Montana License Time!

My son, Kevin Vang, playing a fish on the Big Hole River, with the help of his yellow Lab and my black Lab. Good times like this begin with buying a license.

We’ve had a cold and snowy February, but changes are coming.

Our days are over two hours longer than at Christmastime and those hours of daylight will keep increasing over the next four months. All that solar energy is breaking the back of winter and spring will soon be here. Or at least what passes for spring here in the Rocky Mountains of Montana.

The annual fundraising banquet of the George Grant Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be happening on Friday night, March 1, and that’s a sure sign of spring. The big bash has been sold out for weeks.

Another sign of spring is that on that first day of March our 2018 fishing and hunting licenses will expire, and that means before we go out for a day on the ice, or some early river fishing, we need to go to a license provider or go online to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and buy that 2019 fishing license. While I’m at it, I always buy my upland and waterfowl hunting licenses at the same time. With one transaction I’m pretty well taken care of for the rest of the year.

I’ll probably buy a spring turkey license this spring and a deer license this fall, and a Federal Duck Stamp of course, but aside from those options, my basic license covers most of my fishing and hunting outings for the next 12 months. Considering that we live in Montana, it’s a great deal.

I’m not aware of any licensing changes coming up in the Legislature, though fees for Aquatic Invasive Species control may be subject to change. If so, that likely wouldn’t take effect until next year. Keep in mind, however, that two years ago, the $2 aquatic invasive species surcharge came late in the legislative session but was made retroactive for the whole license year.

I’ve occasionally mused about this springtime ritual of getting a new fishing and hunting license. It’s kind of like a New Year’s Day all over again, looking at a new year, full of possibilities, along with the reality that some possibilities are never realized, or end in disappointment.

Possession of fishing or hunting licenses doesn’t mean we’ll experience success. It doesn’t even mean we’ll find the time to get out to enjoy the outdoors. Life happens and, unfortunately, plans to go fishing fall by the wayside. Your hunting rig breaks down and you miss the opening of elk season. A member of the family somehow picks the opening of pheasant season to get married in a distant state.

Sometimes we have to make a special effort to get out for these outings. I often hear comments from people who talk about their love of the outdoors but seldom find the time to go fishing or hunting. “Don’t get out much anymore,” they’ll say sadly.

Yes, things such as family and career get in the way of enjoying the outdoors. The trouble is that we get used to not getting out and somehow mowing the lawn becomes more important than a day of fly-fishing the Big Hole River, and suddenly it’s winter and we missed a whole fishing season.

If our regular routine includes work schedules, evening meetings, community activities, transporting children to games, and all the other things that rob us of time, sometimes we need to schedule hunting and fishing outings just as we schedule our meetings. Whether you consider it mental health time, or getting out to get your head screwed back on, as I often look at it, you’ll rarely regret it.

Some people look forward to retirement with the hope that they’ll finally have time to go hunting and fishing. The reality, as I see it, is if you hope to be hunting and fishing when you’re 70, you’d better be doing it when you’re 40 or 50.

It has been said that nobody ever expressed regrets, on their death bed, that they spent too much time hunting and fishing, instead of working and chasing the almighty dollar.

Keep that in mind and go fish.

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