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Transferable landowner licenses are not the way to go

WORTHINGTON -- I really don't have any desire to add the costs of all of the various licenses I buy in any one year. The fishing and hunting licenses would add up to a pretty sum. I also realize these costs would be small in comparison to the gas bills I accumulate driving to these destinations.

Being a non-resident can really hurt you if you live in Minnesota and want to hunt in the Dakotas.

One of the neat things that many folks don't know about is that in certain circumstances, a property owner can hunt on their own land with out a license. In Minnesota a landowner can hunt with out a license for small game which includes pheasants. They also can hunt doves as long as they are what is called HIP certified. This hunting with out a license is only available if the property you are hunting is your principal residence.

In many western states there is a movement afoot to give property owners a transferable hunting license. What this means is that every landowner would receive a big game license with out having to participate in the normal lottery system.

On the face, this doesn't really sound like a bad idea. It would allow the property owner to hunt game that has grazed and foraged on their property all season long.

Where the problem comes in is when this automatic license draw for a landowner would then be sold off to the highest bidder. Once landowners figure out they can receive an elk, deer, or mountain goat license for free, without having to apply and be drawn, and then sell for big cash, thousand of acres of land open to hunting by permission will now become totally off limits to the average hunter.

A large tract of land in the mountains would be parceled out into hundreds of separate parcel in order for the land owner to control almost all of the available permits in this area.

It is this type of commercialization that is ruing the hunting heritage we all enjoy. I am all for allowing a landowner to receive preferential treatment in the license system, but not in a way that allows them to profit excessively at the expense of the little guy. These hunt for profit schemes are more common in the west, and we can let them get a foothold in even the smallest way.

I think that hunting access is the greatest threat to the future of hunting in the United States. Allowing land owner licenses to be sold is a huge step in the wrong direction.

There are many problems with the current system that need fixing. The desire to charge the out-of-stater to death is one of them. More and more states are finding out that doubling or tripling the cost of non-resident licenses is a good way to finance their management programs. Then states start the reciprocity war, and everybody starts raising rates until only the most well off in society can afford to hunt.

I will continue to buy the licenses I need and support the special landowner privileges to reward these very important individuals, but I will never support a transferable landowner license. That slope is just too slippery.