Didn’t bag a bull? Learn all about the new elk shoulder season
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: November 29, 2015

Nik

What are elk shoulder seasons?

“Shoulder seasons” may be used to create elk-hunting opportunities with firearms before and after the general archery and rifle seasons to increase harvest and improve management in specific places, mostly on private lands where elk numbers exceed local elk population objectives.

Where are the elk shoulder-seasons for this year?

  • The 2015-16 shoulder-seasons will be open in portions of the following central Montana elk hunting districts:
    • 410–Missouri Breaks
    • 445–Hound Creek
    • 446–Northeast Big Belt Mountains
    • 449–Castle Mountains East, and
    • 452–Castle Mountains West
  • These pilot-project opportunities are available on private lands, federal 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 National Wildlife Refuge or on any FWP wildlife management areas.

When will the elk shoulder-seasons begin and end?

  • 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 elk shoulder-season in hunting district 410 will begin Jan. 1, 2016 and end Feb. 15, 2016.

What licenses and/or permits are required?

  • Hunting during elk shoulder seasonswill be for antlerless elk only.
  • 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 2015 either-sex elk permits for hunting district 445 – and a valid general elk license can 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. There is no general license hunting opportunity in hunting district 410. Hunters can only harvest antlerless elk.
  • By state law, a hunter may only harvest a total of two elk during a license year.

Hunt Coordinators

FWP Region 4, headquartered in Great Falls, will provide additional resources throughout the shoulder season – including hunt coordinators who will work with area landowners to provide hunters with up-to-date information about private land access opportunities and elk distribution.

Hunt coordinators will provide information, they will not manage hunters.

Hunting District 445, 446, 449, 452

Hunt coordinators will be available starting November 30 to receive hunter calls.

  • Dalton Schaller (in Great Falls)
  • Monday through Friday8 AM–5 PM
  • (406) 454-5869
  • Aarron McGuire (in White Sulphur Springs)
  • Thursday through Monday8 AM–5 PM
  • (406) 564-2090
Hunting District 410

The shoulder season will begin January 1, 2016

Participation is restricted to those who have permits and B licenses to hunt there. Those hunters have been notified.

Can hunters purchase a 2015 license to participate after the general season ends Nov. 29?

Yes, as long as they haven’t already harvested two elk. General elk licenses for the 2015 license year will be available for sale through Feb. 15, 2016. Or, hunters can use their previously purchased valid 2015 general license, a permit or B license previously awarded through the drawings, or a surplus 2015 B license valid for the districts where the shoulder seasons will occur; these licenses and permits will remain valid in their respective hunting districts during the shoulder season dates listed above.

What access options are available to hunters?

  • Hunters must obtain permission to hunt on private lands.
  • Hunters need to be prepared to arrange their own permission with landowners in the same way they do during the archery and general hunting seasons.
  • FWP Region 4, headquartered in Great Falls, will provide additional resources throughout the shoulder season – including hunt coordinators who will work with area landowners to provide hunters with up-to-date information about private land access opportunities and elk distribution.
  • Hunt coordinators will provide information, they will not manage hunters. Contact information for area hunt coordinators will be available on the FWP website and from the Region 4 office prior to the start of the shoulder seasons.
  • Hunters shouldn’t assume that Block Management Areas that provided elk hunting opportunities during the general season will be open. BMAs may or may not provide elk hunting during a shoulder season. The area hunt coordinator and Region 4 staff will be able to provide hunters with BMA-specific information.
  • State school land and federal BLM land that is legally accessible may also provide elk hunting opportunities. Hunters are reminded that landowner permission is required to cross private land to reach state and federal lands that are not otherwise legally accessible.

Are bull elk included in these elk shoulder seasons?

No. Hunters can only take antlerless elk during these shoulder seasons.

How can I keep informed?

For more information, visit the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov. Click “Elk Shoulder Seasons”.

Editors Note:

2015 Elk Shoulder Season Hunting District list and map.