July 27, 2012
I shot my first Montana big-game animal on a ranch that was enrolled in Block Management. I walked in about a mile, following a slough, creeping through thorny buffalo berry, hoping there was a deer dumb enough for me to take.There he was, a small 2-year-old whitetail buck. His rack wasn’t much, but he had a belly on him as big as my own. I dragged him out to the truck and tossed him in as the landowners were unloading bulls to be put in the same field. We had a good conversation, and we’ve become good friends in the years that passed. We talk about wolves, cattle prices, hunting access, and politics with the ease of friends and neighbors.Two years after I harvested that little buck, the ranchers ended their agreement with Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. They still allow for public access, but they don’t get a check for it anymore. Some could say that they’ve managed the hunting better than the way it was under Block Management. Others would disagree. One thing is certain though, more and more cooperators are asking for a different set of rules, and more and more hunters are looking for a better experience on land enrolled in the program.
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