Outfitted Private Lands Map

katqanna

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I received a copy of the "newest" FWP Private Lands Where Landowners Authorize Licensed Hunting Outfitters to Operate - 2012.

When I spoke with Helena, they did not have a more current map because for the last 2 years the data provided by the Board of Outfitters has not been in the proper format for FWP to be able to generate the maps.

Just looking between the 2011 and 2012 maps I see differences of loss/gain or shift in various counties, but one of the stark differences is in central Montana - southern Fergus/northern Musselshell counties. Huge chunk of lands that were previously listed as outfitted no longer are.

When I spoke with a previous Board of Outfitters member about map questions I was told that the maps are not true representations of outfitting on private lands, because if a landowner outfits their own place, it is not reported and doesnt show up. I called the outfitting attorney and received confirmation of that precedent.

MCA 37-47-101 Definitions
(9) "Outfitter" means any person, except a person providing services on real property that the person owns for the primary pursuit of bona fide agricultural interests, who for consideration provides any saddle or pack animal, facilities, camping equipment, vehicle, watercraft, or other conveyance, or personal service for any person to hunt, trap, capture, take, kill, or pursue any game, including fish, and who accompanies that person, either part or all of the way, on an expedition for any of these purposes or supervises a licensed guide in accompanying that person.

Makes me wonder if Dan and/or Farris Wilks, as land owners, are personally accompanying these hunter/fishers, all or part of the way, or supervising, on these "guided/outfitted" hunts people keep hearing about? Perhaps these "outfitted/guided hunts" are not really taking place?

Edit: I just received my call back on clarifications I requested earlier to the outfitting laws. A private landowner can use a work hand as a guide on their own land without the "guide" "leasing" the private land and being reported as such.
 
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Topgun 30-06

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Kat: "Makes me wonder if Dan and/or Farris Wilks, as land owners, are personally accompanying these hunter/fishers, all or part of the way, on these "guided/outfitted" hunts people keep hearing about? Perhaps these "outfitted/guided hunts" are not really taking place?"

Nothing says they would have to under that exception phrase and if what you stated you were told is true then their land would also not be shown on a map as being outfitted even if it was. All they would need to do is hire people to run and guide the hunts just like they contracted someone to build that fence, part of which is encroaching on the BLM property.
 

katqanna

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Topgun, If I understand what was explained today, the land would not show up on that particular map of leased lands, you are right.

I was referred to the Dept of Labor and Industry's website to see if outfitting/guide license are registered with the state. Doing a search under "Wilks" pulls up somes licenses, but the browser, even the IE they say is the preferred browser, doesnt work, so I will have to call them tomorrow to check on that (it was after hours when I found out).

From my perspective, the map, while initially, potentially helpful to a public hunter, in helping to locate landowners to reach out to for hunting opportunities, perhaps an exchange of service (like labor on land for hunting), does not show all outfitted land, since landowners dont lease and hired hands dont lease. It helps to narrow down areas a wee bit.

But with all the new landownership changes and some of those being self outfitted, it is harder to see what trends are occurring and how that affects public hunting opportunities.
 

Topgun 30-06

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Maybe I misunderstood what you were getting at because I thought you were stating that maybe the Wilks were violating the law by having guided hunts and weren't doing it themselves.
 

katqanna

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When I first posted the information I was questioning if that was the case. If there were reports of outfitting/guiding of the N-Bar, then perhaps they are being misclassified as outfitted? Then I got the reply legal call clarifying that private landowners hands can guide under the owners and dont have to technically lease the land, which would then cause it to show up on the map. So I posted the edited information.

As far as uses of the map, that swath of land is probably going to be viewed by the majority as being exclusively "outfitted" whether or not the term legally applies.
 

antlerradar

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I would bet that that map does not show what private land is leased by "hunting clubs" or individuals. This is where I see a big increase in interest in pay to play hunting.

Antlerradar
 

katqanna

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Okay, I think I have a much better understanding of this landowner outfitting situation.

I was referred to the Montana Dept. of Labor and Industry website yesterday, but the clickable links wouldnt open. So I called them today, speaking with someone who understands outfitting/guide licenses.

I am going to use the Wilks as the example since that was part of my inquiry. As the attorney explained yesterday, according to the definitions, a landowner can "outfit" his own land and be exempt from having to be an "outfitter" and they wouldnt show up on the map. But, they cannot use their ranch hands as guides, unless the guides are licensed by Montana and guides cannot operate except under a licensed outfitter. Neither of the Wilks currently have an outfitter license, therefore they cant use ranch hands as guides unless the have a licensed outfitter for their lands and the licensed guides work under the outfitter. I also inquired if Mike Sedgwick, the ranch manager had an outfitter or guide license, he does not.

MCA 37- 47-404 - "(3) A person may not hire or retain an outfitter unless the outfitter is currently licensed in accordance with the laws of the state of Montana. A person may not use the services of a guide, and a guide may not offer services unless the services are obtained through an endorsing outfitter. "

MCA 37-47-301 - " (1) A person may not act as an outfitter or guide or advertise or otherwise represent to the public that the person is an outfitter or guide without first securing a license in accordance with the provisions of this part. "

If someone misrepresents themselves as an outfitter or guide and they are not licensed by Montana, they are not in compliance with Montana law.

Antlerradar, that is a very good point about the individuals and clubs. Another gap in data.
 

Topgun 30-06

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Kat---That is the way I understood the law. The Wilks can allow whatever hunting they want to on their land, but unless they or someone they employ like Mike Sedgwick holds an outfitters license and employs licensed guides, the hunters would all have to be DIYing it. Wyoming actually allows a resident to get a license from the G&F for free to take no more than 2 NRs into the designated wilderness areas for big and trophy game hunting, but there can be no form of remuneration for doing it. The only other way for a NR to hunt those areas is through a licensed outfitter/guide service.
 
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katqanna

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I may have time today to sit down and read through these sections of the MCA and ARM, specific to outfitting to get a really good immersion of the subject.

I was just given a new map yesterday. This is the same newer 2012 outfitter map, but it has FWP Hunt District overlay and the hunt districts are outlined in color based on their elk population objectives. I am not a big fan of their numbers modeling for these maps. Having dug into the elk brucellosis issue down here in southwestern MT, I took their MT 2013 population estimate chart and actually recorded the numbers on the side.

For example, the Elkhorns was considered AT Objective when it was -344, while 415 Bob Marshall was considered OVER Objective with a +52. Then of course, there is also the factor of what is "objective". The Statewide Elm Management Plan states on pgs 54,55 on Establishing Number Objectives for Elk, 5. Elk populations in portions of some EMUs may be almost entirely inaccessible to hunters during the general hunting season or accessible to only a few hunters. To avoid over-harvest of accessible elk on public lands or private lands open to hunting, the inaccessible elk may not be included in objective numbers. Trend count number objectives may include only elk normally accessible to general hunting (if they are a distinct segment), though hunter access negotiations will continue. Elk occupying these "refuges" may be counted separately where practical (if they are a distinct segment) and sub-objectives established that could be operative if access negotiations are successful. If significant harvest of these "refuge" elk is possible with special management at some times and locations, they should be included in objective levels.


Private Lands Where Landowners Authorize Licensed Hunting Outfitters to Operate 2012 Elk Population Objectives Status by Hunting District
 

Eric Albus

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Perhaps I can help clarify.

Any landowner/or his agent(hired man) can "outfit" his/her own PRIVATE land(not State/BLM/FS) and does NOT need an outfitters license.

Personally I would be surprised if the Wilks were "outfitting" their land, I don't think they need the $$. If they are, then they can do so perfectly legal. They just can't go on BLM, State, FS, and do so without an "outfitters license".

You will not find ONE ACRE of land that is privately "outfitted", or leased by a hunt club show up on any map.....it is not anybody's business who is doing what legally with their private land.

The other thing that I think you will find is that getting maps showing accurate/up to date information on lands leased by "licensed outfitters" will be difficult. After passage of 161 there is no longer a fee per client to keep maps/records of the lands leased(part of the unintended consequences). With the re-organization of the Dept. of Labor and Industry, the Board of Outfitters(BoO) has been struggling to keep things caught up to date(to much work load and to many other licensed factions to keep track of). Just an unfortunate part of bureaucracy. There may be a map, but I doubt it will be up to date and completely accurate.
 

Eric Albus

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the problem w/ the objective numbers is that when using the Adaptive Harvest Management Plan a unit that may actually support 1000 elk, but has had an artificially low number of elk, let's say of 100 for the past 15 years on account of it being accessible, then wolves move in and the number goes to 25 elk for the past 15 years. Now we have 62.5 elk on average for a 30 yr. period. If elk numbers increase by 30% the Dept. can then go to a "liberal season" even though we only have 82.5 elk.

Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM) is a great tool, and was developed by Ducks Unlimited and USFWS as a way to manage wildlife(specifically ducks). Biologists go and count duck nests and eggs, know roughly what percent are going to be hens/drakes and set bag limits according. By having a limit on harvest of males and females it works and we have a more consistent waterfowl population.

You tell me if that model works in general season deer/elk areas, cause that that's what we are using.
 

antlerradar

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I fully agree that is no ones business if a landowner enters into a private lease. I wanted to point out that private leases are on the increase. It is possible that the amount of private leases could now or will in the future exceeds the amount of outfitted land.
In the past few years I have had far more inquiries form people wanting a private lease than from outfitters wanting to lease. I think much of this new demand is driven by two reasons.
The passage of 161 and that the nonresident license is now almost guaranteed. The over the counter nonresident license allows the wealthy nonresident hunter to bypass the outfitter and enter in to a lease on there own. Some are also confident enough that they will be able to get licenses that they are willing to purchase property for hunting.
The lack of quality is also contributing to the demand for private leases. Resident hunters that are tired of large crowds and poor quality animals are increasingly becoming willing to put up some money and improve there chances at a better hunt. This will only increase as Montana's hunters transition from primarily meat hunters to more in it for the experience.

Antlerradar
 

shoots-straight

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Perhaps I can help clarify.

Any landowner/or his agent(hired man) can "outfit" his/her own PRIVATE land(not State/BLM/FS) and does NOT need an outfitters license.

Personally I would be surprised if the Wilks were "outfitting" their land, I don't think they need the $$. If they are, then they can do so perfectly legal. They just can't go on BLM, State, FS, and do so without an "outfitters license".

You will not find ONE ACRE of land that is privately "outfitted", or leased by a hunt club show up on any map.....it is not anybody's business who is doing what legally with their private land.

The other thing that I think you will find is that getting maps showing accurate/up to date information on lands leased by "licensed outfitters" will be difficult. After passage of 161 there is no longer a fee per client to keep maps/records of the lands leased(part of the unintended consequences). With the re-organization of the Dept. of Labor and Industry, the Board of Outfitters(BoO) has been struggling to keep things caught up to date(to much work load and to many other licensed factions to keep track of). Just an unfortunate part of bureaucracy. There may be a map, but I doubt it will be up to date and completely accurate.

Just to keep you from spinning chit. It wasn't I-161 that de regulated the outfitters and you know it. Nice try though. It was MOGA's HB 274 in the 2013 session that did that.
http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2013/sesslaws/ch0341.pdf
 

shoots-straight

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the problem w/ the objective numbers is that when using the Adaptive Harvest Management Plan a unit that may actually support 1000 elk, but has had an artificially low number of elk, let's say of 100 for the past 15 years on account of it being accessible, then wolves move in and the number goes to 25 elk for the past 15 years. Now we have 62.5 elk on average for a 30 yr. period. If elk numbers increase by 30% the Dept. can then go to a "liberal season" even though we only have 82.5 elk.

Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM) is a great tool, and was developed by Ducks Unlimited and USFWS as a way to manage wildlife(specifically ducks). Biologists go and count duck nests and eggs, know roughly what percent are going to be hens/drakes and set bag limits according. By having a limit on harvest of males and females it works and we have a more consistent waterfowl population.

You tell me if that model works in general season deer/elk areas, cause that that's what we are using.

Elk are not managed using the adaptive harvest management method. The EMP is there for that one.

I have reservations about the Adaptive Harvest Management plan for deer and other big game species.
 

Eric Albus

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antler, I think that the acres leased by residents, non-residents already exceeds land leased by outfitters.
 

Big Fin

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I would bet that that map does not show what private land is leased by "hunting clubs" or individuals. This is where I see a big increase in interest in pay to play hunting.

Antlerradar

I would agree. The ranch clients of our CPA firm are getting more requests every year from private parties wanting to lease their lands for hunting. Some are resident hunters, but there is a large increase in NR private leasing and now that the MT combo license is pretty much a guaranteed draw for NRs. In that scenario, these NRs see very little risk in not being able to utilize the lands they are leasing.

For the sake of some accuracy in this discussion, it would be interesting to see how many acres in MT are leased by private parties, both R and NR. The landowner can do as they damn well please, so I am not interested in this info for any purpose other than to see how much of the land is leased by private parties.

And to make it even more accurate, it would be very interesting to see how much acreage is NOT leased, yet allows no hunting due to landowner intolerance of hunting and high tolerance of wildlife. Millions of MT acres previously open to hunting has changed ownership in the last 20 years, making a huge difference in what ground is no longer accessible.

To accurately/effectively manage hunters and game, this information would be very, very helpful. Given how many acres private land access have changed over the last 20 years, the access to public lands is all that much more important to the future of hunting in Montana. The same could be said for most all western states.

I fear that too many decisions get made based on access issues, without full data to understand why access has changed. I'm not saying there is much agencies can do about it, but it would surely be helpful in considering solutions that might be able to improve access.

Given this trend of losing access to private lands, there is a rising importance of public lands to the future of western hunting, it seems that no matter how you are involved in hunting, either as a participant, commercial operation, agency, or just someone interested in conservation, the idea of states taking over these lands and making them less accessible than they currently are should be of great interest. The NSSF studies in 2008 and 2009 show lack of access is the most common answer given for why:

  • People quit hunting
  • People don't hunt as much as they did
  • People from traditional hunting backgrounds do not get into hunting

Seems if agencies, both Federal and State, have their futures tied to hunting participation and such participation is being negatively impacted by access changes, the information about all forms of private land access changes would be very helpful.
 

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