Montana Big Game And How To Navigate The Draw

by Erik Schell
|  

September 30th marks the deadline for the Montana preference point and bonus point purchasing period.
Big game tags in Montana are issued through a draw system which heavily favors applicants that possess points. The type of point is dependent on the species as well as the area that is being applied for.  

The diagram below will outline what type of point correlates to each species in Montana.   

Definitions
  • Bonus Point: A bonus point is simply an extra “name in the hat”. For example, when you apply in Montana and have four bonus points for a particular species those points will be squared and your name will enter that draw 16 times.

  • Preference Point: A preference point will give you true preference over applicants with lesser points. For example, if you have two preference points for a particular species you will always draw ahead of the person with one preference point.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Shiras Moose & Mountain Goat

Montana’s core ranges for these iconic species continue to offer stable tag allotments for non-residents. This fact makes it very enticing to apply for all three species as a non-resident if they land on your bucket list. Each species utilizes bonus points. Therefore, you can draw the first year you apply with an increasing probability over time. This is due to the fact you will receive one additional bonus point for each year you apply and are unsuccessful. Furthermore, these bonus points are squared at time of application.

Elk

Elk populations are thriving across the vast majority of the state and overall trophy quality is ever improving. This fact is largely due to private landowners who have embraced elk over the last 30 years and are now reaping the rewards of their conservation/herd management practices.

Montana issues General and Permit Area elk tags. General tags are issued at a rate of 75% allocated to whomever applies with the most preference points and the remaining 25% are allocated amongst all other applicants regardless of point status. Permit Area tags are issued in a very unique method. In order to receive a Permit Area elk tag you must first successfully draw a General Tag, to then be considered or entered into a secondary draw towards your selected permit area (permit areas utilize bonus points which are squared at the time of application). Permit Area rifle tags are difficult to draw due to the low overall quotas, but when drawn, yield world class hunting experiences and the potential for truly giant trophies (350+). Archery elk tags are much more realistic for non-residents to draw, particularly for those looking to hire an outfitter. The flood gates open up in terms of hunt options at three points. If you have three or more bonus points and desire to archery hunt bull elk in Montana, now is the time to book your 2021 hunt. if you are unsure of your current point status please call your Consultant at WTA TAGS for assistance.

Please see the button below which will direct you to WTA’s Montana elk hunting options-

Deer

Mule deer densities will vary greatly across the state, but as a whole, populations are stable. For those of you in search of representative trophies a plethora of options are available that will offer action packed hunts. Trophy hunters must be cautious as only a handful of areas can consistently produce bucks scoring over 170. 
Whitetail deer have expanded across the state and continue to increase in population. Hunting these western deer can offer a unique experience as spot-and-stalk hunts are readily available across much of the state. Tree stands and ground blinds are employed on many of the smaller drainages as well. These hunts can be refreshing for those who are accustomed to hunting big timber with minimal visibility. This open environment allows for a high number of overall sightings and overall trophy quality rivaling the bulk of the mid-west. 
Montana issues General and Permit Area deer tags. General tags are issued at a rate of 75% allocated to whomever applies with the most points and the remaining 25% are allocated amongst all other applicants regardless of points. In order to receive a Permit Area deer tag you must first successfully draw a general tag. You will then enter a secondary draw towards your selected permit area (permit areas utilize bonus points which are squared at the time of application). Due to the difficulty of drawing the top Permit Area deer tags it is near impossible to predict when you might draw. A general deer hunt that fits almost every hunter’s individual priorities is available.

Below is a small sampling of WTA’s superior portfolio of available hunts- 

Antelope

Pronghorn exist across much of the state with good overall trophy quality being the norm. Bonus points are utilized to draw these tags. Anyone considering hunting antelope in Montana needs to be aware that you must have a solid idea of what weapon you intend to use for the hunt as Montana offers a rifle bonus point or a bonus point focused towards the 700-20 antelope hunts which are archery only. Due to the fact these tags are issued through bonus point you can draw the first year you apply but rifle hunters should be prepared for a three to six year wait while archery hunters can typically draw with one point.

Final Thoughts

Montana has arguably created the single most complicated/confusing draw system in the West. Do not let this discourage you from applying as the professional consulting team at WTA fully understands this system and can provide accurate guidance as to what type of points you need to accomplish your individual hunting goals within Montana.

For additional information please fill out the email form or feel free to call us by phone to speak with a consultant, 1-800-755-8247. 

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