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Montana Adopts New Elk Reg Changes
Contributors to this thread:
JL 05-Feb-22
ELKMAN 06-Feb-22
Sivart 06-Feb-22
BULELK1 07-Feb-22
SBH 07-Feb-22
Missouribreaks 07-Feb-22
DanaC 07-Feb-22
Missouribreaks 07-Feb-22
Tilzbow 07-Feb-22
Missouribreaks 07-Feb-22
Beendare 07-Feb-22
Missouribreaks 07-Feb-22
SmokedTrout 07-Feb-22
JL 07-Feb-22
Scoot 07-Feb-22
ELKMAN 08-Feb-22
Big Fin 08-Feb-22
hdaman 08-Feb-22
KHNC 08-Feb-22
SBH 08-Feb-22
Missouribreaks 08-Feb-22
SBH 08-Feb-22
Transplant 08-Feb-22
Grasshopper 08-Feb-22
JL 08-Feb-22
Missouribreaks 09-Feb-22
Scoot 09-Feb-22
Mossyhorn 09-Feb-22
From: JL

JL's Link

Wildlife commission adopts elk regulation changes

Tom Kuglin Feb 4, 2022 Updated 12 hrs ago

Elk regulations for the next two years are set following a marathon meeting of the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday that saw commissioners navigate widespread confusion and temper several controversial proposals.

Friday’s vote was the culmination of a months-long process to update hunting regulations for 2022 and 2023. This year’s process took on a different look as Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Hank Worsech pushed a simplification effort to revise regulations by combining some hunting districts and reducing the types of hunting tags.

Worsech said he wanted to “move the needle” on surging elk numbers in parts of the state by exploring ways to liberalize regulations. But an early proposal for several districts to allow general license hunting on private lands while public land hunters would continue to be limited drew what officials have called a “firestorm” of public opposition, and that proposal was pulled. Instead, a proposal moved forward to increase permit numbers by 50% in those districts — several of those increases were dropped Friday.

The commission on Friday voted to make multiple changes to recommendations made by FWP, including reducing suggested quota increases for bull elk rifle permits back closer to the status quo.

Most notably, the commission voted to adopt limited permits for multiple hunting districts in central and eastern Montana. The agency proposed “unbundling” those districts previously hunted under a multi-district limited permit for bull elk and moving to unlimited permits. But following objections from hunters the commission adopted individual quotas for the hunting districts.

“I think we’re interested, and I’m interested as a new commissioner with a year under my belt, to make changes that obviously increase opportunities for resident hunters, increase opportunities for nonresidents, increase opportunities for outfitters, increase opportunities for landowners,” said Commissioner Brian Cebull of Billings as he explained his reasoning for moving more modest changes. Cebull said he remains interested in more expansive changes in the future. License or permit

Hunting elk in Montana first means obtaining the proper license and, in some cases, a permit. Residents may purchase a general license over the counter. Nonresidents must typically draw one of the 17,000 licenses offered by the state or obtain one through another program, such as one set up for non-resident college students.

Many districts allow hunting on a general license but others opt for limiting hunters via a limited permit. For districts that require a permit, hunters must apply and then hope to draw in a separate lottery. Nonresidents are limited to 10% of the total permit allocation.

The “900-20” archery permit was previously adopted to address crowding across a swath of central and eastern Montana. Drawing the permit allowed a successful applicant to archery hunt in more than 20 districts. While the success of those permits has been debated, archers still often congregated in certain areas, particularly where reports of large bull elk drew them in.

During the season-setting process, support grew to “unbundle” those districts and manage each individually. That was coupled with a regulation also adopted Friday that restricts hunters who draw a permit to only hunting for bull elk in that hunting district. The commission did exempt the permit in Hunting District 270 in the Bitterroot from that provision. Changes

This year's biennial season-setting process brought extensive changes to Montana elk hunting regulations that are too numerous to list in full.

Hunters will see a major difference with limited bull elk permits in that they will be limited to only hunting that district. The exception is the limited permit for Hunting District 270 in which permit holders may still hunting other open districts in the state.

On Friday the commission made the following changes:

Archery districts formerly under the 900-20 archery permit:

HD 411/412-quota of 1,000 and first choice only HD 417/426-quota of 300 and first choice only HD 447-quota of 400 and first choice only HD 502/535/555/590 and portion of 701-quota 1,800 and first choice only HD 702/704/705- quota 1,000 and first choice only

Changes to rifle permits proposed for 50% increase:

HD 411-quota 350 and first choice only HD 417-quota 225 and first choice only HD 426-quota 60 and first choice only

Limited or unlimited permits

While some of the former 900-20 districts went to archery hunting on a general license, FWP proposed moving several districts to unlimited permits, meaning simply applying would guarantee a tag and nonresidents would not be capped at 10% of the total, although they would still need to draw the general license.

The unlimited permits continued to see a great deal of opposition, as well as some support.

Opponents brought concerns that unlimited permits would result in more crowding and also incentivize large landowners and outfitters to limit public access.

“We were listened to and it’s reflected here,” said Rod Bullis with Helena Hunters and Anglers in support of Friday’s commission changes.

Supporters of unlimited permits pointed to surging elk numbers that have far exceeded legally mandated population objectives, saying limited permits have contributed to the problem and that landowners are suffering due to failed management policies.

“The department presented a plan that at least tries to address the problem,” said Charles Denowh with the landowner group United Property Owners of Montana. “What the commission is doing today is a step backwards, in bringing back limited permits, he said.

Mac Minard with the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association also believed limited permits were a step backwards, saying they have led to millions in lost revenue for rural communities. The public process

Commissioners have continually remarked at the sheer volume of contacts via email, phone calls and social media over the last few months.

“Just an incredible amount, and I think just the idea that we had so much public comment is fantastic, it means the process is working,” Cebull said.

While the season-setting process has drawn significant public interest, the sausage-making of biologist and FWP leadership recommendations, commission proposals and multiple revisions has also led to considerable confusion. The complexity of some of Friday’s motions and amendments drew even more confusion from hunters and interest groups with several, including groups that are often at odds, asking the commission to drop all the proposals and revert to 2020-2021 regulations.

“I don’t know what I’m commenting on right now,” said John Sullivan with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, before suggesting the commission revert to current regulations. “Let’s scrap this plan, go back to the 2021 regs and get people to the table.”

Sullivan was echoed by several commenters noting confusion with commission changes at the “11th hour” and little time to consider them. Several people pointed to the ongoing update of the state’s elk management plan, which could fundamentally shift many of the current objective numbers and criteria as well as management approaches. The plan is expected to be done in 2023 in time for the commission’s next season-setting cycle.

“From my perspective, with these amendments we’re slowing things down,” said Commissioner KC Walsh of White Sulphur Springs.

Many of the changes did see considerable support and have been vetted, such as boundary changes for hunting districts, Walsh said. He would not support fully reverting to current regulations, he continued, a sentiment shared by other commissioners.

The genocide continues...

From: Sivart
Could someone summarize the changes for a dumbass like me.

+1 Travis!!

Me too--------> haha

Thanks for the link ect JL,


From: SBH
They are still hunting pregnant cow elk up here! All the way tell Feb 15. Total insanity. 6 month season. Why does MT hate elk so much? These seasons are terrible.

Agree with SBH.

From: DanaC
SBH, managing the population of breeding females is the standard method for controlling overall population. The question is whether their management goals are correct.

What is interesting is many apply, but do not draw a cow tag. However, they extend the season into later pregnancy times to try and reduce the herd. Why not provide more cow tags and opportunity, and collect the money?

From: Tilzbow
Last I checked the rut was in September so any cow pregnant in February was pregnant in November.

That is correct. I believe some are concerned about negative public perception, from those who vote, but do not hunt.

I would think more tags and opportunity during traditional seasons would help the so called, "over populations". But, what do I know?

From: Beendare
“ Could someone summarize the changes….”

Ranchers and Outfitters continue to have a stranglehold on elk hunting in MT….

I did not see any wins for outfitters in this, did I miss something? It actually looks to me like FWP listened to all parties, then discarded them, and did just what they wanted anyway.

From: SmokedTrout
It could have been a lot worse if the original proposed changes would have held up. Biggest changes are the 900-20 series permits being broken into individual districts and limiting bull hunting to draw district for permits. So at least that is a better attempt at management, both elk populations and hunter numbers.

While Tilzbow is correct, there is a big difference between hunting pregnant cows in November and February when feed is more scarce, conditions generally suck, and fetus development is much further along.

From: JL
An out of the box thought. If the cow harvest (permits) are reduced on private land, the ranchers might be more inclined to drop their outfitter leases and let DIYers come onboard and help keep the herd numbers in check on their ranches. When they're locked up in leases.....they might not be able to get enough animals removed.

From: Scoot
"Ranchers and Outfitters continue to have a stranglehold on elk hunting in MT…."

Yep, 100%. Don't forgot to lump the outfitter association in that list, as it's really them who is representing the outfitters. Bunch of leg humpers who obviously have a strangle hold on the balls of the politicians. Sad and sick deal in MT right now.

MB, what is specifically discussed above isn't the portion of the changes that provide even more welfare for the outfitters.

Tilzbow: Gut one in November and then gut one in February... You may notice a difference. I don't know? Just guessing... Bottom line is there are "HUNTERS" (and I am using that term in the absolute loosest possible terms here) willing to do these slaughters. Elk at this point are just trying to survive in Montana. Literally just trying to remain upright. I'll tell you what if I was an elk I would want no part of Montana. They literally get hunted over half the year here with bipeds and the Wolves never stop. It's a hard life. Luckily this winter has been non existent for them. Be interesting to see how far down the slaughter numbers are with the slaughterERS having to maybe actually having to leave their vehicle. Ridiculous.

From: Big Fin
The original proposals were what I called "Bulls for Billionaires." I had the FWP Director on my podcast last Monday. He stated the frustration that new non-resident ranchers have about not getting tags for their ranches and the insult that they would have to stand in line with other non-residents when it comes to getting an elk tag. It's pretty obvious to most where the pressure is coming from - it's not the working landowner who I am thankful is there being a good steward of the land. It's the Billionaire who is accustomed to getting what he/she wants and will use their political levers to do that.

Thankfully, at least last week, the Billionaires didn't get their bulls. But, they'll be back, better prepared and likely using the Legislature to accomplish their goals rather than the Department and the Fish & Game Commission.

Side note, I have no problem with people getting filthy rich and being Billionaires. I just don't think the entire state elk management plan needs to be disrupted to satisfy the frustrations expressed by these folks, and have such changes come at the expense of the average hunter.

From: hdaman
Thanks for the information Randy! It's always good to hear from you.

From: KHNC
Im no longer interested in applying to Montana for elk now. Just a complicated mess I no longer want to deal with. I have 2 points that i will never use.

From: SBH
Lol. Some of you get it. ELKMAN is one of them. His post is spot on.

I understand pregnant elk in Nov versus Feb. I Have 4 kids myself so fairly competent in the process. Thanks. They are trying to survive winter. I spend a lot of time watching elk in winter and chasing wolves. These animals are under incredible stress and do not need a bunch of people running around shooting at them all year. Heck, 6 years ago you would have been a poacher for shooting an elk in Feb. Obviously you have the cows being killed but in addition there are studies showing cows aborting fetus when they are under duress in winter or other stressors ....aka hunting pressure. None of these hunts are being tracked and they have no way of even knowing if its successful in lowering population. We were told we would revisit after a few years?? How can you assess something that's not even being tracked? Was a lie. They just keep extending them. It's a bad deal and the solution to bring down numbers is not to hunt them year round. We are half way there now with 6 month season. Come out and watch this debacle and see how you feel about it. Think about that!! 6 months to kill an elk??? Cmon. If you didn't get it done in the 12 week season we already have...which we did not this year fwiw......It's time to be done. You had your chance. They won. Leave em alone and look forward to getting back after it next year. I know NO one that thinks the elk hunting in MT on Public land has gotten better in the last 10 years. It's worse every year. Can't go on forever.

As far as lowering numbers....the elk management plan is just about 20 years old now. Not relevant and needs redone. Things change and those numbers need updated. Elk are not where they used to be.

I know everyone wants to blame the outfitters but the bigger issue is we no longer listen to biologist. The management is done in the legislature.

Do the Outfitters actually want long shoulder seasons for elk herd reduction? I would think they do most of their hunting during the normal 12 week season, and prefer more elk, not less. Seems strange to blame them for shoulder seasons, but perhaps I am wrong. I saw the Wilkes ranch mentioned in some news, who is the Outfitter who locked that ranch up?

From: SBH
I don't think the shoulder push is coming from outfitters. From what I can tell the outdated management numbers don't match up with elk in lots of areas. Really seeing it out east and in central MT. Lot of elk that used to be in Paradise Valley have moved north and onto private over there where ranchers that never had elk before now have them. These elk were pushed out from wolves. This current management plan does not take any of that into account. I spoke with our biologist and confirmed this. Nor does it take into account the elk pushed onto private that flat our won't leave due to wolves. Unfortunately they want their cake and eat it too. Run outfitters for bulls all fall, literally bait the elk in with fields of alfalfa so the elk are on their land. Then call the lowly public land hunter over to kill cows in the winter claiming damage and acting like they are doing you a service. In the summer they love to utilize the forest service leases and have the moo cows up on the public eating all the grass there!! No food on public by fall for the elk.....where would they go?? It's terrible what's happening here. I don't see Wyo or Idaho with the same issues......maybe I'm wrong on that but seems like MT is messing things up.

From: Transplant
So if I understand it right, there is not a significant change to those applying for the general archery tag or am I missing something?

From: Grasshopper
Sorry to hear it. If it makes you feel any better, in my home state of Colorado we have private land cow tags good until Jan 31 in many areas. You can get the tags as second licenses, so you can kill an elk in the "normal seasons" and then if you shoot a cow in January you are effectively killing another two elk. One hunter, 3 dead elk. Not so sure about herd duress, I am sure there is some of that that but the last two years when I shot late season cows, the herd didn't move at all while I was gutting mine.

The good old days of elk hunting may be behind us, next up in Colorado is wolf reintroduction, and now the anti's are working on banning lion hunting. Sad deal, for the next generation. It was a good run there for awhile.

On a positive note, I shot a cow from the deck of my house this year, got to cross that off the bucket list. Used a loader instead of quartering and packing. I'm getting soft in my old age.

From: JL
The bro sent this to me. Here's some new muley changes....

Commission adopts shorter mule deer season for parts of western Montana

Tom Kuglin Feb 8, 2022 Updated 2 hrs ago

Shorter hunting seasons for mule deer were adopted for some parts of western Montana — a move wildlife managers hope will help bolster struggling populations.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission recently adopted hunting regulations for the 2022 and 2023 hunting seasons. The panel largely stuck with draft proposals recommended by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, which included shortened seasons in parts of northwest and west-central Montana.

Mule deer bucks become particularly vulnerable to hunters during the rut, which typically comes from mid to late November. At the same time wildlife managers say that mule deer in northwest Montana’s Region 1 and west-central Region 2 have declined, with habitat a prevailing issue. Other factors driving populations include predation, weather and competition with elk, officials have said.

To address those trends, the commission adopted three-week seasons for mule deer in multiple hunting districts in those regions, representing a new approach.

Hunting District 109 south and west of Eureka is now combined into a Hunting District 101. Hunting of mule deer bucks in that district will be open on a general license for the first three weeks of the season and a low-quota limited permit during the last two weeks of the season.

In Region 2 many hunting districts have been managed under permits designed to limit hunting pressure. The permits generally have not proven successful at significantly bolstering mule deer numbers or buck-to-doe ratios.

Hunting districts 204, 212, 213, 214, 215, 217, 240, 292 and 298 move to a three-week season on a general license for mule deer bucks. Also formerly under unlimited permits, HD 282 moves to a limited permit while HD 281 moves to a general license for all five weeks of the season.

Liz Bradley, Region 2’s acting wildlife manager, told the commission hunters are seeing declining success for mule deer bucks.

“We do want to maintain maximum hunter opportunity, that is important, but also balance that with something that isn’t going to over-harvest mule deer in those areas,” she told the commission.

Commissioner Pat Tabor of Whitefish questioned whether FWP had enough data to suggest the three-week season will help the declining trends as opposed to other possible management measures.

But Commissioner Brian Cebull of Billings said part of the idea of adaptive management allows for experimentation and what biologists will learn from trying a shortened season.

The changes to mule deer regulations saw a mix of support and opposition. But supporters like Mac Minard with the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association still encouraged the commission and department to take a deeper dive on the plight of mule deer in the state.

“We see a desperate need to reevaluate, revisit what we’re doing with deer,” he said.

Others testifying expressed concern that a three-week season would simply redistribute hunters and increase pressure in other areas.

Among the other changes are moving to limited permits for mule deer bucks in the Elkhorns Hunting District 380 and the Big Belts Hunting District 392.

In eastern Montana, FWP said mule deer declined in recent surveys, including by 40% in northeast Montana’s Region 6, but that numbers remain above long-term averages.

Perhaps their plan is working, increase wild predation, decrease human hunting.

From: Scoot
"maybe I'm wrong on that but seems like MT is messing things up."

SBH, you're definitely not wrong! Missouribreaks, with the batshit crazy politicians you folks have in MT (Reps definitely included), you may be right. It's a sad, sad deal the direction things have sharply turned in MT the last handful of years.

From: Mossyhorn
I sure would like to know where all these elk are at! Ha ha! I’ve hunted several areas on three occasions and have had a hell of a time turning up elk on public land. Elk have been tight lipped and been more or less bow hiking trips. This year was better and actually heard a bull bugle! Found more elk but they were ghosts. Wouldn’t bugle at night, nothing. Very frustrating mentally. Was gonna try a fourth time this year, guess I’m a glutton for punishment?

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