Common Ground Announces Cutting-Edge Hunting Ethics & Access Program

Master Hunter logo

The Montana Hunter Advancement Program: Ethics, Access and Education

A Project of Common Ground

Common Ground, a collaborative group of landowner and sportsmen organizations, is developing a comprehensive, advanced hunter education program designed to put more ethical, educated, and effective hunters in the field. The 2018 pilot course is now accepting applications from qualified hunters. 

To learn more about this program and how to apply (as a hunter or a landowner), please visit our website at

The program’s mission is to provide advanced hunter education that increases hunter competence, ethical hunting behavior, private land access and knowledge of agriculture and land stewardship. The goals of the program are as follows:

  • To educate hunters about landowner issues and concerns related to hunter access, including but not limited to, respect for private property, appropriate use of ranch roads, impacts of weeds, safety, impacts of public hunters on farming and ranching operations;
  • To educate hunters regarding the economics of ranching/farming and the impacts that wildlife have on the operation of a farm or ranch;
  • To increase hunter knowledge of all aspects of the hunt, including ethics, shooting skills, care of game, woodsmanship, first aid, survival skills;
  • To create new hunting access opportunities for public hunters on private farms and ranches; 
  • To provide landowners with a new hunter access program which includes a new hunter management opportunity;
  • To build mutual respect and cooperation between landowners; and 
  • To increase the potential for better wildlife management opportunities for landowners and more quality land access opportunities for ethical hunters.

The program’s intent is to create a private partnership between landowners and the sportsmen community, and is supported by a variety of landowner and sportsmen groups:

“Though most hunters in Montana are good stewards and responsible hunters, concern over ethics is something we hear every year from both landowners and hunters alike. The Montana Hunter Advancement Program is an innovative solution to improve hunter ethics, while also creatively looking at new access opportunities.” - Martha Williams, Director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

“This landowner led program provides another tool for farmers and ranchers to use when interacting with hunters," said Jay Bodner of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. "It is an innovative approach to build cooperation between landowners and sportsmen while also providing better wildlife management opportunities.”   

“The Montana Hunter Advancement Program will develop a network of highly skilled, ethical, safe hunters that will serve as an example to others and help establish positive relationships with private landowners. RMEF is proud to support this innovative program.” -Blake Henning, Chief Conservation Officer, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is proud to support the Montana Hunter Advancement Program. To support Montana sportsmen and women – and address ongoing challenges to hunter access – we need to seek innovative solutions. By building partnerships with private landowners and elevating the importance of responsible, ethical practices afield, we can work to ensure the future of our great Montana outdoor traditions.” – John Sullivan, Chairman of the Montana chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

“Hunters would find more opportunity to hunt on private land if landowners knew they would be courteous, competent, effective, and ethical hunters who respected the property and the landowner. Designed from the perspective of landowners, this course presents an opportunity for hunters to learn about agriculture and issues landowners face and to improve their hunting skills.” – Scott Hibbard, Sieben Livestock Company & Common Ground member

“Montana’s hunters and landowners have long been partners in conserving wildlife in our state.  Private landowners want to know that the hunters who are accessing their land are safe, ethical and effective; and responsible hunters want to be welcomed visitors on private land. This innovative program will help ensure that this longstanding partnership between landowners and public hunters continues on into the future.” - Bill Geer, President of the Montana Wildlife Federation.  

2017-2018 SPONSORS

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, SITKA Gear, Montana Stockgrowers Foundation, Schnee’s, Mystery Ranch, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Boone & Crockett Club, 2% for Conservation, Brickhouse Creative, Huntable, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Montana Grain Growers Association, Mule Deer Foundation, Wild Sheep Foundation


Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Grain Growers Association, Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Bowhunters Association, Montana Sportsmen’s Alliance, Montana’s Outdoor Legacy Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Western Landowners Alliance, and several individual outfitters, sportsmen, and ranchers.