Montana’s hunting opportunities are the envy of other Western states, in large part because we place a premium on equal opportunity, regardless of financial means. That’s why thousands of nonresident, do-it-yourself hunters flock to Montana each hunting season, supporting our fish and wildlife and rural economies with their license dollars and purchases. Yet, some state legislators are working to change our hunting opportunities to a system of haves and have-nots: something Montana’s citizens have categorically rejected in the past.
Senate Bill 143, sponsored by Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, would create a class system of those who can afford to hunt and those who cannot by forcing nonresident hunters to pay thousands of dollars to hire an outfitter in order to boost their chances of obtaining a coveted non-resident big game license. As proposed, the bill reserves over 60 percent of the non-resident deer and elk licenses for outfitters. Currently, all nonresident big game licenses are offered at a consistent price and allocated through a random drawing with a spring deadline.