A special deer management season in the northeastern corner of the state has been expanded to include any legal resident or non-resident hunter.
The special season in the Sandhills area of Hunting District 641 east of Medicine Lake started Dec. 15, 2008, and includes about 20 landowners in Sheridan and Roosevelt counties. The additional season, approved by FWP to help reduce crop damage on private lands and help meet overall deer-population objectives, initially only included hunters selected from FWP’s game-damage rosters.
However, a low harvest from that hunt, combined with continued high numbers of white-tailed deer and severe winter conditions in the area, prompted the roster requirement to be dropped, effective immediately on Dec. 31, 2008, said Wildlife Biologist Scott Thompson of Culbertson.
Hunters who wish to participate in the hunt in the Sandhills area can use any number of unfilled deer licenses or permits from the 2008 Montana big game hunting season. They may also purchase up to five additional 641-01 antlerless white-tailed deer licenses for use in the area.
The special hunt is tentatively scheduled to end Jan. 15, 2009, but Thompson said that date could change if the harvest quota of 200 antlerless white-tailed deer is met before then or not enough hunters take to the field.
The additional deer tags will be available from all license vendors, any FWP office, or from the agency’s Web site (fwp.mt.gov) by Jan. 6, 2009 at the latest.
To encourage non-resident participation, non-resident licenses will be discounted to $20 after the purchase of a Region 7, single-region antlerless white-tailed Deer B license (007-10) at the full price of $75. (Administratively, Region 6 is not currently able to sell these types of Deer B licenses). Thompson said the 641-01 Deer B licenses will cost $10 each for Montana residents.
All hunters participating in the Sandhills area special season are required to report each deer they harvest to FWP by calling (406) 228-3700 or (406) 787-5303, sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , or sending written correspondence to Montana FWP, Region 6 Headquarters, 54078 U.S. Highway 2 West, Glasgow, MT 59230.
Thompson said the open area is located east of Medicine Lake and south of East Lake Road and includes the Sandhills and Nelson Farms Block Management Areas, Smith Farms, the Loren Henke property, portions of the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge and legally accessible state lands.
Hunters are required to obtain permission to enter these private lands either by completing registration cards at sign-in boxes on the Block Management Areas or by calling Smith Farms at (406) 483-5480 and Loren Henke (406) 765-7697 or contacting the landowners onsite. Maps of the management season area can be obtained by calling FWP at (406) 228-3700 or (406) 787-5303, from license vendors in Plentywood and Culbertson, or at the Medicine Lake Refuge office.
Thompson said white-tailed deer numbers in the Sandhills portion of Hunting District 641 have been increasing due to lack of winter mortality and minimal die-offs from epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a virus commonly known as EHD, since 2003.
“The 2008 winter survey indicated that white-tailed deer in these areas are approximately 30 percent above the long-term population average,” Thompson said. “We need hunters to help us get these numbers under control. This is yet another chance for them to add meat to their freezers or to those of their neighbors.”
Two other special management hunts – in the Milk River Valley between Saco and Nashua and in the Big Dry Creek area east of Jordan -- are also underway in FWP Region 6 – but the only people who can participate in those special seasons are those already selected from the game-damage rosters. There was a July 15 deadline for signing up on those lists.