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Fri., Nov. 1, 2013, 6 a.m.

Top 10 ways to avoid hunting citation

Bob St.Pierre of Minnesota follows his German shorthair pointer while hunting Montana pheasants on islands in the Missouri River via canoes.
Bob St.Pierre of Minnesota follows his German shorthair pointer while hunting Montana pheasants on islands in the Missouri River via canoes.

HUNTING -- Although most hunters are law-abiding, some are cited for infractions. Here are the Top 10 reasons some hunters go home with a ticket rather than meat for the freezer, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game wardens.

  1.  Trespassing: Hunters must have permission of the landowner before hunting on private land. In Montana, private land does not have to be posted for a hunter to be guilty of trespassing. Ask first.
  2. Road shooting: State law makes it illegal for anyone to shoot on, from, or across a road or right of way. The right of way generally lies between the fences on either side of the road. It's also known as the shoulder or borrow pit.
  3. Shooting times: Make sure of sunrise and sunset times. Big-game season runs from one half hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset. It can vary by state. Use only the sunrise-sunset tables supplied by FWP, not the times in the local newspaper or on television.
  4. Tagging: Immediately after taking a big game animal, hunters must validate their hunting tag. Proper validation means completely cutting out the date and month on the tag. It also means thinking ahead so you don't, say, put a deer tag on an elk. Excitement is no excuse.
  5. Transferring tags: Hunters must use their own tags when shooting an animal. Transferring licenses between spouses or using a family member's tag is illegal.
  6. Off-roading: Drive only on established roads. On public land, stay on the road. On private land, drive only where the landowner tells you. Driving off a road is a sure way to make an enemy of a private landowner and probably get a ticket.
  7. Check stations: Although it's voluntary in some states such as Washington, hunters and anglers in Montana are required to stop at all check stations, going to or coming from the field, with or without game. Even if you are out fishing, you must stop at all check stations. Driving by a check station not only hurts FWP’s efforts to gather data it is illegal and can result in a ticket.
  8. Evidence of gender: When transporting a big game animal, evidence of the animal's sex must remain attached to the carcass. This is especially important early in the season when the heat of the day may lead a hunter to remove the hide from an animal’s carcass.
  9. Shooting from vehicle: Most state prohibit having a loaded gun in the vehicle or shooting from a vehicle or road. Beyond that, tthics and sportsmanship define hunting. It's not very sporting, and frankly it's dangerous, to shoot from a pickup window or truck bed.
  10. Blaze orange clothing: Big game hunters must wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange above the waist and visible from all sides. Although it’s not required for bird hunters, it’s a darn good idea to put on some orange, at least a hat or vest.


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Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.