Hunting Montana

Mountain Lion Management Meeting March 8

Hunting – Region 3

Tue Mar 01 14:59:21 MST 2016

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will host a public meeting on Tuesday, March 8 to discuss mountain lion management and tentative quotas for the 2016 mountain lion hunting season in Region 3. The meeting will get underway at 7 p.m. at the Headwaters Community Center (223 N. Main St.) in Three Forks.

FWP staff will present current mountain lion management and harvest data. Representatives from the Montana State Houndsmen Association will also be present.

FWP will use the public input from the meeting to develop tentative quota recommendations that will be presented to the Fish & Wildlife Commission.

Hunting Regulations Considered at the February 11 Fish and Wildlife Commission Meeting will Include Archery Only Area

Hunting – Region 1

Mon Feb 08 11:39:27 MST 2016

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet in Helena on Thursday February 11 to consider and adopt hunting regulations for the 2016/2017 seasons. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. and will feature a live video feed to all seven FWP Regions. Hunters are encouraged to attend the Kalispell video conference at the FWP headquarters on North Meridian Road.

Two changes have been proposed for Region One that were not sent out as tentative regulations last month. These changes were in response to comments received at the Region One public meeting on January 9 and the written comments received. To comment on these two proposed regulations, hunters must attend the February 11 FW Commission meeting in Helena or the video conference meeting in Kalispell. The two proposed regulations are:

–Owen Sowerwine Archery Only Proposal: This would establish the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area as archery only for big game (white-tailed deer). This proposal does not affect existing waterfowl hunting regulations. This area is located along the Flathead River south of Kalispell;

–Extend antlerless white-tailed deer hunting for holders of HD 170 antlerless white-tailed deer B licenses from the end of general season to December 15th, excluding Kuhn’s WMA. This extension would only be valid for archery equipment

According to FWP Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson, both proposals are in addition to the proposals discussed at the season setting meeting in January and based on comment received there and from people sending in comments. He reminds hunters that they will need to be present at the Region One office during the Commission meeting on February 11 if they want to comment via video conference.

March 15 Permit Deadline Important for Many Western Montana Hunters

Hunting – Region 2

Monday, February 29, 2016

The March 15th deer and elk permit application deadline has gained more importance to hunters in west-central Montana as a result of the new regulations for the 2016 hunting season.

This year, the Fish & Wildlife Commission reinstated antlerless elk permits in 13 of the 30 hunting districts in Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Region 2, and the deadline to apply for these and other deer and elk permits is March 15.  Find out more and apply online at Hunters can also apply at FWP offices and all license providers.

These antlerless permits replace antlerless “B” licenses in many hunting districts. Unlike a B license, the permit does not allow hunters to harvest a second elk.  Instead, it provides the holder an opportunity to use a general elk license to harvest an antlerless elk in a particular district.

The change was made to address public concerns in some parts of Montana, according to Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager.

“Many people didn’t feel it was right for one hunter to harvest two elk in the same area, particularly on public lands where elk are vulnerable to harvest,” Thompson said.

Antlerless permits for elk are available for 2016 in Hunting Districts 200, 201, 202, 210, 211, 213, 214, 215, 216, 270, 281, 291 and 293.  Hunters must apply by March 15.

Also due by March 15 are applications for special permits to hunt bull elk and mule deer bucks in some hunting districts, as in previous years.  Hunting for bull elk is by permit in Hunting Districts 250 and 270, as in the past, and new HD 217 (southeast of Drummond).

Hunting for mule deer bucks is by permit in Hunting Districts 202, 204, 210, 212, 213, 214, 215, 217, 240, 250, 261, 262, 270, 281, 291, 292 and 298, which has not changed from previous years.

Elk B licenses—valid for taking a second elk—will still be available in some hunting districts in Region 2, particularly where elk populations are over objective, or on private land portions of districts. The deadline to apply for B licenses is June 1.

The permit application information is available online at now, and the complete hunting regulations for 2016 are expected to be online at in early to mid March.


Hunting – Region 7

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

At its Feb. 11 meeting, the Fish and Wildlife Commission approved elk shoulder seasons in 43 hunting districts for the 2016/2017 hunting season. Final information on these shoulder seasons will be available online by the end of February and at all license providers in mid-March in the 2016 Deer, Elk and Antelope Hunting regulations.

A shoulder season is a firearms season that occurs outside the 5-week general firearms season. They focus on antlerless elk harvest primarily on private land and are not intended to replace or reduce harvest during the existing archery only and 5-week general firearms seasons.

Generally, the shoulder seasons will be in areas where elk populations are significantly and chronically over objective as outlined in Montana’s Elk Management Plan.

In some districts the shoulder seasons will start as early as Aug. 15 and go as late as Feb. 15. In some areas, the shoulder season will occur at the same time as the archery only season, while in others it will be split to avoid conflict between shoulder season hunters and archers. Where a shoulder season and archery only season occur at the same time, the shoulder season will mostly be limited to private land.

Shoulder seasons have drawn a tremendous amount of interest from hunters and landowners alike. The Commission considered hundreds of comments and tailored the upcoming shoulder season opportunities to best address concerns and needs in each hunting district.

Last October, before any shoulder seasons were considered or adopted, the Commission adopted guidelines for performance-based shoulder seasons. These guidelines have 11 fundamental objectives of shoulder seasons as well as clear performance criteria to evaluate not only their effectiveness, but to make sure that adequate harvest of both bulls and cows occurs during the general 5-week season. If the performance criteria are not met after three years the shoulder season would not be proposed to continue. In order for shoulder seasons to work at reducing elk everybody has to pitch in – FWP, sportsmen, landowners, everyone.

A trial run of shoulder seasons was done in 5 hunting districts in central Montana following the 2015 general season and demonstrated initial success in harvesting elk, providing more opportunity for hunters, and keeping wintering elk herds from congregating on private land. A more comprehensive review will occur later this spring and summer after harvest estimates are complete.

Some key points for hunters to remember as they consider hunting during an upcoming shoulder seasons:

  • Season timing and lengths will be tailored to each hunting district, so know your regulations.
  • They’ll primarily be focused on antlerless elk found on private land.
  • Hunters can typically use their general season elk license, antlerless elk permit or an elk B license, depending on hunting district.
  • Hunters should start early in the year in establishing contacts and building relationships with landowners who may offer access for shoulder season hunts.
2014 Elk Hunting Outlook

Thursday, September 18, 2014

With elk populations continuing to be strong across most of Montana these are good times for elk hunters.

In some areas of western Montana, where populations have declined, wildlife biologists have recently observed increased recruitment of calves.

In many hunting districts, however, because access to private lands can be difficult, which can affect hunting success given landownership patterns and distribution of elk.

Montana’s general, five-week long, elk hunting season opens Oct. 25.

Even if you didn’t draw a special permit this year, remember Montana offers numerous opportunities to hunt for elk with just a general hunting license.

Depending on the hunting district regulations hunters can pursue brow-tined bull elk, spike bull elk, either-sex elk, or antlerless elk. For more information on elk hunting in Montana, visit FWP’s website at, click “Hunting” then click Hunting Guide.

Here’s a regional rundown on what elk hunters can expect this season.

Region 1—Northwestern Montana

  • The previous mild winter should be beneficial to elk survival in northwestern Montana and contribute to elk numbers remaining stable. Elk hunters should find populations similar to what they have seen for the past several years. Spring classification surveys across the region showed continued good numbers with calf recruitment some of the best in the past four years. Elk numbers in the backcountry hunting districts of 150 and 151 should remain stable. Elk numbers in the lower Clark Fork area, the region’s best elk producer, continue to remain stable with better than average calf numbers seen during spring surveys and should provide good hunting opportunities for the 2014 season.

Region 2—Western Montana

  • Elk numbers are generally above the long-term average, and calf survival through the summer months appears to be higher than in recent years. A special permit is required to hunt bull elk in hunting districts 250 and 270, the Upper Bitterroot, to allow bull numbers to rebound, and in the northwest quarter of hunting district 212 to help encourage elk to redistribute from private ranches to public land. The boundaries between hunting districts 240, 250 and 270 were changed to reflect elk movement patterns documented in the Bitterroot Elk Study.

Region 3—Southwestern Montana

  • Elk are well above population objective in the Gravelly Mountains and the same is true for the Tobacco Roots. In the Highlands, Whitetail and Bull Mountains, elk are slightly above average population, hence the nine-day cow season. In the Dillon area to the south, populations vary from district to district with some seeing slight dips in elk populations, but some seeing higher numbers. Heading east, Townsend area numbers are steady to high depending upon the area; however, elk availability to the public is quite variable depending upon the level of access to private land.Elk are above objective in the Bridgers, and within objective in the upper Madison, Spanish Peaks, and lower Gallatin. Elk numbers are below objective in the upper Gallatin Canyon and portions of the Madison. Meanwhile, elk numbers are stable in Paradise Valley and Gardiner and high and increasing in the Shields Valley.

Region 4—Central Montana

  • Elk populations are in fine shape. The challenge for hunters in areas along the Rocky Mountain Front, central Montana’s island mountain ranges, or in the Missouri River Breaks will be obtaining access.

Regions 5 — South Central Montana

  • Elk numbers along the Beartooth Face and in the Crazy Mountains, Big Snowy Mountains, Bull Mountains and southeastern Belt Mountains are at all-time highs, though most are restricted to private land where access is difficult. Harvest will likely be slightly higher than last year.

Region 6—Northeastern Montana

  • Elk numbers are at or above management objectives in most hunting districts. All elk hunting in the Bears Paw Mountains and the Missouri River Breaks is by special permits awarded via the annual drawing. Elk in these areas are most often found in core-habitat areas a mile or more from active roads and other human activity. However, elk densities are lower in the general-season hunting area north of U.S. Highway 2.

Region 7—Southeastern Montana

  • While not typically a hot spot destination, outside of the Missouri Breaks, elk numbers throughout the region continue to increase. As a result, populations are above FWP’s management objectives in all hunting districts. Outside of the Missouri Breaks and the Custer National Forest, elk are primarily found on private land where public hunting access is limited.

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