Well after guiding fly fisherman and hunters in Montana for the last 18 years, I recently took a new step.  While being a licensed guide, who holds an independent contractor certificate, who is not advertising his services, and being on this planet for 50 years, Yeah I hit the 1/2 century mark,  I just took my Montana Board of Outfitters exam to become a fishing outfitter in MT.

After taking the exam, and as I was leaving the testing center, the only thing I could think of was, when can I take it again?  Failed it, I was sure.  How much money, and how long before I can retest?  After spending close to 2 grand on the application, first aid, proving use days, and states approval to test, I was definitely eager to pass and move on!

The state notified me the previous Thursday that the exam would be the following Tuesday.  I had 4 days to study.  They emailed me some of the study material, which I put on a zip drive and downloaded 800 pages of MT board rules, laws, Dept of labor statutes, the MT Constitution, Board of Outfitters laws, MT fish wildlife and Parks mandates, and other various state laws and rulings.  They also gave me a list of documents and study materials to find on my own and cram for a 4 hour exam. MT fishing regulations, stream access laws, MT boating laws, public land access guides, noxious weeds,  invasive species, and a handful of other regulatory documents, booklets, and pamphlets, and don’t forget bears, know how to tell a griz from a black bear, and how to camp in griz country!

There you go, cram away, so I began highlighting, book marking, and my wife who helped, bless her, notating and building a table of contents to reference the 10,000 laws in this obscure, out of order manuscript.


This test is an open book exam, and I remember my High School chemistry teacher, Mr. Britton, telling me that the hardest tests he had ever taken were open book, And he was smart as hell!
He’s right,  there is too much info to memorize, and as it turned out not enough time to find every obscure answer to each question.  I spent excessive time trying to answer each of the 75 questions and ran out of time, 4 hour test.  I found correct answers to half  the questions and had semi- educated guessed the rest.    
Well a week later I found out I passed!!             Yeah  woo  hooooooo  Yippppeeeee!   I couldn’t believe it.   There were two sections, I barely snuck by on one part and scored surprisingly well on the other.
Looking back now, I understand why this test is set up this way and how taxiing it is to find the correct info.  I learned immensely, or was re-familiarized about our MT constitution, Board of Outfitter laws, public rights, outfitter and guide laws.  Discipline  and suspension of rights, river etiquette, safe navigation and boating practices, and a bunch of other stuff.  Things that every outfitter should know any way.
Well I’m so glad I passed.   I’ll hopefully still be  guiding for my friends Joe, Eric, Doug, Sean, and Dan to name a few who are currently outfitters.   Here is one.  Joe Cummings, MT Outfitter # 9438, (406)240-9435   MissoulaRiverLodge.com            Anyway it feels good to get rolling on this new chapter of my life.
In the meantime I’m tying freddies, and looking forward to netting some dry fly eating trout here in a few weeks

Pride with a nice 2019 rainbow from the Bitterroot