I hunt and fish a lot. I do it because I want to know where my food comes from. I do it because I am on a limited budget stemming from a single income source, trying to feed a family of 4.I do it because I love it. I love everything about it. I love that it provides me and my family with nutritious, unadulterated meat. I love that when I am hunting I get to explore remote areas, with little or no people around and I get to have a deeper connection with the Lord and the Lord’s creation. I love the wild places in our state. Finally, I love that it fulfills a desire deep inside to challenge myself, both physically and mentally; whether it is shaking uncontrollably in freezing temperatures waiting to ambush a whitetail, or packing out an animal I shot miles from my truck.

With all that time hunting and fishing in our state, I have had the great privilege of using our Block Management System in which private land owners open their property for access to hunting by the public. It is a great way to open new hunting and fishing lands to Montanans.

But it got me thinking: what is the incentive for land owners to allow the general public to hunt on their property?

After asking around and looking into it, I found the answer.

According to Montana FWP:

Landowners are eligible for an enrollment payment of $250 and up to $13 per hunter day with an agreement maximum of $15,000 to offset impacts from allowing hunting access. In addition, landowners are eligible for up to 5% of their contract total in a weed management bonus if they agree to use the funds for weed management activities on lands under their control. Landowners are also offered a complimentary sportsman's license without bear or non-resident deer/elk big game combination license which they may designate to a family member or employee.

So, let’s get this straight. Our government takes our tax money (in the form of charging more for hunting and fishing licenses and tags) and with that money pays private landowners who allow the public to hunt on their property.

The Block Management Program is awesome, but the way our government is funding it is not awesome.

Why should I have to pay a hidden, added tax to our hunting/fishing licensing and tags to help pay for this program; not to mention the tax money needed to manage this new program that comes through FWP’s budget already.

***UPDATED 1/29/2024***

I thought a lot of people who hunt and fish are conservative minded. Why not just give landowners who participate a property tax break? (Because their property taxes are probably too high as it is.)

As a matter of fact, this is how it should be. Any of the private land owners who participate in the Block Management Program should receive a property tax rebate; no new tax money should be used to pay landowners, it still offers a great incentive for landowners, and more money in Montanans’ pockets.

Running to be your next Montana House of Representatives member for District 90.

Jeff Stanek