Montana Elk Shoulder Seasons

In anticipation of strong interest in upcoming antlerless elk “shoulder seasons”  in five central Montana hunting districts, state wildlife officials are contacting landowners and working out details for hunters interested in participating in the post-season hunts.

The shoulder-season hunts, aimed at reducing elk populations in some areas, are pilot projects approved earlier this month by the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission for hunting districts on the north and east sides of the Big Belts, the Castle Mountains, and in the Missouri River Breaks.

The elk shoulder-seasons in hunting districts 445, 446, 449, and 452 will begin on Nov. 30, 2015 and end on Feb. 15, 2016. The shoulder-season in hunting district 410 will begin Jan. 1, 2016 and end Feb. 15, 2016. All hunts are for antlerless elk only.

The new shoulder seasons are in response to concerns from Governor Steve Bullock, lawmakers, hunters, landowners and others about overabundant elk in some hunting districts. In all, 80 of Montana’s 138 elk management units are over objective to some degree. Shoulder seasons can occur before and after the general archery and rifle seasons.

“We’ve been pleased and encouraged with the response from landowners and hunters,” said Jeff Hagener, FWP director in Helena. “A number of landowners will be working with FWP to define and provide access to take good advantage of this additional harvest opportunity authorized by the commission. We need that cooperation and we’ll need hunters to be respectful and capable guests on private land.”

Hagener noted that hunters must obtain permission to hunt on private lands and stressed that they will not need to register or be selected from any roster. In hunting districts 445, 446, 449, and 452, hunters only need a valid 2015 general elk license or a Region 4 004-00 “B” license to participate. Hunters with valid either-sex elk permits for hunting district 445 – and a valid 2015 general elk license – can also participate but can only harvest antlerless elk.

In hunting district 410, hunters must possess a valid 2015 410-20 either-sex permit or 410-00 “B” license to participate. Hunters can only harvest antlerless elk.

These shoulder season opportunities are available on private lands, Bureau of Land Management lands, and State of Montana School Trust Lands only. No elk shoulder seasons will occur on national forest lands, the Charles M. Russell Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge or on any FWP wildlife management areas.

Hagener directed anyone interested in participating to visit FWP’s website for additional information.  “We’ll post information there as needed,” he said.

For information, visit the FWP Page or the FAQs.