Spring Is Here, It’s Time To Get Outside
As spring weather gets here, many people are itching to get outside. For many folks, that may include looking for nongame animals to hunt, fishing, hiking, shed hunting or bird watching. However, just like at any other time of year, people are asked to follow the law, respect the land, and be safe.
Where Can You Go?
Private Land: Just like a hunter or angler needs permission to hunt or fish on private land, it is no different when pursuing small game animals, hiking, shed hunting or bird watching. Landowners need to be notified and asked for permission before pursuing any activity on their property, including using private roads.
This also applies to landowners enrolled in Block Management. Block management contracts are developed for hunting seasons and are only for hunting-related activities. You need permission on these properties (even during the hunting season) for any other activity, just like on private lands.
Most public lands are open to recreation. However, some properties, such as the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, do not allow the discharge of firearms out of hunting seasons and have restrictions on non-game animals. Check with the public land agency you are using for a full list of regulations.
Know Where You Are
There are many options to help determine your location. Maps, cell phone apps and GPSs all let you know where you are at on a particular piece of property.
It is not legal to discharge a firearm from a public road, including any gravel road or dirt trail. This includes target shooting or when hunting a game or non-game animal.
When shooting recreationally, always adhere to the four main rules of firearm safety: 1. Always point the muzzle of your gun in a safe direction. Firearms should always be pointed in a safe direction, including when transported in a vehicle.
2. Always treat every gun as if it were loaded. Never have a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
3. Always be sure of your target and beyond. Whether you are on public or private land, whenever you discharge a firearm you should be fully aware of your target and beyond. Look for livestock and other animals, houses, outbuildings/ structures, roads, vehicles, etc. that may be in the background of your target.
4. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire. Do not put your finger on or near the trigger until you are ready to shoot after knowing your target and beyond.
Enjoy the upcoming Montana spring and its recreational opportunities, but do so by following all laws, regulations and safety precautions.