At the June 2015
FWP Commission meeting, where the FWP
Elk Shoulder Season Proposal was introduced,
I objected to the proposal on many levels, pointing out the
commissioners did not have enough data to make a proper decision.
Part of the data I mentioned was outfitted lands, that I was
creating a map (upper right corner) to help illustrate the situation.
FWP gave a presentation
which included a map that showed elk Hunt Districts by elk objective
status. One area caught Commissioner Vermillion's eye, an area
FWP labeled as 200% over objective, with a huge land mass. That
was HD 700 & 701, which only had 200-300 elk objective with
a 2015 count of 1192. Vermillion asked FWP why, with such a
large landmass, the objective was so small? FWP had to admit
- land owner intolerence. But what they didnt say, was that
this is artificially low and there is a huge amount of outfitting
in these ares.
The following documention
focuses on HDs 700 & 701, with the connecting 410 and 530,
showing that some landowners/outfitters are wanting higher elk
density for outfitted hunts, advertising that these elk concentrations
with low hunter pressure increase hunt success rate (there is
not one brush that paints all landowner/outfitters, there are
some awesome outfitter sites that speak of ethical, fair chase
hunting in the elk's natural habitat, not on lured alfalfa fields).
This is creating "harboring" situations, a privatizing
of our public wildlife - ranching for wildlife. This subject
needs to be addressed in the elk objective/count conversation.
Click to enlarge
Elk Count Chart
Lands Leased to Outfitters Map
Click to enlarge
37-47-201 - (d)
rules establishing outfitter reporting requirements.
The reports must be filed annually and report client
names, outfitters and guides providing client services
and the license numbers of those outfitters and guides,
dates of client services, and private land acreage where
licensed outfitters are authorized by the landowner
to operate, including exclusive arrangements and lease
24.171.408 - Also, while
total acreage of private lands where any outfitter is
authorized to operate is a matter of public record,
where a particular outfitter is authorized to operate
is a confidential matter between the landowner and the
outfitter. The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks
or the Private Land/Public Wildlife Council may use
board data to create a map depicting all private land
where any outfitter is authorized to operate. All inquiries
for outfitter records shall be reviewed and considered
in relation to this rule and the competing interests
between the public's right to know and the rights of
privacy involved in the particular records requested.
outfitter leased lands HDs 700, 701, 410, 530 PDF
- I still have some details to acquire, also, the MT Experience
Outfitters & the Billingsley Ranch Outfitters have a bundled
48 CMR pkg of DNRC lands for $125 a year, not per parcel, for
the whole bundle of 48 parcels.
Outfitter Special Recreaction Permit
HDs 410 & 530 Map.
This map shows the ranges for Flatwillow Creek Outfitters &
Rivers Edge Outfitters in HD 410 & 530. They pay $105 application
fee for the year, plus 3% of gross receipts. Am waiting on HD
700 & 701 data.
BLM Montana/Dakotas Special Recreation Permit
Guiding and Outfitting on BLM Administered Public Lands
Block Management Region 7
HD 700 has 29 Block Management
participants that allow public hunting. Of those 29, 11 allow
elk to be hunted by public hunters, the others do not. "Elk
– Isolated but expanding populations of elk exist throughout
Region 7. Primary elk hunting opportunities are located in the
northern portion of HD 700 as well as the southern portion of
Region 7 North map & Access
Guide pgs. 87-117 (per FWP BM Basics 2010 data, Region 7 contains
18.6 million acres: 76% is private and 24% is public land)
I found this Farm and
Ranch magazine at a gas station 2 days before the June
FWP Commission meeting. Kind of ironic. Harris Ranch,
owned by Rep. Bill Harris, is in HD 700, surrounded by
BLM land. Harris Hunts/Fort Musselshell Outfitters outfit
the Harris Ranch, as well as DNRC and BLM public lands.
Their PDF sale flyer
Ranch nurtures a large herd of elk, deer, pheasants,
and cattle in the rugged Missouri breaks, and lush irrigated
hay fields along the river."
Ranch has about 2,500 deeded acres with 330+/- acres
flood irrigated from the river. There are 640 acres
state of Montana lease, and about 7,250 acres of BLM."
"The ranch has
been carefully managed for trophy elk, taking 10-15
Pope & Young bulls each year. A 402 bull and a 411
½ bull have been taken. "
" Without baiting
or fences, HUNDREDS of elk freely rut on the Harris
Ranch. Although public land is very close, almost
no bull elk have ever been killed on the neighboring
public lands. Elk know where they feel safe
and are not harassed."
Ranch Sale Flyer w/ photos
"Elk drift off
the public lands each fall to feast on the lush deeded
hay meadows of the ranch. Elk are smart, and know they
are safe on the ranch hay meadows. The rancher has allowed
the elk to remain there without interference. Tree stands
on the edge of the meadows are used to harvest the Pope
& Young caliber bulls."
Montana Big Game Pursuits
advertises on their site their hunting in HD 410, "Hunting
Private Land in Central & Eastern Montana
We have spent many years
securing prime hunting leases for your best chance of
success. Our operation is small, the land is large and
our success rate is high. We take only a limited number
"Archery Elk is
our business. We have leased thousands of acres of some
of the best archery elk hunting in Montana. We hunt District
410 in the reknown Missouri River Breaks. This area is
Archery only for Elk with very limited rifle permits.
With a large resident herd and light hunting pressure
our success rate is high and most years we run 100% shot
opportunity. Small camps with only 4 hunters
per week insure we have ground that is given oppertunity
to rest. 6 x 6 bulls 300 - 330 are our average bulls.
We encourage a 6 pts. minimum. We hunt waterholes, travel
patterns, spot & stalk, calling. You will see many
bulls during your hunt. This area produces some trophy
bulls in the 350-380+ class."
Flat Willow Creek Outfitters
is owned and outfitted by Dwane Kiehl. Kiehl is also a
landowner in that area, so his outfitted land that he
owns will not show up on the private lands leased to outfitters,
because landowners dont have to declare their own land
if they are the outfitters. The same with Harris Ranch
Flat Willow Creek Outfitters
are on the DNRC leased lands above, as well as the BLM
SRP for Hunt Districts 410/530.
Please note the text
on their web page:
The desire for large congregations for outfitted
hunting is not exclusive to the above hunt districts.
Just in my general searches in and around HD 700/701, other elk
outfitting websites popped up with similar terminology.
Chimney Rock Outfitters
operates in Paradise Valley, private land that butts up
against Forest Service land boasts,
Outfitters guides hunters on private land in Paradise
Valley, southwest of Livingston, Montana. 35,000 acres,
owned or leased, is reserved exclusively for you.
Chimney Rock Outfitters carefully manages the elk
and deer for maximum potential trophies."
- "2,000 acres of irrigated alfalfa
and grass hay meadows lure elk, mule deer and whitetail
deer to feed at night. By daybreak, Chimney Rock Outfitters-guided
clients will often witness 200 head of elk still feeding
in these meadows.Exclusive hunting is promoted on private
land with a fair chase opportunity.Wildlife abundance
is well known in this area: large resident herds of elk,
mule and whitetail deer, moose and black bear. The yearly
USFWP elk count in the drainages each spring: presently
more than 1000 head ranging in the area. The elk numbers
are increasing by 15-20% yearly."
The Landers Fork Outfitters,
Harold Gilchrist, were so bold to describe the leased
ranches in HD 446 like deer feedlots.
- "We have recently leased ranches
in Montana for the 2015 Big Game Hunting Season.
These Northcentral & Southeastern Montana working
cattle ranches hold a good elk, mule deer, whitetail,
& antelope population's. These unspoiled western
cattle ranches are game rich. The lush meadows and
alfalfa fields that are connected to cedar & ponderosa
pine draws and river bottoms make our leased ranches deer
- "This ranch is a new lease for
the 2015 Big Game Hunting Season. The ranch has never
been outfitted. Over 200 head of cows & calvs
summer here. There should be plenty of elk to hunt during
the archery and rifle seasons. This HD unit allows you
to shoot a brow tined bull only. This well known renowned
area holds alot of 5 & 6 point bulls. The brow tine
policy has helped the 5 & 6 point bull population.
We take 2-4 hunters on this ranch elk hunt."
Of concern -
Falls outfitter hit with poaching charges
"Great Falls outfitter Harold Gilchrist
has been charged with a felony count of possessing illegally
taken wildlife and a myriad of misdemeanors stemming from
one of the largest field investigations into hunting violations
in the past 20 years, according to Great Falls warden Terry
page under construction