Public hunting could be opened on some Montana prime land, if the owners go through with it.
According to the Billings Gazette, Dan and Farris Wilks, the largest private landowners in Montana, are considering opening 16,000 acres to a public managed hunting.
The proposed hunting zones would fall in Fergus and Golden Valley counties on the western portion of the Wilks’ N Bar Ranch and part of the Janet Lewis Ranch.
The Wilks understand the importance of managing the state’s over abundant elk herd.
Initially, 30 to 40 hunters would be allowed weekly under a managed hunt per the proposed outline.
The Block Management Program that Montana provides offers compensation to landowners who allow public land hunting on their properties. It is still up for discussion whether the land will be enrolled into the program or not.
However, a possible land trade is being discussed between the BLM and the Wilks, who are hoping to gain 4,900 acres of scattered BLM holdings in trade for 5,200 acres along Red Hill Road and the Missouri River Breaks.
Some of the BLM land that the Wilks are hoping to gain is surrounded on all sides by Wilks property and is only accessible by airplane or helicopter. This area, known as the Dufree Hills, has been rallied around by a group of hunters hoping to prevent the Wilkses from gaining this area. It’s currently under investigation for trespassing by the Wilks’ fence.
If this deal could be worked out, there would be some major benefits for both the ranchers and hunters, yet the details are still being worked out. Many hunters are afraid the Wilks will reject hunting access just as soon as they gain the inholdings they desire.
Time will only tell if this deal will make it beneficial for wildlife and hunters.