Last week, like every hunter in Montana, I was trying to digest the changes associated with the March 15th Big Game Permit Application. On a normal year in the past, I have simply applied for the elk archery tag in Hunting District 621. It is not a 100% draw but the odds are pretty good at 80%. This year, however, as most hunters now know Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks added a few other permit opportunities. One of those changes was combining three hunting districts into one permit application and named it Hunting District 394 for antlerless elk during the general rifle season.
There would be 800 permits for Hunting District 394. I made the assumption that the two elk permits were different after all one was for archery and one was for rifle. So when I applied for my elk archery tag in HD 621 I put that down as my first choice and didn’t bother putting a 2nd choice or a third choice down. After I completed that application on line I then went back and tried to put in for the HD 394 rifle tag but the on line site wouldn’t let me apply for that elk tag because it told me I had already applied for an elk tag.
I thought there must have been a mistake and the FWP site was not operating properly. So I called the Missoula FWP office and was informed that you cannot put two elk permit applications on your application as the first choice, in that regard an elk permit is the same whether it is archery or rifle . You are allowed only one. Now that I understood the process a little better my goal was to get HD 394 on my already filed elk permit application as my second choice.
This as you might imagine was easier said than done especially since it was Monday, March 14th and the deadline for applications was the next day. Tuesday March 15th. I thought I might have better luck accomplishing this task by heading to the FWP office on Spurgin road and explaining my predicament in person. The FWP office upon my arrival was busy. There was coffee, donuts, and plenty of personal on hand to help hunters sort through any questions that folks might have on the changes that were made this year. A women working behind the counter informed me that she could not get into my account to make the change but she said if you call our license specialists in Helena they might be able to help.
I knew that the phone number she gave me would be very busy under the circumstances but I decided to give it a try anyway. As I dialed the number I was prepared to be on hold for a long time and I was, but I kept trying. Finally a live person came on the other end of the line. He instructed me to e-mail a person named Marsha and in the e-mail to include my name, ALS number, and what I would like her to do to my application. I asked Marsha to add 394 as my second choice and thanked her in advance for her trouble. That was Monday afternoon. On Tuesday afternoon the 15th I received an e-mail reply from Marsha,” I have updated your application. Please double check online under MY FWP and click on Drawing Results”. I did and there it was, 394 as my second choice. All this after a little computer technology and a whole lot of customer service from the folks at FWP.
(Written by the Captain aka Mark Ward)