2015 Elk Hunting Outlook
These are good times for elk hunters as Montana elk populations continue to be strong across most of the state. In some areas of western Montana, where populations have declined, wildlife biologists have recently observed increased recruitment of calves. In many hunting districts, however, access to private lands can be difficult, which can affect hunting success given landownership patterns and distribution of elk.
Montana’s archery season for elk will close Oct. 18. The general, five-week long, elk-hunting season runs Oct. 24 through Nov. 29. Even if you didn’t draw a special permit this year, remember Montana offers numerous opportunities to hunt for elk with just a general hunting license.
Depending on the hunting district regulations hunters can pursue brow-tined bull elk, spike bull elk, either-sex elk, or antlerless elk. For more information on elk hunting in Montana, visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov, click “Hunting” then click Plan Your Hunt. FWP wildlife biologists and game wardens will be operating hunter check-stations throughout the state to collect biological information and ensure regulations are followed. All hunters are required to stop at check stations.
Here’s a regional rundown on what elk hunters can expect this season.
Region 6—Northeastern Montana
Elk numbers remain at or above management objectives in most hunting districts. All elk hunting in the Bears Paw Mountains and the Missouri River Breaks is by special permits awarded via the annual drawing. Elk in these areas are most often found in core-habitat areas a mile or more from active roads and other human activity. Elk densities are lower in the general-season hunting area north of U.S. Highway 2.
Region 7—Southeastern Montana
When hunters think of classic elk hunting country, the plains of southeastern Montana seldom come to mind. And yet there is the region’s storied Missouri Breaks, where elk numbers continue to increase beyond FWP’s management objectives in all hunting districts. Outside of the Missouri Breaks and the Custer National Forest, elk are primarily found on private land where public hunting access is limited. While special-permit only opportunities can be found in hunting district 700 for either-sex and antlerless elk, there is general license hunting for either-sex elk in hunting districts 701 and 703. Also, in hunting districts 702,704 and 705, there are either-sex opportunities by special permit and antlerless hunting within the Custer National Forest boundaries by special permit only. Outside forest boundaries antlerless elk can be hunted on a general license.