September 28, 2023

Montana – Valuable Hunting And Fishing Resource

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Montana is a great place to hunt and fish. It is the 4th largest state in the Union – 147,046 square miles – and has less than a million people who live there. You don’t have to be a mathmetician to understand that Montana has a lot of land.

Hunting and fishing in Montana brings the economy there over $1 billion annually. The state recognizes this and goes out of its way to preserve and promote hunting and fishing heritage.

Montana also boasts the most number of hunters per capita than any other state. With so many hunters in such a large area of land, they have a problem – poaching. People like Montana for many things and unfortunately because of the dynamics of geography and population, it can be a haven for poachers.

The state has vowed to crack down on poaching and has enlisted the help of individuals and hunting and fishing organizations to aid in that effort.

Recently, the Governor, Brian Schweitzer, announced that in recognition of the economic importance of hunting and fishing to the state, renewed efforts would go into protecting the resource.

Amoung several programs put in place, one was the crafting of the “Code of Ethics” for hunters and fishermen. I thought it would be a good oppportunity to put a copy of those in detail here for readers to take a look at. While some of the points in the code are specific to Montana, the overwhelming majority of it can apply to everyone.

1. Adhere to and Promote Ethical, Fair Chase Hunting and Fishing

Adhere to and promote the spirit and principles of fair chase, and insist hunting and angling companions do likewise.
If questioning whether an action is responsible or ethical, give the advantage to the fish and wildlife. Some actions or technology may be legal but not ethical.
Compete only with yourself. Don’t compete, interfere with, or encroach upon other hunters or anglers while they are in pursuit of fish and wildlife. Observe the “visual rule of crowding” and safety in the field and on all waterways.
Pass along to young and new hunters and anglers the attitudes, skills and principles essential to fair chase pursuit of fish and game.
2. Respect Fish, Wildlife and Natural Environments

Show respect for all fish and wildlife and the habitats that sustain them.
Limit unnecessary advantages in your pursuit, and avoid situations that unnecessarily stress fish and wildlife.
Harvest regulated species in a respectful manner. (i.e., only shoot when you have a clean, unimpaired, killing shot while hunting…)
Make every effort to quickly retrieve, tag (if appropriate), field dress and properly care for all harvested fish and game.
Quickly and carefully release all game fish not intended for consumption.
Practice low-impact activities while afield. Leave no trace, use vehicles only on designated roads and trails, practice low-impact camping including control of campfires, do not disturb fish reproduction areas (redds) or fragile aquatic habitats, and pack out your trash, including spent shell casings, bait containers and monofilament fishing line.
Do not move live fish or aquatic nuisance species (plants and organisms) and invertebrates (insects, crayfish, etc.) from one body of water to another for any reason –it is a crime. Illegal fish introductions, including some live baits, can severely affect our sport fishery and native fish populations. The introduction of aquatic nuisance species can severely affect existing fish food sources, native species and degrade ecosystems.
Be weed aware and help to prevent the spread of noxious weeds. Noxious weeds are a serious economic and environmental threat that affects the health of wildlife habitat and private land.
Our fish, wildlife, public lands and waters are public resources that are managed for the benefit of all people, respect them, care for them and do not abuse, monopolize or privatize them so that we may pass on these treasures to future generations.
3. Elevate Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Conservation

Support and advocate the conservation of wild, free-roaming diverse populations of fish and wildlife and the habitats upon which they depend.
Support and safeguard public ownership of and access to America’s fish and wildlife, water and public lands consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine preventing their privatization and commercialization.
Stay informed about fish, wildlife and habitat issues, and urge decision makers to support management policies consistent with the North American Model of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
Become involved in wildlife conservation organizations and their programs.
Promote and sow the seeds of a conservation ethic to young and new hunters and anglers.
4. Respect Private Property

Act responsibly when on private land as a guest of the landowner, treat the land and private property as if it were yours, and conduct yourself in a manner that proudly represents our hunting and angling heritage.
Always acquire access to hunt or fish private land.
Stay within the high-water mark of streams and rivers.
Leave gates the way you find them.
Don’t shoot near dwellings, livestock or operating equipment.
Never remove or damage any private property, crops or natural features, including fences, outbuildings, artifacts, or livestock.
Notify landowners or land managers of any problems, i.e. gates out of order, etc.
Request guidelines, directions and rules from a landowner and follow a landowner’s hunting and fishing instructions.
Share game or offer to assist the landowner in some way to show your appreciation.
Do not litter. Pick up litter and leave private property cleaner than you found it.
5. Hunt and Fish Courteously and Safely

Learn and obey the rules of safe gun and bow handling, and courteously insist that others who hunt with you do likewise.
Hunt with a plan, be aware of weather conditions, tell someone where you are going, be prepared for accidents, and have a working knowledge of survival techniques.
Be proficient with all equipment and maintain it in good condition.
Use binoculars, not your riflescope, to identify your target.
Wear hunter orange when appropriate or required by law.
Hunting, fishing, alcohol and drugs don’t mix.
Operate water craft safely. (i.e., don’t overload your canoe with decoys; be proficient at operating your raft or canoe; drive motorized water craft in a manner that does not endanger passengers or other water recreationists…)
6. Show Consideration for All Outdoor Users

Don‘t disrespectfully display your harvest, particularly during transport.
Be a good ambassador for hunters and anglers. Publicly represent hunting and angling in a respectful manner which will reflect positively on hunting and fishing.
Operate water craft in a manner respectful of other outdoor enthusiasts.
Be prepared before approaching a launch area for a quick and controlled launch.
Leave your camp better than you found it.
Yield to floaters while angling if there is no other channel for navigation.
Assist other outdoor users in need.
Keep hunting dogs under control.
7. Know, Uphold and Advance the Law

Obey applicable laws and regulations: obtain appropriate tags and licenses; obey harvest and possession limits; and only use ethical and legal hunting and fishing methods and equipment.
Adhere to honorable behavior beyond the scope of law.
Insist and only hunt or fish with companions that obey applicable laws and regulations.
Provide assistance to law enforcement officers and report illegal hunting and fishing activities to 1-800-Tip Mont (847-6668).
Be accountable for actions whether intentional or unintentional.
8. Be Proficient in Outdoor, Hunting and Fishing Skills

Be aware of your outdoor, hunting or fishing skills and equipment limitations and continually strive to improve them.
Sight-in your firearm or bow, and practice shooting to ensure good marksmanship for a clean, humane kill.
Aspire to and promote one-shot hunting skills.
Possess knowledge of field dressing and be prepared to properly care for harvested fish and wildlife in the field…respect your catch or kill.
9. Be Knowledgeable About Fish and Wildlife

Understand the habits of game and non-game fish and wildlife.
Understand habitat requirements to sustain game and non-game fish and wildlife.
Understand fish and wildlife management methodologies and techniques.
Hunt and fish with an in-depth knowledge of the species pursued.
10. Assist Others in Becoming Ethical Hunters and Anglers

Invite a young person, a new hunter or angler, non-hunter, or non-angler afield and encourage their enrollment in the state Hunter Education program.
Teach untrained water craft users how to operate safely and ethically.
Share your knowledge and this “code” with all hunters and anglers, particularly anyone new to hunting and fishing. Foster and nurture respectful and honorable behavior. Top of Page

Tom Remington