New Public Lands Documentary Premieres in Whitefish

Film explores fight to save a patchwork of public land called the Durfee Hills near Lewistown

By Beacon Staff

The outdoor media company Mission: Montana’s debut documentary — “The Durfees: Saving a Montana Public Land Treasure” — premieres at Casey’s Bar in Whitefish Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.

Hosted by Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the film explores the fight to save the Durfee Hills, a patchwork of public land parcels southeast of Lewistown, amounting to nearly 5,000 acres, from a land exchange proposed to the Bureau of Land Management by the billionaire Wilks brothers, two of Montana’s largest private landowners whose ranch property encircles the area.

Home to one of Montana’s largest elk herds, the transfer would render the popular landlocked hunting area inaccessible. Elk hunters can only access the property by flying in by helicopter or light plane, and local hunters rallied to oppose the measure, saying the quality of the Durfee Hills far surpasses other land the Wilkses were offering.

The film centers on Doug Krings, a traditional bowhunter from Lewistown, and his 12-year-old daughter Emma, who embarks on her first elk hunt in the Durfees.

Along with the Durfees saga, the film delves into the national land transfer movement championed by Utah Congressman Rob Bishop and the American Lands Council. The Durfees was produced with the support of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Traditional Bowhunters of Montana, OnX Maps, and Vortex Optics.

Tickets are $5 at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. Following the film, Mission: Montana founder Elliott Woods will field questions from the audience.

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