A story came out a few days ago regarding the hunting economy of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest[B1] . Here's the funny thing about all those public critters on public land: the hunting economy grew. The hunting economy bucked the national average, and the communities around the B-D grew, not at a rapid pace, but at a slow, sustainable rate. In 2006, hunter expenditures were right around $26.3 million.

That’s an almost 25% increase in hunter expenditures. That’s money in the bank. It’s also why we need bills like the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. [B2] 

That’s when I heard it: Elkonomics

Public lands, and the public ownership of wildlife, the businesses that revolve around abundant elk populations and healthy habitats, the private lands – it all combines to define Elkonomics. That sounds  like something we can point to while looking  folks in the eye and letting them know that public lands mean sustainable, annually renewable economies, but  only if we  use our resources wisely when it comes to public land management. It shows that we can have sustainable outfitting, livestock grazing, and provide plenty of opportunity for hunters.


For the longest time, folks were worried about discussing economics when it came to wildlife management. The fear being that the discussion would sully the purity of the movement. I don’t disagree with them. In a perfect world, there would be no politics, and no pressure on wildlife. We’d all be fat and sassy on elk steaks during the winters; we’d be lean and strong by fall to pack the bull down the mountain.

In the real world, money matters. It’s therefore important to be able to show people how conservation actually increases the bottom line. That is where public lands come in. Public Lands are the great equalizer when it comes to hunting opportunity. Theodore Roosevelt knew this was the case when he protected over 230,000,000 acres of what is now the public land system.

Our forests are the groceries that elk need to thrive. Without good habitat, elk are more susceptible to wolves and other predators. Without proper forage, elk reproduce at lower rates. It’s simple: Our forests need some help;. FJRA gives it that help.



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Hellgate Hunters and Anglers
Our Mission is to conserve Montana's wildlife, wild places, and fair-chase hunting and fishing heritage.