Time for a change...


Apr 22, 2013
The time has come for the FWP in Montana to manage our elk and mule deer in an effective way not only to manage numbers, but also quality of the herds. The shoulder seasons have had little effect on elk numbers in areas where numbers are over the so called "objective numbers". Hunting cow elk from mid August to mid February is not called for. Montana and a handful of western states are forced to absorb NR hunters by the thousands, thus the FWP sells tags to bolster their budget, not looking at what is best for our herds. Elk and especially mulies are pressured highly, so much so, quality in the bulls and bucks has suffered greatly in the last decades. In my opinion, the state should still allow NR hunters, but it is time to limit them to cow elk and doe mulies. They will still have the opportunity to enjoy our great state and also harvest an animal for meat. Yes, trophy ranches and outfitters will scream bloody hell, but it is time to put the best interest of the herds first. I know this will not be popular, but if one looks back at the health of our herds since the 60's, you can see that bull and buck size has diminished. We could do away with the long shoulder seasons if we made a NR shoot cow elk, limiting bulls to residents. Quality of the bulls would increase in my belief. After 5 years, the state could allow for either sex bull elk in small quantity of NR hunters, perhaps limiting a NR to one bull elk in their lifetime. It is not Montana and other western states responsibility to be the hunting resource for the whole country. People are much more mobile and affluent then they were just 50 years ago, with much disposable income.


Active Member
May 19, 2014
Have you looked at the harvest reports? I can’t speak for the whole state but the three units where I hunt, resident harvest more than doubles, if not triples nonresident harvest. Very few bulls harvested and I’m sure most of them are outfitted. With the exception of a few that got lucky and a few that really put the homework into it. Have you looked at thre drawing success for nonresidents in special draw units? If I heard it right on randy newburgs podcast this weekend, I think only 10% of special draw tags go to nonresidents.
The money generated from nonresidents for licenses, bonus points, preference points and so on, is astronomical!! We as nonresidents can’t just purchase an elk or mule deer tag, there’s a whole string of other licenses we a have to purchase that we’ll never use just to elk or deer hunt. Base license, conservation license, aquatic invasive species license, small game, fishing, a license to hunt Montana state lands. All that just to hunt an elk or deer.
As nonresidents, most of us have to pick our week or so to hunt. When that hunt is over, that’s it. No going back for a shoulder season, most of that’s done on private, so good luck with that anyway!
I am in no means bitching about the prices. I love coming to Montana to hunt. It’s my thing every year. There’s other places cheaper, but I choose Montana. In seven years, I’ve killed one elk and my dad, one deer. Two people buying licenses for that many years, hotels, groceries, etc; do that math for one elk and deer!! Not to mention the countless other nonresidents buying licenses, putting money towards conservation and bringing money to the local economies.
But you’re right, couldn’t agree more!! It’s all the nonresidents fault. I just put in for my license for Montana again this week, maybe I should see about canceling it and take my money elsewhere. I’m sure there’s others states that would be more than happy to take it??

Tim McCoy

Veteran member
Dec 15, 2014
Well if MT takes your ideas, and I hope they do not, I suspect FWP revenue would fall a bunch. I know I’d not pay those prices for antlerless hunts, nor would any of those NR’s I hunt MT with.


Very Active Member
Jun 28, 2015
Southern Indiana
I'd be bummed to see a state completely close out antlered tags to NR, but I do see it as within that state's rights to do so. But as others have said, not many NRs are going to buy a $50 preference point, then another $625 for a mule deer doe tag. They won't pay $1100-ish for a cow elk/muley doe combo tag either.

I don't envision any state, especially MT, walking away from their NR fees and point schemes. It would be much too difficult and would meet to much resistance to make the changes necessary to get off the NR-fee tits.

If there is a problem with MT FWP's game management (which I believe a large number of hunters feel is so), I would suggest advocating for large scale structural changes to FWP's management policies rather than simply trying to throw NRs under the bus.


Feb 28, 2014
I want all the antlers for myself!!!

Montana manages for opportunity, not age class. I love it. If you don't like it, hitch a ride back out of state with a Washington hunter. There is a reason they come over here.


Very Active Member
Feb 21, 2011
I’m all for a healthy age structure in our herds, and would support some form of management that would reach these goals. But what if every state adopted the policy you’re preaching? Suddenly, the only place you can hunt antlered game is in your home state? That would go over like a fart in church. It’s like jolly old England, where the peasants dare not to kill the king’s stags. I think there’s enough units in most states that are managed for quality, we need to keep the rest managed for opportunity


Eastmans' Staff
Staff member
Feb 21, 2011
I can understand your frustration. MT FWP is certainly not a gold standard in wildlife management by any stretch of the measure. But I think this plan would be catastrophic to their budget and the state's economy. MT does have big bulls though, the data supports that fact. The state of MT has put more big bulls into the records books in the past ten years than any other state. More bulls than NM and NV combined!!!! There are huge bull elk in MT, no question about it. -G



Jul 4, 2017
New Hampshire
Ideas are good, just not all of them.
How many NR hunters can you see travellling to MT to spend $4k - $7k to hunt cow elk ? I would suggest the cow only hunts from NRs are fairly low in priority and they can be had for $1,500-$3K now ? This would certainly change if it was the only option, to what degree I am not sure.
Is this a
-manage the elk issue
-manage the NR hunter issue
-manage the wolf and bear issue

Bears and wolf have become a factor in the last 10-20 years numbers are way up, hunter numbers have declined .....so they tell us.


Veteran member
Aug 9, 2011
Oakdale Ca.
Well what a can of worms did we open! First I'm a NR & a Landowner and not 1 acre but over 700, the unfortunate thing it's in two parcels so I dont qualify for a landowner tag! I also didn't draw in the combo drawing,so I bought an elk b tag. I then drew the alternates combo one day before the season. In our area it's a very small draw for either sex/ bull tags, and if not drawn it's a cow tag. The problem we see in our area is more bull tags need to be issued! I've talked to our area biologist numerous years to report what I've seen to no avail. Our area is also great mule deer habitat being taken over by elk!