LETTER: Raising the Price of Hunting Tags isn’t the Answer

By Beacon Staff

In the early 1990s, Kila School celebrated its centennial. As part of that celebration, the upper grade students began interviewing Kila School graduates. These interviews provided a window to see what life was like before, during, and after The Great Depression, and to learn how these families survived.

In one interview, the respondent told about how his father and a neighbor had went out with a two-man crosscut saw and had cut, split and delivered a cord of firewood for $2.50. This money was divided between the two men and the $1.25 was the sole resource for all the Christmas presents that holiday. There were four children in that family.

Another former student was asked about food supplies, and she explained that everyone raised a garden and the produce was canned and stored in root cellars. In addition, she went on, everyone hunted and the wild game was also canned and placed on the shelves next to the vegetables.

(Wild) Bill Schneider in his recent commentary (July 7 Beacon: “Hunters Need to Get in the Game”) mocks people of little or fixed means when he says, “I suppose some hunters will say they can’t afford it, and these are the same folks who go to the Legislature to say a $2 increase in deer tags makes it impossible to feed their families. To this I say, hello, you can hardly get a cup of coffee for two bucks. We’re talking about the future of hunting here.”

I guess he has never visited Sykes Restaurant where people gather to enjoy one another’s company and sip on a 25-cent cup of coffee. I don’t suppose that the doubling of the price for a box of ammunition caused him any concern. I imagine driving hundreds of miles to do a little pheasant shooting is a no-brainer for him, as opposed to those of us who have to scrimp and save all year to enjoy an outing.

Let’s examine some facts. Do you want to know why hunter success has dropped? Begin with the systematic closing of access points to our National Forests that has forced hunters to funnel into the remaining areas. The importation of additional predators while allowing the unchecked expansion of other predators puts additional strain on our game animals. Call Fish, Wildlife and Parks and ask them how many grizzly bears they are aware of roaming the valley floor and Flathead River bottom between Columbia Falls and the lake.

Schneider wants other ideas? How about imposing a hefty tax on property being leased for hunting? After all, the landowner owns the land; the game belongs to people of Montana. They are the ones who have paid for the improvements to game management and the wages of FWP for the past 80 years. How about real tax breaks as well as some pay for landowners who open their property for Block Management? Open the Flathead National Forest back up to use by the people. It was created to be a renewable resource for everyone, not a private preserve to provide income for a select few.

Don’t sit at the café, drinking your Starbucks latte, eating your expensive breakfast and expect me to foot the bill. Keep your hands out of my wallet.

Richard Funk

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