Big Game Needs Big Country

What Hunters Say

Randy Newberg on Sportsmen Traditions Joe Perry Tony Porcarelli Stoney Burk

Questions and Answers


Noxious Weeds

Forest Management


Mountain Bikes


..And it doesn't come any bigger than the Rocky Mountain Front.  Expansive rough old country - that kind that challenges your wits and your muscles. It takes effort to hunt here, it takes miles on your mules and your boots and alot of sweat.  But the effort is well worth it once you're in the thick of some of the best wildlife habitat in the lower 48. 

The top wildlife professionals in Montana say the Front remains in the top 1% of all wildlife habitats in the country, containing a higher diversity of animal and plant life than found anywhere else in the Rockies, from Canada to Mexico. Only on the Front can a hunter stalk nice big game species, including seven species of prized ungulates.

Montana hunters started to get the connection between big, unbroken habitat, healthy game populations and longer hunting seasons one hundred years ago when they created the Sun River Game Preserve, the first of its kind in Montana.  It’s what makes the Front so special, and why sportsmen are stepping up once again to maintain the Front the way it is today.  Keeping those public lands protected is really the only assurance we've got that we'll be able to pass on our traditions to our kids and our kid's kids.

Big Numbers - Big Country

1  Number one top-rated habitat in the lower 48 by biologists.

As in second largest herd of Migratory elk in the country

13  Number of top wildlife professionals who have endorsed the Heritage Act.

100  As in years. Sportsmen have worked to protect the Front for over a century.

50,000 Number of total days sportsmen spent hunting the Front in 2010. 

10,000,000  As in ten million dollars. That's the average amount that sportsmen spend in local communities while hunting along the Front each year.

Why is Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front important for sportsmen?

In 2010, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks reported over 90,000 hunter days on the Front. It's a popular place because it has amazing oppurtunity - from the second largest migratory herd of elk in the United States, to the largest herd of Bighorns in Montana, to monster mule deer, the Front contains it all. It’s all there due to the connectivity between summer and winter habitats, as well as the intact ecosystems throughout the Rocky Mountain Front. Lewis and Clark would easily recognize the Front as the same place they hunted along during the summer of 1805.

How do wilderness designations help sportsmen?

The Wilderness inclusions help protect intact, yearlong security habitat for Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep and Elk in the wildest, toughest to reach portions of the Front that have been managed as recommended wilderness for over 30 years. In particular, two areas are prime Mule Deer habitat: The Deep Creek inclusion and the Patrick’s Basin Inclusion both support tremendous trophy Mule Deer populations due to the rugged country that they live in.

How does the Conservation Management Area help sportsmen?

The Conservation Management Area gives flexibility to the Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to effectively manage all wildlife habitat. It continues the Forest Service’s roadless policies and does not lift any current restrictions related to elk security, grizzly bear habitat, or the need to properly analyze any project proposed for its impacts to wildlife.

How does bolstering the fight against noxious weeds help sportsmen?

Healthy range land is a crucial requirement for robust populations of big game but areas dominated by noxious weeds like leafy spurge receive three times less use by deer compared with similar uninfested areas. On native bunchgrass sites in Montana, dense spotted knapweed populations reduce available winter forage for elk by 50 to 90 percent. Studies have shown that elk use increases almost four fold when noxious weeds are eradicated. 

What does the proposal do for hunter access?

It keeps it the same level as it is today. Early on, the Coalition made a conscience effort to keep motorized routes to an acceptable level given the roadless characteristics and wilderness qualities contained in this rough country. It was clear the Forest Service’s most recent travel plan has already applied a balanced approach to motorized use and Heritage act would lock that decision in. Meanwhile trails in the wilderness inclusions retain the exact same level of access as they have had for the last 30 years.

What about game carts?

Game carts can still be used in the Conservation Management Area, on the same trails that they are utilized now. It is important to retain these tools to help hunters bring out their harvest in a timely manner, so the fruits of their labors can be enjoyed and processed quickly.