Block Management Makes Montana Hunting Trips Affordable
There is a good chance that a significant number of miles will separate you from the hunting paradise of Montana. What may surprise you is the fact that once you commit to solving the travel problem, hunting the Big Sky State becomes a viable and affordable option.
You don’t need a guide or an outfitter. You just need to understand the Montana Block Management Program (BMP).
According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) website, “Block Management is a cooperative effort between Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, private landowners, and public land management agencies to help landowners manage hunting activities and provide free public access to hunting. to private and isolated public lands.
Private owners who register their property in the BMP allow hunters to access their land in exchange for financial compensation from the state. It doesn’t cost the hunter anything. Hunters have access to it and landowners are paid. The money comes from license sales, drawing heavily on non-resident license funds.
BMAs vary. They vary in size and they vary in regulation. Some plots are as small as 50 acres while others are over 100,000 acres. Landowners retain certain rights regarding the management of their land.
For example, how hunters get to land and how hunters get permission. Some areas are accessible only by car, while others are accessible by vehicle. Some require face-to-face interaction before permission to hunt is granted, while others are displayed with login boxes where hunters simply fill out a slip before continuing. Individual landowners set their own rules.
Learning how to get clearance for each specific parcel of property is easily accomplished by reading the posted signs or viewing a Hunter Regional Access Guide, which lists block management opportunities available for the current season. These are published annually and are available online. Montana is divided into seven regions, numbered west to east.
The first time I hunted the Milk River in the North East, I spent an entire day exploring the bottom of the river from Glasgow to Malta. Even though I had watched hunting shows featuring the Milk River for years, I was not prepared. The number of deer shearing is unimaginable. I must have seen 1,000 white tails. Honestly, it was more than that, but I’m afraid you might think I’m sprucing up.
I located a BMA far from all the others with a horseshoe shaped field full of lush alfalfa. What makes Milk so special is the seemingly endless expanse of irrigated alfalfa that runs along both banks. Seen from the sky, the river looks like a long green snake gliding over a sheet of plywood. With the exception of the fields, everything else, as far as the eye can see, is brown.
This particular field was surrounded by a river on three sides. Between the edge of the water and the field, a strip of wood, varying in size from about 50 to 100 meters in width, seemed likely to shelter a significant number of deer. When I first stopped to observe the field one evening, it was empty. In an hour, that changed. Over a hundred deer made their way through the alfalfa, and as darkness fell, more scurried inside. I have arrowed a beautiful 10 needle pointer that hangs on my wall to this day.
Montana’s block management program makes finding a place to hunt in this game-rich state much easier than you might think. Even in parts of the state that do not have a significant amount of public land, such as the Milk River Valley, hunters can have access to quality terrain.
Don’t think you can’t afford to hunt Montana. All you have to do is buy a tag, research some BMAs, and endure a seemingly endless road trip.
Meet on the trail.
Brandon Butler is an outdoor columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at [email protected]