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Monday, October 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Montana big-game hunting updates and timely reminders


Bugling bull elk, a rare hunting opportunity in the relatively small Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness of Washington, are fair game for hunters in the sprawling Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana.
 (File/Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Bugling bull elk, a rare hunting opportunity in the relatively small Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness of Washington, are fair game for hunters in the sprawling Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana. (File/Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

HUNTING -- Here are a few timely Montana hunting tips and updates to help nonresident sportsmen with an eye on hunting in Montana.  Thanks to Jim Mitchell of Montana Hunting & Fishing Adventures in Hamilton for the heads up on some of this. 

The new Preference point may be purchased by any one. If you are a non-resident and plan to hunt Montana in the future you should buy a point. Cost is $50. You must download an application and submit it by mail. The deadline is Sept 30. Act now and get in on the ground floor of this new program authorized by the 2011 Montana Legislature. This will give you a big advantage when you decide to hunt Montana. (Click continue reading below for more details.)

Mountain lion hunting permit applications must be submitted by Aug. 31.

Under a new "opt out" program, a hunter who already HOLDS a license and is UNSUCCESSFUL on a special draw for a deer OR elk PERMIT can "opt out" of the elk license portion. The hunter will get a refund for the unused elk portion and retain the deer portion. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will resell the unused elk portion to non-residents. This increases availability of licenses for non-residents and generates more revenue for FWP.

Surplus big-game licenses go on sale over the Internet on Aug. 8 and they're likely to go fast in some regions.  Region 4 deer, elk and antelope licenses are in short supply after a devastating winter. Surplus licenses will go on sale 5:30 a.m. on the Fish, Wildlife and Parks web site

Montana's new bonus point system:

  • All previous bonus point holders will be issued new Preference Points. There are 14,500 previous bonus point holders that now have preference points.
  • Caution: The way the bill is written if a potential hunter does not apply for a License every two years their preference points will go away. This will help flush the current preference point holders out of the system and keep those serious about hunting Montana in the pool.
  • Preference points can only be purchased THIS YEAR between July 1 and Sept. 30. Every hunter that wants to hunt next season to purchase a Preference Point before Sept. 30.
  • A hunter can apply next licensing season for a preference point when they make application for their license on or before March 15 OR July 1-Sept. 30. That means that a hunter could go into next season with two preference points (one purchased before Sept. 30 and one early next license year.)
  • A hunter can only purchase 1 preference point per year.
  • In the case of party application the State will recognize a fractured point as being greater than 0 preference points. The party’s application will be added together for preference and then divided for the average preference point.



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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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