Not to bring up an old thread that has likely been beaten to death, but how many people have vetted this to their local FWP officers and actually shown up at some of the general public meetings with this proposal. I may be a bit late to the game, but it’s never too late to start.This last season I've been able to hunt with and discuss Montana's deer management with a bunch of different hunters, many from this site. probably 90% of the hunters I’ve spoken to have agreed something needs changed with our deer season structure, and the course we’re on with our current seasons isn’t sustainable. Using everyone’s input, I've been juggling this season structure in my head for a while, and needed to get it put out there somewhere.
First off, every unit in the state will be given a limited or general designation for both whitetail and mule deer. I think a lot of work went in to these unit designations with the last season setting process, so to start with they will hold general or limited entry designation from 2022 regulations.
HD 455 is limited entry for both whitetail and mule deer. It would receive limited entry designation for both species.
HD 270 is limited entry for mule deer, general for whitetail. It would receive limited entry designation for mule deer, and general designation for whitetail.
HD 704 is general for whitetail and mule deer. It would receive general designation for both species.
Under my proposal, there will be five antlered deer seasons. The catch is, that each hunter must choose ONE season per year. If they choose to apply for a limited entry hunt, they will forego being able to participate in an antlered general season for that year. Same applies if they buy a general season tag, they will not be allowed to apply for a limited entry tag in the same year. Bonus point system will stay in place, and you will not lose points by participating in a general season.
Limited entry deadline will remain March 15. If you apply for a limited entry hunt before that deadline, you lose your rights to a general tag. If you miss that deadline, you will be able to buy one of the three general season tags at any point of that year.
GENERAL SEASON OPTIONS-
General deer archery- September 1-20
Statewide. Tag is good in any unit with “General” designation for either species buck.
General Mule deer rifle- October 15-31
Region Specific, Hunter must designate which region they hunt at time of tag purchase. Hunter can hunt any general unit within that region for mule deer bucks during season dates.
General whitetail- November 1-30
Region Specific, Hunter must designate which region they hunt at time of purchase. Hunter can hunt any general unit within that region for whitetail bucks during season dates.
LIMITED ENTRY OPTIONS-
Unit-Specific Limited Entry
Archery- September 1-20
Rifle- November 1-30
The idea of this hunt would be to protect our current limited entry units like 270, 300, etc. Other than season dates shifting slightly, management within these units will remain largely the same as in the past.
Limited Entry Mule Deer- Regional
Every General deer unit will fall into the category of one of these region wide tags. This will be a limited entry tag, where if you draw you can hunt any general unit within the applied region for the month of November with a rifle for mule deer. Tag numbers will be very low and based off historical mule deer harvest within that region. ~2.5% of traditional harvest.
Region 7 has a recent average of roughly 10,000 mule deer bucks harvested. 2.5% of that would equal 250 of these permits in Region 7.
Region 1 has a recent average of roughly 900 mule deer bucks harvested. 2.5% of that would equal 22 of these permits in Region 1.
All antlerless deer harvest will take place in this short September season. All antlerless permits will be independent of antlered permits, and will be for a specific HD only, no region wide antlerless permits. Permit numbers will be decided by regional bios, with an encouragement to designate these permits for private land only. There needs to be an understanding on these tags that we’re currently taking too many mule deer does off the public land, and this course needs changed.
I've put a lot of thought in to this structure, trying to come up with a compromise of providing opportunity while still making a meaningful enough change to give our deer hunting a chance to be great again. This proposal will mostly take general mule deer hunting out of the rut, although I have many times watched mule deer bucks chasing does the last few days of October.
If you're a meat hunter you can still buy a buck tag every year for either species.
If you value hunting over Thanksgiving break higher than anything else, you can still buy a general whitetail tag.
If you value quality in experience over hunting every year, you can still apply for a limited entry tag. Drawing odds on those tags should also increase dramatically by making hunters choose between general and limited entry each year.
So that's my proposal. I know FWP would never even consider a structure like this, but it's worth the discussion I think. Shoot holes in the plan, tell me why it won't work, etc.
Plenty of us have been to meetings with FWP with similar suggestions.Not to bring up an old thread that has likely been beaten to death, but how many people have vetted this to their local FWP officers and actually shown up at some of the general public meetings with this proposal. I may be a bit late to the game, but it’s never too late to start.