View Full Version : New guy planning first mt hunt any advise?

11-29-2011, 07:43 PM
Ok guys there are 3 of us wanting to come to MT for a diy mule deer. we will be coming from ohio this will be our first hunt out west. One of the guys step dad came out there like three or four years ago . It seems that alot of things have changed since then. We want to stay in a hotle some were for a few days then find a large chunk of land to pack into and set up a camp and hunt from there. we are not looking for no 200 in muleys . these will be our first mule deer so anything respectable will be great . I will not lie to you the MT dnr site is makeing my eyes go crossed. i dont understand it at all . we put in and got our preverance points but now what . we need to put in for a tag but do we put in for a area then or once we get drawn. The way I understand it we need to put in for a party tags that way if 1 gets drawn we all get drawn? I have a ton more questions but need to take this one step at a time . I am sure this will be a well used blog . Thanks for any help and advise guys and gals. I understand alot of locals hate out of state hunters but we are great guys all 3 famly men . two of us are ARFF aircraft rescue fire fighters and 1 x military we will respect you and your beautiful country.

Bitterroot Bulls
11-29-2011, 09:00 PM

The way the tag system works for non-residents is you have to put in for your tag first. Everybody that put in for the deer-elk non-resident combination license (tag) in 2011 drew, and the excess were sold on a first-come, first-served basis. However, this is not a gaurantee that 2012 will go the same way. Still, your odds are pretty darn good. They give less deer-only combination licenses, and I don't know the odds.

Once you draw your deer or deer/elk combination license (also known as "general license"), you can put in for limited entry permits. Most of the limited entry permits are on the Western side of the state. You can hunt most of the state with your general tag, especially the Eastern side. If you just want to hunt the Eastern side, like most non-residents, you won't need a special deer permit in most areas. In most areas your general tag is good for any either sex (buck or doe), either species (mule or whitetail). The district-by-district regulations on the MT FWP website spells out the "General Deer" regulations for each area. If the regulations say "Mule deer hunting by permit only" you would need to draw the permit for that unit to hunt mule deer there.

I would recommend applying as a party. The whole party goes in as one. If you are drawn, everybody gets the license or permit, if not, nobody does.

I would recommend getting the "Block Management" information for the Eastern regions (regions 4,5,6,7) and figuring out where to go from there. Block Management areas are private lands that are open to the public. You provide the Block Management area manager with your license number, they get a check from the state, and you get to hunt at no additional cost. There are great hunting opportunities in some Block Management areas.

Start doing some research, and I would be glad to help with some more info after you narrow down where you will be heading.

11-30-2011, 01:02 PM
Excellent Mule deer hunting from border to border (especially for mature bucks 140-180 Makes for good chances with a lil research. Sounds like it will be a great trip for you. I know a lil about the Far west and the south west but other than that not going to be much info from me. Figure out what you want to do, MT is basically two states. The mountains and the plains. Which do you want to hunt?

11-30-2011, 04:23 PM
Bitterroot is right, the deer/elk combination will give you a better chance at drawing as a group. Once you draw those you are pretty much set to go hunting in any "general season" area. If you are looking to bow hunt, then I would suggest applying for an archery only elk tag in the Missouri River Breaks. You will have a good shot at drawing this tag as there are several alloted each year, and the elk numbers are astounding. The two main areas for the breaks that you would want to consider would be the south side, 410, and the north side 620. Once you have the elk tag you can have a great hunt for both deer and elk at the same time without having to go to a new area to look for the other species. Deer in these areas are considered a "general season" area. If you decide on the 620 side of the river you can stay at a hotel in Malta, MT and then have a relativly short, 1 hour, drive to get to the river breaks. This would be a good start for someone who has never been to our great state.

12-02-2011, 06:34 AM
hey guess the city we were thinking off starting off at is broadus. any thoughts on that? its not set in stone but its were we were told to start

Bitterroot Bulls
12-02-2011, 08:33 AM
Broadus is an excellent starting point. There are some public lands available near there. There are quality Block Management in the area as well. I know some folks are down on BM areas, because some draw a lot of pressure, but there are some good opportunities there. It is like public land. If you can get away from the other hunters you can find some good hunting. There are some BM areas that accept reservations and restrict the numbers of hunters. There are quite a few that are walk-in only. The walk-in areas have produced for friends and relatives of mine.

12-07-2011, 05:53 AM
Been looking over a few maps and over laying them with google earth. I gotta ask this may sound dumb to you guys but. What am I looking for . I have been told that out west they live up in the mountians untill the snow pushes them down . first off i will let you know the map I am looking at is for the custer . I have not got the blm maps. Our thoughts were to find a large chunk with not alot of roads and start walking but I also dont want to find out a mile into it that this was a wrong call . So my question is will the deer be in high country in the opening part of the season or every were. Another question is would you suggest coming out for the opener or wait for the rut to kick in some more. Our thoughts are come for the opener cause the weather would be better maybe . Also though we dont want to be out with a million other people hunting public land. Thanks for the help guys and gals. also another question we were told not to get the blm maps yet cause they change every year ? And 1 more We have a quad we could bring but just not sure if it would be worth the long haul out there.

12-07-2011, 01:23 PM
Your on the right track. If your going to use your boots, look for public land that will be large enough to walk into at least a mile or two and start there.

What I did was I picked areas that were within 45 minutes of where I was going to stay and made notes on my maps as to my first, second, third and fouth choices to hike into. The area is so big that you have to have a plan and back up plans if you don't find deer or any sign. The enormity of it can overwhelm you unless you have a few spots picked out in advance. Bring good optics and glass areas hard before you walk into them. Glassing can save you miles of hiking. It's really wide open when your not hunting in the trees so you can see quite a long way most of the time. Glass and hunt slow. If your hunting in the trees, glass more often and move even slower. Stop and sit and glass. Move a little ways and sit and glass. If deer spot you moving before you see them, they will be gone.

If your hunting the Broadus area, there really is not any "high country" as I think of it. Most of the area that I found was 3000 - 4000 with peaks up to around 4500 ft. The way I looked at that area was most of the "timber" in Custer National Forrest was in the 3500 to 4000 ft range, and the other areas were more like plains / sage with draws and river bottoms around the 3000 to 3500 ft. range. I'm not sure that the mule deer would ever move because of snow unless there was a whole lot of it. Or if it the snow fell and drifted into deep areas. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't live there. Whitetail will mostly be near agriculture and river bottoms all the time.

Most of the people I think hunt the opener and the last week of the season. If you want to avoid others, hunt the first two weeks of November. The weather is hard to predict. It could go either way in that country at that time of year. It's always changing. Be ready for the worst and hope for the best.

As for the quad...I did not bring mine and I did not miss it. I doubt the way I was hunting if I ever would have used it. I read online that you would need your quad to be street legal with brake lights and a horn to even ride in the national forrest or on public roads so I just left mine at home. It might come in handy some places to get a deer out, but you can not legally drive them off deignated roads. I brought a game cart and a external frame pack for game removal instead.

Kevin Root
12-07-2011, 02:05 PM
fatkid I hunted the area in larrylur mentions close to Brodus in Custer National Forest this year in November too. We also went in that first two week mentioned period in November and I never saw anyone where I was hunting away from roads. As we were leaving is when the hoards of hunters started coming in.

We had good success with my party of seven who all hunted a mile or two away from the road. Six of us killed bucks 3x3 or better. Those in my party who did kill whitetails, killed them near the private or agriculture or river areas as well.

12-07-2011, 08:14 PM
larrylur and kevin did either 1 of you hunt any blm property. just wondering if we try it first or just dig into the custer

Kevin Root
12-08-2011, 09:01 AM
fatkid we had one of the huntingGPSmaps.com cards in our GPS that shows us the private and BLM. Those cards are very, very helpful. Some of our party had bought additional whitetail doe tags and it really helps having that card in the GPS. We used it primarily to know if we were on private or BLM land at a glance. A few of the guys got their whitetail does in transition from the private to the public. We did not see any whitetail up higher from where the mule deer were. We checked over some small areas of BLM just to check out something new but mostly hit the timbered draws in Custer. Like larrylur mentions above glassing can find animals too and save you a lot of walking in Custer. There are areas wide open from past burns up in there and deer are in thru there as well. When we had killed all our animals we drove them into Broadus Meats to get processed and flash frozen.

We were hearing the deer numbers were down this year and it's perhaps not the hay day it used to be 15-20 years ago but we had overall pretty good success this year in Custer and saw bucks and does every day.

12-08-2011, 01:34 PM
I hunted both. Custer is one big piece of national forrest so you can camp, hike, drive all inside miles and miles of public land. It is beautifull country. Conveinent to say in if you have a larger party so guys can go different directions.

The BLM areas are more fragmented and harder to be positive you are not on private property. The hunting GPS card that Kevin is talking about would be fantastic but I've always been very good with folding maps and using my old Garmin GPS to measure landmarks to confirm my positions. There usually are small signs posted on fences for state and BLM land but not always. And remember you can not cross private property to access BLM / State land. If the area on the map is landlocked you would need permission to cross not matter how short of a distance it is. You can only acess BLM/State lane if they cross or boarder a public road. Some of the Block Management areas access landlocked BLM land so you can get permission that way, to get into some of those areas.

Deer numbers are way down according to the regular hunters in that area I talked to, while I was there. The winter kill was to blame and that area is getting more pressure than it did 5 - 10 years ago. Depending on who you talked to some would say go north, some would say stay south so who knows. Hopefully we get a much milder winter the next few years and the numbers bounce back.

02-29-2012, 07:07 PM
well guys we are all but ready . we filled out our packets about a month ago so all we can do is wait. once agian we are planning on the south east area . does anyone have any good or bad thoughts on were to stay our were to stay away from. also should we book a place now then back out if we dont get drawn?