Hunting on bureau of land management lands

LittleMike

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Mar 10, 2018
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Western NY
Need advice. Hunted in Montana last year, had maps with BLM lands clearly marked, but fenced with cattle on it and adjacent to crop land. I got about 300 yards into a piece and was stopped by the rancher on an ATV an told he had a grazing rights lease and I could not hunt there. First time I've hunted on BLM land and as non-resident. so I did as directed. Drove another 30 miles to a block management parcel, hunted there for the next three days.

Is anyone hunting on BLM land in Montana,There is a lot of BLM land, but I'm really confused as to the rules and manners on hunting the land.
Thanks
 

26Reload

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At the ranch I used to hunt at in Oregon they rancher could have a lease..no problem....but he couldn't keep you from using the BLM lands for your purpose...but if you crossed his private property line to get to the BLM that's a different story....
I would contact the local cops of the land you were hunting and make them tell you specifically that you had NO RIGHT to access that land...
If that rancher chased you off BLM land that you had rights as an American Citizen to access...that guy can have his lease revoked and go to jail for giving you false information pertaining to PUBLIC USE lands....
 

dfanonymous

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I have no idea about Montana specifically but I spend the 100% of my hunting on public land to include BLM. That being said, I’ve ran into stuff like that before and there’s other issues that can arise as well if there are anti hunters in the area or legitamit privatized areas on the BLM range in question.

Suggestion is on-x maps. App, computer, buy the chip for a gps...whatever. In my opinion it’s the easiest and most accurate way to get information on legitimatacy if private or leased properties. It gives the name of the owner as well so you can formally as permition if that notion interest you. If not it can help with your planning prior to scouting and from there you can use your maps or plug usgs/mgrs grid into your handheld or whatever.

On x can show if someone’s fence is larger than their actually property line, and can be used in justification with fish and game/forestry if you have a dispute with someone if they are unjustified denying you access to public land
 

dok7mm

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It's a shame, but this is not unusual. I have ran into it in Montana and Colorado. It's getting harder for them to bluff hunters now, due to accurate GPS mapping and apps.

If you have problems, it is best to leave peacefully and return with the county sheriff, if you are positive you did not trespass on private, to get to BLM.
 

26Reload

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The only issue I am aware of that Oregon has.....IF the leased land is 'IN USE' AS AN AGRICULTURE lease...then they can not allow you access...and it is in the rules and regs I believe....but you can ask for permission to hunt that land.....
Several alfalfa pivots are actually on BLM/FS lands and many are home to elk herds, pronghorns and deer......
 

jebel

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..IF the leased land is 'IN USE' AS AN AGRICULTURE lease.
I believe if public land is used in such a way that access is restricted, it must be posted periodically along the border. In my experience, it is more common for people to falsely deny access than it for public land to have legitimate access restrictions. Talking to local Sheriff’s personnel or Fish & Game officers is a good suggestion. They will know the details, and if it’s someone who has tried to falsely deny access, they are likely already familiar with that person.
 

seattleman1969

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Oct 3, 2014
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Missoula, Mt
Need advice. Hunted in Montana last year, had maps with BLM lands clearly marked, but fenced with cattle on it and adjacent to crop land. I got about 300 yards into a piece and was stopped by the rancher on an ATV an told he had a grazing rights lease and I could not hunt there. First time I've hunted on BLM land and as non-resident. so I did as directed. Drove another 30 miles to a block management parcel, hunted there for the next three days.

Is anyone hunting on BLM land in Montana,There is a lot of BLM land, but I'm really confused as to the rules and manners on hunting the land.
Thanks
I live in Montana and I have had this very discussion with several Fish and Game as well as County officers. Long story short, don't get into it with the Rancher, call the authorities if you are sure. If you are using OnX they will nearly always fall on your side. I have a property I am going to work on getting access to this summer as an adjacent owner has no trespassing signs up but OnX clearly shows it's a mix of Forest Service, State, and BLM land and it is chock full of nice whitetail deer. But I am not going to just charge in, I am going to get a ruling from Fish and Game first. Then the adjacent landowner cannot do a thing...

Even if the public land is leased, as long as you do not have to cross a property line to get to it, you cannot be restricted access. But the way property lines usually run makes it difficult to get to a lot of public land as Montana access laws to not allow "Corner jumping", meaning, if two public properties touch at a corner you cannot use that corner to enter a "landlocked" property. This access problem is being worked on and RMEF has been doing a decent job in Montana of purchasing corridors of land to provide public access to public lands.

Another way to access landlocked public is through waterways. Buy some lightweight waders and hike the streambed, you cannot be restricted access there either not matter how many fences a rancher runs across waterway!

If a rancher has adjoining land and has his pivot or fence over the line onto the public land, he still cannot keep you off of it. At the end of the day though it boils down to how much hunting time do you want to spend disputing access VS hunting?
 
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seattleman1969

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Missoula, Mt
One other note, in a lot of areas a polite door knocking will grant you more access than you can imagine! While doing the knocking and inquiring, find out what the owners like, and gift them something to show your appreciation. Also ask about neighboring ranches and neighbors. Establish a reputation as a hunter who is respectful of the landowner and their property and the word will get out giving you more access.

Also, if they run cattle, ask about predator control... you would be surprised how much something as fun as calling and shooting 'yotes will go when it directly affects the health and stability of a rancher's herd! Plus you get more real world trigger time...
 

26Reload

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Once again great info pertaining to Montana...
One difference in Oregon..waterways...
If the landowner owns both side of a 'navigable river's river they can try to restrict access...they just don't own the water or the ground under the water...most of this type is bigger rivers...
If 'non-navigable'..the land owner 'can' (supposedly)own the ground under the water.....
It is a bitch to get any public official to make a clarification on this type of ownership....been there done that..as a river guide for steelhead we had to pussyfoot around while officials did nothing....ending result was if the landowner was collecting thousands of dollars to allow access to the river then it was no longer accessible for public use.....
That happened 15 years ago...and still hasn't changed.....

As to politely stopping and asking......good luck...every city dweller does this and tries to bear gifts......most ranchers ask politely for you to get off their land...not all....
 

seattleman1969

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Missoula, Mt
Once again great info pertaining to Montana...
One difference in Oregon..waterways...
If the landowner owns both side of a 'navigable river's river they can try to restrict access...they just don't own the water or the ground under the water...most of this type is bigger rivers...
If 'non-navigable'..the land owner 'can' (supposedly)own the ground under the water.....
It is a bitch to get any public official to make a clarification on this type of ownership....been there done that..as a river guide for steelhead we had to pussyfoot around while officials did nothing....ending result was if the landowner was collecting thousands of dollars to allow access to the river then it was no longer accessible for public use.....
That happened 15 years ago...and still hasn't changed.....
That sucks... but you have to know where you are and every state is different. It can certainly be frustrating
 

seattleman1969

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Missoula, Mt
It's really not so bad, I believe $39.99 a year for unlimited access, as many states as you want if you use it on your smart phone.

I look at it this way, it's $39.99 that guarantees me peace of mind and could potentially save me court costs and trespassing fines and opens more opportunities
 

jebel

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Oregon
Gaia GPS is another phone-based gps subscription service with the same services as OnX (public/private land, land owner name, topo, game unit boundaries, and other useful layers). They’re both of the same caliber, in my view. And I would recommend the phone-based apps over chips inserted into a dedicated GPS device (whichever you choose). The dedicated devices used to have some significant advantages, but those have fast eroded. And it’s one fewer device to carry, assuming you would carry your phone anyway.

Sorry, not exactly on topic to the OP’s original question, but related.
 

seattleman1969

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Missoula, Mt
As to politely stopping and asking......good luck...every city dweller does this and tries to bear gifts......most ranchers ask politely for you to get off their land...not all....
I guess it's all about approach and location, I have had a lot of success... I am just one person though
 
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