Montana or burst! OK, not my best intro. Let me explain. My wife is probably not too thrilled with the idea of my travelling to Montana to chase elk and the like. As an english major, she would be even less impressed if I had led off this article by incorrectly using the word “bust.” Let’s just accept that the intro is grammatically correct, and move on to the good stuff.
After several years of great hunting excursions in the mountains of Colorado, it is time for some different scenery. I have applied for an open elk tag in “big sky country.” Those familiar with big game license draws will understand that I am not sure if I will get a Montana hunt or not. Every state has different rules when it comes to hunting. Specific areas have limited draws every year. In some areas where management is stringent, the number of hunters drawn is in the single digits. By applying for an open area, I am hoping for a tag that allows me to at least get a chance at hunting my first year in Montana.
Since I intend to document this entire experience here for the reader’s benefit, let me explain a few things about Montana’s elk regulations. Unlike Colorado, there is only one elk season. You heard me! Much like whitetail hunting in the Midwest, the season is open for a few weeks. Also, like the Midwest, there are different rules for each hunting area. This is where it gets confusing. An elk hunting license will allow you to hunt elk in Montana… in the correct areas. If you have specific area in mind, you may also need a permit. Both must be applied for.
Big game licenses cost a bit more in Montana than Colorado. Often, one of the deciding factors for a Montana hunt is that an issued license includes both elk and deer. Hold It! You need to be aware that deer populations are managed separately from elk. An area where a permit is not required for elk, may require a deer permit in addition to the license. Yes, it seems confusing. It is not quite as befuddling as the multi-season-soduko form you have to fill out for Colorado, but a good plan is still needed.
I should learn of my draw success (or failure) in mid-April. Win-lose-or-draw, I intend to continue this discussion about western hunting. Guides and those experienced with hunting north of Yellowstone and along the Idaho border are encouraged to comment or contact me. Any advice is appreciated, and experienced hunters/guides may be on future podcasts. For those who are curious how a western big game hunt comes together, continue to check back. I will chronicle the journey here.