When fishing season starts, sportsmen pull out the wallet and fork over the dollars for a new license.
Then there’s the elk license, the antelope license and the turkey license.
And if the wallet still isn’t empty, they test their luck in the drawings for bighorn sheep or moose tags.
Most hunters and fishermen, in most states, feel that fish and game departments have pushed license costs in their state about as far as they can go. And they all feel the amount they pay is high - probably higher than what hunters pay in most other states.
Stephen M. Barton, of the Idaho Deparment of Fish and Game, put together lists comparing the costs of seven resident and seven nonresident licenses for 11 states stretching from the Pacific Northwest eastward to the Dakotas and Nebraska.
Montanans are getting the best bargains in the West on their resident licenses. Resident licenses for deer, antelope, elk and turkey are the absolute lowest among all 11 states.
The average for the seven Montana resident licenses among all 11 states places them at 2.67 on the scale of 1 to 11.
In line behind Montana are North Dakota (3.43), Idaho (3.57), Wyoming (3.86), South Dakota (5), Colorado (5.29), Oregon (6.5), Washington (6.83), Nebraska (7.6), Utah (9.14) and Nevada (9.83).
For nonresidents, the best bargains are in Nebraska, for the licenses that can be purchased there. Nebraska’s fishing license is cheapest, the antelope license is second-cheapest, the deer license is third-cheapest and the turkey license is fifth-cheapest.
The average placing for the four nonresident licenses they sell is 2.75 on that 1 to 11 scale.
In line behind Nebraska are South Dakota (3), Colorado (3.29), North Dakota (4), Montana (4.14), Utah (4.29), Washington (4.83), Oregon (6.17), Wyoming (6.29), Idaho (8) and Nevada (8.33).
It should be noted that the comparison doesn’t include license numbers available or hunting and fishing opportunity. It also doesn’t take into account factors like Montana’s combination licenses that offer other licenses in the package.
And it doesn’t account for season length, hunting or fishing quality, cheaper fishing licenses for shorter periods of time or a lot of other factors.
It’s simply a straight comparison of all fees and charges that a sportsman would have to pay if that was the one license that was required to pursue that species of game, or to fish for trout for the entire season.
Among the other tidbits and oddities to be found in the lists:
While the resident moose license for North Dakota is the cheapest at $27, you can bet hunter numbers can’t hold a candle to states further west that charge more.
Colorado’s nonresident elk license may be the cheapest in cost at $250.25, but it may not be the highest in value because license numbers aren’t limited like in other states.
Nonresident hunters must consider Montana’s $18 turkey license a steal, especially if they come from Nevada, where residents pay $49 for the same privilege.
While Wyoming’s resident bighorn sheep license is second-cheapest at $75, its nonresident license is the highest of the nine western states offering sheep licenses at $1,500.
But even though Montana resident licenses are are a bargain compared with other states, the cost is still substantial.
If you bought all the Montana resident licenses on the list - the separate licenses for fishing, deer, antelope, elk, bighorn sheep, moose and turkey - the cost would be $245.