A shoulder season is a firearms season that can occur as early as Aug. 15 and run as late as Feb 15 depending on the hunting district. While most shoulder seasons focus on antlerless elk harvest on private land and are not intended to replace or reduce harvest during the existing archery or five-week general firearms seasons, a few are meant to address problematic distribution of elk.
First approved by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission in October 2015, shoulder seasons are an opportunity for hunters in hunting districts where elk populations are over objective. For the 2019 season the commission approved shoulder seasons in more than 50 hunting districts, in six of FWP’s seven regions.
Shoulder seasons have specific objectives and as such, the commission and department will monitor the success of shoulder seasons in each hunting district to ensure they are meeting the fundamental objectives.
Hunters are reminded that permission is always required to hunt on private land. The success of shoulder seasons in Montana will require the participation and cooperation of everyone – hunters, landowners and the department.
For more information on shoulder seasons, including an interactive map of hunting districts with shoulder seasons, look on the FWP’s website under Shoulder Seasons, a link to which is on the hunting home page.
Additionally, each region will have specific information about shoulder seasons in their areas that can be found on the web page. Some regions will employ elk hunt information coordinators. The contact information for those people will also be on the web page.
Shoulder season regulations can vary from district to district. Some started as early as Aug. 15 and some will go as late as Feb. 15. So, no matter where you’re hunting – as always – know the regulations.