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of the Game Range
Sign at the Game Range along Highway 83
"This Management Area was purchased by the Fish & Game Commission
to provide a big game wintering range, thus relieving adjoining private
lands of serious game use. The project was paid for by sportsmen through
hunting and fishing license sales and wildlife restoration funds derived
from the sale of sporting arms and ammunition.--MONTANA FISH AND GAME COMMISSION.
Something for Everone on the Game Range
by Mike Thompson, biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
(Thompson writes a weekly column, "Game Range Ramblings" for the
Seeley Swan Pathfinder. The column below appeared in the May 23, 1996 issue
of the Pathfinder.)
It seems like more people are interested in access to the Blackfoot-Clearwater
Game Range than anytime in recent memory. (By the way, recent memory seems
to be the only memory I have nowadays). Wintering elk and deer have had
the place pretty much to themselves, but we counted 21 vehicles on the main
Range road when the seasonal closure expired on May 15th.
The people who've been phoning FWP for information seem to have a good grip
on the things they can't do. They know they can't drive off open roads or
on roads that are posted closed. They know they can't litter or vandalize
They call us because they're not very sure of the things they can do on
the Game Range. And, they're often surprised how much freedom is granted
to people who are willing to act responsibly.
Of course, I'm talking about Game Range property owned or leased by the
Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, including lands owned by the Department
of Natural Resources and Conservation and Plum Creek Timber Company within
elk hunting district 282. With the purchase of a State Lands Recreational
Use Permit, you may feel free to walk anywhere on these lands, anytime between
May 15 and November 10.
Likewise, you may pedal your mountain bike or ride your horse wherever your
trusty mounts will carry you.
You may drive your car, pickup, motorcycle, or 4-wheeler on any established
road that is not gated or posted closed. You may park on the road shoulder,
leaving room for trucks and horse trailers to pass. You also may refrain
from driving off the road shoulder and across the bunchgrass to scenic overlooks,
and instead may park and walk a short distance to take in those same inspiring
You may walk your dog, or you llama, or your cat (Like Sharon and I used
to). If you can control it, you may unleash your beast and exercise it.
You may shoot in the air, throw your dummy in the water, and yell at your
retriever when he hides under the truck. You may call me at FWP's Missoula
office for advice on ways to recreate around ponds so that disturbance to
nesting birds is minimized, and you may read and report the license plate
number of any owner whose dog is chasing wildlife.
You may roast a wiener over a small campfire built with dead and down wood.
If your meal makes you drowsy, you may pitch your tent and spend the night.
When you pack up in the morning, you may drown your fire dead out and leave
no trace of your fire ring or camp. Feel free to pick up any litter left
by others, and claim it as a good deed.
You may find a safe location and an effective backstop for sighting in the
rifle you bought over the winter, and you may make a point of bringing that
bullet-ridden can or paper target home with you when you leave. If you are
so inclined, you may shoot ground squirrels and leave them for the red-tailed
hawks and coyote pups. And, if you value your freedoms, you may report those
who shoot birds and other protected wildlife.
For those who like to stick together, you may contact FWP's Missoula office
to obtain a group-use permit and plan your gathering of more than 30 people.
Now that fishing season is open, you may walk across the old Dreyer haymeadows
to catch brook trout in Cottonwood Creek.
You may carefully release any cutthroat or bull trout you happen to catch
and leave these creatures for your grandchildren to enjoy. You may mark
the progress of antler growth on all those whitetail bucks along the Woodworth
Road this spring.
Be sure to remember that there are other lands owned and managed by FWP
in the Seeley Lake area that are not part of the Game Range, and are not
managed under the same rules. For example, the Harper's Lake Fishing Access
Site is an area of concentrated human use that could not sustain the diversity
of recreational opportunities that the Game Range offers today. You'll find
more restrictive regulations enforced there, and at similar FWP-managed