Be sure before you shoot: 5 tips for successful archery hunting

Montana’s archery hunting season for deer and elk begins September 4, and like any other form of hunting, successfully hunting with a bow requires careful planning and preparation.

If you plan to hunt during archery season, here are five tips to be safe, responsible and successful:

– Practice, practice, practice. Mastering archery requires patience and repetition. Practice shooting your bow the same way you will hunt. Start practicing well before hunting season. Know and respect your personal limits and effective range while hunting.

– Know the rules. Buy a bow and arrow license and know what, where and when your license allows you to hunt. Make sure your archery equipment meets state requirements for hunting. Questions? Check current hunting regulations or contact FWP.

– Plan an efficient harvest. As the archery hunting season takes place earlier in the year, temperatures can still be hot, day or night. Be prepared to quickly remove and process your harvested animal so that the meat does not spoil.

– Be sure before shooting. Only take a photo if it is safe and ethical to do so. Make sure there are no dangerous shooting conditions, obstructions or strong winds; and that the animal is within your radius of action and that it is able for you to make an ethical shot. Make sure the animal you intend to harvest meets your license requirements for species, sex, and antler/horn class.

– Be careful. Bear attacks are rare. However, the habitat occupied by the grizzly bear extends into Montana. So, watch for the bear sign. Hunt with a partner and bring bear spray. Wrap up your harvested animal as soon as possible.

To purchase a Montana bow and arrow license, a hunter must provide a certificate of successful completion of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation course, or provide the hunter’s stamp, tag, permit, or license. archery / archery of the previous year from any state or province. To become certified, please visit fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter.

Responsible hunters essential to the future of hunting

Although most hunters respect the land, property and wildlife they hunt, a minority do not. Yet these few bad actors result in the frustration of private landowners and hunters looking to get it right.

This year, remember: it’s up to us to decide. Protect access. Respect the hunt.

Every hunting season there are reports of Block Management Area (BMA) boxes being vandalized, hunters driving off-road, illegal trespassing, hunters being shot, littering and livestock being shot. Below are some of the things hunters and all outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of when taking advantage of our resources:

– Standing crop: Avoid hunting, walking or driving in fields that have not yet been harvested.

– Waste: not only is waste careless and unsightly, but it is also against the law. This includes toilet paper and the proper management of human waste.

– Leave the portals as you find them: If a portal is closed, close it behind you. If it’s obviously open (pulled all the way to the close), leave it open. If in doubt, contact the owner or the public land agency.

– Know your target and beyond: Hunters must be sure of what they are shooting at (species, sex, etc.), and know what lies beyond their target (houses, outbuildings, livestock, vehicles, other hunters).

– Prevent fires: be aware of the danger of fire at all times and take precautions.

– Be weed-free: Check clothing, dogs, ATVs and vehicles for weeds and weed seeds to help prevent the spread to other private and public lands.

– Avoid driving on muddy roads: Unless it is a well gravelled road, walk.

– Avoid driving on ridges and driving towards lookouts: not only is this a bad strategy while hunting, it is considered off-road driving if it is not already an established trail.

– Do not park on roads or overpasses: stay away from roads to avoid people moving agricultural equipment. Find a designated parking area or approach that is obviously not used for equipment.

– Off-Road Driving: While hunting on private property, a person may not drive off established roads or trails without permission from the landowner. Off-road travel on public lands, including game retrieval, is prohibited unless designated as open. Consult the appropriate land agency or land maps for details.

– Ask for permission to hunt: Montana law requires permission to hunt on private property. Even if the land is not posted, hunters must have the authorization of the owner, tenant or their representative before hunting on private property.

– Completely fill in the BMA sheets: If a hunter does not correctly fill out a block management sheet, he hunts without authorisation.

– Know where you are: Whether you are hunting on public lands, private lands or lands enrolled in an access program such as block management, it is the responsibility of each hunter to know where they are to avoid intrusion. Maps are still available, as are GPS chips and mobile phone apps to help with orientation.

– Access to public lands: Access to public lands (on a private road) by private land requires the authorization of the private landowner, the tenant or his agent.

– Camping: Camping is permitted on most public land (see agency regulations), but permission is required to camp on private property and ZMBs.

– Know the rules: Check BMA maps for specific rules on block management property, including driving on roads, parking areas, no-shoot zones, pedestrian zones, camping, the number of authorized hunters, the recovery of game, etc. Rules for most land agencies can be found on maps and/or brochures. Visit the agency’s website or the appropriate local office for more information.

– Report Violations: Report any hunting and fishing, trespassing, vandalism or other criminal activity you see to 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668).

The 1-800-TIP-MONT program is a toll-free number where you can report violations of fish, wildlife or park regulations. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 for providing information leading to a conviction.

Also keep in mind that fall is a very busy time for property owners. Along with the late harvest, cattle and other livestock are moved from their summer and/or fall pastures and are often brought close to the original site for winter feeding and care. Please use common sense and respect during these activities.

FWP also offers a free online program called The Montana Hunter-Landowner Stewardship Project. This project is an information program for anyone interested in promoting responsible hunting behavior and good hunter-owner relations in Montana. The program is delivered via an interactive website using questions, videos and commentary as well as opportunities for you to test your knowledge of a variety of practical topics related to hunter-owner relationships and responsible hunter behavior.

Please go to fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter/hunterLandowner to learn more and complete the program.