Company Profile

Montana Outfitters and Guides Association

Company Overview

The Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, MOGA, is a 501 c 6 trade association and as such is proud to represent over 250 of the top Montana hunting guides, fishing guides and horseback riding pack trip outfitters in Montana. Since May 1974, MOGA has directed thousands of Montana travelers to quality, licensed professional Montana guides and outfitters.

MOGA also operates Big Hearts under the Big Sky, a 501 c 3 nationally recognized model of charitable giving. Under the Big Hearts program MOGA outfitters provide outdoor adventures AT NO CHARGE to military veterans that have provided extraordinary service to our nation, children who suffer from a life threatening illness and women facing the challenge of breast cancer

Company History

In 1949, Horace Godfrey, a Forest Service district ranger in Seeley Lake who was struggling with how to communicate more effectively with local outfitters, called a meeting with several outfitters and formed the Western Montana Outfitters and Guides Association. Between 1949 and 1960, the Western Montana Outfitters and Guides Association became the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA). In 1960, MOGA again changed names to became the Montana Outfitters and Dude Ranchers Association.

By the early '70's, Montana boasted a number of outfitter organizations including Treasure State Outfitters, Montana Outfitters and Dude Ranchers Association, Broadwater and Meagher County Outfitters, Bitterroot Outfitters, and Professional Wilderness Guides Association. In May 1974, leaders at these organizations met and agreed to merge their respective organizations into one association, the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association. A new constitution and bylaws were written and MOGA held its first Winter Convention at the Yellowstone Inn in Livingston and elected Bob Hart as MOGA’s first President.

Some milestones along the MOGA trail:

•In 1964, MOGA members Howard Copenhaver, Herb Toelke, and C.B. Rich all put together horse outfits as part of the 1964 Centennial Train, which traveled by railroad from Montana to New York City, parading 22 times in 20 major cities, and opening the New York World's Fair. Howard led a mule pack string; Herb drove a six-horse hitch Glacier Park TallyHO and C.B. drove a four-horse pinto team on stagecoach, hauling Governor Tim Babcock several times, including up to the front steps of the White House to shake hands with President Lyndon B. Johnson.

•The 1977 Montana Legislature adopted the first limits on nonresident hunters: Montana residents angrily demanded action after a large group of self-guided California hunters conducted a firing-line type slaughter of an elk herd in the Gravelly Mountains during the fall of 1976 . MOGA engaged in its first legislative battle during the 1977 session as outfitters fought hard to retain any nonresident licenses at all. Tag Rittel, Smoke Elser, and C.B. Rich led the charge against the proposed legislation, which set a limit of 8,000 elk/deer combos-down from the 23,000 licenses that were sold in 1976. In the end, 17,000 B-10 combo licenses emerged and that number is in effect today.

• MOGA made national news in the early 1980s when several members sat down with Forest Service Chief Max Peterson and developed the first national outfitter policy. Subsequently, a coalition of eight western outfitter associations organized the North American Outfitters (NAO). In 1992, NAO consolidated into America Outdoors and MOGA joined in 1992 .

• MOGA and the Bob Marshall Wilderness outfitters worked to establish the "Limits of Acceptable Change," a Forest Service measurement for the wilderness area.

• In 1986, in response to hard lobbying and solid rational from MOGA, the Fish and Game Department. encouraged its Commission to adopt rules to "set aside" a portion of the 17,000 nonresident big game combo licenses for outfitters' clients. The Montana Wildlife Federation strongly objected and sued Fish and Game, backing off at the last moment to wage their battle in the 1987 Legislative session. MOGA members pitched a battle that led to legislative approval of the set-aside concept. The set aside was anchored and remains today as the guaranteed license for clients of outfitters.

• In 1993, a bill to eliminate the "set aside" pool of big game and deer combo licenses for clients of outfitters which would have forced all clients into the general draw, failed. So did bills by stock growers to provide landowners with nonresident hunting licenses under a "ranching for wildlife" program as well as bills by outfitters to increase the number of nonresident deer licenses. HJR24 DID pass, and required Gov. Marc Racicot to appoint a council representing the three warring factions: landowners, outfitters, and sportsmen. By that summer, 18 individuals, acting in a consensus mode, began work as the Private Lands/Public Wildlife Advisory Council, struggling for a solution that would benefit the three groups. Russ Smith and Kelly ably represented MOGA during the 18 months the Council worked on its legislative proposal. Russ went on to serve a second term on the council which continues today to address issues of concern to the three groups.

• The 1995 Legislature passed HB195 and Governor Racicot called it "a minor miracle." HB195 gave nonresident clients of outfitters a guaranteed license to hunt elk and deer. The number of licenses sold is controlled by the high price of those licenses. The money thus raised is paid out to landowners who provide free hunting access to Montana hunters. Montana hunters had access to millions of acres of private land, without charge. Not perfect, but something for everyone, including the one thing outfitters said they had to have for stability in their business: a guaranteed license for their clients. The 1995 Legislature also passed HB 196, which gave the industry "Net Client Hunter Use", an unpopular legislative action.

• In 1998, a state representative launched a citizen's initiative to open the guaranteed license to ANY nonresident. Since the cost of the license would be the sole factor in holding the number of applicants to a socially acceptable limit, the price of the elk/deer combo was projected at $1,200 the first year (1999). Of three anti-business initiatives in 1998, only MOGA prevailed and the guaranteed license is in effect today.

• In 1999, a bill to decrease the number of nonresident hunting licenses by 10% a year for four years, an estimated loss of nearly 9,000 licenses, failed. Also in 1999, the legislature amended a bill that would cap the number of nonresident bird hunters at 7,500 licenses by a drawing, for a loss of approximately one-quarter of the hunters. The amended version gave the FWP Commission authority to impose a cap, but only after an exhaustive study proved the action was justified.

• In 2001, a bill to open the guaranteed license to ANY nonresident sponsored by a Montana relative failed.

• In 2003, by a resounding vote of the MOGA membership, the MOGA Board of Directors was expanded to include up to three new directors, who would represent river drainages - Clark Fork, Missouri and Yellowstone. A board seat is triggered when there are at least ten MOGA members in a specific drainage. At the same convention (January 2003), the membership also adopted a new election process that will allow members to vote on district directors and officers without personally attending the annual winter convention.

Now in 2007 MOGA has nearly 200 Outfitter members statewide. We remain an active and effective voice with the FWP Commission, the legislature and among the many agencies involved in regulating the Outfitters. We have a strong commitment to maintaining the outdoor heritage that defines Montana by supporting programs for young hunters, participating in programs like “Trip of a Lifetime” for disabled veterans. MOGA is poised to make a difference in Montana and remain an active partner at many levels.

Some interesting programs and projects sponsored by MOGA over the years:

• In April 1964, the Centennial Train traveled to the World1s Fair in New York City.
• In 1988 and '89, MOGA held an Annual Rocky Mountain Outfitter Rendezvous
• Young Hunters Program matched young hunters with outfitters and guides in the early 1990s.
• Hunters Against Hunger matched hunters with game to share with Montanans who needed some meat for several years during the mid-1990s.
• Since 1992, Kidfitters Camp has served children from Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs every summer since 1992.
• The MOGA/Forest Service pack trip has been organized every year since 1992.
• The Predator Management in Montana Symposium, organized in conjunction with Fish, Wildlife and Parks in January 2002, attracted nearly 500 sportsmen.

• In late 2005, MOGA endorses and contributes financially to an economic study conducted by the University of Montana designed to estimate the contribution Outfitting makes to the economy of Montana.
• 2006 MOGA joins as a full partner in the Enough is Enough Anti- Poaching campaign designed to address the growing level of high level poaching cases occurring in Montana

Notable Products / Brands


Notable Accomplishments / Recognition

• Sponsored legislation that created the Preference Point System for non-residents
• Sponsored the Split Off system that allows a non-resident to retain the deer license and return the elk portion of a license if not successful in one of the limited elk drawings.
• Sponsored legislation that increased Non-resident Youth hunting opportunity
• At the Board of Outfitters we successfully fought to keep fees low as possible
• Helped broker relief on issues related to NCHU and will continue to do so.
• Worked with the FWP Commission to secure a Hybrid Lion Season structure in Region 2.
• Successfully increased the Archery Elk Permits in 22 districts outside the Missouri Breaks and modest increases in the Districts within the Breaks
• Established MOGA member Health Insurance
• MOGA Member Liability Insurance that will save members 10% over their existing policies

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