Time to Start Planning Your 2017 Montana Elk Hunt

The Montana non-resident hunting system is fairly simple. You have the option to hunt general big game units or apply for a limited draw area. The combination license options allow for multiple licenses under a single purchase. This means you can shoot elk, deer, upland birds and do some fishing with the right selection. Each big game unit is different with rules that govern the individual unit.

Here are a few tips to begin planning your 2017 Montana elk hunt:

Choose Your Hunt Area

Begin by choosing the hunt areas. Make notes of the specific regulations for units of interest. Some units are general and you can simply hunt them with your general license. Others require a special draw to hunt elk or deer.

At Lazy J Bar O Outfitters, the areas where we hunt elk are general units. Whether you choose to hunt from our camps in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, or in southwest Montana, both fall under the general license and are an easy draw. If you do intend to apply for a limited draw area, make note of the permit code. This applies to elk and deer individually.

While the areas that we hunt in Montana are in general units, they are not crowded – far from it. The Bob Marshall Wilderness is one of the largest wilderness complexes in the lower 48 and the wilderness we hunt in southwest Montana is big, steep and rugged. Our use of horses and remote spike camps means that the “solitude” factor cannot be overstated.

Choose a License Option

You must purchase a general license regardless of your decision to hunt a general or permitted unit. Elk hunters have two options:

-       Big Game Combination – General Elk and Deer, Upland Game Bird, Fishing, Conservation License and HAEF Fee.

-       Elk Combination – General Elk, Upland Game Bird, Fishing, Conservation License and HAEF.

Hunters with Lazy J Bar O Outfitters should purchase the Big Game Combination license. Any elk hunt may be a combination elk and deer hunt for no additional cost. For that reason, it doesn’t hurt to have the combination license in your pocket. It’s not uncommon to see big mule deer bucks while hunting elk.

Fill Out Your Application

Fill out your application and make sure you use the correct permit code for any limited draw options. Many units have multiple permit codes that apply to species and specific hunting seasons. The code is often different for archery and rifle seasons. Be cautious and apply for the correct species and season. You can reference the draw odds for each option on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website as well. The odds will help you determine potential success rates. If you're hunting with us this year, give us a call and we will help you with the application.

If You Don’t Draw

If you fail to draw a special permit, you still have several options. You can keep your general license and hunt general units. If you’re hunting with Lazy J Bar O Outfitters, that’s all you need anyway. If needed you can forfeit the license and receive and 80 percent refund. You can forfeit the general elk piece of a Big Game combo and keep the Deer and remaining licenses. You will receive a $306 refund for the elk portion of the license.

When to Apply

The application deadline is March 15th. But it’s time to start planning now and get your application filed. If you intend to book a guided hunt with us at Lazy J Bar O Outfitters, simply call us at 406-932-5687 or send us a message and we will help you with the application process.