Be Sure Before You Shoot: 5 Tips For Archery Hunting Success
August 31, 2022 | View PDF
Montana’s archery hunting season for deer and elk begins Sept. 4, and just like in every other form of hunting, being successful while hunting with a bow requires careful planning and preparation.
If you plan to hunt during the archery season, here are five tips for being safe, responsible and successful:
- Practice, practice, practice. Being proficient in archery takes patience and repetition. Practice shooting your bow in the same manner in which you’ll be hunting. Begin practicing well before the hunting season. Know and respect your personal limitations and effective range while hunting.
- Know the rules. Purchase a bow and arrow license, and know what, where and when your license allows you to hunt. Be sure your archery equipment meets state requirements for hunting. Questions? Check the current hunting regulations or contact FWP.
- Plan an efficient harvest. Because archery hunting season occurs earlier in the year, temperatures can still be warm, day and night. Be prepared to remove and process your harvested animal quickly so the meat does not spoil.
- Be sure before you shoot. Only take a shot if it is safe and ethical to do so. Ensure that there are no unsafe shooting conditions, obstructions or significant wind; and that the animal is within your effective range and is in a position for you to make an ethical shot. Be sure that the animal you intend to harvest meets your license’s requirements for species, sex and antler/horn class.
- Be bear aware. Bear attacks are rare. However, occupied grizzly bear habitat is expanding in Montana. So, watch for bear sign. Hunt with a partner and carry bear spray. Pack out your harvested animal as quickly as possible.
To purchase a Montana bow and arrow license, a hunter must provide a certificate of completing the National Bowhunter Education Foundation course, or provide any prior year’s bowhunting/archery stamp, tag, permit, or license from any state or province. To become certified, please visit fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter.
Responsible hunters critical to the future of hunting
Although most hunters respect the land, property, and wildlife they are hunting, a minority do not. Yet these few bad actors lead to frustration from private landowners and hunters looking to do things right.
This year remember: It’s up to us. Protect access. Respect the hunt.
Every hunting season, there are reports of vandalizing of Block Management Area (BMA) boxes, hunters driving off road, illegal trespassing, hunters being shot over, littering, and livestock being shot. Below are just a few of the things that hunters and all outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of when enjoying our resources:
- Standing crop: Avoid hunting, walking or driving in fields that have not been harvested yet.
- Littering: Not only is littering careless and unsightly, it is against the law. This includes toilet paper, and the proper management of human waste.
- Leave gates as you find them: If a gate is closed, close it behind you. If it is obviously open (pulled all the way back to the fence), leave it open. If you are unsure, contact the landowner or public land agency.
- Know your target and beyond: Hunters must be sure of what they are shooting at (species, sex, etc.), and know what lies beyond their target (houses, outbuildings, livestock, vehicles, other hunters).
- Prevent fires: Be aware of fire danger at all times and use precautions.
- Be weed free: Check clothes, dogs, ATVs, and vehicles for weeds and weed seeds to help prevent the spread to other private and public lands.
- Avoid driving on muddy roads: Unless it is a well-graveled road, walk.
- Avoid ridge driving and driving to overlooks: Not only is this a poor strategy while hunting, it is considered as driving off road if it is not already an established trail.
- Do not park on roads or gateways: Move well off of roads to avoid folks moving farm equipment. Find a designated parking area or an approach that is clearly not being used for equipment.
- Driving off-road: While hunting on private property, a person may not drive off established roads or trails without landowner permission. Off-road travel on public land, including game retrieval, is prohibited unless designated as open. Consult appropriate land agency or land maps for specifics.
- Ask for permission to hunt: Montana law requires permission for all hunting on private land. Even if the land is not posted, hunters must have permission from the landowner, lessee, or their agent before hunting on private property.
- Completely fill out BMA slips: If a hunter doesn’t correctly fill out a block management slip, they are hunting without permission.
- Know where you are located: Whether you are hunting public land, private land, or land enrolled in an access program such as block management, it is every hunter’s responsibility to know where they are to avoid trespassing. Maps are always available, as are GPS chips and cell phone apps to aid in orientation.
- Accessing public lands: Access to public lands (on a private road) through private land requires permission of the private landowner, lessee, or their agent.
- Camping: Camping is allowed on most public lands (see agency regulations), but permission is needed to camp on private property and BMAs.
- Know the rules: Consult BMA maps for specific rules on block management property, including driving on roads, parking areas, no shooting zones, walk-in only areas, camping, number of hunters allowed, game retrieval, etc. Rules for most land agencies can be found on maps and/or on brochures. Go to the appropriate agency website or local office for information.
- Report violations: Report any hunting and fishing, trespassing, vandalism or other criminal activity you see to 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668).
The 1-800-TIP-MONT program is a toll-free number where one can report violations of fish, wildlife or park regulations. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000 for providing information that leads to a conviction.
Also remember the fall is a very busy time for landowners. Along with late harvest, cattle and other livestock are being moved from their summer and/or fall pastures and are often brought near the home site for winter feeding and care. Please use common sense and respect when around these activities.
FWP also offers a free online program called The Montana Hunter-Landowner Stewardship Project. This project is an information program for anyone interested in promoting responsible hunter behavior and good hunter-landowner relations in Montana. The program is delivered through an interactive website utilizing questions, videos, and feedback as well as opportunities for you to test your knowledge on a variety of practical topics related to hunter-landowner relations and responsible hunter behavior.
Please go to fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter/hunterLandowner to learn more and complete the program.