Elk shoulder season is already underway in many parts of Montana but there’s a different situation in Region 6 where the late hunt begins Dec. 15 and a B tag is required.
For the second year, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 6 has a shoulder season that allows antlerless elk hunting from Dec. 15-Dec. 31, with a specific B-license. Elk licenses (general elk or B-licenses) valid during the archery and general seasons are not valid for the shoulder season in Region 6. Hunters must have previously applied for this opportunity during the June 1 license drawing, and received their elk B-license that is only valid during the R6 shoulder season, either a:
699-00 Elk B-license-valid in HDs 620, 621, 622, 630, 631, 632-on all public and private lands, not including CMR National Wildlife Refuge
696-00 Elk B-license-valid in HDs 680 & 690 on all public and private lands
A shoulder season is a firearms season that occurs outside the general season and is focused on antlerless elk harvest. Shoulder seasons are not intended to replace harvest during the archery or general firearms seasons, but aim to provide additional antlerless elk harvest to bring elk populations closer to objectives.
Shoulder seasons have specific objectives, and the Fish and Wildlife commission and department will monitor the success of shoulder seasons in each hunting district to ensure they are meeting the fundamental objectives.
Even though a shoulder season occurs outside the general season, all hunting regulations apply, including (but not limited to): obtaining landowner permission to hunt on private lands, properly validating your tag, wearing 400 square inches of orange above the waste, following legal shooting times, not shooting across a public road or right of way, leaving evidence of sex/species of the animal, and not shooting from a vehicle.
FWP suggests that hunters contact private landowners as early as possible, and to please be respectful during the holiday season. Shoulder season licenses are also valid on legally accessible public lands (except CMR Wildlife Refuge), and in participating Block Management lands.
Block Management Cooperators were given the opportunity to opt out of the shoulder season, and three BMAs in the shoulder season areas are not participating in the shoulder season for elk: #1 Springer, #21 Thorstad, and #48 Burke Ranch. These BMAs are, however, still open for upland bird hunting through Jan. 1.
Biologists would like to remind license holders that this is not a “damage hunt,” with elk stacked up in concentrated areas. Hunters should prepare to hunt hard for elk, no different than any other hunting season. Expect variable weather conditions to possibly include deep snow, cold, and/or muddy conditions. Hunters should have means to retrieve elk over potentially long distances.
Region 6 will not have any shoulder season hunt information coordinators. If there are any general questions concerning the shoulder season in Region 6, the FWP website contains a wealth of information at fwp.mt.gov/hunting/seasons/elkShoulder/, or please contact the following:
- Questions about the 699-00 license can be directed to the FWP R6 office at 406-228-3700.
- Questions about the 696-00 license can be directed to the FWP Havre office at 406-265-6177.