Portions of the Beartooth and Absaroka mountains in south-central Montana are unique because they allow unlimited backcountry bighorn sheep hunts. Hunters still can only shoot a three-quarter curl ram, but every year they can trek into the steep country to hunt sheep if they want to buy an over-the-counter tag. They can’t do that anywhere else in Montana. In fact, the odds of drawing a tag for many of the state’s bighorn ram hunts is less than 1 percent. Some hunters have applied for 30 years and never received the tag of their choice. At the most recent Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, one of the many proposed amendments to hunting regulations provided by commissioners included one that would require sheep hunters going into the Beartooths and Absaroka mountains to forfeit all of their bonus points. That stirred up some debate among hunters, commissioners and wildlife groups. Fish, Wildlife & Parks doesn’t have limits because the hunts are so difficult and have a low success rate. Commissioner Pat Tabor said some hunters are gaming the system by waiting to report kills and one commenter said hunters are selling GPS coordinates to find rams. Although the amendment didn’t pass, the commission agreed to consider the issue in greater detail this coming year.
For more information, see my story at https://billingsgazette.com/outdoors/beartooth-absaroka-backcountry-bighorn-sheep-hunting-districts-targeted-for-changes-fwp/article_3118d9da-9b80-11ee-9e5e-17daced5ecac.html.
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