more out piecemeal and the process and politics of MT's legislature encourage this kind of small-minded thinking, because most of them don't really care about the resource, just the photo op when they go home.

@Big Fin & @Cornell2012 have great ideas here.
 

HONEYBADGER

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Too much going on in one draw, there are bound to be problems. They need to simplify it, but government is typically not good at that.
 

wllm

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just that I care more about the game than I care who gets to kill it.
I think many of us feel that way as well.

Aside from changing the season timing and structure, or going limited entry, I don't see myself ever feeling the effects of any of these proposals.
I believe you would feel these proposals because they would drive the changes to timing, structure, etc.

Right now there are enough carve outs so that "me and mine" can hunt, that the legislature can avoid fixing the actual problems. If their buddies kids can no longer come home every year and whack a bull on their property, then they might have to actually address the real problems.
 

MTTW

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I think many of us feel that way as well.


I believe you would feel these proposals because they would drive the changes to timing, structure, etc.

Right now there are enough carve outs so that "me and mine" can hunt, that the legislature can avoid fixing the actual problems. If their buddies kids can no longer come home every year and whack a bull on their property, then they might have to actually address the real problems.
It may be true that in the long run I might feel the effects. I can't see far enough down that road to see it's cumulative effects over time. I am more focused on the steady decline of game in the areas that I hunt which have less hunters than in the 1980s.
 
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As long as we eliminate outfitter welfare, I’m probably going to be good with it.

My biggest concern is the “baby getting thrown out with the bath water” so to speak with NR hunters. It’s unfortunately a popular albeit false narrative among some residents that nonresidents are solely to blame for hunter crowding, while ignoring the massive resident population boom.

The resident voice is strong among the legislature obviously. So is MOGA.

The NR DIY guy like myself doesn’t have much of one.

I worry if we “burn it all down” the nonresident DIY guys are going to come out of the process with a much smaller slice of the pie, if they end up with one at all.

Other than that concern, I’m mostly in favor of what BigFin proposed. Though I think we should eliminate “points only” purchases to help limit point creep.
 

rmyoung1

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Other than that concern, I’m mostly in favor of what BigFin proposed. Though I think we should eliminate “points only” purchases to help limit point creep.
This is a tangential issue, and I don’t want to drag the conversation sideways, but we should understand that eliminating “points only” purchase will not limit point creep at all. It will only push applicants with a points-only-this-year mindset to submit an application for the hardest-to-draw unit. Point schemes, themselves, cause point creep. Having point-buyers out of the drawing might be a better alternative for those who actually want an Elkhorns bull tag, for example.
 
Joined
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This is a tangential issue, and I don’t want to drag the conversation sideways, but we should understand that eliminating “points only” purchase will not limit point creep at all. It will only push applicants with a points-only-this-year mindset to submit an application for the hardest-to-draw unit. Point schemes, themselves, cause point creep. Having point-buyers out of the drawing might be a better alternative for those who actually want an Elkhorns bull tag, for example.
Good point, didn’t consider this angle!
 

Wind Gypsy

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I got through the first 3 pages. If we’re burning it down and starting from scratch, just copy Wyoming (without the bullshit application deadlines and wilderness deal). Cap it at 17.5k for real without the other nonsense, make deer separate. Copy the season date structure too. Actually take population dynamics into account and set the seasons accordingly.
 

Sioux33

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How about the department set tag quotas based on accessible elk only. Objectives are currently set based on winter counts unit-wide and that results in 95% of the hunters chasing 5% of the elk in most of these central and eastern units and driving everything to private. If a unit's over objective, they should change the aerial flights to be done during hunting season and exclude the harbored elk for the following year. That would be the new population to determine if they're below, at, or over objective. Guarantee all these over objective units would quickly turn to below objective.

You could allow unlimited cow hunting on private to help displace the elk back on public, too. The Wilks can still apply for bull tags like everyone else, but the available pool will be much lower until the pressure on public subsides and the elk can actually feel safe to venture off the ranch again. Their odds of drawing a bull tag increase as more elk bleed off their property and the FWP is allowed to increase tag quotas.
 

runningmt

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You could allow unlimited cow hunting on private to help displace the elk back on public, too. The Wilks can still apply for bull tags like everyone else, but the available pool will be much lower until the pressure on public subsides and the elk can actually feel safe to venture off the ranch again.
In the case of the Eastern 700 districts, cow hunting on private was open to general tags, even in the areas that were LE for either sex., been the case for a long time.

Hank was like a broken record last time he was on HT Radio;

“Bulls are the currency”
“Bulls are the currency”
“Bulls are the currency”

As long as Hank allows FWP to be held hostage by rich landowners with no appetite for allowing public access, this isn’t going to be positive for the DIY public land hunter.
 

Unlucky

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Very easy to improve it. ELK. 1st choice draw only. Otc unit, unlimited, limited entry. Find out who are actually meat hunters and who like a chance to kill a mature animal. Otc good for cow elk DAMAGE HUNTS. ECT.

Mule deer all draw or mix of october general and keep the draw units established.

As for private they deserve land owner tags. As for how many idk. But there is not a person on the planet that would be happy if they owned a bunch of ground in an LE unit and got a tag once in a while and be happy with that. Thats what the fight is. Private wants more oppurtunity at trophys as well as the public. Its 2022 not 1972. If the elk and deer didnt have horns more than likely no fight. But with that said. As a public land hunter the hunting is sad. Mule deer only reason i buy a tag is to apply LE. Elk small chance to kill a decent one, otc. Hunting in montana has changed since i grew up in the 90s. Forever. Never going to be the same. 454 is dumb. Keep it simple.
 

Skiller

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Rochert, MN NW MN, near Detroit Lakes, MN
In response to all the recent comments about the MT draw system, I’m putting this in the Montana specific forum, hoping folks who have ideas for their state will do the same.

A few things we know for sure:

- Montana’s licensing system is a dilapidated and outdated system from the 1970s.

- Montana FWP has shown struggles in administering this system, many years having drawing problems that results in more tags being issued.

- Montana has become the “handout” state when it comes to way to circumvent the statutory 17,000/4,600 elk/deer tag limit most refer to.

- “Institutional Inertia” prevents the Department from making necessary changes or advocating to the legislature the benefits of change.

- Huge risk comes with asking the Legislature to tweak or change anything.


With that, I’m, interested in ideas that would help Montana get into the current millennium as it relates to licensing systems. I’ll throw out ideas that have been bouncing in my mind for a long time, some of which I have shared with the Director and Commissioners over the last six months.

Since I know I’d be lucky to convince anyone of major reform, here are small tweaks I would make:
1. Conduct the Landowner Draw as the first part of the process. Any non-resident LE tags awarded in this draw apply toward the 10% NR quota limit and come out of the 17,000/4,600 combo tag allocation. (I have some pretty strong feelings about what a terrible deal we are getting from these tags, but that is for a different discussion).​
2. After the Landowner Draw, do the Limited Entry draw. That eliminates this crazy hurdle that NRs must draw a General Combo license in order to be in the LE draw. And it eliminates the “released” combo tags when NRs return their general license when not drawn in the LE draw. If a non-resident draws an LE tag, it comes out of the 17,000/4,600. After all the NRs that drew LE tags are awarded their combo tag, do a draw for the remaining NR General licenses.​
3. Decouple the deer portion of the Elk/Deer combo tags. If people want a deer tag, apply for that, also. The give away of deer tags as part of a combo is a relic of the 70's and Montana is the only state still doing it. Maybe it would require increasing the NR deer tags some, but let's stop the "add-on" discount for a commodity that is getting hammered.​
4. With regard to the Come Home To Hunt, the Montana Native, or the College Student programs that let NRs get tags without being in the General NR draw, I would eliminate all of those programs. If that was not palatable, then those tags need to come out of the 17,000/4,600 that is always pitched to us a hard cap on NR tags.​
5. Eliminate the 454 Program and the abuse that program has demonstrated to foster.​
6. Require anyone buying a General Tag for deer or elk, whether resident or non-resident, to pick their unit. If that is too restrictive, then at least force them to pick their Region. Whatever area you pick, that is your hunt for the year, for all weapons/seasons.​
7. Eliminate the Preference Point system for NR combo tags and make it a bonus point system. Convert PP to BPs and put no cap on how many BPs someone can accumulate, at the rate of one per year without any BS that outfitted clients can accumulate more than one BP per year.​
8. If #7 above can't be done, allow the remaining 25% of NR combo tags not issued to highest point holders to be allocated in a draw to all who did not draw in the 75% portion of the draw. Starting at the bottom of the PP pile for this 25% pool of the tags makes no sense; it makes 1-point holders have lower draw odds than 0-point holders. The current manner was not the intent when it was discussed in the legislature.​
9. Get rid of the Landowner Sponsored NR Deer Tag. Add that to the NR General Deer pool.​

Those are some ideas for changing the basic season structures. I am sure I failed to consider some complications in my short scribble above. I reserve the right to change my mind on any of those when presented with better ideas and additional perspective ;).

I have heard a lot of ideas when it comes to season types and season dates. Rather than post my ideas, I would be more inclined to let the people in those Regions set the season types/dates they want for their local area. I remember going to Region 7 in 1997 and meeting with the Big Game Manager at the time. Our hope was to get mule deer doe tags cut after the terrible winter of 1996-97. They tweaked doe tags a bit, but one message was loud and clear from the Department and Commission – The Region 7 folks didn’t want Region 3 hunters sticking their nose in Region 7 affairs. OK, I get it. I’d support what hunters in the other Regions would come up with, assuming what those FWP Regions propose actually reflects local hunter input.

This thread is not about season dates/types, rather the foundational structure of our licensing system; one of the most ancient in all the west. If someone wants to start a thread about season lengths/dates/types, please do that. I’m sure it will get a ton of input.

And if you want to do the same for your state, please do that, also.

So, what improvement ideas do we have?
Agree with all of Randy's points. I've hunted Montana as a non-resident since about 1964, mostly deer. The present FWP administration has made so many errors, most of which seem to end up with more and not less licenses being issued. Montana is dear to my heart and I hope some of these suggestions by Randy come to pass. I may be too old by then but.....someone will apreciate it.
 

Mallardsx2

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Eliminate the need for the general tag draw to be entered into the LE bonus points.

Make LE its own drawing. Like Wyoming does.

Why should I have to draw a general tag in order to be put into a LE drawing?

If I wanted to hunt a general tag I would go hunt a general tag. Instead they got you by the short hairs if you don't draw you LE tag and your stuck with the general tag or you can turn it back in and take a bath on that joke of a refund.....Such a stupid system.
 

rogerthat

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Eliminate the need for the general tag draw to be entered into the LE bonus points.

Make LE its own drawing. Like Wyoming does.

Why should I have to draw a general tag in order to be put into a LE drawing?

If I wanted to hunt a general tag I would go hunt a general tag. Instead they got you by the short hairs if you don't draw you LE tag and your stuck with the general tag or you can turn it back in and take a bath on that joke of a refund.....Such a stupid system.
Worst in the west as far as I can tell. The “simplification” was a joke. Should have called it “bullification”. A process where the goal is to issue as many bull tags as socially acceptable
 

Big Fin

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Eliminate the need for the general tag draw to be entered into the LE bonus points.

Make LE its own drawing. Like Wyoming does.

Why should I have to draw a general tag in order to be put into a LE drawing?

If I wanted to hunt a general tag I would go hunt a general tag. Instead they got you by the short hairs if you don't draw you LE tag and your stuck with the general tag or you can turn it back in and take a bath on that joke of a refund.....Such a stupid system.
That change has been presented to the Department and the legislature for years. I proposed it to some of them last legislative session. When the Director called me a couple weeks ago I presented the idea again. Not sure where the resistance stems, especially in this "age of simplification" (insert sarcasm), but that change is not going to be supported by the Department. Change will require using other mechanisms. And now with the UPOM lawsuit a lot of attention is being directed toward those possible ramification, so it is unlikely there will be capacity or priority to changing that screwed up non-resident license system.
 

Trap

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That change has been presented to the Department and the legislature for years. I proposed it to some of them last legislative session. When the Director called me a couple weeks ago I presented the idea again. Not sure where the resistance stems, especially in this "age of simplification" (insert sarcasm), but that change is not going to be supported by the Department. Change will require using other mechanisms. And now with the UPOM lawsuit a lot of attention is being directed toward those possible ramification, so it is unlikely there will be capacity or priority to changing that screwed up non-resident license system.
I like that you have to draw general first because I think it helps keep the draw odds more reasonable. If it’s cheap and simple they would likely get flooded with new le applications. It would benefit the hunter applying in 10 states but be worse for hunters just applying in 1 or 2 states outside their resident state. I would guess the resistance from the department is that they would lose a lot of revenue not requiring a general tag draw first. Everybody cries about point creep but wants a cheap simple draw which leads to more point creep. I feel the same way about preference points and limiting them to 3 which effectively caps point creep at 3 for general tags. The zero points pool actually allows a hunter to opt out of the points game and still have good odds of drawing. The zero points pool is great in that they allow you to actually have a chance to draw without playing the points game. I wish other states had the option it would help at least slow point creep and give newcomers a reasonable chance. It’s a convoluted system but it works and helps limit point creep. I like it! What can I say I’m weird ha ha.
 
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