The members-only Billings Rod & Gun Club will open their gates to the general public on September 20 for their annual sight-in day, as mentioned in the club's September newsletter. Save yourself the drive to 17 Mile and come sight-in your big-bore rifles from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the range's excellent facility, located near the Rehberg Ranch subdivision northwest of Billings Logan International Airport. Donations of canned goods/non-perishable items will be accepted.

Credit: Google
Credit: Google

Rod & Gun Club President Bob Gibson notes,

This is the time of year when many less-active shooters finally get to the range in preparation for the coming hunting seasons and the rear-around shooters transition from the range to the field. This year in particular, safety has to be a top priority.

With the exception of a handful of backcountry districts, the General Deer & Elk season in Montana begins October 24. See all dates and regulations on the MT FW&P's page. Hunter numbers and harvests in the Billings region were down significantly, with some locations reporting "historic lows" at checkpoints in 2019, including Laurel, Big Timber, Billings Heights, Columbus and Lavina.

A Denver Post article from 2019 wrote about the decline of hunting nationwide, particularly those aged 25 - 34. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife report from 2016 (latest available) showed 11.5 million hunters in 2016, down 2 million from 2011. I wonder if those numbers will see an uptick this year, with many Americans focusing more on self-reliance in regard to food supply disruptions and other issues caused by COVID-19?

Surely hunting is not declining in Montana though, right?  Wrong. From 1960 - 2016 hunting has dropped 8% in the Treasure State. Outdoor Life covered the issue in-depth, with pages of charts and graphs detailing the decline. The biggest issue is that the largest demographic of hunters, baby boomers, are now aging out of the sport and recruitment of the following generations have been less than ideal. One could also speculate that access to quality public hunting areas have hindered the growth of hunting.

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