Non-resident DIY hunters and outfitters are still at odds in Montana. After a 30% increase in non-resident applications for 2021 hunts, state legislators tried to make changes.

Senator Jason Ellsworth proposed Senate Bill 143. This bill in its original form would set aside 60% of non-resident tags for those booked with outfitters. As one may guess this was met with strong opposition.

As a result, amendments added to SB 143 removed the guaranteed tags and creates an earlier drawing for licenses. It also brought back Montana’s point system for hunters. However, the bill limits them to a maximum of three points.

Montana voters spoke in 2010 when they did away with guaranteed tags for outfitters with I-161. Outfitters argue that as a result of I-161, the stability and certainty of their business and clients vary from year to year.

Mac Minard of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA) spoke about his feelings on the bill.

“The reality is we were sitting at about a 40-45% loss across the board. That meant there really was an urgency to address the issue of stability.”

Minard also stated that he felt that SB 143 seemed too rushed and not well planned. Agreeing that 60% of all non-resident tags is too high Minard wonders what the future might hold.

“I think the message of this session was crystal clear: that sponsored licenses, as attractive as they might be to our industry, are a no-go in Montana.”

Several hunter advocacy groups have their own frustrations with the bill and feel that no public input was given prior to its passing. This will keep the debate ongoing for at least a few years.

What do you think? Should tags be saved for outfitters or for DIY hunters? Have you ever hunted in Montana? Let us know in the comments!


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