By Diane Tipton, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Statewide Information Officer
Among hunters who apply for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' special drawings, many are focused right now on FWP's upcoming June 1 deadline to apply for deer B and elk B licenses and antelope licenses.
June 1 is the last of three important deadlines for Montana hunters—March 15 for bucks and bulls; May 1 for moose, sheep, mountain goat and bison licenses, and June 1 for (antlerless) deer B and elk B licenses and antelope.
Hunters who enter this drawing are hoping for a license to harvest an antlerless deer or elk, or for an antelope license. All antelope licenses are distributed through this special drawing.
The June 1 deadline also means the dust is settling around a recent big change—the new March 15 deadline—when resident and nonresident hunters apply for special bull and buck permits. Of these permits, 10 percent are allocated to nonresident hunters.
"For the first time on March 15 residents and nonresidents applied for special permits to hunt bucks and bulls, and everyone knew by April if they'd drawn a special permit and where," said Hank Worsech, FWP license bureau chief. In the past, resident hunters had to apply for special permits and for deer B and elk B licenses and antelope licenses all at once on June 1.
"A married couple in April applied as a party and successfully drew 380-20 bull tags to hunt in the Elkhorn mountains near Helena. They were thrilled to draw this once-in-a-lifetime hunt on a party application and are already arranging for sitters, getting into shape," Worsech said.
Among the hunters considering submitting an application for the June 1 deadline, some are undoubtedly wondering what is magical about June 1.
The short answer is, to use FWP jargon, the deer B and elk B licenses are for "management animals"—the females of the population that are needed in sufficient numbers to sustain the population.
"Quotas on female deer and elk are set based on the previous season's harvest, winter surveys and winter survival rates which we get from spring aerial surveys," Worsech said. "It takes time to do the surveys and calculate the quotas, hence the June 1 application deadline."
Worsech added that the lines in the days before June 1 may be shorter this year.
"Hunters who entered the March 15 drawing have already bought their conservation license, a deer and/or elk general license and often their fishing license," Worsech said.
Those who apply using FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov don't have to worry about lines at all. Online applications also remove the possibility of a third party postal error. If you can avoid even a small chance that your application is lost or delayed, it is worth it.
But, there are still a lot of hunters who consider standing in that line to enter the drawing a rite of spring. To them we say, welcome!