HUNTING -- Despite mild weather that reduced hunter success throughout November, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced today that it will not extend the 2016 big game general season.
However, 41 hunting districts have shoulder season that allow antlerless elk hunting, largely on private land, through December, and in several instances, into the new year.
Shoulder seasons beyond the general season proved popular with hunters during a pilot project last year as well as with landowners seeking relief from wintering game damage to crops and fields.
Not all shoulder seasons are open to general license holders, and hunters need to know what licenses are valid and when and where they can hunt. Be sure to read the regulations.
A shoulder season is a firearms season that occurs outside the general firearms and archery seasons. Shoulder seasons focus on antlerless elk harvest mostly on private land and are not intended to replace or reduce harvest during the existing archery or general firearms seasons.
Shoulder seasons have specific objectives and as such, the commission and department will monitor the success of shoulder seasons in each hunting district to ensure they are meeting the fundamental objectives outlined in the plan.
Game damage and management hunts may also be going on around the state. Hunters must have signed up for game damage rosters by July 15 to participate.
Remaining active shoulder seasons and valid licenses
Region 2: HDs 210, 212, 213 & 291 – B Licenses obtained in the July drawing
HD 215 – Over-the-Counter B License bought before Oct. 22; HDs 290 & 298 – Over-the-Counter B Licenses still available; HD 217 – Over-the-Counter B License bought before Oct 22, B License obtained in the June 1 drawing, General Elk License for youth and PTHFV only.
Region 3: HD 312 – Over-the-Counter B Licenses still available HDs 390 & 393 – Over-the-Counter B Licenses still available, General Elk License.
Region 4: HDs 421, 422 & 423 – B Licenses obtained in the June 1 drawing
HDs 411, 412, 445, 446, 449, 451 & 452 – B Licenses obtained in the June 1 drawing, General Elk License
Region 5: All HDs except HD 500 – B Licenses obtained in the June 1 drawing, General Elk License
Region 6: HDs 620, 621, 622, 630, 631, 632, 680 & 690 –Only shoulder-season specific B Licenses acquired through the June 1 drawing.
It’s important for hunters to know the specific shoulder season regulations for the hunting district they plan to hunt in. This includes not only the dates the shoulder seasons extend to, but the necessary licenses as well as the type of land that is allowable to hunt. Both season timing and license type varies from district to district.
Information for hunters
Each region with active shoulder seasons has resources for hunters looking for information where to hunt. However, it’s incumbent on hunters to make sure to ask first before they hunt on private land.
Additionally, shoulder seasons offer hunting opportunities, which are often challenging despite the late season.
Region 2 contacts:
- Zac Norris — North Flint Range HD 217, (406) 210-2260
- Cannon Colegrove — John Long Range & East Garnet Range HDs 210 & 291, (406) 210-2328
- Gail Duncan — Deer Lodge East & West, HDs 212, 213 & 215, (406) 210-5497
- Aletheia Bouknight — Deer Lodge East & East Garnet Range, HDs 215 & 291 (406) 210-5502
- General questions can also be directed to the FWP R2 office at (406) 542-5500.
Region 3 contacts
- You may direct any questions on Region 3 elk shoulder seasons to FWP at (406) 994-4042.
Region 4 contacts
- Dalton Schaller — Great Falls Office, (406) 548-1019
- Kim Billadeau — Lewistown Office, (406) 538-4658
- Abby Vaughan — Lewistown Office, (406) 366-9191
- White Sulphur Springs Hunting Information Coordinator, (406) 403-2361
- General questions can also be directed to the FWP R4 office at (406) 454-5840.
Region 5 contacts
- Christine Decausin — Billings Office, (406) 598-0090
- Sean Flynn — Billings Office, (406) 598-0090
- General questions can also be directed to the FWP R5 office at (406) 247-2940.
Region 6 contacts
- Marc Kloker — Region 6 Information Officer, (406) 228-3704
- Scott Thompson — Region 6 Wildlife Manager, (406) 228-3710
- General questions can also be directed to the FWP R6 office at (406) 228-3700.