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Region 2

Elk Shoulder Season Fact Sheet

How will elk shoulder seasons be used in FWP R2 in 2017-18?

  • R2 has a number of firearm elk hunting opportunities before and after the regular 5-week season (Oct. 21-Nov. 26), as part of the new elk “shoulder season” approach to reducing elk populations where needed.
  • Early shoulder seasons will happen in some R2 hunting districts (HDs) beginning Aug. 15, and late shoulder seasons will continue until Jan. 1 or Feb. 15, depending on the HD.

Are there weapons restrictions in R2 shoulder seasons?

  • The East Ovando archery-only portion of HD 290 is archery-only hunting for elk.
  • During the shoulder elk hunting in HD 217 with a general elk licenses, it is archery-only.

Where can I hunt and when?

  • In R2, shoulder season opportunities are offered in HDs 210, 212, 213, 215, 217, 290, 291, 292 and 298.  Check the regulations for open season dates in these districts.
  • Only private lands are open to hunting during the early shoulder season (Aug. 15-Oct. 20).
  • Hunters must obtain landowner permission to access private property in a shoulder season, just as they would during the general hunting season, and should start early in establishing contacts and requesting access. 
  • In the late shoulder season (Dec.-Feb.), hunters will also have limited hunting opportunities on public lands in some R2 HDs.  See the regulations for specifics.

What about overlap with archery season?

  • No public lands are part of the R2 early shoulder season during August-October. Therefore, there is no overlap between rifle hunting for elk during shoulder seasons and the archery-only season on public land. 
  • It will be up to the hunter and the private landowner to separate bowhunting activity from rifle hunting activity when the shoulder season and the archery-only seasons overlap in September and October. 

What license do I need & how do I get it?

  • In R2, only holders of an elk B license may hunt elk during the shoulder season. 
    • Exception: Archery only hunting in HD 217 is allowed with a general elk license for antlerless elk.
  • Hunters must have applied by June 1 and been drawn one of the limited elk B licenses that were available for HDs 210, 212, 213, 291 and 292.  For HDs 215, 217, 290 and 298, hunters may purchase an elk B license (beginning August 7) over-the-counter or online at fwp.mt.gov.
    • Exception: The HDs 215 and 217 OTC elk B must be purchased no later than the day before the start of the general rifle season.
  • FWP strongly recommends that hunters secure access to private lands before purchasing an elk B license for a shoulder season.

Can I hunt Block Management Areas during the shoulder seasons?

  • Some landowners who enroll land in the Block Management Program have chosen to allow public elk hunting ONLY during the archery only and general firearms hunting seasons, while other landowners have chosen to allow public elk hunting during all legal seasons between the Block Management contract dates of September 1 – January 1.

How do shoulder seasons relate to game damage hunts?

  • Game damage hunts remain viable as a tool for FWP and landowners to alleviate crop damage by elk when the damage is happening. Damage hunts may occur, though probably fewer than in recent years.
  • As in the past, hunters need to register online for a hunting district on the Game Damage Hunt Roster by July 15 in order to become eligible to be selected for a game damage hunt.

Where can I find out more information?

  • General questions can also be directed to the FWP R2 office at (406) 542-5500.