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Montana Embraces Low-Tech Hunting

Hunters can arm themselves with skill, experience and determination, but not with modern technology that provides an unfair edge over their prey, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission decided recently.

Members approved new regulations for the 1998 and 1999 hunting seasons that include bans on use of airplanes, night-vision scopes and two-way radios to track down big game.

Regarding radios, wardens said they would not issue citations under the new rules to law-abiding hunters making legitimate use of radios in the field for safety reasons.

One of the new regulations forbids someone from using a plane to spot game from the air on the same day the person hunts those animals.

Mark Earnhardt, manager of the enforcement program for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said someone could be cited for violating that rule only if wardens prove a person intended to use a flight to spot game just before taking to the field.

The ban on radios is aimed at those who use such devices to coordinate several hunters in surrounding a game animal, the commission said.

The ban on night-vision scopes is necessary because, although nighttime hunting is a crime, some hunters use the scopes to spot game before sunrise so they are ready to fire at daylight, Simpson explained.

The commission decided not to include a ban on electronically lighted rifle scopes because the department said those devices were not a major problem.