13 Montana Bonus resident elk points to burn

Jeremyc_1999

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Jul 16, 2019
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122
Now that the season has ended, I have 13 resident bonus elk points to burn. I have been putting in for the Elkhorns bull tag since about 1992. I had a year I messed up and burned some bonus points on a cow tag in the elkhorns and I'm tired of packing the points around as there are a few archery elk tags I'd like to try, but I don't want to burn all these points on them. I grew up in Bozeman and live in the gallatin valley, but am willing to travel to hunt. If you were in my shoes what would you apply for? I've thought about some breaks rifle tags, or maybe some bear paw archery, but I'm not really sure. Ideally I'd like to shoot a mature 6 point or better bull. If you don't want to post online and want to just pm me, I'd appreciate the information. Ideally if I can burn them in the next 5 years or sooner that will allow me to focus on hunting with my son when he is old enough and maybe switching some directions.
 

Greenhorn

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I think you should hold out for buffer zone. Leave those cruddy archery hunts to those who don't know any better.

Anybody hear how Steve Rinella did in buffer zone? Would have been a good year.
 

Labman

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Jun 21, 2015
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337
Now that the season has ended, I have 13 resident bonus elk points to burn. I have been putting in for the Elkhorns bull tag since about 1992. I had a year I messed up and burned some bonus points on a cow tag in the elkhorns and I'm tired of packing the points around as there are a few archery elk tags I'd like to try, but I don't want to burn all these points on them. I grew up in Bozeman and live in the gallatin valley, but am willing to travel to hunt. If you were in my shoes what would you apply for? I've thought about some breaks rifle tags, or maybe some bear paw archery, but I'm not really sure. Ideally I'd like to shoot a mature 6 point or better bull. If you don't want to post online and want to just pm me, I'd appreciate the information. Ideally if I can burn them in the next 5 years or sooner that will allow me to focus on hunting with my son when he is old enough and maybe switching some directions.
Had the opportunity to tag along on an ElkHorns bull hunt this year and it was amazing. And by amazing I mean it was unbelievable to me the effort people will go through to pursue a cow or spike elk. On one Saturday in mid Sept we had 8 people (including us) on the same half section of FS ground we were hunting; no other hunters had bull tags. Camps, tents, and fires a few hundred yards away from the wallows, springs, and meadows the elk were in the night before. When the rifle hunt kicked off the hunter numbers were astounding. That tag, and probably most limited tags in MT need some adjustments to be made before they are worth burning points on. I talked to two guys with the tag who had been putting in for over 30yrs, both had similar experiences. From my digging online MT is the ONLY western state that has an unlimited number of general cow/spike (not to mention deer) hunters mixed in with the premium tag holders. Some states have overlapping spike/cow/bull hunts in conjunction with a premium hunt, but none are unlimited in nature. What a disservice to those hunters who have been waiting half a lifetime for a tag they will never draw again. Tough call, but maybe keep banking those points for a couple more years, it has to make a turn for the better. Right?
 

Jeremyc_1999

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Joined
Jul 16, 2019
Messages
122
Had the opportunity to tag along on an ElkHorns bull hunt this year and it was amazing. And by amazing I mean it was unbelievable to me the effort people will go through to pursue a cow or spike elk. On one Saturday in mid Sept we had 8 people (including us) on the same half section of FS ground we were hunting; no other hunters had bull tags. Camps, tents, and fires a few hundred yards away from the wallows, springs, and meadows the elk were in the night before. When the rifle hunt kicked off the hunter numbers were astounding. That tag, and probably most limited tags in MT need some adjustments to be made before they are worth burning points on. I talked to two guys with the tag who had been putting in for over 30yrs, both had similar experiences. From my digging online MT is the ONLY western state that has an unlimited number of general cow/spike (not to mention deer) hunters mixed in with the premium tag holders. Some states have overlapping spike/cow/bull hunts in conjunction with a premium hunt, but none are unlimited in nature. What a disservice to those hunters who have been waiting half a lifetime for a tag they will never draw again. Tough call, but maybe keep banking those points for a couple more years, it has to make a turn for the better. Right?
With the way FWP is these days I doubt it unfortunately. Maybe Greenhorn is onto something with the buffer zone tags. I used to hunt those areas when I was in high school and college on the general tag if I recall correctly.
 

BRI

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Sep 30, 2005
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566
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Anduhconduh, Montana
Had an elkhorns tag in 2005 and had an amazing experience. Drew last year and it absolutely sucked. The elkhorns has become such a shit show! Until they make some changes, I'd have a hard time thinking it's a top tag anymore. I've never seen so many people and certainly never seen that many in any other general elk unit I've hunted. For the past three years, you could kill a cow on a general tag outside national forest land, plus they gave 750 cow tags! I only saw a handful of huntable elk off the national forest.
 

Labman

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Jun 21, 2015
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Had an elkhorns tag in 2005 and had an amazing experience. Drew last year and it absolutely sucked. The elkhorns has become such a shit show! Until they make some changes, I'd have a hard time thinking it's a top tag anymore. I've never seen so many people and certainly never seen that many in any other general elk unit I've hunted. For the past three years, you could kill a cow on a general tag outside national forest land, plus they gave 750 cow tags! I only saw a handful of huntable elk off the national forest.
I talked to a rep from FWP about the ElkHorns and the pressure there. He said it is the most hunted Hunting District in MT - has the most hunter days.
 

Labman

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Jun 21, 2015
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Do they have any plans of addressing this issue?
When a single digit number of people attended the elk management discussion for that district late last summer I would assume the department’s view is - all is good. Maybe everyone submitted their comments online and didn’t feel the need to show up in person? The bull tags were decreased from 135 to 100 this year, which was a great step. My take on the vibe from that meeting was the landowner tolerance for elk in the unit seemed pretty high, not sure why the department hasn’t done away with all the General/B tag “opportunity”.
I don’t know if I would hold my breath and expect a change for ‘23, but it needs to happen soon.
If one were to compare Resident bull elk tag statistics for a tag that takes ~20-25 years to draw in AZ, UT, NV, NM; how can someone look at the ElkHorns in its current state of affairs and think that it is a comparable tag/experience? It could be, but changes need to be made.
 

BRI

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Joined
Sep 30, 2005
Messages
566
Location
Anduhconduh, Montana
When a single digit number of people attended the elk management discussion for that district late last summer I would assume the department’s view is - all is good. Maybe everyone submitted their comments online and didn’t feel the need to show up in person? The bull tags were decreased from 135 to 100 this year, which was a great step. My take on the vibe from that meeting was the landowner tolerance for elk in the unit seemed pretty high, not sure why the department hasn’t done away with all the General/B tag “opportunity”.
I don’t know if I would hold my breath and expect a change for ‘23, but it needs to happen soon.
If one were to compare Resident bull elk tag statistics for a tag that takes ~20-25 years to draw in AZ, UT, NV, NM; how can someone look at the ElkHorns in its current state of affairs and think that it is a comparable tag/experience? It could be, but changes need to be made.

I corresponded with the bio a fair amount and gave my experience. He was very responsive to questions and gave some good information. I'm sure I just sounded like a whiny hunter though 😂 One thing that was discouraging though and speaks to the mindset of FWP leadership (in my opinion) is, based on the counts and what the bio was seeing, he actually wanted to drop the tags to 75 but leadership wouldn't support that level of drop so they settled on dropping to 100.

I'd love to see them reward the tag holders with a couple exclusive weeks during both bow and rifle without the masses out there.
 

406dn

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Dec 12, 2019
Messages
1,559
Several years ago, I was in a similar situation sitting on 13 bonus points, while getting long enough in the tooth to realize I might well die with the points if I kept trying to draw an Elkhorn or Breaks tag. So I cashed them in for the tag in 313 for the two weeks of the season.

That turned out to be a mistake. While I got into cows and spikes often enough. I never encountered a good bull. Neither did any of the other lucky tag owners. The one bull that I know got killed was a small rag horn bedded just outside of the park line. The father son team (son had the tag) asked me one afternoon if I would pack their elk out for them, and offered me some money, if I would. I declined as my horses were already tired, with my efforts to find a bull, and it would have taken the last day of the season for me to do it.

I wish the points were still available for holding onto a dream...or maybe a pipe dream.
 

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