Thousands of people will be heading out bright and early Saturday morning, looking to fill a freezer or hang a trophy on a wall. Most of those hunters will do everything the correct and legal way. MTN's Chet Layman talks with a game warden about how we all can help be ethical hunters.
BOZEMAN — General hunting season opens Saturday morning, and that means thousands of us will be taking to the field in search of game. FWP wardens want each of us to remember that and follow some simple rules.
Rule number one: safe gun handling, every single moment you have it with you.
“All those things are real important. You know, it’s going to keep you safe, other hunters you're hunting with, other hunters you may not know are out in the field, people around the area and then also animals you don’t intend to shoot,” said Capt. Adam Pankratz, game warden for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Region 3.
“So every once in a while, we do run into situations where someone is shooting at maybe a cow elk that they had the right licenses for but they don’t see the bull behind it or vice versa, and so just taking that extra moment to slow down making sure you're having good weapon safety and being careful,” he added.
Capt. Pankratz also says knowing and understanding the regulations for where you are hunting is essential.
“Montana is a big state so there's diverse hunting laws; you may be able to shoot a mule deer buck in this area but not in the next drainage over, so paying attention to regulations, land ownership, all those things are really key,” Pankratz said.
In Montana, you can hunt some form of game animal 11 months out of the year. Poaching an animal is a crime, and if Pankratz and his team can be there to catch a poacher, he's hoping an ethical hunter will help him make that happen.
“You know, when you think about it, wildlife is owned by the people. It’s not owned by Fish, Wildlife and Parks, not owned by the government—it’s owned by every citizen that lives in this great state of Montana,” Pankratz said. “And so when you're calling and reporting a poaching or a wildlife crime, you're protecting something that you own that should be real important to you whether you’re a hunter or not.
1 (800) TIP-MONT—that's the number to report a wildlife crime. Be safe, good luck, and always remember what an awesome privilege we have here in Montana.