Yeti

OTC MT elk/deer tag questions

NKQualtieri

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Jun 4, 2015
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Bozeman, MT
I'm hunting for the first time this fall with the goals of getting a deer and an elk to fill the freezer. I didn't put in for any special tags this year so I'll be doing both hunts OTC, and I have a few rookie questions.

The tag/permit system has been pretty confusing to initially navigate. When I buy my OTC tags, are they just a general tag for Montana or are they based in certain units as well? I know that a lot of areas would be restricted to hunting, but just curious what the difference in just getting an over-the-counter tag is vs. drawing one for a specific unit.

I live in Bozeman and I really want to be able to start scouting certain areas that are closer to me on weekends since I'm spending my wkends in the woods hiking/camping anyway, but I also want to know that I'm going to be on ground that will be fair game for me this fall.

I've been hiking w/a daypack, and shooting any chance I get, and I'm in the process of gearing up. But with fall heading our way, I'm starting to feel underprepared. But you know, so goes the process of learning anything new as an adult :)

Any advice you guys have is welcome.
 

.280 Remington

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Aug 21, 2012
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For meat hunter, general MT tags are plenty good.

General tags are good for the majority of units in the state, but even general units have varying regulations. Some places you can't shoot a mule deer but can shoot whitetails. Some units you can shoot cow elk and browtine bulls. You just need to locate your hunting spot in the regulations and then read the specific rules for that unit.

Most of the elk hunting around Bozeman is general tag. With the exception of the Bridges, most of the deer hunting is general tag too. But you still need to look it up.
 

jryoung

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The non-resident application guide was a great reference as it had the permit units color coded. I can't seem to locate it now as they may have taken it down since the application period is well past.

That said, you can look in the deer, elk, antelope guide and as you go unit by unit it will say whether or not there is a permit required. In general it is the eastern side of the state that require elk permits which a unit here and there throughout the west side that require permits.
 

Straight Arrow

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Gallatin Gateway, MT
Best advice is to go to the FWP regulations and look at the description of elk and deer available to hunt for each hunting district (HD) where you may plan to hunt.

OTC refers to buying a license. Read the regulations to distinguish the difference between a license and a permit. I think understanding the difference between a license and a permit, as well as reading regulations for each hunting district will answer your questions and clear up any confusion.

Just read carefully for particular HDs of interest ... and don't be concerned as many of us who have been reading those regs for decades still get confused.
 

Straight Arrow

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.... and don't confuse "units" with hunting "districts". In many states they are referred to as units; in Montana as hunting districts. It is further confusing because the Elk Management Plan refers to Elk Management Units, which may be comprised of several hunting districts.

Many nonresident hunters continue to want information on a hunting "unit" and no such designation exists.

Kinda gives you a headache, doesn't it?
 

RobG

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Dec 10, 2010
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Bozeman, MT
I'm hunting for the first time this fall with the goals of getting a deer and an elk to fill the freezer. I didn't put in for any special tags this year so I'll be doing both hunts OTC, and I have a few rookie questions.

The tag/permit system has been pretty confusing to initially navigate. When I buy my OTC tags, are they just a general tag for Montana or are they based in certain units as well?
Yes and no because some OTC tags are for certain regions or districts. It's confusing at first.

What you normally buy are a "General Deer License" and a "General Elk License." Often these are called "A" tags. So what you need to do is look up a district in the regulations and see what a "general" elk or deer license will allow. Mostly ignore the stuff under permits and "B" licenses since they generally aren't of use to you except for the unlimited OTC region 3 deer B license.

Some examples using your general tags
HD 311: You can hunt deer (antlered mule deer or either sex whitetail) and brow-tined or antlerless elk using your general.
HD 310: You can hunt deer (antlered mule deer or either sex whitetail), but only youth can hunt elk.
HD 312: You can hunt either sex whitetails in the whole district using your deer general, but you can only hunt antlered mule deer bucks west of Springhill road. You can hunt brow tine and antlerless elk with your general elk license. That is, you can't hunt antlered mule deer in the Bridgers unless you have a special permit.

Underneath the general license rules are the rules for the various other licenses/permits. Some of these licenses/permits are OTC, others obtained through a drawing. For example, to hunt elk as an adult in HD 310 you have to have a special permit for that district. To get the permit you have apply by March 15th. Another example: you can buy a second elk "B" tag for HD 393 over the counter (Hint, these are the elk you see hiding in plain view on the ranches that don't allow hunting.)

Other than your general deer and elk "A" licenses, probably the only other tag you will be interested in is the region 3 deer B license. This allows you to harvest a whitetail doe most anywhere in region 3. I wouldn't buy an OTC "B" deer or elk tags for a specific district unless you are sure you'll have access to them.
 
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buckykm1

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Nov 17, 2010
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Vicksburg, Michigan
With living right in Bozeman, I am pretty sure that if you stop at the FWP office out on the south side of town they will explain it to you.
the rule book is really pretty simple once you understand it.

Kevin
 

BR-549

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Jun 29, 2015
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I hear you on feeling under prepared. I have had most of my gear staged in the basement since the first weekend of August along with my two page checklist. Nearly every evening I go down there and look things over again "just to make sure".

Its always the same for me. I get the feeling I am forgetting something even though I have been going west more than 15 years. Part of the fun I reckon.
 

landon55

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Aug 5, 2014
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I also live in Bozeman and hunt Hyalite pretty regularly. While I don't see many elk, moose sightings are abundant.
 

NKQualtieri

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Jun 4, 2015
Messages
250
Location
Bozeman, MT
Yes and no because some OTC tags are for certain regions or districts. It's confusing at first.

What you normally buy are a "General Deer License" and a "General Elk License." Often these are called "A" tags. So what you need to do is look up a district in the regulations and see what a "general" elk or deer license will allow. Mostly ignore the stuff under permits and "B" licenses since they generally aren't of use to you except for the unlimited OTC region 3 deer B license.

Some examples using your general tags
HD 311: You can hunt deer (antlered mule deer or either sex whitetail) and brow-tined or antlerless elk using your general.
HD 310: You can hunt deer (antlered mule deer or either sex whitetail), but only youth can hunt elk.
HD 312: You can hunt either sex whitetails in the whole district using your deer general, but you can only hunt antlered mule deer bucks west of Springhill road. You can hunt brow tine and antlerless elk with your general elk license. That is, you can't hunt antlered mule deer in the Bridgers unless you have a special permit.

Underneath the general license rules are the rules for the various other licenses/permits. Some of these licenses/permits are OTC, others obtained through a drawing. For example, to hunt elk as an adult in HD 310 you have to have a special permit for that district. To get the permit you have apply by March 15th. Another example: you can buy a second elk "B" tag for HD 393 over the counter (Hint, these are the elk you see hiding in plain view on the ranches that don't allow hunting.)

Other than your general deer and elk "A" licenses, probably the only other tag you will be interested in is the region 3 deer B license. This allows you to harvest a whitetail doe most anywhere in region 3. I wouldn't buy an OTC "B" deer or elk tags for a specific district unless you are sure you'll have access to them.

Rob--you are always so helpful. I definitely owe you a beer at some point.

And thanks to all of you guys for the PMs and advice. So appreciated. A lot of info to take in, and I look forward to wrapping me head around it.
 

NKQualtieri

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Jun 4, 2015
Messages
250
Location
Bozeman, MT
I also live in Bozeman and hunt Hyalite pretty regularly. While I don't see many elk, moose sightings are abundant.

Wow! Really?! I haven't spent a ton of time in Hyalite other than the typical Bozeman rec type stuff & bringing friends there when they visit. I hang in the Bridgers more often.

My fam has a cabin on Georgetown Lake and we have a bull moose who lives on our property down there. It's always a little precarious because he likes to sleep about five feet off of our driveway & grazes right next to the outhouse...
 

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Jwill

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Virginia
I'm also researching as this will be my first trip to MT to hunt. This link has been very helpful. http://map.mtbullypulpit.org/ When you click on an area, it gives you a live link to the regs and stats for the HD. We'll probably end up in region 3 somewhere around the 2nd or 3rd weeks of the general season.
 

NKQualtieri

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Joined
Jun 4, 2015
Messages
250
Location
Bozeman, MT
I'm also researching as this will be my first trip to MT to hunt. This link has been very helpful. http://map.mtbullypulpit.org/ When you click on an area, it gives you a live link to the regs and stats for the HD. We'll probably end up in region 3 somewhere around the 2nd or 3rd weeks of the general season.

Wow. That's basically the greatest and most useful tool. If you need any advice about my 'hood, I'm happy to help :)
 
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