At its meeting in February, the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission, among a number of other actions, set seasons and regulations for deer hunting in Montana during 1998. In setting those seasons and regulations, the Commission:
* continued the validation requirement for hunting mule deer bucks in Montana. That requirement states that:
--ALL hunters who purchase a Deer A license must decide where in the state they would like to hunt--either in any one of eight individual Hunting Areas in southwestern Montana, collectively referred to as the "Southwestern 8," OR in the remainder of the state--and that they have their license validated according to their choice. Those who choose to select a Hunting Area from among the Southwestern 8 must confine their hunting of mule deer bucks to those hunting districts comprising that individual Hunting Area of southwestern Montana ONLY; they cannot hunt mule deer bucks during the general season anywhere else in the state. Conversely, those hunters who choose NOT to select an individual Hunting Area within the Southwestern 8 are NOT permitted to hunt mule deer bucks within the Southwestern 8. The restrictions will not be in effect during the archery-only hunting season and they will not apply to hunting for white-tailed deer.--
In continuing the validation requirement, the commission called for a continuation of an information and education effort emphasizing that low numbers of mule deer bucks continue in southwestern Montana and encouraging hunters to look at other hunting opportunities or hunting mule deer elsewhere this year.
* eliminated hunting for either-sex mule deer during the special archery-only season in all but a few hunting districts throughout the state. Regulations for bowhunters during the special early season for most districts now state "antlered buck mule deer or either-sex whitetail" as legal game during the archery-only season. Bowhunters are urged to read 1998 regulations carefully to ensure the game pursued and the manner in which it is pursued are legal in the district they are hunting.
* continued the requirement that hunters (including bowhunters) who receive a permit to hunt mule deer bucks in districts anywhere in the state where hunting is by permit only will be limited to hunting ONLY in those areas for the entire general season.
* again opted not to issue "over-the-counter" antlerless mule deer licenses for 1998.
* Mule deer buck hunting will be by permit only in 13 hunting districts--H.D.s 202, 210, 261, 270, 291, 300, a portion of 312, 324, 441, 455, 510, 530 and 652. Hunters must apply for these special permits through the annual special license and permit drawings.
* In Regions 1 and 2 of northwestern Montana, 200 permits for hunting antlerless white-tailed deer will be offered to youngsters 12 to 14 years of age.
* Antlerless white-tailed deer "B" licenses will continue to be offered in Regions 3, 4, 6 and 7, but in Region 7 of eastern Montana, nonresident hunters will be limited to 1,000 such "B" licenses.
* A five-week season for hunting mule deer bucks will be in place for the majority of the Missouri River Breaks, as well as along the Rocky Mountain East Front. In the past, the first three weeks of the five-week season were open to hunting bucks only, with the remaining two weeks open to the hunting of either-sex mule deer.
Complete deer hunting regulations for next fall, which for 1998 will be presented in a single booklet containing regulations for just deer and elk, will be available at all FWP offices and license agents statewide beginning in early April.