Hunting in Montana is not only a right but a privilege. At least that's what I was taught from a young age. It's one you definitely shouldn't disrespect or take for granted. Here are some unspoken rules I want to share.

Respect Landowners: If you are lucky enough to hunt on private land, then you should treat it as if it was your own. Don't be hiking into areas where you aren't allowed. Whatever you pack in, pack out. Stay on the road unless otherwise told you can offroad with a 4-wheeler/side by side etc.  It's always a nice gesture to thank the landowner that gave you permission with some meat of whatever you harvest or at least with a nice bottle of bourbon.

Keep Your Kill Covered:  Look, I get it. If you bag the big one, you really want to show off. Hell, the hunters in my small town would prop the horns up in the back of the truck and park outside the local bar while they went inside to celebrate. I was taught not only by fellow, older hunters but in Hunter Safety class that it's a bad look for the hunting community to tie a dead animal to your hood and drive around gloating. Celebrate, but be humble and respectful of your neighbors and community.

Hunt For Meat Not Horns: I want the big Boone and Crocket 7x7 Elk as much as the next guy, but if that is the sole reason you are hunting, you might need a refresher. Growing up in Montana is hard and providing for a family is even harder. Remember, you can't eat horns.  

Respect The Animal: This falls in the same category. Using every bit of meat you can really is important. Don't take unnecessary shots or ones you aren't sure you can make. The animal ideally should never have to suffer.

Landowners, Give Some Leeway: Private landowners in our beloved Big Sky state can be pretty stingy. We all know those big Hollywood types that don't even want you looking at their mountains. If you're reading this, you need to know that a wounded animal might cross onto your property from public land. Now, while you might not want a hunter crossing your fence, you should let them get in to track down their kill and not let the animal suffer. They will be quick and respectful (hopefully).

If You See Orange, Move Along: There is nothing more frustrating than hiking all the way up to your secret spot only to see a patch of orange from another hunter already perched up and waiting for the sun to fully rise. If it's public land, they beat you fair and square, and you need to give them the space and opportunity that they would hopefully give you if it was reversed.

Teach The Next Generation: These are unspoken rules that were passed down to me and I hope some young hunters out there are reading this and will use these in the future and continue the cycle.  Protect and respect your land whether public or private and always lend a hand to a fellow hunter on the mountain. Good luck!

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