The Hungry Horse area and NW Montana seems to be a popular place for bear hunting, though I have never hunted up there. There are opportunities in many areas of the state, but most places the bears are widely scattered.
The tag is OTC, but you should purchase it before April 15, so it is good for the spring season. If you wait till after the 15th, you can still hunt the spring season, but you have to wait 5 days before you can hunt. Definitely buy it before you come... You also have to pass a bear ID test before you can purchase a bear license in MT, to make sure you know the difference between a black and a griz. You can take the test online at the link.
If you are not successful in the spring, the tag would still be valid for the fall season. You could come back and try again if funds and vacation time allow.
A really good bear in MT is 6' and over 300lbs, I know several guys who have tagged 6'6" to 7', 400lbs., but they are few and far between, as in very rare.
One other item, not only do we have to tell the difference between griz and blackies but we have to be really careful about not shooting sows with cubs. Don't shoot the first one seen, be patient and wait/look for cubs.
We have a hide tag and a carcass tag. One must be attached to hide and the other to the carcass. We then deliver both the hide and carcass to FWP so they can document and officially tag the hide through out the taxidermy process. One item they will check...if the bear is a sow, they will check mammary glands to see if she is producing milk. If there is milk, sow has cubs and is illegally killed, confiscation of animal and/or fine is probable.
Good luck! Spot and stalking bears with a bow is really exciting, especially in the spring when you have choices of 4-6 weeks of hunting! One last thing, bring pepper spray, and I always have a handgun on the belt or shotgun on the back for absolutely worst case situation.
Spot and stalk for spring bears can be a blast. Its one of my favorite hunts each year. You've pretty much got the woods to yourself and the deer and elk are very visible with the spring greenup, the weather is usually nice and its just a fun, low pressure hunt.
Different areas in MT have different length seasons. All regions start on April 15. Some regions close on May 15, some on May 31 and some on June 15. The regions with the June 15 closing are mostly in the southwestern part of the state and usually have a lot of snow until at least May 1. Two bits of advice that I would give. May 1-15 is usually the best dates here in the Northwest because the grass isn't green until then and the season closes on the 15. In other regions that you can hunt untl the end of May or into June you might want to consider May 15 -30. Too early and the grass isn't out, too late and you might find rubbed hides on some of the bears.
The key to a successful hunt is finding new grass. Bears are herbivores for the most part when they emerge from hibernation and grass is the most important part of their diet. Big bears like seclusion and grass. The highest place on the mountain that has freshly sprouting grass is a good bet to find bears.
Good luck on your research and your hunt.
Spring is coming early in Montana this year. Should be a great year for bears. Good luck. Hunt