Montana Voters Strike Down Outfitter Licenses

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By a margin of 53.8% to 46.2% Montana voters approved I-161, which both raises non-resident licenses fees and eliminates outfitter sponsored licenses. We posted an entry about I-161 here.

The net result is that in 2011, the 5500 outfitter-sponsored licenses will now become a part of the general lottery system.

On, Montana Outfitters Executive Director Mac Minard stated:

... [I-161] would ultimately hurt Montana's economy. "Montana has spoken," he said. "We believe that the results is not going to be good for tourism and small business in Montana, primarily small business in rural Montana."


Ca_Vermonster's picture

See, I don't think it will

See, I don't think it will hurt the economy, I think it will help it.  If you hunt with an outfitter, he may charge you $5000 for the hunt.  That will usually include lodging and food, etc.  Then, that guide service may not even be based in that state, so they may take their $$$ out of state to spend elsewhere.  However, if someone does it themselves, they will do everything individually.  The Red Roof Inn will get $$$$ for the room, the McD's and the grocery stores will get $$$$$ for the food, the local butcher may get the $$$$$ for the elk, rather than the guides working in the camp.  I think it will only help.

CVC's picture

Ca, as usual you raise some

Ca, as usual you raise some good and valid points.  I guess the question I have is, if there are less tags available will this mean that outfitters will not be able to offerer as many hunts as before?  I mean, I that sounds like a dumb question, but maybe not.  I base it on what happened in Kansas a few years back.  They reduced the number of transferable tags which had landowners up in arms, but they increased the number of non-resident permits so maybe instead of getting the permit from the outfitter the person will just apply in the draw and then hunt with the outfitter anyway if successful.  If this happens it shoudl be a win-win situation.

I know that this has made me considered Montana for a location to do a DIY hunt now.  Before, it wasn't on my radar.

hawkeye270's picture

It sounds like it will

It sounds like it will probably hurt the economy at some level. How large will the affect be... only time will tell if it is a very big deal or not. Do it yourself hunters definitely won in that battle. I agree that I do not think that the outfitters will take that much of a hit. The people that can spend that type of money on an outfitter will continue to do so. And you have to keep in mind that this was a vote. The citizens got to decide this and they did so. The majority got what they wanted so they will just have to wait and see how it turns out. With the fee increase for non resident tags I really do not see myself hunting in Montana anytime soon. I can not really apply in any other states for much of anything save doe antelope tags. It is just way too expensive. And those are for do it yourself hunts. I can not imagine how people can lay out the money for guided hunts every year but more power to them. They work hard for their money and deserve to spend it on something that they love. Money spent on hunting is money well spent!

I don't think this will

I don't think this will effect the outfitters.  You can choose to use them next year if you wish.  The demand won't go down, the outfitters just won't be able to guarantee a tag.  In my opinion it was an unfair lobbying effort by the outfitters to capture tags they didn't own to begin with.  People will still hire them, but now guys like you and me have a better chance of getting our tags for our own DIY hunts.

What is tough to swallow is the price of the tag.  Where does it stop?  I'll look to Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho before I look to Montana now.  Heck, soon it will be just as cost effective to plan a trip to Alaska for caribou or black bear as it is to go to Western states for Elk or Mule deer.

gatorfan's picture

Good and bad!

This is definitely good for me as I might be planning a trip to hunt in Montana next year and now my odds of being able to draw a tag have gone up by 5500 chances.  On the other hand, those outfitters that relied on this source of income as their only source of income may be gravely affected by this measure.  I surely wouldn't want to know that my odds of drawing a tag cost someone their only income and livelihood.  


CVC's picture

What will you hunt in Montana

What will you hunt in Montana and do they have good public land access for DIY hunts?

CVC's picture

They will just have to wait

They will just have to wait and see the impact on the economy.  I suspect that it is a good thing for DIY hunters, but I wonder if the increase in DIY hunters will offset the number on non-residents that obtained outfitter supplied tags?  My guess is that it will hurt the economy not just in terms of number of tags sold, but everything else that goes with it.  Food, gas, lodging and liquor that hunters purchase while there on their hunt.

But you can't knock the results because it was put to a vote and the people spoke.  Of course, this is the problem with ballot initiatives and referendums.  The majority do not always make the best choices which is why a representative government, even with its problems, is the best choice.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

I like this.  As Critter (I

I like this.  As Critter (I think) posted in the main forums, it is good for those out of state DIY hunters.  It may cost a little more money, but it gives us much better odds at drawing a tag for Montana.

CVC's picture

I hear you, but....

I like more opportunities for DIY hunts, but what if it does hurt the economy and revenue for game management?  It might result in less DIY opportunities in the future.  We will have to wait to see, but often even good legislation has negative unintended consequences.