The Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission on October 4 set final big game hunting regulations for 1997 and hunting season framework dates for 1998. These changes will not affect this fall's (1996) hunting seasons. Hunters should not be concerned with the new regulations until licenses are purchased for 1997 beginning next February.
In setting big game regulations for hunting next fall, the Commission, among other actions, adopted the following:
Hunters pursuing buck mule deer in all of Region 2 and most of Region 3 will be required to select a specific group of hunting districts and to restrict their hunting of buck mule deer in the state to only those districts. These restrictions will not affect hunting during the archery-only season or the hunting of white-tailed deer. The change was implemented by the Commission to eliminate the incidental kill of mule deer bucks by hunters primarily pursuing elk or white-tailed deer because the numbers of mule deer bucks in the areas concerned are unacceptably low. Hunters who receive a special deer permit valid for taking an antlered buck mule deer with their deer A license are restricted to taking an antlered buck mule deer only in the district or portion of district specified on the permit. This will apply to all special deer permit areas where antlered mule deer bucks may be taken. Hunting districts with special antlered buck mule deer permits are 291-01, 441-01, 455-00, 530-01, 652-00.
An unlimited number of A-7 antlerless elk licenses -- valid on mostly private land outside the National Forest boundary in the Philipsburg area which includes portions of Hunting Districts 210, 211, 212, 214, and 216 -- will be available. Anyone applying for this license as their first choice through the special license and permit drawings will receive the license. Five permits will tentatively be offered only to youths 12-14 years of age for hunting either-sex elk in Hunting District 314. The intent is to target primarily private land currently not open or restricted to general public hunting. Lands included will be identified by FWP and a description of the hunting area and other information will be sent to successful applicants. Specific rules for conducting this season are as follows. Applicants must: 1) be 12-14 years of age; 2) show proof of completing a Hunter Education Program; 3) be accompanied by a non-hunting adult and/or guardian who is at least 21 years of age or older. Hunting District 590, incorporating the Bull Mountains, will be split into two hunting areas with permits for hunting by time period obtained through the special license and permit drawings. Seven different hunting periods will be available from October 26 through December 15. Mountain Goat --
Due to an observed, marked decrease in the area's mountain goat population, no hunting licenses for mountain goats will be offered for Hunting District 381 (the Sleeping Giant district) north of Helena. Mountain Lion --
The most significant change is the opening of a mountain lion hunting season in FWP's administrative Region 1 (northwestern Montana) concurrent with the opening of the general 1997 elk and deer season (Oct. 26-Nov. 30). Hunters are required to purchase a mountain lion hunting license by August 31 to hunt lions during this season and the use of dogs is prohibited. This new season will close no later than Nov. 30 or whenever 20 percent of the harvest quota established for the annual Dec. 1-Feb. 15 season is reached. All lions harvested during the new season will be deducted from the Dec. 1-Feb. 15 season quotas. The season will be conducted on a trial or "pilot" basis in 1997 and will be fully evaluated to determine if it should be continued and/or expanded into other regions.
In another change, Region 6 will be split into two hunting areas for the Dec. 1, 1997-Feb. 15, 1998, season with separate harvest quotas in each area.
Tentative big game season (framework dates*) -- 1997 1998 Antelope (archery) Sept.6-Oct.11 Sept.5-Oct.10 Antelope (gun) Oct.12-Nov.9 Oct.11-Nov.8 Black bear (spring) Apr.15-May 31 Apr.15- May 31 (fall) Sept.15-Nov.30 Sept.15-Nov.29 Deer/elk (archery) Sept.6-Oct.19 Sept.5-Oct.18 Deer/elk (backcountry) Sept.15-Nov.30 Sept.15-Nov.29 Deer/elk (gun)** Oct.26-Nov.30 Oct.25-Nov.29 Mountain goat Sept.1-Nov.30 Sept.1-Nov.29 Mountain lion (hunt) Dec.1-Feb.15 Nov.30-Feb.15 (chase) Feb.16-Apr.30 Feb.16-Apr.30 Moose Sept.15-Nov.30 Sept.15-Nov.29 Sheep Sept.1-Nov.30 Sept.1-Nov.29 *Framework dates indicate the earliest opening and latest closing for the majority of hunting districts. Some districts have different opening and closing dates.
**Dates for general bull elk and antlered buck deer hunting. Some districts have different opening and closing dates.
Hunters with questions concerning the 1997 regulations are urged to contact their nearest FWP office.