MONTANA OUTFITTERS SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO FORCE MAJORITY OF NON-RES HUNTERS TO USE OUTFITTERS – The headline is a mouthful, our apologies. Some people only read headlines. You read it right, though. To no surprise, Montana outfitters largely support SB143, which aims to guarantee 60% of non-resident tags to hunters sponsored by an outfitter.
UPDATE 2/19/21 – Montana SB143 Heavily Amended
Randy Newberg, on behalf of DIY hunters, recently spoke against this legislation. The bill does not affect Montana residents.
Montana Outfitters at the Committee Hearing
Outfitters turned out in numbers to express support for the legislation. They argue the need for the funds for business. Montana Outfitters from across the state believe SB143 will help stabilize their industry, brings millions of dollars into the state and would not affect hunting by in-state residents.
“Operating by lottery is no way to run a business. It doesn’t promote good operators or bad operators. It promotes lucky clients.”
– John Way, Outfitter from Ennis
Donna McDonald, another outfitter, said clients wait until April to find out if they drew a license in the lottery. She said has to overbook every year and then turn away the clients that didn’t draw.
Montana Outfitters also believe Montana’s current system puts them at a disadvantage. Citing how neighboring states that offer outfitted hunts, they want some revenue predictability due to a covid-stricken 2020.
“We’ve had hunters canceling, left and right. This will help us climb out of the hole.”
– Cody Carr, Outfitter
Opponents to SB143
Opponents believe the bill favors the licensed outfitter industry over everything else. Non-residents said the bill will make it harder to get a license on their own and wouldn’t be able to afford an outfitter.
“You’re going to find you’ve created a pool of wealthy non-residents that can afford to hunt every year.” Brad Wolcott
Opponents made known that Senate Bill 143 overturns a 2010 initiative – passed by Montana voters – that abolished distributing tags in this way. They also expressed concern for unduly favoring outfitted hunters and the potential for more land locked up for outfitter use.
“What I see here, is… you’re taking away opportunities for me and my kids to get a license. What it’s going to do is give the guides the opportunity to raise their prices.”
-Virgil Groom, Missouri
This is a very finely divided, hot-button issue. If you so desire, feel free to contact Montana Legislators.
If you’re a non-resident Montana hunter, we are very interested to hear your feedback. Please comment or message us!