American Prairie Reserve is expanding public hunting opportunities on its deeded property for the fall 2020 season.
The conservation organization is increasing public access in two ways: through enrolling more of its private land in the Block Management hunter access program managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), and opening its newest property to limited elk hunting.
Expanding public access and hunting on properties it acquires continue to be a top priority for American Prairie Reserve, according to CEO Alison Fox.
“Hunting is an American tradition and an important economic contributor for Montana,” said Fox. “We strive to provide the public with high-quality hunting opportunities while also working to restore habitat needed to sustain elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and upland game bird populations.”
As part of its commitment to public access, the ultimate goal for the American Prairie Reserve region is more wildlife for people to see, enjoy and harvest. The 47,000-acre property north of Winifred sprawls across the rugged Missouri River Breaks, cottonwood-filled valleys and short grass prairie. After acquiring the PN in 2016, American Prairie Reserve opened the property to public hunting in 2017, the first public access in many decades.
“Our objective for all visitors, whether they are bird watchers, hikers, mountain bikers or hunters, is to create richer and more satisfying outdoor experiences as wildlife populations in the region continue to increase,” said Fox.
FWP ManagementAmerican Prairie Reserve’s hunting policies on lands enrolled in FWP’s Block Management are determined in partnership with FWP and through consultation with hunters. They are revised each year based on management objectives, population estimates, and habitat quality.
Mike Quist Kautz, Director of Recreation and Public Access, said putting the property into FWP’s Block Management program will streamline the reservation process for hunters.
“We doubled the number of APR acres enrolled in Block Management this year because it’s a well-managed program and we’re looking forward to working with FWP to help Montanans plan their fall hunting trips,” said Kautz. “The PN provides very high-quality hunts in some truly spectacular country.”
American Prairie Reserve is also enrolling its Dry Fork property in Type 2 Block Management. The addition of these two areas brings the total number of the Reserve’s deeded lands enrolled in the Block Management program up to more than 64,000 acres.
The organization’s Two Crow and Timber Creek properties will remain enrolled in Block Management for the 2020/2021 season, as well as the Blue Ridge Block Management area, which was formerly called Burnt Lodge.
Elk HuntingUnder the ownership of American Prairie Reserve, prime elk habitat will now be open to public hunting. The nonprofit organization acquired the Blue Ridge property, located approximately 45 miles southeast of Malta in southern Phillips County, Montana, in 2019.
This 9,695-acre portion of the Reserve will be the Blue Ridge Special Management Area, and hunting access will be granted by way of a random drawing of eligible permit holders. This management approach will allow elk hunters access to private land that was previously closed off, while also maintaining a healthy wildlife population in the Larb Hills.
American Prairie Reserve is offering elk hunting access to eight archery permit holders and eight rifle permit holders for a total of 16 bull elk hunting opportunities through an online drawing. The drawing is free to enter, however, to be eligible, entrants must already possess a 620-20, 620-21 or 622-20 elk permit. Eligible individuals must fill out and submit the form by 11:59PM on July 31, 2020. The 16 recipients will be randomly selected and notified starting on August 10, 2020.
“North Central Montana is a hunter’s paradise and it is a huge benefit for the public to have access to these new opportunities to pursue elk, mule deer, and upland game birds,” said Nick Gevock, Conservation Director for the Montana Wildlife Federation.
American Prairie Reserve’s vision is to support wildlife species that historically called the Great Plains home. Already open to the public for recreation including camping and hunting, the Reserve offers visitors an opportunity to connect with nature on a truly grand scale.
Complete details, terms, rules and a link to enter the elk hunt drawing are available online at https://www.americanprairie.org/hunting
Learn more at americanprairie.org.