Written by The Herald-News
Two special access agreements reached between private landowners and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will improve opportunities this fall for bighorn sheep hunters in the Missouri River Breaks south of Havre.
The access agreements allow private lands within the Sanford and Brewer ranches to be legally accessed for free by sheep hunters who have drawn licenses in Hunting District 680.
Access to these private lands in turn connects to thousands of acres of public lands that would otherwise be difficult to access. Except for coyotes on the Sanford Ranch, other types of hunting are not covered by the agreements.
The Sanford Ranch is located along the Ragland Bench south of the Cow Island Trail off Lloyd Road. The agreement between the ranch owners and FWP runs from Sept. 5 to Dec. 1 and allows up to one bighorn ram party and three bighorn ewe parties to access the land per week. Other provisions include:
•Beginning Aug. 22 and at least a week in advance of their trip, hunters can call FWP’s Havre office at 406-262-6177 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday to reserve their access to the Sanford Ranch property. Permission will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
•Access can be reserved for up to a week. If a hunt is completed earlier than planned, the Havre FWP office will need to be notified to cancel any remaining days. Other cancellations will also be handled through the Havre office.
•Hunters must receive their permission slip, vehicle tag, and map of the ranch prior to using the property.
•No camping or fires are allowed on the private land.
•No access will be allowed during wet and muddy periods. During periods of heavy rain or snow, hunters will need to park and walk.
•No off-road driving is allowed, and hunters must stay on designated access roads.
The Brewer Ranch is also located south of the Cow Island Trail off Eskay and Brewer roads. This access agreement is also in effect from Sept. 5 to Dec. 1. Other provisions state:
•Up to two parties of bighorn ram hunters and three bighorn ewe hunting parties are allowed on the Brewer property per week.
•Beginning Aug. 22, hunters can contact the landowner at 406-386-2439 to gain permission, which will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
•Hunters can receive permission to access the Brewer Ranch for up to a week-long period. If they complete their hunt earlier than planned, hunters will need to contact the landowner to cancel the remaining days. If they are unable to hunt in their designated time slot, they also must contact the landowner to cancel their reservation.
•As with the Sanford property, hunters must receive their permission slip, vehicle tag, and map prior to accessing the land.
•No fires are allowed on private land on the Brewer Ranch.
•No vehicle access will be permitted during wet and muddy periods, and no off-road driving is allowed.
•Permission to use the Brewer Ranch property will be granted for up to one week at a time and will be documented on the permission slip and car tag. Permission to hunt additional weeks must be obtained separately.